Art: Escape

I’m back for the year, this time with art. I realize this blog has become more art-focused, but I guess my life has become more art-focused too. Below I have cover art (front and back) for the speculative fiction magazine I’m the design/visual editor for. So, shout out, if you’re anywhere near the University of Washington, maybe consider picking up a copy of AU: Escape sometime next week?

Ecape Art

Art and design by yours truly. Below is the art, minus the words.Escape Art No WordsI’ve been super busy for the past week with stuff that has been less fun, so it was nice to get to do this as a break from the stress.

Well, all I can say now is that I’ll try to post more into the future, once I’m done with my winter classes, but history is not on my side here. I can wish you good luck going ahead, though. So, uh, good luck!

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Comet

CometThis piece is called Comet. I liked it so much I used it in another project: AU’s website, which I just remade. AU is a speculative fiction literary journal at the UW, which of course I had to become involved with! Let’s hope all goes well…

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30 (ish)-Day Drawing Challenge!

Now that I’m free for the summer, I thought it would be fun to do something art-related. So I thought, why not a 30-day challenge?

Below I have a list of 106-ish subjects ready to be drawn. The rules are simple. Using a random number generator (found here), I will pick one random medium and one subject from the list. For the subjects with (+1) afterwards, I’ll get an extra day to finish (hence the “ish” after “30” in the title.) Most of the list is stuff I came up with, some of it comes from what seems to be common in other challenge lists.

This Monday, I’ll randomly choose my subject/medium. The piece will be due the next day. At that time I’ll choose another subject, and so on until I have 30 pieces.

I thought it would be nice to try and stretch my creative ability, as well as just to practice, because Lord knows I don’t do enough of that. I also want to see where my weaknesses are. I’m super excited for this challenge, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

Well, first assignment’s on Monday. See you then!


Choose one from the following mediums:

  • pencil/charcoal
  • colored pencil
  • digital
  • digital with color
  • my pick

Choose one from the following subjects:

PEOPLE

  1. picture of me
  2. favorite book character
  3. monarch/king/queen
  4. me in a different time period
  5. a rock band
  6. favorite outfit(s)
  7. wedding gown
  8. an imaginary friend from childhood
  9. butterfly
  10. fictional mantis
  11. a dinosaur
  12. a weapon
  13. favorite drink
  14. eyes
  15. ballerina
  16. four horsemen of the apocalypse
  17. a hooded figure
  18. hair

OBJECTS/ORGANISMS

  1. bird
  2. dollhouse
  3. flowers
  4. lemon
  5. stars in the sky
  6. umbrella
  7. monster
  8. wings
  9. outdated robots
  10. doll
  11. mask
  12. chess piece
  13. mode of transportation
  14. what I ate for breakfast
  15. leaves
  16. drinking glass
  17. cat
  18. demon
  19. reaper
  20. moon
  21. sun
  22. a coin
  23. a bell
  24. a candle
  25. water drops
  26. random astrological zodiac sign
  27. my Chinese zodiac sign
  28. my astrological zodiac sign
  29. egg
  30. bone
  31. angel
  32. mythological creature
  33. feather
  34. spirit animal
  35. favorite toy as a kid
  36. one of my favorite foods

SCENERY

  1. favorite scene from a movie
  2. attic/basement
  3. sci-fi desert scene (+1)
  4. harbor
  5. forest
  6. garden
  7. museum
  8. underwater
  9. graveyard
  10. floating landscape (+1)
  11. city above the sky (+1)
  12. theater
  13. tranquil nature
  14. architecture
  15. cityscape (+1)
  16. farm
  17. a room in your dream house (+1)
  18. some sort of background
  19. one of my favorite places

CONCEPTS/PATTERNS

  1. something with my favorite color
  2. favorite season
  3. favorite weather
  4. favorite myth/fairytale
  5. favorite holiday
  6. tattoo
  7. black & white
  8. a smell
  9. song I just listened to, something that represents it
  10. mandala
  11. re-imagining of a book cover
  12. get five random tropes from tvtropes, pick one
  13. one of the seven deadly sins
  14. one of the seven heavenly virtues
  15. tarot card
  16. favorite word personified
  17. a fear
  18. an untranslatable word

MIXES/MASH-UPS

  1. lettering + first noun/verb/adjective of the 9th full sentence of the book closest to you
  2. a mash-up of three things on this list
  3. something on this list + a mustache
  4. something on this list + one of the four elements
  5. animal + person
  6. mash-up one random Chinese zodiac sign with one astrological zodiac sign
  7. twins + one other thing on this list
  8. logo + something on this list
  9. impossible animal mash-up
  10. jewelry + something on this list
  11. dragon + something on this list
  12. fruits/veggies + the four elements
  13. circus + something on this list
  14. fox + something on this list

OTHER

  1. redo of something you’ve made before (doesn’t have to be from this challenge)

On Timely Writing and Random Resources

A drawing of a girl daydreamingIn writing, I’ve heard all kinds of things about trying to write as much as possible and trying not to remain stuck in one place for too long– and I agree with these. They’ve helped me improve a lot.

But I think that, while I should try not to let myself become stuck in a muddy rut of writer’s doubt, I’ve also learned something else: that sometimes, it takes as long as it takes.

And let’s just say, it’s taking me a long time.

But who knows how long it really takes to write something you can be proud of? A month? A few weeks? A few years? I don’t think anyone really has some perfect number-formula that takes in a certain number of days and spits out a novel.

So for now I’m taking my time. I’ve set a new deadline for myself at the end of July, and here’s hoping all goes well with that.

Anyway, since I haven’t blogged in a while, I’ve decided to jot down a few resources I’ve been using, for further use by me or anyone who might need this stuff.

What Should I Read Next? is a website that suggests books based on books that you’ve read before– just pop in a title and it gives you a list of other books you might like. Nice.

Wordcount tracks how often words are used. Currently the most commonly used word is “the” (no surprise there), and the least commonly used word in their collection is “conquistador.” Kind of useful if you’re making up names based on already existing words.

The library is an awesome resource, and not only for the books. Many libraries have free encyclopedias and databases that you can access with your library card. For example, there is an awesome resource available for UW library members/students, the Daily Life through History Encyclopedia, that does pretty much what the title implies. Really useful if you want to know how the ancient Mycenaens went about their day-to-day business. You can also get free music from certain libraries. And you thought libraries couldn’t get any cooler.

If you want to get really specific about living during Jane Austen’s time (or you just want to know what Austen means when she talks about a barouche), try this website. I’ve been using it a lot lately, just to understand the atmosphere surrounding the time period.

Baby name websites are like gold. Gold, gold, gold. One website I like is 2000 Names, mostly because of its special categories page, which sorts names into categories like “elemental names” or “color names.”

If you’re looking for some movie-soundtrack-like music for inspiration, try HDSounDI‘s channel on YouTube. It’s AWESOME. Check it out.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I like taking personality tests for my characters sometimes, just to figure out if I know them well enough, or if I think they might all be too similar. I personally like the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator Test, which I usually take at Human Metrics.

A giant encyclopedia of tropes at TV Tropes. Fun to look through, and helpful for simultaneously avoiding cliches and getting ideas.

Well, that’s all I got. I should also mention that I bought a new sketchbook for writing and drawing, in which I drew the picture above. The girl has my haircut.

Good luck to all you writers out there. Or anyone working on anything. I’m rooting for you.

Redesigning a High School Website: Caution, Objects in Mirror Are More Profound Than They Appear

Pathways

Two of my least favorite words today:

Creative outlet.

I know, doesn’t seem like such a malicious string of letters, does it? But I’m telling you, these words are the devil. Especially when the pitchfork is placed right into its hands. As in, the words are put in the context of, “Maybe we can find you something else that can serve as your, uh… ‘creative outlet.'”

Um, what?

Let me explain.

The other day we had a meeting with the people in charge about our school website project. Meaning our principal and the higher-ups of the school-tech world, the district ITS and other similar people. Our mission was to pitch the idea and find out what kind of equipment and support we could get for the website, and what the best plan of action for launch would be.

Little did we know, the meeting, for the tech people at least, was actually about why we should even launch at all.

I won’t go into the deep, deep, details of it, but let’s just say that I was a little disappointed.

It seemed that they, as adults, did not seem to think that we, as high school students, were serious enough to take this on. As if we could not possibly comprehend what we were getting into. They didn’t give us enough credit. They were always looking for ways to get out of having to deal with it at all– they’d say things like “does it have to be the Skyview website?” and “you do know what you’re asking us to do, right?” and, of course, “couldn’t we find something else to serve as your creative outlet?”

They were missing the point.

What they failed to understand is that we are not doing this sheerly for the fun of it. We are seeking to change an outdated entity and replace it with something more useful, more modern, and ultimately something more competitive. This website is representative of us and our school– a specific science, math, and technology school. And yet, not only is this website barely keeping abreast of all the other high school websites, our leaders are failing to let its driven, technology-savvy students prove their worth and tackle the issue. (For free, I should add– not for a class, not as a job.)

Of course, I know that we as high school students have a reputation for being a little lazy. For not taking things seriously. And yes, many of us are seniors, and there is the question of who would take over after us. But if we really had been lazy and untrustworthy, we wouldn’t have persisted for so long. We wouldn’t have set up meetings with our school’s principal. We wouldn’t have even bothered talking to them at all. And we surely wouldn’t have been able to answer every single question they threw at us with well-informed answers, including the question of who would succeed us. I think they’ve certainly underestimated us.

But there is something more there, more than just the prejudice; it wasn’t just their doubts about our chances of success. It wasn’t about how much equipment would cost or what kind of people power it would take to make this thing a reality.

After reflecting on the situation, I can see that at they very core of it they were averse to one thing, and it wasn’t necessarily the teenage tendency. It wasn’t a budget of any kind. It was, and still is, change.

They were set in their old ways. Completing this project would be a major shake-up, as we could all tell. It would open a major floodgate– we would need new servers, people to maintain this thing using newer software, applying newer concepts. We could no longer be scraping by on our knowledge of the obsolete. They were too afraid to take the chance.

But we aren’t afraid, because we know what kinds of things would happen if we did get this thing up and running– and how we could revolutionize our tiny high school ecosystem.

As people, we can’t be afraid of change. We are sharks that mustn’t cease to swim. Learning new things, expanding the limits of what we already know– isn’t that what we should be aiming for? We can’t claim to be innovators and 21st-century thinkers if we are still trying to rely on outdated systems.

Thankfully our principal really wanted to push for the new site (thank you!), allowing us to continue the project– I don’t see an end to the hurdles anytime soon. In fact, I see the people we’re supposed to be cooperating with placing them right in front of us, right after the other. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that even though these hurdles will continue to try and trip us, it’s our job to overcome them. And maybe, just maybe, we can change them altogether.

So in the end, yes, I was highly offended by the term creative outlet. Was I a little sensitive? Perhaps. But I do not like the assumption that this is just something we’re messing around with for fun, and that it’s just a hollow-shell project that has no real weight or value. Especially when the term might just be covering up a bigger issue. I don’t like that. Give us a little more credit– we are more profound than you think we are.

Scenes from the Bookshelf Project

Hey all! I hope this post finds you well. I recently finished painting up a bookshelf for an auction, which was crazy because I actually got paid for this.

Paid for art! WHOO! *confetti confetti confetti*

It was a little bit of a rush because I was sort of ambushed with the project and I didn’t have as much time as I would’ve liked, but I like how it turned out. The woman who commissioned it is going to fill it with books before the auction, so it won’t be so empty.

The pictures are kind of dark and scary because I took these at like 10:00 at night in my creaky-creepy garage after I finished, and there’s a bunch of dead newspaper bodies strewn about the floor. Just step over them, if you please.

There’s a quote on the front that I really like from one of my favorite books EVER. *cough cough*

Bookshelf Quote

Here’s the whole thing:

Bookshelf front

If you look at the sides of the thing, there are these rungs which are actually used for holding up the middle shelf– the bookshelf is adjustable. Isn’t that cool?

Bookshelf removable shelf

Inside, close-up:

Bookshelf inside

And the back, my favorite part:

Bookshelf back

So that’s how it turned out. A little stressful with the time crunch, but worth it. I hope they like it!

Redesigning a High School Website: Like Head(er)less Chickens

Ha! See what I did there?

*ahem*

So, our web design club is not the most organized of clubs, and I think I’ve already mentioned how I came onto the project later than most everyone else. Well, that later part came back to bite us pretty quickly.

(Let me quickly put in a disclaimer, of sorts. I am speaking purely from a design point of view–from a functionality standpoint, I’m sure the website is being built very well. At least… think so. Additionally, the lack of aesthetics isn’t that big of a problem, compared to all the other problems that could/have/will encounter. Just putting that out there.)

At first, the design was treated as more of a thing that would be dealt with, well… later. Eventually. Sometime in the distant future. It was the vase you went to fish out of your closet after you’d bought the flowers. It was not a priority.

So at first, all they wanted was a banner.

I knew nothing about it, except that it had to have our school’s colors, had to be a certain width and height, and had to work with a layout that accommodated an adjustable screen width.

…That’s about it.

And so, with that in mind, I made this (you can click the images to make them bigger):

Skyview Banner Blueprint Rings Draft

Nice, right? I was proud of my banner (first real foray into Adobe Illustrator, might I add). However, two things became very apparent soon after the delivery of the banner:

  1. The website’s design had to match said banner, and
  2. The website needed an actual design.

After that I attempted to make a template for the content that would go under the banner– following all the constraints given to me by the powers that be without actually knowing what kind of stuff would be placed there. Let me just say, it was a bit of a mess.

Generally, I think it’s safe to say that things had been done a bit backwards. I’m no pro, but I’m pretty sure that all of this is usually developed at the same time, with a goal in mind and a theme and a color scheme and whatnot. (But that’s a story I’ll save for another day, I think.)

But anyway, the point is that we had no idea where the thing was going until it wasn’t going anymore. The engineer-less train finally derailed and hit a wall.

WE WERE RUNNING AROUND LIKE HEADLESS CHICKENS! YES!

After a few revamps, a meeting with the principal, and then a few more revamps, I ended up going through several drafts of potential header images.

And let me tell you, there are many, many problems with making these kinds of things for people. With needs. To save time, I’ll put some of them in a list:

  1. It must have our school colors. I like blue and gray, but…
  2. It MUST have our school logo. No, it is not our little Stormy mascot in the circle of the first header. It is actually the letter “S” that you’ll see in a second. (I didn’t know this until that meeting with the principal.)
  3. It must have a white background.
  4. If someone higher up than you (that is, almost everyone else) doesn’t like it, you have to change it.
  5. It will be left-aligned, and there will most likely be a search bar somewhere to the right of it.
  6. It must work with the rest of the website design, which had become sort of modern-minimalist, and
  7. Said website design can’t be too crazy because older computers don’t support crazy too well

With that in mind, here are some of the header drafts that I’d made. Really rough, but here we go:

Skyview Filler Heading

Technically not a logo draft, this is what I used as a filler for a while during the revamping phase. Notice the Stormy.

Skyview Retro Heading Draft

A lot of people actually liked this one, but I thought it was a little too old school.

Old school. Ha.

Skyview Halo Heading Draft

I liked the concept of this one, but I couldn’t really read it very well. Plus it’s center-aligned, so… that doesn’t really work.

And then we come to this:

Skyview Main Heading Draft

This is the draft I’m working on right now, and it was my favorite of all the drafts *besides my awesome blueprint header*. The gray line was the principal’s idea. Still tweaking it, but I think this draft’s going to be the one.

It’s coming together. Slowly. But at least the chickens sort of have heads now… right?

Redesigning a High School Website

Alright guys, I’ve got a new project that I’m really excited to tell you about!

(A project I will likely not abandon this time because it’s for school, I might add.)

WE’RE REDESIGNING OUR SCHOOL’S WEBSITE! YAY! *throws confetti*

I find this kind of funny because my own blog is suffering on the design side a little, but that’s beside the point.

Here’s a link to our school’s website. And here’s a photo of what it looks like now– not too attractive, but it just happens to be one of the better websites in our district:

Original Skyview Website

In about a month, this blue-and-grey monster is going to disappear– and something new will stand in its place.

So let me tell you a little story.

This year our school started its first web design club, which I was initially not a part of. But as time went by it became apparent that they needed a graphic designer/someone with an eye for design, which is where I come in. And so I am now in charge of all design aspects of the site. I’m the designated artist, I guess, since I’m the only artist at this point…

I know some code, enough to make a basic web site, but these guys really know what they’re doing– so they handle the heavy coding. Well, all of the coding, actually.

And now we’re knee-deep in ideas and code and graphics and we’re loving every minute of it. We’re hoping to launch by the end of January.

I’ll be posting updates about this up until there are no more updates to post, I suppose. Can’t wait to share it with you!