Category Archives: My Art

Dismount and Murder Bookcover and Giveaway

Dismount and MurderBook #3 in Jacqueline Lynch’s Double V Mystery series is here! The cover is designed by yours truly and I can’t wait to read the third installment in the series. I’ve become quite attached to Elmer and Juliet and their adventures. Head over to Jacqueline’s blog for the complete lowdown on the plot and where to purchase your copy. If you are quick and send her an email tonight, you can even enter to win a copy of the book in paperback!

What are you waiting for? Go visit her!

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New England Travels Bookcover

Happy Black Friday, dear friends! It is with great pride that I trumpet the release of the ebook version of States of Mind: New England, Collected Essays from New England Travels by the lovely Jacqueline T. Lynch with a cover designed by yours truly. Hop over to Amazon and snap up the ebook version for FREE today through Monday, November 26. It already resides on my iPad and I couldn’t be more impressed with the thorough research and abundance of historic photos to accompany the essays. Even better, the photographs of local historic places were all shot by Jacqueline herself!

Jacqueline spills the rest of the details (including the impending publication of a beautiful print version!) over on her blog. Have a look and leave her a comment if you like. Hope all my pals in the US stuffed themselves royally with pie yesterday. Enjoy your leftovers!

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Speak Out Before You Die Bookcover

Hello, dear ones! Just popping into your world for a moment to announce the second installment in the Double V Mystery series by Jacqueline T. Lynch. Book number 2 is called Speak Out Before You Die, with another cover designed by me!

This book picks up with the same detecting duo we met in the first book: Elmer Vartanian and Juliet Van Allen, the ex-con and the society sophisticate who solve crimes on the sly. Speak Out Before You Die finds the pair sleuthing at a high society New Year’s Eve wedding. They have reason to believe someone will die before the new year rings in and it’s up to them to expose the plot. Head over to Jacqueline’s blog for the full official blurb and her special explanation of the characters.

Ebooks available here: B&N, Smashwords, Amazon

Paperbacks will be available directly via Jacqueline or on Amazon in a few weeks.

Let me know what you think of the cover! As always, creative feedback is most welcome.

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Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red Bookcover

**trumpet fanfare, please**

It is my honor to announce the unveiling of a new e-bookcover design (created by me) for Jacqueline T. Lynch’s detective series! Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red has just been republished with the new cover on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. This is the first book in the Double V Mystery series. Set in 1950s Connecticut, it centers on an unlikely pair of amateur sleuths, thrown together because of a murder. Hop over to Jacqueline’s blog for a peek at the first chapter, brilliantly illustrated with classic film screen caps. I wish all books could be illustrated this way.

I had so much fun designing this cover and the logo for Double V. It’s a dream come true for me to create a cover for a Noir-inspired series. And I must admit, I genuinely squealed to see a piece of art I designed load on a real life Amazon page. :)

Heartfelt thanks to Jacqueline for giving me this truly thrilling opportunity.

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My Art: End of the Line

As you may have already deduced, I graduated from college earlier this year. Graduated! Diploma and all. In order to graduate, I needed to create a Senior Project and display it in a local gallery. This I did and had a great time in the process. You will not be surprised to learn that I used this project as an excuse to sit around and watch classic films as research. So, please have a look! I’m finally ready to share it with you.The project is a marketing campaign for a classic film festival I named End of the Line. It’s a festival of 5 classic Noir films all centering around trains. It took me ages to decide which to choose, but I narrowed it down to:

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Double Indemnity (1944)

Terror By Night (1946)

The Tall Target (1951)

The Narrow Margin (1952)

The campaign consists of a logo, 5 redesigned film posters, 6 ticket designs, a website and a display area for the gallery. In addition, I designed trading cards with my information on them to give to patrons and a teaser poster to advertise my project at the show. We needed to have an artist’s statement/thesis to hang on the wall next to our projects, too.

THESIS

In the creation of a marketing campaign for a five film festival of classic Noir drams, I highlight fresh aspects of the films presented. With the intent of piquing the interest of young adults, I have rebranded the films with vintage inspired graphics and factual interpretations of the plots. The common thread tying all five films together is the fact that each plot centers around a train journey gone awry.

The supporting promotional materials serve both a functional and commemorative purpose in the campaign. Intended for use in small theatres across the country, the campaign would be available for owners to purchase and host at their discretion.

THE POSTERS

One of the reasons I decided to pursue this project was the frustration I felt attempting to explain the incredible world of classic movies to people my age. I have actually talked with people who refused to watch a classic film “because it’s black and white.” I remember the conversation well, probably because that comment was akin to The Hulk punching me in the face. Before that, I naively believed everyone would be excited to hear about this wonderful cinematic world I had discovered.

Armed with this knowledge of general oafishness, I set out to reveal the stylish, fascinating and wholly worthy nature of classic movies in a way the younger generations could appreciate. I soon realized the most important piece of this mission would be the redesigned posters. Clean, bold and easy to understand at a glance were my goals. I wanted to depict the films truthfully and in a visually appealing way without giving away any plot points, but at the same time hold the interest of diehard fans.

THE TICKETS

The tickets were the easiest piece to design, but the hardest to get printed successfully. If you look closely, you can see every one of them is perforated so the stub can be separated from the ticket. The festival pass even has 5 perforations on the same ticket. You can imagine how a printer handled this. They printed the tickets (all 350 of them…) and forgot to perforate them. I nearly died when the man called and told me that the day before the show opened. I’m not a pushy person at all, but I told him in no uncertain terms he better get them fixed and fast. Thankfully, they were.

Anyway, for these tickets I wanted to combine the idea of movie tickets and train tickets with the integration of a vintage railroad hole puncher. Every ticket has a white circle on the back to be punched at the time you enter the theatre. It’s a purely commemorative gesture, but I felt it was an important touch to lend a train journey feel to the promotional materials. This punch was a lucky Etsy find – it creates a bee wing shape!

THE WEBSITE

eotlff.com – This little site made me so happy when it was finished. I wrote the code for every single thing you see there. All the hovers, all the links, every image you see. I typed out every single character that makes this site work. I even bought a domain and uploaded the whole tidy little package to the server. Be sure to take a peek at the Films page. That was my favorite part to code. (I’m told it doesn’t look to full advantage in Internet Explorer, though…)

THE DISPLAY

Apologies for the subpar photos – no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get a decent photo in this space! It looked marvelous in person, I promise. The black backdrop is a 6′ by 8′ vinyl banner I designed. See those map dots? Those are the actual departure and destination cities in each of the movies, arranged with mild geographical accuracy. (I fretted over the fact it wasn’t geographically correct for months. Eventually, I realized it didn’t matter all that much.) The vintage suitcases were an almost-last-minute revelation that helped bring the whole project together. I tied the stacks with jute rope and thick wire to prevent anyone walking off with them. It worked well!

The incredible sample suitcase served as a holder for the tickets and trading cards. Visitors to the show were allowed to take those as souvenirs. I had to take this suitcase to a metal shop and have a piece of metal cut to fit so it would stay open. The man who helped me figure out the fix was the nicest guy. He made the problem of transforming this suitcase into a display piece a fun adventure, instead of the headache I was anticipating.

THE TEASER POSTER

About a month before the show opened in the main gallery, a smaller gallery hosted a show of the teaser posters my class created. The design above was one of my original ideas, but I couldn’t find a way to make it work with one of the movies. It turned out to be the perfect solution for this poster. The blue circle contains a block of text we absolutely had to have on our posters (mandate from the college’s marketing department). It contained the name of our college and the exact place of the main show. I’ve changed it to gibberish now, but you get the idea. At the time, the QR code in the lower right corner created a reminder for the event in your phone if you scanned it. It now leads straight back here to my blog.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Even though this was the only project I’ve ever worked on that brought me close to tears, it’s my favorite. I’m proud of it, even after looking at it for the first time since it was completed back in April. (I have a policy of putting away all my finished work and taking it out again months later to reassess it. When you are in the thick of an idea, it’s difficult to see it with critical eyes.) That said, I’m really interested in your opinions. In fact, the whole time I worked on this, I kept considering what you guys would think. Did I do the films justice? Are the posters appealing to people who know all about the films? You tell me.

I’ve finally summoned up enough courage to share this here, so please don’t be shy with your thoughts!

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Filed under Classic Movies, My Art, Noir

Read With Me: The Slaves of Solitude

The Slaves of Solitude written by Patrick Hamilton in 1947 was first on my list of must read titles from Mr. Baxter. He chose this book for me to read first because my final assignment in his class used the setting of the 40s and attempted to highlight the abrasive relationships of catty women. I say “attempted” because though the story represented my best efforts at the time, it can certainly be improved upon now.(Cover redesign by me. ©2011)

Hamilton’s Slaves of Solitude is a quiet, subtle account of the life of an ordinary middle-aged woman taking refuge from the London Blitz in a small-town boarding house. Readers view all the happenings and events through the eyes of this woman, ironically named Miss Roach. The boarding house (called The Rosamund Tea Rooms even now, though tea has long since ceased to be served to passersby) hosts a plethora of fascinating characters including Miss Roach’s bitter nemesis: Mr. Thwaites. The story painstakingly reveals the torturous and verbally abusive relationship Miss Roach suffers with Mr. Thwaites.

Thames Lockdon had been “heaven”, then, with its dark, still nights, over which the sirens occasionally came yelling triumphantly forth, only to be gradually snubbed by the profound silence of the firmament, undisturbed even by the distant sound of guns and bombs, which followed. And she had been made a fuss of, then, a sort of heroine indeed, and given a fortnight’s holiday. And the town was “pretty”, and the food “very good”, and the people “very nice” – even Mr. Thwaites had seemed “very nice”.

But now, after more than a year of it, Mr. Thwaites was president in hell.

{page 8}

Miss Roach interacts with a “foreign woman” who causes her trouble, falls in love with a bumbling American solider and finds unlikely friends amongst the residents. Whenever I try to explain it to people I know, I fear that it comes off as depressing. It does have sad moments, but overall the story is much too fascinating to make you sad. It’s the kind of story that slowly reels you in with each gloriously worded paragraph, so much so that you don’t even realize how engaged you are until you try to take a break. What impresses me most about The Slaves of Solitude is the skillful sentence structure. Hamilton gleefully weaves the longest sentences ever to confront an unsuspecting reader, but in such a way that you plow straight through without being aware of the length until the end.

Though obscurely aware of this, his naïvety and freshness of belief remained unabated. Also, having the treacherous faculty, at certain intervals, of being able to hit the ball squarely off the middle of the club-head four or five times in succession, Mr. Prest would exhibit the curious caution (the caution of a madman) of packing up his clubs and going home only when such an interval had just occurred and remained unmarred by disaster, and thus enable himself during the rest of the day to embrace the pleasant belief that he had at last alighted upon the simple explanation of golf which had by the merest chance eluded him for so many years.

{page 81}

I read The Slaves of Solitude just a few months before moving into an apartment house myself. I like to think it prepared me a little for the adjustment. One of my favorite passages (which I cannot find now for the life of me) talks of homebody residents waiting for the wayfaring travelers to return at the end of each day. The simple gesture conveys a connection of camaraderie between the boarders despite their differences and idiosyncrasies. Now that I’m an apartment dweller myself, I unconsciously check off each of my neighbors as they return home from work at night. It’s comforting to know that everyone has made it back safely.

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Read With Me

Last summer, in hot and furious pursuit of credits to graduate, I took a creative writing class. Instead of being excited for the learning ahead, I just hoped to get through it without ending up in tears trying to finish the assignments. My college memories consist of me hoping this at the start of every semester, often ending up sadly disappointed. This time though, I got darn lucky.

Mr. Baxter, the creative writing professor, turned out to be one of my all time favorite teachers. I liked him because he was young enough to remember how hard college is for those foolish enough to endure it. He understood we all had other homework and other commitments in addition to his course. Instead of taking these situations personally, he accepted them and asked for no justifications. He honestly couldn’t have cared less about the excuses. All he cared about was writing and literature. I hate that expression about someone’s “passion” for their work. It’s so often used to describe people not deserving of the title. But for this professor, it applies in spades.

As we made our way through the semester, he led discussions about the stories we read with infectious zeal. His intensity and focus on writing styles, sentence structure and phrasing completely changed the way I read and interpret writing.

In the final week of the class, Mr. Baxter offered to create a reading list for anyone interested. I jumped at the chance and when I met with him to retrieve my final paper, he presented me with a two-page list of books. The selections are a mix of titles specifically tailored to my tastes (stories set in the 1940s!) and classics everyone should read. Each title is accompanied by a note, justifying it’s position on the list.

Long story short, I’ve only made it through one of the books on the list as yet, so I will be discussing each one as I finish it here. Anyone who would like to jump in and read one of the books along with me is most welcome. I’ll post the intro to each new book every other Saturday morning, allowing two weeks for reading in between.

The list:

The Slaves of Solitude, Patrick Hamilton

Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell

Blithe Spirit, Noel Coward

The Quick and the Dead, Joy Williams

The Rainbow, D.H. Lawrence

The Group, Mary McCarthy

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

The Remains of the Day, Kazou Ishiguro

Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy

Consider the Lobster & A Supposedly Funny Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace

The plays of Martin McDonagh

The Thin Place, Kathryn Davis

The Short Stories of Shirley Jackson

Slaughterhouse Five, Galapagos & Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut

The Sea, John Banville

“The Dead” from Dubliners, James Joyce

The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

All right then. My post on The Slaves of Solitude will be up on Wednesday, July 27th. In the meantime, if you’d like to read along, inexpensive copies of the book can be found here. Don’t let that odd cover art fool you, either. The Slaves of Solitude has nothing to do with houses of ill repute.

Check out my Amazon aStore with all the books on the list here. There’s also a link for it in my menu at the top of the page.

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