Sunday, October 06, 2013

"16 letters" opens today on Gothtober

"16 letters," my newest animation, opens today, October 6th, on Gothtober. I'm really grateful to be included on the calendar again and be able to share my work this way.

This impish six-minute stop-motion animated piece plays with moveable letters that represent a partial selection of the alphabet, morphing a few letters at a time into a succession of words. Reflecting on the malleability and abstract power of language and thought, I expanded on the meaning of and my personal associations with each word using sound and images, with sometimes rather quirky results.
Letters ready to become words and 
ideas on my animation stage

Language starts as something finite, but becomes infinitely expansive. As a student of linguistics, I marvel at the gigantic potential that a small and finite number of language sounds (represented somewhat approximately by letters) has to represent an unlimited number of concepts as words.

Words, and language itself, are abstract entities and don't belong to anyone, but everyone who can talk holds them as a deeply and unconsciously integrated part of himself, effortlessly using them to think and communicate. Language is a part of us at the basic physical level, in the structures of our brains and vocal tracts, but it soars into our highest thoughts and most ineffable emotions and experiences. And though we all may know and use a particular word, the ideas, memories, and feelings we associate with it can be delightfully unique.

Please take a look at what I've done. I have a lot of fun on my own creating these pieces, but I also make them for you, the viewer. So do let me know what you think.

Go to and take a look at Julianna's creation for the main page this year: the Gothtober International Airport. Then click on the number 6, on the brown suitcase on top of the baggage cart, and take off on a six-minute flight with "16 letters."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Love and Groceries

Touching on the theme of charity 
with illustrated package labels

How do you successfully express the combined ideas of kindness – and groceries? That’s the challenge I faced recently on an assignment to design and illustrate a poster for a food bank donation project. 

A Food Donation Project

The poster would introduce the community at a local spiritual center to a new volunteer-run community service project, in which participants purchase a few packaged food items for charity each time they grocery shop. On collection days, participants deliver the items to the center in a provided bright green shopping bag, for drop off at a local food bank.

A Big Job for a Little Poster

This poster had a big job to do, as it would serve as the first and most-seen printed communication for a project with a limited budget. One modestly sized copy would be printed, which would be mounted and re-used indefinitely to advertise the project. An image of the required green bag had to be included, as well as simple instructions on how to participate, and a space to show the next collection date. Most importantly, the design needed to communicate to a culturally diverse community with a wide range of ages and backgrounds.

The finished design

Creating the Poster

I started by selecting a typeface that suggested the homey, old-fashioned type often used on food package designs, and selected green tones for the type that would echo the important “green bag.” To catch the eye and communicate instantly, I painted an illustration showing a bright and bold array of packaged foods in front of a simplified bag, using the smooth, solid colors of gouache.
To convey the spirit of brotherly love that motivates the project, and hopefully inspire viewers, I designed a love-themed label for each package, including several images of hearts, and invented brand names that expressed the theme of charity, such as a package of milk from  “Kindness Farms” and a box of cereal labeled “Fields of Sharing.” I felt that expressing the theme without using images of specific people was an elegant way to reach a diverse community. 

Encouraging Results

To date, the food donation project has collected 763 pounds of food – and that was just on its first collection day. While the project’s initial success is certainly due to the inherent dedication of the community and the project volunteers, these encouraging results also suggest that this little poster is communicating successfully.

Check out the project’s Facebook page 
Inspired to help? Find a local food bank (U.S.A. only)