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.

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.

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 Signalnoise.com 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, Signalnoise.com 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.

Introducing GUM CARDS!

Back in the 80s, my friends and I were collectors. You name it, we collected it. Robots in disguise, anything in camo and all that action figures turned cartoon kind of stuff. Of these kid collectibles, one was a constant around the playground, cheap pieces of cardboard depicting a generation’s favourite movie characters, cartoon heroes and then scary monsters. Bubblegum cards. We would trade with one another to build our sets, bragging when we got that rare one nobody else had.

GUM CARDS is an ever-expanding set of limited edition, screen-printed trading cards focused on artists and designers who are rocking our creative industry and, in my humble fan opinion, deserve their own trading card.

Each GUM CARD is a limited edition release of 250 plus 50 colour variants, hand-signed and numbered by me for authenticity. All GUM CARDS are screen-printed on double-thick, French Muscle-Tone Black 140lb. cover stock by the amazing crew at Mama’s Sauce in Orlando, Florida. Thick stock and bright inks. Heavy duty stuff. Bam!

I’m super pleased to announce the first two cards of the series featuring a couple of my favorite people in the industry: Aaron James Draplin of the Draplin Design Company in Portland OR and Johnny Earle AKA Johnny Cupcakes from Boston MA.

All GUM CARDS orders will be shipped in custom packaging I’ve designed myself. For added protection, each card will be inside individual plastic sleeves so no scratches happen in transit to your collection. On top of that I will be supplying some extra goodies like stickers, buttons, and of course gum.

Helping GUM CARDS get funding

Head on over to the GUM CARDS Indiegogo page to check out some more goodies and details on how you can support the GUM CARDS project. There will be some exciting announcements in the coming weeks so be sure to stop by the official GUM CARDS website and follow GUM CARDS on Twitter.

Help Spread the Word

If you want to lend a hand but can’t do so through funding, there are other ways that will help spread the word on the GUM CARDS project. Every little bit counts. Here are a few:

• Twitter: Send out a tweet about the GUM CARDS project. You can also follow the project at @GumCards.
• Facebook: Drop by the GUM CARDS Facebook page and click that ‘Like’ button.

This is my first crowd-sourcing endeavour so I really don’t know what to expect. Might work, might not. But if we manage to get this thing funded and wrangle the necessary interest from you nerdy design collectors out there, then the future is bright. My plan is to release a couple of cards every month adding new top creative people to the roster, and I’ve already thought up several super fun “accompanying products” to the GUM CARDS brand. In short, this is just the beginning of the adventure.

New Signalnoise project needs you!

Things have been a little quiet around the blog these last couple of weeks as I have been working tirelessly on my new Signalnoise project. You might have seen me yacking about this “new thing” on Twitter a few times. Well, all the work and planning will come to a head next week when I launch this thing online.

Everything to do with the project is kind of new territory for me. I’ve been speaking to wonderful people in the print industry, exploring different mediums, designing packaging, building the entire online presence, developing a new brand for this thing, and speaking to some creative people that I hold in very high regard. I’ve been playing this one pretty close to the chest, and keeping my mouth shut has been crazy hard this last little while.

However, this post has a purpose. In order to give this project some traction I’m going at it very differently than usual, by way of crowd-sourcing. Next week I’ll be launching an Indiegogo account in order to garner some support from people interested in helping this little thing along. I have some great rewards packages available at different levels of pledges to spice things up. This is 100% grassroots and will be run out of my home office in Dartmouth. A little adventure that just might grow with your support. And every bit of support is GREATLY APPRECIATED.

A big thanks to those few people who have already supported and helped this project along. You are a very small group, but you know who you are and your responses have been incredibly supportive and insightful.

So, watch this space next week! It’s about to get real interesting around here…

Happy Canada Day!

It’s a beautiful day here in Dartmouth, so I’m going to spend the day sitting in the sun, have a barbecue later on and watch some fireworks with friends. Today is all about that red maple leaf.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

A few days out, Cleveland!

In  few short days I’ll be getting on a plane destined for Cleveland, Ohio to speak at the mighty Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. Man, I can’t wait for this one, so many great speakers (intimidating line-up), colleagues and friends are piling into that venue for a kickass time. I’ve heard NOTHING but good reviews of this grassroots event and I can’t wait to get there and wreck up the joint up.

Holy crap, Chuck Anderson will be there. And Dan Cassaro. And Matt Stevens. Friends I’ve never met, or wedgied. Planning on doing both.

On top of actually getting onstage to do my DESIGN RENEGADE talk I’ll be packing a bunch of posters, stickers and other things to offer up at my merchtable following the presentation. Lots of stuff, be sure to check it out. Rare goodies in there. I’ll be onstage on Sunday, June 10 at 6:15pm in the Reinberger Auditorium. Sharing loads of work and stories. Possibility of lame jokes.

So if you’ll be attending WMCFest in a few days, I will see you there. Let’s do this, Cleveland!

E3C May Meet-up poster

I designed a little poster for this month’s E3C Meet-up (Twitter), the monthly gathering of creative people in Halifax. I started this event last year, then known as the Halifax Design Meet until it was taken over by my friends Alison Knott and Peter Greathead to become E3C.

This month’s gathering is on Thursday, May 10 at the Foggy Goggle on Argyle Street. Hit the Facebook Event for more.