Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another sign of the times

The nations largest camera dealer is filing for bankruptcy. It's not lookin' pretty, folks.

A sign of the times

Annie Leibovitz has pawned all of her work to free up cash. Read about it here. This is a little disturbing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Command me

The weather has been less than ideal lately and I've been overwhelmed with homework so I haven't had the chance to get out with my camera. Besides, all my classes this session have been concerned with things other than straight photography. But, I do have a completed project to post just for fun. Below is a fictitious book jacket I recently completed for digital letterform class. The assignment was to use everyday items or materials to create a message, photograph it, and then incorporate the photo in a design for a CD case, magazine cover, poster, etc. So this idea came from an effort to use the letters from an old computer keyboard I had lying around. COMMAND ME or CONTROL ME seemed to be the shortest, complete sentences I could make without having to repeat any letters.

It's almost impossible to see in this image, but "imprinted" behind the text on the back, above the bar code, is a logo I designed for this project. It looks fairly good printed. The book jacket itself is not quite solid black and is printed in matte, the logo is pure black gloss so it has a "black on black" look that really works.

I'm finding that I prefer doing more "traditional print" design work as opposed to web design and I've decided to pursue that area after graduation since I doubt there are many jobs available for landscape photographers. Print media design (magazines, brochures, posters, etc) will be around for a long time to come. I'm working on an internship for this summer with the Oregon State Lottery in Salem.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The nightmare is over

I finally decided my blood pressure couldn't take Web Art 411 any longer and I withdrew from the course. I don't like doing that and in fact, this is the first and only time I have withdrawn from a course this late in the game. I'm not a quitter. But sometimes, you have to admit when you're over your head and throw in the towel. It was either drop the class or stress out to the point of collapse. Everyone has their limits, and I reached mine. I'll take another run at it in a later session - maybe this coming fall after I've had the summer to get smart on Dreamweaver.

Artists like this guy make me feel small

Check out the work of Trompe l'oeil mural artist Eric Grohe here. I've added a permanent link to his site at the left under "Art Sites." This guy's work is phenomenal. Here's a taste:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dreamweaver or maker of nightmares?

As most of you know, I spent 21 years in the Air Force. The military has many things worth complaining about but they do a lot things extremely well. Training is one of them. The Air Force, in particular, has the finest training systems in the world. Think about it, where else can you find people straight from High School being turned around and trained to operate extremely sophisicated equipment in high pressure situations in just a few short weeks? The key is in the delivery. You feed people information in small portions at a time and follow up with endless repitition. The university system in this country could learn a thing or two from the military. Which brings me to this week's rant.

I'm taking web art 411 this session and I'm extremely dissapointed. The standard operating procedure at the university level is to have students accomplish most of their learning through independent research and self-study. That works well for a lot of things. For example, it's not out of line to ask someone who learned to read as a child, and has years of experience, to conduct research for a paper. But this method breaks down when you get to courses requiring the employment of sophisticated systems such as professional-level software like Adobe applications. The courses offered in the Digital Art program, more often than not, are conducted on the assumption that students have the requisite experience and know-how to operate the software necessary to create the art. I believe this is ass-backward. For example, if I'm asked to create a piece of art, and the tool I'm expected to use is a software application that professionals dedicate entire careers to mastering, it's only common sense that I would need some technical training on the tools before the assignment is levied. Otherwise, the judgment of my final product - being produced through the use of the software - will be more a judgment of my ability to learn the tool, not my ability to create an effective visual message. Or, to put it another way, lacking proper technical training on the application of the software tools, I am forced to teach myself the application and my grade on the assignment is a judgment of my ability to teach myself the use of the tool, not my ability or talent as an artist. I cannot apply creativity to an assignment when I'm spending all of my time teaching myself the software application so I can produce something I can hand in on the due date.

I've taken many courses in the digital art program and most of them fail miserably in their technical training component. But of all of them, this web art course is the worst of the lot.

The fundamentals of dreamweaver and photoshop and other applications are akin to the game of chess. The basics may be learned reasonably quickly, but mastering it takes a lifetime. The courses in the digital art program - and this one in particular - provide a smattering of technical training on the software required to produce a product but the assignment is graded based on it's polish, which requires a mastery of the software.

The web art course has no prerequisites that provide this core training but instead, attempts to provide it "as-you-go." This is wholly inadequate and, frankly, unfair. After all, what am I paying the university for anyway? Under any other circumstances I would, as a consumer of training, be demanding my money back because what the university is really doing here is taking my money and then expecting me to teach myself.

Further, there is no course book for this class. I understand that there are hundreds of different books on each software application, each with its own level of depth. Choosing one that every student can effectively use is difficult. But other courses in the university system have this same problem. At some point, faculty and administration must take the time to look at the options and choose one. This course hasn't even provided a cheat sheet or handout for learning Dreamweaver. Students are entirely on their own.