I made a font(?) – Pop

A type specimen in blog-post format

After a year and a half at home, quarantined, and working my first real/grown – person job, this alphabet came to me.

First, in the form of an h.

I draw on top of things on my sketchbook…. it is a mess

I had been looking at an older book called “The Art of Calligraphy.” I have never had formal training in calligraphy because when I had the opportunity to take a course in it I was swamped by other stuff and couldn’t do it. But my interest has never died. Based on the book, I started doodling some of the alphabets for fun. I enjoyed the hand movements, the markings on the page, and all these extra marks that aren’t as prominent in type anymore (this thing called modernism happened).

“Gothic Capital”
“Bastard Secretary” – name in the book Art of Calligraphy

I love typography! But I never explored type in my work in a personal way. It always felt like a deity; untouchable to the likes of me – those who had never studied calligraphy. But this semester I got to teach typography for the first time and it changed my view on type. I was able to further understand it.

That maximum – when you have to teach something that’s when you actually learn it – was one of my biggest takeaways in my teaching this semester. By teaching type I was able to feel type.

This alphabet is the spillage of my love for type. (so emo…)

The characters just evolved from one another, quite fast actually (could probably have used more time – it is a work in progress – nothing is ever done…). From the H I collected key information for my other letters: proportion, width, x-height and ascender, and contrast.

With these elements in hand, I could break up the shape of the H into its smaller pieces to apply to the other letters as they were created.

While drawing the first letter – H – all I had in mind was high-contrast and bold. Lately, that is how I have been exploring with fashion and color. (I needed some encouragement to get dressed in the morning while working from home…)

I have always been a person who tried to hide myself when it came to fashion, because I already had a “loud mouth” – I like talking – but then I decided to embrace it. I saw colors appearing in the visual experimentations I was doing, so I just pushed it further (like I always tell my students lol).

So, with my attributes in hand I tried to create a cohesive alphabet that embraced contrast and boldness.

Once I had all the letters I could start applying them to different purposes. I made some posters, stickers, and I am working on making some animations with them.

my personality
if google had a sense of humor
mix with photo

New single form Anitta

And, since it is a thing I’ve been playing with lately… I’ve made some patters as well. teehee

That’s it. I just wanted to get this post out. I want to do a more in-depth analysis of each letter and how I can improve them in the future. Now, back to the real world.

“It Takes Two” – game mechanics as story-telling device

It Takes Two – Official Gameplay Trailer - YouTube
this image will take you to the trailer

Gaming is a relatively new interest of mine. I have been highly influenced by my husband who is an avid gamer. The only games I had played until we met were The Sims (1 to 3), Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Guimo (by a Brazilian publisher). I liked playing games but it faded from my identity as I grew. However, since getting together I have become more open minded and excited about games.

The first “serous”(or in gaming lingo: AAA title) game I played was Uncharted. This was the first time I had been drawn into a story, felt excited about exploring, and didn’t feel guilty about shooting at enemies. It helped that the main character, Nathan Drake, is quite charming too but the stories and animation were interesting on their own.

After that, I’ve tried many others (Journey, gone Home, Until Dawn, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart…), watched my husband play many different titles, and even invested on my own Switch. The more I participated –the 300 hours I put into Animal Crossing are there to prove, the more I noticed the animation, design, and writing of different games. This only increased my interest in gaming from an artistic perspective.

I explored games like Journey – a visual story told through color, sound, movement, setting, and game play. Gone Home – a “story exploration” game that I thought was spooky, but it was just very sad and beautiful. And most recently Genesis Noir. However, all these games are single player and my husband and I had yet to find one multiplayer game that really took us on a story-based adventure.

Most co-op/multiplayer games are high-intensity shooters (COD, Fortnite, or Apex) which aren’t really my vibe, yet. So finding something that could bring both our worlds together was our goal. As a whole, gaming has saved us in this pandemic. We play with friends often, which has helped ease the isolation, but sometimes we want to embark on journeys of our own.

That’s when It Takes Two launched.

Co-op, split screen, colorful, and “50% off.” You only need to buy ONE COPY to play with someone else. This was also a huge incentive, given that it gets expensive having to buy two copies of games that we want to play together. So, of course, we couldn’t pass up this opportunity!

From the beginning, this game was intriguing, emotional, and magical.

It is the story of parents that decided to share their decision to divorce with they daughter who, in-turn, ends up enchanting them and transforming them into dolls. In this new shape, they have to work together to get back to normal. They do all this with the help of “Dr. Hakim” – a self-help book about love.

It Takes Two review | Rock Paper Shotgun
loooooove


The story is then divided into chapters where each presents a new setting, new abilities, and new goals. This is where this game shines!

Each chapter and each of the mini-games are based on traditional gaming concepts and techniques. The developers play around with throwing the gamer into side-scroller platformers, shooters, wall climbing, sliding/running away, swinging from hooks, and surfing on tracks. Each time, the actions you take further develop the story or just allow you to have the best of time in these intricate cities built in this couple’s normal-sized house.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will stick to visual/game play impressions.

The animation and character style chosen for this game work so well. It teeters between the real and the imaginative. It is as though you are entering a child’s imagination. The color palettes, the soundscape, the controls… all of the most minute details seem to have been thought out and well planned. Nothing seemed careless or unnecessary.

A Way Out dev's next game is "emotional" co-op action adventure platformer It  Takes Two • Eurogamer.net
https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2020-06-19-a-way-out-devs-next-game-is-co-op-action-adventure-platformer-it-takes-two

In a world where we have 924875356 versions of FIFA with recycled animations/assets, a game like It Takes Too comes to say that there are many developers who love this art form and that are able to tell intricate stories through every facet of it.

I was missing a game like this in my life and I am very happy that I played it with my husband. We have definitely learned to work better together after it.

Give it a try too and let me know what you think!

Olivia Rodrigo and “The medium is the message” – Part 1

So, this song Drivers License has come out and completely exploded!

Well, if you don’t know who she is you can officially wear an “out-of-touch” badge. She is a Disney star, known for High School Musical the Musical the Show and Bizardvark. This song has completely exploded in popularity and has broken many records in its wake.

It debuted first on the Bilboard where its been for the past 6 weeks. You’d think this song is from one of the greatest singer of our time – Beyonce, Rihanna (we need an album RiRi), or Jay-Z, but this song is form Olivia Rodrigo. Who?

I had never heard of her before, I had seen this song recommended multiple times for me on YouTube, but what made me interested in this topic was a video by YouTube “Todd in The Shadows.” He posted this video:

In it, he developed 5 theories as to why this song has broken so many records. Here’s the theories:

Theory 1 – The pandemic is still going one! It has struck a chord. No new music coming out, no end in sight, and still waiting for reopening. He mentions how there was an opening in the market and this song has filled it.

Theory 2 – Mouse Money! She’s a Disney start, they have the means to manipulate the market. So no surprise there. However, no other pop start from Disney has broken so many records before.

Theory 3 – People are sad a trend that’s been going on! Lot’s of new music coming out that’s slower in tempo… but no one has stuck and made such an impact.

Theory 4 – This is a great song actually! It is a song for a very specific age group (“not for adults”). It is a emotionally true song and teenagers cry alot.

Theory 5 – Hot Celeb Goss!

Oh My God Wow GIF

There’s a love triangle thing going on. Olivia was with Joshua Bassett who is now with Sabrina Carpenter. They all have songs out now you could say “diss track fight….” But they aren’t as popular as hers. But could astroturfing generate this much buzz?

Todd finishes the video explaining that this song may not be the greatest hit of the decade, but it will resonate in the future.

_____

Alright, that’s the contex.

After watching this video, I started thinking about how much impact this song breaking records has had and what that says about the future of the entertainment industry.

We are talking 132 MILLION views on YouTube (on Feb 24, 2021); it was released a month ago! It has over 430 MILLION streams on Spotify! These are crazy numbers. Let alone its popularity on TikTok.

Well, TikTok has its history but one cannot deny it’s influence in the younger generation. Therefore, we need to talk about that!

I believe this song’s popularity is the first symptom of something bigger.

Teenagers have a voice in today’s entertainment world. They have grown up with the internet and finding their own entertainment online. Unlike most older people that were fed entertainment through their parents (listening to old CDs from your uncle, watching mom’s favorite movie, etc…). they have been able to develop their own circles and chose what represents them the best.

There’s also a dark side that I can’t stop thinking about: There’s so much data on teenagers today that I don’t think it would be impossible to collect and analyze it to create “the perfect hit.”

After all, they are the largest population online. One might disagree and say that EVERONE has a phone, however, younger people “engage” online; they comment, like, share a lot more than older people(it is hard to make this claim and I can’t find much on it -RESEARCH ALERT!- But there’s a lot coming out about political engagement online).

So what does all of this mean?

The first thought that crossed my mind was from good-ol’ McLuhan:

The medium is the message!

What do you think? Thinking of this quote and this context. What does the medium TikTok has to say?

Let’s discuss that in part 2!

Why online education won’t change the world

Online learning isn’t for everyone. I’m not saying that it doesn’t have a place in the world today.

We are all living faster and connected lives, so having the flexibility of online learning is quite a feat of humanity!

However, I have been collecting data from my students about how was their Fall 2020 (it is based on observation and an ill-constructed questionnaire, but… here I wanted to share it anyway).

Fall 2020 was unique, to say the least. It was my first time teaching at the university level outside of graduate school and it was already all online. As a teacher I found myself being an instructor -an expert scaffolding knowledge and building courses, an IT person – troubleshooting Zoom issues and computer issues, and, somewhat, and entertainer – trying my best to keep student attention through visually rich lectures, videos, games, and puns!

For students, they were coming from a frustrating Fall 2020, where classes were haphazardly transferred to the online environment. Insecurity ruled. The trust between students and their universities is low, so the spirits aren’t high to begin Spring 2020.

Here’s my “data collection” from the beginning of this semester from the four classes I am teaching at Illinois State University. I asked the students

“How was fall 2020 for you?”

I had a total of 50 unique responses with the majority of students mentioning how tiring the past semester was. (Two people said “easy” but I think these were mistakes LOL, anyway)… I believe that tiring being chosen more than stressful is very telling, here’s why.

I got to thinking “what is one thing that has been taken away from everyone as we transitioned to online teaching?” The one response I could find was: The external environment – going to campus and having people around us pursuing the same goals.

Once we jumped into online teaching we removed the environment from the learning equation. We removed these external cues that let us know what we were doing and where we were going. Here’s an example:

You are a student taking 15 credits in a semester (that’s about 5 classes). When you get ready to go about your day, you grab your backpack and think “okay, today I have this one class and this one class so I need to take these books/tools to class.” Once you get to campus, you go to specific buildings and classrooms where the classes take place and these spaces further support the idea that you are somewhere to do something. You don’t have to actively think “I am here for this class,” after a while that automatically happens. However, when we move to an online environment where we sit at the same desk in front of the same computer we miss these external cues that helped us navigate our schedule without using our brain power.

So, my hypothesis is that by removing the external cues we have added a lot stress onto our brains arriving at the Cognitive Load Theory. We are overworking our brains just to situate ourselves into “what do we need to now” instead of the act of being somewhere give us the answers.

As humans, and at least for the past 100 years, we really didn’t have to do that. But now, inserted into an online environment you have to keep repeating it to yourself (even if unconsciously) “I am at this class now, later I have this other and I need to press this button for that.”

This is, of course, just one aspect of how online learning might overburden our brain capacities. We are social beings after all, so substituting the in-person connection to gray squares on Zoom isn’t cutting it.

If you are an adept of Bandura’s Social Learning Theory you probably know where I am trying to get at here. In his theory, Bandura postulates that people, behaviors, and environments interact to create learning. Therefore, if one of these parameters is removed from the equation, student learning is compromised.

I do know that online learning works for some people, however, it takes a lot of self-motivation to stick with an online course, especially if asynchronous, to finish it. But a synchronous course isn’t the answer either.

We need to exchange our experiences in person to be able to fully learn, but in the middle of a pandemic that’s hard to do. But, what I don’t want to happen after the pandemic is over is the thinking that since we were all, for the most part, successful in migrating to an online environment of learning that it should become the norm. We are able to continue our teaching, but at what cost?

Maybe I’m just nostalgic about being in front of the classroom and walking around to help students use illustrator, but I think we haven’t seen the bigger picture of the effects, and efficacy, of online teaching.

A Visual Analysis of Blackpink’s Light Up The Sky Doc

I love me some Blackpink, don’t get me wrong but watching this documentary rubbed me the wrong way. As a graphic designer and someone who focuses on interpreting images, the way the documentary was set up was odd. It showed everything and nothing at all at the same time. Was that just me?!

I am coming from a western mentality. I’ve heard about the horror stories, the pressure, the suicides, and the idea that these bands are almost mass produced. Here’s a good article that breaks that down: “K-pop’s Dark Side” by Matthew Campbell and Sohee Kim. However, when I sat to watch this documentary I decided to suspend those beliefs and be entertained by the magic of Blackpink! I love their songs and their style, so it would be pretty cool to take a peak behind the curtain. But that’s not what I saw… What I saw was a highly curated, polished, and rehearsed presentation of key aspects of each member and an eerie feeling.

I’ll show you what I mean by looking at some frames of the documentary…

Blackpink: Light Up the Sky' release date: Global fan event's exact start  times and where to watch - EconoTimes

Here’s a cute shot. The group in a car is one image that shows up often throughout the documentary, however, we never see them enter or exit the car. I thought that was odd. It seemed like they tried some sort of visual story telling (the four members well lit, happy, casual-ish) but it goes nowhere. They don’t go to from this shot to the studio… it cuts to them at the studio… Was it done for safety? time?

It doesn’t feel like we are following them on a “day-in-the-life” type of deal which is common in most documentaries. I would think if they were trying to break into the western market with this doc that it would follow some of the conventions of documentaries.

Another example is the one-on-one testimonial style shots:

BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY | Jennie blackpink, Blackpink, Blakpink
BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY | Blackpink, Blakpink
BLACKPINK: LIGHT UP THE SKY | Lalisa manoban, Blackpink, Blackpink lisa
BLACKPINK PH 🇵🇭 on Twitter: "BLACKPINK - 'Light Up The Sky' Trailer "But  when it's the four of us, it's the whole thing" @BLACKPINK @ygofficialblink  #BLACKPINK #JISOO #ROSÉ #LISA #JENNIE… https://t.co/ZOUMsnzIsH"

Usually, in this type of shot we have close ups and more intimate shots. My reading of this setting is quite the opposite. It is posed, clearly in a rented location. I think this could have been more meaningful if it were in their apartment like later shots in the documentary. The expansive room, the symmetry, it is all too staged (which is a characteristic of some docs, but most like to pass on the idea of intimacy with the subject). It shows the overly controlled nature of their lives.

Later in the doc, we have each of the girls open up about one aspect of their lives. We have the sporty one, the music one, the fashion one… you get the idea.

A Review of the Blackpink Light Up the Sky Documentary | InStyle
BlackPink: Light Up the Sky Review
fas-J on Twitter: "The way Jennie's fans still dont know about Jessie :(  she is Jennie's pilates teacher. Jessie is a pilates teacher for Jennie and  Somi. Jessie will also appear on

To me, what stood out from those clips was how lonely they were. It made me really feel for them. It must have been a grueling life. They talk about how they have wanted this life since they were very young, but through these clips all we see is them engaging with, at max, one other person.

We never really get to see them having a more personal connection, it is always professional or, if it is personal, it is only between them.

The focus of the doc is very much on the work they do. Which, as pointed out in the inStlye’s review of the doc, demystifies the music they are making and shows how much work actually goes into it (but I don’t really know why people were downplaying k-pop stars’ talent to begin with…).

This next clip is one of my favorites of the documentary. It is finally more personal, funny, and shares some their traditions and even struggles with learning English.

Well, I don’t wanna bash the documentary. I was very much focused on the way it was framed, visually, when contrasted with the meaning of a documentary. I guess it could be my very “westernized” mindset that would prefer something more emotional and raw like Lady Gaga’s documentary or Miss Americana (T-Swift’s doc).

Regardless, I would highly recommend this doc for those who want to learn more about pop music, but I don’t think this doc does enough to demystify the toxic work environment that seems to stem from this industry.

Anyway, in the words of T1J, that’s just me though. What do you think? Have you watched it?

I’d love to read your thoughts below!

See you next time!

Why I’m disappointed in Wonder Woman 1984

I fell for the hype, I admit it. The colors, the costumes, the idea of it being set in the 80s, but then… I watched it. Oh my what a disappointment.

____ edit 12.29.2020

I found the answer to my disappointment. Earlier this year I had watched Birds of Prey and I… loved it (???) I was very confused by that feeling. All I could think of was “Why didn’t I hate it like the internet said?” (ugh, so stupid, thinking back). Well, I suppose I am emerged in very male-dominated forums.

This article by E.E.W. Christman “Why the internet hates ‘Birds of Prey” laid it all out.

Read that, then come here to read my thoughts on WW84!

____

The whole experience can be summed up in: “I feel like I’m watching an inspirational TedTalk but I’m in the wrong room” (as per my husband). For me is: “A stretched out National Treasure that needed to be more like National Treasure.”

The official summary of the movie reads:

Diana Prince lives quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s — an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile by curating ancient artifacts, and only performing heroic acts incognito. But soon, Diana will have to muster all of her strength, wisdom and courage as she finds herself squaring off against Maxwell Lord and the Cheetah, a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.

That’s all there but that doesn’t seem like the movie I watched. I watched a drawn out movie that tried to be feminist but pitted women against each other, the hero can’t have power and true love at once, and there’s some dangerous Middle Eastern stereotypes thrown there too.

Anyway, let’s break it down:

  1. The movie open with Diana in Themyscira in an Olympic-like competition. I don’t really know what that adds to the movie besides being a cool opening scene.
Lilly Aspell in Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) – IMDB

2. The mall robbery was my favorite. I feel that the tone in those scenes is exactly what this movie should have been: funny, campy, and paying homage to the super hero movies from the 80s. The fighting had an interesting edit, almost retro, that was very compelling. The over-the-top 80’s setting was perfect to really push toward something more fun. But as soon that’s over we don’t see that again until Steve is trying on new looks.

Lauren Hashian Wtf GIF by swerk

[spoilers] 3. The whole wish thing didn’t seem to have the effect it should have had. For Diana it takes her power so she can have Steve back. Steve “possesses ” someone’s body (see gif above) and she’s cool with it.

Confused Britney Spears GIF

But of course she can’t have both (rolls eyes). It also didn’t occur to her that bringing back the dead is not something good gods do. I don’t know, by then she had already discovered that the magic came from a powerful god, but it never occurred to get that this was all messed up, she was just having the time of her life with Steve… I’m very weirded out by that…

Also, still about the wish, Cheetah… So underused… What she wishes for takes away her humanity, but I don’t think I saw much of that when they stablish her character. I saw more a person who felt invisible so she wanted power, I don’t know, that is human indeed but everything had to be told to the audience…

Her dying didn’t have much weight, because we never really stablish a friendship. Cheetah and Diana go out to dinner because Diana felt pity of the other lady (?????) That’s how I read that at least…

Kristen Wiig's Cheetah costume in Wonder Woman 1984 trailer looks  Purr-fect! Have a look
I liked her characterization though…

4. [more spoilers, whatever…] The villain was pretty straight forward. A mad man, who wants power, and will do anything for it. But, he will be saved by the sight of his son wondering through rubble and become good again… Even though he only complained about the kid… I didn’t feel all of that paternal love there though. It made me really sad.

The themes got really heavy, which for me, after a year like 2020 was not welcomed. I really needed that campy and funny film. But all I got was a reminder of how the world is ending, and how “I renounce my wish” won’t make everything come back to “normal.” Having the movie end with a Christmas scenes just added salt to my wound. I couldn’t see family and friends this holiday season like many people, but here we are, watching others be happy. It felt like a slap in the face: Hey! Look at us mingling at close proximity without a pandemic while you watch this from your couch, through HBOMax (which was JUST made available to RokuTVs wth?!) far away from your family.

5. I know I already talked about the ending, but I wanna go back to some of the themes here. My main disappointment with this movie is how much they missed the mark on the strong independent woman. I wanted that so bad! They had the money, the cast, the producers, everything, but then they come out with the cheesiest, non-nuanced scenes and dialogue. What for? Yes, I wanted Wonder Woman to be a feminist icon, judge me! I had high hopes, but it fell short of it by miles.

6. Tonal changes. As I mentioned throughout, the campy comedy this set out to be at the beginning = we stan that! But then it just becomes super serious like a batman movie (ugh) and it leaves behind the 80s thing completely. If you told me that, in the movie, it starts in 1984 but ends in 2004 I’d believe you.

That’s 2020 Gen Zs view of the 80s

7. Gal Gadot – she’s beautiful, every outfit is amazing, her walking is graceful, she fills a room with her presence, you can’t not look at her. But she can’t deliver comedy and that made me sad. The over the top stuff, yes, but more subtle, not so much… that’s why I keep bringing back the how the campy vibes should have been the guiding force of this movie. This could work with a “Death Becomes Her” vibe. I’d watch that.

So cheeky and light hearted. I wanted to see that movie!

8. There’s no 80’s music… Steve didn’t need to be there, he taught her how to fly… She’s Diana, why… idk

home alone smh GIF

There’s so much.. I’ll stop here, if you think of anything leave a comment.

I doubt anyone will ever read this. Peace out!