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Monthly Archives: June 2014

  • APP REVIEW: FRAMETASTIC

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    As a starving college student, I’m always looking for free or cheap things. This app fits into the first category, and is actually none too shabby. What I really liked about it is that it basically gave me the option of combining several photos into one, both with a variety of frames or a collage option.

    When you first open Frametastic, this is basically what you see.

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    To start, you can either choose to arrange your pictures in frames or a collage. I chose frames, purely because, well, the app is named for its fantastic frames. Out of 9 pages of frames for you to chose, there are 3 ½ free pages, which I decided to stick with for the above mentioned reasons. Again, though, the free options basically covered every kind of frame I’d want to stick pictures of my cats, I mean, friends in anyway. If you are richer than I and do want to buy the bonus frames, they’re pretty reasonable; just $0.99 for all 62.

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    Click on your favorite frame, and this is what you get, these wonderful grapes. Yep, those are the first thing to go. As the app instructs, the way to add your photos is to tap on the photo you want to replace. Simple enough, and you get to choose between taking photos with the app or using some from your library.
    Not going to lie, I got really excited when I first downloaded this app because POSSIBILITIES. With several ideas already in mind, I made the mistake of going on Pinterest. Yes, I’m a teenage girl. Sue me.

    Now overly excited, and with far too many ideas in mind, I decided to go with the simplest option just stick with the first idea that popped into my head when I gazed upon this wonderful app: a photo montage of LOVE spelled out by bodies. That. . . sounded unintentionally gruesome. But really, this is a classic. I know my mother has forced my siblings and I into this exact photo op at least twice in the last 19 years, usually for Christmas cards and the like. Or, you know, if she felt like it. Anyway, I decided to share the love (no pun intended) in this particular case and recruit some of my coworkers for help.

    Some of our studly production team was more than up to the task, immediately agreeing to pose. Using my regular camera app on the iPhone, I snapped all of their pictures against a plain background and set to work. As mentioned above, all it takes is a tap to replace those grapes.

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    Then the real fun begins. At the bottom of the interface is a toolbar of sorts with basic features, allowing you to change the width and color of the frame, round the corners, etc. Another tap of the already replaced picture allows you to alter the photo itself, either magnifying or changing the filters. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the options presented. I mean, the standard iPhone camera app has cooler filters. Instagram definitely does. Most of the crappy filters are free (good.) though there are also several additional ones that you can purchase. Again, it’s not too pricey; you can get all 18 extra filters for another $0.99. I stuck with the free ones.

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    Come on, moms of the world. That’s totally something that you can brag about to all of your friends over coffee. Better yet, just keep your beautiful wood print in your purse so you can drag it out the second someone claims that their kids are cuter. We definitely thought it was worth printing on wood:

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    Overall, I’d give this app a 2.5 out of 4.

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    It was very functional and simplistic, which is not a bad thing considering that it was free to start with. It was easy to use, and I was reasonably pleased with the finished product. The filters sucked, which was my only real complaint, though if you really wanted to, you could probably edit them with some other app before you stuck them in your frame.

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    For more information on Frametastic, please visit: http://imaginaryfeet.com/frametastic/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: TRAVIS LOUIE

    Before our sit down interview, I was only familiar with the works of Travis Louie, not the man. Given the aesthetic of his art and involvement with burlesque-esque art shows (and his... uh... *ahem* "anglo" sounding name) I naturally assumed Travis Louie was some buffalo-plaid wearing rockabilly doofus you'd see pounding quarters on a table top at some crummy dive bar in Long Beach every time "The Wanderer" played on the jukebox. You know, the kind of guy who still owns a chain wallet with an 8-ball embroidered on the front because he thinks it compliments his Rottweiler tattoo.

    Much to my surprise, the man that actually showed up to our building was a stout, well dressed Asian gentleman with a killer ponytail and a cartoonish Brooklyn accent. During his visit, I was able to squeeze in a few interview questions while he was signing his limited edition wood print that was going to be available at Beyond Brookledge.

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    TL1

    POW: We're all familiar with your vintage styled monster portraits, but what I'd really like to know is how your artwork looked like before you settled on this particular style. Where you always painting monsters?

    TRAVIS: Yeah, in one way or another. I think my work, like a lot of other artists, is about identity. One of the reason why I paint these monsters is because it's sort of like a veiled take on racism. Instead of making my artwork really political and putting people of color or of other ethnicities, I chose something that could represent everyone, which would be these unusual characters and their stories. Most of the characters are immigrants. It's sort of like... you ever see that TV show Taxi with that character Andy Kaufman played?

    POW: Latka?

    TRAVIS: Yeah! Latka Gravas. He's not even from a real country but we accept it because we know that before World War I, that part of the world was many countries. Many little countries that were changing constantly, then all of a sudden *BOOM*, this one's gone another one's here. Just like that. They just made up a country just like I made up these monsters, these characters, and they would have the same problems that anybody would have if they were different. As human beings we gravitate toward people that are like us, right? That's why we even have racism in the first place. It wasn't always just full of malice, at first it was more like a protection thing. That's why a zebra knows that "Hey, that's a lion! It doesn't look like us. Stay away from the lions, they've eaten us.". Same thing, just not exactly.

    TL2ZOMBIES by Travis Louie

    POW:  was watching an interview that when asked about the biographies that accompany some of your portrait pieces, you said that you spend a lot of time writing about your characters before painting them. Has there ever been an instance where you spent more time writing than you actually did painting for a particular piece?

    TRAVIS: Sometimes. It's funny, I just have notebooks full of, sometimes simple descriptions, and some of these things never become paintings. I'm always people watching wherever I am and I spend a lot of time in Chinatown, in Queens, and through parts of Manhattan looking around at people, especially during rush hour.

    It's best when it's the summer. When it's 98 degrees outside and I'm just kind of watching the subway, it's amazing. People look just so... defeated, but some people don't. They're like "Hey man, I'm not working now! This is great!" you know, freedom. So I always try to imagine "What did that guy do for a living?" or "Where did he come from? What is that person's story?" I think we all kind of do that don't we? You do that don't you? You know, you'll be at like a McDonalds or something and some guy walks in and he's got a gimpy leg and you think "I wonder how that happened? Was it always like that?"

    POW: "Maybe he was a pirate?"

    TRAVIS: Yeah, you see what I mean? You always just try to imagine these things. So then I write these little stories because I imagine somebody sorta/kinda like that. Also, a bunch of the characters are based on people that I actually know that have little quirks, and I expand on those.

    POW: Touching on that... does anyone you know ever sort of bother you and ask "Oh, hey! Draw my picture!" or "I've got a cool idea for a painting.... me!" ?

    TRAVIS: It happens. I think that's kind of normal. It's like your on Facebook and you post something and your friends will respond like they're your friends, but every now and then you get someone who will respond where it's always about them somehow and you're like "I didn't even talk about that." People are like that, they can't help it.

    TL3FLOWER SISTERS by Travis Louie

    POW: When I look at your artwork, I'm immediately reminded of Felix Nadar's photographic portraits.  I know people like to ask "who's your biggest influence" in terms of artists, but is there a specific photographer you would say that inspired your current style of painting?

    TRAVIS: A guy who lived across the street from me. His name was Elliot Schierer, he was a photo-retoucher who worked in the 1950's. I used to go over there and watch him when I was a little kid. The guy was terrific, and I think he had the most influence on me. It was a different time back then, computers didn't exist, so he would do his retouching right on the negatives. I mean, who does that anymore? It was pretty remarkable, the stuff that he did, and I learned a lot from him. That's probably the biggest influence in terms of photographers.

    As far as a visual style is concerned, it's more about everything that I've ever seen from that time. It all started with those Julian Margaret Cameron photographs I saw years ago as well as all these numerous cabinet cards that I would see in peoples houses. Photographers who were like that was just their job, anyone who would just take portraits. Back then it was more complicated, but it was a way that anybody could get a portrait done because it wasn't as expensive as hiring a painter. Getting a portrait painted was a big deal, it still is today. Most people didn't have that kind of money, but photography was the great equalizer, so a lot of people could just get that done. That's been quite of an influence on my work.

    TL4MONTYS DAY OF THE DEAD by Travis Louie

    POW: I've read that you said you settled on this style of imagery 6 years ago. As an artist, where do you see yourself 6 years from now? Do you still think you'll be continuing this theme by then?

    TRAVIS: I don't know. Things evolve, or devolve, who knows, things change. I see the stories expanding. I also see more complicated paintings with more figures in them than just one or two. I'll probably be doing less paintings at that point because of the time it takes to paint that many characters. I always wanted to do a painting like a Bruegel painting. There's one really great Bruegel painting called Children's Games. It's not a gigantic painting, but throughout the painting there's all these wonderful little old games that we used to play in the streets. There must be a hundred kids in this painting, it's pretty amazing!

    TL5THE AMAZING MORT by Travis Louie

    POW: You recently reached out to POW to produce 100 limited edition wood prints for Beyond Brookledge, an event you'll be attending. Could you tell us a little bit about this event, your limited edition print, and the connection between the two?

    TRAVIS: The connection is through Baby Tattoo and Bob Self. He's the publisher of my book and I always participate in the Baby Tattooville project, so I consider this event as a sister or brother to that. As far as the image chosen, we wanted something that was a lot like what Beyond Brookledge is. To me, Beyond Brookledge is like Vaudeville. I just imagine all these jewish families getting on buses or getting in their cars and traveling to the Catskills in the 1940s to stay at one of the resorts so they could see Henny Youngman, or... who else was around back then? Shecky Greene, George Gobel... they were these stand-up comics that showed up in the early 1950s.

    But it was more than just that, you could see many kinds of variety acts, and that's what this is like. You got people that are doing magic, you got people that'll be doing a mime act... I mean, a mime! How cool is that!? Where do you see a mime? It's a great mime! It's Billy the Mime, and he's amazing! Have you ever seen The Aristocrats? That's him, and that's pretty awesome.

    POW: How would your fans be able to get one of these?

    TRAVIS: They got to come here (Beyond Brookledge). They got to participate and become part of the show, then they can get a print.

    POW: Cool, thanks Travis.

    TRAVIS: No problem.

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    Unfortunately, Beyond Brookledge has come and gone. (I was too busy designing the booth for Dwell to post this interview.) Those of you who were able to get one by attending, congrats! As for the rest of you... there's always next year. ;)

    For more information on Travis Louie, please visit: http://www.travislouie.com/

    For more information on Beyond Brookledge, please visit: http://www.beyondbrookledge.com/

  • "CHILDREN OF THE SUN" BY ANA BAGAYAN

    What do aliens and art have have in common?  Lots of things, but one undeniably is Ana Bagayan's new art exhibit "Children of the Sun." A few weeks ago Prints on Wood stopped by the opening reception at Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City to meet Ana and talk about her interest in all things extraterrestrial.

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    Just a few minutes after meeting Ana, her gracious and kind demeanor overcame any nervousness about meeting her in person.  She is as beautiful as the subjects she paints, which interestingly have similar features to her own.  Is it me or does it seem artists unintentionally paint subjects with uncanny resemblances to themselves?  Or maybe it's intentional. Either way Ana was a joy to meet in person.

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    Ana moved to Big Bear, CA a year ago to focus on her painting and upcoming art exhibits.  On her hikes around the mountain Ana collects rocks and flowers which she incorporates into art pieces, either as a frame or added details to the piece.  These little art pieces are often available on her website and a few were available at the opening.

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    With so many great pieces it was hard to pick just one favorite, but this interesting piece titled “Dark Matter” kept catching our eye.  Although our opinion was slightly bias, as it reminded us of our black cat "BK".

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    While walking around the gallery, we stumbled upon a small collection of works by Jeremy Fish.

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    The frame was as equal an art piece as the art it framed!  The attention to detail was evident in every inch of the piece.  It was something to behold in person.

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    Other pieces were unframed but cut out to the shape of the art piece, which start the wheels turning at the R&D department of Prints on Wood.  Hmmm, will the future behold cut out prints on wood???  Only time will tell...

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    Ana Bagayan’s exhibit will close this Saturday, June 14th, if you are in the area, drop by to see “Children of the Sun” in person.  For more information regarding Ana Bagayan or Jeremy Fish art work availability please see www.ThinkspaceGallery.com

  • APP REVIEW: FRENCH GIRLS

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    Having the slightest artistic inclination usually warrants unwanted advances in the workplace. I'm not talking about being on the recipient end of inappropriate suggestions or unwelcomed leers. No, I'm talking about people you secretly hate asking you to illustrate the dumbest crap. "Hey, I hear you like to draw! Can you paint a picture of Tinkerbell in my daughters room?", "Could you design a Christmas Party poster for the breakroom?", or as I've waxed poetically in the past: "KAN U DRAW MY PIKTUR!?".

    The worst part is they expect you to do all of this for free. Would a carpenter build you a beautiful cabinet only for you to post a picture of his work on your Facebook page in lieu of a payment? Would a plumber unclog your toilet for free if you promised him that you would tell all your friends what an awesome job he did instead? Would Nicolas Cage take any film role just because it was offered to him? Yes... yes he would, but those other 2 guys would probably tell you to go pound sand.

    For those of you who might find yourself cornered into a similar situation since you're too timid to reply with a firm "NO!", I've discovered an incredibly passive way of avoiding this. The next time someone wants you to draw a picture of them "with bigger muscles and a smaller forehead" for free, just direct their attention to the app, French Girls.

    What is French Girls you might ask? Well, it's a free community driven app that allows you to upload a selfie to a network of images. From  there, random users are able to choose from this collection of photos, and if you're lucky enough, they'll select your photograph and draw your likeness.

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    When you open up French Girls, you're taken to random collection of 9 photos. Once you select one of these images, you then have the ability to draw the likeness of the image you've selected. Since this eponymous app's namesake is taken from a reference made in the film Titanic, I'll be submitting this sultry photo of myself laying on my side à la Rose Dewitt.

    FGDoes this excite you?

    Alright, so while we're waiting for the birth of my masterpiece, lets take a stab at drawing some of the lovely people who were brave enough to submit pictures!

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    Looking through the submissions, I decided to sketch this picture of a dapper wild-eyed gentleman for my review. Now lets see what French Girls has to offer in terms of drawing.

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    First lets start with the Pencil tool. Tapping on it's respective icon not only accesses the tool itself, but it also open a slider allowing you to adjust the width of your line which is represented by a circle that scales representatively.

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    The next tool over is represented by a cartoon ghost wearing a chain around his neck. (Huh?) Clicking on this pulls up French Girls' shop. Turns out this tool is cleverly titled "Ghostface Fillah". The chain around Fillah's neck means that this tool is "locked" (nyuk-nyuk), and can be unlocked for a mere 99 cents. But what exactly does this tool do you might ask? It allows you to adjust the transparency of your lines and colors for shading/artistic effects while drawing. While this can be a useful feature, I'm not too sure about how much time I want to invest in drawing pictures of complete strangers, so I'll pass.

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    If you look to the center of the tool bar, you'll see a colored circle. This allows you access a basic color pallet that comes free with the app. If you feel the overwhelming need to expand your color palette at any given moment, French Girls allows you to purchase any of 9 additional color libraries for low-low price of $1. Each one of these libraries contains 5 colors each. Once again, I like to draw, but I'm not sure how inspired I can get with the premise of drawing random people making stupid faces.

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    Finally the last two tools to the right of the color picker is the Undo tool (counter clockwise arrow), and an upside-down blue triangle that removes the UI and isolates your illustration. Now that I have the jist of French Girls features, lets see how my illustration of our swarthy friend turned out.

    fg7Close enough.

    Incase you couldn't tell, that illustration took all of 5 minutes to draw, which apparently isn't enough time for someone to draw my picture since I haven't received any updates on my submitted image. I decided to kill some time by drawing some more, hoping that in the meantime someone would take on the challenge of drawing my freakishly large skull on their tiny iPhone screen.

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    So apparently this guy thought it would be a good idea to take a selfie in the dark, sparking my irrational fear of seeing the outline of a face peeking in through my window at night. I thought I would be nice and draw a picture that looks less creepy, but given my fat/shaky drawing hand, I managed to achieve the complete opposite. Although I feel like I was able to capture the fact that this guy would start breathing heavily while hiding in your bushes pretty well.

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    Given the fact I make the same exact face every time I walk into a room with a box of donuts, there's no way to sugarcoat this one... that rabbit is going to get violated. I hope whatever that stuffed rabbit suffered after this picture was taken was quick and painless. :(

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    This looks like one of those pictures some doofus takes after tricking their friend to look directly into the camera. "Hey, does the lens look cracked to you?" *CLICK*. Although the end result of this prank normally doesn't look like a disembodied head floating in the dark.

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    This one reminds me of those Octomom-looking wax lips the ice cream man used to sell, except for the fact that no one ever told me they were wax! I always just assumed they were made out of incredibly stale bubble gum. As inedible as they might have been, they're still nowhere nearly disgusting as candy corns.

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    I realized halfway into drawing this one that a huge double standard exists amongst the way people view the Ginger community. Why is it that fair skinned, red-headed girls are considered to be attractive whereas fair skinned, red-headed boys are considered to be an adopted child deserving of physical abuse? I decided to right this wrong by drawing a picture just as lovely of a guy with red hair... that is until I realized all of the red headed males who submitted a selfie looked like Beaker from Muppet Babies. (ME-me-ME-MEEE!)

    fg13"It took me like three hours to finish the shading on your upper lip"

    Yeah, I know, I'm a jerk. Now that there's at least seven people who now regret the decision of uploading their picture to French Girls, lets see if anyone took my bait and drew a picture of myself nearly as bad as the ones I drew of others.

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    While I can't refute the content of their message, I'm a little disappointed I offered up a cringe-worthy photo for a complete stranger to ridicule and got a factual statement instead. Normally we like to create a wood print in conjunction with my reviews, but I'm not going to waste our precious recources on something I'm constantly reminded of every time I look in the mirror.

    So was French Girls able to stay afloat, or sink to the bottom of the ocean?

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    Although a bit of a novelty app, French Girls has a unique premise. When browsing through submitted images, there are some truly wonderful artistic interpretations. What I like most about them is how unpredictable these illustrated selfies can get.

    fg15Some people like to break down the fourth wall...

    fg16Others make you feel a little guilty for laughing at them...

    fg17There's a couple of smart-allecks who like to get esoteric...

    fg18And much to my surprise, there actually seems to be a (small) group of people who like to draw pictures nice enough to show your friends.

    Bottom line is if you can take a joke and have a great sense of humor, then French Girls is definitely worth checking out, and if someone is nice enough to draw a cool picture of you, you can send it to us to turn into a wood print! ;)

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    For more information on French Girls, please visit: http://www.frenchgirlsapp.com/

  • CHOPPING BLOCK: VESSDSIGN

    I spent the majority of my twenties working graveyard shifts, lifting boxes, cleaning bathrooms, picking up trash, and changing oil. At the time, the idea of going to college and working a job where I was able to do something I was good at/enjoyed was a far-off distant fantasy. Although it gets suffocating at times, given the option, I'll always choose the opportunity to work in a creative commercial setting over unloading trucks at 3am. Not that there's anything wrong with that type of work, it's just that I was never any good at it.

    Graphic designers are basically blue collared artists. For those who are actually good at design, it can be hard, honest, steady work. Even though it might not be as glamorous as the life of a fine artist, it's more stable. Some people like to take this challenge a step further and work for themselves. While this can prove to be slightly more chaotic, it offers a unprecedented level of freedom in terms of creativity.

    While freelance can become difficult for more simple minded graphic designers (like myself), there's a small group of people who flourish under these particular circumstances. Bulgarian designer, VessDSign, is one such person. To borrow a line from Kevin Durant, in regards to Vess and other freelance graphic designers like herself... "You're the real MVP!"

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    V1

    POW: Some artist's like to paint landscapes, while other's like to work with figures, but you seem to specialize in Geometric patterns. Why is that?

    VESS: I come from a very strong Corporate Design background, and an year ago was looking for a little "escape" from my usual work. As a designer (I consider myself more a designer than an artist) you should try everything, and find out what you enjoy most. I probably should mention that I studied Architecture, so the Geometric Designs came more or less natural to me. They give me the freedom to express emotions using simple forms on the one hand and unlimited color options on the other.

    V2MOUNTAIN SUNSET by VessDSign

    POW: I noticed that a few of your pieces aren't patterns, which also seem to be illustrated in a completely different style. What inspires these artistic deviations?

    VESS: I like to try everything - styles, forms, colors. That is the reason my illustrations are quite different from my pattern work. Music is my usual inspiration, alongside art from the 50's and 60's. I have a huge passion for vintage typography too, just waiting for the right time to create some new designs, which are also going to be totally different from what you have seen until now. :)

    V3MAGIC WOOD by VessDSign

    POW: Most artist's I speak to either begin working in Graphic Design before transitioning into Fine art, or manage to juggle both amongst their professional and personal life (Graphic Design during the day, Fine Art at night). As someone who seems to fall into the latter category, do you feel that one contributes more greatly to the other, or are both mutually beneficial?

    VESS: Both are mutually beneficial and I cannot do one without the other anymore. Some of my Geometric Patterns transitioned and developed into logotypes and some of my typographic work will soon transition into new designs for Prints on Wood.

    V4GET ME TO THE BEACH by VessDSign

    POW: Given the extensive collection of Logos in your body of commercial work, what do you feel are three most important principles of design that make for a good design?

    VESS: Good design comes from the gut, you have to feel it. It doesn't matter if you are creating a logo, an illustration, or a pattern. I know that I've created something good when I get the little butterflies in my stomach. Yeah, some people get that when they're in love... which makes me in love with my job I guess. Ergo, there is one important rule about design: it has to be personal and honest (ok... two rules).

    V5Various Logo Designs by VessDSign

    POW: Assuming that you began your foray into Graphic Design based off of the creation date on your Facebook page (2009), over the past 5 years, what is the most important lesson you've learned to keep yourself happy working as a freelance designer?

    VESS: You just said it . I keep myself happy working as a FREELANCE designer - this gives me the freedom to try out different things, to gather different experiences to be able to say "No, I am not going to work for you!" or "Please, just let me do this one project so I can prove to you how good I am".

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    To learn More about VessDSign, please visit: http://vessdsign.tumblr.com/

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