Pushing the Boundaries: Creative Digital Image-Making

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of participating in a creative class at the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass, Colorado. The workshop, Pushing the Boundaries: Creative Digital Image-Making, was taught by the talented Maggie Taylor. I’ve been following her work for several years, and was so thrilled to find out that she was teaching a workshop that I signed up in the first few hours registration opened. And I wasn’t the only one. The class filled up within 24 hours and a second class was added to the art center’s calendar.


After more than ten years as a still life photographer, Maggie began to use the computer to create what she calls “dreamlike worlds inhabited by everyday objects.” She begins with small pastel drawings to use as backgrounds, then scans each additional element into the computer and combines them using Photoshop, arranging figures much in the same way she creates still lifes in the studio. The bits and pieces she uses for inspiration come from flea market finds, online auctions, and objects from her own backyard. Below are a few of her pieces from “Through the Looking-Glass.”

Beware the Jabberwock by Maggie Taylor
Looking Glass House by Maggie Taylor
Now by Maggie Taylor

Later by Maggie Taylor

I consider myself an intermediate Photoshop user. I’ve been using it for years in my graphic design work. But this class went beyond what I was expecting to learn. Sure, there were tips and tricks that I didn’t know about, but I also crafted my design eye and pushed my collage composition skills. Each day started out with a class project that Maggie walked us through. It was interesting to see how a piece was created and then try to do the same.

The afternoons were ours to work on our own personal projects, ask questions, and get feedback. While some people planned ahead, I brought a bunch of images with no idea of what I was going to do with them. Here are a few of the pieces I had brought with me.

Image of a vintage photograph of a boy in a hat

Vintage photograph from an antique fair, left photo of a forest by Goran Vucicevic, right photo of a deer by Vladimir Kudinov (both via Unsplash.com), clip art butterfly and bird.

I first started out with the boy, cleaning up the scanned file and clipping him out of the background. Then I played around with a bunch of background images and settled on the foggy forest. Once I had him in an environment, the rest of the image came together pretty quickly. The tricky part was taking into account light sources, perspective, and flow. After several days work, coloring and adjusting hues and saturation (as well as being really nit-picky about some of the details) here’s what I ended up with…

Edge of the Forest by Ann Gardner

The workshop was a truly wonderful experience. If you ever have the chance to take a class at Anderson Ranch or from Maggie Taylor, I highly recommend it. So much inspiration, creativity, and just plain fun to be had.

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Five Fonts for Friday

I’ve been in a font rut lately. My go-to fonts are Brandon Grotesque and Mrs. Eaves, but for display type I need to be continually inspired. While I own hundreds of fonts, I get bored easily. I imagine it’s much like any one with a large shoe collection.

In search of my next must have fonts, I’ve been doing some “research”. We’ll call it that because it makes me feel better about my spending. Here are a few new and creative fonts I’m diggin’ right now.*

*Subject to change, considering I mentioned before that I get font bored. 😉


TT Knickerbockers Grotesk and Script by TypeType

This creative pair of fonts gets its inspiration from New York City and its traditional historic architecture and skyscrapers. TT Knickerbockers Grotesk is a narrow contrast sans-serif with characteristic elements sending us back to the 19th century. There’s also a reference to antiqua fonts. In TT Knickerbockers Grotesk you will find unusual characters, stylistic alternatives and ligatures.

TT Knickerbockers Script is a brushpen script with a slight touch of aristocracy. TT Knickerbockers Script consists of 967 characters and also contains a huge number of contextual alternatives and ligatures.


Montecatini by Louise Fili Ltd

Montecatini takes its cues from the elegant Stile Liberty travel posters of Italy in the early 1900s. The font features distinctive ligatures typical of the time when Art Nouveau emerged as a worldwide phenomenon. Everything looks better in Montecatini, from book jackets to monograms to packaging and logos—and the wide selection of ligatures make copyfitting a delight.


Luchador

Luchador is a serif display typeface in two styles with layered ornaments that will pack your next creative project full with weight, character and charisma like a Mexican wrestler. The Luchador family consists of Luchador Regular and Luchador Oblique as well as an ornamental bonus – Luchador Lines. All styles have over 300+ glyphs and supports a great amount of international languages.


Ravensara Antiqua Stencil

Ravensara Antiqua Stencil is display font family with 9 weights, from Thin to Extrablack with hightest contrast. This font was inspired by old style classic typefaces, such as Didone and Baskerville, and got a modern feel by getting rid of unnecessary details and adding stencil elements to it. Perfect for branding, packaging, headlines, posters, presentations, short texts.


Aurora Script

This vintage font was inspired by traditional calligraphy and the wonderful mystic soundtrack of Wojciech Kilar. Additional decorative frames enhance the character of the font. In general, it creates a luxurious and elegant look in design. Aurora comes with Clean and Aged versions, beautiful uppercase and lowercase alternates, ligatures and loved by many end-swashes.  It’s very well suited for logotypes, wedding invitations, and others.

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Jacqueline Roberts’ haunting photographs

As a photographer, I can appreciate when someone creates a whole other visual world through photography. In this case, a revival of the wet plate process from the 19th century. When you think of photographs from that time period, perhaps powerful images from the civil war or stiff family portraits come to mind. What stands out in these images, however, are her subjects.

Spanish artist Jacqueline Roberts‘ photography for her book, Nebula, captures a time of transition from childhood to adolescence through a collection of portraits that represent the psychological and emotional change of youth. The feeling that comes through in these images produced in a long abandoned process is haunting. Instead of trying to portray the innocent or adorable children prevalent today, Roberts uses the process, and it’s result, to show another side of child portraiture.

Wet plate photography was a desirable form of photography for it’s ability to make an unlimited number of prints from a single negative, providing the sharpest image possible. The technique quickly became popular and was used for portraiture, landscape work, architectural, and other types of photography. By the end of the 1850s, it had almost entirely replaced the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype.

I hope Roberts continues to push this particular form of photography even further in the future. I’d love to see what else she can reimagine.

Find out more about Jacqueline Roberts and her work on her website, here.

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2017 Faith-based holiday cards

You know, it’s 90 degrees here in Texas (and it’s only June!) But that doesn’t stop me from getting into the holiday spirit. I’ve been designing holiday cards since April, my latest creations have been faith-based designs. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes we forget the reason for the season.

My designs this year run the gamut, from traditional to modern, letterpresses to flat printing, and single photo to multi-photo. I’m especially into the more modern and minimal designs I’ve created this year. Just because these are religious themed designs, doesn’t mean they have to be stuffy or boring. You can see my designs (Ann Gardner) for Minted this year, here: http://bit.ly/2sB6ARa

And if you have some time, maybe while you’re waiting for your latte at Starbucks, I’d appreciate you rating my designs. Your votes/ratings help Minted to decide what to sell.

If you like what you see, or if you have comments about any of my designs, please let me know. I’d love to get feedback from a consumer point of view.

 

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2017 Holiday Photo Card Designs for Minted

It’s May. The time when Minted designers dream of the joys of the holiday season. It also means it’s time to help Minted decide which holiday photo cards to sell this year.

Every year I try to come up with humorous, heartfelt, or unique copy that captures the feelings of young and old during the holidays, with designs that help convey the mood. And this year is no different. Have a look and let me know what you think. My designs start here: http://bit.ly/2qyJtrD.

And if you vote for 50+ designs, you’ll receive an email with a $25 off future Minted order of $50 or more.

Happy holidays, y’all!
Ann Gardner

Exciting things are in the works

We’re in the final stages of getting our new website up and running smoothly. We’re so happy to have our designs all in one place. We sell with several companies, like Minted.com and Elli.com, and it was kind of a pain to point people in several different directions. Now you’ll be able to see our wedding invitations & save the dates, birth announcements, and holiday cards, as well as our photography and art prints all on one site. Links will take you to the sites where you can personalize and order your designer pieces, making it as easy as possible.

Stay tuned for an official launch. We’ll be adding new designs as well, so lots to see coming shortly.

Cyber Monday at Minted

If it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, it must be Cyber Monday!

Minted‘s Cyber Monday deal of 20% off everything is one of their best discounts of the year so I encourage you to take a look at their holiday cards, art prints and giftables. Use code: CM2016 through 9:00 am PT on Tuesday, 11/29.

Where to start? My store is full of all kinds of holiday cards, art prints and personal stationery.

Merry Christmas, y'all and Winter Window holiday photo cards
Merry Christmas, y’all and Winter Window holiday photo cards

Or if you’re looking for something specific, use the filters to refine your search in holiday cards, Christmas cards, new year cards, corporate holiday cards, art prints and personalizable gifts. There’s sure to be a design and style for everyone on your holiday list.

Summer in Spain art print
Summer in Spain art print

Unique gifts, such as customizable art, add a personalized touch to your holidays. One of my favorite decor items is Minted’s customizable pin boards. They look great in a kid’s room or an at-home office space. What a great way to save mementos, important information, or creative inspiration!

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Did I mention this is one of Minted’s best deals of the year? But hurry! This discount lasts until 9:00 am PT on Tuesday, 11/29. Use code: CM2016.

Winning Gold in the New Year

I’m always humbled when fellow designers and customers like my designs. It’s a validation of sorts that the work I do is appreciated by others. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to sell some of my designs on Minted, and even more thankful that one of my designs, Year-Round Happiness, met with such positive feedback in the form of votes. A first place win is a difficult thing to achieve in such a large pool of talented and artistic designers.

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Holiday card shopping is in full swing and Year-Round Happiness, along with my other designs, has launched. You can shop my holiday collection here. Or browse Minted’s entire New Year collection here.