Tzedek, tzedek tirdof: The pursuit of justice

When I receive a request for a custom design piece, it is often a Bible verse or other Jewish text that would make a good addition to my overall portfolio. In those cases, I add a custom design charge of $20 to the regular art pricing, which entitles the client to choose their design direction and request a complimentary round of revisions (I usually throw in a second and even a third round for free). However, the alternate drafts along the way usually result in work that I can make available for general sale.

Back in July, I had a recent Etsy customer come back to me and say “Would you consider making something for Deuteronomy 16:20, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue’?” Of course, that verse has been on my list of ideas for a long time, so I jumped at the opportunity to work something up.

For the first pass, I wanted to evoke the feel of a protest poster. I paired Flood, a brush font with a hand-drawn feel, with the Hebrew typeface Shuneet by Michael Cunliffe Thompson. The rainbow palette as well as the black and brown lettering for “justice” play up the theme of diversity.

I wanted to create the second version as a round layout, since my client wanted it to coordinate with a previous print. This setting uses the typefaces Minion (serif), Bilbo (script), and SBL Hebrew (from the Society for Biblical Literature) for a more traditional feel. Special thanks are due to the Open Siddur Project for connecting me with the Hebrew fonts.

I made this layout available in both a rainbow and a black-and-white (grayscale) color palette. A package with all three versions is also available in my Etsy shop as a printable PDF download.

It happens that this verse from Deuteronomy falls in Parshat Shoftim, which is tomorrow’s Torah portion. Today is also Rosh Chodesh Elul, the first of the month of introspection leading up to the High Holy Days, and the theme of justice/righteousness is strongly resonant at this season, especially the idea that the pursuit of justice is life-promoting.

Wishing you all a meaningful season of spiritual preparation. We have work to do, people.

 

Rosh Hashanah 2020: Letterform Apple

I created this design back in 2016, and have had it up on Zazzle ever since, but have rarely or never gotten any orders for it. However, a few weeks ago I got a notice that someone had ordered several copies (l’shanah tovah, friend!), and that reminded me I had never actually used it myself. So I decided to dust it off for 2020, both to send as my personal card and to post for sale on Etsy.

One of the most popular Jewish New Year customs involves eating apple slices dipped in honey, sometimes after saying a special prayer, signifying the hope that the coming year will be sweet. The apple design on this Rosh Hashanah card is formed out of the phrase “Tikatevu v’teichateimu l’shanah tovah u’metukah”: May you be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet new year. The word “metukah” (sweet) is set off in yellow to represent a drip of honey.

This is a small A2-size notecard (folded size approximately 5.5″x4.25″). Unprinted white A2 envelopes are included.

Click through to view on Etsy.

Bishvili Nivra HaOlam, or, The two pockets

In October of 2018, an Etsy customer commissioned from me a design of the quotation Bishvili nivra ha-olam: “The world was created for me”.

This phrase is a quote from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 37B), but it is most famously incorporated into a Chassidic story about Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (the Yiddish name for the town of Przysucha, Poland).

Rabbi Simcha Bunim teaches: Every person should have two pockets. In one pocket should be a piece of paper saying: “I am only dust and ashes.” When one is feeling too proud, reach into this pocket and take out this paper and read it. In the other pocket should be a piece of paper saying: “For my sake was the world created.” When one is feeling disheartened and lowly, reach into this pocket and take this paper out and read it. We are each the joining of two worlds. We are fashioned from clay, but our spirit is the breath of Adonai.
—Martin Buber, Tales of The Hasidim Later Masters, pp. 249-50

At the time of the original commission, it struck me that I ought to create a two-sided wallet card with one saying on each side.

Zazzle annually offers its Pro members (ProDesigners) a free batch of business cards (FYI!). So when it came time to order this year’s set, I finally sat down and designed the other side.

The cards arrived last Thursday and I’m quite pleased with them!

At that point, I also realized that by a happy coincidence, that week’s Torah portion was Vayera, the source of the “dust and ashes” quotation. It occurs in Genesis 18:27 when Abraham is bargaining with God over Sodom and Gomorrah:

כז  וַיַּעַן אַבְרָהָם, וַיֹּאמַר:  הִנֵּה-נָא הוֹאַלְתִּי לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אֲדֹנָי, וְאָנֹכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר. 27 And Abraham answered and said: ‘Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, who am but dust and ashes.
כח  אוּלַי יַחְסְרוּן חֲמִשִּׁים הַצַּדִּיקִם, חֲמִשָּׁה–הֲתַשְׁחִית בַּחֲמִשָּׁה, אֶת-כָּל-הָעִיר; וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא אַשְׁחִית, אִם-אֶמְצָא שָׁם, אַרְבָּעִים וַחֲמִשָּׁה. 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous; wilt Thou destroy all the city for lack of five?’ And He said: ‘I will not destroy it, if I find there forty and five.’

Genesis Chapter 18

Granted, there’s nothing like entering a battle of wits with the Eternal Creator to make a person mindful of their own base humanity. But the point is, maybe Abraham would also have benefited from keeping one of these two-sided cards in his pocket. After all, in a very real sense, the world was also created for him.

 

Further reading:

 

Follow me on Instagram!

The way I originally joined Instagram, personally, was quite by accident. Since I have a gmail account under my maiden name, I get a lot of “doppelganger” email for other users named Erica Schultz (who apparently can’t remember or type their own email addresses correctly, or else other people can’t). In June of 2015, I got an email from Instagram addressed to the username “aleishaphippen4p” with a link to reset my password. I ignored it at the time. But in July of 2016, I got another reset link for the same username at my email address, and I thought, why not?

Note that these types of emails are frequently phishing attacks, but I checked the original message and all its headers and URLs, and everything seemed legitimately linked back to Instagram.com. So I reset the password associated with my email. Then, since Instagram lets you do this, I simply changed the username to @eschultz72. Easy-peasy.

So I guess, thanks, Aleisha, whoever you are.

I used it very sporadically. (If you want more pictures of food, sunsets, performative Judaism, and my toddler-now-preschooler, that’s the place to follow me.) But fast forward a couple years and I’m now working for the Jewish Federation of Northwest Indiana as communications director, including social media responsibilities. So this fall when they said “we need to get on Instagram!” I had to get up to speed! Check them out at @jewishnwindiana.

While I was at it, I decided that my Judaica line also needed a dedicated Instagram. I had set up a Facebook page for Schultz Yakovetz Judaica in April of 2016 (admittedly as a Gen-Xer I’m much more native on FB than on Instagram). But it struck me that I could use Facebook to showcase new designs (and link to product listings) and still take advantage of Instagram to present more real-life product shots and behind-the-scenes takes. Which brings me to today and the newly minted @schultzyakovetz. You know what to do. :-D

The best CMYK match for Cadmium Orange

Spoiler: There isn’t one. But read on to understand why.

Perfect for Halloween: a post about orange!

I had a request earlier in October 2018 from an Etsy customer in Brooklyn who wanted a custom print created of the phrase בשבילי נברא העולם (“The world was created for me“), with “for me” in orange “to match Moully’s ‘Orange Socks’.”

*Note: she didn’t ask me for ואנכי עפר ואפר but now I feel perhaps I should create this as a two-sided laminated pocket card. :-)

I wasn’t familiar with Moully, but Rav Google quickly brought me to Yitzchok Moully, the Pop Art Rabbi, and his popular little painting [Hasidim in] Orange Socks.

"Hasid in Orange Socks" by Yitzchok Moully.

“Hassid in Orange Socks” by Yitzchok Moully.

I saved down an image of the painting from his website, sampled the orange color directly from it, designed a layout of the text, and sent a proof to my customer. She approved it, so I output a color laser print and shipped it off to Brooklyn. Easy-peasy. Right?

On Tuesday, I got another message: She was unhappy. Why? Because the printed version was a “burnt orange” rather than the “true orange” she had approved onscreen.

While it hadn’t occurred to me ahead of time that this would be an issue, I should have known better. Bright orange (along with bright green) is notoriously difficult to produce in a CMYK 4-color system, such as commercial process printing—or a conventional laser printer.

In fact, industry leader Pantone developed an entirely new 6-color printing system called Hexachrome that addressed this problem by adding actual orange and green inks to the standard process palette of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. One year at the Bookbuilders of Boston book show, I saw a book on tree frogs printed in Hexachrome, and it was utterly stunning, so much so that it’s still fresh in my mind. You couldn’t invent a better use case to showcase the capabilities of Hexachrome (which, sadly, was discontinued in 2008, no doubt due to a dearth of scholarship on tree frogs).

But all this wasn’t helping my Brooklyn customer, who just wants a print that will match what she sees onscreen. It sounds like a simple request!

I was not at all sure how to overcome this discrepancy remotely, so the solution I offered was to work up a few variations with alternate shades and send her prints of all of them. As I got started, however, I thought: Why not go to the source? Maybe the artist has already dealt with this issue and could make a suggestion? So I returned to Rabbi Moully’s website and submitted a contact form inquiry, explaining my situation, and asking if he could recommend the best settings for a CMYK match.

Not 5 minutes later, my phone rang with an unknown New Jersey number, and it was Yitzchok Moully calling from his cell, stuck in traffic while driving the carpool. “I figured I might as well call!”

He let me know that the original painting used straight Cadmium Orange, which is pretty classic… and thoroughly unreproducible in 4-color process printing. However, there are several possible spot-to-process conversions cited as a “true orange”. So, starting with the first shade my customer had rejected, and lightening up from there, I ended up with 8 possibilities.

These are the 8 shades I sent her:

#1: RGB 230-75-9
This was my original offering, but when I printed it off, I could definitely see why the customer thought it was too red.

#2: RGB 253-84-5
This is a second shade I sampled from Moully’s JPEG image. It looks good onscreen, but still looks dark when printed in CMYK. (The CMYK conversion is done on the fly by the printer driver, so I don’t know the exact conversion values.)

#3: C0 M75 Y99 K0

#4: C0 M62 Y97 K0
This was the one I liked when printed, and what I’ve chosen to use going forward.

#5: C0 M43 Y81 K7

#6: C0 M51 Y100 K0
To my surprise, this was the one my client picked as her preferred match. It’s a shade that I had found published as an equivalent of Pantone 152 (although Pantone officially recommends C0 M61 Y100 K0, which has 20% more red [that is, magenta] in it).

#7: C0 M48 Y95 K0
A possible equivalent of Pantone 151.

#8: C0 M35 Y90 K0
A possible equivalent of Pantone 137. Obviously this is the most yellow (or rather, least magenta) of the selections.

Moral of the story: It all depends what you think a “true orange” really is! … And also on your screen vs. printer calibrations, but that’s a topic for another day.

Rosh Hashanah Apple Papercut

The Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, starts tonight at sundown. Happy 5778! And this month, despite being too busy to blog much of late, I did manage to create a new Rosh Hashanah card design.

I did a custom Etsy order earlier this year for a text design in a faux-papercut style, which got me interested in doing one for myself. Papercutting is a traditional Jewish art form, and this piece incorporates a traditional Rosh Hashanah blessing: “May it be Your will, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You renew for us a good and sweet year.” These words are recited over the apples and honey that are so emblematic of Rosh Hashanah.

For my personal sending, I ordered 4.25″x5.5″ double-sided flat cards from OvernightPrints. But I’ve also posted a 5×7 version (customizable) on my Zazzle shop:
Rosh Hashanah Apple Papercut Card

Shanah tovah u’metukah! A good and sweet year to all my readers.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

The Jewish Advocate interviews me

My writer friend Michael A. Burstein sometimes writes for The Jewish Advocate, which is the local Jewish community newspaper in Boston. He is also a regular attendee of Arisia, so he pitched an article to the Advocate regarding the Friday night davening and the new siddur, and he interviewed me for it.

Observant Jews ‘daven’ long, prosper at area sci-fi con

The article made the front page of this week’s paper (!), but like all their digital content, it’s behind a paywall. (Boston locals please note: If you’re not an Advocate subscriber, you can still pick up an individual copy at the Israel Book Shop in Brookline… if the snow emergency ever ends!) So rather than the article itself, I give you the (slightly edited) text of my interview answers instead.

Continue reading

Free Printable Friday Night Prayerbook (Condensed Edition)

This past weekend was the Arisia science fiction convention, which is put on each January by several hundred of my closest friends in Boston, MA. I attended almost every Arisia from 1999 to 2014 (after which I moved back to the Midwest). In 2006, since all my geeky shul friends were attending the convention anyway, I started organizing a Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat service at the convention hotel. Those of us who were on the synagogue board borrowed a large (and heavy!) crate of assorted prayerbooks from Temple Beth Shalom of Cambridge every year to make the service happen.

This service, I am happy to say, is still going on, organized by Terri Ash (of Geek Calligraphy) and her family. But for 2017, Terri wanted a pamphlet-style siddur containing only the prayers for Friday night, that could be stored from year to year just for Arisia. But we weren’t aware of any existing siddur that fit our needs, so, what do we do? Build our own (based on the extensive resources available at the groundbreaking OpenSiddur.org website). She asked “Who wants to help make this happen?” and of course I said “Here I am!”  Continue reading

Guest post on Books & Blintzes

I have a guest post up today on Rabbi Deborah Miller’s blog Books and Blintzes.

Guest Contributor – Erica Schultz Yakovetz, Calligrapher and Graphic Designer

(I’m pleased to note that I have the first-and-so-far-only post under the category “Visual Arts > Graphic Design“.)

Jewish artist friends: She’s looking for additional guest contributors. If you would like to share a little bit about your work, go get in touch.

Invitation design: Watercolor theme

Back in September 2015, one of my dearest friends back in Boston contacted me about doing invitations for her oldest daughter’s bat mitzvah in November of the following year, for Parashat Lech Lecha.

Maya is a budding artist, and the celebration was going to have an art theme. In March 2016 they sent me a draft of Maya’s design concept (shown right; click to enlarge). It’s always helpful to have a client with such a clear vision of what they’d like to achieve!  Continue reading