I just zipped up and sent off a W9 and an invoice for my second freelance gig of the year, which feels oddly comforting. I used to do a ton of freelance work, sometimes where it doubled my yearly income, and since it’s tailed off, not having a steady stream on the side has made me (uneasy? sad? nostalgic?) For about twenty years it was primarily front-end web consulting, and as that industry commodified, and as I got burned out doing it every day, I let my skills lapse while focusing on family and a job I really believed in. While not having work to do at night is nice—it’s good to have that time back—I miss the extra income and hustle it brought, even when it cut into my sleep or weekends.
So it was with happiness that I took on a simple illustration job a few weeks back, something I was able to knock out in an evening, and more recently a design gig, flowing a French translation into an existing document. I’ve done a lot more InDesign work in the last ten years to the point where I’m fluent again, so this kind of stuff is an easy way to make a buck. Having very nice clients to work with is a bonus.
It’s December, so the interwebs are full of Best-Of lists for music by bands I’ve never heard of and TV shows I’ve never seen. Some sites are predictably more niche than others; I think I know three of the top 20 artists on the Pitchfork list, while Stereogum’s list is roughly 50/50 familiar, and Turnstile is their #2 pick. Last week during work everyone shared their Spotify Wrapped playlists, which I also don’t get to see because I’m still using the unpaid version. StatsforSpotify tells me that tracks from Deafheaven, Taylor Swift (I binged Shake It Off last month) Mayer Hawthorne, Hybrid, and Boards of Canada were my top ten from the last six months but I can’t see the yearly list—I’d bet it would skew wildly in a different direction.
I get a lot of special offers for custom printing every week due to my job, and it’s always fun to take advantage of a good deal. My sticker company sent me an offer for a $9 color printed shirt with free shipping, so I whacked together a version of the Old Line State Binders logo for a black shirt and sent it in. I’ve wanted to do that shirt for a long time anyway. The offers pop up in my social media feed too: I clicked on an Instagram sticker ad the other day, and suddenly sticker ads took over my whole feed. Avery is running a special on 10 vinyl stickers for $10 at any size, so I cobbled together a simple version of the Peer Pressure shirt design and ordered a set of 4″ stickers. If they turn out nice, I’ll use those as my calling card and start trading stickers around with other Scout nerds.
Our plans for snowboarding are on hold for the time being; Whitetail isn’t open as early as last year (or I’m not remembering the dates clearly) so we’ve got to reschedule. My guess is that we’ll do it in January at some point. I have to do some research into what weekdays are quietest so that we can maximize our visit. I don’t want to wait all the way until March, but I’d like more than one trip this season if we can swing it.
I opened a document in InDesign this afternoon and was greeted with an alert that says Adobe is not supporting Type 1 fonts after December of 2023 (and Photoshop after December of 2021). Type 1 fonts are the OG PostScript fonts that date back to the earliest B/W Macs and laser printers; woe be unto the designer who didn’t package their fonts with their print job. In the early days fonts were hoarded jealously by any designer worth their salt—expensive, trendy, and sometimes impossible to categorize. I have a bootleg CD-R given to me by a friend, containing a big design studio’s collection organized roughly into typographer’s classifications by (I assume) some poor intern in 1999 or so. 80% of those fonts are Type 1, I’d guess. I made an effort to convert them all to OpenType using a commercial program in 2012, so I’m not on the wrong side of technology, but I expect this is going to become An Issue in the coming year as we weed the old fonts out of our workflows. Hooray.
That’s better. I’m going to dirty it up a little more—the vibe I’m going for is distressed matchbook printing from the 1950’s.
This is about 2 hours’ work. I’m working on a weathered version of this design but haven’t perfected it yet. The kerning in the subhead is shit and the buildings still need refinement, but it’s coming along.
In other news, I got my COVID booster shot after waiting an hour for a Walgreens clerk who had clearly been smoking some really good shit; watching her tap at the keyboard as if it was made of spiders was hilarious for about ten seconds and then infuriating for the next ten minutes. But it’s done. Let’s see how I feel on Tuesday.
I was in D.C. today and figured I’d try to line up a shot as close to my office as I could with an in-game screenshot from The Division 2. I can’t go anywhere beyond the wall you see down the street, which is a bummer. They did an amazing job of getting the details as close as they could. I can’t imagine how long it took to build this game.
Every year growing up my aunt sent Christmas presents to be opened under our tree. She was good at sending us thoughtful gifts every year, wrapped neatly and with precise bows. When I was in the 9th grade she sent me a small box that contained a marvel of engineering: a Windsor & Newton portable watercolor set. My aunt was a watercolor artist, and when she heard I was interested in going to art school, she sent me as many supplies as possible. I wasn’t interested in being a watercolor artist but I did use watercolor as part of my process, and the fact that she was a working professional was inspirational to me (and probably helped convince my Dad that paying for art college was not a waste of time). She passed this week after a short illness; she was in her 90s. She raised two boys and multiple grandchildren and remained a working artist up until she died; I have her watercolor of Finley as a baby on our mantle.
This kit is pretty incredible; it’s a small box a little larger than a pack of cigarettes. It folds open into a well of sixteen colors and three mixing trays, holds a reservoir of water and a cup, and contains an incredibly versatile collapsible brush. I used it through the art program at high school, took it with me to college, and used it through years of illustration freelance work. It’s currently tucked into my drawing bag, waiting for post-pandemic figure drawing studio to commence. It was invaluable for years, I think of her whenever I open it, and I treasure it. Thanks, Aunt Lois.
We’ve recorded Finley’s growth on one of the kitchen moldings since she was a little over a year old and could stand on her own two feet. We’ve been pretty consistent in measuring her height every couple of months since then, but now that she’s a surly tween wandering around the house wiping dirty hands on every available surface, some of the dates carefully pencilled on the wall have been smudging off.
Aware that this record might not be around much longer, I busted out a tape measure last night and put each of the legible marks into a spreadsheet. Then I converted the fractions to decimals and plotted it into a graph. Here’s what we recorded and when:
This basically just backs up what we’ve known all along: she generally has a growth spurt sometime between November and January. Sometimes there’s another one in the summer, but as this data shows it’s not as pronounced. And look at the jump in the middle of age 7 and right after!