Category Archives: Creativity

Inspiration, Motivation and jump-starts to inspire creativity.

My Digital Beginnings

punchcard

Ever since visiting the Bank of America building on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue in the 1960s, becoming a computer operator was my dream. Do you recognize this card? Way back in 1971, the 80-column punchcard marked the beginning of my digital life.

I labored alone on the swing shift at local manufacturing plant, and when my work was completed in the wee hours of the morning, I searched for something to keep me busy until it was time to clock out.

Lucky for me, I found a stack of punchcards labeled Mona Lisa, and when I ran the program, nonsense characters lined up one after another, as they plotted out an image of Mona Lisa on the blue and white striped page.

Thus began my love affair with digital art. Not long afterwords I began a study of art and graphic design, dead set on the concept that computers could and would make art.

ascii_mona_lisa_by_mikenu

John Munno shares love for the beauty of New England through his greeting cards

John-MunnoJohn’s Munno’s photography is about helping heal the human spirit and kindle an appreciation for Nature and the Natural Elements that help heal and are vital to our existence on this planet.  We are not separate from Nature.

His message can be stated simply.  “What we do to the Earth, We do to ourselves”

With this intention he created his 50-card line up of Greeting Cards of Connecticut and New England. “There is beauty all around us” He states, “We pass it every day with every step with every mile we drive in our cars. My card’s message is to call us to stop, to slow down, to look around and to appreciate.” Most of the images are taken in around his Southbury Connecticut home, featuring the farms, woodlands, lakes, streams and waterfalls of the Connecticut Hills as well as seascapes from Acadia National Park.

deer

Each card is a work of art that you will fall in love with. They are 5” X 7”. The insides are left blank to write your personal message to friends, family and loved ones. These distinctive and exquisite, quality photo cards can be given as a special gift or can be treasured by you as a framed piece of fine art. Let these creative works of art brighten someone’s day or use them to add warmth and beauty to your home and heart.

Acadia

John’s love for photography started in his teens with his father’s gift of a Zeiss Ikon 35 mm camera that belong to John’s Grandfather. That camera accompanied John on every backpack trip to the Catskills, Adirondack Mountains. and Berkshires of his East Coast  home. John studied photography through the New York Institute of Photography and is versed in many aspects of photography including architecture and interiors and portraits.

John’s love for nature and people comes through in his photos and it as been said “his photos, inspire, delight, uplift and gently open peoples hearts which makes them endearing.” John has been described “as having a heart that sees with beautiful eyes.” He brings a beauty, clarity and purity to his photographic work.

To view John’s Cards visit his website www.johnmunnophotography.com.  You can follow the link under store to greeting cards to view his collection  http://www.johnmunnophotography.com/connecticut_greeting_cards

TapistryIn addition to his greeting card collection, John produces a “Connecticut Landscapes Calendar” taking your month by month through the changing seasons of New England. He produced a beautiful DVD, Nature Speaks filled with images of John’s travels around the world and prose next to each image. Canvas Wraps and Prints are also available through his website to beautify your home or office and bring the healing elements of Nature to your sacred spaces.

Our Etsy store is growing—new products are up!

blog-post-image-with-new-etsy-products

Now available from our Etsy store are our greeting card boxes, elastic stretch loops, gold seals, adhesive foam pieces and glue tape—all great tools for making and packaging handmade note cards!

Several weeks ago we announced our Etsy store was live, and that we were selling a new kraft note card set; now we have five more products available, and we’re excited about reaching out to more DIY aficionados!

We’ve listed more tools for cardmakers, scrapbookers and other crafters alike: soft fold clear plastic boxes (in standard A2, A6 and A7 sizes), 10″ elastic stretch loops (in 18 metallic and matte colors), gold seals (in 1″ and 1-1/4″ sizes), adhesive foam pieces (squares, strips and circles), and the glue tape pen. Although our regular readers might already recognize these products from Oak Creek Printworks, we hope you’ll share the news with those you know who already use Etsy and might be interested in shopping from us.

Check out our Etsy store, and stay tuned for more updates as we continue to grow our Etsy product offerings!

Oak Creek Printworks is on Etsy

24 packaged note cards and envelopes

Our blank kraft paper note cards and black envelopes, sold in a set of 24, is sure to help inspire your creativity and showcase your own unique artwork. This product is only available through our new Etsy store!

4 sample cards

To help display the blank cards, we created some of our own sample designs using products that are already available from Oak Creek Printworks.

Design and create personalized greeting cards using products at our new Etsy store, where shoppers will find select items that aren’t available on the Oak Creek Printworks website.

A set of 24 blank kraft paper note cards and black envelopes is our first item in the new Etsy store. The black, square-flap, announcement style envelopes are uniquely paired with 80 lb. kraft paper cards for an acid-free, environmentally friendly card with a more formal look.

We’ve used some of the products already available on Oak Creek Printworks to create the examples shown here: gold seals, adhesive foam squares, black elastic stretch loops.

We hope these cards will inspire our readers to bring their own creations to life! To learn more about the blank kraft paper cards with envelopes visit Our Etsy Store.

We pride ourselves in helping artists market their cards and prints. Send us your creations by snail mail, or 300dpi .jpg,  and if we publish your art on our blog, we’ll link back to your website.

Try a #10 Greeting Card for Panorama Images

Angela Sharkey

Wondering what to do with your auto-stitched and panorama photos? Bookmarks aren’t the only game in town. Long rectangles, either vertical or horizontal, transform into attractive greeting cards when presented on a #10 business sized greeting card. That’s what Angela Sharkey, former Featured Artist, did recently with some of her latest paintings. Rather than try to make the oblong shapes work on an A7, A6, or A2, more traditional greeting card shapes, Sharkey opted for the less commonly used #10 size.

 Photoshop

To set up your card in a Photoshop or other raster-oriented software, create a new document that is 10 inches wide by 8.75 inches in height. A document this size will accommodate the trim marks needed to accurately cut the card to size. If you want your image to bleed; that is, print all the way to the trimmed edge, it is important to extend your image beyond the trim marks by .125-inch. The bleed setting is represented here by the red line. The actual card trims to 9.25-inches wide by 8-inches in height. The trim is represented by the black line. A #10 card folds at the halfway, or 4-inch mark, represented here by the cyan (blue) line. All of these lines (including the black trim marks that fall at the four corners of the black trim line) are non-printing and part of the template. Simply redraw onto a printing layer the eight trim marks shown at the four corners.

 InDesign or Illustrator

If you use Adobe’s InDesign or Illustrator, set up a new document that is 9.25 inches wides and 8 inches in height. If your image will bleed, in the document setup options, create a bleed of .125 inch. Once the page is set up, drag a guide from the ruler to the 4-inch mark on the vertical ruler to indicate where the card will fold. To print, export your file to a print resolution .pdf with crop marks and you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

Angela Sharkey is the curator of the Mel Sembler Gallery in the U.S. Embassy, Rome, Italy. View more of Angela’s art here.

Not Another Green Marble Background?

For a designer, creating a new look for a green marble background is like bringing out the old bell-bottoms and believing they look as cool as they did in 1969.

Filling a “simple” request can be not-so-simple if you make a lot of blind starts, like spending an hour hunting down an old CD filled with stock marble images, just to find they are in an outdated graphic format.

A second blind start—searching stock images—another hour easily wasted as I realized, why not create an original image? Not only can it be easy, but the price is right. We refurbished our kitchen a few years back, and while out searching for the right granite counter top, I took plenty of photographs of the various granite and marbles, but none were green. Take them into Photoshop, and with a couple of well placed clicks I was able to turn my images into perfectly suitable green marble backgrounds.

gold marble

This is the original photograph of the marble.

green marble

By applying levels to increase the image’s contrast, and then applying a hue and saturation effect, the result is this rich, green marble-like background.

There are only two steps to go from the original photograph of the gold marble to the green. First, I created an adjustment layer for “levels” to increase the image contrast. The adjustment layers are forgiving in that they allow you to manipulate the data at any time without destroying any of the original pixel information.

The second step is to create and adjustment layer for “hue and saturation.” There are three areas that can be changed within the H&S palette, but before changing anything, click on the “colorize” button. This extracts all the color from the image, assigning a default hue to all the pixels, while maintaining their original values.  Next, the hue slider cycles through the “rainbow” — ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) — stop at the desired green hue. The saturation slider adds or subtracts color, and finally the bottom slider lightens or darkens the values.

Of course, to achieve the desired result might require additional steps, depending on the nature of the original image. You might want to add additional layers of color, transparency, contrast, and texture to create a unique effect.

If you want to create a library of backgrounds and textures, do it yourself. Textures exist everywhere, and for every photograph you take, you can manipulate it in an infinite number of ways.

With today’s image editing programs, you don’t have to mortgage your home or rent out your kids to afford amazing software. I’m currently experimenting with an app called Pixelmator, a $15 Photoshop wannabe, and after half an hour of playing (and they call it work), I can say it’s certainly worth the investment. In fact, I’d recommend Pixelmator to any of my beginning design students who have a newer Mac, but can’t afford Photoshop. This app works on my iMac, now that I’ve upgraded to Lion, but Pixelmator will work with OS10.6 or later. With a little coaxing, I could be persuaded to show and tell more about this cool app, Pixelmator.

Architecture and Graphic Design Play Off One Another

Montreal Condos

Condos on a small island strip in the middle of the St. Lawrence River.

Each time I travel I make new discoveries, and often, insights and inspiration comes only once I’m back home and have had a chance to unwind and process the whirlwind adventures.

On this trip which began on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Canada, I became particularly focused on the art and design in architecture (probably because there wasn’t much wildlife or sport activities in our itinerary). I found the range in age and architectural styles to be visually stimulating without appearing to end up in a hodge-podge of visual clutter. Continue reading

I’m a Photo Horder

unedited octopus

I was pretty sure that among the 200-some-odd photos I had taken, there had to be an octopus somewhere.

 

octopus, starfish

By opening up the shadow areas and toning down the highlights in iPhoto, the values are redistributed to more closely resemble the actual scene. However notice the reflection in the lower left quadrant of the screen.

In the small dark cavern, I would have completely missed the fact that the octopus was there at all had I not made the quick adjustments that open up the shadow details. I performed the adjusted preview in iPhoto on my Macintosh, but Microsoft’s comparable software is Windows Photo Gallery.

I learned lots of valuable lessons in photojournalism classes, many long forgotten, but a couple of lessons really stuck. Thirty years ago when, as students, we were advised to Shoot a lot, our biggest complaint was the cost of film.  Today, the cost of digital equipment pales when compared to film and processing costs, so I was surprised to learn that one of my companions on a day-long adventure to the Aquarium of the Pacific was throwing away photos after she previewed them on her iPhone, deciding they didn’t “turn out.” I wondered how it was possible to make such a quick decision about the images under such poor conditions and on such a small screen.

The next day, I showed my companion a rough edit slide show of my 230 images. I put them up on the big screen tv. She, on the other hand, had only 13 images, which we viewed on her iPhone. Granted she’s not a fanatic like me, and didn’t shoot as much as I did, but I can’t help by thinking about the photos she threw away. “What if there were details in the image that she missed on the small preview screen?” I wondered. “What if she could adjust her lighting after the fact?”

The reflection in the previous images has been replaced using the “content-aware” feature in Photoshop.

My first task after downloading photos to the computer is to make preliminary adjustments to the tonal values in the images. It’s a relatively “quick” and painless process, and I finished this batch in about 2 hours, or about 30 seconds per image. Unless you are serious about photography, you might unwittingly skip this most critical step, so that’s where the hording comes in to play. Don’t throw away any photos before you perform a quick adjustment to the image’s tonal values.

In the edited photo, the reflection in the lower left is more obvious than before, so I bring my photos into Adobe Photoshop where I make all the actual refinements and adjustments. To eliminate the glare, I made a feathered rectangular selection and filled the area using the “content-aware”  feature, which gathers data from nearby pixels to simulate the surroundings.

Cleveland Airport Layover

Dr. Gino

“Oh my, is he serious?”

As we approached our gate, I couldn’t help but be struck dumb by the goofy looking dentist in the billboard posted directly across from Gate 20C. Enough to stop me in my tracks, I read the headline, and grabbed my husband, Bob, by his shirtsleeve. “Is it just me?” I asked Bob. He saw the sign, and we looked at each other. After having a good chuckle, we took seats waiting at the gate, where I attempted to test my new camera equipment.

In all likelihood, as a graphic designer and teacher of design, I am not your typical observer, but I was a captive audience during a five-hour layover. Let’s just say I had a lot of time on my hands. The poor airport gate agents had to stare at Dr. Gino’s new ‘doo day after day.

“Uh, he’s not working on my teeth.”

One of the agents walked over to a small group of us who were being entertained by the reactions of the rushing travelers. “Do you think we should call him?” the agent asked the group. Several passengers gathered around the sign, and the three agents pondered over the dilemma. Should they, or shouldn’t they call Dr. Gino and warn him about the ruckus his sign is causing?

“Yes, but perhaps that was his intention? It could be a genius marketing plan,” a female agent suggested. “Look at all the people who are drawn to the ad and are talking about it.”

Passersby were surely gawking and talking about Dr. Gino. Maybe they’re still talking today.

“Honey, you’re not going to believe this.”

Airline passengers pass the time people-watching at a busy airport terminal where a billboard greeted arriving and departing travelers.

New Pastel Stretch Loops Complete Spring Note Card Sets

stretch-loop-yellow

Matte Yellow Elastic Stretch Loop shown around a clear plastic A2-1/2BOX. The single box of 8 cards and envelopes is displayed on a Clear Acrylic Small Card/Print Stand, CASPS.

Springtime is just around the corner, and Oak Creek Printworks wants to help you with your holiday packaging by introducing the 10-inch elastic stretch loop in two new spring colors. We’ve added a matte yellow and a matte lavender to the choices for dressing the A2 size note card box.

stretch-loop-lavenderLast year, we wanted to encourage our customers to try the metallic blue, purple, and copper, and the matte pink, baby blue, black and white stretch loops, so we gave away one free stretch loop, priced at $.21, with each A2-1/2BOX.

When customers realized there was no cost for the loop if they purchased a box, they began to broaden their choices beyond the typical gold and silver, by far the more popular selling colors.

So this year, when the latest colors, matte lavender and matte yellow, arrived in time for Easter and other spring holidays, we decided to extend the offer of one free stretch loop with any A2 size box, ranging in depth from 1/4-inch up to 2-inches. Just make a separate item purchase for each color stretch loop desired. For example, if you want 100 A2 boxes with four different color loops, place an order for four individual items, 25 boxes for each color desired.

To order these ten-inch stretch loops without the A2 box, (though we don’t know why you’d want to) we’ve provided links below to each of the product pages.

stretch-loops-13-colors

Matte colors line the top row of 10-inch stretch loops, while metallic colors are shown in the bottom row. Matte yellow and mat lavender are the newest colors in the 10-inch line of elastic stretch loops.

Choose from a wide selection of colors

Matte:

Metallic:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Copper
  • Green
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Purple

The single box of 8 cards and envelopes shown in the above images is displayed on a Clear Acrylic Small Card/Print Stand, CASPS.