Get out the vote on November 4th, 2014

The Voting Information Project is offering free apps and tools that provide polling place locations and ballot information for the 2014 election across a range of technology platforms. The project provides official election information to voters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and voters can find answers to common questions such as “Where is my polling location?” and “What’s on my ballot?” through the convenience of their phone or by searching the web.

The only way a set of resources will be effective is if they make it into the right hands, so if you’re eligible to vote in the US Midterm Elections, take advantage of these tools and share them with your readers.

More info – http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/2014-midterm-vote/

Simon Bike Riding

My son and I decided to make a “super BMX action sport video” together. He cruised around on his bike, pretending to be Matt Hoffman while I followed him on my skateboard with the camera.

Here’s the resulting video; shaky, out of focus, and rough editing – but so, so so much fun!

Music is “our Swords”, by Band of Horses.

Laurel Skatepark- BMX Photos

I hit Lansdowne one January morning by myself then met up with my friend Ed for a session at Laurel skatepark in the early afternoon. The pad nanny wasn’t at Lansdowne and I was able to ride that park without full pads for the first time in many, many years. I opted to wear my helmet but even so, skating Lansdowne without pads really reminded me of the old free-for-all days of the 80’s and 90’s.

I remember back in the day there used to be a lot of tension between BMXer’s and skaters, especially out at Lansdowne. Things got crazy, they got tense, and they even came to blows on occasion. Time went on and eventually a lot of the knuckleheads quit skating and a lot of the knuckleheads quit riding bikes. Tensions subsided, friendships were forged, and rad sessions were had. Those of us who were left, BMXers and skaters alike, realized that it didn’t matter what the other guy was riding; We were all in it together and we were all after that same feeling. That feeling was all that mattered.

Twenty years later and it’s still all that matters. I’m stoked that on that day at Laurel I got to skate with, and photograph, a rad BMXer named John Burnie.

August Rocked

August was a great month with 2 much, much (much much much) needed vacations.

We took a short trip to Knoebels amusement park with our friends the Bowman’s, of Amerikan Made Prints (check out their work!).

Knoebels

Knoebels, located somewhere in the vast expanse of Pennsylvania (Elysburg PA), was a fantastic amusement park. Admission is free (you pay for the rides) and the park includes a traditional amusement park as well as a water park.

Credit for all photos in the gallery below, and for the featured image above, go to my lovely, talented wife, Jennifer Smutek.

Ocean City, Maryland

Our trip to Knoebels was followed by an amazing week at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. This was a really fantastic trip. our son is 4 years old now, which is such a fantastic, magical, fun age. Here’s some snaps from my Instagram feed.

…and some snaps from Jennifer’s Instagram feed.

August was a super fun month and those two trips were a great way to wrap up my first full year of being fully self employed. Now, school’s started, for Simon and for me – I’m taking 3 classes at night and trying to grow my little business, and my career, during the day. I’ve got a lot of challenging stuff on on my plate that I’m ready to take head on.

Now, it’s time to get back to work. 🙂

Samaritan Project Poster

This is a poster that I created for a poster design class I took in the Fall 2012 semester at University of Baltimore. The design was for an event called “The Samaritan Project”, with readings honoring the victims of human trafficking.

The project brief required that any illustrations should be symbolic – while the subject matter is admittedly dark there should be some sort of hope being shown.

After cycling through some ideas I eventually came up with the idea of a single white rose standing defiantly on a dark, barren landscape.

I wrote down what I saw in my head then did sketches. Here’s the concept –

A dark, barren, broken, empty landscape – alien, like the surface of mars, or hell – picture Mordor in the lord of the rings. The sky is dark, full of menacing clouds. The ground is cracked and broken, and the cracks spell out (creepy) phrases. The entire image is dark, black, dark greys, and splashes of red punctuating and emphasizing the cracks in the ground.

Rising out of this dark landscape, in bold defiance, and contrast, is a single flower. A white rose, in bloom. Symbolizing love, purity, virtue, honor, and hope – spiritual states which transcend the physical. The rose rises boldly into the the skyline, it is the focal point, it is centered, it is a woman, she is a survivor, her purity and strength of spirit transcends physical transgression.

Visually the blooming rose will be the letter O in the word hope, with the remaining letters hand drawn and rendered similar to vines, but in a translucent white.

The cracks in the ground will also be hand drawn, and rendered as the dark survivor testimony. They will be chaotic, going all over the place, breaking the ground up and forming pits, illuminated by red below.

The image will be set in portrait, fading to all black at the bottom, where in a white, classic serif font will be the title – in caps – THE SAMARITAN PROJECT – break – Readings honoring the victims of human trafficking (mixed case) – break – tertiary info.

Here’s the final sketch –

Poster sketch by Jimmy Smutek

I considered using other flowers, most notably the eglantine rose, which symbolizes “a wound to heal” – but I decided against it because I wanted the symbolism to be spiritual and entirely positive. Something to stand in absolute contrast to the horror of human trafficking.

Here’s a couple of shots of the work as it progressed. I used a combination of tools for this project – Pencil and paper, Cinema 4D to help get the perspective correct, Adobe Illustrator for building the flower, and Adobe Photoshop for coloring, texture, and mood.

The only conceptual draw back I found with the white rose was that it is associated with funerals – regardless, the white rose represents grace, dignity, reverence, resistance and non-violence, so I decided it was fitting as a symbol of hope and resistance for both the survivors and for those who did not make it.

Here’s the final poster –

samaritan project poster by jimmy Smutek

Digital Artifacts

I ran across this stuff while rooting through a backup hard drive one evening. It ranges from, I’d guess about 2003 up until maybe 2009 or so.

None of it is particularly ground breaking, but what struck me about this stuff is that, with the exception of one piece, none of it serves any sort of design function whatsoever. For the most part it’s just stuff I made just for the hell of it. Creativity for the sake of creativity. The tools used runs from Illustrator & Photoshop, to Poser & Cinema 4D, to pencil, marker, and paper. There’s even a charcoal drawing, for gods sake!

I used to do this sort of stuff all of the time, and, when I look at this stuff it reminds me that I used to create, simply to create. It affirms what I already knew – that 6 straight years working in extremely fast paced production environments, well, it wasn’t healthy for my creativity. I pretty much stopped doing this sort of stuff.

I’ve recently executed a pretty major career shift. Almost 2 years ago I moved from the production heavy design environment to a WordPress development shop in Towson then, nearly one year ago, struck out on my own. I’m currently self employed as a web designer, working in the WordPress space. The really cool thing is that learning is exciting again, things are fresh and new again, and I love feeling the creativity in me waking up again.

Hell, that’s one of the main reasons for this blog. Creativity for the sake of creativity.

Awesome! I’m looking forward to making more weird cats, robots, UFO’s and bucket heads!

Arlington & Fairfax Skateparks

Skate video I shot while on a road trip to Northern Virginia’s Arlington & Fairfax skatepark’s with my friends Bill, Ed, Justin, and Rex. Great day with great friends.

This was my first time out with my D5100 and my first time seriously trying to edit, and my first real video! I have a ton to learn and I’m stoked to learn it. Available in HD (720p) if you click through and view on Vimeo.

Tunez: Iggy Pop, The Passenger

First foray into data bending

Inspired by Jamie Boulton’s post on his blog, Question Something, I tried my hand at data bending yesterday.

Bill Carlile at Waldorf skatepark
Bill Carlile at Waldorf Skatepark

John Bernie at Laurel Skatepark, by Jimmy Smutek
John Bernie at Laurel Skatepark

As far as process goes, I used two photographs that I took with my Nikon D-5100. I did initial edits in Lightroom a good while ago and that was about it, until I ran across Jamie Boulton’s article.

After reading a few more articles on data bending and glitch art I revisited these two images. Each image was opened and edited in Audacity, an audio editor, where I applied various effects and saved the results out. I ended up with about 5 glitched versions of each image, which I then composited in Photoshop to get the end results.

Technically these aren’t pure glitch art (I guess?) since I used an image editing program to create the final composites, in addition to data bending with Audacity.

This was a really cool, fun process that I definitely plan to explore further.

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