Tag Archives: design

Getting Prettied Up

Lookin’ good.

You might have noticed that the blog has a new look. (Because that’s the kind of attention you pay to my blog, I know.)

Thanks to the generosity and help of Claire Ryan (@rayntweets), things are (I hope) a little easier to read and a little more interesting to look at.

I’m only about halfway through the transition, so until the next generation of posts makes its way through the system – the posts where I make sure to pick a featured image, that is – you can expect to see some random X’s in the format.

Please excuse the dust as it settles, and let me know what you think of the new design!

In the meantime, please read Eve Ensler’s excellent piece on the “Legitimate Rape” comments made by members of the US Republican Party. (Wouldn’t be me if I didn’t chuck those politics in, eh?) I’ve been thinking a lot about that situation and am still piecing together my thoughts.

A Grand Design – Cover Art Input Needed

Last week, I announced my intention of publishing my produced plays, to date, on Amazon. Given that the plays are in performance-script stage, and putting them together is largely a matter of technicalities, I started planning my cover design – because that’s really what I need at this point.

I spent a few minutes discussing my ideas with a co-worker (happy to name him/link to his tumblr if he sees this and would like, but also want to respect his privacy) and his perspective as a graphic designer was (as the opinions of graphic designers always are) quite useful.

Basically, he confirmed my feelings: my produced plays should have a unified look, which meant a unified design that can stretch across multiple plays (while also separating them from my other fiction).

So I started looking at the published plays I own. Here. Have a look:


(And yes, that is my foot in the corner.)


So, these plays. I could talk about these plays a LOT. Like seeing David Tennant for the first time in PUSH UP, and thinking, “Man, he just LEAPS out from every single other person on the stage.” Or how much it meant when Jo Clifford, who was my MFA supervisor in Edinburgh, personally addressed a copy of EVERY ONE to me. Each of the other plays has its own story; if people want to read, I’m happy to blog them in the lean times. Or maybe they deserve their own book.

Anyway. So, having studied the plays, here were my thoughts:

1. Samuel French and the Marlowe both demand that the reader know the playwright before purchasing. The newest of the plays, Ali Smith’s The Seer, was probably a well-performed piece, the play’s blank title and lack of imagery doesn’t really speak to me; I saw it (probably reviewed it) but the blank cover doesn’t give me any kind of aide memoire. I don’t remember much about The Seer, or ever feel inclined to pick it up. No good for a newish playwright, then.

2. The black-and-imagery with the colored spine of the NHB releases speaks most strongly to me as a reader. The images are evocative. They feature live performance stills – and this is where my plan to use these as the template falls down. I don’t have live performance shots of all these productions. I could do video capture stills, but…

3. A number of plays (Clifford’s is just an example) featured imagery rather than literal representation of events portrayed in the script; Yazmin Reza’s DESOLATION is another example of this. (Reza, for those who don’t make the immediate connection, also wrote ART). THE NIGHT SHIFT by Mark Murphy is somewhere between items (2) and (3), with a stylized image that evokes the mood and staging of the play, if not the literal photos one might expect to see.

Where did all this bring me?

The following four versions of an image. Your thoughts would be much appreciated. I’ve settled on the basic elements: the lefthand colorbar and wash over the rest of the image (color will probably change from one play to the next) and the representational photography, but the way those are used, the photograph itself, the fonts that the play names (which, for those who want to know are POST, Playing it Cool, Stuck Up A Tree and Mousewings)…those are all open for discussion.

But I’m trying to make a basic template. And I’d appreciate your input. Here’s what my ideas amounted to on Thursday night:

Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit…anywhere you think might be useful. Opinions on this one are crowd-sourced. Let me know what you think, and know your thoughts are appreciated.

Just Start

Back when I worked as a receptionist at an architecture and design firm, I sat in the front of the office at a long, black desk. The desk housed my computer, a bunch of binders, some folders, business cards, pens, papers, staplers, random antiques, and more. Because it was a fast-paced small business, it was easy for my desk to become – I don’t want to say “the office dumping ground,” but…let’s call it as we see it.

Needless to say, a cluttered reception desk is not a desired feature in an award-winning design firm’s front office, and from time to time a fresh start was needed. The challenge, when this happened, was to figure out where to begin.

It’s not unlike writing. I have a number of projects “on the go,” so to speak, and there are times when I know I have an hour or so to work and just cannot figure out what to work on first. My friend’s novel edits? My own fiction? Maybe I should work on restyling my website. Or is it actually the living room that needs cleaned, the bathtub that needs scrubbed out, the bookshelf that needs to be moved into the other room and re-organized so I have a peaceful writing nook in the corner?

At times like these, I think of one time when I needed to clear off the reception desk. We’d received a special Magic 8 Ball as a Christmas present from one of our contacts, and I had made it my own, keeping it nearby because instead of the standard Magic 8 Ball answers, the company had had it customized with their own funny sayings and pieces of advice. As I stood and stared at the pile of papers, files, books, my boss’ personal belongings, stacks of business cards and more, I remember feeling that same richocheting feeling of desperation for prioritization.

I picked up the Magic 8 Ball and spun it around in my hands for a few seconds, more to give my mind something else to focus on than anything else, and said in a quiet voice:

“Where do I even start with this mess?!”

I flipped the 8 Ball over and waited for the geometric bubble inside to settle on which face held my fortune. When it did, I laughed out loud. What was the Magic 8 Ball’s advice?

“Just start.”

I try to think of that advice when I can’t decide which project to give priority to. Just start. Just get something moving. When there are forty thousand things that need to be done, doing one of them takes it down to 39,999 things. Which is still a lot of things, but is one fewer thing than you had to do before.

I try to remember that now, when I hit moments like this morning: up two hours before my alarm, trying to make the best of my time because I know I’ll be tired by the end of the day.

Just start.

Ninety minutes later, I’ve edited another 5-6 pages of a friend’s novel, written a thousand words on Electalytics, and finished this blog entry.

So if you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed, I share with you the advice from that Magic 8 Ball:

Just start.