New art piece: If I Am Not For Myself, Who Will Be For Me? (2015 Edition)

I’m pleased to report that my Etsy shop, Schultz Yakovetz Judaica, is doing well. Not “quit my day job” well or anything, but I’ve literally sold more art in the last six months than I had in all the previous years—total—of selling via my website. (For that matter, it seems to have raised the profile of my own site, since a few of those recent sales came directly through my site rather than the Etsy shop. And even that was a statistically significant uptick.)

ifiam_originalMost recently, I happened to see a few orders in a row for one of my earliest pieces, a setting of Rabbi Hillel’s famous aphorism in Pirkei Avot:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But when I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
(Pirkei Avot 1:14)

Fun fact: I first created this piece in a handmade version as a gift for my dad back in 1994. The typeset version was designed some years afterward, but no later than 2001.

In other words, it’s gotten a little dated… especially as typographic decorative art has really come into fashion over the last few years (everywhere from Etsy to CB2 to Target) with a more contemporary aesthetic.

Looking at it with fresh eyes, I decided that it was really time for an update. So I created a new version.

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While I was at it, I posted a downloadable version so that buyers can print their own copy (at any desired size) locally, rather than have me ship them an unframed print. One download includes PDFs of all three pieces.

Carpe diem!

Poppin: Gorgeous office supplies for color nerds

I first saw it in a Facebook ad. I try to avoid EVER clicking Facebook’s sidebar ads, but the picture in this one was so appealing, I couldn’t resist: a spotless white office desk tricked out with a whole suite of beautiful, brightly colored, matching office supplies.

This was my introduction to Poppin, whose mission statement begins, “Poppin believes you should be able to surround yourself with objects of beauty everywhere you go and in everything that you do.” Founded in 2009 by NYC entrepreneurs with a background in fashion (explains the killer aesthetics, right?), the company was publicly launched in September 2012, but it’s only more recently that their impressive PR is really gaining traction.

The sheer glossy perfection of it was what got me. I was in awe. Not just visually, but technically: How do you even achieve that kind of color matching across a dozen different materials and manufacturers? (It turns out that this was, indeed, a nontrivial issue for them.) I emailed the Shop By Color link straightaway to my BFF (an avowed devotee of all things purple). I followed Poppin on Pinterest. And then on Twitter. I was hooked.

But it wasn’t enough for me to lovingly browse the color selections. I had to know: What were the specs for the 16 colors?? With a few minutes of poking around their website style sheets, I managed to uncover the official hex/RGB codes. But even more specifically, I wanted to know if they had officially designated corresponding swatches in the industry-standard Pantone Matching System, or PMS. Read more about Pantone here.

I couldn’t find any mention of Pantone in their FAQ, but luckily, Poppin also encourages you to email questions to their “Work Stylist” team. So I did. Not 45 minutes later, team member Shannon sent me a perky response email with an attached PDF document — an array of the 16 swatches with their PMS numbers. My respect for the company ratcheted up several more notches.

I asked her if I could share the breakdown, and she said “feel free to spread the info!”, so here it is:

Name Hex RGB Pantone
White  #ffffff  R: 255 G: 255 B: 255 n/a*
Yellow  #ffd200  R: 255 G: 210 B: 0 PMS 116C
Orange  #f47b20  R: 244 G: 123 B: 32 PMS 166C
Coral  #ff6666  R: 255 G: 102 B: 102 PMS 178C
Red  #d31245  R: 211 G: 18 B: 69 PMS 200C
Pink  #eb4498  R: 235 G: 68 B: 152 PMS 219C
Lime Green  #c1d82f  R: 193 G: 216 B: 47 PMS 382C
Mint  #abd2aa  R: 171 G: 210 B: 170 PMS 2254C
Aqua  #68c8c6  R: 104 G: 200 B: 198 PMS 325C
Pool Blue  #00a5d9  R: 0 G: 165 B: 217 PMS 639C
Navy  #00457c  R: 0 G: 69 B: 124 PMS 295C
Purple  #52247f  R: 82 G: 36 B: 127 PMS 2617C
Light Gray  #c5c6c8  R: 197 G: 198 B: 200 PMS 421C
Silver  n/a**   PMS 877C
Gold  n/a**   PMS 871C
Black  #000000  R: 0 G: 0 B: 0 PMS Black 6C

*Pantone does actually offer a selection of white shades, but Poppin didn’t spec one. :-)
** These metallics are represented on their website with background GIFs instead of solid CSS color blocks.

For now, the CMYK equivalents (for use in four-color process printing, including your home or office laser printer) are left as an exercise to the reader. (Pro tip: InDesign will give you a reasonable conversion right in your Swatches library if you create a swatch of your target PMS color, then convert to CMYK. This will give you a slightly better match than converting from an RGB swatch, since those can be tricky to render with the same vibrancy in CMYK.)

Guess what else? If your branding colors happen to be in the above set, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can also order your choice of custom imprinted products. (Some stellar product placement on that page, BTW. Internet cachet cuts both ways!)

So which are my personal favorite shades of the collection? If you’ve seen my design homepage, it’s no surprise that I’m torn between Lime Green (canonically the most “Erica” of colors) and Pool Blue.

I look forward to seeing what else they add to the menu as the company grows.

Art Gift Project: The First Folio Panels

Now that I’m back from the holiday visit to my partner T’s family homestead, I can write about what I made him for Christmas. :-)

Earlier this fall, I went with a friend on an art-gallery outing to Chelsea, and one of the exhibits we saw was a display of text panels — letters and book pages and such in large-format colorful frames — which made me go “OMG totally up my alley,” and on very little further reflection, it produced the inspiration for this.

T is a major Shakespeare geek, currently in the final year of pursuing his MFA in Acting at Columbia. We moved in together last fall, and while I have a lot of artwork, he doesn’t really have much. I’ve resisted the impulse to cover the whole apartment in my own stuff, but that mostly means we have a lot of empty walls in the meantime.

So I wanted to create something that would be very personal for both of us.

Jn_F1_0326s_v1There are a handful of online archive facsimile editions of Shakespeare’s First Folio (interestingly, one of them is at Brandeis, my alma mater; the other one I used is hosted at New South Wales). I went through these and picked out 9 sheets with scenes that I associate with T. Most of these are roles he’s had in plays he’s been in; one is a role I had that he came to see me in (Winter’s Tale); some are plays we saw together with lines that we quote a lot (Much Ado) or that particularly touched me (Merchant of Venice).

Jn_F1_0326s_v2aI saved the scanned JPEG images of each target page off the online archives, opened them in Photoshop, converted them to grayscale TIFFs, and messed around with the levels to get the clearest, most high-contrast image out of it I could (producing white text on black background). I also cropped off the page headers (with the titles) to make the pages a little more uniform and, okay, obscure: you have to read and be able to identify the scenes to know what they are!

There are a number of online shops that do custom canvas printing; I found a really good deal on canvasdiscount.com, which had a 10×14″ size that was just the right proportions for these pages (with the headers cropped off).

With my measurements determined, I created an InDesign document to the correct size and margins, and imported a rainbow of color swatches I’d set up for an earlier project. I placed each of the TIFFs on a separate page and applied a different solid color to each one, leaving the text content to reverse out in white. I then exported each page as a high-res color JPEG. (I could have just done all this in Photoshop, too, but I found it easier to work with my margins and desired swatch library in InDesign.) I uploaded all 9 to the canvasdiscount.com site and placed my order!

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The colors are arranged down the palette, from magenta to violet, in chronological order in terms of their relevance to him/us: when he was in them or when we saw them. They could be hung up in any sequence he wants, though. And I figure I can create additional ones in future (probably neutrals: black, grey, taupe) for the plays that are making an appearance in this year’s history, or next year’s.

On receipt, I found that the canvases really are of pretty cheap quality; notably, they’re fairly loose on the frame, so they bag out a bit. But I think for these purposes, they’re effective enough, and the color printing is nice and even.

Lastly, I knew I didn’t want to carry the whole set up to Boston in order to give them as a Christmas gift (much as it would have been really fun to make him unwrap them all individually). So I waited for an afternoon when he was out of the house, hung them all up on the wall where I intended them to go, and took pictures. Then I made a little 5.5×8.5″ booklet including the photographs of the finished canvases in situ as well as the color images of each panel, labeled with what scenes they are. I printed this (imposed with InBooklet), folded and stapled it into a booklet, put it in a 6×9″ red envelope, and that’s what I put under the tree. (But since he left town before me, I hung them all up on the wall before I left, so they’re all up for him to see as soon as he gets home tonight.)

Merry Christmas, love.

P.S.: Note that, ours being an interfaith household, for Chanukah I gave him actual theater tickets… including the Actors’ Shakespeare Project‘s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, which we were able to catch during our trip to Boston. ;-)

Color (three happy and one sad)

1. gilana, call your office: Pantone consumer products!
http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2007/06/pantone-stuff-plusdinnerware-on-sale.html
http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2008/03/pantone-makes-your-world-more-colorful.html
http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2008/12/pantone-party-continues-with-more-new.html
http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2009/01/pantone-continues-their-colorful.html (I’m especially dying from this one: Gap meets Pantone! And I missed it!)
http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2009/03/pantone-plenty-again-now-for-kitchen.html
http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/2009/10/pantone-folding-chairs-storage-boxes.html

2. Out of the sheer kindness of her little heart, sen-ichi-rei made me hand-knitted gloves! Fingerless gloves, perfect for computing! They are purple and green!

3. In unrelated news, as of this morning, my office has new carpeting which is blue and purple and — not really any green, but still also pretty.

4. Storyteller and local character Brother Blue passed away last night. Alav ha-shalom.