Star Wars and Disney

By now, the entire world has heard about Disney buying LucasFilm. The news dropped yesterday afternoon and seemed to have caught the entire world with their collective pants down. Collective pants? Gross. Anyway, I was as surprised and confused as anyone. Universes collided. In all my life I never would have expected to see Vader and Mickey walking hand-in-hand.

As anticipated, the angry nerd kingdom of the world exploded onto the internet with all their fear and hatred regarding the news while everyone else scrambled to make some dumb meme. Pretty standard as nerds tend to knee-jerk whenever anything swoops too close to a franchise they enjoy. Are they wrong? Not necessarily. Are they right? Not really. And this comes from a lifelong Star Wars fan. I was born in 1977, my blood is still 87% rancor. But at nerdy emotional times like this, maybe it’s a good time to step back and look at this thing with a wider lens… or with a weird slow-motion capture rig thing.

Right off the bat, these are business people. Like it or not, this deal made complete and total sense from a financial standpoint. Disney can make all kinds of Star Wars stuff in the coming years, and LucasFilm just made a ton of cash. Fandom doesn’t factor into the numbers at this point. Sorry to be so cold (remember, I love Star Wars too), but it’s a fact. Being “independent” is cool and hip, but when a company gets big this kind of stuff is viable and inevitable.

Let’s also look at Disney’s track record over the last couple of years, with one major example. After Disney bought Marvel, much to the (same) chagrin of the nerd community, they put out some of the best hero movies that have hit the screen. Namely CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE AVENGERS. Imagine if LucasFilm was bought by the people who made CRANK or MEGASHARK. Ugh. Disney has around 100 years of movie making experience in 2D, 3D and live action. They’ve done feature lengths and television. Just because they own a lot of other companies doesn’t mean they’re bad… it actually means they’re good at what they do. Very good.

And finally, George Lucas is 68, man. When the 9th Star Wars movie comes out in 2021 he’ll be 77. That’s getting up there. Not to be grim, but when the head of a big company is suddenly not there it changes things. Just look at Apple. On the longterm Disney (arguably) might have longevity greater then that of LucasFilm when it comes to getting these last few movies done. That big and historic infrastructure brings with it a bit of comfort, y’know? Bit of padding.

I know this post will cultivate some arguments and I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. But please keep in mind, this is not meant to be a staunch defence of Disney and everything it is. My main point is that our beloved Star Wars universe may have fallen into the right hands. Money and corporate arguments aside, we just might see some fun Star Wars movies soon. LucasFilm is good at that, and so is Disney.

I’d much rather anticipate a nice team-up of movie-makers on a franchise I love than sit with a scowl on my face for the next 9 years.

Design Talk 3: Self Promotion

A little while ago I (virtually) sat down with Shelby White (Twitter) and Jeff Sheldon of Ugmonk (Twitter) to talk about the ins and outs of designer self promotion on Design Talk 3. We covered all kinds of interesting topics dealing with the “to dos” and the “do nots”, plus some extra riffing. Real interesting these two guys, had a lot of fun hanging out and jawing.

If you didn’t view it live, check out the recorded version above. Big thanks to Shelby for having me on a second time. Honored!

A Fistful of Wicked 80’s Print Ads

The 1980’s were wicked-awesome and the print ads of that decade were par for the course. They were playful and sophisticated, the focus trending toward less copy and more imagery. Ads often consisted of a bold, catchy headlines with a single large product shot bathed in a spectrum of color. Doesn’t get much better than that.

After sifting through thousands of these 80’s ads, the layouts and type choices can admittedly become quite predictable; but they never become tiresome to me. It’s true that we often romanticize the past, and that’s very possible what I’m doing here, but I can’t help but feel coming up with these ads thirty-some years ago was a lot of fun. I can’t say I look forward to doing any ads in this day and age.

You have to admire the strong grid foundations these ads are constructed on; so solid. Desktop publishing really didn’t make a strong push until the end of the decade, so I’m assuming these ads were created using physical layouts. Rubylith anyone?

I’ve got folders teeming with this stuff, more to come…

Zissou poster for BAD DADS art show

I’m honoured to have been asked to participate in the Wes Anderson ‘BAD DADS’ art show, opening tonight at Spoke Art (6pm) down in San Francisco. So many great artists involved in this thing, so pumped to have my piece in there. Shown above is my poster design of that rascal Steve Zissou from THE LIFE AQUATIC.

I did a limited edition run of 50 posters, printed by the top brass at Mama’s Sauce on French Pop-Tone Black Licorice 100C at 18″ x 24″. Beautiful print job too. They will be available tonight at the art show, and the remainder will be sold in the Spoke Art Store on Monday. Swoop in quick if you want one.

Have fun at the art show tonight everyone!

Design Renegade in Portland OR

In a few short weeks I’ll be making my way to Portland, Oregon for a big speaking event in conjunction with Spaceman Design (Twitter) and AIGA Portland. Starting to get real excited for this one.

And check out this poster. Dave Hardy over at Spaceman Design took it upon himself to design a gig poster for the big night. Not only that, he wanted to do it in the style of my Gum Cards. A tall task, those lines and curves can by tricky but he knocked it out of the park. Dave scooped the Diamond pledge during the Gum Cards fundraising initiative in order to bring me to town. Then he designs this poster, complete with my Drive jacket. Amazing. Humbled.

A big thanks to Spaceman Design and AIGA Portland for making this happen. If you want to attend, you can register right here. We’re going to have a blast. We’ll see you November 15th, Portland!

Win original TERMINATOR art

I do a lot of drawing on my spare time, only a portion of which reaches the website, Twitter or what have you. But are a couple of original drawings I created of Arnold as the Terminator and Robert Patrick as T-1000 using good ol’ lead, ink and coloured pencils. Lots of fun blocking out time to sit at my drawing table to put these together. My fingertips are currently blue.

And here’s the thing, I’m giving them away. If you didn’t catch the poster drop on October 12th, Mystery Box has been selling limited edition TERMINATOR 2 posters by myself and pal Tom Muller. So now we would like to add a bit on incentive. If you purchase a Signalnoise TERMINATOR 2 poster (regular or variant) you will be entered to win the original artwork seen above, which stands at 8″ x 10″. And if you have already purchased a poster, you are already entered. Simple.

We’ll start the clock at 2 weeks from today then we’ll announce the winner. November 6. Sound good?

5 Years Ago

5 years ago today, everything in my little design world changed. Yeah, that’s a pretty high-falootin’ thing to say but it’s the absolute truth. Let me explain…

In 2007 after the release of my first and only book, I was trying to figure out what the next logical step in my career was going to be. I mean my “personal” career. I was working at an agency at the time but worked feverishly on my own little projects outside of the office. My book kind of summed up everything I did in my twenties and put all those unfinished projects to rest. And for a bit more perspective, I registered in April of 1999. I was flopping around like a fish on the wharf during those 8 years trying to find my artistic voice. Inspiration without direction. For downloadable evidence see the Signalnoise Graveyard and the myriad of Signalnoise logos.

I was hanging out with my pal Chris Toms one evening when I decided to start a blog. Nothing profound since blogging had been around for years prior, but I never considered Signalnoise to be a blogging platform. Maybe this new direction would give me a reason to update my site with new work? It was worth a shot. Within days Chris had me set up on his host and WordPress functionality was installed. On the evening of October 23rd, 2007, I wrote my first meagre post aptly titled Signalnoise in development:

If you happen to come across this blog please be aware that it is under construction. I am currently building a better compatibility between my personal site and my Flickr account. I’ve come across a few wonderful Flash applications that make a seamless connection to Flickr accounts, something I’ve been searching for.

So, thanks for your interest. Please come back for something better once the foundation is built.

What a knucklehead, huh? In the days following I would write a few little posts on the creative process, started breaking down some of my personal techniques and experimenting with some different art styles. Again, nothing profound. I think I had 13 visitors on my site that month but I didn’t care. That’s when everything changed… I stopped creating art based on trend or acceptance and started creating art for myself. I started having fun. I started to play. I started to explore.

For the first time in my career, had become to backbone of my work rather than just a display tool. I wanted to keep it fresh, which meant creating new art and content. They fed each other. A few short months later I was contacted by an up-and-coming design blog to do my first online interview. The email came from a guy named Fabio Sasso and his little Abduzeedo website would expose my art to the world.

Why am I writing this? Well, I get asked by a lot of students and design professionals about how I “did it”. And the truth is there’s no secret ingredient. I made a decision and stuck with it, started small with that goofy little post above and have been building Signalnoise pixel by pixel ever since. Back then I never would have guessed I’d still be doing it 5 years later… but I probably wouldn’t have cared either. I was having fun, and that’s what counts.

So today I’ll be reflecting on the last 5 years and the ongoing journey with this little website. It just might get a little weepy.

TERMINATOR 2 posters: Onsale Info

Terminator 2 poster by James White, Signalnoise

• Poster by James White, Signalnoise

• Poster by Tom Muller, helloMuller

Mystery Box has collaborated with Studio Canal to produce a limited run of official posters by James White of Signalnoise and Tom Muller of helloMuller for the ultimate cult movie, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY. Here are the specifics:

TERMINATOR 2 poster by Signalnoise
18″ x 24″ archival quality screen-print, using 100% acid-free inks. Hand numbered. Standard edition of 425, metallic variant edition of 90 (dark blue ink replaced with metallic blue). Hand-numbered. Expertly crafted by print-makers Burlesque of North America. Check out the production post here.

TERMINATOR 2 poster by helloMuller
18″ x 24″ archival quality screenprint, using 100% acid-free inks. Hand numbered. Standard edition of 200. Hand-numbered. Expertly crafted by print-makers Burlesque of North America. Check out the production post here.

All artwork comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Both posters will be available for purchase on Friday, October 12th via the Mystery Box online store. For all the latest news and drop time specifics follow Mystery Box on Twitter.