The Great Discontent


I was blown away when a couple of the internet’s top brass reached out to do an interview session. Super proud to announce that I’m this week’s feature on my favourite designer interview site out there, The Great Discontent. I sat down (or Skype’d) with Ryan and Tina and we got to the bottom of all kinds of dirt.

This feature also kicked my ass to get some official and high-quality photos taken, all professional and stuff. I enlisted the help of my talented friend Krista Comeau to make me look all 80s, and she made this scumbag look like a million bucks. Just look at that lighting! Thank-you Krista!

So, take a break from your Photoshops and go have a read on The Great Discontent. A huge thanks to Ryan and Tina for the awesome chat!

A dedication

A Dedication

On April 3rd, 2008 my work was featured on one of my favorite tech and culture blogs out there, Josh Spear. Not a huge feature, just a little write-up with a few pieces of my art from the time. I was thrilled as this site was a daily visit. Later that day I returned to show someone the post and discovered the above comment from the aptly named “itdoesntmatter”.

Over the years I’ve grown a thick skin to this sort of random internet dumbassery, but this one in particular will always stand out in my mind for it was the first negative comment I ever received from an anonymous whoever.

At some point we all take knocks like this through the internet. Somebody sees what you are doing and tries to stop you through name-calling and bullying, not unlike that one kid we all knew in junior high. Victory comes not through shooting back with (typed) venom, but through shrugging and turning away to focus on what you really enjoy: being creative and having fun. You need to play the long game.

5 years later. 60 months. This post is dedicated to you, “itdoesntmatter”.

The Rocketeer comic book cover

Rocketeer cover by James White

Proud to release my first official comic book cover, a variant design for The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1 coming out next month. This alternate cover will be fairly scarce, only available in select shops in North America. The cover was commissioned by Cal Johnston, owner of the best comic shop in the world, Strange Adventures and printed by the nice people at IDW Publishing. Written by Roger Langridge and drawn by the awesome J. Bone.

What’s even more exciting is the screen-printed poster edition in the works.

A huge honour to pay tribute to Dave Stevens’ creation, man. We will know more details on availability when the release date draws closer, so if you’re interested in tracking one down drop a comment here or follow me on Twitter for updates.

Happy Holidays from Signalnoise

I’m currently parked on my parents kitchen table and will be working from here on and off over the next week or so. Just a small note to send out a big Happy Holidays to everyone. Hope you all have a great and safe Christmas!

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…

Vintage Film and Television Trading Cards

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, there seemed to be a set of trading cards for every mildly successful TV show and movie. Even the cringeworthy Mork & Mindy had trading cards. Each pack usually included ten cards and a cracked piece of petrified chewing gum, which mostly served to make the cards smell good. No kid is his right mind dared to chew it.

Looking at these things for the first time in years is hilarious, the registration was guaranteed to be way off on every card, you could play connect the dots with the halftone patterns, and the cards weren’t trimmed straight. But that’s what makes them so awesome. All these imperfections added up to whole pile of personality in every card. You can’t find that today, everything is printed so perfectly that there isn’t any discernible difference from card to card. I can remember getting doubles or triples of the same cards back then, but each one was printed differently. Each one had it’s own unique quirks…loved that stuff.

Primarily for me, the E.T. and The Empire Strikes Back cards were what I was most into back then. I posted a collection of ‘Empire’ cards over on Swivelarms, give them a look if you’re interested in some Hoth-sized adventure.

Looking back now, I realize there were so many good sets of cards ( the Superman the Movie and Star Trek the Motion Picture cards were truly wicked ) that I wish I had collected more of them. At the same time, however, I’m glad that I can discover them now as if they were new thanks to Flickr users who upload gobs of this stuff.

Nothing can quite compare to the rush of excitement I got as a kid seeing this stuff for the first time, but it’s important to me as a creative person to remember how that feels, and to try to find ways to experience it still.

Signalnoise from the Year 2000

• Why anyone would hire that weirdo, I have no idea.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen these posted late last night. I wandered home after hanging out with some friends and started rooting around in some old archive CDs of my past work, way back from the year 2000.

I was working with my friends at Internet Solutions at the time, the company that gave me my first real design job in the web industry. They took a gamble and hired that spiky-haired punk right out of school and put up with my loud music and nerdy antics. Good, patient people they were.

That said, I was always trying to dress up my computer to look all cool and stuff so I made a bunch of custom desktops for my screen. Just another way to do something creative and explore some trendy design. I came across 3 of them last night. Fond memories right here. Just look at that weird yellow Japanese-looking Signalnoise wordmark. Yikes. Lots of jokes waiting to happen there, along with my online moniker ‘James Evil’. Good god.

The computer I used to make these is long gone, but the pixels live on. Great memories.

Oh, and that photo was taken around the same time. That’s me and my friend Lisa having what I’m SURE is some deep/hilarious conversation about something we hate. Or she’s just disagreeing with me for some good reason.

Battle Beasts

Fire! Wood! Water! Hasbro licensed these wicked dudes from Takara Japan to sell in the States and elsewhere in 1987. They were a Transformers spin-off in Japan, but Hasbro decided not to tie into that continuity with their own marketing. The mid 80’s was a time when many toys had some sort of gimmick to help sell them, in this case, each Battle Beast had a heat sensitive sticker on its chest that revealed either fire, wood, or water. A sort of paper, rock, scissors in toy form. Fire beat wood, wood beat water, and water beat fire…if you were a super lucky kid, there existed rare and mythical Sunburst figures; find one, and you could beat anyone. Bad ass.

Battle Beasts came packaged in pairs, which was strange at the time. I remember thinking how cool it was to get “two for the price of one”, although it’s a pretty commonplace tactic these days. I always considered the pairings to be like pro wrestling tag teams. My first pack consisted of the Rhino and the Fox; whenever there was a Beast Battle Royal in my back yard, those two always found a way to come out victorious. Still my favorites to this day.

My brother and I collected every one of these pint-sized animal warriors along with their many play sets; looking back, we had some really fun times with them. Unfortunately, somewhere along the road to adulthood my collection must have landed in the trash. The same old sad story. When I took a quick peek on eBay for some of these figures, I was astonished at how much they are going for. Like adding salt to the wound. While it doesn’t seem as if I’ll be scooping up any replacements anytime soon, at least I’ve got the memories.

Awesome figure photography by =Disney-Stock on DeviantArt.