Saturday, December 20, 2008


New holiday wishes from old holiday cards. Cut, paste, scribble, smile.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

david byrne

I watched a feature story on David Byrne on CBS Sunday Morning. I was drawn to watch it because this is the David Byrne I knew and still love.

I saw the Stop Making Sense tour live and still have a VHS of the concert movie. The big suit is timeless, still cracks me up like it did 20+ years ago.
DB is older and greyer and he's traded the big suit for a big building.

So, who remembers the Tom Tom Club?

summer fades to fall

Thursday, October 2, 2008

about wearing a belt

I could watch this a hundred times and still be L'in OL. There's new wisdom from Brigitte every Friday. Tune in to Brigitte's Archives.

my second most favorite entrepreneur

Over a year ago, a guy I used to work for mailed me some web pages he had printed about this guy Johnny Cupcakes. He knew I was in the t-shirt business and thought I would be interested in Johnny's story. I checked out the site and have been an avid follower of Johnny's antics since.
Here's Johnny's story in a nutshell:
He has an entrepreneurial spirit that dates back to his high school days when he sold whoopie cushions and candy bars out of his locker. He tried college and it wasn't for him. He started his company Johnny Cupcakes as a joke. And now he's a multi millionaire.
Obviously there's a lot left out. You can read the full story here.
WAIT, not yet-hear me out first.
I have days when I want to cash it all in and go work at the local coffee shop. A regular paycheck with a clearly defined job where somebody else worries about the bottom line seems like a dream at times. I've been self-employed for over 17 years and believe me, the novelty of being able to work in my pajamas if I want to wore off long ago. In fact, it disappeared the first time a client was way late in paying me and I was left to sweat it out hoping that the check came in time to pay the mortgage.
But, back to my point: When I have these lapses in agenda I go straight to Johnny Cupcake’s website for inspiration. In my book he’s a genius. He's focused, creative, very respectful of his Mom, never, ever compromises or dilutes his brand, and he seems like the kind of guy you’d want as a neighbor.
His attention to detail is inspirational, his creativity- brilliant. He seems to look at the world with a child-like wonder and see only what is good. Maybe that positive outlook is the secret to his success.
With all the t-shirt websites out there and all the creative t-shirt designs, Johnny’s the guy who has customers camped out overnight to be first to score his new releases. You think it's the T-shirts? Well, sure, they’re nice. But camp out on the sidewalk overnight nice? I don’t think it’s about the shirts. It’s about being part of something that is just so cool it cannot be resisted.
Congrats to you Johnny for being named 2008 Best Young Entrepreneur by Business Week.
You got my vote!
OK NOW- go check out Johnny

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Our work for the Peace Corps

We get asked to donate t-shirts to a lot of worthy causes and do what we can for a few local non-profits. When we read that our friends’ daughter, Lilly, and her group of Brownies and Girl Guides were organizing car washes to raise money for t-shirts, we offered to donate them. Lilly is volunteering for the Peace Corps in Anse la Raye. While we usually restrict our charitable donations to local organizations, our hearts went out to Lilly and her gang of girls. Anse la Raye is a very poor fishing village on the island nation of St. Lucia in the eastern Carribbean. The money they didn't have to spend on t-shirts can go towards important programs like HIV and healthy lifestyles training. Keep up the great work Lilly! We’re proud to be a small part of your effort.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

where life and work merge

I am my favorite client. I don't put limits on the time I spend on design. What I say goes, no first proof, revisions, second proof, revisions,third proof... and on and on.
Work it until it feels done, fly it up the flagpole and who cares if anybody salutes it.
Creative freedom- it's how we grow.
After all, if you can’t take liberties when you aren't getting paid for your work, when can you?
This is an invitation to a party that you are probably invited to if you are reading this.
If not, just show up.

Monday, June 30, 2008

a logo and a design

We were contracted recently to print 1500 t-shirts to be given away at Old Home Days in celebration of the 30th anniversary of this event that rocks East Hampton CT for three days in July. Old Home Days is a three day carnival, a road race and a giant 2 hour long parade. My family hasn’t missed this event for almost 20 years.
When we won the bid to do the giveaway t-shirts I was looking forward to working on a design with so much first-hand inspiration. In my mind the design for the t-shirt would be an illustration of everything I associated with Old Home Days combined with a crisp type treatment. The above design was the result and it was a direct hit with the committee– with one exception. In the initial design I had neglected to include the runners. Oops. I had run the Glorious Gallop a few times, but apparently the race didn't make it into my bank of fond Old Home Days memories. Can't imagine why.
The committee loved the final t-shirt design and talked about using it as a logo for Old Home Days. While this graphic may have many applications beyond the t-shirt it was designed for, I knew there was way too much detail in this design for it to work as a logo.
We have been printing for various schools and organizations in town for a few years now and have often used the bell graphic that is associated with East Hampton, otherwise known as "Belltown". It’s a straightforward bell, very simple in design and dignified in stature. It’s a symbol that has come to represent our town that in the 1800s was home to 30 bell manufacturers. There was no question that it would be included in any logo designed for Old Home Days.
At the same time, a logo for Old Home Days needed to show the same energy that the event brings to our town every July. Somebody had to make that bell ring. And so, I did. As Sue from the library said, “It's great to see a bell that you don’t feel you have to salute.”
And the last piece to the Old Home Days branding mission- the t-shirt design for the road race. No need to explain where that came from.

Friday, June 6, 2008

green piece

I did this “green” piece a number of years ago- before “green” was the buzz word that it is today. When I met the owners of The Recovery Zone, their business was relatively new. It was a great idea and they had a great name. They needed a logo and a simple brochure to promote their business. It's a wonderful opportunity for a designer to start fresh like this. I designed the logo, developed the tag line and designed the brochure.
Click here to see other logos that I have designed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

self portrait- Justin

My younger son's self portrait. I'm sure he has no idea when he leaves this on my computer that I will share it with the world. Well... potentially. Not that he will ever know. Note the sneaky eyes behind these unusual shades. And is that a snarl or a smile. He's more the smiley type.

Friday, May 23, 2008

notebook page

I've visited a lot of blogs lately where people have posted pages from their notebooks, sketchbooks, etc. Interesting idea, a unique peek into someone's head I suppose. It inspired me to share one of my notebook pages. I don't keep a sketch journal per say. My book is more like a dumping ground for my often over-crowded brain. At least it was in this instance.
After a particularly frustrating day at the computer and just a few more things that didn't go my way I brought my newly-acquired cheap acrylics and sketch book to bed and unwound by loading the brush and swirling it around. Very therapeutic. I added the flower from a magazine that was on my nightstand, turned out the light and slept like a baby. This is the first thing I looked at in the morning. It made me smile. It's pretty amateurish- only the second painting I've done since college oh so many years ago. But, it served it's purpose and I've seen worse.

Friday, May 16, 2008

morning garden

It's hard to concentrate on work in the studio when there is so much happening outside in the garden. Yet, with all the beautiful plants that are coming alive in my garden I choose to step into the woods and shoot this weed! I think this would make a great subject for a giant painting to hang in the dining room.
But I won't have time for that.
t-shirt weather is upon us and my t-shirt line is still not ready for the website.
More on that later...

Monday, May 12, 2008

mixing it up

I have decided to combine my blog "a different view" with Red Barn buzz. Not sure why I felt a need to keep them separate in the first place. I have a habit of over compartmentalizing (not sure that's a real word??) A place for everything and everything in it's place. Admittedly, this works quite nicely for all the hats, gloves and mittens in the coat closet, but I no longer feel the need to keep my photos and graphic design separate. I've been inspired by some of my favorite blogs- art contemplations and desideratum to name a few, to mix it up.
So I will begin today to move some of my favorite photo posts over here. If you see something familiar, my apologies for being redundant.
I will leave the coat closet be for now.
This is a photograph that I altered in Photoshop...wish I knew how. I just played with it until it looked finished to me. If I had put words to my photo posts like Bill always said I should maybe I would be able to retrace my steps.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I painted something!

I have been talking about getting back to painting for some time. I was particularly inspired by my friend Roger on vacation. This weekend provided an opportunity. My oldest son Curt graduated from Champlain College in Burlington, VT. We had planned on going to a beach-front barbecue after the ceremonies, but the weather didn't cooperate so we ended up going out to lunch, then back to Curt's girlfriend Kim's place. Kim's apartment is wonderful, it's decorated with artwork, most of which Kim, Curt and their friends have created. I mentioned my desire to get back to painting and before I knew it Kim had the mini canvases and paints out. We all dug in and this is what I came up with. It' based on one of my favorite photos. My first painting since graduating college in 1978....
I think I'm hooked!

Friday, April 25, 2008

inching forward

I finally sent psd files to my website developer this morning to build new templates for Duke's Closet This has been a long process, and I have been overcomplicating things by jumping between designing web pages, t-shirts, and marketing materials all at the same time. Meanwhile, Imageworks has been standing by patiently while I chase my tail. I have been inspired by the positive comments I have gotten, particularly on the last t-shirt design I posted. This has served to encourage me to make getting the site up my priority. Once it is up and functional, I will be trained in maintenance so I can add product at will. Really, I can't wait to get back to designing t-shirts but what's the point if I don't have a place to sell them...?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

t-shirt assignment of the day

out like a lamb?

I needed a break from designing T-shirts.
Once in awhile I will get so jammed up in a creative effort I need to break away and do something totally different. I have spent the last few days working on a slide presentation for a client. Some pretty technical stuff. Absolutely no room for creative interpretation. Hard to interpret something that you just don't get. The perfect project to want to make me go screaming back to t-shirt design. See how that works?
That slide project is much too dry to post here so I dug into the archives and pulled the first thing I laid my hands on. Kind of. This is an illustration that I did for a 2006 calendar done by Young's Printing. I had March, can you tell? And I'm sitting here in my heavy sweater listening to the wind howl outside and the dog wimper beside me. And it's the first day of April. March is over.
So where is that lamb?
Hmmmmm... change out those animals for some sea creature and this could count for another t-shirt for Duke's...

Friday, March 28, 2008

building a brand one t-shirt at a time

This is the t-shirt design of the day. Part of the design process for me is to put the designs in a post so I can see how they will look online. At the same time I am trying out different marketing vehicles– postcard series to surf shops, a poster series at a trade show. And of course, the actual web pages. (I will post one of those soon). Additionally, the first postcard inspired a tagline, and another inspired the shirt tag. Perhaps the most important part of this exercise though, is to make sure as I am designing the line that my brand stays intact. To make sure that the t-shirts all look like they come from the same family and that the marketing tools support and reinforce that brand. So far so good, with one exception: I need to put some people in those shirts! That will come. We are less than two weeks away from our photoshoot/vacation in Florida.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Another day, another design. That's my goal. No more, no less. It's easy to get sidetracked and stray from the mission making endless revisions to the same design. In the end I just have to go with my gut. So I'm committed to this one. Two down, four to go. I'm trying to be reasonable because if I keep redesigning I'll never launch the site. So, once I hit six it's time to run 'em up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

birthing a t-shirt

This whole process of designing a t-shirt is a lot more complicated that I thought. I have been living with these designs for some time now and just recently started experimenting with real t-shirt colors and real ink colors. Yesterday I spent the afternoon heat pressing screenprinted transfers of the designs onto sample t-shirts- experimenting with different ink colors on different t-shirts. Some were an instant match to my vision- others a disappointment. But as I said earlier, I am still in the R&D phase. One of the ones that I felt was a success is pictured above. I would take each printed shirt and photograph it outside (luckily the sun was shining for a change). I actually wore this one to aerobics class this morning and got compliments. OK, so I'm thinking I have my first product nailed.
However, I was less than impressed when I incorporated the image into a web page so I pushed the design until it evolved into the top image.
Now I think I have my first product nailed.
On a separate note:
I had a nice surprise yesterday when Paul Zelanski contacted me! He stumbled across my blog by way of the post that mentioned his name and tracked me down. I was shocked, thrilled and honored. We have been trading emails and catching up. The internet surely has changed the world!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Duke's Closet update

We are in the "R&D" phase of our product line for the Duke's Closet site. And at the same time trying to produce Photoshop pages for the web developer to work from. Not the recommended way of doing things I'm guessing. I think at this point we are holding them up. While I have a good idea on how I want the site pages to look, I am still struggling with actual product design. In the past two weeks I worked with color combinations- ink colors and t-shirt colors. I start on the computer trying to match shirt colors and ink colors as closely as possible. I actually scanned the swatch books for both the t-shirts and ink colors and used the eye dropper tool in Photoshop to pick and build the colors. I ordered a bunch of sample t-shirts and a stack of screenprinted transfers so I can experiment with color combinations. The process is slow, and painful. I am so anxious to get the site up and get on to designing packaging, hang tags, more product...! Should have done some of this groundwork months ago I suppose. I'll be pressing some samples later today and will post the results.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

happy mistakes

Justin had to come up with two birthday presents for a joint surprise birthday party for two close friends this Saturday night. He decided (wisely) that it would be cheaper to make presents than give the typical cash gift of $20 each. This is what he came up with (the third was for a friend that just happened to be there when he was pressing these.)
The ideas are based on a shirt he made for himself from a bunch of numbers that I ran on the digital cutter neglecting to mirror them before I cut them. This oversight on my part rendered the cut files useless for my purposes, but Justin used them to make a one of a kind t-shirt for himself. I think he might be onto something here...
A perfect example of what Paul Zelanski (one of my professors at UCONN), would have called a happy mistake.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

re-purposed 2

Another re-purposed building from the Village Center. This one was once a bank that now houses an antique shop. In the spirit of my good friend Bill, I think I've got my own series going here. These pieces are not done for clients, just for the enjoyment of doing them and for flexing those art muscles. So I suppose in that light, some client, someday will benefit from these exercises.
I did this awhile ago so I'm not sure I can retrace my steps. I know it includes high contrast and color fills. I also used the watercolor filter and the sky actually combines another image- a tight shot of frosted junipers, and color fill. I know there were more effects used on the juniper before I added that layer behind the building, but at the time I did this, I was going with the flow and didn't stop until I saw what I liked. Maybe next time I won't be so casual so I can actually take something away from the exercise that I will be able to use elsewhere.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dr. Volcano

Some of the work I do is not what you would consider glamorous. And sometimes I don't charge nearly what it is worth, time and talent considered. And sometimes I should really charge author's alterations, particularly when the author insists on sitting beside me during the 8th and FINAL revisions (before he realizes that the earth has moved once again and the figure must be revised).
But some of the work I do out of love. Love for the client.
The work I do for Jelle de Boer falls into that category.
At Wesleyan University Jelle is :
Professor Emeritus,
Geotectonics, paleomagnetism
in the Appalachians, SE Asia,
and South and Central America.

To me he is Dr. Volcano. And he is, quite simply, a delightful man to work with. He is an expert in his field (I once saw him on The Discovery Channel!) and passionate about his work. It's easy to get caught up in his enthusiasm and forget that these are billable hours.
I take his hand-drawn charts and maps, scan them, then place them in a template layer in Illustrator. The process of redrawing these figures is very relaxing and hardly seems like work at times. (At least not during the first few drafts.) But when we are in the final stretch Dr. V will often sit beside me and make sure I translate his edits correctly. And the best part- he thinks what I do is magic!
Sometimes the best clients are not the ones with the deepest pockets.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


This image is from a photograph I shot of one of several old factory buildings in the center of my small town. I pushed the contrast slider way over to the right in Photoshop, then proceeded to isolate areas and fill with color. I do these creative exercises to push myself to look at things differently and put a creative spin on the ordinary.
Also to blow off some creative steam when I've spent hours on end preparing quotes or processing screenprinting orders.
East Hampton was at one time famous for its bell factories. Many of these buildings are all but abandoned. Some house small businesses that come and go. But these extraordinary old buildings remain standing... for now. My hope is that they will find a useful purpose and remain landmarks for years to come.
I would love to see a gallery in one of them. A showplace for Connecticut artisans, a place to be inspired, learn, shop. The Frog Hollow of Connecticut.
Bill, Karen...are you listening?

Monday, March 10, 2008

show clients what they don't want

While I was working on my recent posts this weekend it occurred to me that at the same time I should be re-vamping my portfolio. I have not abandoned my graphic design business, but it has definitely taken a back seat to the t-shirt business lately. My hope though, is to one day in the not too distant future return to this work. I miss print... ink on paper that is.
I ran across this piece that was done a number of years ago and was pleased to discover that I had saved all of the original design comps that were presented to the client.
Reading from top to bottom, the first two images were alternatives to the one that the client selected for the cover of their product brochure.
When approaching a design assignment I will always respect my client's’ ideas and directions and reflect them in at least one design solution that I present. And, I will always give them something that they didn't think they wanted. In this case what they didn't think they wanted was a cover that did not show any of their product.
But that's the cover they chose.
I was able to convince them that the cover that suggested their product by showing the active sports that made use of their high-end stopwatches and timers just might say more about their product and their company than the product shots themselves.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

istock- designer's dream

This design was done for a single t-shirt printed using an ink jet transfer on the heat press. It was to be given out to the one graduating player on the EHHS boys’ basketball team.
Whether it's one t-shirt or one hundred we want the design to be unique. Clip art from helped create a unique design for this single t-shirt. Istock has a huge inventory of images- photos, illustrations and video clips, all fairly priced. A designer's dream!

from the first run...

Here's a "draft" of one of the designs we will be printing in the first run. We have chosen to print on pigment dyed t-shirts made in Vermont, which ironically has no surf...
But it's a state near and dear to our hearts just the same.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

learning to listen

I have been so busy with the t-shirt end of the business that I have been very neglectful in keeping this blog fresh as promised. I often struggle to strike a successful balance between the number of caps I have to wear and the number of hours in a day. Here's what's been going on at Red Barn Studios:
About six years ago when we got into the screenprinting business I essentially took on a second job. In addition to my existing graphic design business, I would now be devoting a part of each day to the necessary maintenance work critical to growing a new business. Much of this work is non-creative in the traditional sense... marketing, preparing quotes, processing orders, customer support. I'm pleased to say that my efforts are paying off as the business grows each year.
Over a year ago we decided to add an e-commerce element to our screenprinting business. Unlike our current custom order business, this would be a preprinted line of t-shirts that we would design, print, and sell online. I went back and forth with concepts ranging from soccer t-shirts, to humorous t-shirts and I even considered soliciting designs that would be voted on by the online community, the winners going to print. was doing this, quite successfully and a number of other sites as well. The fact that it was already being done didn't intimidate me in the least, there's always room for competition. Need I mention Home Depot & Lowes, McDonald's & Burger King, etc., etc?
But all along, something just didn't feel right. None of the ideas really clicked, even when I took a number of them well into product development. I felt that my partner, while supportive, was not 100% onboard. And I wasn't comfortable going forward without 100% enthusiasm.
So oddly, the question became not "what did the t-shirt buying public want?" but "what would Flip get jazzed about?
For months he had been telling me that he wanted to design a few surfing t-shirts and a few caps and put them on ebay. I wasn't listening when he went on and on about designing for the older, real surfers. Quicksilver and Billabong had it covered for the younger crowd as well as all the surfer wannabes. The ones who had never surfed but bought into the culture nonetheless. He was talking about cool stuff for his generation of surfers. But again, I wasn't listening. You see, as soon as he mentioned ebay I stopped listening. That's not what I had in mind.
But had I not been so close-minded I would have paid attention to the important part. What would Flip get jazzed about? He'd been telling me all along.
So if you visit you'll see our recently published under construction page. And you'll see Flip off to pursue his passion.
As for me, my passion is in designing. More on that to come.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008