Joe Alterio's blog on illustration, comix, design, animation, and other bouts of total awesomeness.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

History Shots

I'm probably a little late to the game here, but I just stumbled upon History Shots, through an ad on Daily Kos that perked my interest (there you go, maybe the first recorded instance of someone actually admitting to click on one.) It's a company that makes these lovely graphic representations of data, a la Charles Joseph Minard. I want them all. Especially cool is the one above charting the history of the efforts to reach the Moon.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Microfiche Poster

I'm pleased to announce I've done the new silkscreened poster for Microfiche's next show at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Microfiche's bassist is Tim Lillis, contributing illustrator to MAKE and CRAFT Magazines, and also a wicked good friend of mine.

You can see the originally-conceived 4 color poster here, and then with the colors available to us from the silkscreener. It's interesting how a little palette change can completely alter the tone of a piece. I like 'em both, though.

An edition of 50 hand numbered posters will be available at the event, which is Friday, June 6th at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Biggest Drawing In The World

This guy sent a briefcase around the world via DHL with a GPS device inside: the GPS device recorded and sent back it's exact coordinates, which was plotted on a map of the world, creating the drawing above. Cool.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

That's the Whole Story

I was on the East Coast last week, to celebrate my Mom's 60th birthday in Boston, and see my dad in New York. Traveling always screws up my ferocious media consumption schedule: stuffed into my proverbial dog carrier, I'm forced to subsist on a lean mixture of cable news kibble and the occasional internet gruel. Being denied my usually over-the-top levels of wonkish political inspection is a forced starvation diet that's good for me, I think: during this interminable primary debacle fuckshow, I've actually spun out of the newscycle, exhausted, and then come back in...twice. It's the same reason I refuse to get a smart phone: I think if given the opportunity to be connected all the time, I just might drive myself insane. Like every good New Englander, I believe in a healthy dose of denial.

However, not having a completely and totally dissected political view was a boon to me in at least one regard: I was able to see the broad swath of the media narrative in much cleaner sense (er...not "cleaner" in the Joe Biden way.) As with any long, involved subject, being close to it sometimes allows the serrated edges to get in the way, and you lose track of the general direction. And the direction I saw was pretty obvious.

Let me state for the record, for whatever it's worth, that I'm a Barack Obama supporter: but I found it fascinating how the media turned off Clinton's chances like a light switch. For all intents and purposes, Hillary's chances pretty much tanked in early March: even after Pennsylvania, the math just wasn't there for her. The media allowed the horse race to play out because it was good news filler for the 24-hour stations and blog heads, and because, well, that's the way the nominating process works. But something weird happened after North Carolina and Indiana. They just sort of...shut off the switch. Even after Obama took a drubbing in W. Virginia, the NYTimes gave it a blurb below the fold at the bottom of the page: no picture, even.

This isn't a political blog, and I'm not to about blame vast media conspiracy for anything for than following the dog the richest smelling shit. But the fact that it took a bit of distance for me to see the full scope of a media arc was informative, and it began me thinking on a subject that dominates a lot of my mind: who is the taste maker, and where does the influence come from?

Narrative arc, be it for someone's career, political fortunes, or a cause, is a fickle and powerful tool, and is often times disturbingly close to innuendo, rumor, and hearsay. Going green is cool. Bill Clinton ruined his political fortunes. Lindsey Lohan is a drunk, Gary Busey is insane, George Clooney is a cool guy. The Iraq War was the right thing to do until about 2005, and now it was totally the wrong thing to do.
The conventional wisdom, and it's accompanying narrative arc, confuses and titillates me, because it seems such a ridiculous and arbitrary thing, that if harnessed, results in awesome power and riches; I 'spose it's kind of like the Cool Stock Market. The Tao Jones. Heh.

The tastemakers these days, much to the MSM's chargin, now lie firmly in the blogs and netroots, and for that, I'm glad: as someone who's tasted the brief power of a few BoingBoing links, I can attest to the new market's force. I'm not a political expert, and as I said, I didn't follow the web rumble up to the moment that the MSM turned out the light's on Hillary's campaign. But I wonder: what happens when the two don't work in concert?

This gets back to a more germane concept in regards this blog's theme, which is design and art and cartoons and everything in between, and wonder out loud whether there is a push or pull in design and identity, and how that works: does a preconceived notion of Obama as winner cause photographers to photograph him more heroically? Does the prevalence of zombie movies influence our scares about viral diseases, or do the disease scares cause the movies popularity? It's all a very tricky and interconnected labirynth of influence and confusion that I'm not about to pin down definitively. I don't pretend to have the answers. But it sure has been rattling around in brain a lot.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Design Sausage Factory #3: Done Got Hitched

As you may know now if you're invited, we finished our Save The Date about a week ago. We're both really happy with it: as you can see from the above, I went back to the original look for the back side, and let the art on the front side speak for itself. The art is actually done by my mom. After weeks of scouring hundreds of images from the San Francisco library (kind of a crappy library for such a big city, if you ask me), wiki images, and bookstores, I finally appealed to my mom to create what I was looking for, and it's perfect. To suddenly be on the otherside of the equation - trying to art direct an illustrator about the vision in my head - was an enlightening experience. In any event, she did a great job, and these things look amazing. Thanks to my dad, too, for the printing. Sometimes it pays to have a graphic family, you know?

Looking at the other posts about this, I think the thing I take away again is that I sometimes have a tendency to get too tricky: too many cues, influences, and signifiers of the feeling I'm trying to impart. As a long time illustrator but less experienced designer, I just need to trust my audience more, and not let my illustrative instincts get in the way. The reason the first version didn't work, and this version does, is because the single theme is uncluttered by competing, subtly different messages. It really is true what they say: keep it simple, stupid.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Big Man Japan Trailer

I'm not exactly sure what the best part of this trailer is: the scratchy, extremely well done 'archival' footage at the beginning, the flagpole-aided underwear applique, or the weird mole-flower creature. Long story short, exhibit #394,039,107 that

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My New Favorite Awesome

Sometimes, I feel pretty good about myself. You know, what I've done, the plans in my mind.

Then I see something like this, and I'm all the way back at the bottom again.

(Via Drawn!)