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Monthly Archives: May 2014

  • NEW ELEMENTAL SEEKER: EARTH!

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    Throwing us all for a curve, Jeff Soto is releasing his newest Elemental Seeker: Earth! Wait a minute! Earth? His last one (Life) looked like Earth, this one looks like.... a skull... uh... growing purple hair crystals? Hmm, maybe it's supposed to be like an Iceland / Greenland thing. As in Life looks like Earth, Earth looks like Life? No, that can't be it. Water, Fire, Metal, and Air all looked like their namesakes. What if this is some sort of quasi political piece? Like the skull represents what would happen to the Earth if everyone starts driving SUV's and littering, and the crystals represent.... uh... money or something? I give up, I don't know how it correlates. What I DO know is that  it looks pretty darn cool (definitely digging the skull vibe).

    For those of you who are feelin' it too, we are pleased to inform you that Earth will be offered as a limited edition timed release. Starting this Thursday around 12 pm, this 6x6, 3/4" thick, signed and numbered bright white wood print goes on sale here for 24 hours and will retail for $30.

  • CLARINETS FOR CONSERVATION

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    When I was a child, my Dad thought it was prudent for me to learn how to play an instrument. Awesome! Keyboard? Guitar? Keytar? Nope, the clarinet. While most of my peers spent their free time watching the Disney Afternoon, I was forced to sit in our garage and learn how to play Ain't Misbehavin' to later recite at family gatherings. Clarinets aren't all bad though. In the hands of the right person, they're actually pretty cool. Take Benny Goodman, Kenny G, and Squidward Tentacles... those guys all played the clarinet and they rock!

    c4c2

    The best part is learning an instrument can actually improve a child's mental development in more ways than one. Playing an instrument can help stimulate a child's brain to increase the capacity of their memory, enhance their eye/hand coordination skills, improves reading comprehension and helps to sharpen their concentration. Clarinets for Conservation understands these principals and has set out on an mission to raise awareness and promote the preservation of the Mpinjo (African Blackwood) tree through the power of music. Used for the creation of woodwind instruments and fine furniture, Mpingo trees are being harvested at an unsustainable rate.

    c4c

    Our interest was piqued when we recently printed several wood prints for the organization and discovered their interest in the environment. Based in Moshi, Tanzania, Clarinets for Conservation understands the urgency of this issue as they promote awareness in the community by teaching secondary students how to play the clarinet. The students and teachers involved in Clarinets for Conservation take part in performances and tree plantings throughout Tanzania to reinforce the connection between the Clarinet and the Mpingo tree, fostering a desire for a sustainable future.

    c4c4

    For more information on this wonderful organization, please visit: http://www.clarinetsforconservation.org/

  • APP REVIEW: FRAGMENT

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    You know a couple of app reviews ago when I said I was sick of Photo apps? Well guess what? I was lying. Now I'm REALLY sick of photo apps! Seriously, how many times can you repackage sepia photo filters?

    Trust me though when I say my loss is your gain. Much like my career as a Graphic Designer, when it comes to app reviews, I now consider myself an expert. Not out of some misguided sense of arrogance, but because I've made every single possible mistake along my journey that I now know what NOT to do. Does that mean every subsequent app review is going to great? Probably not. What I do know is what to look for when avoiding crapps (crappy apps).

    Does it's icon steal from the look and style of Instagrams? It's probably a crapp. Is there a list of "In-App Purchases" included in the App description? More than likely it's a crapp. Has it ever been a Starbucks Pick Of The Week? Then it's definitely crapp. Does that mean every single app that includes one or more of these outliers is automatically a crapp? Of course not. But even the most die-hard college liberal would be hard pressed to deny the fact that most stereotypes are based in truth.

    This week after searching for an app that combined a unique premise with great reviews, I found myself at the feet of Fragment. A photo editing app that features prismatic photo effects. What exactly does that mean? To put it in layman's terms, it basically makes your photos look like an indie rock album cover.

    indieIf your iTunes library resembles this collage, then you're legally required to punch yourself in the face.

    So how does Fragment work? Quite easily. From the user interface all the way down to the app's icon, Fragment has an aesthetically pleasing look and feel, capitalizing on the minimalistic trend that's popular in Graphic Design right now.

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    THIS! Right here. If you're new to graphic design, or you just plain suck, do yourself a favor and study this image. If you're going to ape anyone's style, please let it be Fragment's. The single most defining aspect of great design is simplicity. On the far left we see Fragment's splash page. No company logos, no title, no sign-up page, no notification inquires, no adds, just three options. Two of which are immediately engaging.

    Tapping on the Information icon on the top right corner toggles a legend (center and right image) that efficiently describes every single aspect of Fragment. Seriously! Look at that! The whole entire premise of the app can easily fit onto the front and back side of a business card. Not to mention the presentation lends itself to an incredibly simple / easy to follow format.

    Alright, alright, enough swooning. Lets get started. While peeking through example photos featured in the Inspiration selection, it seems like Fragment works best with landscapes. Unfortunately POW is based in Riverside CA, so the only landscapes you'll find around here are piles of dirt. Luckily, I hopped on my bosses computer while he was away and rifled through his pictures, discovering a beauteous photograph taken of Lake Powell in addition to several compromising selfies.

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    Once you take / upload a picture into Fragment, you're then prompted to select an aspect ratio. When cycling through the different dimensions, the areas that will be cropped out are darkened to give a better indication of where your image will cut off. You also have the ability to rotate your image as well as selecting no aspect, incase you like your photo as is. To keep with the indie record cover theme, I'll be selecting the 1:1 aspect.

    f3

    After making my selection, I can now scrub through Fragment's prismatic filter library. To do so, just swipe your finger to the right or left of the grey boxes to scroll through each option. As you can see, there's a circle at the top of the screen. When it looks like a blue donut, you can edit your image's appearance inside the filter by pinching two fingers and moving them accordingly to adjust placement, rotation, or size. When the icon above looks like two yellow circles, you can edit your filter using the same technique to make similar adjustments to your prism. Tapping on the top circle allows you to switch in between the two.

    The first three icons above the grey filter boxes are representative of these effects. Placement is represented by the 4 dots on the left, rotation/angle is represented by the speedometer / clock icon next to it, and the square within a square icon represents scaling. If at any point you are unsatisfied with your adjustment, tapping each of these icons once returns the image / filter to it's defaults size and position.

    The fourth icon, which looks like a pair of "shuffle" arrows randomizes these effects on both the filter and the image inside of it.

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    After much deliberation, I finally decided on a prismatic filter that looks like a fake-ass Van Halen logo. If you look at the previous image set, you'll notice a grey triangle on the bottom center of the screen. Swiping this triangle upward pulls up Fragment's image editing effects. The effects range from Brightness, Contrast, Additive, Blur, Invert and Desaturate. Keeping with the overall simplistic theme of Fragment, these effects work exactly like they sound. Each effect is represented by a circular icon on the top row of the image effects pull-up menu.

    A liner dial rests on the 2nd row of this menu. This allows you to adjust the intensity of these image effects. Swiping to your left increases the positive value of the dial, which adjusts / applies these effects to your base image. Swiping to your right increases the negative value of the dial, in turn effecting the image inside the filter. Finally, the bottom row features a line of swatches that lets you assign a color to each selected filter.

    After playing around with these tools for a good while, I finally decided on a combination I thought would look excellent on a bright white wood print. It definitely looks like an indie album cover, all that's missing is an indie band name that's just pretentious enough for kids to pretend they've actually heard of me when I play at next year's Coachella!

    Since I've already delved into several Graphic Design tangents throughout this review, every first year design student knows that the shortest distance between you and a finished logo is a crappy amalgamation using the initials of the person / business you're designing it for. Best part is my prismatic filter already looks like one of those stupid logos! Let's see, the shape in the middle looks like a seven, the one on the outside looks like a V, and the one in the center is tilted just enough to look like an A.

    Hmmmmm.... wait! I GOT IT!

    7VAI can already hear the keyboards!

    Yes, unfortunately my old fake band, Mötley Jew, has long since retired. I now urge every POW blog reader (all two of you) to check out my new fake band, Seven Vegan Astronauts. This summer we'll be going on tour with Washed Out and Kurt Vile! That's right! Come watch me strum 3 major chords + 1 minor cord on my Telecaster for 2 hours while whimpering metaphors into a microphone over an electronic drum beat! Did I mention i'm going to have a tambourine taped to my foot the entire time?

    Now let's see how well this holds up on wood...

    7VA_1

    Here I come! Today the internet, tomorrow the Grammys! Honestly, they gave one to Macklemore so it can't be THAT hard, right? (burn)

    So was Fragment able to keep it together or shatter into a million pieces?

    RATING

    Having cycled through several different photo editing apps over the course of these reviews, one aspect that gets frustrating is the amount of backtracking that takes place. Switching through filters in most apps requires navigating in and out of several different interfaces in order to access what you need. This creates a wider margin of error until you start to memorize the rhythm of the app. From the jump, Fragment has all it's features centrally located on one single UI, and what isn't shown is still easily accessible without losing momentum.

    When playing with Fragment, I felt that it's developers achieved a perfect balance between form and function. When apps lean too hard either way, it feels like they skimp on one to permeate the other. They end up being an app that's high on concept, but low on quality. Fragment takes a powerful stance on photo editing and combines it with an equally powerful design, resulting in a clean, fresh app.

    When conducting research for my review, I discovered that Fragment's developers: Pixite LLC, have also created several companion apps that work in conjunction with Fragment. Each of these focus on a different aspects of photo editing. While this might be the case, Fragment (despite it's name) works and feels like a full, complete, stand-alone application. Even more so when compared to standard apps that like to hide it's best features behind a premium.

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    For more information on Fragment, please visit: http://fragmentapp.com/

  • SACRED HEART IS NOW LIVE!

    jb2Prints On Wood is proud to announce our collaboration with Jennybird Alcantara on our very first diagonal wood print: Sacred Heart! 

    This 8" x 8" limited edition timed release will be signed and numbered by Jennybird. Scared Heart retails for $60 and will be offered on our 3/4" Bright White canvas. Sale ends Friday, May 17th at 12:00 pm.

    Order your copy of Scared Heart today!

  • APP REVIEW: HIPSTAMATIC

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    Do you have a closet full of Toms & Clarks tainted by the smell of never wearing them with a pair of socks? Have you shaved the hair off of one side of your head within the past six months? Do you use Halloween as an excuse to dress up as an obscure character from a Wes Anderson movie? Does Macklemore keep making his way to the top of all your Spotify playlists? Do you intentionally wear hats that are two sizes too small to compliment your greasy bangs? Are you so cool that you listen to bands that don't even exist yet? Have you ever tweeted about the evils of capitalism from your 4th generation iPad while using the free wifi at Starbucks?

    If you answered yes to one of more of those questions, then you're a Hipster. Symptoms include owning an 8' x 8' Ikea Expedit shelf full of old records, cultivating a stylish yet carefully disheveled appearance to distance yourself from your rich parents, and having an extensive collection of old cameras that stopped working long before they were donated to the thrift shop you bought them at.

    While we can't help with ALL of those problems, we can sure take a crack at the last one with Hipstamatic! An app so self-aware, it went from bad to good then back to bad again in a pretentious attempt at becoming ironic.

    HIP2

    Hipstamatic is a very unique app that captures the look and feel of vintage photography combining a clever plastic black gator-skin UI with all the bells and whistles found on the surface of older cameras. Although my support for hipster culture is only exclusive to drinking cheap beer on the weekends, I sincerely enjoyed all of these throwbacks to old school photography. While older technology might be less convenient, there's definitely an existing romance when you think of all the hard work, accuracy, and technique involved when taking pictures with a film camera. Not so much over all the trail error that came with the experience, but more because of the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment one experiences proofing the negatives after developing a good roll of film.

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    Given the current state of the whole digital photography/iOS experience, if you want to enhance the look and feel of your photo, all you have to do is swipe through a thumbnail gallery of different image variations before deciding on what filter to use when photographing your pumpkin spice latte to post on Instagram. In the good ol days (before people assumed that everyone wants to look at pictures of their food over social media), you would have to cycle through different types of flash bulbs, rolls of film, and lenses, relying on trail and error to determine the best way to take pictures. Hipstamatic combines the best of both by offering several several different "films", "flashes", and 'lenses" to use when taking pictures. Even though these are just different filters in essence, the overall user experience is presented in a fun way that seems to encourage more involvement in the photo taking process.

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    To better differentiate the separate effects each selection is capable of, Hipstamatic has a UI titled Pak Info that displays the icons of every feature included with the base version of the app. Clicking on each icon pulls up a screen that explains in simple detail how each filter works in terms of color and effect.

    HIP5Once again, the presentation is practical and explanatory. I appreciate the use of different photos as examples, I feel like it's a better way to gauge which effect would work best with your photo as opposed to seeing the same stock photo thumbnail over and over again.

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    Taking pictures is quick and easy once you settle on which features to combine for your photos. Once a lens is selected, you can adjust the barrel of the lens to increase the resolution of your photo. Now switch back to the viewfinder by clicking the U-Turn arrow at the bottom right, line up your shot within the viewfinder, and tap the yellow button... *KA-CHHH*, you're picture is taken. Hipstamatic also offers a neat feature that catalogs the film, flash, lens, date, and location of your photo.

    Since we've covered the bulk of Hipstamatic's features, instead of my normal step by step overview, lets just jump right into the picture we're going to print on wood! This week's unluckly participant is none other than POW's Rock 'N' Roll Bad-Boy, Michael Rey!

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    He's got tattoos, he looks great in skinny jeans, and he likes to pretend that he enjoys drinking tea. By hiding him behind a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and a poncho, we're going to see if we can appeal to our Hipster demographic and trick them into buying a bunch of black and white photo art wood prints! Speaking of wood prints, let's see how good this looks on wood!

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    Perfecto! Move over Chapulin Colorado, there's a new mexican superhero on the loose! Riding around town on a fixie bike criticizing the musical tastes of evil doers everywhere, El Inconformista wants the world to know he only drinks IPA Microbrews!

    So is Hipstamatic any good? Or did we think their old stuff is WAY better?

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    I was leery at first since Hipstamatic seemed like a cheap ploy to bank on the fickle sensibilities of Hipster's everywhere. It even has the word "HIP" in it's name, and given the negative connotation that word has garnered over the years, I assumed that this was going to be another gimmicky photo app. To a certain extent, Hipstamatic WAS gimmicky, but I mean that in the best possible sense of the word. As I've discussed in previous blogposts, developers don't need to invent a brand new premise to create an enjoyable app if they make it fun and unique. For me, the only downside of Hisptamatic was given all the interchangeable features included with the app, you're only allowed to take 1:1 square pictures. Normally I wouldn't care, but given all the Instagram clones I wade through every week for these reviews, the option to take photographs in a more traditional photographic ratio would've been a nice cherry on top.

    As for this week's model, Bad-Boy Mike, I'd like to put out a disclaimer that he is in fact NOT a hipster (despite how convincing he looks in that photo). I'd also like to point out that he's the front man for a totally bad-ass garage-rock band: Michael Rey and The Woebegones!

    If any of you got the Rock 'N' Roll itch, then this video is the only thing that can scratch it!

    For more information on Hipstamatic, please visit: http://hipstamatic.com/

    For more info on Michael Rey and The Woebegones, please visit: www.facebook.com/MichaelReyandTheWoebegones

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: JENNYBIRD ALCANTARA

    For those of us who grew-up with AOL and dial-up, the mere mention of artwork that features the mythological joining of woman and beast makes you wish you and your friend didn't go on the internet that one time his parent's weren't home. While this pairing is more commonly used to solicit cheap thrills, when done correctly, the combination of nature and femininity can make for some truly wonderful art. A perfect example of this would be the tasteful imagery contained in Jennybird Alcantara's oil paintings.

    This week we had the opportunity to speak to Jennybird about her floral interpretations of the capillary system, her affinity towards religious imagery, and her upcoming limited edition timed release with Prints On Wood.

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    JB1

    POW: You frequently unite the female form with different animals in your pantings. Why is that?

    JENNY: I feel very connected to animals, I love their physical beauty and am intrigued by the purity of their nature. I enjoy exploring the symbolism animals embody that have been placed upon them by humans as well creating new relationships with that nature as seen though my artistic lens. Since my paintings come from my own experience of life and I'm female, then it's most natural for me to focus on the female form in my work. When the 2 are fused together the female character is taking on the attributes of the animal character and visa versa.

    JB2THE FIRST BUNNY WAS A DEER by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that you were interested at becoming a veterinarian at some point. Would this explain the stylized dissections of your painted creatures?

    JENNY: I was never seriously interested in being a Veterinarian, I think this must have come from an Interview where I was asked about the animals in my work and I reflected upon being a young child and 'wanting to be a vet' when in my child mind that meant listening to their heartbeat and generally hanging out with them. I remember, at some point, realizing that a Vet had to sometimes 'cut them open' and that completely changed my mind.

    In general in my work I am interested in 'uncovering', the uncovering of what is hidden in the heart and mind, the secret places of the soul, the things beneath these flesh and bones that we all wear. Or as I've said before "what may be beneath the skin or under the petticoats of extraordinary girls" Dissecting the animal, human, plant body's and integrating them, hybridizing them with other parts of living things are in a way my metaphors and symbols of this life journey, they are keys to doors not yet opened, they are about uncovering mystery and finding connection in all living things.

    jb3ANATOMY OF ENDEARMENT by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: Many of your visuals parallel Religious iconography, such as the sunbursts, hand gestures, and suffering expressions in your paintings. Is this done to compliment or caricature the spirit of these themes?

    JENNY: I love the precious nature of classical religious and mythological paintings , the gestures, longing, suffering, Love, Reverie and search for enlightenment. I like to infuse into my paintings the feelings of a holy encounter with ones secret self, nature and the sublime mysterious unknown and 'Canonize' my characters giving them a similar 'Saintly' status as the figures in religious paintings of the past, while remaining separate from religious dogma.

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    TALISMAN by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: As a self-described feminist, do your thoughts and opinions on gender-equality ever manifest itself through your work?

    JENNY: I don't really see my work as political in nature at all, it's really more of place for my fantasy world to come to life.

    JB5SACRED HEART by Jennybird Alcantara

    POW: I understand that your upcoming limited POW release: Sacred Heart, is one from a series of four heart themed paintings. Could you describe the inspiration behind this image? How did this series come to exist?

    JENNY: I've been exploring the heart in different ways in my art for about as long as I can remember. The original idea for these 4 in particular came from the title of a painting I've yet to paint called 'Snow White Inside' the idea was basically what Snow White might look like inside her body. I wanted these pieces to be a mainly rosy and white palette. I have a recurring series of paintings that resemble pink dissections on a black background to enhance the feeling that you are looking at a foreign hybrid specimen of sorts, these 'animal heart' paintings are a continuation of that series.

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    Prints On Wood is proud to present: Sacred Heart, a sign and numbered limited timed release by Jennybird Alcantara. This 8 x 8 diagonal print will be offered on a 3/4" thick bright white wood canvas and retails for $60. Sacred Heart will be available for purchase on May 12th, where it's sale will continue through the week, ending on May 17th.

    For more information on Jennybird Alcantara, please visit her website: http://www.jennybirdart.com/

  • RIVERSIDE ART PARLOR: DREAMS COLLIDE

    I wasn't able to make it out to the Dreams Collide art show last Friday, but some of my co-workers did! Great, now all I need to do is see the pictures they took and try to make up a story or something to post in-between the pictures they took to grease the wheels!

    jeff1Photo by @jeffsotoart

    Wait? What's this? They forgot to take pictures? Aw nuts! Well, it's time for me to rely on my 10+ years of extensive experience as a Graphic Designer and do what I do best.... B.S.'ing people!

    jeffPhoto by @jdmorrisfinearts

    Every Graphic Designer knows that when faced with a huge project, the first thing you do is jump on the internet! Not so much to research the in's and out's of your projects, but to see how someone else completed a similar project and copy what they did!

    jeff2Photo by @jdmorrisfinearts

    So I decided to pay a visit to our competitors blog to figure out how to fashion a blogpost out of thin air relying on only hyperbole and bad jokes... until I realized I already do that to begin with! I mean I know I'm desperate to get my work done, but not THAT desperate. That would be like Glenn Danzig trying to copy Davey Havok.

    jeff3Photo by @hooligan_crew

    Onto Plan B... call Jeff Soto and ask him if we can come down and take some pictures! Wait, he's not replying to any texts? Damn it! Alright, I'll just try his brother on his cell. I'm sure he got some sweet pictures he can send us! Oh, he's not answering? For crap's sake!

    jeff4Photo by @damedrea

    That's when someone suggested I check Instagram. Uh, no doy! I spent all of 15 minutes looking on the internet, including Instagram, and came up with snuff. What now? Hashtags? What are those? Apparently through the use of internet magic, hashtags... um... well... I don't know what they exactly do per say, they just helped me find a bunch of pictures taken by the artists exhibiting at the show.

    jeff5Photo by @aaronmason81

    Like check out this teaser of a piece by... Aaron Mason? What the hell? I went to high school with this guy! We sat next to each other in 2nd year art class (he got an A, I got a D+). We didn't really get along too well, but he did draw a dope picture of Ben Harper & Jimi Hendrix once.

    jeff6Photo by@jdmorrisfinearts

    Or how about this beaut? Painted none other by everyone's favorite hardened-graffiti-artist-turned-mild-mannered-boy-next-door, Jeff Soto! According to the internet, he secretly owns Prints On Wood. I wish. If that were true, you'd see the two of us riding a tandem bike to Tony's everyday around lunch time. (Their shredded beef burritos are the bomb!)

    jeff7Photo by @dstroyr

    Dreams Collide runs until June 29th, so swing by and see what they got hanging. That Jeff Soto piece is still unspoken for, so if you got an extra 2k lying around, it's all yours bro!

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    For more information on Dreams Collide, please visit: http://www.riversideartparlor.com/

  • APP REVIEW: CUT ME IN

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    When I was 21, I worked at Kinko's. One night a woman came in to ask a question I would never forget for the rest of my life. She walked up and handed me a picture of her and her ex-boyfriend sitting together on a fountain while vacationing in Italy...

    HER: Can you print this?

    ME: Sure, let me scan it real quick.

    HER: Can you take him out?

    ME: Uh... I can crop him out.

    HER: *Ugh* Then I'll lose the fountain! Can't you just put a palm tree in front of him?

    ME: Do what now?

    HER: You know, take a picture of something else and cover him up! That shouldn't take too long should it?

    Really!? A palm tree? Smack-dab in the front of a fountain? Didn't she realize how corny that picture was going to look? Not to mention the dude had his arm around her. What am I supposed to do then? Photoshop a branch around her neck? (That's some Evil Dead $#!+ ) It's not her fault though, she didn't know. With the advances in technology since then, I think about that poor sweet lady from time to time. Was she ever able to find a way to enjoy that photo without being sullied by the memory of her ex-boyfriend?

    Well Ma'am, if you're still out there, I found the PERFECT app just for you! CUT ME IN is a beginner level app that allows you to mask out an existing photo and superimpose it on top of a different image. That's right, an app that finally allows you to cover up those pesky ex-boyfriends! Unfortunately, I don't know what ever happened to that woman, so I can't fix her picture. I guess the only logical option left is to use this app for what it was truly intended for... mockery!

    CMI_0

    The base version of CUT ME IN is free. It allows you to select one of several provided stock photo backgrounds to use. First thing I noticed was that only a handful of backgrounds images were taken at an optimal viewpoint to place a photo of someone into. The rest are just awkwardly angled. I noticed CUT ME IN featured the option to upload your own photo as a background, so I opted for that. When randomly selecting a picture from my camera roll to test things out, I was immediately notified that I had to shell out 2 bucks to unlock this feature.

    *Sigh* Alright folks, if I'm going to use my own money to review this app, then I'm going to make it good! Given the nature of this app review, I'll be using two images. The first picture we'll be using is this one I took of Prints On Wood's foxy young ingénue, Alex. ;)

    CMI_1Coincidentally, this is also the same face she makes every time I walk into the room.

    After spending $2 to upload this lovely image of Alex, CUT ME IN then prompts you to either take a photo, or use an existing one on your camera roll. Since I'm positive all of you are sick of my boyish good looks by now, I went into our workshop to take a picture of POW's 2nd hottest male employee, Wesley!

    CMI_2

    To recap: Your first photo is your background image, and your second photo is going to be placed on top. Once you shoot / select your 2nd photo, CUT ME IN allows you to mask out your selection. Using your finger, you can trace the outline of the object you'd like to place into your background image. This is where things get a little messy. There's no edge detection on this tool, only a little magnifying glass that appears to show you the detail of your line (which is helpful incase you have fat fingers like me).

    CMI_3

    As you can see, I was able to get the general outline of Wes' physique, but it's a little sloppy around the corners (my clipping mask, not Wes). One caveat about CUT ME IN is that with the obvious limitations in terms of cutting out your image, none of your finished photos are going to look realistic. But we all know this app isn't about realism, it's about having fun!

    CMI_4Noice!

    After cutting out Wes from his photo, CUT ME IN now places your selection from the second picture into the background image. As indicated by the wording at the top of the screen, this portion of the user experience is referred to as the Chopstation. The placement of images and assets in the Chopstation works quite similar to POW's Image Effects Editor. To scale or rotate the size or angle of your placed image, simply pinch two opposing corners of the box and move your fingers accordingly. To delete it, just tap the black X in the top left corner of your bounding box.

    CMI_5

    The Chopstation also allows you to add to your image with the offering of several tools. A Brush tool that allows you to draw on your picture, Stickers of hats and mustaches to place onto your image, a Text tool to place words on your image, and Word Balloons containing several internet acronyms (OMG, LOL). None of the word balloons seemed to match the impending look of doom on Alex's face, so I moved Wes out of the way to draw my own with the Brush tool. After drawing my sweet word balloon, I got hit with another impending charge when I clicked on Text to add some words.

    CMI_pree

    Apparently there's 3 versions of CUT ME IN. A free version, a version that allows you to upload your own backgrounds ($2), and a Pro version that features more stock backgrounds, the ability to add text, and the ability to upload your own background images ($3).

    When I was messing with the free version, I knew I wanted to use my own pictures, but wasn't too sure about adding text, so I paid the $2 to unlock the custom background ability. When I decided to upgrade to Pro, I thought that the cost would be compounded and I would pay the $1 difference. Nope. You have to pay a total of $5 to upload your own pictures and ADD text if you go about it the wrong way.

    Well that sucks. I was having so much fun up until that point. Screw it. I'll just add text to the final image in Photoshop. Speaking of, let's see how my Frankenedsteined foto turned out.

    MLADYYES!

    Tsk tsk. Here we see another sweet kind gentlesir getting freindzoned, once again, over the prospect of a euphoric evening consisting of watching Cosmos in his mother's basement while drinking Mountain Dew and eating Cool Ranch Doritos. How typical! It's ok Wes, I bet she doesn't even know who Neil deGrasse Tyson is!

    Now for the obligatory wood print...

    CMI_6It's not the fedora on your head, but the fedora on your heart that matters.

    So in conclusion, did CUT ME IN make the cut?

    RATE

    After we all had a nice laugh about the final picture, based on all the fun that was had, I was going to give this mother a 4. Then I took into account that the final images produced by CUT ME IN are incredibly low rez. The app also offers no image editing features in terms of lighting/sharpness/color, which would greatly contribute to the overall experience. Since we still had a lot of fun, I was going to downgrade the rating to a generous 3. THEN I remembered how I was swindled out of $2 dollars to upload my own pictures and nearly strong-armed into paying another $3.

    In my opinion, it would've been less insulting and more intuitive to offer two versions of CUT ME IN. A free version, and a premium one. To pay $2 to unlock one single feature is absurd. To pay another $3 on top of that to unlock more is superfluous. A better solution would have been to bundle everything together for one cost instead of tricking unsuspecting rubes (like myself) into paying a little now, only to pay more later. Taking all of that into consideration, despite all the fun, CUT ME IN garners a solid 2.

    After spending all of $2 on a humorous second-rate app while lampooning two unsuspecting participants (I didn't tell them what these pictures were going to be used for), I've decided to clean the sour taste that CUT ME IN has left in my mouth by ending on a high note.

    Please accept this nice, normal, crush-worthy photo of Alex and Wes as atonement for my d-baggery.

    POWBABES

    Wow! Check out those beautiful blue eyes! Those full soft pink lips! That alluring yet seductive european jaw-line! Hotdamn! Wes is a STUD! Oh... and... uh... Alex is pretty cute too. But what's this?

    yuckIs it me, or did this picture just got a whole hell of a lot hotter!?

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    For more information on CUT ME IN, please visit: http://www.applauseapps.com.au/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: JAZZBERRY BLUE

    In addition to having a pen-name that sound like a delicious Squeezit / Blow-Pop flavor that would inevitably stain your teeth, Jazzberry Blue is kind of a big deal around here. Ever since Jazz uploaded his stylized maps onto the Prints On Wood artist gallery, he has become our number one selling artist for the past several months in a row. This week I hatched an elaborate plan while twirling my mustache to uncover the secrets of his lucrative success under the cunning guise of an interview. But alas, all was for naught. My nefarious scheme was foiled by Jazz reciprocating with intelligent succinct answers that in no way were indicative of his clever business dealings.

    *SHAKES FIST* 

    You win this round Jazzberry!

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    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    POW: When I was visiting your website I noticed that your portfolio contains 60+ maps of major cities. Are you a Cartographer by trade, or is it more of a hobby?

    JAZZ: Definitely not a cartographer. I am basically more of an abstract artist who got sidetracked while seeking new shapes and curves and compositions. Maps wonderfully puzzle together thousands of in-congruent little pieces to generate a particularly grand composition you cannot find anywhere else in our world.

    JBB_1JERUSALEM MAP by Jazzberry Blue

    POW: A large portion of your work contains stylized illustrations of exotic locations in the form of maps and posters. Have you had the opportunity to travel the world and visit all the destinations featured in your artwork?

    JAZZ: I ended my formal education during my first year of university with plans to travel the world. My first stop was India which became my home for several years as I was able to live a modest, stress-free life selling original paintings to tourists. Because of visa restrictions, I had to spend a lot of time in a few other countries throughout southeast Asia and the middle east, but I always found my way back to India because really found peace amongst the people and their culture. I don't create a lot of artwork related to India because it has been a difficult emotional transition back to the west and I am trying to re-develop roots in my homeworld before I loose touch completely. Learning digital design has significantly helped me relearn and re-pace myself the language of our modern systems.

    JBB_2VISIT INDIA by Jazzberry Blue

    POW: When illustrating an area you haven't actually visited, do you perform any sort of extensive research into the history or aesthetics of the location? Do you also implement the same process when illustrating a map?

    JAZZ: In general I try not to do any research. I try not to work with reality as my muse which is required for the maps. I am a perfectionist so structured maps cause me to dwell in extreme closeups and city plans for too long. After each map I have to make several abstract or surreal pieces just to keep my mind balanced or else I feel like I am actually working at a job.

    JBB_3IMAGINE THERE'S NO HEAVEN: THINGS YOU CAN'T EAT IF YOU'RE MUSLIM OR JEWISH (DISCO PARTY MIX) by Jazzberry Blue

    POW: Your surrealistic illustrations remind me of old Jazz records. I see a lot of Jim Lora in your style, who's well known for his artwork featured on prolific Jazz records during the 40s and 50s. Are there any other lesser known artists, be it from this genre or time period, that you feel influenced your style as an artist in any way?

    JAZZ: I love the jazz inspired work of Flora especially during his forages into the macabre. Even without knowing their names artists like Flora, Shag, Steinweiss and David S. Martin have had a large impact on my work, mostly through second hand or even third party sources as their visions have formed the basic structures of modern digital graphic design and illustration as a whole. it is hard not to be over-influenced by any such individual creator who have perfected their own techniques because I am still developing my own illustrative style.

    JBB_4JUNKMAIL by Jazzberry Blue

    POW: As a featured artist on Prints On Wood, your map wood prints continue to sell incredibly well. What is it about these prints that you feel makes them resonate so strongly with our visitors?

    JAZZ: Maps have a wonderful ability to transform between strange abstract formations and identifiable locations which speak to individuals on a global level. Your Birch wood appears to provide the perfect organic balance to their modern urban designs, creating unique, ready-to-hang wall art.

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    Thank you for your time Jazz, from one beatnik to another... namaste!

    For more information on Jazzberry Blue, please visit his website at: http://www.jazzberryblue.com/

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