April 30, 2013

Homegrown Alphabets

I am pleased to announce that a drop cap alphabet poster I helped design and print has been accepted as part of the Homegrown Alphabets Exhibit, which opens tomorrow at the Asheville BookWorks Gallery in West Asheville, NC. My first east coast exhibition!

Exhibit description: "Homegrown Alphabets is an exhibit intended to showcase the exciting ways in which type design and printing come together to form refined letterforms as well as wildly experimental letterforms. Homegrown Alphabets will be on exhibit in the BookWorks Gallery, May 1 – June 30, 2013. Juror: Eleanor Annand"

If you're in the area, please check it out! Our poster is the big one (30"x22") in navy and gold ink, and my contributions are the 'P' and 'S'. It was everyone's first time printing anything that large, and based on the experience, I think most of us will never attempt anything that large again. A rare specimen!

April 26, 2013

I love finding typos

At the library, I found an old cloth-bound copy of Wuthering Heights. You know, the novel by Emily Blonte:

March 31, 2013

How to Deal with Artistic Criticism

My father-in-law, a music lover, tells a story about Beethoven while the composer was writing his late string quartets a couple years before his death in 1827. Though now considered among the best musical compositions of all time, critics then complained that the quartets were unplayable or unlistenable. Beethoven, almost completely deaf, responded, "This music is not for you! It's for future generations!"

I think this is the best way to deal with any kind of artistic criticism:
  • The scarf you knitted that your dad said looked like a "chewed up baby blanket"? Duh, he wouldn't understand—it's for future generations! 
  • The handmade business cards you offered to your friends, to which they said, "No thanks, save them for someone who actually cares"? You didn't print these on acid-free paper for nothing! They're for future generations!
  • The casserole you made for someone's birthday potluck, that some random guest you didn't know tried to sneak back into the serving dish after taking a bite? Go get a ziploc freezer bag, hon, 'cause this casserole was meant for future generations! 
Sure, the internet enables you to find your audience anywhere. But don't forget about your fans anywhen.

February 21, 2013

There's a word for this but I don't think it's irony

Whenever I meet someone who has the same camera as me, I take a photo of it. Why? Because the one thing your camera can't take a picture of is itself.

February 6, 2013

Becoming Left-Handed

The wrist pain from November has gotten worse, and intermittent pain, cold, tingling, and numbness has spread to hands, forearms, and elbows. The doctor recommended wrist splints for now, to see if they help before trying more aggressive treatments like surgery.

In the meantime, I have been trying to "conserve" my dominant right hand by learning to do more things with my left, like brushing my teeth, typing (I am typing this with my left hand), eating (a good way to lose weight, especially if you try chopsticks).

I used to use my hands all the time, for everything. Now I imagine myself like Homestar Runner, armless, yet not as content because it's not my natural state.

Any suggestions for dictation software? Typing hurts more than sketching or taking pictures, so in the meantime I will try to post more of those and less of text.

November 25, 2012


I somehow managed to pinch a nerve in my arm, leaving me with carpal tunnel-like symptoms and the inability to hold a pen or type without pain (or painkillers). While my wrist recuperates, please enjoy this MC Hammer doll riding a silver chicken, spotted at Team Print Shop in Oakland:

October 26, 2012


Perhaps it's just that I've become more curmudgeonly with age, but these days, when I look at social stationery catalogs I am utterly disgusted by how militantly light, bright, and cheerful the worlds of these social stationers seem. Nothing but desserts, babies, and springtime! 

Unfortunately, it's all too easy to fall into the sweetness trap when you consider the letterpress process, materials, and suppliers make a world of soft pastels on pillowy soft paper, awash with nostalgia for the delicate, decorated, and handmade. Plus, marketability of positive messages and images over opinionated or asocial ones (I mean, it IS called 'social stationery') makes the path of kitsch an easy choice. 

So I felt extremely affirmed when I discovered this passage in The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera:
“The daily defecation session is daily proof of the unacceptability of Creation. Either/or: either shit is acceptable (in which case don't lock yourself in the bathroom!) or we are created in an unacceptable manner.  
It follows, then, that the aesthetic ideas of the categorical agreement with being is a world in which shit is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist.  This aesthetic ideal is called kitsch.  
“Kitsch” is a German word born in the middle of the sentimental nineteenth century, and from German it entered all Western languages. Repeated use, however, has obliterated its orignal metaphysical meaning: kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.
The feeling induced by kitsch must be a kind the multitudes can share. Kitsch may not, therefore, depend on an unusual situation; it must derive from the basic images people have engraved in their memories: the ungrateful daughter, the neglected father, children running on the grass, the motherland betrayed, first love. 
Though touched by the song, Sabina did not take he feeling seriously. As soon as kitsch is recognized for the lie it is, it moves into the context of non-kitsch, thus losing its authoritarian power and becoming as touching as any other human weakness. For none among us is superman enough to escape kitsch, completely. No matter how we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.”