It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US, which means May is coming rapidly to an end, and there will be a new blog train at Pixel Scrapper/DigitalScrapbook.com. This month’s palette is full of bright cheerful colors, summery and playful. I ended up going in a very mixed-media direction with it; all but a handful of frames and ribbons are things I photographed and extracted, or hand-drew in ArtRage. That includes the brushes I created the mixed-media papers with; they started out as black ink either brushed or stamped onto white paper and scanned in, then isolated in Photoshop and turned into brushes.
My Crazy Busy Awesome Life
Life’s been pretty busy for me lately; those mixed-media brushes are just the tip of the iceberg! I also participated in my first 36 Days of Type and completed it on May 9th; the uppercase and numbers I drew for it will be hitting the shop sometime this month as alpha templates. I got my second jab on May 8th, so I’m now fully vaccinated; this is a good thing, because the people I live with are still convinced that the pandemic is a hoax and have refused to wear masks all the way through, as well as turning down the vaccine and asking me not to get it either. (This is despite them having multiple high-risk factors for severe illness, one of them having bad enough health as it is that he’d probably die from it; I’ve reached the point of saving my breath for people who might actually be open to listening, and am focusing on protecting my own health.) And yet they gripe about all the doctors’ offices and some local cities wanting them to mask up (this state hasn’t hit 50% vaccinated yet, and probably won’t for a while unless the schools start requiring it for in-person classes, because the supposed adults are refusing it in large numbers); in the next breath, they’re wondering “when things can get back to normal.” It’s like they refuse to see that the two are linked, despite all of the other spurious links they see connecting 5G with mind control and wildfires with Jewish space lasers. *headdesks repeatedly*
Also on May 7th and 8th, I was able to attend a virtual type design conference; over the course of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, there were 15 different lectures on topics ranging from the bumps of the pandemic to designing typefaces for a language you don’t speak, and on a design-oriented book club started in Brazil that’s swelled to 3000 members during the pandemic. “Typeseeing” tours of places like Athens, Greece; Montevideo, Uruguay; Barcelona, Spain; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam were wonderful for seeing what signage is like in those places, and very useful in sparking new type design ideas for me. I also got to learn from some of the big-name established type designers and make a few contacts in the field; I’ve got an invite to bring a specimen sheet of a typeface to one of them for a critique, too, which is HUGE for improving my knowledge and skills in future.
I’ve also attended two series of talks at Design Cuts recently; it seems like they hold a two-day themed event every month with half a dozen free live classes. April’s was on typography, and May’s was on lettering, so they were both very much in line with what I’ve been working on over the last year. The videos of all of those classes are available in Design Cuts’ Learning Hub, if you’re interested in them. They’ve got a huge list of videos to select from, so if you’re looking to expand on your design skills or learn some new techniques, it’s another free source to learn from pros. They’ve also got a regular Thursday series of events between the larger month-end ones; there was a recent Thursday talk on creating scrapbook-style text by Anna Aspnes, whose name you might recognize from the digiscrap world.
I’ve been working on my hand-lettering skills as well in a daily sketchbook practice, trying to fight the tremors that have been developing due to nerve damage from all of the lupus flareups I’ve had in the last couple of years, and posting the results on Instagram. I know they’re not perfect, and I’m sure others can spot the mistakes as well, but I’m not doing it for the people who want to see perfection; for me, it’s about maintaining or improving my fine motor control, and about being honest about my struggles. If I wanted the lettering to be perfect, I could just do it in Illustrator where I can edit the points all day long, but that would just be contributing to the “only show a perfect life on social media” thing; I believe that’s almost as toxic to self-image for an average person as those anorexic models being held up as beauty standards in the fashion magazines and blogs. Daily practice at drawing type with pens is another project I’ve been working on; I use TypeCooker to generate a set of random parameters for the day’s alphabet, which helps keep me working on all of the foundational hands. And I’ve got a short Zoom class I’ll be taking on copperplate calligraphy later this week, too.
I’m still working on making a big addition to the character set for RHK Minimal, adding support for the rest of the Latin-based and Cyrillic languages as well as Greek. The current issue is a technical difficulty with exporting a TTF; I think I’m going to have to email the developer and ask if he can figure out why it’s not exporting correctly.
I still don’t leave the house often unless I have appointments, but there are several coming up; on the 3rd, I’m seeing my eye doctor and looking forward to getting a new prescription for eyeglasses since my current ones are 3 years old. On the 7th, I’ve got a rheumatology appointment (and may be able to convince him to up my immunosuppressant now that the pandemic is starting to slow) and my annual gynecology checkup (including mammogram). I’m glad to be able to get those taken care of; the well-woman visit was due a couple months before the pandemic hit, but we were in the middle of starting to move out of state at that point, though that move ended up being called off at the last minute when the sellers took the house off the market because of the pandemic.
This Month’s Blog Train
Anyway, back to the reason you’re here: the blog train! As I mentioned, I chose to use this month’s palette to create a bright, bold mixed media kit. The papers pack has 18 of them for you, in 3 different styles: 6 with mixed-media marks all over them, 6 with large paint patches which could work as mats for photos, and the last 6 are mostly solid with colorful edges. I haven’t included any simple patterns or true solids, but I know you’ve got lots of those in your stash, and possibly some from the other stops on this blog train as well.
The elements set includes a variety of frames, a couple of torn photos with clipping masks, some paint, some doodles, a few ribbons, some speech bubbles, and a head with a messy bun.
It shouldn’t surprise any of you, given how type- and lettering-focused I’ve been over the last couple of months, that I’ve included a lot of word art that I lettered in ArtRage. There are 27 pieces here, mostly single words with a few quotes, focusing on the perfectly imperfect nature of life and humans. Naturally, I also included a couple of words that could be used for LGBT+ Pride, since that’s usually in June in the US.
And I’ve got an alpha for you as well; graffiti’s really been enjoying a moment this year, and so I’ve created an alpha based on my recollection of the marker graffiti popular on Minneapolis’ North Side and around the university back in the late 1990s when I first lived in the Twin Cities. I’ll eventually turn it into a font, but this alpha is from the initial character drawings.
Don’t forget to swing back to the main thread at Pixel Scrapper and pick up all of the other stops on this train to build a massive coordinated collection!