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Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One - The Blu-Ray Collection

This is a project I've been working on for myself. It is a book that contains the blu-rays for each of the films in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. I created this for a myriad of reasons, but the main goal was to save space. I've made a few of my own DVD Box Sets in the past for this reason. If I can have one large case instead of several smaller individual cases, I'd prefer that. In this case, I have 7 films together in a book that is narrower than just 3 blu-ray cases.

The design of the actual book went through multiple iterations. I spent a lot of time creating comps, experimenting with different paper folds and bindings before I settled on this one. Funny thing is, this design with a pocket for the disc, was the simplest and easiest design I came up with, and took me the longest to realize – Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I worked on a number of designs for the artwork over the course of a couple months, trying out different art styles. The original concept was to use simplistic, illustrated artwork to fit with the theme of a comic book. I eventually scrapped that idea and started from scratch. The style I went with is based off of the look and feel of the computer systems seen throughout the Marvel films. The concept was to have the book look like it actually came out of the Marvel Universe and property of S.H.I.E.L.D. with each film  presented as an “incident report.” Behind each disc and a unique symbol for each film. These symbols are repeated in other places throughout the book as well. Instead of using typical poster art, I used concept art from the films as a way to reference the original comic books.

The book ends with a teaser for Marvel’s Phase Two, which itself is a nod to the post-credits scenes that has become a trademark of the Marvel films. There is also a dossier that contains information on the films, such as release date, director, and the stars of the films. I also included the original posters for each, as well as a comic cover that most relates to that films. In this case they’re mostly the origin stories.

While the finished project doesn’t look as good as I hoped (some warped pages from glue, cracks in the paper on fold lines), is it fully functional and looks nice on the shelf. I do plan on creating another book for Phase Two (which I have already began working on) and all of Marvel’s future phases. In the meantime, I’ll continue tinkering on the design of the book making any improvements I can to it. When time comes to put together Phase 2, I can redo Phase 1 at the same time to maintain consistency throughout all books. Feel free to submit any feedback. If I can streamline the building of the book any more I wouldn’t mind making these upon request.

Oh, and before you say anything, YES, I did include Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk in this collection, knowing that it is not part of the MCU. I did this partly because I’m not afraid to admit that I liked this film more than Incredible Hulk. I feel the 2003 origin is told better, I prefer Hulk’s 2003 character design more, and Jennifer Connelly is more fun to look at than Liv Tyler.


Graphic Design versus Art

One day, in deep thought, I said to myself, “All graphic design is art – but not all art is graphic design.” I’m not sure I totally agreed with this. Was I being narcissistic? Or was this my id trying to make me feel more accomplished despite my inadequacies as a painter?  I began to argue that side to see what evidence I could come up with to support such a wild accusation.

First I had to define what I considered “art” and “design.” (Sticking with the visual, tangible sense of both terms) I defined art as being anything that is created for its aesthetics, and design as solving a problem aesthetically.  Art conveys an emotional message while design conveys an instructive message.

How aggressive each demands participation from its audience can very. You know when you see Munch’s The Scream that it conjures feelings of anxiety and fear. But you may not right away know why you feel a particular way while looking at a particular Jackson Pollock. Just as when you see a car dealership ad, you know it’s telling you to buy a new car. But you may not be aware that the layout of the magazine you’re reading is telling you to keep turning to pages.

As an artist, you’re free to express yourself however you choose in anyway you want. To be a graphic designer means you put the needs of your client and their message above your own artistic person preferences. This isn’t to say a designer needs to be a robot churning out formulaic material. Once they have figured out what their goal is, they can then figure out how best to accomplish it and how aggressive they want their work to be.

Art is a Miles Davis playing with John Coltrane in Amsterdam. Graphic design is a Brahms’ Violin Concerto being performed in D major. It doesn’t mean one is more correct or important than another. Both are beautiful in their own right. As long as it is effective at what it’s trying to accomplish why can’t they coexist peacefully?

What’s your take on this graphic design and art debate?


How do you see art?

There is a fascinating study published in 2011 that shows the eye-movements of people while they’re viewing a piece of art. By altering existing artwork, scientist were able to show how the eye will flow differently depending on contrast and color.

Read the study here.

It’s the science behind how art works!


How do you view art?

Who do you listen to on the radio, The Beatles or Mozart? Are you more likely to study the artwork form the renaissance period or the latest issue of Spider-Man? Do you read Patterson or Proust?

Gary Gutting of The New York Times recently argued that highbrow, fine art offers a greater aesthetic value over popular work, and thus is more important for us to experience. Are you prepared to put down Where the Sidewalk Ends for The Illiad?

Read his article here.

What do you think of Gary’s views? Is he right? Does it matter?


I can see clearly now

The past few weeks, I've was forced to take a bit of a break. Durring a visit with the optomotrist to get a new prescription for my contacts, I was advised not to wear contacts for the foreseeable future. This was my first visit to this particular doctor and he told me he saw signs of severe eye trauma stemming from eight to ten years ago, in both of my eyes. I certainly don't remember anything like that from happening.

Long story short, I had to order glasses. I couldn't wear contacts while waiting for them to to come in and I no longer had any old pairs of glasses icking around, so there was only one thing I could do. I went blind for three and a half weeks.

Without corrective lenses, there is little I can see. I can tell that my eyes are open but that's about it. So while I was without my vision there was little that I could do. It sucked. Luckily I've got my pair of specs now and I can see better than I could for a long time. Now it's just a matter of catching up on everything I couldn't do during that time.