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the cute stuff

If you spend three seconds looking at my portfolio, you’ll notice the majority of my graphic design work has, thus far, erred on the side of cute and whimsical. I enjoy creating these graphics – not because “cute” is my personal style, but because it’s not.

I guess that sounds odd, right? Okay so maybe you’re right. But allow me to explain (in my long-winded rambling way.)

When it comes to my own personal style – both in terms of graphic design and general me-ness (yeah let’s just pretend that’s a word), I have a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde thing going on. On the one hand, I find Nature – in all it’s colours, textures and forms – to be an endless source on inspiration. While on the other hand, I’m attracted to dark, industrial, grungy, deconstruction.

scrapbook gothic scrapbook fallen angel

Little known secret: I kinda sometimes like scrap-booking. I may even at times find myself slightly obsessed with scrap-booking papers.
Hey! Remind me to show you the drawers of pretty papers I have squirreled away in my scrapbooking closet one day. *giggles maniacally*
*giggles even more maniacally at the realisation no one’s reading this and I’m talking to myself*

That’s not to say I don’t like to dabble in cute and pretty. Pretty things are lovey, for sure. But pretty grungy things are even better. I distress my photos with sandpaper; I love gardens when they’re rambling (much like my conversational skills) and filled with wildflowers; grunge textures make me drool; crumbling old stuff begs to be photographed… And my children are at their most adorable when playing in mud.

An ensemble of my photography that aims to make a point but ultimately does nothing to serve a purpose upon this page.

Beauty is at its best when it’s worn at the edges.

 

I like vintage nostalgia. I like chaos. I like Gothic romance. I like the whimsical. I like my flourishes and florals splattered with ink stains and treated with a grunge overlay. There’s beauty to be found in the darker side of life, and I enjoy exploring old cemeteries in search of it.

But like I said at the start of my post… *scrolls back up to remember what the point of this was* … I also enjoy creating graphics that are that are bright and fresh and kinda cutesy. Not because it’s my personal style, but because it’s not. I kinda figure that by stepping out of the confines of my own preferences, I can allow my imagination to explore different forms. And by doing so, delve into a side to my psyche that I usually try to smother under a pillow.

fairy wings

As well as a great opportunity to dust off the DSLR and photograph the kids chasing each other amid the last of the autumn Liquid Amber((for the record, I thought these were maple trees, but as google revealed, they’re Liquid Amber. It’s the spikey nuts that gave them away. ;))) leaves this afternoon, I lugged home a collection of leaves to photograph and convert into Photoshop textures and brushes.

autumn leaves

autumn leaves

 

I think Autumn is my favourite season, if for no other reason than that I love the way the leaves change colour as they get ready to fall. There’s something about the rich reds and, when you turn them over, antiqued tan of Liquid Amber trees in particular that I find incredibly compelling. And look at the luscious yellow of that Ginko! Sure, the leaf-litter would all become a bit much to deal with after a while… But I wish these beautiful trees were in our backyard. (The fact that they’re available at our local park will have to suffice!)

Meanwhile, a photo of my daughter sitting on a tree stump, making dinosaur impersonations, inspired me to create for her a set of leafy fairy wings in Photoshop:

 

Liquid Amber leaf wings created in photoshop new zealand Liquidamber leaf (not to be confused with Maple, as it turns out..)

 

 

In hindsight, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, making fairy wings. If it’s not dinosaurs she’s obsessing over, it’s dragons. Think I’ll be whipping up some reptilian wings tonight. And perhaps I’ll post a tutorial here to go with it. (Of course, don’t hold your breath on that one.)

 

infinite monkey design

I’ve had an epiphany as to the inspiration behind my site graphics/colours: My immediate environment.

The wine reds come from the walls of our computer area. The shade depending on the cast of the light (an issue I found particularly problematic while trying to take a photo this morning.)

The weathered paper-look graphics with their coffee stains and ink splatters come from our worn out computer desk – complete with dark red hair dye stains and ever-present luke-warm cup of coffee. (Half-empty or half-full, depending on the mood of the day ;))

 

infinite monkey design

 

 

And then there’s the name, Infinite Monkey. This one has less to do with my ‘design style’ and more with my tendency to natter on incessantly in the hope of eventually producing words that make sense.

….Okay so maybe it does have a little something to do with my design style.

Opening Photoshop and mucking around with various brushes and overlay effects until I finally scrape together something half-way presentable, is akin to a monkey smacking away at the keys of a typewriter until it eventually flukes a proper word or two, isn’t it? (Yeah I know, really selling myself here…)

Anyway, there we have it. My grungry steam-punk inspired website layout, and the inspiration behind it.

workdesk

I leave my desk for five minutes and come back to this?

 

workdesk

 

 

These two like to hang around my work space, offering advice while I’m testing out website layouts. I have an inkling that they’re trying to get me to take them on as paid staff. Good luck kitties – I’m not getting paid either at the moment!

Besides, Little Guy’s (that’s the one in the background. Aptly named because he’s little. And a guy.) idea of advice is to sit on my keyboard and drool into my coffee cup. Not sure what he’s trying to tell me (quit, perhaps?) but it’s not particularly helpful.

And that vocal little beastie in the front (Mogwai aka Moggie) is just waiting for me to take my seat so she can sit on my lap and shed fur all over my clothing. The problem with tortoiseshells, by the way, is that it doesn’t matter what colour you wear – nothing is safe from their fur. The ginger & white shows up on black clothing, the black shows up on everything else. *sigh* Can’t win.

The Lily Bug: I wish I was the sun so I could shine brightly.
Me: Aww you’re so cute!
The Lily Bug: Then I’d turn myself up really high… So everyone can burn. *cackles manically*

She said that. I kid you not. My sweet lovely loving (most of the time ;)) little Bug uttered those words.

In her defense, I think she had just mucked up her phrasing a little. It was a cold morning on the way to kindy, and I’m sure she was only thinking about how she’d like to bring toasty warmth into the lives of those who, like us, have a thinly insulated home and a car heating system that kicks in five minutes after you reach your destination.

And I’m sure the way she tittered gleefully at the end of that statement was due purely to the amusement of watching my jaw swing open and hit the floor of the car. I admit, I too would find that comical. In a Loony Toons kind of way.

The Lily Bug is going to make a fantastic Global President of the Entire Planet some day. I think the evidence speaks for itself.

Don’t hate on my awesome Paint doodling skills.

children on a rampage

The kids had a friend over today and they spent much of it busy playing and ignoring me completely (except for when I was required to mop tears or wipe mud from feet). Initially, I had this plan to spend my day “getting stuff done”, but short of having the assistance of Rumpelstiltskin, it is pointless – POINTLESS – to try and get anything done when there is not two by three little whirlwinds in the house. A play date gives children the perfect excuse to trash the house in ways they’d never think to do on their own.

children on a rampage

An adaptation of the laundry tornado

Scenario 1 – the muchkins, bored despite a house full of toys.
The Lily Bug: “Hey, should we tip out every single toy box we own, and toilet paper the walls?”
Guy Smiley: “Monster trucks!”
The Lily Bug: *tips out one box. Is bored by lack of accomplice, gives up.*

Scenario 2 – the munchkins + friend, bored despite a house full of toys.
The Lily Bug: “Hey, should we pull the toy boxes out from the wardrobe, scatter the contents all over the bed and then bounce on them until we hear cheap plastic snap beneath our feet?”
The Friend: “Yeah! Then we can take half of them outside and dig a hole and bury them – along with as much stuff from the cutlery draw that we can carry!”
The Lily Bug: “Yeah!”
Guy Smiley: “MONSTER TRUCKS!”
*Cue wanton destruction*

It usually takes a few weeks to locate the last missing monster truck, and I’m still missing teaspoons. No doubt the lawn mower will find those…

Don’t get me wrong. I love it when the kids can busy themselves all day by dreaming up creative new ways to use toys as stepping stones in order to cross the great lake of lava that is the entire floor surface of the house! I just wish it didn’t mean having to spend the next week approaching very short people and offering my first born if they’ll help tidy up the aftermath. :/

There’s really only so much a four-year-old needs to know. And in our family we sometimes tend to answer questions far too readily, and without always stopping to think about the appropriateness of the originally overheard conversation that prompted them to make inquiries in the first place.

Take this snippet from tonight for example:

THE LAD: Yeah! I can get suicide bombers for my game now!
THE LILY BUG: What’s suicide bombers?
ME: No….
THE LAD: They’re people with explosives strapped to them –
ME: Nooo…
THE LILY BUG: What’s explosives?
THE LAD: It’s –
ME: Jarrod! No!
THE LAD: It’s, uh… licorice.

Fortunately, the Lily Bug was spared from nightmares involving suicide bombers tonight. Instead she may dream of a Willy Wonka type land involving licorice straps as personal clothing items.

I’m not entirely certain if it’s nature or nurture, but sometimes our lovely kids come up with some strange stuff, right on their own accord and without any prompting from us at all.

Take this snippet of crazy for example: The other morning I woke to the Lily Bug standing beside the bed, growling beneath her breath while wearing this mask (painted by Guy Smiley the night before).

I won’t lie – I nearly shat a hole in the mattress.

 

On a brighter and completely unrelated note, here’s a wee gem that sprouted from a different conversation a couple of nights ago.

ME: You kids are geniuses.
THE LILY BUG: Wow! Really!!!
(I’m surprised at her excitement, and wonder how she knows what a genius even is. Until she turns to her brother and yells…)
THE LILY BUG: Guess what!?!? Mum said we’re GENIES!!