Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Tangle of Lights: Poster Boy

August 2, 2013


I have designed a lot of gig posters over the years. I like to think I’ve kept a fairly decent level of variety in my approaches and layouts, while maintaining my own recognizable style.



Except when it comes to the Beggar’s Carnivale. When we started, I made a very special point to keep all the posters looking very similar, to develop our brand recognition from show to show. I think it helped.

That’s not to say this approach didn’t have its own challenges. I had to do more than simply change the date and performer lineup. While I wanted people to recognize it immediately as a Beggar’s Carnivale promotion, I did not want them to think it was an old poster, for an old show.

It still required work, new images, no background colors, etc. But it was still essentially the same, recognizable format.



Here we are, into our third year. Three years of capacity shows and a growing fan base throughout the country.

I think it’s safe to say people know who we are. Our logo is strong enough to stand alone.

So, I’ve decided to take a few creative liberties with this season of productions. Stepping away from the templates I had created for the previous seasons, I decided to try to be a little more true to the era we’re emulating in our work.


I am not very good at art deco. Never have been, probably never will be. Sure, I’ve used bits and pieces of the style…fonts, borders, flourishes…

But I’ve never tried to emulate the overall look and feel.


The challenge in this is maintaining enough of the Beggars look and feel, while stretching my creative wings.

So here’s the poster for our next Beggar’s Carnivale. It’s not a completely authentic deco design, but it’s about as close as I could get while keeping the brand standards. Standards I set.I have a lot invested in this next show creatively, so stay tuned for more developments about the…developments.

flprdprMore to come, friends and/or neighbors.

Last Practice…

April 24, 2012

This week we stepped away from Django Tango and other such pieces to focus on original transitions for the next Beggar’s Carnivale, May 19th. We’re giving the key characters their own themes, and scoring the action. Professor Thump and Baron Von Winterbach are a regular Rogers and Hammerschtein.

The first piece is a little bit of Too-Me’s theme song. Just a taste, though…You’ll have to come to the show for the full shebang.

The other piece we worked on is the Knock’em Outs/Bon Bons Theme, two variations on the same progression.

All in all, a good practice. Only two chairs were broken.

Tangle of Lights: On your mark, get set…

April 16, 2012

I can’t sit mentally still. I have far too many lights blinking on and off, all the time. So this weekend I found myself designing new sets for the Beggar’s Carnivale. Our talent, our production value, the symmetry of the shows…They have all moved to a new level, and our set needs to follow suit.

The idea: Rotating panels that provide multiple scenes within a small plot of stage. Something that folds flat for easy transportation, something that sets up quickly, and is robust and movable. Something that cane be developed as new acts and transitions enter the fray.

Step one: Concept

The first phase is always born from the pages of the moleskine, it’s a simple way to get the basic idea in front of me, so I can figure out the specifics.


After that, I needed to make a miniature mock-up, to see if it would actually work, and if so, how. I imagine three sets of triangular panels, images on both sides, providing as many as 18 distinct backgrounds. When turned flat, it provides a straight backdrop.



When rotated slightly, it should provide a linticular effect, giving perspective and additional wings on the stage for performers to utilize for blocking.


Rotate them more, you get another scene.


Rotate again…


And you get a third scene.


Each panel will be built with hinges that allow the panels to be folded in reverse, for three additional scenes.

So far, it’s just an idea, a concept, a kernel. Stay tuned.

Show and/or Tell

June 30, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any works in progress…

I figured now is as good a time as any to catch you up on what I’ve been doing…poster-wise.

Humble Abode: Gig Posters

December 6, 2009

I was kicking around this morning, killing time through a little visual stimuli…

I could get lost on that site for weeks and still be continually amazed, inspired and humbled by some of the talented designers and their work.

Here are a few that caught my eye.

Humble Abode: Billboard Edition

November 18, 2009

There are two types of creatives in this world:

Those that are threatened by their peers, and those that are often humbled.

I fall into the latter category. Whenever I get too big from my britches, all I need to do is find some stunning work from another to remind me I’m not the sun.

I stumbled across these on Huffington Post this morning…

It’s a reminder of just how far outside the box you can go.

I know, I know…

The phrase “thinking outside the box” has become such a corporate cliche. The phrase is used so much that thinking inside the box has become the new outside of the box.

Just ask my last boss.

But sometimes, ideas like this happen:

Please note the blood spatter makes it all the way onto the parked cars on the street…

You can read the original article and see more here.

Work In Progress

November 7, 2009

forkI’ve been working on our next gig poster, for our show at the Deluxe November 27th…

Here’s what I’ve got so far, as usual, it might be finished, it might not…


New Gig Poster: the Ataris

September 3, 2009

Just started finished a new poster, this one for the Ataris, live at Off Broadway. They’re playing with my friends’ band, Resoldered, and another band called (I kid you not) It’s All About the Benjamins

Seriously, that’s their name.

I know nothing about this third act, other than the fact that they have an unfortunate band name. They could be thugs-for-life rappers in saggy jeans singing about pimps and/or hoes through a gold-toothed grin, a group of satan worshipping death metal heads, with giant skull belt buckles, ready to drink some beer and kick some my ass, or a group of awkward, dirty, skinny jeans wearing hipsters in search of the ultimate in ironic names, singing angst ridden yet catchy pop songs chok-full-o’ emotion and falsettos…

I just don’t know, and I’m not in the mood to google them to find out.


Work in Progress: Grundish and Askew

September 2, 2009

It’s finished.

More to wit, it’s finished, approved and finalized. The proof has been sent, and accepted, and soon it will be available for mass consumption.

I’m speaking, of course, about the cover design I’ve been working on for fellow Vicious Books author, Lance Carbuncle.

I went through a number of rounds of design before finally landing here.

So here it is.


I made a few minor tweaks to it since the last round…nothing major. I just rotated the fists, which I think looks a little better.

The book should be available soon, and I recommend picking it up. I also recommend reading his first one, Smashed, Squashed, Splattered, Chewed and Spewed.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Work in Progress: Literary Edition (v3)

July 3, 2009


Last night we went out for drinks with friends

For about five hours we drank and discussed the inconsequential details of life that ultimately become small talk and anecdotes…

The whole time we were out, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Grundish & Askew cover. I couldn’t wait to get home (half drunk and full of piss and inspiration) to push forward on the design.

I’ve stopped working on the second look…I’m folding it up and sticking it in my pocket for later…I have a plan for that design that just might be interesting…

I once read a Q&A with Chip Kidd, the “rock star”of book cover design…He was asked if most authors have final creative control over the cover art…He essentially told the journalist that even if it’s not in a contract, the writer always has the final word…it’s their work…their soul…

While this may be true, they do have to trust the designer’s reasoning sometimes, and remember it’s also their biggest marketing and promotion media…

So I’m moving my focus over to look number 1…I’m happy with where it has evolved over the last few days. I feel like it’s very close to being a finished product, if the author (fingers crossed) approves it, then it’s just a matter of a few tweaks, and finalizing the dimensions and what-not…then bam. done…in theory…

So, here’s Grundish and Askew, version 3.0….


Here’s the front cover with the new font and a lovely bloody handprint.


and here’s the back cover and spine with the proper synopsis and bio and a tentative place for the barcode…



Work in Progress: Literary Edition (v2)

July 2, 2009


Another day, another stab at the Grundish cover…

As I said, the author prefers the tattoo direction (much to my chagrin)

I took some advice from you guys and got rid of the lower fists…I think it’s getting closer, though I’m going to try using a more frantic (but legible) font for Askew when I get home and have access to my macbook pro and my large collection of fonts… (as opposed to this horrid PC I’m chained to at work that does not allow me to install fonts into my computer, even though I’m in the marketing department, often doing graphic design work, but that’s a different post entirely)

Here’s where the cover is currently…

cover up

here’s the front and back together

cover 1

Even though the Rev. Dr. Carbuncle isn’t too interested in the other look, I refined it anyway…I couldn’t leave it sitting so unfinished…

I think he should at least consider this option once more…I adjusted the spine to parody the covers more.

cover 2

A former colleague suggested I put the full title on the cover of the book, which in fact I had done, albeit in a very understated way…I refined it, by adjusting the byline to follow the same style, which I hope will help the full title stand out more…

grundish cover

I also added it to the back cover.

grundish back cover

More to come…stay tuned…


Work in Progress: Literary Edition

July 2, 2009

For those of you just happening upon this post, the designs below have been updated in a newer post.

I’ve been working on some book cover designs for a friend and fellow Vicious Books author, Lance Carbuncle. His new book, Grundish & Askew, is a modern telling loosely dedicated to the classic Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck.

I went two directions. I made four different versions, but two overall directions…

The first follows certain themes from the book (a holy burro, a lost basset hound, tattoos…)

This is the direction we’re going to go with it, per the author’s choosing.

It’s not fully developed yet, just the basic idea…I’d like to redo the cover pic with some fake tattooes so it looks more realistic…otherwise, I might have to do something to make it less photo-real…

Here’s the cover

Grundish & Askew 1

and here’s the front and back together

Grundish and Askew 1a

I personally prefer my second look…it’s designed to be more artsy, less informational…less obvious…More striking without overstating…I liked this direction because it stands out…it could be the type of book people leave out on their table, or the type that catches a consumer’s eye on a shelf in a store…it’s designed so either way you have it set down, it’s looks like the front cover…I made the font treatments correspond to the words…

Here’s the BACK cover


Here’s the FRONT cover


and here’s front and back together


I’m going to hold onto this design, keep it in my back pocket, I think…unless I can convince Lance to use it…what do you think? Which would you be more likely to pick up and buy?


The Next Work in Progress

May 28, 2009

Our drummer, John is a bit of a musical polygamist…his heart belongs to multiple bands, as do his drum sticks…and van…He makes it work…he’s young…

His (other) band, Fattback is about to release a CD, Canary…I’ve been working on some posters for the CD release show….I’m doing three designs, all of which will be posted around town and that interweb thing…

So here’s where I am with them so far…I might be finished…


wp2wp3They also gave me a drawing for their cover art, I’m trying to help them add some text….it’s a great drawing, but a challenge to make work as packaging…

I’ve tried a bazillion combinations of fonts, colors and placement….still not happy with it but who knows…maybe I’m on the right track…

wp4I also took the liberty of designing a different cover…(using design elements later used for the above posters)


A Fork in the Road…

May 23, 2009


I think I was programmed early on…as an Art Director, I never came up with just one design…I always had to present at least two, usually more, for any given client…The client NEVER chose the design I preferred, even when I tried stacking the deck by offering an obviously less inspired, less developed look as their second option…

These days, I work in-house, so the client never changes, and neither does the work…it’s less about multiple options and more about multiple revisions…but hey…I’m just thankful to be employed during these trying economic times

But this isn’t about my vocation, it’s about being programmed…well, it’s not really even about that…

It’s about choices…it’s about options…it’s about that fork in the road I tend to reach more often than naught during the creative process….

It’s about deciding which design to move forward with…

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, we’re playing with Scott H. Biram in August…I’ve been working on the poster for a while…

To refresh your memories, here’s where I am with it…

biramlr1I like this design well enough…the image is interesting, it’s simple…minimalistic to a certain degree…


I wasn’t quite happy enough…so I put together something completely different…


it’s a little brighter, more fun…it follows the second rule of advertising (behind the color red): sex sells

It’s also a nice little nod to my theater-geek past…no, it’s not She-Hulk

It was inspired by the book cover design for Bukowski’s Women (great book)…

wmnThis was designed by Milan Bozic…he does some great work…especially his series of Bukowski covers

So there you have it…two very different looks…what do you think?

Bop this Ditty (Work in Progress)

May 23, 2009

As I mentioned, we’re going to be playing with the Ditty Bops in June (14th) at the Mad Art Gallery. (click on the Ditty Bops’ name to view just a mere moment of their eccentric, melodious, entertaining show…)

Odds are, the Mad Art people, (having relationships with real artists) will eventually design a better different poster a day or so after I finish/print these…but we need to start getting the word out, and visual aids really seem to help…So, here’s where I’m at so far with it…

I wanted to create something a little softer/more feminine for the headliners…since they’re women and all…I think I did a fairly good job representing both bands with the images used…


I leave you with a video of the Ditty Bops recording a song at Studio U.G.O…(click on UGO’s name to visit their website for a veritable cornucopia of live performances…think daytrotter only with video…)

Feel free to drop me a line to tell me how much you love/hate the poster…especially if you happen to be a Ditty Bop…


Survey Says…

May 23, 2009

So every single person who weighed in on the poster designs for our upcoming show with Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers seems to have agreed…100% of you preferred the design with the cigarette box…so I made a mild compromise of the two…


I even managed to find a home for the rooster…I also darkened it a bit…

shkshkr2So now that’s decided, and the posters have been printed and are ready for, well, posting…

here’s a video to get you excited about Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers


Time to turn my attention to the next poster…the Ditty Bops…

Humble Abode…

May 21, 2009

humbleaIt’s good to step away from my own designs every so often to revel in, and be humbled by, the work of other designers. That’s when I usually find my way to…There’s an endless gallery of posters…some good, some not so good…some, however, are truly great…at least I think so…I keep meaning to upload finally uploaded some of mine to that site, but there’s only so many hours in the day, and many of them are spent earning a paycheck, using the bathroom and/or sleeping…and posting crap here…

So here’s some shit I’m digging.


I picked this next one fer my wife…



Coltrane & Houdini

May 17, 2009

Coltrane & Houdini: the Wonder and Oddity of Watching the Rain

It’s more a fun exercise in fonts and layout than anything poignant…

I had to rotate this to fit here, so it should sufficiently hurt your neck trying to read it…

(insert maniacal laughter…here)