Wednesday, June 22, 2005

West Coast Dance Theater is done.

As proposed

As fabricated and installed

I'm always pleased when the combination of digital photography, some field measurements, a graphic file and some time with a calculator results in a job matching the idea so very closely. Here, I had no real way to measure the space the sign was going to go in, but as you can see, my predictive image is really accurate for size and placement. Over time, the colors evolved to be more classy and less bubble-gum electric. The really critical thing was creating an image so that everyone could see how a 50 square foot sign would look in the available space.

It's pretty amazing how small things get when they are high up. Yes, that's the top 30" of Bob sticking over the top of the building structure. Note that the sign still has its brighter colors. The border and correct colors were applied the following day.

Has this picture been altered?

I used to go to some effort to make my Photoshop renderings look indistinguishable from a real photo. The third or fourth time a client mistook my proposed work for work that had already been completed and photo'd, I stopped. I know it's completely possible to create a forgery indistinguishable from a real image; the forger merely needs to be as smart as anyone who would be trying to detect the forgery. Get the shadows and reflections right, and a good forger has already bested 95% of anyone attempting to ferret out the forgery.
So I'm pretty excited about encrypted electronic watermarking. A "hologram" is embedded in the background noise of an image, and an encryption key will detect whether the image has been tampered with. This way, news services (for example) can verify the integrity of a digital image.
I'm in the business of altering reality. I show people what is possible. I want my news to be in the business of reporting what is real, so I support digital watermarking.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

West Coast Dance Theater

West Coast Dance Theater project is finally nearly finished! More pics later. Here's a method to make window letters that don't have to be replaced if a large window (I think they are called "lamps" in trade lingo) suffers a bit of vandalism. We placed the letters on a $100 sheet of acrylic, which I then hung using some seamless hardware.

Sign people like to attach signs in ways that hide the hardware as much as possible. Even though hardware in plain sight is invisible anyway, like a magician's trick thumbtip, we still endeavor to find ways to make the final product as beautiful as possible. In this case, a metal sleeve hides the attachment point.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Stick my neck out

When I first opened for business, making the transition from designing in my spare time to being an Iddentity brander full time, I spent many, many hours over the course of a couple of years trying to break into the existing business circles here in Alameda. I offered my services in many capacities: as consultant, as vendor, in support of the Chamber of Commerce, in support of the Park Street Business Association and so on.

Not a nibble.

I came to understand that the power network was pretty well buttoned up. West Advertising, Aviso and PSBA had built up Park Street into what it is today, and were so thick with each other and all the merchants that there was no real opportunity for me. In fact, steps were taken to keep me from succeeding! I shifted gears, and went over to help Webster Street. The power block made sure to tell me that they were a bunch of losers over at that end of town, and I should stick to not working with the "winners."

As if I didn't know the power of graphic design, clear intention, and a bright personality.

Anyway, Webster Street is going through its renaissance, I've got several excellent clients, and I suppose I'm feeling very secure, because I've barked in the face of the Big Dog. Here's the letter to the editor regarding this multiplex fiasco which I sent in to our locally owned paper:

"I can't help it if the people in this town who are opposed to (the theater plan) haven't been paying attention."
--Rob Ratto, as reported in the Alameda Sun June 9 2005

Excuse me? I think Alamedans pay very much attention, and specifically, to what makes our town great. We welcome the best of the new, while working to keep the best of the old. Alamedans are keenly aware that our town is the antidote to Sprawl. Multiplexes and parking garages, dwarfing the surrounding architecture, are two of the very symbols of Sprawl. As much as I want to honor the effort Mr. Robb Ratto has spent on this plan, I must point out that this plan does not pay attention to what Alamedans want. Other than him and the deal promoter who will get the no-bid contract for all the furniture and fixtures, I have yet to speak with a single person who thinks the "plan" is appropriately sized for Alameda. I can’t help it that Mr. Robb Ratto has worked so hard to introduce a cancer into the heart of our town. If only he’d worked on a plan more of us could get excited about, one that included a strong Civic Center, for example, or at the very least, a rooftop garden in the parking structure similar to that of the Kaiser Center in Oakland.

To conclude, at no time in the last four years have I ever heard anyone support more than 5 screens. Who has Robb Ratto been listening to? I respectfully submit that it is you, who in characteristic fashion, hasn't been paying attention.

I suppose I'm not that worried about upsetting the apple cart.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Over-size for a small town

Alameda's civic leaders have been working for years to try to get the old Alameda Theater restored. They'd been holding to the wishes of the community for a long, long time, and in the last year they finally found someone who was willing to move the project forward.

For a very, very high cost.

This is a pic of the massing of the proposed parking garage and new cinema space, looking south on Oak Street. This is a view that no one who is involved in the project wants us to see: just how big this thing is. It's not so much about height; it's about volume. You know how you can fool toddlers by pouring a tall glass of milk into a wide, short glass? As long as the develpment and planning staff keeps telling us that the new structure is "Shorter than the historic theater" they are treating us like toddlers.

Our civic leaders are expressing surprise that we don't support this version of the project. My take on that is that for years, as they were working to keep it small and in scale with the needs of our town, our silence was due to the fact that they were accurately representing the will of the people. This plan now, does not, and so "suddenly" they get to listen to us tell them to re-apply themselves to the project's original intent and scope.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Today's new logo

Woohoo! I've made another happy client! And another logo that is different from any I've done prior. This is far more... illustrative? than my preferred style, with an interesting blend of graphic and illustration. This is apparently one of the directions people are headed with their logos. FCF wanted a very busy logo, for example.

Happily this logo isn't as busy as the FCF logo.

A big challenge with this design was the client specificed required elements: the bridge, the palm tree, and that there be lots of colors. I never got to the point of the conversation about what these things mean symbolically, so I could work towards an even more simplified logo glyph. Without knowing the emotive drives behind a request, I have to hit the target with a scattergun rather than a rifle. The "7H6d" reflects this. I keep track of the evolutionary tree of a logo. So this design worked through 7 pages of concepts, A through H for one level of refinements, and finally 6 more and then up to d for further fine tuning.

So it was a bunch of work, and frustrating to the client sometimes, but it resulted in a pretty nifty design.