Recently in Of Interest Category

The Grammar of Paisley

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Paisley Butterfly, originally uploaded by jfrancis.

While modeling a riverboat in Maya for a project, I noticed that the railings, balconies, porches, and windows around the boat were essentially identical to the same elements on the grand houses of the day. The ship makers used stock carpentry items.

I began to wonder if their was a 'grammar' or 'template' for 'riverboat' that was separate from the specific design, much as the underlying structure of this blog is separate from the particular CSS-implemented style (I use Minimalist Brown). What would, for example, a medieval riverboat look like? I could picture it.

When I was working on this paisley design, which I tried to open the paisley idea up to include natural forms like a butterfly, I used pattern brushes I created in Adobe Illustrator that I could quickly draw and place by fitting them around bezier paths. For the patterns, themselves, I was inspired by other paisleys, and mehndi. I started to wonder if their was a grammar for 'paisley' that could be translated to other cultures.

Some other questions I wondered about...

What would happen if I applied a Renaissance or Medieval style to the James Bond template?

Can one apply an African style to the Harajuku template?

In honor of the Fangoria Convention winding up today here in LA, I was inspired to bust out a few horror-related memories kicking around in the back of my head.


First: Bernie Wrightson.

When I was a kid, we used to make occasional trips for reasons of my English professor parents usually having to do with theatrical performances or theater history library visits. When we travelled, I used to manage to drag them on brief detours to places of interest to me, like Davenports Magic Shop or Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed in London, or, in the case of Bernie Wrightson, to the NY Comic Arts Gallery at 214 Sullivan Street.

I had the poster depicted above hanging in my bedroom (to my mother's delight), and the full poster advertised the opening of a Bernie Wrightson show in Manhattan, and it provided the date and the time. As luck would have it, we were to be in Manhattan then, so I persuaded her to swing by.

Disclaimer: what follows is the hazy memory of a 14-year-old that dates to 1977. It may be quite inaccurate, but this is what I recall now.

We had to climb a set of stairs. The walls may have been white. On the second floor we arrived at a smallish gallery. The walls were white. On the left, immediately at the doorway, was a desk behind a low wall, so that you could easily see the desk surface, but you couldn't see below the desk from where we stood at the entrance. A man sat at the desk. He was friendly.

The walls featured a bunch of Bernie Wrightson artwork contemporary to that time. I enjoyed looking at it.

The man behind the desk asked if we had any questions. I forget what we may have asked, but his answer went something like this (as I recall):

Bernie usually starts with a small detail. An eye, maybe. And develops his work around that, building outward. (again, this is not a real quote. This is a paraphrase of a quote, dimly remembered, and may not be accurate)

The man behind the desk went on.

I have some of my own artwork with me. Would you like to see it?

Sure, I said.

The man behind the counter brought out some posters on heavy stock. They depicted nude, pregnant women in profile wearing gas masks. I recognized it as the work of artist Jeff Jones. I was pretty amazed at the time to be meeting Jeffery Catherine Jones in person. I was also a big fan of his work.

This was around the time that Jones shared workspace in Manhattan's Chelsea district with Bernie Wrightson, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Michael William Kaluta, collectively named The Studio, so it is plausible that I am remembering this correctly.


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skullphone, originally uploaded by jfrancis.

Skeletal Pegasus street art on the remains of a ghostly Mobil (?) station on La Cienega near La Tijera and LAX. I have since learned this is the work of 'skullphone.'

(I added his URL to the photo, using Photoshop's 'blend if' to tuck the type seemingly behind the chain link fence. It's essentially a luminance matte.)

My 'Skullphone' Flickr set (4 photos)

Letter from Santa

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Here's a letter Santa left us today. It turns out Santa Claus and Paul Cezanne had the same handwriting. Merry Christmas!

Bar Code Art by Scott Blake


I got a nice postcard from artist Scott Blake. I had written to tell him how much I enjoyed his Bar Code Art. We share a common interest in exotic halftones.

Originally uploaded by jfrancis.
I just signed up for a flickr pro account. One of the functions of the account is the ability to blog photos.

I'm curious to see exactly what this entails.

I've composed this blog entry on, instead of through my usual blogging software.

end of entry ----X

I'm editing the entry in my usual Movable Type blogging software now. The entry above is more complexly formatted than those I usually make.

It'll take some getting used to, but I suppose it has its uses.

San Diego Comic-Con 2005

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I've always had a bit of a soft spot in my (head?) for comics, so I thought I'd check out the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con last weekend.

Parking in San Diego was scarce that weekend. I took a hint from the Comic-Con web site, parked in a distant lot (still paid $14 for the day), and walked to the covention itself.

I registered on-site and although the line looked like it could represent a 2-3 hour wait, it moved so fast that I was inside in more like 30 minutes.

I only budgeted about four hours for my entire visit, so I skipped the many presentations and classes and confined myself to the exhibition floor.

I think on some level I imagine myself making a comic of my own some time down the line. I found myself interested not so much in the slick presentations of major corporations, but in the stories of the smaller imprints.

Here's a sampling of some of the people I met:

It'll take an investment in some specialized equipment (courtesy of eBay) but you can make your own View-Master reels.

E3 2005 Photos

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There's plenty of E3 2005 photos on the net. Here's a few more for the pile.

Outpost Sign


In 1924, the Hollywood sign had a companion, a giant red neon sign that dominated the hilly terrain above Hollywood Boulevard's Chinese Theater. In its day it was more noticeable than the "Hollywoodland" sign. Whatever happened to it?

If you hike up the hillside near my home known as Runyon Canyon, you can see the over 80-year-old remains of the sign, rusting on the hillside to this very day.

People hike past this ancient twisted metal every day without realizing what a piece of Hollywood History it is.

If you'd like more information about The Outpost Sign, there's a Visiting with Huell Howser episode (#1029) devoted to its recent "rediscovery" by the residents of Outpost Estates.

Darkness and Light

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Compare a county-by-county 2004 electoral map with a NASA satellite photo of the United States at night.

*** UPDATE 3/31/2005 ***

Following a link from the Air America web site on the eve of its first anniversary, I see the "purple map guy," Robert Vanderbei, also made this comparison

*** UPDATE 6/6/2005 ***

Even more on US state maps and their statistical interpretations. Link.

Red vs Blue: One More Time!

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Yes it's another electoral map.

I've seen blended red, blue, and purple maps, and I've seen maps with surface area altered to reflect population, but I haven't seen any map address the fundamental unfairness of comparing a strong red to a strong blue.

Google "RGB to Luminosity" and you'll see that there is a weighted average that represents the relative strengths of colors in human perception. The common equation for converting RGB to Luminosity according to the National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) is:

luminosity = 0.299 x red + 0.587 x green + 0.114 x blue

To put this equation to use in Photoshop, use Image > Mode > Grayscale. Do not use Image > Adjustments > Desaturate -- that is the wrong equation. To see why it's wrong to use "desaturate," check here.

You can see from the maps above that a strong blue has the same luminosity as -- not a strong red -- but a pretty dull red.

Hollywood Glamour Photos


It was twenty years ago in the Summer of 1984 that Charlotte and I first met in Providence, Rhode Island. She had just graduated from RISD, and I was home for the summer from Duke. The two of us were working in a sandwich shop called Penguins on Thayer Street across from the Avon movie theater.

I recently saw an exhibit called Return to Elegance in the Lobby of the Arclight Theater in Hollywood. It was the work of local photographer Roger Gania James -- a collection of Hurrell-style Hollywood glamour photos with a vintage 1940's look. As a 20th wedding anniversary gift to me, Charlotte agreed to sit for him. Some of the results are above.

UPDATE 6/1/2005:

You wouldn't know it from Google, but he has a web site. Thanks to one of the commentors below for finding it.

Here is the contact info he provides:

He's really great.

UPDATE 5/1/2006

Some other California photographers working in a vintage style.

Glamour Portraits by Mark A. Vieira, Hurrell's biographer, in Hurrell's original studio with Hurrell's own lens.

Film Noir Portraiture by Jim Ferreira

Clair Obscur Gallery

UPDATE 8/13/2006
Mark Wangerin has an Amphoto book coming out late in 2007 entitled How To Create Vintage Hollywood Lighting in the Digital Age according to his web site.

Locas: Jaime Hernandez Art Book

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I saw on one of my favorite blogs,
that one of my favorite comic artists, Jaime Hernandez, co-creator of Love and Rockets, has a new 700+ page anthology of his work on sale, Locas, courtesy of Fantagraphics Books.

I've illustrated this entry with a piece of Jaime Hernandez's original art I bought a few years back. I love his draftsmanship and economy of line.

Julia Sweeney: Letting Go of God



Julia Sweeney's latest one-woman show, Letting Go of God, opened this weekend at the Hudson Theater in Hollywood. I was lucky enough to get tickets to her sold out performance this afternoon, which included an invitation to a party afterwards in celebration of her show's premiere, and of her birthday, which also falls today.

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