Final: Sending Messages

During this art class, I learned how to interpret art not just for an aesthetic object, but tried to be open to the message or "concept" behind what was being done. Messages are huge...they speak at times when words won't pass our lips. They are used to start controversy, to entice people towards an action or a decision, or they can even give us an opportunity to question our very own ideas.

Two artists, one a street artist and the other an advertising executive, have made a name for themselves by spreading messages. The first find ways to put his ideas into unsuspecting places. The other has put unsuspecting ideas into the usual places. Both work with different medium, and both are driving by a different vocation with regards to art, however both are using their skill to spread messages to a large audience...whether or not the audience agrees with the message.

The street artist known as "Banksy" has become well known for his street art. Placing his art into areas that could get him in trouble at the federal level, Banksy has used different venues to place his art into the midst of the world. While some may call his work destructive, his work has become known throughout the world.

For a show in Los Angeles for MOCA entitled "Art in the Streets," Banksy displayed several pieces of art in his usual post-modern fashion. One of the pieces was a cathedral glass window. The glass was replaced with graffiti...a collaboration he'd made with local Los Angeles school students. At the bottom of the window, there's a stencil of a hooded boy with a paint brush, praying with his hands together.

The wooden chapel frame is crafted out of wood, and the area for the glass has been filled with wooden plates that were spraypainted by others. The actual display appears to stand 9' high or so...approximately the height of an actual stain glass window in a church. The praying youth is done in black and white and appears to be a stencil of some sort.

Compositionally, it takes the gothic frame of the church window and combines it with the colorful and chaotic lines of the added plates. The hues change from yellow to red-blue near the top...drawing the eye to the center of the window. One could imagine that a light source actually existed on the other side of this window frame. Dwarfed by the immensity of the window, the boy is created using different values of great to show shadow and light. A large number of lines are used, as the boy appears to be quite intricate. Judging from this picture, it's hard to tell if the boy is part of the overall image or if he's separated from the window.

As a friar, the message of this work is rather profound. I experience this work as a statement regarding the need for the church to be relevant not only to today's issues, but to the issues of the inner-cities and the poor. Glass windows traditionally were used to help tell stories, specifically biblical stories and stories of the saints. They were a way to catechize parishioners who attended church. By extrapolating those images with graffiti, graffiti made by LA youth, I interpret the image as saying that the new catechesis, the Church's stories of grace and strength, are rooted in the experience of the poor and marginalized. I'm reminded of the "preferential option for the poor," as written in the South American Council of Bishop's meeting in Medellin in 1979.

I see two things here that maybe others wouldn't connect with: 1. The boy's hoodie looks like the cowl of my religious habit, the garb of my profession as a Capuchin Franciscan. On the left side, it looks like a rosary is visible just under the hoodie. It's as if the actual work calls me, in my own particular experience, to partake in this action of re-focusing the stories of the Church.

The second artist created something that I wouldn't have ordinarily categorized as art. George Lois made a name for himself by telling people what to do...and having people listen. His trick, according to him, is "theres a chance you can do something different, exciting, unique." Defining himself as a communicator, Lois has created some of the greatest advertising campaigns, including MTV, Esquire, and ESPN. One that he's most known for is his ad promo for Tommy Hilfiger.

Discussing the craft of this ad is complex, because the concept is what drives everything for Lois. His goal: to figure out the "big idea" of each item and, using his words, "sear" it into the minds of people, in hopes that they will buy the product. For Tommy Hilfiger, the idea was to create an ad campaign that would make his clothes a household item for shoppers.

The design is simple, crafted with easy to read text and plenty of negative space. Only a few hues are used. It's crafted in a way to be used on print, billboard, or other mediums.

Compositionally, the piece is designed to be easily read. Since the piece requires people to think, Lois uses a good font, while also using black type on the white surface. Negative space is key in this piece, as it assumes that the viewer will be able to guess. Everything is centered, and while the logo (the only object in the piece that is a true graphic) grabs the eye, focus shifts from there to the top.

The concept of the piece, asides from the obvious advertising aspect, is to make the viewer think they should know someone they don't. A shopper might be able to recognize Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein from this, however people would not know the Tommy brand, and would be moved to do further research. It challenges the viewer remember the logo the next time they go shopping, and that if they are shoppers who are interested in labels, they are missing out.

As an ad, it places Tommy Hilfiger among the existing giants of his field. It is a bold statement, a message that Tommy deserves to be big, that has been copied in various outlets and mediums. For Lois, the idea was big and it directly challenged buyers to look into this new designer. And, for all purposes, it worked.

While both pieces come out of different mindsets, there are various similarities. As I mentioned in the beginning, both have clear messages. While Lois spells it out (so to speak), Banksy allows the user to interpret the meaning. Both pieces speak to something other than themselves, perhaps challenging the viewer to make a choice afterwards. It's also important that both artists make work that is meant to be seen en masse. It is reasonable that both artists would compete for the same space to place their works, insomuch that they would be prime locations for their work to be seen by the most number of people...or at least a target audience. Last, but not least, both artists seek to be in-your-face with their work. Neither of these works are subtle, in fact these pieces figuratively pull some sense of emotion from each viewer, be they positive or negative. They contain powerful messages, challenging the viewer to agree or disagree.

In spite of these similarities, there are distinct differences as well. George Lois has a specific goal for each viewer: to buy the product. Buying the product defines the success of the artwork, and validates his ability to send a specific message to the audience. Banksy produces pieces that are post-modern, lacking any overt message. While the church window lacks a clear message, if it did have one, it's not important for the viewer to agree. In fact, the medium in which it is created can be disagreeable for some.

I found both pieces to be important statements that, for their respective audience, were successful in sending a specific message to the viewer.

Week 14: E-Publishing

Along with our magazine, we had to upload our magazine to three online digital publishing sites to see how they looked.
This is from Issuu.
Digital Friar

 This version is from Scribed.

This version is from Calameo

Week 13: Sending off the Ebook

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Today we sent our books off to to get printed. Here were the steps:

1. Create a Lulu account.
2. Log in
3. Click on "Publish"
4. Click on "Books"
5. Click on "Start Publishing"
6. Title>Author>Public
7. Standard>Letter>Binding Type>Full Color
8. Cover > Choose Themes > Choose Image Only Themes > Upload Pics
9. Keywords: SXU, Computer Graphics, Nathan Peck, Vito Martinez, Spring 2012, Creative Commons License.
10. Bill to me, ship to Nathan Peck here at SXU.

A specific file was downloaded and installed, making the actual settings fit with's settings.

Week 12: The other 10? Spreads

So the assignment originally calls for 10 more spreads (10+10 = 20 * 2 =40 pages). However page 1 and page 40 are not actual spreads. We're not able to print on the inside of the covers, so there's 2 individual pages...and the 9 spreads.

The first spread finishes off the extended article on social change and social media. I created an image of the famous "HUELGA" image of Delores Huerta in Illustrator to go with the motif of the article...iconic to some people...others may never recognize it. (Something I intended). I also wanted to showcase some of the internet-created art that comes out of the spur of the moment...sometimes known as "memes."

As I mentioned in my last post, I knew that I would not have enough content to fill up the magazine, however just adding art did not fit with the concept that I'd created for this project. However I knew artists that were religious friars who had plenty of art and were rarely ever showcased. I asked these artists if I could use their work and they were elated to share it with me.

This series of chalk drawings are an important aspect of composing for others' work. My black line drawings had little color and I found it complicated to integrate the work. Now that I was handling someone else's art, I felt a mandate to showcase it in the best possible way. In my interpretation, I tried to create an aesthetic in the positioning of the art with the white space, and made sure that the text and body copy did distract from the art.

Unfortunately I ran out of ideas to use for text to compliment the art.

The second artist I used also is part of the order and was happy to contribute. His work varied over different mediums, so rather than try to portray a story, such as the spreads before, I wanted to use the magazine space to feature the variety of the work. The intricate Tau symbol worked perfect as the dropcap for this article, even though the rest of the article mimics the rest of the magazine.

Showcasing the various art pieces, I used different sized images to do this. It also shows the different scales of art as well.

While not really a spread, these pages serve as the "catch-all" or the "mail-bag" of a magazine. One discusses the construction of the cover, while the other is an article based on my midterm blog.

This page is the standard "About Me" paired with my first ad for religious vocations to the Capuchin Franciscans. I found the process of making the ad to be something of an interesting experience, as it seeks to reach out to an individual and call them to a specific answer. These are sometimes subtle or direct. I focused on the ideas of people, who are discerning a religious vocation, have about making a life-changing decision.  This ad received positive response from our Vocations Director.

Week 11: 10 Spreads

As I started to develop the rest of my magazine, I came to some realizations:

1. I cannot create art as fast as others. It is not my gift.

2. As an ex-car salesman, I can create words (well, stories to be precise) a lot faster, and use them to get people thinking.

3. My focus piece was an example of both: my slow pace at working with art and a desire to pull people into a discussion about something...not the artwork, but what the artwork represents to people at a theological level.

Another key thought came to me as I developed a further concept for the magazine: How often do I see a good technology/religion merger in a piece of work? The Catholic Church isn't known for keeping up with the pace of technology, and technology isn't known for emphasizing the spiritual needs of people. Since, through my schooling, I am trying to do both...why not create a magazine that does this?

With that concept developed, I continued to craft more spreads in InDesign. The use of topic headers gave it an official look...and the feedback I was getting from other students is that it look "official" or "like a real magazine."I was inspired by a science journal that used images to pull people into dull articles about algorithm I liked how they crafted the pages.

This week, I created 8 more spreads to equal 10 total.

This was a wider image of the chapel that I used for a center-piece in the magazine. I blurred the image with a filter in photoshop to soften the light as well as alter the look somewhat. I liked the image because of the large negative-space on the left side, providing room for either text or just to make a statement regarding the placement of the artwork in real life.

I knew I had to include my artwork in this magazine, regardless of how I looked at the overall concept. However I struggled to find a good way to display what I'd created. The blue/black backdrop on the blue bottle with the black backdrop served as an interesting eye piece...both framing the image and drawing the eye to the bottom of the bottle.

The more spreads that were created, the more I realized that I was standardizing how the entire magazine would look. All pull-quotes would be in the orange font, with black lines above-and below. Much the way art can draw you in through framing that centers on an area, the black lines frame a larger text...pulling the eyes to read...and consequently getting the "previewer" to become a "reader."

The line drawings page gave me a lot of confusion. These were monochrome images in a magazine that was becoming quite colorful. It didn't help that I was displeased by these images. As I mentioned before, art is not my strong subject, yet these early attempts to use a graphic tablet were part of the course. I think I'll continue to have problems with this part of my magazine.

I liked the space and the text used in the section headers. There was not reason for choosing pink, other than I was following a similar color palette as Adobe does with it's different programs. Each section had a different name, and should also have a different reference color. We'll see what colors I use in further aspects of this magazine.

After getting all my artwork displayed (which didn't take long), I started working on the in-depth parts of my magazine. I created an article that looked at social media and social change...using the media that was being tied to both of these current movements. By this point, I'd pretty much solidified how the rest of the pages would look.

This was the first page that I used the concept of smaller sub-articles and graphics to explain. The separation of color removes the text from the rest of the article, without disturbing the flow of the body copy.

At this point, things were working easily. I took a book review that I'd done several months ago, and converted it for this project. I snagged an image from NASA's hubble telescope site, and added everything. While the the article is devoid of art, the entire article looks at how we define creation in terms of the physical or spiritual understanding.

Week 9: Starting the Magazine

The first part of our class has focused on the actual construction of art, using some of the tools available to graphic designers. Now we're going to combine our art into a magazine that will be available in several different formats. We will be working with Adobe InDesign as well as some e-publishing tools.

Here are some of the requirements that are being asked of us as we go through the process.

1. Look at several different magazines to get an idea of a layout. Some of these magazines include those by past us an idea of what to do and what NOT to do.

2. The magazine must be 40 pages at least. If we go over 40, then additions have to be in multiples of 4. (44, 48, etc.)

3. There must be 4 orders of text per spread. This can include the title, subtitle, a pull-quote, a drop-cap, a list or image description.

4. Body copy must be 10pt font, either Arial or Times.

5. Stick to 3 main color values per spread, 2 or three font types for the entire magazine.

6. All art MUST BE CITED if it is not your own.

7. Body copy must be in 2 columns.

8. Put text into blog or text editor prior to putting it into the magazine.

9. Edit all images with Photoshop/Illustrator..not in InDesign.

Week 10: First Two Magazine Spreads

The next part of our class involves the collection of artwork into a magazine. Our task is to create a 40-page magazine using Adobe In-Design. After the pages have been made using In-Design, the files will be sent off to an actual printer where an actual magazine will be created. This magazine will be the major focus for the rest of the semester.

While we are using In Design to actually build the magazine, some research went into choosing exactly how I wanted the magazine to look. There are many types of magazines out there; be they for art, technology, reading, or photos. Since I am not an art major, I realized that I did not have a lot of artwork to make a full-blown art magazine. What I am able to do, based on my history of writing and blogging, is creating plenty of text for a periodical.

Recognizing this, I decided to make the text an important part of the magazine. I looked at various magazines to get some ideas together, and then started the project by making my first two spreads.

My photo trace is the pinnacle of my small "body of work," so I used it as my initial article. The image, based on feedback from others, speaks volumes, so I decided to give it a full page. I realized that it needed to be accommodated by text that would draw the casual browser into the actual text.

Therefore I used not only the different type faces that were available to me, but I used other tools that are often seen in credible periodicals: a section heading to imply the focus of the article, focused images that show the detail of the work, a sub-title that gives more information about what the reader should expect, and pull-quotes that were relevant and interesting.

Using these devices, my attempt was to create a concept of a "professional magazine." Whether or not my magazine will be considered to be professional remains to be seen.