Wednesday, July 24, 2013


You know when you have an idea for a project and it seems like the best idea you've ever had, and you're grinning from ear to ear thinking about how great it's going to be? You just can't stop thinking about it, and the more you think about it, the better it gets? That's how it was when I started this week's design challenge!

Similar to my previous design challenge, I randomly chose something to design and a theme to base it on. This time the item was a business card and the theme was Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins is my favorite Disney movie, and with "Saving Mr. Banks" (a movie about how Walt Disney acquired the rights to Mary Poppins) coming out in December, it seems this challenge has practically perfect timing!

I started out by deciding that, since Mary Poppins is a magical character and pops up to those who need her most whether they know they need her or not, she doesn't need contact information on her card. The only purpose her business card really serves is to make her look official and to be a memento for the families she helps. The card needed to reflect her grace and charm, but be a bit mysterious. I sketched out multiple ideas, including the card being shaped like her handbag, the design including her measuring tape, and even incorporating her very recognizable hat. I think the flowing curved design I went with most accurately portrays her character.

Of course, there are more characters in Mary Poppins than Mary herself, so I made cards for a few of them, too. The famous nanny wouldn't have needed to come to the Banks household if it weren't for Mr. Banks. He's the workaholic banker who finds his life pleasant. He loves his children, but doesn't quite know what's best for them. He's also a muggle, so-to-speak: he lacks the magic that Mary Poppins possesses. His card has all the contact information, and looks very serious. The inward-curved corners and rounded inner area are reminiscent of a bank note (Although I'm not quite sure what the currency would have looked like back then - at the very least it looks like money to modern American eyes). The image of a businessman, down to the bowler hat.

The last card is the simplest, and I'm not quite sure I like it. This one is for Bert the chimney sweep/screever/one man band/kite salesman. In the movie, he simply goes by "Bert", with no surname mentioned. Upon researching the original books, I found out that the Bert in the movie is an amalgamation of multiple characters from the Mary Poppins books, one of whom is named Herbert Alfred, which is possibly where the name Bert came from. I chose only one of his many occupations - since he's a magical character like Mary Poppins, maybe his business card inexplicably changes depending on what he's currently doing! Anyway, the concept was to depict his broom, one of those with a long handle and bristles pointing outward in a circle. It ended up being a really difficult thing to depict. The lines I can make in Adobe Illustrator are very precise and perfect, but I really wanted something that looked hand-drawn. If I had a pen-tablet I could probably have come up with something like what I was picturing, but since I don't own one I had to make do. I also couldn't find a font that evoked what I wanted to. Oh well, this is just practice anyway. Take a look:

There you have it - business cards for fictional characters. Fun stuff. Until next time, remember "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pachyderm Postage

During the entire first half of 2013 I've designed virtually nothing. And I call myself a graphic designer? I had an excuse, though. Working 24-32 hours per week, mostly in the late nights/early mornings really swiped all of my design time. Plus, wouldn't you rather play in Disney World than sit in a room and design something? Yeah, me too!

I've worked out a remedy to this situation, though. Over the Summer I will take on design challenges. For each challenge I'll have two days (give or take). The challenges I'm used to have typically come from my classes, with the teacher of the class assigning the project and giving specific details. This blog post and this blog post are examples of the projects I've been assigned for my graphic design classes. Rather than a teacher giving the challenge, I've decided to give it a random spin. I made a numbered list of things to design (i.e. a postcard, a book cover, a brochure, etc.) and a numbered list of themes (triangles, museum, coffee shop, train, etc.). For each challenge I'll pick out, via random number generator, an item from the "things to design" list and an item from the "themes" list. Then I'll design something based on those items!

The first challenge is "postage stamp" and "elephant". I made some sketches - probably not enough, that's something I need to work on - then picked one and created it in Illustrator.
Elephant sketch. Aww, aren't they cute?

Finished design.
It was great to stretch my design muscles a bit! Overall I like how it turned out - I think the top elephant's ear could use a little tweaking, but I can't pin down how to tweak it. Maybe the right edge needs to not be so straight. I did "cheat" and grab a pre-designed postage stamp border from the Internet. It would have taken forever to make from scratch!

Want to join in the fun? I'd love to see what you can come up with keeping within the "postage stamp" "elephant" parameters. If you have a blog let me know if you post your design challenge response! If you don't have a blog, why not post a picture of your creation on the Designed to Create Facebook page? Design on, friends!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Orange Bird by an Orange Nerd

I know, I know. I said that since I was back in Texas from my Florida excursion (see previous blog post) I would post to the blog more often. Summer classes started, and since I was taking two of them my time was taken up by studying. It is my first time taking summer classes - I knew they moved fast, but I didn't expect them to be this fast! One of them is already over with, so now I can blog! Can I get a hoo-rah? Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Sunshine Tree Terrace. That was one of my favorite places in Walt Disney World. This little counter-service kiosk served deliciously refreshing items to cool you off on a hot Florida day. Ice cream cones, floats, fountain drinks, and the legendary Citrus Swirl are all offered here.

Copyright Disney
See that little bird in the illustration above? He's the real reason I love the Sunshine Tree so much! 

He's known simply as the Orange Bird. I enjoy him not just because of his obvious, overwhelming, cuteness, but also because of the interesting story behind him. 

The Orange Bird was created way back in 1970. The Florida Citrus Commission decided to sponsor the Tropical Serenade (AKA the Tiki Room) pavilion in exchange for a mascot. And so the Orange Bird could be found both in Disney World at the Sunshine Tree Terrace and on packaging and merchandise for the Florida Citrus Commission. He even had a vinyl record with a song written by the Sherman Brothers and sung by Anita Bryant that detailed his backstory.

Unfortunately the Orange Bird flew the coop when he faded into obscurity, abandoning his post in the Sunshine Tree. He made his return in the early 2000's, however, in Tokyo Disneyland when the Japanese fell in love with him. Then on April 17th, 2012, the little orange underdog was reinstated to the Terrace and returned to merchandise. He's such a neat little character. I'm glad he's back!

I found and bought the Orange Bird record on Ebay, acquiring a record player shortly thereafter so I could enjoy the musical story of my favorite WDW bird. The album cover is delightfully kitschy, with watercolor branches and flowers surrounding the bright Orange Bird. It occurred to me that the Bird himself would look great in watercolor. Lightbulb!

Copying the illustration, I began sketching Orange Bird on paper. Here's the progression:
Initial sketch.

Lightened sketch so pencil lines won't show through watercolor.
Then I broke out the watercolor pencils and began coloring. 
Almost there...
Orange Bird-ception!
All done.
Before I knew it, a watercolor Orange Bird appeared! I just love him. Now I'm thinking I need to do a paper-pieced version. Then a digital illustration.  He's such a simple character that there are so many opportunities!

As much as I love my Orange Bird painting, I know there are others who would enjoy him a lot too. So I've decided to sell this picture on Ebay. Here's a link to the auction if you're interested:

I'll be back soon with some things I've been designing! Until then, blessings to you.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Magical Adventure

Hi friends! It's been a while, huh? My last blog post was over four months ago in January. That was right before I started working in Walt Disney World...

Hold up. Did I just say Disney World? Oh yeah, I did! Sorry about that, I still can't really believe it happened!

You see, I applied for the Disney College Program last fall. I was accepted. I took a semester off school to go have the adventure of working at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida! What an adventure it was.

Going into it, I had no idea what role I would play in the grand show that is Disney World. Would I like my job? Would I be required to wear an embarrassing costume? The only thing I knew for sure was that I would be working main entrance operations. I prayed that I wouldn't be stuck driving a parking tram or working the entrance to a water park. I mean, those things are fine and good (driving a parking tram might actually be pretty fun!), but it wouldn't be the same as working in one of the parks.

It was with great, great delight that I learned on the day I checked in to the apartment complex that I would be working main entrance operations at the Magic Kingdom! As things progressed and I completed Traditions and several rounds of training, I discovered my specific roles were Park Greeter and PAC (Parade Audience Control). I also decided, after talking with many people in many different roles, that Magic Kingdom Park Greeter is arguably one of the best roles offered to Disney College Program participants.

In the Park Greeter role I was generally stationed at a turnstile at the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom. I had a vague idea of what a turnstile was before I started, but just in case you don't know, here's what it looks like:
You know, those clunky silver things, where you put your
 ticket in the slot, put your finger on the scanner, and then
 walk through the spinning arm. That's a turnstile!
Disney is also trying to do away with the turnstiles in favor of a more open, family friendly approach to park entry. They've started transforming the park entry points to these "touchpoints":
Sorry it's all noisy - iPhone camera at night, what would you
expect? I just walked up to take a picture of the touchpoints
 as I was leaving the park one night, and seeing as I knew
everyone who was working that night, they decided to make
my picture a little more fun!
These touchpoints are pretty cool, and make it a lot easier for families (especially families with strollers or wheelchairs) to come into the park. I frequently worked these in addition to the turnstiles.

There were various other tasks that I performed, especially during a closing shift (they say your CP status, which means College Program, actually stand for "Closing Person", since CPs get lots of closing shifts). Cleaning the turnstiles, putting the covers on, taking out the dirty towels that were used during the day, cleaning the break room. Can you tell I closed a lot? 1am, 2am, even 4am were pretty normal times to get off work.

The best and most coveted task for Park Greeters is stocking maps in the two tunnels that lead to Main Street, USA. This task involves walking backstage and wheeling out a cart filled with maps. You go to the map racks and make sure they're all filled 3/4 of the way full. If you fill them all the way, when someone grabs a map a whole stack will fall out since they're all squished together. It always was a competition to see who would get the maps task. How I loved seeing maps pop up when getting a new task!

Here's a photo of me in my Park Greeter costume:

I'm the one on the far right!
These are some of my fellow CPs who frequently closed with me.
From the left: Sarah, Matt, Nichole, Lauren, and I.
You guys are the best!
My other role was PAC. I was trained on PAC in early February, and I was scheduled four PAC shifts right after training. After those four shifts, I wasn't scheduled another PAC shift until my very last week of the program, in May! I think I was more of a Park Greeter person anyway - but an even mix of the two would have been nice!

PAC is interesting because for each shift you are put in a different position. There are positions all the way down the parade route, so there are many, many positions. PAC shifts are either PAC South, meaning Main Street all the way up to the Liberty Square bridge, or PAC West, which is Liberty Square to Frontierland.

The first thing you do on a PAC shift is attend the short pre-parade meeting, usually held two hours before the parade you'll be working. You will be assigned your position for the parade and given any additional info you may need (i.e. whether there are any bands/cheerleader groups preceding the parade, things to look out for, etc.). Then you grab the cart with the stanchions and ropes for your position and wheel it out to the proper location. Once you set them up properly, you wait for the parade. At about five minutes before the parade starts, the PAC team begins clearing the street, ensuring guests are on the sidewalk and no one is standing in front of trashcans, no video camera lights are on, and all guests are behind the appropriate rope and tape lines. During the parade you continue to monitor guests, watching especially for "runners", people who would risk their lives to cross the street or grab a piece of confetti in front of the parade floats. "Risking their lives" may sound like an overstatement, but it really isn't. Would you cross a busy street in front of a gigantic, heavy vehicle driven by someone with limited visibility, even if it was slow-moving? Don't do it! This has been a public safety announcement brought to you by the Walt Disney World PAC team :-)

But that brings up a good point - PAC is all about guest safety. Unfortunately some guests don't appreciate that. PAC cast members experience a lot of not-so-nice guest interactions from people who don't want to stand in the tape lines, don't want to obey the rules put in place for their safety. That's when you get help from another PAC cast member or a coordinator - and that's also when you bond with your co-workers, backing each other up and working as a team. That's one of the great things about PAC - you really feel like a part of a team, part of a family.

The PAC costume was my favorite - it's so dapper!

Me and my good friend "Japanois" Jamie.
On the West side the ropes are rolled out and in on rolls that people wear:

Felicia! Thanks for all your help and reassurance when I rolled!
I had the position of roller for the first time on my last day of work! I was so thankful to work alongside of experienced PAC cast members who helped me so much during that last day. 

On my days off I would visit the parks with some of the great friends I made! It was always a blast. Some of our exploits included riding Kali River Rapids four times in a row and getting drenched, visiting each of the four parks in one day, a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad marathon (once during Wishes!), visiting Chef Mickey's and laughing our heads off when we took a "family" photo, visiting "The Bench" late one night just to say we did it. So many good memories! Here is some picture evidence:

Arggh, pirates we be! Me, Anthony, and Dallin. You two rock!

We smile even when we are being blown away in a balloon! Angela, Patrick, Robert,
Dallin, Franny, me, Kevin, and Erika. Thanks for such a fun time, y'all!

The Bench. Erika, Robert, Tori, Dallin, Patrick, and me. We did it!
Sometimes all my friends would be working, however, and I'd visit the parks alone. I enjoyed this too, but for a different reason. I learned that I photograph things best when I am alone and there is no one to keep up with. Then I have the freedom to really look, experiment with different angles, and draw out the most beauty from a scene. I got some photos that I am very pleased with, especially since I shot exclusively with my iPhone camera! Take a look:

The facade of the American Adventure pavilion in Epcot.

Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom at sunrise.

Another shot of Expedition Everest.

Dancers in the Frontierland Hoedown in the Magic Kingdom.

The lobby to the Hollywood Tower Hotel in the queue to the Tower of Terror.

And of course Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom.

I'm thinking about making a sort of coffee table art photo book to sell with some of the photographs from my time in WDW. We'll see how that goes.

There's one more story I must share. I know this post is running long, but this is a good one:
Almost every day I would take a trip to Magic Kingdom's costuming building to pick up a new costume and return my soiled one. Each time I would pick up the same yellow shirt and blue pants, but I would pass by the rows and rows of other costumes. My favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World is the Haunted Mansion. That may come as a surprise, but my aesthetic inclinations often lean toward vintage, shabby, distressed styles, so it really is a no-brainer. If I could choose, I would definitely work at the Haunted Mansion. So one day, as I passed a row of Haunted Mansion butler costumes, I wondered "Would it be possible for me to check one of those out, just to try on?" Once I had gathered my courage, I picked out a piece of the costume and brought it through the costume check-out system, anticipating an alarm to go off saying I wasn't authorized to check out the costume. No such alarm rang! The next day I acquired the rest of the costume, and later tried it all on. I actually wore it to the class that I was taking through Disney, since we were allowed to wear our costumes to class. After class I had my roommate take a few pictures. Here's how the best one turned out:

I'm a geek, I know. Dreams really do come true at Disney!
I returned the costume shortly thereafter, of course. Oh how I would love to have taken it home!

I hope you've gathered from my description of the time I spent as a cast member that it was a phenomenal experience. Any negative happenings were outweighed many times by good ones. I could see God's hand at work in so many things: the roommates I stayed with, the friends He provided, the work, how everything worked out for my family to visit several times, everything! I'm glad to be home, but I can't lie: I am already thinking about doing another college program, along with some of my new friends!

So there you go. My grand adventure. I plan to get back to more regular blogging here soon. Thanks for reading, folks!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tangling With Phicops

The wonderful Diva over at the I Am the Diva blog has challenged us, the Zentangle community, to our first challenge of the new year! Woot!

This time the goal of the challenge was to use a new tangle that the Diva's husband, B-rad, invented. It's called Phicops, and it's a really cool one. Here's what I came up with:

Tangles used: Phicops, Crescent Moon, Beeline, Auraknot, and Tipple.

Phiclops is really a great tangle. Simple, quick, but you still end up with that "how did I do that?" effect. Shading adds a ton to this tangle - and I mean a TON! I thought my tile was a flop until I shaded it - wow!

I tried something a little different with the photography this time. Instead of using my DSLR camera, I used my new iPhone's camera and the various apps for photo editing. Not quite as high quality as the "real" camera, but it did work pretty well! 

In case some of you coming over here from the Diva's blog haven't seen it yet, I want to invite you to watch my recently released video, Zentangle in Motion 2. Enjoy!

Also, I'm just about to begin my adventure in becoming a Walt Disney World cast member, so forgive me if the blog posts are more infrequent. 



Friday, January 04, 2013

The Book of Zentangle

I had an interesting experience a few months ago. I received a book in the mail, and I mentioned it to some co-workers. They were intrigued, so I showed it to them. I didn't think they would give it back! The book was passed around, everyone savoring the beauty found in it, gingerly turning the pages as if afraid of damaging the delicately delightful contents. The Book of Zentangle is an extraordinary book, one that can be appreciated by both Zentangle "muggles" (non-tanglers) and Zentangle enthusiasts alike.

Before I proceed, I must disclose that Rick and Maria sent me my copy of The Book of Zentangle for free to review, but my views on the book remain solely my own. 

Let me start with what the book isn't. It's not at all like any other Zentangle book on the market. It doesn't include a bunch of tangle step-outs, so don't expect that. What it does include is much more spectacular. Nearly every page features a beautifully rendered example of Zentangle, direct from the founders. Not simply the pen-and-ink drawings, but also paintings that interact with the pen-and-ink portions. You'll find tangled insects, seashells, shirt sleeves, windows, and China, just to name a few. Each picture includes a story, so you can see how the inspiration came about, what the meaning is. The written portion of the book is just as inspiring. Rick and Maria cover the basics of Zentangle, explaining the method and tools, and then diving into exercises and projects. Although you may be a veteran tangler, re-learning the basics can be a great way to grow. There may even be a thing or two you didn't know about the basics that you'll pick up. I know I did. My favorite part, and perhaps the most interesting, is the section on the origins of Zentangle. More detailed than anything else out there, it is fascinating to see how the paths of two people crossed, in the process crossing their individual experiences. The result is what we know today as Zentangle. Having this knowledge has deepened my appreciation for what we have today! Rounding out the book are stories from tanglers about how they use Zentangle and other interesting anecdotes, an index of tangle terms, and an excellent list of resources.

In short, I love this book. I've been tangling for two years and still got a lot out of it. Zentangle has become a community, and you can get lost to the true purpose of it all in the commotion of voices sometimes. This book will bring you back to why you started tangling in the first place. Reinspire you. Excite you. Focus you.

As they write in the book:

"Words are fun to play with, and we'll utilize them to bring what we love into focus."

Rick and Maria clearly had fun playing with words to bring us this book, and it does what they intended: bring what they love into focus.