Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What I have been up to

For folks who stumble upon this and haven't seen me since college or highschool, here's a bit of an update:

The fall after highschool graduation I started college in the Graphic Design program at the Art Institute of Portland, then a very tiny place consisting of two buildings and maybe 300 students. While Art Institutes have their drawbacks, the small community meant I got a lot of one-on-one time and the entire process was very personable for me. I took (and even helped create) every illustration and fine-art type class they had and graduated with a bachelors of science in graphic design (with honors, woo).

After college, I got an at-home job digitally illustrating a variety of items for the Johnstone Supply parts catalogue. It was seasonal and the faster my turnaround, the more work I got. Because I was their only digital illustrator, my work was cleaner and I could turn around illustrations faster so I became their lead illustrator. I drew an insane amount of electric motors, switches, odd plumbing items, and all manner of things. It was fun and I really got to hone my Adobe Illustrator skills.

Unfortunately, after two summers of that, JS decided to switch to photography so I packed up and moved back home to Alaska

Moving home was hard but turned out to be the best thing, career wise. In the 'states they tell you that you must specialise - you cannot do both graphic design and illustrate. I knew better about Alaska and I was right. I've done a little bit of both since I've been back and in 2005 I got a job working for Whittington-Evans Communications (WEC) (Chris). Chris also does double-duty as an architect and we share office space with his work partner, Gary, who is an architect. We're combining businesses at the moment and it's fun. I get to do most of the graphic design work with Chris acting as an art director, not just for the graphic design side of things but I get to do graphics for architecture as well.

So WEC is where I currently work. We do everything from business identity to brochures, ads to posters, pamphlets to entire magazine-sized documents, including the Mat-Su Visitor Guide, which I must say is one of the better looking guides in the state. ;) At WEC I've been able to impliment every graphic design trick taught to me at the Art Institute as well as all of my Illustrator tricks taught to me by the fantastic Lisa Johnston/Kelson.

Sadly, my fine arts have fallen by the wayside. Though I took every opportunity to create paintings while I was in college, life took some crazy turns that did not include much in the way of art. Since highschool I have completed a total of three oil paintings on my own that were not school related. The good news is that they are far and beyond any other paintings I have ever created and I have to say I'm rather happy with myself. Due to some recent life stresses and haunting dreams, I've begun pushing myself to paint.

I've always had a passion for abandoned old things, places like abandoned mines and burnt out buildings, things like old train cars and vehicles used to halt erosion along river banks. Odd things found in the middle of nowhere with little clue as to how they came to be there. A lot of these things are self evident as to how they got to be where they are and why they were abandoned but there are plenty of things people are starting to forget about. In just a generation or two, no one will recall anything about these abandoned items. I think it's facinating to wonder about what these things were like when they were new and when was the last time anyone cared for it?

It began with an ill-composed painting of some of the Kennecott mill buildings in Kennicott, Alaska. Piles of wrecked boards and twisted rails with mostly standing buildings. Fun. The second I call "Generator/Compressor" - it's an abandoned air compressor used to drive drill bits for mining in ore. It was left halfway up a mountain in Hatcher Pass - I did a painting of the control panel and nearby parts. I'm currently working on a painting of the dashboard of an abandoned car that was one of dozens used to stop the Knik river from eating away at a local fishing stream. Next I may do more of the abandoned cars, all from the 50's and back, and then one of Independence Mine. Or rather, the board pile that is left. A woman in charge of the tourism element of Kennecott expressed interest in my Kennecott painting so I'd like to do more of those as well.

Right now I don't have time to do a whole lot of paintings, nor do I have the room or facilities for it. I'd like to get enough together to do an "Abandonings" show, and then expand into site-specific series, one for Hatcher Pass/Independence Mine and one for Kennecott, as those would have good commercial value as well as just being fun and interesting to do.

And that's about the size of it.

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