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Pete's art dump page 6

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Okay, here are a few of the concept files I created for an Army TCG. The client was a bit hesitant to produce the product and was still pitching it to the Department of Defense. I was paid for the concept work… and I don’t think the game was ever produced.

First, this is one of the sheets explaining the card faces. This diagram explains how the position of the rank icon suggests a particular meaning to the player.

Below, the rank icon is used as a number so that it can be easily seen while holding a fan of cards. The “color” is a unit designation that also serves as a “mana” requirement for recruiting new units to the field. For example, you cannot play a card unless you meet the requirement of other deployed units of that color. This moderates the pace of powerful cards.

The image below shows a sample color and colorless card face. This would be the player’s “root” card.

Below are some options for personnel (enlisted) and officer faces. Enlisted and Officers were treated differently. Each could satisfy different kinds of requirements.

Some color options for the card faces. (I did a shit-ton of these.) The shape arrangements had been developed earlier.

Gear could be added to the field. These needed to be differentiated, and required personnel to operate.

Some of the special ability icons.

The matches were won by performing 7 different missions. Each completed mission provides a bonus point. In this sheet, those victory bonus points are tracked by using glass beads.

Bonus missions can be played that don’t require all 7 traits. Here’s an example of how I proposed to handle that.

I drew all the icons based on real insignias. Here’s the enlisted and officer icons:


Finally, here are some of the icons I pitched to the client to identify how literal he was comfortable getting. This presents three degrees of iconography… from most graphic (simple) to least graphic (literal):

So, that shows what kind of files go back and forth during paper-based game development. It’s not so different for digital productions. I’m not sure how many images I just posted, but this entire projects probably produced 120 presentation sheets of graphics, lists, diagrams, schedules, and so on.

 
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Wow I could see that taking months to develop. How many people did you have working with you?

 
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Just me, freelancing. Took two or three days.

It’s really not that much work… but you DO work 8 or 10 hours at a stretch. I would take smoke breaks, or run out for a cup of coffee. My studio, during this project, was in my house so it was pretty easy to just get up, get to work.

This is basically a level of design expected in a professional environment. It doesn’t matter if you’re freelancing, working in a studio, or working in an art department. The level of output is about the same. They’re hiring you to work, and work you do. You make your decisions, stick with them (until they break) and move on. Looking back on this stuff, I see LOTS of things I screwed up on. (Mortars aren’t really “artillery,” for example.) But that’s okay, that’s what development is for. You throw an idea out there and stick with it until you realize it doesn’t work.

My client was basically one guy. He was essentially a salesman with a little bit of trading card game experience. This was a solo effort for him. The idea was a TCG that reflected true Army structure and characters… the most “realistic” military TCG ever.

 
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Wow only a few days! That seems crazy to develop how cards would work and what not…but I guess I can see how it would be possible to do such a thing in a small frame of time. I’m not really a big fan of the photographs and graphics, it just seems very contrasty to me and not very pleasant to my eye…sorry. I think it is a interesting idea, but I don’t see how it would gather a stable and s decently sized fan base. However, I guess he found his research to say otherwise?

Almost everyone who says they want to be a graphic designer, or is in the Graphic Design program around here seems to instantly want to be a freelancer. I think it is a incredibly stupid idea until you have the experience and network connections. I have no idea why I have suddenly jumped into this topic. When our prof. brought this up and said the same thing basically my classmates seem to go “Nooooo, we haz intertnetz” I wanted to facepalm so hard. Man, everyone and their dead uncles have a website, and same goes for graphic designers, I find it hard to believe that a fresh out of college, or self taught freelancer could make a website and have success unless they know the right people and/or have a great talent.

Hmmm what was my point…..if one at all…maybe I was just ranting…

Hm. Well personally I wish to go into a studio and work there, I don’t really wish to freelance at all. I just don’t see the big allure, I know some of the pros and cons but I just don’t see why it attracts so many people to flock towards it. Why do you freelance? How do you do it? Did you work in a studio for a while and then decide to freelance, or have you always been a sort of freelancer?

 
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I prefer studio and in-house work. I like having project managers and brand managers and awesome design briefs and nice printers and free coffee and unlimited server space and experienced editors and an imaging department.

Freelance is basically you doing all those things for half the profit.

Freelancing is bullshit. It can be good, if you’re good, but for everyone else (most of us) it’s essentially doing the odd job and and then, then suddenly getting four clients that need their shit right away and doing care how it looks. Once they’re all taken care of, crickets.

There is no “networking reputation” to build up. There’s only friends that work here and there. As a freelancer, you need to be able to call your friends across the country and see if there’s any projects they need help with. They will all say no. Except every now and then one of them says, “no, but I heard that X is looking for someone to help them out with Y project.” And off you go. When you finally do get a client, you do everything you possibly can, short of a blowjob, to make them as happy as possible. And some of them are just grumpy and hate everything you do except the stuff that you hate (and they love), and still, because they’re a paying client, you grin and bear it.

If you don’t have friends in positions where they might hear about design projects, you will fail as a freelancer.

And freelancing isn’t about sitting around all day, dreaming up cool shit for $70 an hour. It’s about freaking out that you don’t have enough money for your rent or mortgage and you need to find some billable hours NOW. You sign up for every creative placement agency and they don’t do shit. You call all your old clients, and they’re completely happy and don’t need anything. You call your parents asking for a loan until you can get some work. That’s freelancing.

I’ve had pretty good portfolio websites showing off my stuff off and on for over 15 years. You know how many clients I attracted through them? NONE. Not a single email ever came through cold via my website.

So, maybe you have fellow students that think it’s going to be a walk in the park. Maybe it will be. Hard to say. However, I’d bet my whole stack that these are the people that conclude that they don’t really want to be graphic designers after they see how inglorious, difficult, and stressful it actually is.

Graphic design is not noble. It’s not particularly artistic… not usually. It’s a skill, a science, and a learned set of formulas. It’s best done when you can count on a steady paycheck and the clients are delivered to you on a silver platter.

 
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Sounds like the perfect field for workaholics. Do you really think that Graphic design isn’t really all that artistic? Compared to fine arts, sure it’s usually very conservative because you have to appeal to general public and those not so artistically inclined, but I like to think it’s still an art.

 
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I don’t believe it’s art. I believe it’s communication. It’s kind of the difference between technical writing and fiction. Even fiction, if done well, follows some rigid rules of form… rules that are bent in creative ways.

Art is self-expression. Design is visual translation. With design, you’re trying to communicate a very specific idea. With art, you’re trying to express an idea. Expression requires a potent force within you that needs to be let out. Translation requires a fluency in various forms of communication. They are very different skills.

I’ve met lots of designers that consider design “art.” They tend to not be very good designers, frankly. They get too attached to their ideas, as if to say, “I’m the expert here!” When, in actuality, they are often more in love with their own ideas that in finding the right solution to the problem. I see things all the time that are over-designed, embellished beyond recognition, or cool for cool’s sake. What’s the point of that? When the design eclipses the message, something’s wrong.

It’s important to note that I don’t necessarily think design is less noble than art. On the contrary. Bad artists—and there’s a lot of them—are profoundly annoying. But at least you don’t have to see their stuff every time you want to use the dish soap, or whatever.

Design, both good and bad, is about a billion times more common than art. Everything in your house is designed (except the plant and the fish). Look around. Each of those things is the result of an intentional development of a form to uniquely suit that object’s purpose. That’s not art. Graphic design is only similar to art in that it’s visual, creative, and often attractive. And that’s where people get confused.

But, that’s just my opinion.

 
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How did you know my house has a plant and some sort of fish! Gasp!

I do see your point. It is more communication than art itself, I understand that, but I think some ideas can be expressed with more subtly and/or elegantly if the design is well thought out. Like say…Oh gosh I can’t think of a decent example at the moment. What I have been thought or at least believe I have been taught this far is that simplicity is art if the idea can justified. If you going to employ a simplistic (I feel that is not quite the word I’m looking for) design it should have a reason on why it is designed that way, it can’t be simple for simples sake but to have a deeper and very well thought out idea. Refining the idea to such heights is the art its self.

I feel like I am becoming more aware of weak designs/ over-designed ideas, I still hesitate though because I feel I still lack the knowledge to truly understand certain designs; however, I am only a student still and no where near being any sort of master. I am a sponge and only wish to learn what it really means to be a designer.

I hope some of that made sense :s

 
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Yeah, that absolutely makes sense.

Being critical of the design around you is super useful. But pointing out things that are ugly isn’t really the same thing. Pointing out an opportunity for improvement is a skill that you, as a designer, will use 200 times a day in a professional situation. I’m absolutely serious. No hyperbole.

In fact, I was at work earlier today working on an illustration. The entire time I was working on it, I had a constant cycle of critique-improve going through my head.

Art and design are often confused because people are fond of using “art” as a broad description for anything that is creative and visual. You’re absolutely right when you say that design is communication.

If you said that you were in school working on your masters in communication, people would yawn and start talking about football. But if you say you’re an artist, everyone’s all ears. People want to be associated with the arts… it seems noble and elegant and sophisticated.

I’m sort of rambling here. I realize.

Simple design solutions can be elegant and sublime, but it should ultimately disappear. A well-written speech shouldn’t celebrate the speech-writer, even though they should get the credit… speech-writing is a communications skill. A well-written speech isn’t about the writer; it’s about the topic of the speech. An “artistic” commercial doesn’t celebrate the branding agency that made it; it elevates the product. A fancy book jacket can be artfully done, but if it doesn’t convey the guts of the book, it is off the mark.

I just thought of a very nuanced example. Consider “editorial illustration.” These are the gorgeous illustrations that are found in magazines, mostly, (and some newspapers and tabloids). These illustrations can be paintings, but their purpose is to reflect the content of the accompanying feature. Right? However, the illustrator brings lots of their own DNA to the project… their fingerprints are all over it. They are sometimes called commercial artists. Now, would you consider that art? I wouldn’t. It’s illustration, and there’s a difference.

 
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I guess I never really thought about it that way before.

I bet you hate pop art.

 
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It seems like you’re super eager to split ‘art’ and ‘design’ into two entirely separate camps without any real overlap. I never much got into the argument of ‘craft’ vs ‘art’ in college because it seemed like it mostly just was there to fuel artist’s egos and separate what they do from lesser forms of expression. You say that design is all about communication, but so are most of the greatest works of art in history. It also seems weird that you define things based on their medium. This is definitely an illustration (which you said is different from art), but I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t call it art. In fact, a lot of what art historians discuss would probably fall under the realm of design (the architectural significance of a church, for example). I think there’s a ton of overlap between art and design in terms of skills, goals, mediums, and any number of other things. I’m not going so far to say as if you paint a painting you’re a designer and if you design a doorknob you’re an artist, but I don’t think they’re completely separate things like you may suggest. And for that matter, I don’t really know what categorizing something as art vs design vs craft vs etc really accomplishes.

 
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Super eager? No, I’m just interested.

What does it accomplish? Just about as much as riding a bike does. It’s all what you want out of it. I find the distinctions between graphic design and fine art fascinating. Does it have a purpose? Depends on how seriously you take the topic.

There are lots of overlaps. I don’t dispute that. Comics, architecture, furniture, film, industrial engineering, dance, music, painting, packaging… it all can have similar design processes. The big distinction is, of course, context. Context defines everything.

You showed me a web page. On that web page there was a JPG that created an image… a facsimile of a Michaelangelo drawing. So, it’s lots of things… but if you’re asking if the IMAGE reproduces something that could be considered art, then sure!

But put that drawing on a poster. Is it still art? What about toilet paper? What about cropping it even more than you did. How about if I crop it down to one pixel? Is that art? Without context, you cannot fairly say something is art or not because it’s an indefensible position. If it’s art, you argue, and I crop it, at what point does it cease being art? When YOU don’t recognize it as such? Do you have to suddenly rely on a “reasonable person” to define it? I don’t like definitions like that.

 
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‘Super eager’ probably wasn’t the most apt way to describe it. It just seems like your approach has been to discuss things as either being art or design, instead of some gradient scale, which is probably how I would go about it. Something can be more arty or more designy, but I definitely think that some things that are ‘designs’ are at least moderately artistic. It seems like we just hit some kind of roadblock when we try to set rigid definitions to anything like this, as you proved with your examples.

 
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I think you’re splitting hairs, Rawis.

The substantive point is that the process for design is very different than the artistic method. It’s when the two collide that they both suffer. It’s the context that defines it, and to surrender yourself to the idea that they cannot and should not be separately defined is to basically say, “I don’t care to understand the difference.”

Of course, homogenized hybrids tend to delight an uninformed public. People generally admire things that are realistic, for example.

People marvel at it, and it’s technically sound. However, I question the “purity” of its artistic expression. I absolutely love Mark Rothko. His canvasses are enormous… it’s a flood of nuanced color that dominates your senses. That, to me, is art. It has impact on a visceral, emotional level. (However, that’s not the definition of “art,” to me, it’s merely a symptom that art may be occurring.)

That’s not to say that fine art cannot have the same kind of intellectual communication that commercial art does. The Mexican artist, Michael Tracy, uses Catholic iconography in his hyper-violent sculptures to underscore the visceral passion in that religion. It’s interesting and potent.

You didn’t even acknowledge context… and I think that’s kind of weird because that was the central qualifier for what is ultimately defined as art or design. Yes, it’s rigid, just as the definition of water is rigid even though water itself is not.

I ask you this: Do you believe that art and design are ALWAYS related? Can art exist without design, or vice versa? Is a laundry detergent box “art?” Is it always art? Is it always not art? Do you even have a line to draw?

 
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Guess Rawismojo didn’t want to talk about that after all. Shame, I put a lot of work into my response.

Here’s a photo I took at the JFK airport in New York earlier this week.

 
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Beat poet, author, Allen Ginsberg. Sharpie marker.

 
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Well even if Rawismojo doesn’t feel like going into it further I found both arguments very intriguing and both with their own valid points. It’s obviously a very debatable topic, that could vary from person to person. Very informative.

P.S.

Is that the…ceiling of the JFK Airport? Looks very alien if it is not.

 
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Yeah, that’s the concourse drive-through ceiling. It’s much more interesting upside-down. :)

 
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Do you mind if I use some of your earlier graphics, notably the letter ones on the first page? I would like to use them as examples/reference research for a simplicity in design project I am working on.

 
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Sure. Just, you know, do whatever’s appropriate.

Your design project for school, or for fun?

 
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It’s for school: It’s a project honoring Sol Lewitt, where I have to get an image, do some crops, recognizable and abstract, inversions, and some monochromatic stuff.

edit: Whoops, Sol Lewitt was another project; but the latter info is correct.

 
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The Lewitt project sounds interesting! I could see looking at Frank Stella and Roy Lichtenstein at the same time… lots of similarities (in some of their works).

One of my favorite artists, in terms of focused style, is Helen Lundeberg. She used minimalist shapes and color fields to create very real spaces. It’s a neat hybrid of realism, color-field, and geometric abstract. Her forms borrow heavily from architecture, and the points of reference lean on the rules of forced perspective. Taken together, it’s not quite representational, and not quite abstract. (She was a principle founder of the “Santa Fe style.” I just made that term up.)

 
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Those are really neat; another project I am doing is a bunch of research on any painting by Rene Magritte and sketch it and then do a brief presentation on the history of the work. I chose Rene because the surrealist style really caught my eye when we had to pick an artist, I could have chosen someone like Picasso though seeing as I was one of the first to choose.

 
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Jeez, you picked a tough one. Magritte is some serious nerdy stuff.

Here’s a conversation, paraphrased, about Magritte’s famous Pipe painting that I’ve had before. You might be inspired or offended by it, but either way it will stake out one way of looking at this piece. But first, here’s the painting:

If it’s not a pipe, what is it?
Well, it’s a painting. A depiction of a pipe.
(This is actually a digital reproduction of a painting that depicts a pipe.)

The notion that art is, or can be, construed as the thing itself reveals a lot about the human mind. We easily use depictions as proxies for those objects. This makes the relationshipbetween the artist and the viewer very complex. The artist establishes a base understanding… a shared dialog… then adds their interpretation to the definition. Does the artist redefine the pipe? Nope. The pipe is already defined by each of us individually. The artist borrows OUR definition and distorts it. What is the balance of interpretation? Who is responsible for what?

The outright denial of that relationship is what Magritte addresses in this painting, I think. Hey, dumbass, this isn’t a pipe. It may look like a pipe. It’s not.

Isn’t that the basis of what representational art is? It truly is the treachery of images.