When I was Creative Director for my former employer Webinar Resources, we built QR codes, that is Quick Response codes, into many of our campaigns. I liked them so much I made a header graphic for our Facebook page meant to celebrate their functionality and their high-tech look. They appealed to me for design reasons as well.
We put QR codes on any surface we could think of – door knockers, cards, posters, electronic slides, buttons, t-shirts, holiday wrapping… I’m probably forgetting some. Eventually I even had a rubber stamp made of a QR code for my online store! I also made some graphics at my boss Mark Rice’s direction along the way to try to show how they work.
I thought for awhile that it was difficult to get people to adopt QR codes and that they might die out. That possibility was disappointing to me because they are useful and a lot of fun. But while working on Marketing and Communications homework for my classes at Webster University recently, I’ve snapped some pictures while doing research that make it look like QR codes are here to stay after all. It’s possible that the COVID-19 pandemic may have helped speed up the adoption of QR codes a bit because they provide a quick way to disseminate information without people having to touch anything. QR codes are also easier to access now because in many cases you don’t need to install a special app – on my newest iPhone the QR code reader is built right into the camera.
I have a client who is appearing in a live performance in two days in Scottsdale, Arizona. This morning I took some graphics off of some of the existing promotional and ticketing web pages and made a collage of some of them with a QR code on it. My intention was to make something fast and easy for people to share if they are inclined to, with the link built in by way of the QR code so that people who are interested can get to the ticketing page easily no matter how the graphic is shared.
There is a lot you can do with QR codes if you build them into campaign planning at an early stage. Even when you are under a time crunch, incorporating a QR code into a shareable graphic for social media is a very convenient way to spread information.
Sometimes I find and save advertising materials printed on nice paper. I might like part of the imagery, or be attracted to the weight and feel of the paper, or both. It’s sometimes less intimidating to start an art journal page on paper that already has something on it than a blank piece of paper. In this article I’ll show you two ways to creatively alter found papers with text on them.
Tools and Materials Assorted found papers and scrap papers Clean scrap paper Stencils Markers and other drawing and coloring implements of choice Painter’s tape or masking tape Scissors Glue stick Burnishing tool
First, select a piece of paper with text on it, and a stencil. Tape the stencil in place over the text. Using the marking implement of your choice, outline the openings in the stencil only in the spots where there is text to cover.
This results in an interesting effect. The text turns into a texture rather than something you read, and the resulting graphic effect might suggest what to do next to finish the composition. You might decide to color in some or all of the outlines you just traced over the text.
In the example above, since I’ve used permanent black Sharpie markers, I can use almost any medium I want to add color if I want to.
There is no need to restrict yourself to using a black marker. My brother got off to a very good start on this page. He took advantage of the pale text to use colored Sharpie markers. If he wants to work on this page more it has a lot of potential. Note: my brother died about three weeks after making this page. I don’t know if I’m going to add to it or keep it as is, but it’s in my art journal.
I have a real weakness for amoeba shapes and any graphics that suggest mid-century modern imagery. I cut these blocks of text from a magazine because of the pretty shapes and colors backing some of the text.
The article I took these cutouts from was about work-life balance. There are some words in these paragraphs that would be good to have in my art journal, which I use as a self-care tool as well as for creative expression. I covered up the words I didn’t want to see with strips of scrap paper and left exposed the words I did want to see. When the glue was dry enough to handle, I trimmed the shapes. Toward the end, I got tired of gluing paper strips and for the last few lines I wanted to cover, I used a yellow opaque paint marker to finish off these pieces.
Some people compose prose or poetry this way, by removing words instead of writing them to make new compositions. In this sample I was mainly interested in making a visual statement, and I treated the words as random elements. But if you wanted to, you could make a carefully considered visual AND literary statement by selectively covering words.
Here is a two-page spread using both techniques from this article together. I think these two pages are almost complete. I’ll think about them for awhile before doing anything else to them, if I decide they need more.
It helps that these two found pages here were already strong graphically, which was part of the reason why I was attracted to them in the first place.
Following are more art journal pages that I started by selectively covering text. Enjoy!
Art journaling is an activity that helps me a lot with self care, artistic expression and just general management of life. Lately I’ve been experimenting with combining some artistic expression with material I’m learning in Social Engineering class. There are a lot of acronyms and concepts to remember – things that lend themselves well to bullet journals, art journals and chart and graph type graphics.
These pairs of pages you will see are in progress. I made them to have something to do adult coloring and other paper craft based activities on when I want to relax and be creative for a bit. As I work I can study and memorize the “bullet points”. I’m going to erase some of these pencil lines as I go. For a couple of the more complicated layouts I made drawings on tracing paper and chipboard templates to help cut the paper pieces to the right sizes and shapes.
Some of the stencils I used are commercial products I sell in my online Etsy shop. If you would like to see the selection, it’s at this link: Stencils and Stenciling Supplies.
I hope these pages in progress will give you some ideas for organizing information in a creative and fun way!
My current class in graduate school and other projects are pretty demanding right now, so I don’t have a lot of time to make new art. I do still enjoy looking at some of my old art from time to time. Here is a collage I made for my old ‘zine the Lime Green News #16, circa 1996-1997. It’s a tribute to the Beatles Anthology album covers, designed by Klaus Voorman. I was inspired by the use of torn images and how they can strategically reveal what’s underneath. On the Anthology 1 album cover, Voorman ripped out the head of Pete Best to reveal Ringo’s face underneath to “replace” him. This was a mean but clever technique so I did the same thing in my collage in approximately the same spot to enhance my “homage”, only I replaced John with John. If you want to see the Anthology 1 cover and the clever use of the torn out part on a Pete Best album cover, here is a link to an analysis – “The Beatles Anthology 1 Album Cover Cropped Out Original Drummer Pete Best”.
I made the above collage in the year between getting a computer with a black and white laser printer that would print up to 300 ppi, and taking my first class in Adobe Photoshop. At the time I was enjoying the novelty of being able to print out pictures to use in collages instead of just finding images. I printed out pictures of the Beatles that I found online, and printed out a bunch of clip art that I liked, and used those printouts to build the collage. A lot of the clip art came from my Corel Draw clip art library. How I used to love to pore over the printed book that came with it to get ideas!
The black and white laser printer was a major step forward in the production quality of my ‘zine, even though by today’s standards it was still very primitive. It wasn’t until much later than I learned software like Publisher and InDesign to help me produce professional quality booklets. At the time of this image I was still following my old practice of printing out text on a printer and cutting and pasting the text among collaged elements. With the text coming from a laser printer instead of a Commodore 64 with a dot-matrix printer, it looked better and was a lot easier to read.
With access to what seemed like unlimited clip art and display fonts, I had tons of fun transitioning from low to high tech. For my ‘zine and collages, I printed elements for headers and body text along with images. Then in 1997, I learned Photoshop and how to make web pages, and that changed everything! But I still enjoy the old methods too and I like to make collages out of whatever is there, whenever I get a chance.
This year I made two Christmas card designs. This first version started out as a mixed media art journal page. I scanned it and used Photoshop to add background shapes, manipulate colors and to add details. I started it two years ago, and got it out again last year, but I just didn’t get it to where I wanted it until the third try. I added in some of the faux postage designs Tom and I made a few weeks ago and that was finally the finishing touch it needed!
As often happens, while scanning in and manipulating the faux postage designs to use as accents, I got another idea and was in the mood for some brighter colors so I made another card design. I had both cards printed and sent one design to half the Christmas card list and the other to the remainder.
Besides the digital manipulation, the art and craft media and techniques that went into this card design consist of the following: rubber stamps, hole punches, collage, stickers, design tape (washi tape), and image transfers.
The picture on the left shows how a lot of our Christmas cards went out. We each made two sheets of faux postage. Tom didn’t care about having color copies made of his or displaying them as full sheets, so I scanned his two faux postage sheets to make black and white versions for coloring. Last year we were able to invite family members to help color in and draw on paper items for Tom’s beard in person but this year we are not doing gatherings in person so we are encouraging people to mail things in for Tom’s beard. We made the black and white shaped tags to give people something to color on in case they are stuck for an idea.
For those who got a little envelope of paper bits, those are for designing and collaging with if you choose, or you can just enjoy them in different paper projects if you have any. I made a Pinterest board on which I collect ideas for things to make with scraps. Scraps and paper ephemera are endlessly inspiring to me.
Tom is a good sport and is having fun thinking of places to take the photos each day and also helping pick out filters. I downloaded a couple of new phone apps that have some crazy filters in them and I’m enjoying using them to help make an art statement.
Here are the results for Day 1. I added a hint of a grunge frame, the hashtag in text and a border in Photoshop after sharing it on a couple of social media sites first. As I get used to how the sharing process works with the new filter apps I’m trying out, this part should run more smoothly.
#12dayoftomsbeard lasts until January 6, so there is still plenty of time if you want to send something in! Some people probably don’t even have their greeting cards yet since I was a bit late getting them out due to school. I’m used to having to throw together holiday themed promotions at the last minute because often when working for a company or clients we would not have much time available to plan so we’d have to wait until client work slowed down right before Christmas to even start. It was and is frustrating to have to hurry through the planning and execution because we could have been so much more effective with more strategy and care. It was good practice for doing things fast though – I had to work fast once again this year because I’m in graduate school and there is very little time between the end of class and Christmas to work with. I don’t have much time to make gifts so a little fun activity and putting some extra work into the cards is the best I can do. I’m having fun with it – I hope other people do too!
The following is an assignment for my class MEDC 5350: Media Organization Regulations at Webster University. This one has some pictures in it, so I thought it might be a nice change from the walls of text I’ve been publishing lately! The only thing I changed since turning it in is rewording some references to graphics because it’s formatted slightly differently. It’s also available as a Word document here: “The Holiday Inn Brand and Trademark Concepts” Word Document.
The Holiday Inn Brand and Trademark Concepts
The Holiday Inn brand is a fertile source of imagery for examining legal issues concerning trademark tacking and trademark infringement. The book “American Signs: Form and Meaning on Route 66” by Lisa Mahar examines the motel signage along the historic highway US Route 66 from 1938 to the 1970s in order to explain the economies and cultures behind the forms and themes of motel advertising signs of the time period (Mahar 10). The Holiday Inn lodging chain was founded during this era and the imagery associated with the Holiday Inn brand was influenced by and in turn influenced trends in the motel industry throughout the whole country (Mahar 122, 127).
The diagram above (Mahar 134), demonstrates minor differences in the Holiday Inn logo and signage from 1952-1957. The use of a star and a certain script lettering style is consistent even though the arrangement and number of elements is slightly different.
The following examples show how Holiday Inn added and subtracted elements and slogans to go along with its earlier trademarked elements. The Holiday Inn logo, both one-line and two-line, are registered. The Holiday Inn sign is registered with the US Patent Office, as is the colonial mascot figure that showed up on some advertising pieces and then was later dropped again. The slogans “The Nation’s Inkeeper”, “The World’s Inkeeper” and “Your Host from Coast to Coast” were all registered. The brand’s use of the colors green, yellow and white are consistent in these samples, mostly from the 1970s.
Holiday Inn marks demonstrate how “words, designs, colors and other devices” were used to distinguish its services from other lodgers from the 1950s through the 1970s (Trager 523). Trademark tacking is the practice of making changes to a trademark without relinquishing the old marks (Trager 519). The Holiday Inn samples shown above illustrate trademark tacking as the color scheme and script font were used over a long period of time, with other elements such as the stars and colonial mascot added and subtracted.
Following are some examples of motel signs from the classic Route 66 era that are similar to the Holiday Inn sign, to varying degrees. By looking at the dates and contexts of these signs, it seems apparent that the first Holiday Inn sign from 1952 incorporated some elements in signage that were already in use, but as the chain in turn became popular other signs for independent motels were more directly influenced by the Holiday Inn chain (Mahar 126-127).
Did the independent motels with signage similar to Holiday Inn engage in trademark infringement? The use of stars, the sign elements and shapes, the name “Holiday” and the color green were all used in various ways as a result of Holiday Inn’s influence (Mahar 127).
The law uses the likelihood of consumers becoming confused as one of the criteria to determine whether or not there is infringement (Trager 518). It is not enough for the marks just to be similar (Trager 519). The combination of sign elements with Holiday Inn’s colors and name recognition seems to be distinctive enough to avoid confusion with other brands who might have used a subset of the elements used by Holiday Inn but not all of them combined together.
Advertisement for Holiday Inn. Inkeeker’s Supply Company, Memphis, TN. Circa 1970s. Author’s personal collection.
—. Stationery sheet. Holiday Press, Circa 1970s. Author’s personal collection.
—. Business reply letterhead. Holiday Inn Lake of Ozarks, Lake Ozark, MO. Circa 1970s. Author’s personal collection.
—. Rate sheet. Holiday Inn Lake of Ozarks, Lake Ozark, MO. Circa 1970s. Author’s personal collection.
—. IMART, Memphis, TN. Circa 1970s. Author’s personal collection.
—. Back of business reply envelope. Holiday Inn Lake of Ozarks, Lake Ozark, MO. Circa 1970s. Author’s personal collection.
“American Signs: Form and Meaning on Route 66” by Lisa Mahar, 2002.
“Motel Sign to Get Face Lift.” Between Friends, Vol 2, Issue 2, Fall 2003, pp. 1.
Rest Haven Court. DePew Advertising, Reeds Spring, MO. Postcard. Author’s personal
Trager, Robert Susan Dente Ross and Amy Reynolds. The law of journalism and mass
communication. Sixth Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc. 2018.
Winkelmann, Carolyn Hasenfratz. Photograph of Munger Moss Motel. 2006. Author’s personal collection.
—. Photograph of the Gardenway Motel. April 2000. Author’s personal collection.
—. Photograph of Vernelle’s Motel. April 2000, Author’s personal collection.
While making items for my wedding last summer I used a lot of nautical themed papers made by Canvas Corp. I saved a lot of the paper scraps to use in one of my favorite card-making techniques. I like to glue paper scraps onto narrow strips of scrap cardstock then apply rubber stamping ink to the edges to unify the strips. They make interesting parts to use in all kinds of paper crafts. I’ve previously written other articles that show this technique in action.
Materials and Tools
Canvas Corp paper sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft CCP2883
Assorted paper scraps with a nautical theme, mostly from collections by Canvas Corp
Black permanent rubber stamping ink
Permanent rubber stamping ink in colors that complement the project
Strips of light colored scrap paper that harmonize with the chosen paper scraps
Pieces of cardstock that harmonize with the chosen paper scraps
Clean scrap paper
Computer with scanner and graphics software
Eraser for stamping the edges of the paper
These very detailed strips tend to look good in designs next to areas with less detail. To make thank you cards to acknowledge wedding gifts and other help people generously gave us for the wedding, I made some scrap paper strips edged in red and scanned them for use in a digital file which I had printed on cardstock at a copy shop. I spelled out the word “THANKS” in nautical flags by making little flag collages with Canvas Corp nautical themed papers and scanning those as well. After digitally manipulating the scanned paper pieces, this is the digital card design I came up with.
The red-edged strips that I scanned were now free to use in actual handmade cards and not just the digital design. I decided to combine the strips with imagery from the Canvas Corp paper sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft CCP2883. The six images on the paper sheet are just about the size of the cards I want to make and the subtlety of the designs will really set off my paper strips. I decided to make six 5.25″ x 4.25″ cards. I selected six pieces of cardstock and cut them to 5.25″ wide and 8.5″ long then folded them in half to make the cards. Next I selected strips of light colored paper in colors that harmonized with my color scheme and stamped the sentiments “just a note” and “thank you” with black permanent ink. I made more strips than I thought I would need so that I would have lots of options. Also, I can use the extras for making other cards and for the card making classes that I teach.
To begin assembling the front of the cards, I cut each of the six images on the sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft to just a little bigger than the card front. I cut the image in two then I inserted a strip with the words “just a note” then a scrap strip edged in red between the two pieces of the image. I glued the parts to the front of the card with a glue stick then trimmed away the excess. Then I glued the circular paper punched out piece with the stamped words “Thank You” onto the front of the card.
As a member of the “gig economy” I do contract and part-time consulting, marketing and customer service work for various clients. Two retailers I work with recently had need of some in-store signage. One is a hardware store and one is a craft supply store and they both sell stencils. I’ve been experimenting with letter stencils to make signage that gets the message across and at the same time demonstrates how to use some of the products that the stores sell.
JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Maplewood, MO has a teaching department of which I am a member. The education coordinator asked each teacher to make a sign or two for the classroom samples display to highlight the categories of classes we teach. I was assigned “Kid’s Crafts” and “Jewelry”. I was given two blank pieces of foamcore already cut to size and access to the classroom supply cabinet. Fun!
I like the look of cut-out letters layered over a background. To help me visualize how to arrange the letters on the foamcore board, I cut out some pieces of scrap chipboard and used a letter stencil to trace the outline of each letter in position. Then I decided what colors to use in the actual sign. Since it’s spelling out “Kid’s Crafts” that’s a good excuse to use some really bright colors!
I traced the letters again onto the colorful cardstock pieces I selected then cut the letters out with an X-acto knife. I’ll save the cutout letters in case another suitable project comes up.
Next I selected papers to use as backgrounds for each letter. I marked the foamcore as a rough guide to where I would place the background for each letter.
A little black and white in a design is a great way to add visual interest. Some of the background papers already have some white in the pattern. To get some black in the design, I outlined each cut letter with a black Sharpie marker and drew some faux sewing stitch lines to help convey the hand crafts theme. The black outline also covered up my pen lines from when I traced the letters. Black Sharpie markers are such an essential part of my tool kit (like glue sticks) that I buy them wholesale because I go through so many!
In order to read well from a distance, I thought some of the letters needed an improvement in the contrast. I added high contrast solid paper behind the letters that needed to pop a bit more. Then I added a strip of black and white paper tape (also known as design tape and washi tape) to the top and bottom edges for a more finished look.
The final finishing touch was to glue on a few colorful buttons here and there. I used a similar design idea to make my sign for Jewelry. That was fun to make because it gave me a chance to use some “shiny” supplies that are appealing but hard to find a use for that is tasteful and appropriate – metallic papers, silver ribbon, glitter papers and plastic jewels! I outlined the letters in the Jewelry sign with a metallic gold Sharpie paint marker that looks good with the jewel-toned papers and theme. The paint marker also has good enough coverage to conceal my pen lines.
These signs were fun to make and also stretched me creatively because I used a few materials and colors that I don’t design with very often. That’s good exercise for any designer!
I started this year’s design by collaging small pieces of paper onto scrap paper strips that were about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches wide. I began with the numbers “2018” which I cut from the 7gypsies papers Paddington Blackfriars and American Vintage: 12×12 State Plates Paper. I filled in the paper strips with assorted scrap papers from my small scrap box.
I trimmed my strips with scissors to make the edges as even a possible then I scanned them and used Adobe Photoshop software to refine my trimming job and arranged some of the strips into a rectangular digital collage for the front of the card. I made a selection outline of all the areas with the year numbers and turned up the contrast so that they would stand out more. I added some grid designs and hardware looking graphics using Adobe Illustrator then I saved a PDF file of my cards to take to the printer.
While I was working on the collages for my New Year card, I also completed a project for Canvas Corp Brands. I’ve been selected for the 2018 CCB Creative Crew , the design team that makes samples and comes up with projects for Canvas Corp Brands products. Our first challenge was to decorate a 4 x 4 inch canvas in a way that highlights our personal style.
To create the above decorated mixed media canvas I cut three of my collage strips to fit the 4 x 4 inch stretched canvas from Canvas Corp.
I squirted some StazOn Timber Brown permanent rubber stamping ink onto an old food lid to use as a palette. I used the side of an eraser to print a line of Timber Brown along the edges of each collage strip.
I painted my canvas with yellow acrylic paint and allowed it to dry.
Then I applied Tattered Angels Color Wash paint in Rose Gold with a brush along the sides and around the edges of the canvas.
To finish my canvas, I glued the collage strips to the front with Turbo Tacky Glue and nailed tiny tacks into the corners of each paper piece. All done!
Here are the results of what has become an annual ritual for me – designing a card to celebrate the New Year!
This year there are three versions of the card – see my Pinterest board for a peek at the other two variations.
Making these designs was kind of an involved process. The first thing I did was go through some monoprints I did back in the 1990s that I thought would make good backgrounds. These prints were “rejects” that I didn’t think were interesting enough on their own but I thought might be good as part of a collage some time in the future. Next I used some archival dye-based ink (Ancient Page and ColorBox Archival) to stencil designs on top of the background pieces. I chose this ink because it was translucent and I wanted the backgrounds to show through a little. Most of the stencils I used on the backgrounds were from a series that I cut out back in September consisting of designs inspired by a mid-century modern building I saw on a trip last summer.
I drew a set of retro ornament shapes and cut them out of more monoprint scraps, and stenciled on them with some commercial stencils of geometric design. I thought they complemented the mid-century modern look quite well. I don’t know many more times I can go back to the well of inspiration that is retro ornaments – I have yet to get tired of them!
The next step was to scan the background pieces into the computer and work on them a bit with Photoshop. I altered the colors a little bit on some of these to make them better backgrounds for the ornaments. The real life pieces will be used later in some art projects. I got some more use out of the backgrounds by making them into header images for Google+, Facebook and Etsy – I like to change those seasonally and without the seasonal references I won’t have to change these headers for awhile!
Next I scanned in the ornament pieces separately and used various Photoshop tools to trim around them and enhance the color a bit to make the stand out better against the backgrounds. I added a drop shadow and a grunge border and exported each composition as a JPEG to import into Illustrator. The card text and further details were done in Illustrator with the addition of the yellow texture imported from Photoshop. The texture was created with a technique I wrote about in my article Analog to Digital: Waste Paper From Stamping Projects Can Enhance Photoshop Art.
The next step is to get these printed and mail them out ASAP!