Those of you that are in my abuse and PSTD survivor Twitter support groups might be familiar with my Sanity Sign series. What you might not know is how it got started, or how far back the inspiration goes.
I’m a big Depeche Mode fan.
There was a particular album cover that I just adored. Granted, I’d gotten the image during the compact disc era, when gorgeous art that had covered vinyl LP jackets were shrunk to the jewel cases that CDs came in. This image was for the single “Get The Balance Right“:
This song really resonated with me, and I figured that the Town, Country & Planning’s (TC&P) design for the artwork was based on construction signs (especially as the single was released around the year “Construction Time Again” was an album).
So I did a lot of artwork based on the image- variations of street signs that I could think of, and such. I don’t think I’ve managed to save very much of it, but there was this:
North Hall was a dormitory I stayed in, while attending Whitman College from 1994-1995.
Then I decided to recreate some of the images I’d made in 2010, as part of a card I sent to a pen pal Down Under:
About three or four years passed, and I started getting involved in a Twitter chat called #sexabusechat, as I heard about it from a prolific blogger. A particular quote from this person seemed to fit this old theme of mine. (See Rachel Thompson reminds us that we are a Work In Progress.) This image was the result:
which was largely modified from the standard US crossing traffic sign, because I wasn’t too sure if TC&P Associates’ designs were under copyright.
Then I found someone on RedBubble doing artwork based on DM album covers. I figured if any attorneys connected to DM weren’t chasing after him, and the artwork remained up there (and is still there, last I checked), my own use and modification was fair game.
So I grabbed this image:
Sometime later, I went and made a digital recreation of one of my original images, heavily modifying the image I’d taken above.
As I said, I’d done a number of variations in the distant past, but of course, the Internet had come a LONG way since I started making this image in 1993. Standard symbols featured on U.S. and international street signs were easier to find by way of Google Images. I decided that the image above would be my trademark signature, and so I started putting it into subsequent projects, like this one I did for Aussa, based on a comment from one of her readers.
Like all recovering perfectionists, however, I wasn’t satisfied with the fonts I was using. I wanted something that was close to Clearview, which is what the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) uses. I found that a font called “Highway Gothic” had been created, which was free of charge. And so I grabbed it and started incorporating it into my following projects, like this one:
I hadn’t had much success in the past using scalable vector graphics (SVG) before, at least not as far as producing images completely from scratch. But once again, my rabid perfectionism pushed me back to try again. Since I was sharing these images with my Twitter followers, and I had to resize many of them over and over again, I found raster-based graphics (using the GIMP) didn’t scale very well. There was too much pixelation, making the work look rough. Over time, I found many stock images (that is, the standard symbols I referred to earlier) were available in SVG formats.
So I fired up Inkscape and remained determined to make something. This image was the first result:
and used Inkscape again with excellent results for this last project I did:
I hope I’ve demonstrated that my work is improving. I’m not the same sort of artist as my wife Cimmorene (@wavemistress) is, or my daughter (@YellowNeru)– I think they are much more talented in traditional freehand methods. But this is inspiring to me.
[EDIT November 30th, 2015] I decided to recreate one of my designs from the 1990s, and elaborate on it a little more:
You can find the Sanity Sign series, and some other old artwork I’ve brought way, way back from the dead to get new life at jaklumen.deviantart.com.