Thank you for dropping by my new Portfolio page. Since I've been delving deeper into the world of Photoshop and Illustrator, I thought it would be in my best interest to chart my progression from when I started playing with vectors in September 2013. Also, I'm a little new to adding new pages to my blog so please forgive me if is seems a little wonky at first. I'll be sprucing things up as time goes by, so excuse our dust, as they say...
The Writers Bloc (2013)

Here's the one that started it all. I was getting tired of the same old plainness of the templates that I could use for my blog. I frequently went to a third party site from time to time, and I tried using one once. But I couldn't get it to work, even after following their instructions. Kind of like installing an "astore" on my site, it just wasn't working, and I've got bigger fish to fry. Since changing the scenery wasn't doing it for me, I decided I could at least change my Header. I've dabbled in Photoshop before, and by that I mean I was completely lost then too. This time however, I was getting help from every tutorial site out there. It took me forever, but it got done. Since then, I've done nothing but practice techniques.

Keep Calm and Listen To Vinyl

 All of a sudden, lightning struck. Back in 2011 I took a shot at starting my own little business at Cafe Press. Record Store Day had become my new favorite holiday, and I turned into a little kid on Christmas morning whenever it came around. I focused my enthusiasm to making a hobbled together t-shirt utilizing MS Paint and Cafe Press' tools. The design of which was so horrible that I refused to keep a copy of it (actually, that's not true. I kept a copy as a reminder...see below.). 

Discouraged, I scrapped the whole thing and walked away. Years passed and lightning struck again. Closer this time. I kept the spindle design and started learning Photoshop and Illustrator. The only tutorials I sought for this one was how to eliminate a white background. This one was more or less free hand, you can tell because the words are slightly askew. I cleaned it up in post. I went back to Cafe Press, completely scrapped my old design and replaced it with this one. Although it was barely enough to open up a shop with, it was a start. It was a fresh start. I felt more in control with better tools and a better vision.

Angel's Share

 The very night I finished my new header, my nightly internet habits were spent studying tutorials and designs. Developing a taste for typography and old-fashioned, Victorian era advertising. A few months later, I was asked to contribute cakes to my daughter's school fair and in the process, I was to make a brand for this outing because the people putting it together needed a name to put on a flyer. I came up with the name, "Angel's Share". It sounded innocent and home-spun like. It was a phrase I was applying to leftover cake pieces that I had to use as leftovers in something else. Turns out, I'm a latent alcoholic. Not only does this look more like a whiskey bottle and less like an old fashioned placard (Look! I tried to make the S's in the middle look like a heart! See? Homey. Not alcoholic, Homey!),  but through some sort of advertising osmosis, Jim Beam pointed out that it's a term used in the distillation of spirits, not the baking of cakes. I never went to culinary school. Obviously, I never went to design school either. As you can see from this freehand work that nothing is 100% symmetrical. This problem will be my demon for as long as I keep doing this; it will be a constant struggle to be mindful of space and size. On this, there was some time spent with tutorials (specifically how to make the wood grain texture behind the cake) as well as gathering up fonts and vectors. But most of the time was constructing something together from scratch. Honesty, I never intended it to look like a whiskey label,
but, I think it's pretty...regardless...

Writers' Bloc Header 2014

Ah, a new year, new header. The old one was fun for a while, but the new one is easier on the eyes. With this one, I was drifting further and further away from depending on tutorials, because as I've pointed out before, tutorials can only take you so far. This one required two tutorials, although not completely. I took a little from column A, and a little from column B, the rest was all play, all day. I think result came out better than I expected. It was at this point that I figured that tutorials can only show me the way, HOW I get there is all mine.

Support Your Local Record Store

Okay, now we are definitely on a roll now! Having found confidence in completing my new header, I turned my focus to spiffing up my shop that I started so many years ago. The "Keep Calm" meme was relatively easy and required very little time. But that was only one new design. I can't run a shop on one design. I still had the other one there, and it was making me itch every time I saw it...

Man, my design skills are on FIIIRE!!!
 Fighting the urge to vomit in my mouth every time I saw this, I decided to do something about it. I salvaged the spindle design and brainstormed on how I can improve on this. I found the perfect tutorial and cranked it out in a couple of hours. Which was surprising because I was expecting to obsess over this for spend at least a day or two on this...

Ahh...much better.
The finished product was good, but I wanted to have that "lived-in" feel to it. Since my intention was to put this on a t-shirt, I wanted to give it the style of having it gone through the wash more than a few times where the transfer is weakening and starting to peel; a well loved article of clothing. It was an easy technique, and one that I'll probably apply in the future to other designs. Yes, I have other designs. I'll be finishing them soon.

I've been wanting to work in this style for a while now. This design was my gateway to that level. I have fallen in love with what some people might regard as "Steampunk". There's a certain elegance to it. It flows. It grabs attention, it's easy on the eyes and it seems to reflect a flow of thought. It's a type of Neo-Victorianism, but with an American feel to it; the span of history between the end of the Civil War to pre-World War I. Think Antique Shop and Old spelled with an "e". In my research to acclimate myself to the style, and I found that I couldn't necessarily rely completely on Adobe Illustrator to get to the level of most of my inspirations. I would probably have to learn how to draw.
Nice, huh? Too bad it's not mine. *sigh*

In any case, this is a style that I need to keep working on while I spread out in other areas to see what I can do.

Shut Up and Keep Writing

Ideas. I had all the motivation in the world, and my mind was open to new possibilities as far as technique goes, but it's ultimately worthless if I didn't have a thing to build them on. Ideas. That's what I needed. They
were slow coming.

I try not to capitalize on other people's ideas, but like Michael Corleone said, "Just when I thought I was out, they keep pulling me back in."  I'll get to that later, but for now, the only ideas I had started from a personal base. I wanted to start with a foundation of what I like and what I knew. Record stores. Comic books. Pop culture. Memes. All of these were a means to which I could express my ideas. I've been blogging for years. Not as long as I've been going to record stores, but long enough for me to adopt all of the trappings and values and practices it takes to be an adequate writer. In my years of doing this, I've accumulated a fair amount of like-minded people. The one thing I've learned through my new friendships, the one thing that they've shown me, is that you never give up. Find your voice, make it sing. Keep talking. Keep writing.