Blogposts

15 “Best Actress” performances you can instantly stream from Netflix.

So a couple of nights ago I finally watched Silver Linings Playbook and really enjoyed it. I recalled that Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for this film and began to wonder: how many other films that won a “Best Actress” Academy Award can I watch on Netflix? Here’s the full list of winners on Wikipedia with all the years and nominees. Currently Netflix only has 15 of the eighty-seven movies available on streaming, with about a dozen more on DVD. And I’ve only seen four on this list so it looks like the movie theme for me this month is phenomenal actresses!

2012: Jennifer Lawrence
Silver Linings Playbook • Netflix | IMDB

2011: Meryl Streep
The Iron Lady • Netflix | IMDB

2002: Nicole Kidman
The Hours • Netflix | IMDB

1999: Hilary Swank
Boys Don’t Cry • Netflix | IMDB

1998: Gwyneth Paltrow
Shakespeare in Love • Netflix | IMDB

1996: Frances McDormand
Fargo • Netflix | IMDB

1991: Jodie Foster
The Silence of the Lambs • Netflix | IMDB

1988: Jodie Foster
The Accused • Netflix | IMDB

1986: Marlee Matlin
Children of a Lesser God • Netflix | IMDB

1983: Shirley MacLaine
Terms of Endearment • Netflix | IMDB

1982: Meryl Streep
Sophie’s Choice • Netflix | IMDB

1981: Katharine Hepburn
On Golden Pond • Netflix | IMDB

1977: Diane Keaton
Annie Hall • Netflix | IMDB

1967: Katharine Hepburn
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner • Netflix | IMDB

1953: Audrey Hepburn
Roman Holiday • Netflix | IMDB

Facebook and Privacy: Are you Lily and James’ Secret Keeper?


art by Mary GrandPre/Scholastic

Almost a year ago it came to light that along with the 800 million authentic Facebook accounts, there may exist more than 80 million ‘shadow’ accounts, created by Facebook from information it has collected on people who have never signed up for or even used Facebook. Here are the articles if you missed them:

Daily Mail.co.uk Story
Fox News Story

There’s a lot you can do now to customize privacy on your own account, but how do you protect yourself from your friends? You can be meticulous in not listing where you live, where you work, and skip location tagging on any of your content, but you can’t stop your friend from posting a picture of you at Chili’s and linking to Chili’s website. Suddenly, there’s a map of your neighborhood with a pin with your name on it stuck on that Chili’s location. You can remove yourself from the tags after the fact, and you can ignore or reject relation requests, but that doesn’t stop facebook-happy family members from making those requests, or FB from storing that request history. And keep in mind the only people with the ability to reject, untag, block, and censor info within Facebook, are people who are ACTUALLY ON Facebook. Ironically, by not using Facebook, you actually have no control over what sort of information is shared about you on that platform.

Is it possible to develop a new standard of etiquette for respecting your FB friend’s privacy? To assume by default that others might be more guarded with their personal info than yourself? The challenge is, in the fun of socializing on this platform, it’s easy to forget that Facebook itself is one of the characters. If I feel like I’m having a conversation with my cousin, I’m happy to tell her directions to my house… it seems more reasonable than if Facebook put interrogation lights in my face and said, “Who were you with last night? Tell us your address and detailed directions to your house.”

In the Harry Potter books, Harry’s parents were killed because the person they decided to trust with the location of their secret hiding place betrayed them, and sold the information to Lord Voldemort. This traitor is of course a true villain, because he knew the importance of the secret and purposefully gave it to the enemy. But suppose he hadn’t been a turncoat, and instead had thoughtlessly checked into Foursquare during one of his visits to Godric’s Hollow? The story would have turned out the same, except cheesier (wizards on mobile phones? Gag).

I’m just saying, we need to give our friends the right to decide how much personal information Facebook has on them. Do unto others, folks.

TLDR; Facebook is Lord Voldemort.

Graphic Design for Social Good: an Interview

I was approached recently by a graduating college student who’s interested in entering the non-profit world as a graphic designer. They asked why I decided to work for a non profit and ideas about being a professional designer without a degree in that field. I’m really passionate about both topics so thought I would share my opinions here as well.

My education
Missouri State: it’s a public state university, not a fine arts school, but at the time I was attending it was nationally recognized for having a killer graphic design/illustration program. Not being able to afford a private art school, this was the best option for me.

By the time I was a senior, I was really worried about the field I was getting myself into. I hadn’t even started and was already getting burned out with advertising and marketing! My teachers had a strong emphasis on professional integrity and using your design skill as a force for good, but I feared that no matter where I went beyond classroom, my job would be convincing people to buy things they didn’t want and didn’t need.

[An aside: Since then, I’ve really been encouraged by discovering that almost all good designers have this fear, which is why there is currently this growing movement of ‘design for good’ pro bono designers, who focus a portion of their energy on a problem they care about without compensation. The compensation is knowing that the message you’re crafting will make a positive impact on society, plus the higher level of creative freedom you get when you forgo pay. Win-Win….sometimes.]

So, Water.org is my first non-freelance design job and I can’t imagine a more worthy cause I could participate in. Upon getting the job I gave myself a crash-course in water systems / utilities and international development because, although curious, I was totally uneducated about the topics beforehand. I wouldn’t say I have comprehensive knowledge now, but for the sake of communication I think it’s better to strike a balance between technical accuracy and common language that my audience is going to be familiar with.

Our mission is a cross between Raising Funds to support the programs that we actually implement in the field (unlike a lot of US non-profits that just act as a fundraising arm for a big NGO) and Raising Awareness/educating people about the Water Crisis. These two goals make the work for our Communications team a lot more interesting than the old-school sad-eyed poster child approach.

Regarding a degree
I’m probably biased, but I have a hard time imagining myself being successful in the design field without having gone through a degree program. Not that every class was great, but the experience of getting professional critique and art direction from my teachers, and absorbing the creative energy of a classroom of 12-20 designers, was extremely valuable to my education and seems difficult to reproduce. I mean, the entire final[ semester was singularly focused on building a kick-ass portfolio. You might see if you can audit a class at a local school? It would be worth looking into. I think its worth noting that, for a majority of design students in my graduating class, graphic design was their second or third degree program they’d participated in or graduated from.

My best advice for learning design outside of an academic program would be:

1) Experience. Create your own assignments/projects or do random projects for other people. Posters are a great place to start: they’ve got a limited scope and really challenge you to distill your message into somthing impacting and visual.

2) Apprentice. If you have any friends who are designers, see if you can shadow them for a few days and see their workflow, techniques, toolbox, how they interact with clients. Don’t do this until you’ve gotten through some practice projects and are frustrated with your process… you’ll get more out of the apprentice experience that way.

3) Books. Get familiar with basic art history and graphic design through the past century. 95% of modern graphic design is recycled from previous eras and if you learn how those styles work you have a better foundation to start from and better appreciation for what you see. See if you can find a book list from a college curriculum and order the ones with the most pictures. (aside: I put “books” here instead of “read” because its more important, at least for me, looking at the examples than reading the literature. IMHO graphic design books are THE WORST when it comes to pretentious writing!)

Well, reading back I see I haven’t talked very much about what my current job is like yet, so that’ll be in the next update. What do you think? What have you seen that most inspires you? In graphic design? in engineering? in the developing world?

Water.org Globe Project

My boss, Gary White, is being honored this year as one of Conde Nast Traveler’s 12 Remarkable Global Citizens. (Water.org is the non-profit I work for, focused on safe water and sanitation projects in developing countries.) As part of the big celebration event later in September, Conde Nast is organizing a “Global Gallery,” with an exhibition of twelve globe sculptures representing each of the causes these Visionaries are famous for championing. And although I am no grand visionary myself, I did have the honor of designing and creating the Globe that represents Water.org at the event!

I started with a bunch of sketches, and immediately knew I wanted the water to come alive. But how?


Using watercolor frisket, I started by painting linear designs over all the oceans. I wanted patterns that had lots of energy and life, and were also inspired by traditional patterns in the countries where Water.org works, such as India and West Africa.

Watercolor frisket is a type of rubber-cement paint that dries quickly to make a water resistant seal over whatever you’ve painted on. It also smells like hamster pee and will wreck your paintbrush if you don’t rinse it out every 15 min.


Did I use patterns that were carefully researched and objectively determined to be the best, or the kind of patterns that I love and wish were everywhere? The world may never know.

Once all the oceans were finished, I masked off the stand and spray painted the whole planet black, turning it into what looked like a toasty marshmallow.


Once it’s dry, time to peel off the frisket and reveal the hidden message!

Full design.
http://www.picasion.com/

A few layers of varnish to keep the spraypaint layer from chipping.


Globe one and globe two, finished! Since I’d never done a project remotely like this before and couldn’t find any tutorials or examples of this being done, I wanted to make sure I had a back-up globe in case the first attempt was a disaster. As it was though, I was happy enough with the first result, and only made minor adjustments the second time around.


Globe Two is off to New York to represent Water.org at the Globe Gallery for 2012 Visionaries. Did I mention the globes get auctioned at the end of the gala, with all funds from this one going to the charity of Gary’s choice? I can’t wait to see coverage of the event, check out what other globes have been dreamed up and how they’re received. So proud to be part of this endeavor!

Laser Day Weekend

happylaserday3

Happy weekend everybody! I came up with the idea for this poster when I woke up, and tried to get the whole thing done in the hour before lunch, but other plans interfered. It’s kind of hard to design a robot on short notice. Luckily, I can hide most of him behind the skyline!

I’ve been thinking about how Labor Day may have a different meaning this year, when so many people are unemployed, but all I conclude is it’s still a pretty boring holiday. Therefore, it can be made more exciting with LASERS!

But really, what can’t?

Oh Tyler, Deliver Me from Swedish Furniture

This is a letter I’m sending to the Kansas City Star in response to an article in yesterday’s paper. You can read the original article here.

To Stacy Downs:

I was surprised to find your three-page advertisement for Ikea was mislabeled as an “article” in House and Home. At first glance, I thought you were announcing the opening of a new Ikea branch. But that might actually be useful news for Kansas City citizens. Instead, we are urged to drive a trailer 440 miles across country to the Ikea in Minneapolis, as a way of getting around KC’s embarrassing lack of Swedish furniture stores. You’ve provided us with this ridiculous advertisement that at best causes groans from readers, and at worst causes envy and discontent with our own fair city. To publish an article like this makes you appear either as completely incompetent as a research reporter, or assistant to corporate propaganda of the worst kind.

I believe these quotes in particular prove my point:

“I stopped frequently throughout the cooking section, where my eyes grew big because of the small prices.”

“Plan to use a car with ample trunk space…consider a sport-utility vehicle, van or truck.”

“If you see an item you like, grab it because it’s difficult to go back to areas of the store…”

and my favorite,

“A weekly or monthly shuttle service [from KC to Minneapolis] would be great…So many people would use the service.”

Really? How many actual people do you know would make the 12hr round trip EVERY WEEK to shop at Ikea? Why would you write something so dripping in corporate marketing? After reading this, I did an internet search for “Ikea road trip” because your article sounded like it could have been written by Ikea and distributed to newspapers across the nation, for their journalists to fill in the blanks.

I understand, the House and Home section of the Kansas City Star is not the place to find world-changing news or literary masterpieces. But if your job is to write about interior decorating ideas and projects that are unique or local to the area…why does your article sing praises to a mega-corporation that doesn’t even register KC on its radar?!?!

I don’t wax political or financial very often, and I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, but I have to say: There’s no way we can pull out of a recession if people think they have to blow 880 miles worth of gas to buy cheap furniture in a different region, contributing to Minnesota taxes and sending big chunks of KC money to a Swedish mega corporation. No offense to Minnesota or Sweden: I love you guys, but I’d prefer our money support local small businesses, or at least stay in the MO/KS area.

So as much as I like Ikea (which I actually do: my Ivar shelving system rocks), I’m not signing up for getting flat-packed onto a shuttle and getting shipped all over the country. Not in the name of home decorating.

Sincerely,

Annie

Drive Less, Live More: Biking in Springfield MO

‘Bicycle Booklet’ is a graphic design project I began a while ago, and continue to be involved in. It means a lot to me because it has started a life with meaning beyond my original purposes, and it has the potential to make a positive impact on my town.

I designed the booklet back in April to be an educational guide for bicyclists. I got the idea when I wanted to find out whether I should ride my bike on the sidewalk or on the road, and realized that this information was not accessible without a lot of online research. Also, even if I followed the ‘correct’ way, I would be in the minority of bicyclists and receive harassment from drivers.

I needed to do a pro-bono project that semester in order to graduate, so it was an easy decision.

It wasn’t long after I’d conceived of the booklet that I discovered the Sustainable Transportation Committee (part of Ozark Greenways) had been working on the same idea! This is how I got to know Andy Cline: He was writing the content of a “Utility Cycling Booklet” but didn’t know when or how it would get published. Andy’s blog, Carbon Trace, is all about biking as transportation, so writing this book was waaay more his expertise than mine.

So we shot photos, drew maps, and I got underway designing the graphics and illustrations. By the end of semester I had several finished mockups via Kinkos and my teeny weeny shaky hands.

My show at the Student Exhibition Center. A&B Cycle even loaned me a bike!
My show at the Student Exhibition Center. A&B Cycle even loaned us a bike!

From the school perspective, I was done. But we had kept the Committee updated as the project progressed, and by the time the booklet was finished, the Ozark Community Foundation had supplied the money to get it printed in a big run!

So, now these booklets are getting distributed all over the place by the City and other community organizations. It’s been so exciting to be involved in this project every step of the way, and see it going in such a good direction.

First Post

anxiety
Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Hello Blog! I started the blog today, as part of my ‘greater website development plan.’ Currently I’m as excited about figuring out how WordPress works as I was three years ago when I first tried making things in Adobe Illustrator. For an interpretation of my feelings at that time, see the picture above. But now, Illustrator is close to being my favorite design program, so that gives me hope for this new area of exploration.

Bombs away!