My Concert to do and done list.

Been thinking about this a while and really wanted to make a list of all the shows and bands I’ve seen in my lifetime – just because. This will be an ongoing list as I remember them.

DONE

After Midnight Project
The All-Mighty Senators
Arrested Development
The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Keys
Bleu
Blues Traveler
Busta Rhymes
Boy Sets Fire
Boyz II Men (Hahaha)
Chevelle (3X)
Colbie Callait (Don’t Laugh – My wife dragged me to see it)
Coldplay (Don’t Laugh Either)
Copper
The Dave Matthews Band (14x)
David Ryan Harris
Default
The Deftones (These guys kick so much ass!)
Eagle Eye Cherry
Edwin McCain
Fergie
Fuel
The Head & The Heart
Hoobastank
Imagination Movers (With my daughter)
Incubus
Kansas
Kanye West
The Flaming Lips
The Goo Goo Dolls
Journey
Toby Keith
Live
The Mars Volta
John Mayer (2x)
Macy Gray
MC Hammer (My first ever concert)
Marvelous 3
Jason Mraz
The New Relics
Nickelback (Yep, that’s right – Chevelle opened for them and I was already there)
North Mississippi Allstars
The Presidents of the United States of America
Reel Big Fish
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Staind
Sugar Ray
10 Years
311
Third Day
Three Doors Down
Tim Reynolds
Trapt
O.A.R.
Outkast
P. Diddy
Wyclef Jean

TO DO:

Aerosmith
The Beastie Boys (Probably won’t ever happen)
Ben Folds
Breaking Benjamin
Cold
Eminem
The Foo Fighters
Jay-Z
Jurassic 5
Nine Inch Nails
The Police (Missed my chance at Bonarroo 2007)
The Roots
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Rage Against The Machine
Vanilla Ice
Van Halen
Weezer

 

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My love/hate relationship with graphic design.

Today, is Valentine’s day and what better day to talk about a subject that I hold dear to my heart… graphic design. Sniff Sniff. Don’t you just feel all warm on the inside when you see a well-executed design? You know, the feeling where you just say to yourself…”Wow, that is cool” Sometimes it’s followed by the occasional… “Why didn’t I do that?” “Or I wish I’d thought of that.” Regardless, have you ever thought about how the tools we use everyday can significantly affect how much we love or hate doing the things we do? For example.

Making beautiful, thoughtful, meaningful designs on Photoshop. LOVE.

Making beautiful, thoughtful, meaningful designs on Powerpoint. HATE.

Well that’s about it. Talk later.

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Hello Blog. We meet again.

I have to admit. It’s kinda ridiculous that I’ve completely disappeared from this small community I call a blogosphere. Life kinda happened and I was all over the place. I got some new ideas and I’m planning on sharing them here soon. Happy New Year. 2012 will be amazing.

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Might as well face it, we’re Addy’cted to Awards

What a night to be a member of the Pyxl team last Saturday as we ventured out downtown for the 45th Annual Addy Awards, presented by the American Advertising Federation of Knoxville. Just in case you missed the festivities, it was a fun night filled with great music, great food, great friends and great work by very talented agencies in Knoxville.

The main highlight of the evening came when we were announced as a Gold Addy recipient for our website, thinkpyxl.com. What a shock! What surprise! What an accomplishment! Our team is very proud of our site since it’s a major cornerstone establishing Pyxl as a brand new digital company!

Here is the list of awards we were proud to take home:

GOLD

  1. thinkpyxl.com (Business to Business HTML website)

BRONZE

  1. Help Us Name Us Social Media Campaign (Self-Promo, Single Medium Campaign – Web)
  2. Social Media Club Launch Party poster (Print/Collateral Posters)
  3. Pyxl logo (Elements of Advertising – Logos)

As if winning a Gold Addy is not enough excitement, the inner craziness and euphoria prompted half of our team to do shots at the liquor luge at the event as an initial celebratory event. We even caught it on camera (but we have to get releases from the guilty party first).

Even though we only had 4 entries, we were very happy to receive an award nod for all of them. As Pyxl grows, we plan on submitting more entries in the future.

All of the Gold and Silver Addy award winners will go on to compete on the regional level and if successful, will move on to the national Addy Awards show. So congrats to all the other winners, and good luck in the next level.

There were a handful of companies involved in putting together the awards show and Pyxl was in the forefront, spear-heading the Social Media effort to get the word out on up-coming AdFed events. We even set-up a live stream site to be seen by all at the banquet. It was great to see people’s interaction online as awards were mentioned and the crowd’s random musings throughout the evening. Also, one thing that I enjoyed is the camaraderie between fellow designers and other people in the industry.

Overall, we are very pleased at the outcome and look forward to another year of creating beautiful design and marketing projects for our clients.

Robert Palmer – Addicted To Love

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A couple things I wished I learned in Design School

No, it’s not.. “I wish I learned how to draw a dinosaur with Microsoft Paint” or something like that. This is a list of mostly things that I’ve experienced during my short time being a professional graphic designer. I got a lot more of things to learn but here’s a quick rundown.

1. Most of my work will not be critiqued by other designers.

When a non-designer critiques a design, they are generally less informed about the design process and techniques as they lack the background a designer has. Because of this, they often aren’t able to effectivly communicate the message as a designer would.

2. You usually don’t have a full week to concept, develop and execute a great design.

During the work week, there’s a lot of “emergency” projects that needs to be turned around almost immediately. With a full plate of other design projects, limited time is spent on certain things and usually the small details suffer.

3. Put more emphasis on web design because print will almost be dead within 10 years.

Getting the correct training to be prepared for the ever-changing landscape of design is very important. I am glad I have my background in print, since it helped me with my transition from going from a 95% print: 5% web designer to 90% web: 10% print in a year.

4. Social Media will show how many “non-designer” people with a copy of Adobe Suite will make all designers cringe at the sight of really ugly designs.

For example: MySpace backgrounds.

5. Collaboration is key.

Design school was a very hard-nosed competitive program. Everyone wanted to show-off their designs skills and everyone kept design secrets and resources to themselves. But in today’s world of design, it seems that camaraderie between other designers are more typical. Any other set of eyes that can critique a mundane project with the most boring subject and give it a practical solution can be the difference between a disaster or a successful project.

6. Business and marketing classes should had been a program pre-requisite.

Interacting with clients is best way to understand and manage your projects. Learning about pricing, marketing strategy, markups, budgets on time and money, etc… will go a long way in sufficiently handling every aspect of the projects.

7. Web development and programming languages.

Flash was a very new application that started right around the time I was wrapping up my senior year. Actionscript was such an intimidating language that it made me fear going deeper into my understanding of Flash. Nowadays, most designers write CSS, Javascript, PHP and of course Actionscript – that it actually helps them visualize the project and eliminate unnecessary and unrealistic elements of a design when working with developers and programmers.

8. It’s rare that you get to design some really cool stuff with really cool subjects with no intended demographic.

If your base clients are Nike, MTV, Comedy Central, Quicksilver, ESPN etc.. then most of the creative can be abstract and brilliant eye candy. But what if your clients are government agencies, suit and tie buttoned-up high-tech companies, and rustic furniture re-sellers – those brilliant and edgy design ideas are pretty much put on the shelves.

9. How about a Pre-Press class for 1 solid semester?

Beside designing that awesome 125-page magazine from top to bottom, and yes, including the ads. We have to always be a couple steps ahead to make sure no headaches happen when you package that final file and send the files over to the printers. I learned a lot of technical things from my favorite printers and none of them ever existed in the realm of the design studio lingo. So even though the design world has somewhat abandoned the print path for the cheaper and easier-fixed web design projects – knowledge of the print process should still be a major arsenal in your post-production skills.

10. You will spend more time with the people you work with than your actual real family.

I am very very glad that I enjoy working with the people at Pyxl. They are all open-minded, have a great sense of humor, hard-working, understanding, crazy, smart, innovative, creative so on and so forth. They’re pretty much my default second family. But if you dread going to work everyday, then your work suffers as well. Your co-workers should be a great asset to your design development as they give you a different perspective in finding a solution in areas you’re not an expert in. So better be nice to all of them. Maybe buy them lunch or a round of drinks during happy hour – or just be nice.

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Great TV Shows that should make a comeback.

The HoffI don’t watch much tv anymore. But if I did, it would be watching cartoons with my daughter or following WVU sports (they’d been breaking my heart as of late). But when I was younger, these shows were great. Entertaining, funny and worthwhile. Some were re-made –  like Knight Rider, which was a disaster (nice try NBC). Is there a petition of some sort where we can bring these shows back? If anyone knows, let me know.

1. The X-Files – a must watch every Sunday in the dorm room with my roomate. I believe our next door neighbor is still an alien. The shape of his head was freaky.

2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – By far the funniest show I’ve ever watched on tv. Carlton rules. Nobody can get enough of the dancing.

3. Seinfeld – Never has a show made something random and irrelevant so hilarious.

4. Old School Nickelodeon Shows – You Can’t Do That On Television was my favorite. The sliming was great!

5. Unsolved Mysteries – Robert Stack’s voice is so creepy yet awesome.

6. MacGyver – If I were not a designer, being like MacGyver would be my next choice as a profession. Did you know his first name on the show is Angus? What?

7. The A-Team – How can you not tune in to a show that blow up stuff and has Mr. T in it? A new movie in the works too.

8. Knight Rider – A talking car in the 80’s was crazy!!! That’s why I liked it. Bring back the Hoff and give him the same Trans Am.

9. Married With Children – Funny line from Kelly – ” Bud, I’m gonna kill you and then I’m gonna bury you alive.”

10. Miami Vice – Great action show with guns, fancy cars and mis-matched suits. No wonder my dad got me watching it.

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Music Selection and Design Outcomes

albumcoversSo I sit at my desk getting ready to start on a new project at hand. I don’t have a concept or even have a starting point. I turn on iTunes and I slap my poor old semi-noise cancelling headphones on and press play. Most of the time I have it on shuffle and I will listen to what comes on first, but depending on the mood, I keep hitting the right arrow button until something suits me just right at the moment. I’m sure most people do the exact same thing, but has anyone really kept track of their music selections during the design process? Personally, I tend to choose music with faster tempos when my schedule is filled with deadlines. I like to think that it keeps my heart rate fast enough to make me work fast as well.

Sometimes designing a project is like surgery – it takes precision and concentration. So after digging around online, I found an interesting article about which kind of music to choose during surgery. After reading that article, I’m glad I chose to go into the design profession.

So what if you are an album cover designer? I’m certain that you have to listen to the artists’ music before you think about a concept. I went to the HOW Design Conference in Atlanta and had the opportunity to listen to a great designer, Chip Kidd, describe how he came up with the design to Paul Simon’s album, Surprise. To make a long story short, Kidd explained how he sat in Paul Simon’s living room and listened to the new recordings for the album. He picked out the water theme throughout the entire album and learned later that week that his friends were expecting a child. The result of course is a picture combination of a body of water and the kid about a year later when the album came out.

My own personal experience designing an album cover was for West Virginia University’s Jazz Ensemble as a project back in 2000. I had to get into a certain frame of mind and get a feel for jazz while I was putting together the CD package. I remember specifically listening to their recordings and had a strict diet of jazz music during that week. Below is the outcome. I personally think that I could still “Jazz” it up. (By the way, I hate that term).

JazzEnsemble

There is also this blog entry about The Peter Saville Principle on record design, and it mentions that “Music covers are not graphic design, they do not communicate anything… ” One can argue that a lot of album art does not make sense and fail in interpretation, but every album cover, even the bad ones communicate something. I feel that album covers are the best music selection to design outcome examples there is. Just take a look at these great album covers.

Now, by no means I consider myself an expert in music and how it affects outcomes. I am simply interested in finding out how much it affects my own processes. So I went back through my recent project calendar, selected a project. and matched it by date with the songs on the “Last Played” column on iTunes. So here’s a couple notable selections during production.

While working on a landing page:

CarpathiaAcqusitionLandingPage

  1. Flip Flop Rock – Big Boi Feat. Killer Mike & Jay-Z
  2. Encore – Jay-Z
  3. Exodus – Bob Marley
  4. New Song – Sublime
  5. The Fold – Framing Hanley
  6. Oye Como Va – Santana
  7. Godspeed – Anberlin
  8. 86 – Green Day
  9. Dont’ Push – The Exit
  10. You and I both – Jason Mraz

While making a poster for an event:

LaunchPartyPoster

1. Resignation Superman – Big Head Todd And The Monsters
2. Stupid Girl – Cold
3. Shake It Up – The Cars
4. Devil’s Haircut – Beck
5. Get Up – Bleu
6. Ready Or Not – Fugees
7. Full Color Guilt – Boy Sets Fire
8. False Pretense – The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
9. Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones
10. Found Out About You – Gin Blossoms

While making a panel for a tradeshow:

CorasWorksConfPanelArt

  1. Something’s Always Wrong – Toad The Wet Sprocket
  2. Yesterday To Tomorrow – Audioslave
  3. Creatures (For A While) – 311
  4. Hardcore Punks Can’t Take It – Del the Funky Homosapien
  5. Right Now – Van Halen
  6. #41 – Dave Matthews Band
  7. Fill Her Up – Sting
  8. Perfect – Burn Season
  9. Torture Me – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  10. Wasted – Zebrahead

While collaborating on a blog:

SharePointSaturdayShirt

  1. I Get It – Chevelle
  2. Champagne Supernova – Oasis
  3. Get Up and Jump – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  4. Favorite Things – Incubus
  5. Someday I Suppose – Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  6. One Headlight – The Wallflowers
  7. Are You Gonna Be My Girl – JET
  8. Inside Out – Eve 6
  9. A Praise Chorus – Jimmy Eat World
  10. The Hand that Feeds – Nine Inch Nails

Basically, anyone can come up with their own conclusion based on what I presented here. I think the selections were heavily based on my mood at the time and maybe how exciting the project was. Overall, this was a fun and interesting look at an overlooked part of my day. Would be interested to see what the rest of the working world listens to. Rock On!

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