Intermediate Computing for Design // Nature Posters + Blufish Visit

The fourth project for Intermediate Computing for Design class was to create two poster designs for a fictional lecture called “Nature as Design.” One had to be done using Illustrator, and the other using Photoshop and InDesign. The challenge was to design two posters that have a cohesive, complimentary style and will catch the public’s eye. Using different software to create the same effect for different posters also helped inform the students the differences between the programs’ capabilities.

This project was their first project dealing with typography. Students were also required to print their designs on special textural and/or colored paper ordered online. Most students chose to order from Neenah or French. As this was their first time printing on paper other than Epson, they had to make adjustments in relation to image color and contrast.

Below are photographs of posters that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


by Laura Leigh Hicks, cream paper


by Laura Leigh Hicks, cream paper


by Connor Booth, white dimpled paper


by Connor Booth, white dimpled paper


by Gerald Wicks, cream speckle-toned paper


by Gerald Wicks, cream speckle-toned paper


by Bethany Smith, pink speckle-toned paper


by Bethany Smith, pink speckle-toned paper


by Kate Webb, silvery pearl paper


by Cara Moore, cream linen paper


by Cara Moore, cream linen paper


by Carly Bond, cream dimpled paper


by Carly Bond, cream dimpled paper


by Trent Furr, green speckle-toned paper


by Trent Furr, blue speckle-toned paper

Also a big thanks to Blufish design studio in Starkville, MS for allowing my class to tour their firm, learn about their business, what to expect in the workplace outside of school, and ask questions. It was a delightful, informative visit!


Intermediate Computing for Design // Oh What a Character

It is a brand new semester!

Intermediate Computing for Design is for students who submitted their portfolios for the graphic design review in November and were accepted into the program.  All of these students took my Intro to Computing class in the previous semesters. The last time I taught Intermediate was 2 years ago and I really enjoyed it, so I am excited to have the opportunity again.

Their first Intermediate project was called “Oh What a Character!” They found an image online of a celebrity, changed it to black and white, placed it in Illustrator, and worked on top of it like a template to create their own caricature of the person.  The requirement of the illustration?  It had to be completed using a maximum of 7 letters and 2 symbols in black only from one typeface on their computer.  Yes, a typeface!  They could rotate and resize typeface items as needed.

Below are some designs that were turned in. All have aspects to be improved upon for their portfolio, but overall I was very pleased with their results!

* I have permission from my students to promote their work on my website.


Jackie Chan by Ques Nevels


Princess Diana by Cara Moore


Miley Cyrus by Carly Bond


Bette Midler (Hocus Pocus) by Connor Booth


Chance the Rapper by Darby Taylor


The Weekend by Gerald Wicks


Connor McGregor by Trent Furr

Play Pretend and Never Grow Old typographic pieces

I really want a series of typographic laser-cut designs out of my handmade paper.  I presented two designs in my graduate review last week.  “Play Pretend” and “Never Grow Up” are two phrases that relate to my thesis work.  The next one I will design is “Think Lovely, Wonderful Thoughts” in reference to J.M. Barrie’s novel Peter Pan.  (The Disney film is nothing compared to the novel!  It’s one of my absolute favorites.)  “Play Pretend” was the favorite in the series last week in how it was layered.  Colorful paper on top of solid paper tends to help with legibility in this case.  I displayed them with magnets, which held the layered paper together and to the wall.  However, when all is finalized I will glue the layers together before I display them.

Planned out in my sketchbook



Refined laser-cut files for 28×17″ paper






Here are more decorative paper examples I presented in my graduate review.  The gallery lighting was not the best at that moment.



As an artist making new work, it’s good to research what other people are doing in the world to know what is possible, and inspire new ideas.  I’ve been looking into papermakers, paper casting artists, designers, typographers, illustrators, and installation artists to fuel my brain for what’s to come with my work.  I’ll provide some imagery and a brief statement of my favorites and why I think they rock.


* Shannon Brock – personal website not found

Not Home for the Holdidays2“Not Home for the Holidays”, 2007, 26″ x 26″

Shannon is an American artist.  I love that the entirety of her work is layered effects of paper pulp, alone, called pulp painting.  Isn’t it beautiful?  I was immediately drawn to the imagery, but when I read her artist statement, I understood why there was such a kinship that I felt with her work.

Shannon’s artist statement:

Much of my work has been influenced by both my family members and my childhood experiences growing up on a small farm in eastern Missouri. This series, titled Family Album, is one I started in 2007.

Family has always been an extremely important part of my life. My family members relationships with one another, the people we became, the choices we made and our expectations of each other, provide me with much of my subject matter. As a small child it was exciting growing up on a farm. We had a front yard full of dandelions. They were flowers to me when I was young, but as a teenager it was embarrassing to know that what we had was really a yard full of weeds. Now, as an adult living in New York City for the past 14 years, I can see those dandelions as flowers again. My early life on the farm is something I value and is important to who I am today. I have begun to look back at those earlier feelings of being a farm kid and the parts of our life style that made me happy and at other times embarrassed. Using images from the rural and economically depressed surroundings of my youth, I try to capture the beauty of the people and places. Dandelions in my front yard were once a source of embarrassment but are now a source of reassurance and sense of home.”

With my work, I am also trying to remember what characterizes and captivates a child’s imagination, and in turn illustrating such memories and events to remind “grown-ups” what they’ve lost since becoming adults.  I love the line “We had a front yard full of dandelions. They were flowers to me when I was young, but as a teenager it was embarrassing to know that what we had was really a yard full of weeds. Now, as an adult living in New York City for the past 14 years, I can see those dandelions as flowers again.”  That is exactly what I’m trying to say with my work.

*Miriam Londono

1-7--colombo--medellin_works“Stories of Immigrants”, 500 cms x 155 cms, Paper, 2007

Miriam is a German artist that writes and draws with paper pulp in squeeze bottles on a flat surface, allows it dry, carefully peels it away, then hangs them up as beautiful installations.

I have already tried this technique after seeing her work, and I was very pleased with the results.  It’s an interesting alternative to simply laser-cutting paper imagery.  I am most interested in this process and the different ways it can be incorporated.

*Denise Fleming

DF42American papermaker Denise is a children’s book author and illustrator.  Her illustrations are made entirely of colored pulp, which she works into layers with the use of stencils.  The imagery is very colorful, and the texture seems to jump off the page.  I respect her for her time-consuming process, and that she also has full control of the book’s appearance as she writes the story, as well.


*Allen & Patty Eckman –

Love-of-a-MotherAllen and Patty are an American married couple who have invented a painstaking paper casting process called “The Eckman Method”.  The image above was created with individual paper castings that were molded by different silicone molds, and adhered together to make a complex piece.  Every image I see, my mouth drops open with amazement.  Their work revolves around Cherokee culture, inspired by Allen’s ancestry.  So their work’s theme has nothing to do with what I seek to do, but OH MY GOSH, LOOK AT THAT CRAFTSMANSHIP.  They are THE paper casting masters.

*Julia Anne Goodman

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 1.58.29 AM20_julia022-copy-221_136dayslaterdetail30_web130129goodman-11036Julia Anne is quite a find in the area of paper casting.  She is an American artist with many versions of how she treats paper casted work, both in 2-D and 3-D forms.  I had to post an example of each method she uses.  As I am least familiar with paper casting, and am taking a Directed Study on this technique, I know her website will be an inspiration I will return to again and again.

*Kerri Cushman

birdsimroulette1_510butterbutt3_510Kerri is an American artist known for her sculptural artist books, handmade paper, and letterpress pieces.  Her blueberry pie piece was the first paper casted work I found that didn’t look like a 2-year-old did it.  The “blueberries” are actually denim cast-paper eggs!  So smart.  Both of these pieces are considered books, as you can read text from inside the blueberries, and on the slices of butter.  If I can make 3-D forms as beautiful as this before this school year is up, I’d say my year was a success.

*Matthew Sporzynski

0505_frontis_cooking0405_frontis_cooking0905_frontis_cooking1005_frontis_cookingOkay….so Matthew isn’t a paper caster, but his paper sculpture is so deliciously 3-D, it makes the most sense for him to be categorized as such.  You can find his work on the opening section pages of Real Simple magazine.  He uses a range of techniques including papier-mache, silhouette cutting, origami-style paper folding, and collage.  So I’m thinking if paper casting fails me this quarter (and I am a bit scared of it), then this method of paper sculpting may turn out to be successful for me.  Just looking at his forms make me excited!

Matthew states:

“You have to keep working on them until they don’t look like garbage anymore!” and admits that his sculptures are “far better received than I perceive them myself. I see the flaws.”


*Helen Musselwhite


This British lady is the queen of the xacto knife.  As most of her imagery is inspired by what’s seen on the countryside, I am completely in love.  Her craftsmanship blows me away.  I hope to own one of her pieces someday.  She is also a graphic designer.

*Stuart McLachlan –

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 11.38.36 PM

Australian illustrator Stuart is a man that has his fingers in many pies, creating and displaying his cut paper from editorials to fashion catwalks.  I find his work similar to Helen Musselwhite’s in theme and craftsmanship.  I want to figure out how he lights up his work so beautifully, when it is all made up of white paper.

Stuart quotes:

“Paper is a medium without boundaries, it can be molded, formed and cut into almost any form imaginable, I endeavor to push its physical boundaries and create imagery and art that is not expected from such a delicate structured material. The goal of art is to surprise and excite, to bring something new to the table.”

*Yulia Brodskaya

yulia-brodskaya-12A native of Russia, Yulia is an internationally-known artist with an impressive list of clients (click here).  She graduated with her MA in Graphic Communication, and appropriately calls her paper sculptures “PAPERgraphics”.   Yulia’s work is so beautiful and intricate, I can’t help but stare in amazement.  As her trademark method is turning strips of paper on its side to decorate the base page, I may want to explore trying this method for some future work of my own.

*Rob Ryan

Rob-Ryan-We-Don’t-Fly-North-2008.-Papercut-paper-100-x-61-cmBritish man Rob is a paper cutter that strips everything down as much as possible to produce a high-contrast, high-detailed image.  With one piece of paper, and a series of knives, he brings his masterpieces to reality by hand!  I guess we can say he is the king of the xacto knife!  His individual pieces portray a story in silhouette about sadness, being alone, and longing for love.  If you look closely at this image, you will see he cuts text into the paper, as well.  That’s impressive!  Rob, you are a skilled, brave man, but I think I’ll rely on the laser cutter for my complex images.  Beautiful work!

*Jeff Nishinaka

paper-art-man-on-pianoJeff is an American paper sculpture.  His work does well to show life-like depth while still remaining fairly flat.  One of his biggest admirers and largest collector of his work is Jackie Chan.  (I’d say you’ve hit the big time if Jackie Chan is your biggest fan.)  He states on his website:

“I have always wanted to be a painter, but while studying illustration at Art Center, I was given assignments in both a graphic design and fashion drawing class at the same time to experiment in different mediums, one of them being paper.  That was my ‘Ah-ha!’ moment.  I quickly developed a feel for working with paper.  From then on, I began experimenting with different papers, finding ways to shape, bend, and round edges on it.  I wanted to manipulate paper in the least invasive way, to keep the integrity and feel of it.  Paper to me is a living, breathing thing that has a life of it’s own.  I just try to redirect that energy into something that feels animated and alive.”

I would love to figure out his methods for my own work, though I’m unsure if my hand-recycled paper will behave in that same way.

*Calvin Nicholls

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 2.14.52 AMSimilar to Jeff, Canadian artist Calvin learned to manipulate paper to form 3-D textural images.  With paper and scissors, Calvin manages to create elaborate wildlife and landscape imagery.  He also started out his career as a graphic designer before finding his passion in paper sculpture.

*Alexandra Ball –

1o48British children’s book illustrator Alexandra has a specific illustrating style all her own.  With muted colors, minimal texture, and playful, happy imagery, she exudes peaceful childhood innocence and harmony with the world around them.  Something about our illustrative styles seems familiar, I would hope that the feeling one gets when viewing both of our works would be the same.

*Julie Morstad –

Screen shot 2012-05-13 at 9.39.29 AM

TheSwing_Spread2Julie is an award-winning illustrator and artist from Vancouver.  I also feel a kindredness when viewing her work.  There is such a purity in the treatment of her illustrations, with sweet imaginative moments.  Some work may be more complex, colorful, or textural than others, but there is a definite commonality in style.  It even reminds me of the “Dick & Jane” books.  Ah, I’d love to meet her.

*Kathleen Lolley

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 11.00.54 PMKathleen spent much of her youth in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.  Storytelling plays a prominent role in her work, along with playfulness and dark ideas.  Nature, folk tales, and philosophy inspire her style, while she uses a mix of mediums appropriate to her concept– including paper and shadowbox art.  Her work presents a magical world with hints of mystery that I enjoy.


*Mia Pearlman


miaAmerican installation artist Mia received her BFA in Architecture, and eventually discovered her passion of paper sculpture.  Her pieces are GIGANTIC– overwhelming spaces of the room to the degree you can’t imagine it’s all cut white paper.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, especially when it’s showcased with natural or artificial light.  She begins by making loose line drawings in India ink on large rolls of paper.  Then she cuts out selected areas between the lines to make a new drawing in positive and negative space.

*Liz Miller

liz-miller-histrionic-malfeasance-03I had the pleasure of meeting American installation artist Liz Miller a couple of years ago when I started graduate school.  Our art department featured her work in one of the galleries, and us grad students helped her piece it together.  Felt, foam, and other tactile materials envelop the space so that the viewer can walk around and thru it, and physically experience it.  Each show she does brings about different color schemes and imagery, demonstrating pattern and ornament with a theme of armor and weaponry.

Though her installation work isn’t created with paper, it inspires the possibly of creating paper installations of such large scale like Mia Pearlman.


*Sean McCabe

here-we-areAmerican artist Sean is a pro at hand-drawn typography.  Finding his portfolio website was like a breath of fresh air.  He can create typography as elaborate or straight-forward as it is fitting to the word or quote he is working with.  This is something I hope to achieve with my work this year.  I find that hand-drawn typography will work best with my art, as hand-drawn type has plenty of personality that can conform to the theme of any artwork.

*Eva Markova

67345e09e04e6dc95dba96289989e214Eva is a Bulgarian graphic designer and illustrator.  The fact that her website says she is 22 years old is incredibly intimidating, and makes me want to become friends with her all at once.  Her work is very colorful and playful, which I admire.  Some of her typography is a little hard to read, but that is partly what I find beautiful about it.  She allows the text to be apart of the imagery– not the imagery apart of the text.  The 3 pieces I feature above is hand drawn by Eva, then vectorized and laser-cut.  I will also be experimenting with laser-cut imagery in the same way.

*Jessica Hische

sayitwithflowersJessica is an American letterer and illustrator, and has to be one of the most well-known current designers.  She came to Mississippi State University when I was an undergrad to do a lettering workshop before she blew up with fame, and I decided I had too much homework to do that night to attend.  (Stupid me! What a missed opportunity!)  Her style is fairly recognizable with its pure awesomeness.  She also had the opportunity to design classic novel covers for Barnes & Noble (see it here).  I carried a boxed set around the store for probably an hour before I sadly put it back on its shelf, as I was broke as a joke and couldn’t afford it.  I had to buy the Little Women book when it came out, though!  Okay, I’ve gotten off track here.

I’ve kept up with Jessica’s work the longest out of the people I’m featuring, and she never ceases to amaze me.  The end.