I started my career over 35 years ago as an advertising illustrator in Los Angeles, at a large Ad agency. I believe that my years in advertising definitely colored my approach to scrapbooking, and all types of graphic design. One of the principles of design that has driven my own work is the importance of clear communication. In advertising, you only have a few seconds (if that) to grab your viewer's attention. Rarely do you see a lot of copy (or words, or in scrapbooking: journaling) in advertising, especially print advertising. Of course, brochures, books, editorial design, etc, are a different story. But for me, a great visual with a clever or concise headline can be memorable and effective. Working in LA, there is a lot of 'outdoor advertising', or billboards. I love billboards! I twice had the honor of having billboards gracing the freeways and streets of Los Angeles in the Seventies, with my artwork. I'll never forget the sensation of driving along a freeway, and glancing up, and seeing my own work, the size of a small building, right in front of me. I nearly drove off the road!
Which brings me to this interesting outdoor board I've been seeing all over lately. It's for the new Droid cell phone, and it's been driving me crazy. Driving by it on the Santa Monica freeway at 65 mph, all I really saw was that headline: "A Bare-Knuckled Bucket of Does"!!!! What the heck? I could picture a bucket full of little female deer, bleating sadly as they tried to escape. Bucket of Does? Hmmmmmm. I thought then perhaps it was a Bucket of 'Do's', as in 'Do's and Don'ts'. But then I remembered there was no 'e' in Dos. But that word stuck in my mind, and I thought it was "Bucket of Dooze" instead of Bucket of Doze". Finally, I looked at the smaller print, and saw that it was actually "Bucket of Duz", as in "Duz and Duzn't". Honestly! Doesn't anyone in Advertising understand that when the eye sees a word that is, or should be, an obvious NOUN, one tends to use the NOUN word that matches the spelling? So, how many of you actually read the word "Duz" when you saw this the first time? If so, you're a brighter person than I am. If this ad wins a Clio Award I'm going to be sick.
One of the things that I love about creating digital art and design on the computer, is the lovely way the artwork looks on the computer screen. I've posted about this before, and the more I do it, the stronger I feel. I just love the brightness and richness of the light-infused color, rather than the dull printed page. So, it is with great enthusiasm that I greet the electronic digital billboards I see all over in LA. A good percentage of them advertise entertainment properties: movies, video games, television shows. This one advertising for "How to Train Your Dragon" changed every day to announce the countdown to the opening day last week. The other one, shown in the smaller images, changes about every 5 seconds. These photos were taken in just a few seconds, and each ad was fun to look at and totally eyecatching. It made all the pathetic paper billboards look so dull and boring in comparison.
The last image is my illustration for the Bank of America outdoor board, that was out in about 1977. I don't recall exactly what it said, but something like "Money for Rent". I hadn't seen this artwork for years, but recently dug it out of a box full of old slides, and thought it might be fun to see if it's stood the test of time. I guess Mr. Washington looks good no matter when you look at him!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Yesterday Bruce was in LA, and he came across the most charming little cafe near the Temple on Santa Monica Blvd. He picked me up from work, and treated me to lunch at the lovely Cafe Chez Marie. We were not disappointed in the food, but by far the best part was the restaurant itself: the charming storybook architecture, and the little cottages behind it. Originally it was a cottage court of about 6 little houses, built in the twenties. Now the others are little offices. The owner was so sweet, and allowed me to take as many photos as I liked. Bruce and I thought it might be nice to present a layout to them, to use for their own promotional uses. I created one version for them, then one for us, with a couple of different photos. I've actually done this a few times: about a year ago we ate at a lovely restaurant in Santa Paula called the Mupu Grill. I did a layout of that one, and emailed it to the owner. In 2008, we went to Salt Lake to the Violin Making School of America. They gave us a tour, and in turn, I created a layout for them. I have no idea if these places ever used my work, but it was a fun way to thank them for their hospitality. Hmmmmm, don't some people do this for a living? By the way, if you ever want to eat at Cafe Chez Marie, you can find it at 10681 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA. (you can click on the layout for a closer view)
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 10:36 PM
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
This morning on my way to work, I pulled up next to this man. He had a big honkin' three wheeler, with tons of chrome and lots of bells and whistles. Jaunty and classy looking on his state-of-the-art bike, I finally noticed that attached to the back of his machine, was his wheelchair. Hats off to you, travelin' man. May we all ride into the sunset with courage, inspiration, and a thumb to the nose of other people's limitations for us!
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 11:16 AM
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Last year I did a layout with photos of the blossoms of a little gnarled plum tree in Malibu Canyon. This year I've been keeping an eye open for it, and a week or so ago, I noticed that the blossoms were just beginning to bud. Each day they got just a little bigger and prettier, but still the little tree remained bent over, and at least half the branches look dead and dry. Most of the year you would never notice the little tree. It actually looks like a pile of old sticks in the winter. But knowing the beauty that was coming, I waited in anticipation of the coming flowers, and I was not disappointed. I stopped three times in 24 hours to take photos, and I'll be putting another layout together in the next day or so. But I wanted to post one of the photos because it just makes me happy. (I did use a Photoshop filter on the photo, to give it a nice painterly look)
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 6:53 PM
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
HA! I'll bet you thought I was talking about St. Patrick's Day, but actually I was referring to all the pretty green scenery I've been photographing & scrapping lately! Well, Happy St. Paddy's Day, and in honor of the Green, here's another layout about some of the gorgeous sights I've been enjoying this past week.
These photos were taken up in Balcom Canyon... it's a drive over a small mountain range between Moorpark, where I live, and Fillmore, CA. The road is really winding, and plopped right at the crest of the highest point, is a sandstone hillside, beautifully eroded, and covered with the initials of brave souls who climb up and carve them in. Since the hill is so fragile, I don't think those initials last all that long.
I was returning home from Ventura and my stint on the jury one day last week about 30 minutes before sunset. I got some of the prettiest photos!
You can click on the layout for a closer look! Green rules!
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 8:55 PM
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This week's Photography challenge over at Two Peas was to celebrate life's simple pleasures... I certainly didn't take these photos with the intention of celebrating ANYTHING! I was looking for an old rusty chain I could use for the layout I posted last (see if you can spot it!) and the place I finally found was a NOT so pretty area, full of weeds, trash, stagnant water, bugs, and old broken-down fences. But the light was low in the sky, and the late afternoon sun hit the weeds 'just so', turning them into a beautiful study in light and dark, with glowing highlights and deep shadows. Now, that's simply beautiful!
By the way, I can't for the life of me figure out why someone needs FIVE padlocks for one chain!
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 1:23 PM
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I spent most of my week this week serving on a jury in Ventura. It was a very interesting experience, learning more about our judicial system and stupid felons. My fellow jurors were terrific, but it still took us nearly 2 days to come to a verdict. (Split count: Guilty on the Theft charge, Not Guilty on the Burglary charge. Don't ask.)
But the best part of the whole experience was that each day I drove to Ventura, I opted to take the scenic route through Heritage Valley: Santa Paula and Fillmore and the beautiful land in between. When I go that way, it's like I've gone back in time. Much of the area hasn't changed in nearly 100 years. It's easy to spot old farmhouses nestled in the acres and acres of orange and lemon groves, small family operated fruit stands, and the historic Santa Clara Elementary School- the quintessential little red school house, built in 1896. And of course, being winter, it's extra lush and green. I love California in winter!
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 10:50 PM
Monday, March 8, 2010
Near my home, just off the busy Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway, lies a beautiful valley. I love to catch a glimpse of it as I drive westbound, toward home. There's no way to access it except to park on the shoulder of the freeway, and hike down. That's actually illegal for a variety of reasons, the most important one is that it's private property. However, I did it once, and spent a furtive 30 minutes sneaking down the trail, only to get a severe case of the guilts before I had a chance to really enjoy myself. Also there was a herd of cows down there. I thought they might be rehearsing for a California Cheese dairy commercial, so I hightailed it out of there. I didn't want to get trampled by any fast-moving bovines.
On Saturday, I was returning home after running some errands in Simi Valley, and the rain had stopped. I pulled over as far as I could, and picked my way over the wet brush and grass, and fired off a few shots of the pretty scene. The lovely flowers (I'm not sure what they are- if you know, drop me a comment) would have been so pretty in one of my wide shots, but there was an unattractive Jersey barrier between them & the valley. So I fooled them all, and picked one and held it up in front of my camera! So there! It doesn't look TOO fake does it?
*Thanks for everyone who told me they are 'lupine'. Now I know!
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 9:08 PM
Sunday, March 7, 2010
I've done a couple of layouts this past week that have a couple of things in common: 1. They are about me in my glorious youth, and 2. they both use the fabulous graphic technique of the halftone, or dot pattern. The first one is from a challenge on Two Peas in a Bucket, to use halftones in a pop art kind of way. Of course, I immediately thought of Roy Lichtenstein, and his pop art comic paintings. Not that my layout looks anything like his campy glamour girls & guys...
Anyway, it's about my high school Grad Nite trip, and the haute couture I wore.
The second one (which I actually created a week or so ago) uses a couple of photos from some old college negatives I found. As I looked at the photos, I tried to imagine myself back that day, and how I felt, and what I was wearing and doing. I love those trips down memory lane. Too bad I can remember details from nearly 40 years ago, but I can't remember to take out the trash when Bruce is out of town!
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 6:23 PM
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I often participate in scrapbooking challenges: where the challenger (website, blog, designer etc.) requests layouts or designs based on a special criteria. Often it is a technical or technique challenge. For example, it might be to use a particular kind of Photoshop filter or tool. These are my favorites, because they often help me use familiar or unfamiliar features in new and creative ways. Sometimes it's a color challenge: to use a specific color combination. Sometimes it's an inspiration challenge: such as 'lifting' or being influenced by an advertisement, work of art, or other visual design. Sometimes it involves using words or typography, poetry or music. Some of my best layouts were designed for a challenge, so I don't often pass them by. On my favorite scrapping website, Two Peas in a Bucket, one of the design team requested layouts based on the subject: "The Definition of Me". I've participated in these kinds of challenges before, and I've never really been satisfied with the results. Maybe because there are too many definitions of me! I didn't want to do the typical list of defining words, (although I enjoy looking at that kind of layout done by others). I can't say that the layout I finally did create answered the challenge very well: I didn't really define me at all in the literal sense. I just wanted to somehow express that who I am is made up of the sum total of all of the people that have meant something to me in my life, plus all the places I've lived, books I've read, schools, travel, and endless experiences. That's pretty hard to convey in an 8" x 8" visual design file.
I'm also not generally an emotional scrapper: occasionally I will do symbolic layouts, but generally I'm a straightforward 'just the facts' kind of designer. I like layouts that bring back specific memories or stories. But it is fun to occasionally break out of the typical, and do something a bit different. Another challenge was to use an image of myself. I'm not too pleased with my appearance. As I get older, I've discovered that there are too many wrinkles and chins, and I hate having pictures taken of myself! It's much easier to find old, cute photos of me as a younger person. But you know, I have to face the fact (pun intended) that any definition of me kinda has to include an image of me now. I do like Carole King's song, "Tapestry". Some of the words really resonate with me now:
"My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue.
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view.
A wondrous, woven magic in bits of blue and gold.
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold".
Posted by Stefanie Eskander at 8:01 PM