For those of you just joining me, welcome. For you select few who've been with me all along, I commend your perseverance.

It has taken about a week to migrate all of my previous blog posts to Blogger. While the process was fairly free of glitches it was rife with tedium, and I'm glad to be in a position to start posting new content now. Throughout this process I've had some time to reflect on what I've written and I've come to realize that this blog breaks two of the cardinal rules of blogging. 

First of all, it evades any real focus. I initially started the blog to serve as a way of updating friends, family, and supporters about my artwork. But from the outset my artwork was only one of many topics that I chose to write about. As entries were moved to Blogger I began assigning labels/tags/keywords (whatever you wish to call them) to the entries and was puzzled at some of the descriptors I settled on: 

 In some instances these oddball criteria actually appeared more frequently than "art" or "drawing." So it seems that this blog is more of a personality platform than a promotional tool. The inherent danger with such an approach is that one's personality might not be fascinating enough to merit much of an audience. Such an outcome might be devastating to other people, but I assure you that I'm 100% capable of weathering being outed as boring, middle-class, redundant, and fashion-less.

Another way in which this blog deviates from the venerable eight-year-old traditions of the medium is that the posts are far too long. If I'm going to write about something I want to offer more than a few pictures and snarky comments. Such an avant-garde approach will naturally limit my audience to people who are both comfortable with reading, and capable of visiting a web page for longer than thirty seconds. 

So if you're a Portland resident, teacher, artist, designer, music aficionado, cultural critic, or suffer from OCD, then we might just have something in common. Welcome to my subjective reality.


Poisoned Apple

The French have a saying for that moment when you’ve had enough; it translates into English as, “My bowl is full!” Tonight, my bowl is full of Apple. I’m tired of Apple’s veneer of utilitarian design. I’m fed up with the constant optional software upgrades that render my system obsolete before I’ve even started exploring under the hood. In short, I’m more than a little cross with Apple for succumbing to the Capitalist pitfall of blatantly pandering to stock rather than customers. Honestly, have they watched their own Ridley Scott commercial lately?

For two weeks I’ve been unable to easily load new posts in iWeb (and no, this does not ‘serve me right’ for using iWeb). My program frequently crashes, taking all my most recent witticisms with it. The Oz-like fellows over at Apple Core send nice emails saying they’ve fixed all the problems so that I’m lured back to clicking the Publish button yet again, only to have it malfunction.

iMad. iFrustrated. And tonight I’ve decided, after yet another game of nebulous run-around with the poorly implemented MobileMe, that I’m going to move this blog elsewhere.

So pay attention my three readers, because soon I will be leaving, and if I don’t take you with me, I’ll have to bribe other people to read my posts.


There are some things that humanity has historically been unable to resist. Gold. Silver. Puns. So I’ll just succumb and state that the Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals is a real gem.*

On my second visit I was no less impressed with their vast collection of bewildering specimens from the clutches of the earth. Minerals that look as downy as cotton, as soft as ermine, as poisonously pigmented as American Apparel, fill case after glass-fronted display case in the untouched rambling 50’s ranch home of former logging baron Richard Rice.** A boulder sized thunder egg with an opal center greets visitors to the NW Mineral Gallery and one room in the main house cycles through different UV lights to demonstrate the hidden phosphorescence of some otherwise banal looking rocks. In the basement you’ll not only find the sweetest linoleum floor ever laid, but a fantastic collection of petrified wood (including petrified pine cones). I posted a few more pics on flickr should you care to explore why mineralogy has informed every hipster painter in the Pacific Northwest for the past five years.

If you have a weakness for small scale museums of oddities and obsessions then I highly recommend that you check out hiddenportland.com which has put together a charming little brochure of the finest rarely visited haunts of PDX.

*I’m not the only punny one. Check out this article where they manage to get in, “It will rock your mind and salt your appetite.” Why would they write that? And how could they follow it with the fact that the museum is only “a stone’s throw off Highway 26”? Funny how puns are only funny when you’re the one making them.

**Fact check please. I believe this to be true from some informative labels I read on my first visit but I was also monitoring twelve children during that visit and must admit the possibility that this may have weakened my recall.


The Company Shoots

My weekend consisted of three days filming with The Company in the foothills of the Oregon coastal range. Thus far, The Company consists of only four diverse dreamers harboring the vision of a full length movie. Nevertheless, I suspect it will bloom into many more folks than that by the time we’re through. Grandiose labors of love tend to attract other dreamers. The various trials and tribulations, from the screenwriter’s perspective, can be followed at I’m Not Arguing That With You.

For my part I was asked to get lost. I lay down in spider webs and organic detritus. Dirt was kicked upon me by those closest to me. I was made to cry.

And this was just the test footage.


Helvetica: The Movie

I watched Helvetica last night. Again.

My initial viewing in my Beginning Design class left me with impressions only, and I wanted to revisit the film after a few months of dealing with typography, grids, and visual hierarchy. I’m assuming that I don’t differ from most fledgling graphic designers (an acceptance of reality that undoubtedly does separate me from the majority of fledgling graphic designers) and I’ve been using Helvetica as the default font for every project I’ve taken on.* As many of the eccentric pillars of the design community** mention in the film, Helvetica is clean, ubiquitous, and safe to use on just about any project. It won’t make waves and you’ll appear to know what you’re doing. Really, if it’s good enough for the majority of corporate America, it’s probably good enough for my homework assignment.

Now, if you’re reading this and not a graphic designer, then you’re probably scratching your head at this point and wondering if it’s even possible to make an hour and a half movie about a font. I assure you it is. Helvetica is such a powerful cultural force at this point that whole books have been devoted to it (in a cultural critique kind of way, not in the sense that it is the font for the book, although there are those examples as well). One of the most interesting things my instructors stated in the afore mentioned design class was that an understanding and appreciation of typography is “what separates the designer from the desktop publisher.”

Statements like this seem to be bandied about in the design world all the time. As Helvetica points out, designers are an opinionated lot. Ironically, they are all right in some way so, like most heated debates, the question over Helvetica’s prominence and use will continue ad nauseam. In the meantime I will be sharpening my typographic vocabulary (ascender, serif, x-height, et al) and compiling three fonts that will work for every*** project, and three fonts to perpetually vilify. Watch out Comic Sans, I’m coming for you.

*But I only used Helvetica in the beginning: in every instance but one (when I was designing a movie poster for Helvetica, appropriately enough) it was transformed into a different font that seemed to better suit the content. I don’t want you thinking I’m a one-trick pony so early on in my career. Becoming that pony takes at least a few years in the professional world.

**Old skool
Massimo Vignelli, naughty David Carson, and the chillingly astute Stefan Sagmeister to name a few.

***Ahhh, type crime! You never just hit the bold button to fatten up some highlighted text. Big design no-no! This just adds weight to all the edges of the letter forms without a commiserate handling of the white space between the letters. Such an action brands you as the amateur that you are. It’s akin to using iWeb as your web design and blogging program.



The storm came to me in a dream. In this dream I was at my teenage home again and the whole world had dropped into black and white. The house was dramatically lit from above but all around it was a great expanse of darkness. I wished to tell my father that I was going to walk a friend home but, for some undecipherable reason, felt slightly afraid of doing so. I opened the screen door to call into the house but then shut it. Working up my nerve I opened it again, and promptly shut it. The air was warm and damp outside. From far off in the darkness I could hear claps of thunder closing in on the house. A third time I pulled on the screen and my father, alerted to some noise at the door and perhaps suspecting one of the cats wished to be let in, appeared in the kitchen with an inquisitive look. I told him that I would walk my friend home and be right back. He nodded ascent and went back to work on his project.

I do not know which friend it was that waited for me on the lawn; her head up watching the sky as it flashed intermittently around us. The thunder came closer. She was familiar and yet unidentifiable as any person from my past or present. I walked this woman into the dark and out of the light illuminating my house. After some time I returned from the darkness alone. Somewhere in the darkness my friend had returned home safe just as I now was.

I entered the house and my father beckoned me to sit down on the sofa. He had made something for me— fashioned it out of clay. It would be an aid to me in the days to come. Whatever it was glowed brightly in his cupped hands, and he told me a brief recounting of the creation of the world as he held this strange light. It wasn’t a creation myth from any culture I recognized but, somehow, it seemed plausible. My father is an unfailingly honest man and I knew that this story must have been something he’d encountered in his studies.

He walked carefully with his gift over to the sofa and set it down on the cushion next to me. It seemed to glow from an inner light as it lay on the couch: a living light that flickered in strength. Here was a tiny sculpted baby such as you might see in a seasonal creche with closed eyes and rounded terra cotta form. But unlike those static devotional sculptures this one held its own light within it. I looked closer. There was something else. . .

It seemed that the storm was on top of us now. The thunder rattled the branches of trees and shook the windows of the house. The muggy air had become a conduit of electrical current.

It was breathing.

In the flash and snap of lightning I could see the little chest rise up and down. What sort of gift was this that my father had fashioned? I could hear the wall of rain coming out of the darkness, moving across the neighborhood roofs towards our house; carried on a wave of sound and energy.

I woke with that dream rattling about my mind and the old Victorian house I call home creaking and popping under the power of a summer storm breaking the night.