Signalnoise Workshop via W+W

Signalnoise workshop

So here’s the scoop, gang. My good friend Naomi Atkinson over in Newcastle UK is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for her WICKED retain store Whosit & Whatsit. Lets get some info on her ambitious project straight from her…

We’re bringing designers back to the high street with a stunning store created to give them 100% of their profits. Retail as it should be.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, unknown design talent is being hidden away beneath thousands of web pages. W&W is finding these individuals and bringing them into the spotlight to sell their products.

This gives our customers the chance to appreciate amazing craftsmanship in the physical sense, and not just as images on a screen.”

Naomi is creating this amazing space FOR US. How can we not get behind this wonderful idea? Here’s the thing, one of the perks available on the Indiegogo is a Signalnoise ‘Illustrator vs. Photoshop’ workshop which I’ll do remotely OR in person. As you can imagine, I really want to make this happen for Naomi AND for you. Here are more details…

••••••

  • Remote sign-in available for those not close to Newcastle, UK. Only £85 for the whole day, questions collated throughout and time will be made for them.
  • Save money and sign in with your team/colleagues.
  • In person, currently only 14 tickets available. Get the full benefit of one-on-one advise/learning.
  • Signalnoise has never done anything like this before… learn my techniques, see how I work. Secrets revealed.
  • Sunday 1st March 2015. All day.
  • Only 3 days left to secure your spot.
  • If it gets booked up, I’ll also host an exclusive art show, with limited edition prints at the Whosit & Whatsit space.

••••••

As you can well imagine, I’m super excited to do this but we’re going to need your help to make it happen. Zip over to the Whosit & Whatsit Indiegogo page and help Naomi mobilize this amazing concept. Our community needs something like this, and we can all make it happen.

2013: The Best of Signalnoise

Best of Signalnoise 2013

2013 might have been the biggest year yet for Signalnoise. I’m not talking about making buttloads of money or landing some big agency gigs, but moreso personal development and building a more solid brand foundation. It’s normal for me to feel like I’m floundering around trying to find direction, but looking back at this year I can see a more focused vision despite starting off on the wrong foot.

So here we go… a look at 2013 and some of the highlights the year brought.

February 2013: Vintage console illustrations – After a year of trying to design movie posters, I decided to give up on the dream out of sheer frustration. This time of weird upheaval led to me creating a bunch of original illustrations of vintage game consoles, in a style that was very much new to me. I figured out a process and started machine-gunning out illustrations in an attempt to re-invent Signalnoise… which ended up dictating the rest of my year and caught the attention of new clients. A weird time with a wonderful outcome.

February 2013: The Rocketeer comic book covers – Spearheaded by the greatest comic shop on earth, Strange Adventures, we inked a deal with IDW Publishing where I created 4 original comic book covers for The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror. Truly a dream job, IDW even catered to my silly whims and printed the illustrations with spot gold foil on the helmets. Had loads of fun doing these.

April 2013: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – The best client project I ever worked on. Dean Evans, my 80s brother, brought me onto the project and together we developed the logo and “box art” that would represent Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon online. A teaser was launched on April Fools’ Day which caused quite the “Is it real?” fiasco online, instantly capturing an audience. Signalnoise was swept up in the excitement as my art flew all over the world. Way too much fun on this one.

May 2013: Hangin’ with Kurt Russell – During my trip to Los Angeles to speak at Adobe MAX, my good buddy Russell Brown arranged an awesome little dinner party with his photographer friend Greg Gorman. One of the guests was none other than Kurt Russell. I got to hang out with, talk some movies and things with him and give him my poster of THE THING. Heck of a nice guy too. Certainly a high point of 2013.

May 2013: The Great Discontent interview – I was honoured when my favourite design interview site got a hold of me, The Great Discontent. I (virtually) sat down with Ryan and Tina where we got to the bottom of many topics revolving around our industry. Since I wanted to give them some nice professional photos, my friend and wicked talented photographer Krista Comeau came to the rescue. She handsomed me up good.

Signalnoise for Creative Control

June 2013: Creative Control cosmic poster – A lovely opportunity spear-headed by Mystery Box was to create a unique Signalnoise poster design for Opening Doors. I decided to reach back to a style I was doing 5 years ago and design something ‘retro-cosmic’. Everyone was onboard, and the result is something I’m very proud of. They even got me to design the Creative Control logo.

Opera Browser

July 2013: Patch designs for Opera Browser – I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the great people at Opera Browser in support of their ‘Made to Discover’ campaign. Opera needed some patch designs to sprinkle throughout their push, heavy embroidery influence and taking cues from Scout badges I had as a kid. So much fun on this one, and a wonderful end product by Opera.

The Signalnoise Tumblr

July 2013: UziCopter: The Signalnoise Tumblr – I decided to create a Signalnoise moodboard for my own use, to gather rad inspiration and stuff as reference for future projects. Upon research, the best platform to do that is Tumblr so I set up UziCopter: The Signalnoise Tumblr. It grew at a rapid pace, was featured on several high profile blogs and is currently supporting a following of 2196. An unexpected surprise, and a very useful resource for all things awesome.

WAR GAMES poster by James White

July 2013: WarGames poster for Skuzzles – A big highlight of 2013 was working with Skuzzles on an official movie poster for WarGames. This was a big deal since I had basically given up on doing movie posters after a year-long attempt to break into the poster community proved unsuccessful in 2012. I had a wonderful time building this poster for my pals at Skuzzles.

NFB Space School

July 2013: Mission patch logos for NFB Space School – It’s no secret that I enjoy all things to do with space exploration, so I was thrilled when I got a call from the National Film Board of Canada to design mission patch style logos for their launch of the NFB Space School. I designed the official logo for the project as well as all the patches representing the sections. Honoured to have been a part of a project that teaches kids about space and space exploration.

July 2013: Superman poster – After getting asked to contribute to the SUPER Art Show in Australia, I was lucky enough to lay claim on the Man of Steel… the most iconic superhero of our time. Exploring a more geometric, painterly style I developed a poster capturing the happy Superman from my childhood.

July 2013: Heavy Metal Photoshop t-shirt – When Adobe asked me to design a cool Photoshop shirt for them to give away at the San Diego Comic Convention, I immediately blurted out “I’m gonna make you a heavy metal shirt!”. To my surprise they were onboard, and I developed them this hilarious design. Badass. I even put all the Photoshop version release dates on the back of the shirt just like tour dates. So much fun.

StarKade: Series 1 by James White

August 2013: The StarKade Series – While building the deck on the back of my house during the summer I decided I wanted to design some fun little illustrations depicting WWE wrestlers from my youth. What started as a little project quickly blossomed into an independent print series. I released 4 sets of prints in late 2013, all of which have sold out. 2014 is looking very bright for the StarKade series as I’m being approached by galleries and art shows. Stay Tuned!

Signalnoise World Tour 2013

September 2013Panthers and Designers: It’s not too often you get to hang out with the likes of these guys. That bearded man-mountain is Carolina Panther Ryan Kalil, and that baseball-capped fella is designer extraordinaire Matt Stevens. I was in town speaking at Blend Conference and Ryan was nice enough to sit down with Matt and I to jaw about some football, design, film and other fun projects. We had a killer time, so much so that Ryan turned me into a Panthers fan for life. Gotta support your buddies!

November 2013: Creative Spark, Lynda documentary – I’m still stunned that this happened. The mighty Lynda sent a film crew up to Dartmouth to shoot a documentary on me and my art right here in my studio. The largest source of online design education launched the doc and it was quickly selected as a Staff Pick on Vimeo. Humbled and honoured… but yeah, still in shock.

Adobe Inspire cover by James White

November 2013: Adobe InDesign interview – Another honour of 2013 was being interviewed and featured in Adobe Inspire magazine. We got to the bottom of a lot of issues, and they designed the iPad version of the issue complete with an animated panther illustration I created for them. Whoa. Being interviewed by the very people who create the software I use every day blew my mind. Thank-you Adobe!

All year: Signalnoise 2013 World Tour – One of the biggest highlights for Signalnoise this year was the amount of traveling I did. There were 20 live dates booked across Canada, the United States, Europe and even the Philippines. Think I spent more time in hotel rooms than I did at home. Once again, a giant thanks to everyone who invited me to their events, everyone who came out to see me speak, and a shout to all those fellow presenters I had the pleasure of meeting in 2013.

All the best in 2014, everyone!

The Signalnoise Tumblr

The Signalnoise Tumblr

One of the frequent questions I get asked is “Where do you get inspiration from?”. That’s a pretty daunting inquiry, far too big to answer in a few minutes as there’s no one specific place an artist goes to every single time. Books, movies, comics, cartoons, music… all over the place.

I decided about a month ago to start collecting images in an attempt to build a big Signalnoise moodboard. A resource that would always be available to me when I wanted cool stuff to look at, and would also keep me on the hunt for new rad stuff I wanted to save. I figured Tumblr was a great way of doing this. So here we go, The Signalnoise Tumblr.

Flipping through that thing you should get a very heavy dose of the Signalnoise vibe. Every image I save on that thing is there for a very specific reason, whether it’s cool type, a wicked lighting effect or wild colours. I don’t save just anything related to the 80s, only the stuff that nails it. I’ll continue to keep this Tumblr heavily curated to keep the mood focused.

So if you’re on Tumblr, feel free to follow The Signalnoise Tumblr. Get ready for some sexy, neon action.

Happy Canada Day 2013

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day from Signalnoise!

Kurt and I

Kurt Russell

Greg Gorman

• Greg Gorman (holding Kurt’s wine), Kurt Russell and me

• Kurt, myself and Adobe Senior Creative Director Russell Brown!

• Kurt, myself and Adobe Senior Creative Director Russell Brown!

THE THING poster

• Kurt signed my poster!

In a super-taxing effort to not completely geek-out, last night I had the pleasure of hanging out in Hollywood with Kurt Russell and a bunch of other amazing people. We all had dinner, got to try his new wine, hear some hilarious stories, and got some shots of him holding THE THING poster I designed. Said he loved it.

R.J. MacReady holding my poster! What the hell?! Still can’t believe this happened to some kid from Dartmouth.

A huge thanks to my pal Russell Brown for instigating such an awesome night, and new pal (and photo titan) Greg Gorman for hosting. I’ll never forget this.

Help Japan: 2 years later

Help Japan

If you know me at all, you’ll also know that I don’t discuss my Help Japan poster very often. Of all my posters and designs it was the one that reached the furthest, was seen by the widest audience, and galvanized charitable funds far above my expectation. This all happened 2 years ago and it’s taken me this long to approach the subject publicly, and personally.

I create lots of stuff, the size of my portfolio is proof of that. So when something happens where I think my creative efforts may help, I’ll give it a shot. That’s what happened on the morning of March 11, 2011 when news reached me about what happened in Japan. I made something to raise money, much the same as the ladies in the seniors’ home who held a bake sale around the corner from my house. I’d sell my poster via my online store and donate the proceeds to the Canadian Red Cross. A simple little idea, I thought. So I got started.

Within an hour my poster went viral.

I started getting phone calls from the New York Times and other big publications. The response was intimidatingly positive as I started setting up the print run, ordering shipping supplies and enlisting friends to help me with all the work. A LOT of work, hundreds of tubes to be packed, processed and shipped but it was definitely worth it given the cause. I couldn’t believe it.

Then the unexpected happened. Even if you have the best intentions possible, sometimes things can come out of left field to give you a knock. When a story, video, or piece of art goes viral it breaches the bubble of personal audience and goes out to the general online public, which exposes you to not only the positive, but to the negative. It’s no secret that the negative screams louder than the positive, especially with the anonymity of the internet. This was a harsh reality hit me head-on.

Each morning during my time packing, shipping, corresponding and donating I was receiving emails and blog comments from those who took it upon themselves to tell me I was doing something horrible. The remarks were almost frightening, ranging from harsh design critiques, cultural differences and personal attacks on my character. They’re all still live here and here, if you need some context. For a time I was even scared of answering my own phone. For a freelancer working alone out of a small home office, this wasn’t easy to deal with in the least. But I kept forcing the bigger picture into my head: the good cause.

This is when Fast Company decided to rear its head. In this article entitled ‘Is This Poster to Aid Japan’s Tsunami Victims a Crime Against Design?’, John Pavlus took it upon himself to voice his opinion about my charitable endeavour. It should be noted right away that neither Fast Company, nor John himself, contacted me for a statement prior to posting the article on their very well-travelled website. A pretty key mis-step in journalism I would well imagine, especially given the gravity of the topic at hand. Unknown to anyone but myself (and close friends), this article alone caused the most damage to me and my campaign, igniting not only a new round of harsh emails and comments… but this time, from within the design community. A field I love and respect. This alone caused me to almost shut down the campaign.

Despite all of this, the campaign was seen through and raised around $20,000 for the Canadian Red Cross as I shipped posters out of my basement. I said earlier, far and above the original little idea.

So, why am I writing this 2 years later? It’s not out of disagreement with nay-sayers and it’s certainly not an attempt to garner sympathy or encouragement (seriously, please withhold comments of that nature, guys). I’ve been running this blog for 5 years and I’ve always felt a certain responsibility to my audience (specifically designers) to discuss the industry through experience, as transparently as possible. We all have ups and downs, and we all have stories surrounding them. My reasons are 2-fold…

First, be careful. If your main goal is for something to “go viral” in whatever form, be careful. Your work will be reaching a much wider audience and in some cases people won’t think twice about voicing harsh opinion several times over to a complete stranger. Growing a thick skin only comes through experience. Even though you have the best intentions, your truth might get contorted and thrown under the bus. So be careful.

And second, stick it out. If you are doing something with nothing but the best intentions do NOT let those people stop you, whether they are anonymous critics or writers on respected websites. If you’re doing what you believe in, and you’re doing it for others don’t let an elusive negative force stop you, even if it sticks with you well after the fact.

2 years later, I’m thinking hard on all this stuff and despite the harsh language directed toward me, my design and my campaign, I wouldn’t have done it any differently.

Signalnoise to design 4 Rocketeer covers

Rocketeer cover by James White

Last week I launched my first comic book cover for The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1 and now I’m happy to announce some news. I’ve been slated to do variant covers for the remaining issues of the series, which will bring the total to 4. Can’t even tell you how excited I am for this project.

Cal Johnston over at Strange Adventures is spearheading the whole thing and we’re working closely with the brass at IDW Publishing to get these things just right. We’re currently discussing stock and inks on the first cover which hits the press tomorrow (I think).

I never thought this is how 2013 would start, but the Signalnoise HQ is prepped and ready to dive in. Watch the blog over the next few weeks as the covers are revealed and I’ll be sure to post full details on how you can get your copies.

2013: A New Signalnoise

2013: A New Signalnoise

I’m back in the Signalnoise HQ after a fantastic holiday visiting parents and doing some general loafing. I always look forward to this time of year not only because of the gifts and great food, but because it gives me a time to sit back, reflect, ponder and assess what the heck I’m doing. More importantly, HOW I’m doing it. With a new year comes change and I took that bull by the horns.

I hit some serious snags last year with my company, the largest of which was my online presence and communications. For a while now I’ve felt very cluttered and scattered, a direct result of having too many online thingys that I was trying to maintain, update, laugh at, scoff at, freshen up, comment back, etc. In short, I’ve had enough. So I set up the laptop on my parents’ kitchen table and began shutting stuff down. Ditched some online services, unsubscribed from newsletters and feeds, shut down some social media options and unfriended about 50 people from Facebook. No mercy! Cleaned house.

But the biggest heap I needed to straighten out was Signalnoise itself. My website. It was feeling a bit bulky with a lack of focus. Somehow it wasn’t representing what I needed it to represent. It needed to be streamlined so I put in some serious hours over here.

So what you’re looking at is the new Signalnoise. At a glance it will look pretty similar in tone to the previous, but this is a completely new framework. I shuffled things around and brought a few items right to the forefront: Upcoming Talks and the Signalnoise Newsletter. Both of these areas will have significant use in 2013 as I amp up my communication and live appearances. There will also be more focused and related blasts through social media.

And all of this will revolve around getting my work out there. Gum Cards and movie posters will be amping up very soon and this new system will be playing directly into all those projects, keeping me in closer touch with those who are interested.

Fitter. Happier. More productive. Happy 2013 everyone. Let’s light this thing up.

PS. The mobile version of the site is still a bit weird. Cut me some slack, I’m new to this “responsive” jazz all the kids are talkin’ about.