I turned 50 today. And I decided to embrace it boldly and proudly. Taking the same route as my Christmas card art, I created this banner using selected moments, memories and achievements from my life to spell out my message graphically.
This was a last minute project I thunk up for myself too. The notion to do this only hit me yesterday morning. I brainstormed words and letters for about fifteen minutes, then went about my day as thoughts and notions ruminated in my brain. I got to work with the actual graphic designing at 8:30p last night. As I'd hoped, I finished it just before midnight, as yesterday transitioned into my birthday.
This morning, I spent a few hours to compose and write this blog. Figured you'd wanna know where each letter comes from. So here you go. Enjoy the read!
F is from Super Friends
One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons growing up.
I is from The Tick
The first kid's meal toy program I worked on from start to finish was for a comic book super hero that I'd never even heard of before. The Balancing Tick (at left) and Charles the Brainchild toy (concept sketch below and photo of the produced piece here) were the first toys I ever designed. Check out my portfolio page to find my original concept sketches of The Tick toy.
F is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This is but one of many geek shows I loved watching. Others were The X-Files, Xena: Warrior Princess, Firefly & Serenity and most anything with "Star Trek" in the title.
T is from Batman
I loved this show as a kid! Batman is my favorite comic book hero to this day.
Y is from Barry Manilow
Yes, I am a Fanilow. And darn proud of it.
Back in the day, there was this thing called the Columbia Record Club where you could get like 6 records for a penny. This two-LP set was one of the ones I ordered.
Y is from Disneyland
That's no surprise, right?
I have hundreds of photos I've taken at various Disney events and parks posted on Flickr, including the one below from my experience joining hundreds of thousands of Disney fans at three in the morning to celebrate Disneyland 50th birthday. Click it to check out the entire gallery.
E is from Huey Lewis and The News
My favorite rock band, the voice of my college-age self.
A is formed by the Starfleet Uniform pin from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Like I mentioned before, I've been a Star Trek fan since the original series. The art I used for the "a" is a graphic I rendered myself, first for a tee-shirt design and then an infographic I created this past year that's posted over at this site.
R is from Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition
I designed Star Wars kid's meal toys. And for that, I was forced to take many business trips to a place called Skywalker Ranch. Ho hum..
Below is a Taco Bell promotional header card showing the toys in the promotion, shamelessly pointing out the ones I concepted in the series. You can see some of my concept art on my portfolio page.
S is from San Diego State University
That's where I went took the five-year plan to earn my degree. This was the logo they were using oh those many moons ago.
O is from San Diego Comic-Con International
The first time I went to Comic-Con, Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman, was there to help ease fans' fears about Michael Keaton being cast as Batman. Comic-Con then was nothing like the monster it is now.
Visit Flickr to see my pix from my visits to Comic-Con and WonderCon over the past few years.
L is from the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games
At the first company that hired me after graduating college, I got to build and manage a staff to design and develop lapel pins and collector's pin sets for the Olympic Games sponsors and retailers when Atlanta hosted the games. All that experience working personally with the licensing office in Atlanta, as well as with licensing offices on other sports licenses, groomed me well for my eventual work designing products for licensed entertainment properties like The Tick and Star Wars.
D is from DC Comics
This is the 1970's version of the logo that I saw on the covers of the comic books I read and collected back in the day. I still read comic books today which, since I have freelance work for clients including Sideshow Collectibles, doubles professionally as "research"!
Below is the first of many other projects I've worked on at Sideshow this past year, including some DC Comics characters, that should all finally see the light of day beginning in 2014.
A few months ago, I started ruminating about what I might do for a Christmas card illustration this year. Just as I do when brainstorming any creative project, I kept my eyes open wherever I went. You never know when you might come across something that might inspire some ideas, things that might cause you to ponder "What if...?".
Hanging in my living room for several years is a piece of shadowbox artwork that I treasure. I bought it from the Disneyana store on Main Street USA at Disneyland. It's by Dave Avanzino and for years his work has been featured at the park, cleverly crafting these framed words and messages from iconic elements inspired by things Disney and Disneyland.
While admiring one of Avanzino's latest pieces on a recent visit to the Disneyana store, the notion came to me to adopt his brilliant idea for my holiday art. Soon after, I started building my word collage. It was going very well. And this was back in October. So on top of the phrase art looking good, I also got excited that I might actually get this year's art done WAY early!
I wanted to highlight several noteworthy events from the past year in my design.
Taking Avanzino's cue, I spelled out my holiday message with letters lifted from visual elements related to those events.
While I was pretty happy with this part, I wasn't with the background. I was also hoping to do something even more creative than just delivering a plainly printed card. So I ended up taking a break on it, hoping that coming back to it in a few days would give me fresh eyes on my project. Those "few days" ended up lasting for over a month as I had a trip to Florida coming up, Thanksgiving weekend, freelance work and other distractions.
But when I finally came back to it in mid-December, it took me just a few hours to not only design a background but also design the rest of the actual Christmas card, which became another pop-up design. At the end of this blog is the final result.
But leading up to that, I've provided explanations for what each of the characterized letters represents from moments of my past year with some extra photos and links if you want to learn more.
M from "Musical"
On May 19, my team, "Naboombu All-Stars", won First Place in MousePlanet's latest scavenger hunt game, MouseAdventure Musical, which took place at the Disneyland Resort. It was also our second time earning the top spot. You can read all about this event in MousePlanet.com's Recap. And my history playing MouseAdventure is summarized in this blog.
A backwards "3" from the Club 33 logo
On June 23, through the generosity of a friend, we later celebrated our win with a celebratory lunch at Disneyland's VIP restaurant Club 33. My pictures from Club 33 are posted on Flickr.
R from "Treasures"
On February 9, my Naboombu All-Star friends and I traveled to Ojai to tour the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit on display at the Ronald Reagan Library. I enjoyed both the Disney exhibit and the Reagan tour. My pictures from the visit are also posted on Flickr.
R from "Ordinary"
Running September 6 through September 29 was a heart-warming production of the musical "Ordinary Days". My friends produced, staged, directed and performed in it to rave reviews, among them from The Hollywood Reporter, NoHoArtsDistrict.com and The Tolucan Times. I was surprised and honored to be asked to design their set. Below are two concept drawings I produced followed by a shot of how the final set turned out.
Y from "Willy"
Running August 3 through August 17 was Torrance Theatre Company's summer musical production of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka. And in it, I had the good fortune and fun to play reporter Phineous Trout. Below are shots from the production. And if you hadn't read it before, don't miss my blog about the pop-up Golden Ticket cards I designed and produced for the cast and crew.
C from "Capsule" in the logo I designed
On February 23, before earning our February MouseAdventure win, the Naboombu All-Stars created our first of three installments of our home-grown scavenger game for the year. Questacular - Time Capsule: 1973 is the quest we hosted for our friends, giving them another chance to get together and hate us and/or love us some more as they scavenged for clues and answers all afternoon and evening throughout Disneyland.
The other two quests we hosted were Summer Questacular: The Quest for the Truth played at Disney California Adventure and Questmas Cards back at Disneyland.
H from "Hollywood"
On March 26, I accomplished what most everyone who comes to Los Angeles wants to do someday. After 18 years living in LA, I finally hiked up to the Hollywood sign! I wrote about my adventure in a blog.
r from "Travelling" in the logo I designed
On the weekend of April 27-28, my Relay for Life team, Travelling Turtles/Friends of the Arts, participated in our fifth consecutive weekend walk to raise donations for and awareness of the American Cancer Society. And our team sported tee-shirts generously donated by Embroid Me with the artwork I produced. We'll be involved once again together in 2014, our sixth year together as a team.
I from "Iron"
On May 2, I joined my geek buddies and former toy company co-workers for one of several trips to the theatres this year. On this day, it was to watch "Iron Man 3" in IMAX 3D at Rave Motion Pictures.
S from the new Superman logo
On June 14, my geek buddies watched "Man of Steel" together in IMAX 3D at the decent screening time of 8pm on opening night again at Rave Motion Pictures.
T from "Thor"
On November 12, we headed to ArcLight Cinemas to watch "Thor: The Dark World" in 3D. (If you didn't already know, we love comic book super-heroes.)
M from "Men"
Running March 1 through March 30 was Torrance Theatre Company's production of "12 Angry Men" where I played Juror 6. Below is banner art I designed to promote our show, using a photo by Brad LaVerne.
A from "Castle"
I just love this show!
s from "Disney"
I hadn't been back to visit Walt Disney World in fifteen years. But MousePlanet also hosts MouseAdventures over there. And after playing together at Disneyland for a couple of years, my Naboombu All-Stars friends made sure we played in at least one of them over there! So off to Florida we went from November 13 to November 18, to play World Explorers V over that weekend. No other crazy way to visit all four parks for essentially the first time than while playing a timed scavenger hunt!! On this very first try playing there, we proudly placed 7th out of 39 teams. Here's the recap to read all about the quests we played and how we had to get our answers. And with a hundred less teams playing there than MouseAdventure at Disneyland, we also managed to get featured in a couple of candid shots in the recap.
At the end of Game Day #1, each team was given a blank Vinylmation Mickey and asked to decorate it and bring it with us at check in the next morning. That's when we learned that in the middle of Game Day #2, our goal was to travel throughout the entire Walt Disney World Resort and take pictures of ourselves with it at as many locations specified on a provided list as we could reach within four hours. Traveling by monorail, tram, boat and in the last half hour, even running, we reached 19 spots out of 28. Here's a photo collage I layed out of all the locations we reached.
Of course, these weren't the only best and memorable moments from my year. There were others. These were just the ones that just found their way into this design. For each and every moment of fun, challenge and good fortune that has come my way, I am truly grateful.
And Happy New Year!
I hope you all enjoyed just as memorable and wonderful a year with your family and friends too!
Added December 27, 2013:
Here's how the pop-up snail mail version turned out.
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!