Fine Art Friday

Welcome to the first Fine Art Friday here at the Labyrinthine Library. Consider this something of a weekly revolving gallery and discussion group on all things artistic. The impetus for this regular feature was an article on webcomics that was, I feel, unfairly critical of how a number of webcomic artist chose to present their work. That article’s conclusion? That if you can’t draw at the level of a Kirby or a McFarlane then you should hire a “professional” artist to draw your comic for you.

I feel that is, to be bluntly honest, a big, stinking load of bull hockey.

That is why we, here at the Library, will be hosting Fine Art Friday, where we will look at different modes of artistic expression and why each of them is, or isn’t, art.*

For the inaugural presentation, without further ado, I give to you the great Murloc Holmes, by Pikestaff.

Murloc Holmes

“Ah, are these the villain’s tracks?”

“Indeed they are, Mr. Holmes.”

“Hoofprints? This rules out most races except draenei and tauren, but it’s most unlikely that a tauren would travel this far. Besides, here and here we see traces of moth dust found only in Azuremyst Isle. Now we can further deduce from his tracks that this villain moved around a lot, although it wasn’t to back up, rather, it was to get closer. This indicates that he is a melee class–”

“Or an uninformed hunter?”

“Unlikely, Watson. I see no animal prints or feathers.”

“A… fantastically uninformed hunter?”

“Very doubtful. As you can see, the surrounding ground is charred by holy fire…”

“A paladin?”


“Brilliant, Murloc Holmes!”


The first major critera of art is that it must serve a purpose; that purpose doesn’t always have to be deep or far reaching, but it must have a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to make the viewer think, sometimes it is to convey the artist’s views, sometimes it is bold and in your face, sometimes it is extremely subtle. There are times that the purpose is simply to record a moment in time, be it a moment of importance or nothing more than a moment of beauty captured forever before it is lost to time.

What is the purpose of Murloc Holmes you might ask. Murloc Holmes makes the viewer smile.

It isn’t some deep or far reaching. You don’t have to be a Holmesian scholar to appreciate it, or be a longtime Warcraft player to see the humor in it. Murloc Holmes is simple play on words that gave birth to a creative bit of parody art. Murloc Holmes might never hang in an art gallery anywhere in the world, but if he has made people smile, brightened a day or two along the way, then he has served his purpose.

On behalf of the Library I would like to thank Pikestaff for giving her permission for her art to be the first presented for Fine Art Friday, and I hope that everyone will join us again for next Friday’s exhibition, Mars: The Spice Must Flow.

*As always, this is in the sole estimation of the Librarian, and you are free to agree or disagree. That’s what the comments are for, after all.

Published in: on February 12, 2010 at 10:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Welcome to the World Abigayle

As promised, now that I am home, have Kaylee settled down and have had a chance to sort through the pictures I took today, I present to you Abigayle (aka Aby, Lil’bit, Aby-Cat*)

Aby's first picture
Aby’s first picture.

Cap’n Abigayle sez “Yarrrr!”

Mommy gets a peaceful moment with Aby once things finally calm down
Mommy gets a peaceful moment with Aby once things finally calm down

Aby with her Mamaw (Samantha's Mom)
Aby with her Mamaw (Samantha’s Mom)

Grandma with her second one to spoil (Jeremy's Mom)
Grandma with her second one to spoil (Jeremy’s Mom)

Aby and her Gramgram (Great Grandma)
Aby and her Gramgram (Great Grandma)

Aby discovers that in the absence of a pacifier that fingers make an excellent substitue
Aby discovers that in the absence of a pacifier that fingers make an excellent substitue

Welcome to the world, Abigayle
Welcome to the world, Abigayle

*Seriously, thus far the closest thing to crying she has done sounds like a kitten mewing, and I swear when I was rocking her this evening that it sounded like she was purring.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sitting here in the hospital waiting for our second baby girl to arrive. She’ll be here any time now, but at this point there isn’t anything to do but wait. Right now I can’t help but think about names.

Names are very important things, they cary power and meaning. By what you call something you show where you stand on something or what you think of it.

Pro-choice, pro-abortion, anti-abortion, pro-life – depending on which you use it shows how you feel about the issue of abortion, and how you feel about those who are on the other side of the issue.

Pro-vaccine, safe-vaccine, anti-vaccine – they all show where you stand on the risk-reward scale of the vaccine issue, and the safety of not only yourself but also your children and the children of those around them, and if you trust in science or the pseudo-science of the wooney tunes peddling cure-alls and magic water.

Christian, Muslim, Pagan, Catholic, Baptist, agnostic, atheist – religion, and lack thereof, in all of its guises both unifies and divides, and much of that rests on the rallying banners of “Us” and “Them.”

Evens in the real of personal names it makes a difference. Do you present yourself casually, or in a more formal manner. Jennifer, Jen, Jenny; Richard, Rick, Ricky, Dick; to some degree it influences how people will think of you and in some ways it shows how people think of you.

In the grand scheme of things names are very important. Very soon now one more will be added to the world: Abigayle Victoria, and I can hardly wait.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 10:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Generally speaking there are certain words that make a designer’s skin crawl in horror. Words that carry with them connotations far beyond what you will find in any dictionary; that when spoken make a designer want to break and run. They seem like such simple, innocuous little things, but words have meaning, words matter.

Pop – Generally used to mean “I want this to stand out from the crowd” with the subtext of “…but I don’t know how I want it to do that.” From a designer’s point of view, unless it is going to be printed on bubble wrap this word should never be used to describe a design.

Jazz – Most often seen in the context of “Jazz it up.” Much like pop, this tends to be used to mean “make it different, but I don’t know how to tell you that” or something along those lines. As a designer it makes me want to say “Sure thing, Golden Age, Big Band or Free Form?”, but professionalism usually stops me. Unless the design is for an actually jazz band this is another term that should never be used regarding a design.

Something – This seemingly innocent word is like a stealth bomber, it sneaks up on you and before you know it things are falling apart around you. Commonly used in phrases like “…I don’t know, it just needs something…” or “…there’s something about it that doesn’t look quite right to me…” What they really mean is “I have it in my head what I want, but don’t know how to explain myself, therefore I want you to be a mindreader and guess what I have already decided and we will keep at this until you do.” If you hear this term in regards to a design, get ready, it is going to be a long haul.

Committee – “I like it, now I just need to submit it to the committee” or anything of the sort is one of the worst things you can hear. Design by committee is like design hell, because everyone on the committee wants their fingerprints on the design somewhere, and there is always at least one person on the committee who has to have the last word on everything. Even worse is when they ask for proof prints for each individual committee member, because they most always come back to haunt you. Each member marking changes on their own copies, and it all coming back to you to sort out the various, often conflicting, annotations, notes and changes.

Fun – Fun, does it mean casual? Bright and colorful? That they want coloring book style activities in the design? All of this? None of this? This one is always a conundrum, especially when it is used in reference to something that is otherwise very refined or sedate.

Words have meaning, both connotation and denotation, and sometimes they mean very different things to different people. To those people who are speaking to designers, always remember, if you don’t know what you mean then there isn’t any way that your designer will know what you mean. Always strive to be a clear, detailed, and concise as possible. To my fellow designers, never be afraid to ask questions, there are times that the person using these words doesn’t realize they are being unclear, and in the long run a few well times questions can save everyone involved time and trouble, and fewer headaches are always a good thing.

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Riddle of Design*

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lament…

Oh… wait… wrong riddle there… sorry…

…now… where was I… ah yes…

There are many questions when it comes to design. The first and foremost of these is this: What is the purpose of design? The answer might surprise you.

When you hear this question most likely the first things to come to your mind are the obvious answers. “To be creative.” “To be original.” “To get noticed.” All good answers, to be sure, but none of them are what matters most. In the end the ultimate purpose of design is to make the client happy.

This can be a very hard lesson to learn, but if you want to make it very far in the design field it is one that you will have to come to terms with. Yes, sometimes this means that your most creative designs will end up on the cutting room floor, or worse yet, butchered and mutated into something hideous that only remotely resembles what you started with. It doesn’t matter how brilliant a designer you are, or how spectacular your design may be, if the client doesn’t like it, if it isn’t what they want, it will never see the light of day. This holds true in web design and video as much as it does in print media, when it is all said and done, unless you are designing solely for yourself, it is the client’s design, and it is up to you to give them what they want.

It can be very hard at times to smile and nod as you watch your work deconstructed, drastically altered, or outright rejected. To have to silently change your refined palette of brown and blue hues to vibrantly clashing shades of teal, purple and orange to match the shampoo bottles from the client’s shower. To have to screen the picture of the client’s pet parrot behind the layout’s text because they don’t understand the concept of white space and don’t want to “waste all that space with nothing in it.” To have to change the colors of a design from green to blue to another shade of blue to purple to another shade of blue to brown to yet another shade of blue then back to the original shade of green.**

It is hard, but it is something that a designer has to do. The customer may not always be right, they might not have a clue, nor creative bone in their body or an original idea in their head, however in the end, even though it is your time and your creativity, it is their design. We, the designers, may not like it, but sometimes we just have to swallow our pride; we smile, nod and once they are gone we curse them to hell and back, vent to our friends and co-workers, then get on with our job and make the changes and make the client happy.

That is the true riddle of design. It is our art, but their design.

*With apologies to Robert E. Howard.

**Yes, I have had to do all of these things.

Published in: on February 3, 2010 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Welcome to the Labyrinthine Library

The Labyrinthine Library, what is it? Why is it here? Does the world really need another blog? Where did the name come from? Did you really have to name it something so hard to spell?

All very good questions. Questions I will endeavor to answer here.

The Labyrinthine Library, to put it simply, is the best way I have every found to describe the way my mind works. My thought processes follow strange pathways at times, and my synapses are filled with years of random trivia, pop culture references, and snippets of information on a myriad of subjects that have caught my interest at one time or another. The Labyrinthine Library is my attempt to give my thoughts some semblance of order and share them with the world, because knowledge kept is knowledge lost, while knowledge shared is knowledge magnified. I’m certain that the world doesn’t really need yet another blog out there, and I am sure that I am no Orac or Phil Plait , but I have things to say, and if anything I post helps even one person in some way then this blog will have served its purpose in being. The name itself is a recent development, a little while back a friend of mine (Carolyn) tossed out on Twitter that she was trying to come up with a domain name for the site she was planning as a place to put her writing blog, so of course being the word geek that I am I began tweeting all the silly things that came to mind. Among all of that was one that just wouldn’t leave after I put it out there, it bounced around inside my head and refused to go away, until at last there was that eureka moment when I realized that the reason it wouldn’t leave was that it belonged there. After years of trying to explain to people how my mind works, and failing again and again, those two words managed to sum it up better than all the volumes I could ever write. So then, with much encouragement from my best friend Jenny the Labyrinthine Library was born.

What will you find in this library? A bit of everything, really. One of the main focuses will be on the ins and outs of art and graphic design, my particular area of expertise. In addition to design entries will touch on topics ranging from science and skepticism to the ranting and raving of ultra-conservative pundits and wooney toons to being a parent and a progressive minded individual living in the heart of the Bible Belt with stops just about everywhere in between.

Who am I? Never an easy question to answer. I am, first and foremost, a father with one beautiful baby girl and a second on the way any day now. (The sooner the better as far as my long suffering wife is concerned.) Beyond that I am a graphic artist, having worked professionally in offset print media for around ten years now. In that time I have seen trends come and go, and watched as the industry changed dramatically. A career in design wasn’t always the plan, a life long science geek my original major in college was aerospace engineering with dreams of designing the next generation of spacecraft. Some time around the end of my first year I came to a realization, aerodynamics wasn’t what I enjoyed, rather it was the creative process of design that I loved. So here I am, still a geek to the core, lover of all things scientific even though I don’t work in any of its fields, and looking forward to teaching my girls the joys of scientific discovery when they are older.

So what does that make me? A father, a husband, an artist, a designer, a skeptic, an amateur scientist, a geek, a nerd, and a hundred other things, but here, here I am simply the Librarian.

Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The skeletons of walls, shelves and other things rise all around, while somewhere in the distance echoes the sound of a cart with a squeaky wheel and the almost constant muttering of a lone male voice.

The barest bones of things are done. With a bit of luck and perseverance over the next few days things will begin to be fleshed out a great deal more.

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment