Monday, August 3, 2015

4 Places to Learn How to Screenprint in Philadelphia

My 1st screenprinted design getting oiled before the emulsion process
In the last couple of years, I've gotten more and more interested in taking art & professional development classes related to my field. Being a freelancer who primarily works from home, I don't get to learn from others on a daily basis (and the more I know the more I realize there is so, so much to learn), so I am constantly on the look out for interesting online & in-person classes.

I decided a few months ago that THIS would be the summer I learned screen printing; it's been in the back on my mind since I worked as a poster designer (10 years ago, crazy!). Screenprinting classes aren't offered as often as drawing/painting classes since they require a different kind of studio, but I did some research on classes in Philadelphia and here is a list of the best ones I found (links are included in all names).

1) Fleisher Art Memorial:  (Where I ended up taking my class) - this was my first experience at Fleisher, and it was a great one. I took a 5 day summer immersion workshop during the day while my kids took their own classes upstairs. I ended the week with (20) 11 x 4 inch prints of my own design (most of which were usable!). They also offer night classes and have two 10 week classes for beginners on their fall schedule (running from mid September to mid November). Huge Pro of Fleisher: If you are coming from out of town like me, they have a free parking lot for students - a rare thing in the city.
Cost: for a 10 week class is also a very reasonable $260 :) You may be able to use the left over paint they keep from past students (I did), but you will have to buy your own paper - which can be bought at the small supply store in their lobby - I spent $20 on 5 large sheets, which I divided into (20) 11x14 inch prints.

2) Continuing Education Class at an Art College:  There are a few art colleges in Philadelphia that also offer screenprinting classes as a part on their non-credit, continuing education programs. There are screenprinting classes at UArts and PAFA currently on their fall schedules, and Tyler with likely have one as well, judging from past schedules (fall 2015 class info has not been posted to their website yet). I actually tried to take a 10 week screenprinting class at UArts this summer, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment, bummer! I'm really only familiar with parking at UArts (having taking past classes there) and while there is no free lot for students, as a continuing education student you can get a discount on parking in one of the nearby lots, or easily take public transit (my personal choice). PAFA and Tyler are also both in convenient locations easily accessible by public transit.
Cost: Around $400-500 per 10 week class, includes a supply fee, but you may need to buy paper, paint, etc.

3) Second State Press: If you can't commit to a 10 week class, you may prefer to take a short workshop at Second State Press, located in the Crane Arts building. The workshop is one day, 3 hours long and you'll leave with a series of prints of your own design. I haven't taken a class with them yet, but I'll be going to a printmaking workshop with my family this week, so I am curious to see how it goes. My personal preference would be to spend a little more time in a class, but if you can get all you need to get done in only 3 hours, then why not? Every time I've visited the Crane Arts building there's been tons of free, on-street parking, though it's a bit trickier to get to via public transit compared to places in Center City
Cost: $83 for a 3 hour class. While it may seem a tad pricey for how short it is, it does includes all necessary supplies, like paper & paint. When factor those prices in, it works out to be around what you'd pay per 3 hour class at a college.

4) You House: While I like taking a class with an experienced instructor & other students I did ask my teacher if it would be possible to do screenprinting on my own. She said she prefers to work at a studio, but sent me a link to DIY Print Shop, which sells a range of different kits for beginners, all including an instructional DVD. I'm intrigued, but not sure if I'm ready to buy one yet! If I did, I would probably go for the Poster screenprinting kit ($249).
Cost: depending on the the kit, $129 - 599 (plus shipping), about what you'd pay for a class.

Here is a photo of one of my finished, 2 color prints from my class. I'm very happy with my 1st try at screenprinting, and very thankful for a wonderful teacher, Miriam Singer. (if you'd like to experience her class for yourself, she's teaching at Fleisher Thursday nights this fall :)

Do you have a local or online screenprinting class to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 15, 2015

TEDx Philadelphia 2015

TEDx Philadelphia 2015's host, Erica Atwood,
the only speaker I forgot to draw
It's been awhile since I felt I had anything important to write about here, but my experience at TEDx Philadelphia talks last week definitely deserve a post! I have watched a few talks on the TED website but seeing a whole day worth of talks (14 in all) was a different experience entirely. I wasn't familiar with any of the speakers before seeing them on the day of the conference, so I wasn't too sure what to expect. I was hoping for a few talks about Graphic Design or other art-related discipline, but the theme, "Justice for All" suggested otherwise, which was ok, I do realize there are more pressing issues in the world than picking the right font.

There was one talk about artwork made while incarcerated, and one about architecture, so art wasn't completely off the table, however, I was surprised to find I was more interested in other subjects discussed, such as being an openly gay preacher (I didn't know that was possible!), just how hard it is to break the cycle of poverty (with some pretty sobering statistics), and police brutality (spoken by Philadelphia's own chief of police, Charles H. Ramsey). Downstairs in the basement there was also an art show and a screen printing station were attendees could make their own 2 color screen print to take home with them, and two live musical guests, so don't worry creative people considering attending next year, you will get your art on :)

David Norse, Philadelphia first Openly Gay Preacher!
I bought a little 5 x 7 inch sketchbook with me with the idea that I would draw people in the audience during the talks - but ended up drawing the 14 speakers instead. Each talk was 18 minutes or less, so I worked quickly to try to capture each guest's likeness and pose during their speech, then add their ending quote & name.

Charles H. Ramsey, spoke about police brutality and other experiences
during his 46! years of working in law enforcement. Cool guy.

The short drawing time for each speaker meant I worked in pen with no chance to erase mistakes (which I made many!) and some line work that I would considered sloppy, however overall I was happy with how they turned out. I liked the speed of each drawing  - no time to second guess yourself or over think, just do it.
Yasmine Mustafa, former Persian Gulf War refugee & Entrepreneur

If you want to see all 14 drawings, you can check them out in my TEDxPHL15 Album on Flickr.

Thanks, TEDX Philadelphia, you've given me a lot to think about, I'll be back next year.....

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Publication Design for The Prospect Research Institute

 Recently I designed two fun, image-heavy publications for The Prospect Research Institute, which are now available for sale in their store.  If you are in  charge of fundraising for your organization, these guides are a must read. What about Women was especially interesting to work on, as it deals with often-overlooked, source of prime donors for non-profits...Women. It was released on March 8th, for International Women's Day. I am very proud to say I was part of an all-woman team to produce this fantastic book. Check it out :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

High School Career Day: Becoming a Graphic Designer

Me, getting ready to show students my portfolio at Career Day
 Last week, I was invited to speak at Pennsauken's High School's Junior Career day about working as a Graphic first thought was.., "when did I become an adult, let alone be qualified to talk to high school students about my career?!" I've actually been working as a Graphic Designer for over 10 (!) years now, which is a concept too crazy to comprehend. And it has been 15 years since I graduated high school, which makes me "so old", as a student so kindly pointed out after reading the dates written on the pages of my high school sketch book - hah!

Overall, it was a great experience and one that should be repeated at other high schools - so much of what we learn in high school may seem useless, but it actually could lead to a lifelong career. Many of the students asked great questions - ranging from, "how much money do graphic designers make?" to "where do you get inspiration?" and "do you ever get stuck and can't think of a new idea?" (the answer to that last question is "Yes!", everyone gets stuck sometimes, you just need to power through :).

I thought I'd share my journey from high school to graphic designer for anyone who might be thinking about it as a future career....

One of the first drawings in my high school sketchbook,
hands from freshman year.

From a very early age, I have always loved to draw. In school I won a few "art awards" in elementary & middle school and in addition to taking the required art classes in school, I also took classes in drawing and pottery at a local art center (Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown & Collingswood, NJ). In high school, I continued my love of drawing, taking various art classes as electives for all 4 years, as well as taking a figure drawing class outside of school (figure drawing = naked people, which was a shock to an immature 17 year old, however, it was a necessary skill and would be repeated during college, where I got very used to it!). As senior year drew to a close, I knew that I wanted to continue art in college, there was nothing else that I cared as strongly about, but felt I didn't have enough good pieces to put together a portfolio for college review and decided to go to community college first. Community college was a great (and inexpensive!) way to gain more experience - though in retrospect, I probably could have gone directly to art school as well, my portfolio was probably more than adequate for an incoming freshman. Anyway, one benefit of community college was taking all Art & English classes (my best subjects), gave me a high GPA, and I was inducted in the Phi Beta Kappa Honor society - which would have given me a very generous scholarship (at the time, perhaps even 100% of tuition), had I chosen to go to a state school such as Rutgers or Rowen University.

High school, sophomore year drawing,
small object drawn large - close up of a hair clip
But no, being a teenager with no understanding of how college loans would impact me for the next 10+ years of my life, I had my heart set on an expensive private art school, and ended up going to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I don't regret this decision, as UArts was an excellent school were I greatly improved my skills. My credits from community college were all accepted, though only as electives - not as major required classes, so while it lessened my credit load per semester (and got me out of taking Art History I), it didn't save me any time in getting my degree. At UArts, and I imagine, most other private art schools, all visual artists (this included graphic design, illustration, photography, film, animation, fibers, metal, sculpture, industrial design, glass blowing, pottery and any other major that wasn't performing arts, writing or communications), had to take the same freshman year "foundation program", then split off to their desired majors for sophomore year. "Foundation" consisted of basic drawing, painting, and sculpture classes, which could be more tedious then fun. Students who had drawing skills did relatively well, while others with talents in in an area that (seemly) didn't require drawing - like film and photography, often had to tough it out with lots of complaining. It was MUCH harder than my art classes at community college, and about 1/2 of the students in my freshman class didn't return for the second semester or sophomore year.

At the end of the foundation program, I was undecided as to whether I wanted to continue with graphic design or illustration. I met with the directors of both programs, and after learning that graphic design wouldn't require much drawing after the sophomore year, decided to go with illustration instead. I was still very drawn to computers, and followed a "digital track" in illustration. At the end of my time at UArts, my skills using the Adobe Creative Suite enabled me to find a job as a graphic designer fairly quickly, and I've been working continuously since. One of the benefits of graphic design is it can be much easier to find work directly out of school, while Illustration can take longer to get established - the average is about seven years. For me, it has been much easier to find graphic design jobs, and I work much more often as a graphic designer than as an illustrator - though I have also worked on projects that blurred the lines between both titles, and I have found being able to draw has given me a wonderful advantage in finding design work.

If you are thinking about going into graphic design or illustration (or are currently in college) check out my post on Tips for New Graphic Designer & Illustrators.

I'm looking forward to speaking at the next career day in the fall - it was a lot of fun!

Introducing myself to students, along with the other Art & Music professionals at Career Day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Yoga Studio Mural at Yogawood- the Process from Sketches to Painting

It's been a super busy last 4-5 months for me which has left little time to blog, but that's okay with me. As a full time freelancer, it seems like it's always feast or famine - everyone wants me to work for them at the same time, then I go through periods of little to no work. This summer will mark the beginning of my 3rd year freelancing, and I'm starting to get better at managing my workflow - next time I have a lull in work, I have quite a few personal projects to fill up my time! But anyway, back to the mural.....

My beloved Yogawood in Collingswood, NJ (my first real yoga studio "home"), moved to a new studio last November, and I was hired to create something for the new space. I had previously painted a large mural in their Riverton studio in 2011, and I was thrilled to be asked to work for them again. It was a long process from start to finish, including major color color change early on when the studio's freshly painted walls were repainted a lighter color, and an incredible 58 man-hours spent doing the actual painting. I was very thankful to have a painting assistant during each of my 5 painting sessions, as compared to the 2011 mural, which I painted almost completely by myself.

The project started in mid November, when I met with Yogawood owner, Beth Filla, got a tour of the space & discussed what her goals were for the project. She wanted something very different from the last mural, inspired by henna designs. She initially wanted it to be graphic & non-representational, but I suggested it might be nice to have an Indian temple wall. Years ago, when I lived in Philadelphia, I took yoga classes at a studio near Rittenhouse square, named the Yoga Loft. The entryway was painted beautifully like a temple, complete with elephants & and jungle plants. It was really unique and made a strong impression on me. When I tried to look up the the Yoga Loft at the start of the project, I found out it had closed down shortly after I stopped attending classes in 2008 or 2009, so any inspiration from the mural would just have to live on in my memories.

After the meeting, I sat down at my drawing desk with many different photos of henna designs & temple art for guidance and started drawing many pages of quick, compositional sketches. I probably did about 30 - 40 of these, to try to get all my good ideas out. 

After going through the drawings & picking out my favorites, I used multiple sheets of tracing paper to enlarge, refine, & ink them before scanning into the computer.
Using photoshop, I added colors & manipulated my drawings over a photo of the wall, creating a true preview of the final design. Having a digital version was also helpful for the actual painting, as I used a projector to make sure everything was properly positioned

If you look close, you can see the shadow from the projector, as I trace over the guides for the light purple color. I had used a projector with the 2011 mural, with great results. Using it with this project was not quite so easy. I separated the painting process by color, and for the first color, it went great. Trying to line up the projector for the next colors was much harder, as there were so many tiny details to the design, & moving the projector a few centimeters in the wrong direction would throw off the whole design. While I was still thankful to have it, I'm going to change my approach for the next mural project to avoid wasting so much time with projector set up - perhaps just using it to get a pencil drawing up on the wall, not paint.

Day 2 of painting we made lots of progress - I even crazily thought I might get it completed in 1 more session! Hah! I was still 4 sessions away at this point.

By the time we got to the mandala in the center, I had given up on using the projector, and utilized the old string/thumbtack circle method I learned in grade school it worked really well!

The door was another challenge - I couldn't use the projector because the design was so intricate & the door was too dark to properly project on (even using black background with white lines). I ended up just painting it freehand over the course of many, many hours. I suffered from OCD symptoms trying to get it perfect. I'm sure there is a yoga lesson in there, there is no such thing as perfect!

When we started applying the brown paint, progress seemed to come fast........

............but there was still lots of little details to get hung up on.

At the beginning on the last painting session, finishing seemed like an unattainable goal. Breathe, exhale, repeat.

But- just before midnight on the final day, things came together.

I was a bit loopy when this shot was taken - this is me trying to feign excitement, when all I felt was fatigue, lol. Thanks to my sister, Ali Lopez, for taking it, as I was really to pack up & go with no photos.  I still have to get back there & take some nicer shots for my portfolio & new website. The new website that I've been (not) working on since July, ahh. 

But that's a story for another post....

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fair Trade Valentine's Cards - Free Download!

Happy Valentine's Day! I figured I better break my month long silence and share something....

This card I drew for Fair Trade Campaigns last year is available as a free download on their website here. It was created for customers to send to their favorite fair trade farmers & artisans.

Just for fun, here are 2 alternate versions that I loved, but sadly didn't get picked : ( I had an elaborate plan of making a different background for each of the fair trade industry they were trying to highlight: roses, coffee, chocolate, plus a "generic" square version that could be used for other products, but they wanted to go with something simpler. The coffee & generic versions are shown below.

Do you have a favorite fair trade product? Mine is definitely CHOCOLATE - I have to have a bar at my desk at all times - it helps me work!

Monday, January 5, 2015

FREE Logo Design Bootcamp Class at Riverton Library - starts January 11

I'm very excited to announce that I will be teaching a Logo design Bootcamp class at the Riverton Library this month. The class is especially geared towards entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses and non-profits that are in need of help, but might not have the budget to hire a designer. We'll be learning the basics of a good logo, doing exercises to identify our target market, then designing the logo using free fonts & programs - no expensive Adobe programs necessary! At the end of the series, you will have a professional, ready to use logo, saved in multiple file types to satisfy all your printing & promotional needs. 

The class will run for 3 Sundays, January 11, 18, & 25, from 3-4:30pm. All classes are FREE but registration is required - you can sign up online at the Burlington County library website here, or by calling the Riverton Library at (856) 829-2476.

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