Paige’s classroom (as all classrooms in the building) has a row of clerestory windows that let in light, but with smartboards and projectors, they need to keep them covered. Most classrooms just have old, dusty curtains on them, but last year Paige didn’t have the spare cash or time to install such things, so she used the school’s free rolls of colored butcher paper to cover them. It ended up giving a nice backlit effect. This year she pitched me the idea of embracing the stained glass concept and so I ran with it and produced this design:
It’s not clear by that image, but the windows are fairly large, so I was being pretty ambitious. Paige was up to the task, though, so I printed out each panel with a grid and used the grid to upsize the design onto full-size pieces of butcher paper and cut them out. Then Paige used those pieces as stencils to cut the different colored pieces. Paige also had the excellent idea of using electrical tape for panel borders. The result, I think, is pretty awesome and since the paper is free for teachers to use, it only cost a couple dozen dollars for materials.
The kids wont ever say anything about it, but it definitely changes the feel in there for the better. And Paige loves it, so who cares if punk pre-teens don’t?
My wife, Paige is a junior high school English teacher. She’s awesome and has a way cooler job than I do. When she asked if I would help her design some stuff for her classroom, of course I agreed. Anything to combat the terrible, awful “design” that has permeated public education for far too long.
She had some posters that had some state-mandated writing tips on them. They were awful. They employed stock photos, bevels and embossing, drop shadows, mismatched fonts, photos mixed with illustrated elements… they made me want to puke.
I blitzed all 6 of them in one night and made these:
In addition, Paige is also teaching ethos, pathos, and logos to her students this year. I did a large poster for each:
Take that, bad schoolastic design!
So funny thing about that payphone project. As I said, I worked most of the weekend on it and really put some time into it, and I was pretty pleased with the resulting renders. They looked nice and shiny and all of that neat stuff. However, when I showed it around to some artist friends and posted it on some game art forums, the reaction was universally negative, in a few instances, strongly so. It was kind of a day of getting kicked in the artistic junk. Nothing humbles you like getting kicked in the artistic junk. So I’m not gonna take it down or anything. It’s currently up on my portfolio as I feel it’s at least an indication that I can do some high-poly modeling, but I’m working now on a project that I’ll be able to replace it with.
Hours you spend on a project do not inherently earn it artistic or design value. I had to fight back that all-too familiar novice artist feeling that “Well, I spent x number of hours and worked hard on it, so it’s good!” Sometimes you produce crap stuff, and sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. So goes the learning. Don’t let your effort blind you to the process of getting better and roll with the critiques: they are more valuable than any amount of praise.
Also, on the subject of critiques, get them often and get them early. Maybe if I had shopped my sketches around more, I would’ve been posting a genuinely good piece.
These are my lessons (hopefully) learned this week, and you know what? If I remember them, it was a productive weekend after all.