Recent Work – Attack of the Remake (Infographic)

I debated back and forth about whether or not to share this piece. This is the semester-long project I mentioned that I completed half of the night before it was due. I’m not one to usually publicly bash my work (since I believe half a designer’s job is selling their work even if they don’t love it themselves) but I’m sharing it because it was a great learning experience and I hope my readers can glean something useful from it even if I’m not personally thrilled about it.

I tackled the issue of horror movie remakes, focusing particularly on the spike between 1998 and 2010. I extensively researched horror movie remakes released in US theaters, when they were made, how many were made, and what horror sub-genre they fell under. The most prominent remakes – 65% to be exact – were slasher films and paranormal thrillers (ghosts, demons, evil spirits, etc). Why? Because they’re cheap and easy to make and have a built-in cult following guaranteed to turn up at the box office. B-movie slasher remakes have some of the smallest production budgets, yet end up busting the block with teens and nostalgic horror fans. The 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre worked on a measly $9.5 million budget, and raked in over $100 million. Maybe a financial success, but no surprise critics hated it (rating a 36% on RottenTomatoes). In fact, critics hate most remakes; the average rating for remakes being 36% vs 70% in favor of the original.

So if the mere mention of a remakes causes most critics and audiences to cringe, why do filmmakers keep making them? Well duh. Because despite our disgust and the awful reviews, we as moviegoers keep handing over our money to see them. So long as fans keep paying to see bad remakes, filmmakers will continue to butcher every classic horror movie we horror fans hold dear. As George A Romero once said, “Horror is the genre that never dies.” But over the years, the lack of creativity and prominence of money-hungry, ego-driven filmmakers has spawned a terrible monster of a trend that needs to be killed.

My initial system for this project was hand-drawn elements, to reference old horror movie posters that payed a certain attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship, unlike the cookie-cutter remakes today. This is where I think my project fell short. My research was fully developed, but my visual concept was not. I was too fixated on creating an old horror movie poster with a hand-illustrated classic monster and I don’t feel it really works for enhancing my message. If I were to redo this project (which I likely plan on doing), I’d like to hand-draw a classic slasher icon like Leatherface to better align with my information. It really just goes to show how important lesson #2 is. Develop strong concepts first! Then make graphics.

All in all, I’m not entirely disappointed with this project. I finally learned the valuable lesson that being a designer is much more than just making good-looking graphics. A weak concept can bring a well-designed project down. With that said, I’m definitely up for the challenge of making this a visually and conceptually successful infographic.

What lessons have you learned from unsuccessful projects?

Work in Progress – Attack of the Remake

I’m currently working on an infographic poster about horror movie remakes. I’ll have much more to share about this project as the semester goes on. Up until this point, I’ve spent the last several weeks gathering data about horror remakes (how many have been created, when they were released, what the most popular themes/monsters in remakes are, how the production budget compares with the box office gross, and how the remakes rank up against the originals according to critic reviews). I still have a lot of detailing to do on this illustration, but just thought I’d show a little preview of my current work in progress!

Wedding Chalkboard Signs – Rachi & Jeremy

My friends Rachi and Jeremy just tied the knot yesterday and I was more than happy to paint up a few chalkboard signs for their special day. I think I need to start making a wedding business out of this, haha. These were made on just plain wood boards that I painted black and used white Sharpie paint pens for the lettering.

Recent Work – Pearls & Type: A Specimen Book

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been putting my blood, sweat, and tears (literally, several paper cuts and tears of frustration ensued) into this type specimen book for my Typography class. It’s been one exasperating journey, but all of my hard work has finally paid off and I have a lovely little font resource book to show for it.

The premise of this project was to create a font resource book that not only included a reference for different font-families, but also showcased those fonts in action with running copy. Since I first became interested in typography, type specimen books filled with nonsense words designed in delicious typefaces really inspired me, so I was excited to create my own. I used the Washington Post article “Pearls Before Breakfast” by Gene Weingarten as my narrative text. In short, the article covers a social experiment conducted by the Washington Post where world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell played beautiful symphonies in a busy subway lobby just to see if anyone would even notice him. It’s a social commentary on how the fast-paced blur of our daily lives literally renders us deaf and blind to the beauty around us. I thought this subject tied in pretty nicely with typography and design as well considering how often great design goes unnoticed and the fact that graphic design and type are rarely considered a high art forms. Anyways, it’s a great article and you can read it here at

Here are just a few select spreads from my book. All pages were hand cut and hand bound. 6”x9”, 33 pages, accordion fold

Design Student Diary – Process Makes Perfect

I’ve officially concluded my fourth week of school at SDSU! Getting to this place has been one hell of a journey and I’m pleased to say that so far it’s been well worth the struggle.

The graphic design program at State is intense. We work on a handful of portfolio worthy projects and are challenged to meet industry standard expectations. Even though I’ve been working as a freelancer in the design field for over 5 years, I’m still constantly learning and being challenged by these courses. As I work on each project, I’ll be posting about my process, some insight I’ve gained, and any tips I think might be helpful to other novice designers.

In my Graphic Design II class, we’ve been working on branding a neighborhood in San Diego. I was lucky enough to be assigned El Cajon Boulevard, which runs right along where I live, so I’ve become pretty familiar with the area.

If there’s one thing State has taught me, it’s that process is incredibly important. I had to learn this the hard way last semester when a project I worked my butt off on was given a D+ just because I skimped on the sketches. Since then, I eat, sleep, and breathe the early stages of developing a design. Here are a few of the steps I’ve been following for the process of creating a brand:

Process Makes Perfect

1. Gather References & Inspiration

Probably a good 50% of my time designing is spent on gathering inspiration and becoming acquainted with my subject. Seeking out visual stimuli gets my creative juices flowing and studying the content sets my brain in the right direction for developing a proper design. For this project, I walked around El Cajon Blvd with a camera in hand, snapping up all the reference images I could to inspire the feel of my design. El Cajon Blvd is a historic route, shaped by the evolution of the automobile. On every street corner, retro style signage point to auto shops, and neon lights evoke the nostalgia of an era when driving was for entertainment and not just convenience. I wanted my design to embody this throwback to old cars and 1950s drive-thrus.

2. Create Sketches (and lots of them)

I sketched at least 30 combinations of cars, old signs, typefaces, and whatever other retro insignia I could imagine. Sketches are a huge part of the early design process and the amount of effort you put into the exploration of your idea truly dictates the final result. Your first idea might be great, but there could be an even better idea lingering on the tip of your pencil.

3. Make Variations

I don’t do this all the time; in some cases, time just doesn’t permit it. But giving yourself a variety of “semi-finished” designs may open your eyes to something you overlooked in your sketches. I was originally going to go with my first sketch of the car at a slight angle, but after sketching a few other versions in Illustrator, I actually found that the last car I sketched translated the best as an icon. After I decided on my icon, I made several more variations with type and then even more with color. Exhaust all your efforts until you find the one that works the best without a second thought.

Even after all of that, I’m still working on several revisions of this design. This project is a work in progress for the next couple weeks, so I’ll make a new post when the design is finished! Stay tuned!