The Art Assignment #4: Never Seen, Never Will

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A paper town.

I know they “exist”. But I’ve never seen one. And I wouldn’t know one even if I did see it. Paper towns are fake locations placed on maps by cartographers as a form of copyright protection. If the fake town appears on any other maps, the original map maker will know their work was copied.

Of course most of us know this because of John Green’s book Paper Towns, which was just optioned by Fox last week to be made into a film starring Nat Wolff. But I still think it’s a really cool concept and wanted to spend some time with it in this week’s Art Assignment.

All of the text comes from scanned pages of my original ARC copy of Paper Towns. The map is my girlfriend’s Oregon map (her home state). And the sky is a simple watercolor wash.

This isn’t the first time I’ve designed a “paper town”. Back in 2007 before John’s book was released, in fact, before the cover was even revealed, I designed this:

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I modeled the paper town in Cinema4D and then added the text in Fireworks. John liked it and passed it on to Penguin, but obviously nothing came out of that.

No bother, I like today’s design much better!

If you haven’t yet, watch this week’s Art Assignment, and subscribe, PBS and host Sarah Green are doing a phenomenal job with the new show.

Average Guy (Lastufka Remix)

Okay, here it is! My remix of Raven Zoe’s song “Average Guy”.

Raven released her latest EP Hesitated in October of last year. Then started reaching out to producers to work on a remix for each song on the EP. I chose “Average Guy” as the song really spoke to me musically. When I hear the original recording, I feel like I’m sitting in a dark smokey early era jazz club. I love it. I didn’t want to try to recreate that vibe with my remix, so I instead went for more of a late 90s pop remix. The kind you’d hear thumping out of a car during summer vacation.

Raven’s vocal tracks are the only original elements I used in the remix, everything else is new and exclusive to this mix. The remix features my friend Robert Kyle on saxophone. As I was putting the project together I programmed some sampled horns to accent the chorus, and I liked them so much I reached out to Robert to record a few riffs on his sax. In three full takes he freestyled over a rough cut of the remix and I edited the best parts from each take to create the sax you hear on the final remix.

I’ve known (and been a fan of) Raven for about five years now. Back in late 2009/early 2010 we worked together on what eventually became my first full-length studio album, Erase This. Raven and I co-wrote four of the songs on Erase This, including “Making A Scene”, the opening track on the album. “Making A Scene” also features Robert Kyle on saxophone, so I felt his performance here was a nice nod to the past, while creating something completely new today.

Raven and I have also produced a music video for the remix version of “Average Guy”, which will make its debut in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy the remix and check out the full Hesitation Remix EP, which is available now on iTunes.

Click here to view this post on tumblr.

Full song credits:
- “Average Guy (Lastufka Remix)”
- Written and originally performed by Raven Zoe.
- Remix produced by Alan Lastufka.
- Remix features Robert Kyle on saxophone.
- Assistant Producer / Mixing Engineer: Christian Caldeira.

The Art Assignment #3b

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The third episode of The Art Assignment was released this week and artist Toyin Odutola challenged us viewers to gif something that is intimate and indispensable to you.

Yesterday I created a gif set entitled MUSIC and talked a bit about my relationship with musicians and songwriting.

Today I decided to follow my MUSIC set with a gif set called PAINT and WORDS. Two mediums I’ve personalty utilized over the years to connect with and express what is important to me.

My aunt taught me to paint growing up. She owned her own crafting business with her husband, he would cut and carve figurines out of wood and she would paint them. We’d all sit around the living room table from Thanksgiving to Christmas helping to put the green base coats on to a thousand little wooden Christmas trees as their business boomed every winter. Those memories are indispensable. Most years at Christmas I still paint my mom something for the holidays.

We had a neighborhood library growing up, close enough for me and my brother to walk to during summer vacation. It wasn’t big but it packed every square foot with shelves. This was before libraries offered computers for the public to use or anything like that. But one weekend my dad took us to the downtown library. The library that had more than one floor. The library that had statues and big conference rooms filled with big conference tables. And books. So many books. I was excited just to browse, not to mention all the reading I’d get to do after that trip. I still feel that same sense of wonder every time I open a new book.

A few years ago my first book was published by O’Reilly Media. It’s now in its second printing and way out of date, as technology books tend to get in a hurry. But it was a great resource when it was first published. I hope some day I get the opportunity to be published again.

Yesterday’s MUSIC gif set was very colorful and bright. Today’s PAINT and WORDS gif set is desaturated and a bit darker. I guess that’s because I use music to lift me up, while I use my words or my art to dig a little deeper, or to confront pain. I think. Anyway, I’m very happy with how these turned out as they are only the second batch of animated gifs I’ve ever made.

Here are a couple ‘behind the scenes’ photos of the face writing. I used my girlfriend’s eyeliner pencil because that stuff comes off way easier than marker.

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Click here to view this gif set on tumblr.

The Art Assignment #3

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PBS has partnered with Sarah Urist Green, former Indianapolis Museum of Art curator, to create the web series The Art Assignment. Each week The Art Assignment features a new artist and that artist proposes an assignment for viewers to complete on their own at home.

The third episode was released this week and artist Toyin Odutola challenged us viewers to gif something that is intimate and indispensable to you.

For me that would be, of course, music. Music has been my coping mechanism my entire life, from a rough childhood, to young adult break-ups, to the stress of running my own business… I put my headphones on or pick up my guitar and all of the bad stuff melts away.

So I made a little gif set that features Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, one of my favorite albums and the album that has inspired so much of my own original music. My headphones, my second home. My guitar, not the first instrument I ever picked up, but the one I’ve written the majority of my original music on. And a set of VU meters from Cubase, my recording software of choice since high school.

All of these brief moments above are indispensable to me. And every private conversation I have with songwriters from Kurt Cobain to Trent Reznor to Tori Amos are as intimate as you can get. Mini confessionals told with backing harmonies.

I love it.

Here are a few behind the scene photos from today’s gif’ing. All of the gifs above were filmed on my Canon 7D, the raw video footage was edited in Sony Vegas Pro, and the gifs were edited and created in Photoshop.

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Click here to view this gif set on tumblr.