Changing the Magazine Game

Many of you know that on September 23, red dust enveloped parts of Australia in the worst dust storm that continent has seen in nearly a century. You probably saw photos on news site, Flickr or in other digital media.

However, did you know there’s a magazine already available, two days later; which has collected them in print form?

Strange Light is now available through MagCloud, a service of Hewlett-Packard. Self-described as a “virtual magazine newsstand in the cloud,” MagCloud seems geared toward niche publishers, self-aggrandizement and fringe interests – but with Strange Light, I can see something else beginning to grow under their aegis.

The return to a tangible archival system seems delicious when you see these photos fully printed, something I’m loathe to admit as an environmentalist but forced to as an artist. The tactile addition to the artwork pulls me in, makes the oranges and reds seem far more real and alive.

It’s a trick of editing, of course, that made this hit me. Someone had the bright idea to collect what they thought to be the best representations of a moment in time, not only online but into a format that could, in theory, be handed down through generations. If you lived through the dust storm, I imagine that would have some appeal – and other savvy editors could easily capture other moments in time.

For example, Teabagger: The Magazine. If anyone does it, they owe me 50% of the profits.

(Incidentally, I first found MagCloud through Constellation Magazine, which is now publishing its Libra/Scorpio issue and is still well worth checking out, if you’re at all astrologically inclined.)


Needed a kickstart to the brain. Cuba, Che, and several brushes from Obsidian Dawn Resources (

Needed a kickstart to the brain. Using Havana and several brushes from Obsidian Dawn Resources (

Extraordinary renditions

I’ve fallen off the update wagon again, which is a pisser, to be honest. At least I have some good stuff to share today!

My friend Susan Sieber is an accomplished artist who specializes in hand-painting silk: she works with scarves, bags, banners and the like, and does a wonderful job with them. She’s also talented in drawing, but like any good artist, she continues to learn new techniques and skills.

Last weekend she asked for volunteers to pose for a project, and the divine Miss L and I agreed to do so. She took the photographs and sketched them out, one as a foreground character, one as background. I love the way it turned out!

Ivan and L hold court at Dawns.

Ivan and L hold court at Dawn's.

Susan’s usual style is more manga-oriented, and her comics gallery – including the very endearing Far Shores – can be found at her DeviantArt pages.

2009 Valentine’s Day show

As I did with the Holiday show, I thought it would be interesting to go through the flyer created for Triskele Moon Studios’ Valentine’s Day show – taking place on February 6 & 7 at Evolve, 54 N. Williams Street in Crystal Lake, IL.

Valentine's Day Show for Triskele Moon StudiosI started at Stock.Xchng, my favorite place to trawl for high-quality, royalty-free graphics. There are some immensely talented people posting their work on that site for the sheer joy of sharing and seeing their work used, and when I came across Flavio Takemoto’s Romantic Heart series I knew I had a strong contender for the flyer’s background. I looked a bit longer but in the end, I went with the Romantic Heart.

What attracted me to it – the full, rounded curves of his heart, the glassily reflective quality of the heart, the eye-popping light treatments and the innovative overlays of the spiral arabesques behind the heart. I knew it would catch the eye of anyone walking by just as effectively as it caught my own in the surfing process.

Once I’d trimmed it to the 8.5 x 11 format, I started adding in the necessary information. First comes the studio name, which I played around with in the lower left-hand corner – but decided that while it balanced things out nicely with the heart, it downplayed the important information too much. Moving it to the upper left and adding in “Jewelry Event” as blocktext, I sized the words to match the size of the heart.

Leanne’s tagline for Triskele Moon Studios is “Everyone deserves to be adorned,” and the Adore / Adorn legend hit me while I was pushing pixels. I dropped it into the lower left, matching the size of the arabesques around the heart for balance. Next I dropped in the Triskele symbol over the heart – that caused a lot of work in the end, as Leanne and I went back and forth on whether it were better to really call the symbol out or leave it more subtle. In the end, my viewpoint won out, and we kept it as a shade rather than another focal point.

I knew I wanted to put the date and location on a single line near the center this time around, but that required a smaller font size than I’d typically use. After playing around with layer effects and color choices, I settled on a white bar set to Overlay around the letters – this turned the background into the lovely pinks seen elsewhere in the poster, while allowing the raylines to come through and drawing attention to the comparatively brighter area where the main information is located. The text itself was aligned to run from the left edge of the Studio name to the right edge of the Adore / Adorn tagline.

Next came the selection of jewelry photos. I knew I wanted to use the ‘fabric windowpane’ necklace, to let the cool blues and deep black contrast with the vibrant reds. The central ‘pumpkin vine’ bracelet was chosen both for its vertical alignment and the brightness of the copper and dichroic glass piece at its center. Finally, the honeyed hue of the stone in the last photo provided a chance to show off the intricate silverwork Triskele Moon Studios is so well known for.

The photos on their own just weren’t cutting it, though. Each of the symbols you see behind the pictures came from the Adobe Illustrator Symbol Library, and consists of two layers on top of one another, both set to a white fill and Overlay so they really pop against the darker colors surrounding them and the black background of the photos themselves.

When Leanne looked it over, her only comments were around the text and the triskele, as I mentioned above. With the text, she felt that the columnar nature of the text I’d originally designed left too much centerspace unfilled and made the text difficult to read. She also preferred “Show” to “Event,” so I switched words and kept them on a single line set a bit apart from the main logo. I increased the font sizes to help with legibility as well.

Overall, I’m pleased. It’s been on my to-do list all week, but today I was able to sit down and knock it out in about three hours’ time (with a short break for some fantastic leftover fettucine diablo from Cucina Bella and a few minutes of the NFL Playoffs) and print off the five signs we need for our good friends at Evolve, Le Petit Marche, La Bellissima, Benedict’s La Strata and, of course, the local Starbucks.

Solstice Card 2008

Ivan's Solstice Greetings 2008

I normally don’t manage to get cards out for the holidays. It’s not for lack of desire, though it often is for lack of trying – somehow, thinking “I ought to design a bunch of cards and get them in the mail this year” doesn’t show up in my mind until it’s usually far too late.

This year, however, a combination of things led me to get the work done at least early enough to share with you online. I’m particularly fond of the font treatment on the legend, myself, since that’s the work I mostly did.

Tree design by Sachyn Ghodke on Stock Xchange.

Font work inspired by tutorials.

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