I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Friday, February 22, 2019

"Fairy Tale"

Dad bought a very old edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales when I was small.  He was very pleased to have acquired it and dramatically read it to us little people.  He excelled at that kind of thing.  He made up different voices for the different characters and held all of us in thrall.

The first story he read to us was Cinderella.  That sounds nice, doesn't it?  Friendly little creatures helping our heroine with housework, handsome prince, happily ever after.  You haven't read Grimm if you think that's the story.  No, Cinderella is an abused child whose sisters chop up their feet to get them into that glass slipper.  Birds peck out eyes... "That's enough for tonight.  I'll tell you another story tomorrow."  We were packed off to bed.

I went to sleep like I always did, and then the screaming started.  I had horrible, horrible, bloody nightmares.  Bloody feet everywhere.

Dad read another story the next night.  More child abuse and death threats.  In fact, let's decapitate a child.  "Bedtime!"  More screaming in the night.

I think you can see how this was all going.  Dad quit reading stories from his treasured book.  The screaming nightmares continued.  Dad tried reading nicer stories in the evenings.  He sang soothing songs just before bedtime.  Nothing worked.  I screamed in my sleep for two weeks.

It was fall then, and it was before anyone was concerned about carbon emissions from burning leaves.  I helped Dad rake and burn while he lectured me about how I couldn't let my whole life fall apart because of fairy tales.  I needed to get some sleep, and everyone else in the house needed sleep too.  They were just stories.  Part of growing up was knowing the difference between real life and fiction.

I burst into tears.  I sobbed as I told him I tried to have nice dreams.  I wasn't "trying to get attention" like Mom thought.  I went into the fetal position in a pile of raked leaves and couldn't stop crying while Dad stood over and looked at me.

He made a loud huff and stomped into the house.  I continued to cry.  He came back with his treasured volume and we put it in the leaf fire together.  No more fairy tale nightmares.  Everybody in my house agreed; it was the best book burning ever.

For better fairy tales...
Faeries by Froud, Brian and Alan Lee

Friday, February 15, 2019


When I was about 5 or 6 I wondered about electricity.  There were outlets around the house and I didn't understand the magic behind them.  I literally mean behind them because obviously something mysterious was going on behind the wall I couldn't see.  The outlets provided an inlet into hidden magic, but I had a sense that there was something dangerous about it.  This was a very vague danger to me other than I felt pretty certain I'd get in trouble if I stuck something into the outlet hole.

Bro1 happened to come by while I was contemplating this mystery, providing an opportunity.  While I might get in trouble for playing with the outlet, Bro1 never got in trouble for anything.  "C'mere!  Let's see what happens when you stick this darning needle in that hole!"  No sooner than the thought was expressed he committed the deed -- and got blown across the room.  Cool.  It still didn't explain electricity, but at least it gave a definition of "danger".  And yes, I got in trouble even though I wasn't the one who stuck the needle in.  My parents didn't appreciate the technicalities of the offense.

I don't think Bro1 was all that harmed by the experience, but you never know.  It might explain some things?  Besides, he was perfectly able to come up with his own ill-conceived ideas.  Even so, I feel a little regret.  Not too much, but a little.

Come to think of it, I think Sis2 planted the idea in my mind.  Seems to me she should've been the one to get in trouble for instigating, and to carry the regret too.  Where's the justice?!

Ah yes, childhood, where curiosity is discouraged outside of the approved limitations.  It's like another time when I improved our shampoo.  Mom bought 2 kinds, both in economy sizes.  Dandruff shampoo and the other kind.  I figured it would be better to mix both kinds together to eliminate dandruff for everybody.  The clear brown shampoo turned a murky sludge color while the dandruff shampoo looked kind of moldy pea soup.

Mom flipped out so I wasn't going to admit I did it.  Punishments for everybody.  I didn't feel guilty though since my siblings often caused unmerited punishments for me too.  If anything, I thought I should've been rewarded for improving shampoo.  Mom was clearly stifling my creativity and scientific curiosity, but I'm starting to think that it's just as well that I wasn't interested in electronics.  I might've burned down the house or at least destroyed some things -- which is now reminding me of my fascination with matches.  Yeah, just as well I didn't play with electric things anymore... though now I'm remembering getting into the back of the TV and messing with the tubes...

In current events, I made lime meringue pies this week.  The recipe seemed simple.  I was deceived.  It was a mess.  I made it harder by whisking the egg whites by hand and learned you a very big bowl to whisk eggs.  It also took about 20 minutes of arm-numbing whisking.  Cooking the egg yolk mixture required more whisking.  I think my favorite electronic thing this week is an electric blender.

I shared pie with Bro2 and we agree, pie is delicious.  Meringue is spectacular, and not to be confused with white foam at a restaurant.  My strenuous whisking made floating clouds of delicate pleasure.  Mmmm!!!

Friday, February 8, 2019

"Fire" reminds me of working for Burning River Web, a now defunct web design company.  I designed a logo and website for them as well as designing multiple web sites for potential clients on spec.  For those of you who don't know, that's speculation potential customers will like the work and agree to pay for it.  In other words, I took all the risks and the business would make a tidy percentage of the profits if my efforts worked out.

I was willing to take risks because I was between jobs and wanted solid web experience for my portfolio.  I sucked it up and did my best until it became too much.  I finally said just pay me for the work I did for the company (not the spec work for clients) and let's call it quits.  He refused.  I sent him a tersely stated email and he responded...

"You have some nerve calling my ethics into question while having executed a poison apple strategy..."

?!  All I said was that I wanted paid for the non-spec work.  When did I agree to be exploited?  I could've pursued the money legally, but I gave up.  It just wasn't worth it, and there were extenuating circumstances causing me to back off, but it galls me that there are people who think they can get work for free.  Well, he did get it for free so I guess he was right.  The only justice I got was when his lawyers told him to quit using the logo and website.  That didn't do me any good though.

I could tell you of many more times when people tried to rip me off, and spec work isn't the only tactic.  The first and best thing to do to prevent this is to sign a contract before doing anything, allowing for the unexpected.  For example, I used to design logos but could get swamped with endless revisions.  I wrote a contract promising 3 initial layouts and final art.  Revisions would be billed at $__/per hour, payable on delivery.  Simple.  Everybody knows what they're getting.  Which of course didn't stop some people from trying to rip me off, but I got paid or they didn't get the work.

Creative people are often exploited.  We want the joy of creating, the pleasure of seeing our work in print.  How much can we pay you for the opportunity?  Cut that out!  You can do something your customer can't.  That has value and you deserve to be paid.  There's no glory in being a starving artist -- unless you're dead, and then who profits?  I wish I knew how to get creatives to unionize.

Creatives are also too often optimists.  We think we'll get the project done in 4 hours when it will really take a week.  We undercut ourselves when we think about how much we should bill per hour.  We're afraid we'll lose the work if we charge too much.  Maybe you will, but maybe you'll get paid fairly and develop a good relationship with a continuing customer.

If you call a plumber there wouldn't be any talk of spec work.  You'll probably get a bill just for the house call to get a quote on the actual work.  You won't bargain the plumber's $50 or $100 per hour rate.  You just want your pipes to work.  I really should've gone into plumbing.  Let's all start thinking like plumbers.

When I started this post I intended to show my work for Burning River, but thinking about that still makes me burn.  The box above was a happier project I made for Mrs. Fields.

If you're wondering about burning rivers, the web company's name was inspired by the Cuyahoga River which winds through Cleveland, Ohio and famously caught fire a number of times.  These fires were caused by wide-spread chemical dumping by businesses.  The fires inspired the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an important government agency that has been under attack by the current US president who is well-known for stiffing contractors.

Friday, February 1, 2019


I laughed at dinner with a friend this week while recounting a trip I took to New York City.  I went on that trip with a coworker who told everyone at work about the "New York Linda".  I smiled and quietly went to my cubicle.  "There's a NY Linda?" another coworker asked incredulously.  I smirked behind the cubicle wall as I listened to my travel mate recount the tales of my exploits.

There was the marriage proposal from my Turkish taxi driver, the girl I adopted at the Broadway theater who ended up in the show, the fascinating conversation I had with the owner of Diebold, not to mention the even more fascinating conversation I had with the conservator of the Metropolitan Art Museum.  I got an entire bar singing show tunes in the middle of the day.  I had a blast throughout that trip.

I talked with anyone and everyone while I was in New York.  It made my coworker crazy, which is funny in itself since I'm the introvert and she's the one who usually charms people.  My coworkers had a hard time believing the tales because I barely interacted with people in that toxic environment.  I just put my head down and worked.

Conversation is becoming a lost art.  My cab driver didn't propose right away.  It was after I asked him about where he came from, what it was like, identified with him about spending time in the woods.  He told me about his mother and about being Muslim.  I listened and learned.  He shared, I shared.  We explored our similarities instead of our differences.  It was a long cab ride, but not quite long enough.

When I met the Diebold owner, I asked about his business.  He didn't seem enthused about it, or maybe he was just tired from a week of boring meetings.  I asked why he didn't retire?  He must have plenty of money to do other things he'd rather do.  He told me about his grandfather, or maybe his great-great-grandfather who made cash registers.  He lit up like a Christmas tree when he was talking about that, and I was enthused by his enthusiasm.  Who knew I'd be interested in cash registers and safes?

The art curator was my seatmate on the plane home -- which was parked on the runway for hours.  They were some of the shortest hours I've ever known.  I didn't have to search for a conversation topic with her.  Art?!!  Yay!  Tell me everything you know!!!

Maybe the greatest key to conversation is being open and curious?  Everyone has something to say, and we can learn something from them, even if when we don't agree with some of them.  I don't plan on converting to Islam to actually marry my cab driver, but my world view is greater and better for learning about it.  I think of the Diebold guy whenever I use an ATM.  There's a person behind the machine.

There's something incredibly freeing about flying somewhere where nobody knows me and I'm not expected to play the roles people have become accustomed to having me fill -- though there are precious people who completely understand my love of show tunes and aren't surprised I can get a bar full of mid-week businessmen to sing them with me...

"I gotta fly once, I gotta try once, only can die once, right, sir?
... Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade."
Don't Rain on My Parade, Bob Merril/Jule Styne