#66 Plain & Simple


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Everything about this release is plain & simple. Just like it says.

Not even the usual long-winded article. A thoughtful gesture for those of you who skip reading the story but feel guilty afterwards.

There’s no “chaz sez” column, either.  And you know how much I love standing on my soapbox. (I would expound on the virtues of professional, world-class design—in plain & simple terms, of course.)

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#65 Black & Blue

65-black-blue


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My favorite colors are black & “charlie blue.”

Black is actually my very favorite color & yes, it is a color. (See “chaz sez” below.) “Charlie blue,” as my friends know it, is anything between Crayola Blue Green to cerulean to turquoise to cyan (one of the four printing ink colors). AmperArt #65, Black & Blue, features CBG as I call it, cyan, and one other blue which I’ll get to later. All my favorite blues are somewhere in-between CBG and cyan.

I am not fond of sky blue, navybaby blue nor royal blue. They are cold. (Yes, I know, my very favorite color—black—is definitely freezing. But we’re talking blue here.)

There is a very deep blue that does tingle my color bone. That’s cobalt blue. My first memory of that color is my father’s blue cuff links. Also the knob on his steering wheel to help turn the tires before power steering (that accessory became illegal because when the steering wheel snapped back the knob could remove a finger or two). & the cool red tail lights with the blue dot in the middle, which created a magical color effect.  They’re popular again today but I remember the originals on my dad’s 1950-something automobile. Probably no other recollection of cobalt blue is stronger for me than the bottle of Vicks VapoRub. That stuff felt ice-cold as the color of the bottle it was packaged in. I’m also partial to cobalt blue because it is the favorite color of my mother and my brother Rob. So that is the other blue in this AmperArt piece.

In fairness to navy, royal blue, sky blue & all those that are not my favorites, combine them with various other colors & they create outstanding color schemes. Of course, the same could be said for poop brown.

I am releasing #65 Black & Blue during the playful days of summer, because that’s when I recall we’d get the most bruised up falling off our bikes, skateboards, or just playing in the backyard. I did, anyway. I was a real klutz. Still can’t ride a skateboard.


listen up! Black is a color! Not the absence of color, nor the combination of all colors. It is color. So is white. So why do people say it’s all the colors or no color? Because they don’t know the definition of color. “Color” means the description of the hue, value & tone. Pure yellow is a color that has a hue somewhere between orange & green on the color wheel, a very light value (high-key, or very bright compared to very dark such as navy blue), & minimal tone (grayishness; mauve & sage green have medium tone).

The color black is defined by no hue (red, yellow, blue, etc.), the darkest value, & zero tone. White is defined by no hue, the lightest value, & zero tone. So you see, black & white have no hue & no tone, but they are both colors.

If you want to have some fun with all the other colors, check out the Crayola website, especially the history & the Crayola Experience where kids (including big kids) get to play & create among all things Crayola, & see how they are made. If you can’t make it to the factory in Easton, Pennsylvania, watch this video: How Crayolas Are Made.

I love Crayolas. (I won’t use any other brand; the colors aren’t as pure, they’re waxy & they just aren’t Crayola.) I remember when the box of 64 premiered, with the awesome Built-In Sharpener. I probably have the few stubs that are left of my original set somewhere, but today I have The Ultimate Crayola Collection—152 different colors!—on my desk. I use them frequently, & always to sign important legal documents. For that task, of course, it’s Crayola Blue Green.


PRODUCTION NOTES:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Program: Illustrator
Lettering: Hand-lettered by Chaz DeSimone
Colors: Cyan, cobalt blue, Crayola Blue Green & black

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#59 Weights & Measures

59-Weights-Measures

 

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Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

So the other day I pop into my local supermarket which happens to bake the best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever had—delicious peanut butter flavor & loaded with chunks of peanuts. I love peanut butter cookies & it’s always a treat when this store bakes them, which is too infrequently. They come in a tray of 50 for $5 which is a good deal itself, but it’s the special peanut butter flavor I’m after.

I put a tray in my basket & did the rest of my shopping. In line at the register, I sensed something was wrong with my tray of peanut butter cookies (I had bought many trays before). I counted the cookies through the transparent lid & there were only 44. I told the checker I’d be right back & to take the next people in line.

I was gone quite awhile.

Back in the bakery section, I counted the cookies in each & every tray, and they varied from 37 to 46—not a single one was the full 50. I went back to the checkstand (where my ice cream was melting) and asked for a manager. Not to make a scene, but rather to inform of the issue & save the next unaware customer from being cheated. The manager was rather surprised upon counting several of the trays herself & quickly offered to “rob from Peter” to bring my tray up to the full measure.

She opens the lid, stops for a moment & says “These don’t smell like peanut butter.” Handed me one gratis to confirm & sure enough it was their new disgusting “apple crisp” cookie. (Attention bakers: apple crisp is done in a baking pan, not in a cookie.) The little bits of apple sure looked like peanuts but sure didn’t taste like them. & yes, all the trays contained apple crisp cookies, not peanut butter as labeled.

So one more thing to add to the list in this little hick town I live in: people can’t count & they can’t read, either. But they sure can bake excellent peanut butter cookies…when they’re actually peanut butter cookies.


listen up!

Why isn’t the United States on the metric system? I’ll tell you why—we’re too damn lazy, and I got proof. Back in the 70s or 80s several freeways in California installed highway signs that were black, not green (that alone was beauty to my eyes), displaying the upcoming exits in kilometers. And several gas stations switched their pumps to liters. How easy and efficient that was, computing distances and volume simply by factoring by 10, 100, or 1000. Easy and efficient while it lasted, anyway. Soon everything was converted back to our convoluted miles and gallons.

I can’t understand why architects try to scale things by 8ths and 16ths when using millimeters and centimeters is so much easier and accurate. I measure everything in metrics–times 10, divide by 10, etc. Anyone who can’t figure out simple metric calculations probably still uses a slide rule just to make math difficult.

Why are soda bottles in the US labeled 1.5L and so on? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a sneaky way to reduce the volume without anyone noticing. Remember half-gallon ice cream tubs? Today they’re 1.5L, which is far less than half a gallon. (1/2 gallon = 1.892 liters). I’m all for it, though. Maybe the metric system will catch on in this so-called progressive country after all.

I’ll give us credit for the currency system, though. That’s close to metric efficiency. The Euro has denominations similar to the US, but each bill is a colorful contemporary design, not black and green on every single note. Needless to say, America is behind on design, too. That’s another topic, though. And then there’s our prudishness about nudism. Yet another topic.

Gotta go get me a cup of coffee…or is that .23L? Cup is one US term I’ll stick with.


PRODUCTION NOTES:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Programs: Illustrator, Photoshop
Font: Rockwell
CREDITS:
Pointer: rubylane.com, Antique French Kitchen Scale: Balance de Famille
Apple: http://www.fowlerfarms.com/apple-introduction/ (5oz or 150 g is the average weight of an apple, according to the “great chart of apple varieties” at this website)

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#61 Father & Daughter

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Click to view full-size or download hi-rez image for gallery-quality printing and framing. 
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Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

I wish my sister could have experienced that special occasion called the “Father-Daughter Dance” when she was in elementary school, but our father died from emphysema when she was 7 years old. The father-daughter dance, also called “Father & Daughter Dance,” “Daddy Dance,” or “Dad & Daughter Dance,” is usually held in 5th or 6th grade.

According to this article,

The first strong male bond girls have is with their father’s and this event teaches young girls what it means to be treated with love and respect.  The goal is that father’s will continue to be positive role models and that these girls will have healthy relationships as teens and adults as a result.

Fortunately, my sister did have a positive childhood and married a wonderful man who proudly took his daughter to their Father-Daughter Dance . . . or should I say, she took him?

One last thing about this AmperArt piece, is that our dad was a barber, so I selected a lock of my sister’s brunette hair (via computer graphics) as the ampersand. Daddy would have surely been proud of her hair.


listen up!Shoebox Letters: a precious gift for Father’s Day

I had the privilege of setting the type in a very special book for author Clayton Brizendine. This book is a collection of actual letters written from daughters to their fathers. It is pure raw emotion, stating everything from admiration to fun times to bitter upsets, but always mentioning love.

 

Shoebox Letters: Daughters to Dads

Every review is 5 stars, including mine:

I didn’t buy this book, and I didn’t read it as a normal person would. I set the type.

As I was designing this book for the author, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the experiences the daughters relayed about the dumb things their dads would do, and found myself sobbing at tear-jerking moments of deep love and bonding, or of loss and hurt. The most endearing part was retouching the precious old photographs and placing them next to words that described the daughters’ most cherished moments with their dads. Finally, in proofing the text, I did read the entire piece front to back, and it was a truly astonishing compilation of letters that range from the greatest love and devotion and pride for fathers to sorrowful accounts of resentment and brokenness. Every letter, however, does express a love of some sort for each dad from his daughter.

Clay Brizendine’s profound essay for each set of letters—and his passion for enlightening his readers, showing how to heal and bond relationships through the power of letter writing—makes this book a real joy to read and to learn from. This is the ultimate Father’s Day gift.

Finally, in working with Clay I have realized he is truly a man of character, honest and sincere, and wishes most of all to give his readers an enlightening, entertaining and memorable experience.

This could have gone to press sooner, if tears hadn’t clouded this designer’s workspace.

Am I promoting Clay’s book? You bet I am! This book  is one of the most precious gifts you could give your dad this Father’s Day, whether you’re a teen, mid-age or a senior daughter yourself. There’s bound to be a story that both of you relate to.

Read all the moving testimonials, or order a copy for your dad, here.

To all fathers, Happy Father’s Day. And to my sister and brothers, you turned out real good, even without a dad for most of your childhood. (Fortunately, our family was rich with friends and relatives who stepped in when needed. Thanks especially to Gilbert. He deserves his own AmperArt piece!)


PRODUCTION NOTES:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Programs: Illustrator, Photoshop
Font: Vladimir Script
CREDITS:
Bow image: www.hawaiikawaii.net (a blog by a student in Sweden about “kawaii, unicorns, flamingos, rainbows, and cupcakes…cute and fun in any shape or form”)
Hair color reference: www.latest-hairstyles.com (My sister’s a brunette; I think I got the color pretty close.)

 

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