Vintage Volkswagen logo buses

These make me pretty happy. I was surfing around Ffffound last night and came across these scans of vintage Volkswagen buses from the 60s. I’ve always been a fan of the Volkswagen bus design, where everything is round and adorable plus would have made for the perfect mobile advertising unit. The round body makes for a wonderful blank canvas, and the architecture is split up in a way that makes multiple color schemes quite striking.

Oh, to live back then and see these wonderful things all over the place. Maybe I should cut my losses and invest in a Signalnoise Volkswagen bus to travel across Canada in.

Yeah, might have to do that. :)

The work of Katie Kirk

Really digging the clean and stylized work by Minneapolis-based illustrator Katie Kirk. I stumbled upon her Flickr stream quite by accident last week and spent a great deal of time flipping through her portfolio. What’s really interesting is seeing the progression of her work, from her earliest to recent. She has an obvious eye for style, and instead of adding more things to her illustrations, it’s as if she spent time taking things away which results in a more pure form.

In a time when it seems “more is more”, it’s refreshing to find calming work like Katie’s out there in the wilderness. Check out her official site, her Flickr stream and drop by her Etsy shop.

Alt/1977 by Alex Varanese

Alex Varanese is a beast. I might have said that before, but he just doesn’t quit. Check out these re-imaginings of modern gear as if they existed back in 1977, the year I was born. Beautifully rendered compositions with some awesome tongue-and-cheek humor worked into these pieces. It’s insane how much I want that wood-paneled Microcade 3000.

Hey Atari, can you please hire Alex to help reboot your 1970’s product nostalgia?

In case you missed it, Alex was featured on Signalnoise a while back in a post called The Process of Alex Varanese, the title is self-explanatory. You can check out more of Alex’s work on his website, and check out this project on his Behance.

Signalnoise Broadcast 10

For those who missed tuning in live, here is the recorded version of Signalnoise Broadcast 10. We covered all kinds of topics like Iron Maiden, metal, striking out as a freelancer, dealing with client differences, the importance of drawing, student advice, views on spec work and a bunch more. It was a great turnout and a great time. Jerko even popped by to say hello.

Tune in next week for the next live broadcast, Thursday at 3pm EST. Have a great weekend!

Calvin and Hobbes

A conversation with my pal Jerko yesterday prompted me to make this post about my favorite comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. I came across the strip quite by accident in grade 8 when I ordered “Yukon Ho!” from Scholastic because I thought the cover looked funny. I was always looking for new things to draw, this kid and his tiger might be fun, right?

Little did I know at the time how much of an impact Calvin and Hobbes would have on me, and that I would still be reading and appreciating it almost 20 years later. I identified a lot with Calvin and his hair-brained schemes that never worked or got finished. I was a lot like him at 6 years old, without the destructive behavior. The strip presented a really rational view of the world, especially how Calvin viewed what was going on around him and why he thought it was all rather silly or confusing.

When I was younger, I loved the wacky characters and the gross situations Calvin initiated. But now I can appreciate more the dialogue, in particular the strips where Calvin and Hobbes are in the wagon and Calvin presents a florid depiction of life and experiences … before the wagon crashes and Hobbes cracks a joke. I could get into more of the mechanics of the strip and the brilliance of the art itself, but I’d be writing all day.

Outside of all the gross, awesome and hilarious bits the strip touched on (like a beautifully rendered painting of a T-Rex flying a fighter jet), Calvin and Hobbes brings with it a heavy sense of nostalgia. I can’t remember what strip it was, but Calvin made reference to his one summertime responsibility was how much fun he needed to cram into every day before his mother called him in for the night. I remember those days. That’s why I chose the images above, they are nice calm scenes with Calvin and Hobbes doing what they loved … goofing off and creating adventures in their own little world.

In it’s medium, I put Calvin and Hobbes up there with Nirvana and Seinfeld. Bill Watterson did it the best, with honesty, and he cared more about the characters and their world than he did about fame and fortune.

Don’t forget your sketchbook

I have talked about my poster process a lot over the past couple of years, and how I always start with the sketchbook, doodling out ideas before moving to the computer to really start constructing things. But outside of that, I’ve been spending very little time drawing. Given that drawing is the reason I became a designer today, its sad to me that I haven’t been giving my sketchbooks the time they deserve.

Shown here are a bunch of scans of past drawings when it was almost a daily ritual in my life, exploring ideas and creating weird characters. Some of these are more recent while others are up to 10 years old.

That being said, my one and only New Years resolution this year was to draw more. Nobody talks about resolutions in June probably because they are forgotten, but I’m bringing it back! One of the goals of the new Signalnoise project I’m working on is that it’s allowing me to get back into my sketchbook, something I’m really happy about. We have to remember our roots, the creative stuff we did when we were young not because it was a job, but because we just enjoyed doing it.

Inspiration: Jeremy Packer aka Zombie Yeti

I just recently became familiar with the awesome work of Indiana-based illustrator Jeremy Packer, also known as Zombie Yeti Studios. The topmost image was released a few months back with the launch of Brass Tack by Joshua Smith, but didn’t take note of who created it at the time.

I really enjoy modern illustrators who use new software to create imagery and ideas that are similar to old school metal, like White Zombie for example. Everything Jeremy creates would look smashing on a t-shirt, whether it’s as serious as a shark eating a skeleton or as hilarious as the Green Giant beating up Godzilla. How are both of those ideas not awesome? Clean line work, killer typography and some nice color choices dominate Jeremy’s work, I have no idea how the guy can manipulate those vectors as much as he can.

Swing on over to Zombie Yeti Studios or his Behance for more of his work, and follow him on Twitter.

Stay positive

This topic has been talked about during the Signalnoise Broadcasts a bunch of times, but I wanted to take a moment and discuss it more specifically. I’ve fielded a lot of questions about personal artistic growth, advice for young designers, and finding your way in this convoluted industry and I always try to incorporate the idea of staying positive into the replies.

It’s difficult to have fun with your job, job-hunt or school work all the time given the curve balls thrown our way but it’s important to always have something you are looking forward to working on, ie. your own project. In my case, I’ve worked with a variety of companies here in Halifax with ups and downs, but I never stopped working on my own little projects on my own time. I remember many days racing back to my apartment to keep working on that animation, or site, or poster, or drawing. That anticipation made me happy, that was the point.

Trying to stay positive clears your head and reduces personal limitations. In one of his talks, James Cameron said “Don’t put limitations on yourself, other people will do that for you.” Also in Conan O’Brien’s farewell speech on The Tonight Show he commented quite blatantly on this very topic. Check it out:

So stay positive, and keep working on those design and art projects that make you happy. And when the time is right, take a risk to align yourself with that thing you really want to do.