News

Temporal Arrangement

September 5, 2019

Temporal Arrangement Installation Photograph at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A quick followup to some art news mentioned in the previous post. My first solo show in quite a few years is taking place this month. Temporal Arrangement will be on exhibit at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art in Santa Fe September 13–October 12, 2019, with an opening reception Friday, September 13, 5:00pm–7:00pm. Thanks so very much to those who've offered encouragement and support. The body of work is new and I'm excited to finally get it out of the studio and on display.

  • Chiaroscuro
  • September 13–October 12, 2019
  • Reception, Friday, September 13, 5:00pm–7:00pm
  • 558 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Graphic Design at UNM

June 20, 2019

Graphic Design at UNM

Finally, a new entry to this much neglected, and rather lonely, space on the Internet. But let’s face it, if I’m going to be expressing anything it’s going to be visually rather than in words. Besides, I'm not the most prolific writer, and the writing I focus on these days serves academic purposes, but more on that in a moment. First a quick update.

I graduated in Spring, 2017 from The University of New Mexico with an MFA in painting and drawing. To return to school twenty years after completing undergrad studies was quite the experience, to say the least. I closed my graphic design business, Jill and I downsized quite a bit (thanks again, sweets), I shifted from commercial creativity back into the studio. And finally, I completed the education I always hoped to obtain. Though difficult at times, it was a decision that I'll never regret. The change in my perspective, outlook, and future, and the time to explore creativity beyond customer demands was incredibly refreshing. I've always been an advocate for higher education. Studies aside, the experience alone is a fast track to personal growth.

So, what happened to graphic design? Well, I do spend more time in the studio these days developing my fine art practice. In fact, this September I'll be exhibiting in a solo show at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art in Santa Fe. But design is in my DNA, and it will always influence my creative thinking. As with painting, design is a creative practice that I am passionate about. I find myself in that fuzzy space between the fine and commercial arts. It's an interesting place to exist, awkward at times, especially transitioning from one mindset to the other. But I embrace it. Most importantly though, I appreciate the perspective that knowledge and experience in both disciplines bring to my understanding of the arts. And, the best news is that I'm now able to fulfill another long held desire of sharing that knowledge and experience with others as a Professor of Practice of Graphic Design at UNM.

For reasons I'm still trying to piece together, UNM has never had a graphic design program, or offered related studies within the studio arts program. Considering the academic scope and ranking of the University, it's a bit of a head scratcher. When I moved from teaching design and technology with UNM Continuing Education (the only source of design education offered at UNM) and became a student again, it wasn't long before word of my past spread. Students were quick to request insight and help with design related questions, projects, and opportunities. In fact, it was their continuous questioning that led me to approach the Dean with my own questions and concerns. And, as it turned out, when the Dean began her tenure as the head of UNM Fine Arts, she too questioned the lack of design.

Knowing what I know now about past circumstances I can see how the idea of design courses (let alone a full program) would be welcomed by some and roadblocked by others. But, that's a larger academic-, departmental-, and University-wide topic for another day. What's most important is that the Dean was well aware of the absence of graphic design curricula, the need to create course offerings, as well as the hurdles she faced in introducing them. In fact, to provide some form of design studies for students, she placed two fundamentals courses within Film and Digital Arts, of which I taught for two semesters as an adjunct professor. But little did I know, the Dean had other plans.

Having accepted a new position elsewhere, she called me in to the office for a meeting shortly before leaving the University. Her question? What would I think of joining the Department of Art as a Professor of Practice to help develop a concentration in graphic design? My answer? Of course! On the hunt for a professorship, I welcomed the position, but more importantly, it was a privilege to be tasked with such responsibility. Somewhat of a last minute maneuver, the Dean saw an opportunity to complete a goal she set when joining UNM. She was aware of my history in design, business, recent MFA, and my relationship with UNM (a good dean know's all), and she found in me an individual willing to create courses where none existed. I'm doing my best to honor her legacy.

But why if not for the students, right? And they're responding. At this early stage it would be extremely presumptuous to form any assessment of success, as so much planning, development, and course creation lay ahead. And obviously, the concentration needs time to prove itself. But, I do feel a void beginning to be filled as witnessed by the many students coming forward with interest and excitement that design is now a part of their program. With the concentration now in place, the curious students interested in such skills can explore graphic design along side their fine arts degree studies. More importantly though, UNM is special in that it serves such a uniquely diverse student population, many of whom are first generation college students, local to Albuquerque and the surrounding communities. For those with interests in art and creativity, design offers an opportunity to practice what they enjoy while meeting practical needs. And the design concentration is a foundation for future studies and a tangible path to a career.

This notion is something that strikes close to home. I too was the first in my family to graduate with a college degree. Lost in studies until I discovered a passion for art, it was the opportunity to learn design alongside studio studies that provided a vision of a future greater than I could have ever imagined for myself. And it did not fail me. As deeply as I hold dear my love of, and participation in, the fine arts, I am forever grateful that I was introduced to design. They are not as disparate as some might think. Yes, fine art may be a more academic form of study, while design an applied approach to creativity, but I firmly believe that they share so much more than is often realized. They both play uniquely important roles historically and culturally, and in communicating intention. And yet, they are both undeniable forms of creativity, sharing much of the same histories, discoveries, and guiding principles. They both fulfill such a fundamental desire for human communication and expression that I believe they are inseparable.

So, as I continue to straddle the line between design and art, it's my hope that I can offer students with similar interests the same opportunity for creative exploration. Though a small step in the right direction, the graphic design concentration is a welcome addition to the Department of Art's curricula, and allows the University to serve the community and meet regional demand. As I finally fulfill my goal of being an educator, it is also my hope that the insight and experience I have to offer will fulfill the creative ambitions of others.

Addie Nickel

May 1, 2018

Class Photo of Addie Nickel and Her Students from the mid-1930s

This photo dates back to sometime during the mid-1930s. In it is my first grade teacher Adelaide Nickel. It would be fair to think she’s one of the students, but actually, that’s her off to the right, and that’s her class.

Mrs. Nickel was a remarkably gifted teacher who understood the power of education and had a genuine love of creativity. She had the ability to inspire students at such a young age using lessons and assignments that went well beyond prescribed structure. Everything she taught was imbued with creative ways to engage a class of restless children while fostering exploration and excitement. Magic apples, a treasure turtle, and attendance taken while singing along with her at the piano are just some of the memories that make recollections of her class seem more like a tale from a children’s book than your typical first grade classroom.

But it wasn’t until many years later, as I grew within the arts and education, that I realized just how special these experiences were. Most notably, the time she took my class on a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago. From Monet to Picasso, she was able to relate her appreciation for creativity and the arts in a way that made an indelible mark on my consciousness, with memories that continue to guide me to this day.

Over the span of four decades, I’m sure a certain level of childhood romanticization has occurred. But, as one of the most extraordinary educators in my life, my memories of the time in her classroom have only served to strengthen my resolve to also guide students as a teacher, forwarding my education, experiences, and knowledge to future generations of creative thinkers.

But, what I find most remarkable is that her time with education began nearly a century ago on the prairies of the midwest, and over a span of so many years she, in many ways is still hard at work in the classroom teaching through individuals such as myself, and, no doubt many others, influenced so greatly by her guidance, nurturing, and imagination.

Type as Image

March 3, 2018

Type as Image Demonstration Designs

In creating a typography demo for a design course I wanted to sum up its history and design in as few words as possible. Here’s my humble attempt:

“Developed over millennia, through cultures and civilizations, a multitude of marks and symbols have been created to define meaning and convey message. Type is a refined collection of these symbols whose history is derived from written language. Its primary function is to serve as a form of communication. Type is combined to create words, and words to form phrases, recording visually what is expressed verbally.

“The invention of movable type and the printing press altered the course of human history by providing a method for reproducing the written word through mechanical means. As the process of print reproduction developed, so did the stylistic representation of typographic characters. From cast metals and carved wood, to current methods of digital design, the act of type creation is a specialized art form unique unto itself.

“Whether utilitarian in purpose or beautiful in form, thoughtfully selected type does more than simply deliver a message, it has the ability to affect readers. It does so by clearly communicating content and artistically conveying meaning. As much as type is a product of human need and inventiveness, it is also an expression of our creative ability and aesthetic values.”

Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art

May 5, 2017

Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Some more exciting news on the art front. This week I’ve begun showing at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art in Santa Fe, my first foray into the world of galley representation. Director John Addison was generous enough to stop by for a studio visit, and as things sometimes go, selected 10 works to exhibit. After so many years of intense study and studio development the recognition feels great. Thanks John for the opportunity and faith in my work. Please stop by the gallery if you happen to be in the area.

Palimpsest Exhibit Catalogue

April 9, 2017

Palimpsest Exhibit Catalogue Photo

First, a big thanks to everyone who attended my opening. I’ll forever be grateful for all the support, kind words, and well wishes. Some of you have inquired about the exhibit catalogue. Below is a link to a PDF file if you’d like to download a digital copy. For those looking to obtain a printed book, I’ve also included a link to Blurb where it can be purchased. Finally, stay tuned for some exciting gallery news.

Palimpsest

March 17, 2017

Palimpsest Exhibit Install Photo

Three years sure can go by fast, and now I’m only weeks away from fulfilling a goal set many years ago. On April 4 I will give a talk defending my thesis, and on April 7 will hold an opening reception for the thesis exhibit. If all goes well, come May I will graduate with an MFA degree. Below is information pertaining to the talk and show. And, as soon as it’s published, I will include a link to the exhibit catalogue. I hope to see everyone at the event.

  • Exhibit: April 3–April 21
  • Opening Reception: April 7, 6:00pm–8:30pm
  • Artist Talk: April 4, 3:00pm
  • University of New Mexico CFA Downtown Studio
  • 113 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
  • Gallery hours: by appointment
  • UNM CFA Downtown Studio Webpage

Logo Design Primer

May 29, 2014

Logo Design Primer Blog Image

As a followup to my digital graphics primer I’ve written a second, this one about logo design. The content drawn from my experience as a graphic designer and, more recently, as an instructor. These primers are designed to be short, direct, and informative, acting as concise overviews. The content is not new, there are plenty of books, blogs, and other resources on these topics. My goal in writing these is to disseminate information into a format that can be quickly read and easily absorbed by anyone at any experience level. They are by no means comprehensive manuals, rather they are references that serve as a foundation for further investigation.

With this new primer, it is my hope that readers will gain an understanding of basic principles and concepts of logo design. As fun and fulfilling as they can be daunting, logos play an important roll in how we identify, relate to, and absorb information. Information summed up in, at most, a graphic and a few words.

Digital Graphics Primer

January 10, 2014

Digital Graphics Primer Blog Image

As a graphic designer, one of the hardest things for me to convey to clients is the importance of getting ahold of assets in their correct file format. Vector, raster, EPS, JPEG, TIFF, PNG ... what does it all mean? Seriously, I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass. I do this not just for my sake, everyone should maintain a good library of their digital assets. And, I thinks it’s the designers job to provide all appropriate file types upfront. Personally, I provide a logo design in all the commonly requested formats upon job completion. One, it’s just good practice. Two, I receive a lot less calls requesting art. I hate lots of needless phone calls.

Truth be told, there is a lot to remember, the alphabet soup of acronyms and initialisms seems second only to the military. So to clear things up I’ve created a digital graphics primer. If you’re interested in a basic overview of digital graphic file types, or would like something to reference from time to time, click the link below to download the file. And, happy geeky reading.

My First Published Anything

January 10, 2013

Logopond book cover Logopond book page spread with logo

Any designer would love to see something they’ve created published. Well, I finally received my chance. For a while I used a website named Logopond. It acts as an inspirational and peer feedback site for designers. Whether your working on a client project or just hashing out something conceptual, it’s a great place to show your work and get constructive criticism. Users have the ability to vote on logos they like, if your logo gets enough votes it becomes a showcase design.

That was the case with one of my logos. It was designed for a personal chef with a very unique service. The business is called “Old Stove Gourmet”. It was well received for it’s unique illustrative styling and whimsical feel. My account is no longer active but a link still exists to the selected design.

Logopond published their first logo inspiration book, a collection of logos that have been showcased on their site. I just received my copy and am sharing a few images. Thanks Dana for the design opportunity, and thanks to everyone out there in Logopondland for your appreciation.