Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Post That's About Time

When I've been creating my Café Press shops, the software works by automatically adding a default image to all the products. That saves a lot of work, rather than having to do everything manually, but it leaves a little something missing when it comes to the clocks. Namely numbers!

A lot of people actually like minimalist clocks and it certainly hasn't stopped me selling any. Nevertheless I've decided to make them more usable and create some special clock designs for each store (except the Christmas images which will be added in the autumn).

Café Press have a free clock template to download, which allowed me to get the size and number positions spot on. I looked at how best to showcase each image on a clock and took every one as a different challenge rather than apply a "one design fits all" approach. How should the image be positioned? What font would complement it? Would it need a new background?

The apple, being the most solid design, benefits from being large and in the centre. A strong font in matching red makes this a bright, fresh clock that would look great in a kitchen.

I contemplated having the beachball large and centred too, but I also liked how the stripes framed the chosen font, so that's the look I went for here.

All the animals worked best just on one half of the clock, rather than being skewered by the hands! I chose a font with a lot of character to show off my cheeky cat.

For the dog I decided to have a bit of fun and created Roman numerals out of bones!

The elephant is accompanied by a font that matches its shape and colour.

A similar approach for the giraffe, with a font evocative of tall African trees.

My two aquatic animals called for an underwater theme. The goldfish has a lively, wavy, bubbly background.

The octopus gets a graduated dark blue to reflect its deep sea home, with a curly font to match its tentacles.

Hundreds of hearts come together for this big romantic explosion.

Each clock comes in three diameters, a 10" Wall Clock at £10.50*, a 14" Modern Wall Clock (£31.50) and a 17" Large Wall Clock (£28.50). The Modern Wall Clock has an aluminium body and glass cover, the others are edged in black plastic.

To see the clocks on the Café Press site, click on the design you like using the buttons on the left hand side of this page, then go down to the Home & Office section.

(*Prices are set in US$ and converted to other currencies, which may fluctuate due to the daily exchange rate.)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Sunday Head****

Some innocent-looking photos of buildings for you today - a house, a café and a shop. Of course, there's more to them than meets the eye and if you click each photo you'll find out what the twist is.

The story behind the delicatessen strikes a chord with me because I make no secret of the fact I'm out of work and struggling. I live just outside Wolverhampton, which was recently named as one of the worst cities in Britain for boarded-up shops.

In some places round the country, however, councils, arts organisations, entrepreneurs and the unemployed have been joining forces to bring empty shops back to life, if only on a temporary basis.

Empty retail units have been turned into community galleries, youth art centres, shops and workspaces. This has allowed people to put their creative skills to good use, start up businesses and generally make their High Street a more attractive place.

This has the knock-on effect of deterring crime and vandalism, giving hope to local people who are jobless and promoting the town centre as somewhere vibrant, willing to tackle its problems and worth investing in.

I've never been interested in retail before but I would love to get involved in a project that could give me the chance to get myself back on my feet and also work like a support network where a group of us could create something together, make a living and get that all-important confidence boost.

If you would like to find out more about the Empty Shops Network, this is a good place to start.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

And The Oscar Goes To...

It's been a landmark year for animation, with 3D becoming the norm and the largely-animated Avatar one of the favourites for the Best Movie Academy Award.

In the category of Best Animated Feature Film, most of them have been massive hits and need no introduction from me. Walt Disney have two nominations, the massively-successful Up and the recently-released The Princess And The Frog, with its return to classic 2D animation and Disney's first black princess.

Coraline and Fantastic Mr Fox have also been big box office draws aimed at the kids over the year. The fifth nominee, however, is one you've probably not heard of.

The Secret Of Kells is an Irish/French/Belgian co-production which has had virtually no release outside of these countries. It's a story inspired by the Book of Kells, the famous illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels which is considered as Ireland's national treasure.

The film is set in the 9th century and is the story of 12 year old Brendan who lives with his stern uncle, Abbot Cellach, then becomes the apprentice of the inspirational illuminator Brother Aidan. Monks, Vikings, fairies, religion, art and folklore combine into a warm, rich fantasy. Its visual style borrows heavily from the Celtic art that inspired it, making The Secret Of Kells a refreshing alternative to its big budget, high profile Oscar rivals.

Sit back and enjoy a selection of clips.

Best Animated Short Film

There are very few opportunities to see short animations on TV or the big screen but, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, here are 4 of this year's 5 nominees in full, plus a special treat for fans of Wallace and Gromit.

French Roast

Fabrice O. Joubert

A Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films Production

Some beautiful characters star in this hilarious French comedy of errors.

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty

Nicky Phelan and Darragh O'Connell

A Brown Bag Films Production

2D and 3D animation mix as the bitter and twisted Granny O'Grimm tells the classic bedtime story.

The Lady And The Reaper

Javier Recio Gracia

A Kandor Graphics and Green Moon Production

It's Death versus Doctor Dishy in this bizarre, inventive fight for an old lady's life.


Nicolas Schmerkin

An Autour de Minuit Production

Thousands of corporate logos are used to create this amazingly original comment on American society. Contains bad language and violence against junk food!

Logorama from Marc Altshuler - Human Music on Vimeo.

A Matter of Loaf And Death

Nick Park

An Aardman Animations Production

Britain's favourite Claymation inventor and his long-suffering hound do battle with the murderous Piella Bakewell.

Here's an exclusive 20 minute making-of feature.

The Oscars will be presented at the Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday, 7th March 2010.