Wandering

I have been struggling with adobe illustrator.
It’s the computer end of my carving business. I use it for experimental layout, but primarily for text applications. Last night I was getting my nose buried in short videos on text manipulation and design in Illustrator when I ran across the term majuscule – it’s a capital letter. They are used for design emphasis – sort of like a drop cap, but even larger. They can be elaborate and elegant.

Like everything else, they can be abused. Since gigantic letters focus attention, some people think many giant letters focus attention better. Actually, they distort the blocks of text they are part of and can make it harder to read and comprehend. So, it would be best if you used them sparingly.

So I guess you are wondering why I’m going on about majuscules? It has a lot to do with the sixties. After about two hours of training, my mind started to wander and free-associate. And this is where it wandered to:

In the sixties, there was a tendency to break the rules, try new things, and experiment. It’s almost a cliche to state that, but it was true. One rule-breaker I knew was Sophia, a young fabric design artist from Baltimore.
Sophia loved customizing vintage clothes to get rather outre effects. Her creations were trendy among the better-heeled hip set that could afford custom threads to wear to their be-ins, sit-ins, and such. However, being there for that crowd was not enough; you had to be noticed.
Sophia used embroidery, patches, and acrylic paints to achieve her results. Some of her designs on a lovely young woman were enough to leave you voiceless and breathless. My then-girlfriend borrowed a jeans ensemble from a better-off friend ( there was no way we could afford a Sophia original), and I had to swallow hard before I could bleat out how gorgeous she looked.

Sophia’s signature style, however, almost always featured some elaborate majuscule. Sometimes the letter was so elongated and elaborately crafted that it overwhelmed the article of clothing. Unfortunately, this design element proved easy to copy, and it wasn’t long before copycat productions hit the streets. Not long afterward, the entire concept ceased being popular.
When I was doing craft shows, we had a saying: if you created a popular product, you had about nine months before your peers copied it. And within eighteen months, it would get copied in Asia for sale at the discount store.

So Sophia moved on to other things.

After this escapade on Memory Lane, I returned to the tedious task of watching training videos. Not as much fun as mind tripping back to sunny days in the sixties.

3 Replies to “Wandering”

  1. A while back I tried using Adobe Photoshop. and Illustrator and the whole package, really, but got too confused by it all. I think what I get hung up on is that the graphics are there. It isn’t really for drawing. I have two of the drawing tablets and those aren’t too bad but I think I just don’t really know what expectations to have. One thing that trips me up is when people have graphics and they have played with them and all that but that it is considered original work. If it is computer generated image is it original? I really don’t understand it all. I like to draw so I thought I would get the tablet, draw on it, then doctor up my pictures….harder than it looks, if it is even possible. And….I have watched so many videos….

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    1. You raise a lot of important points. Both Illustrator and Photoshop are “bloatware”. They are so chock-full of stuff that using them gets to be a pain. Lots of times I use the very cheap Affinity programs that do the same thing but with less unneeded idiocy.
      However, I need Illustrator to send files to the laser engraver and cutter. So a certain amount of proficiency is needed. I use the laser mostly for text.
      Onto your point about originality. Originality has been an argumentative subject for a long time. Just a few examples my ancestors in the trade of ship carving used paper and wooden patterns to block out figures for carving. I saw one that was used for a standing male figure, The template was used for outlines, and then you’d draw in the specific details before and as you carved. There is also a tendency among nineteenth-century ships carvers to use templates to line out the forms of eagles. The carver then varied items like banners, shields, angle or facing of heads, and details of things like feathers. I once did as series of ten or so eagles from one template, each so different that you’d be hard pressed to tell they were from the same template.
      Currently, I am doing multiples of small sloops and schooners for signs. All from similar templates, but all expressed as the spirit and the nature of the wood moves me.
      Originality can be a slippery concept.

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      1. I think if each piece is made separately even from a template then that is original. It is just that the art that people say is original when it is done by special graphics on the computer. If the computer did it, is it because the idea came from the artist. I don’t know. I agree it is a tricky concept.

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