studiotwentysix2 the art + design of tom davie

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What’s In a Name?

I regularly receive emails from individuals curious about the studio, or looking for career advice. So in an act of goodwill, I will try to address the most frequent questions as blog posts, compiling what will eventually become a FAQ page on the site.

Q: What is the significance of the name studiotwentysix2?

A: Most people assume that the name studiotwentysix2 is based on the address of the studio’s original location. This theory makes perfect sense, but is not the reason behind the name.

The actual meaning behind studiotwentysix2 is twofold. First, the numerical significance represents the distance of a marathon – 26.2 miles. I have been a distance runner since high school, and over the years, have completed two full marathons and numerous half-marathons. For most distance runners, the number 26.2 is of significant importance because it symbolizes a great challenge that offers agony and exhilaration simultaneously.

Second, is the philosophical aspect of what marathons represent for me. It may seem cliché, but the qualities needed during training: time, patience, dedication, commitment and will, were the same qualities that I wanted to represent my studio. It is that same sort of dedication that I try to bring to each design project or painting I create.

Voilà! Now you know.



Ain’t No Sunshine

Music has always been an important part of my creative process. So over the next few weeks, I plan to offer-up some of my favorite artists and albums. I have stated in the past that musical tastes tend to be personal, so don’t expect to love each of my selections, but then again, you just might.

Artist: Bill Withers
Peak Years: 1970’s
Style: Mix of R&B, Blues and Soul
Favorite Songs: Ain’t No Sunshine, Lovely Day, Use Me, I Don’t Want You on My Mind & Grandma’s Hands

My Take: Even if you don’t know his name, you will probably recognize his most famous tunes — Lean on Me and Just the Two of Us. Contemporary artists like Fiona Apple and Over the Rhine have covered his songs, and Blackstreet, Kanye West and Will Smith have sampled his music. If you are a fan of Will Ferrell movies, keep your ears peeled, because Mr. Withers work will regularly rear its head.

Ain’t No Sunshine is without question one of my all-time favorite songs. The emotion and pain in his voice is legendary, and only this song and Marvin Gaye’s, What’s Going On, are capable of actually affecting my mood — pretty powerful stuff. Below is a link for a live version of Ain’t No Sunshine, which I don’t dig as much as the album version, but it’s still top-notch.

  • Ain’t No Sunshine, Bill Withers

  • If there are musicians or songs that inspire your work, I’d like to know what they are — you can send me an email or post a comment.

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    Monday, March 26, 2007

    School’s In Session

    Even though I am no longer teaching graphic design, it remains my duty to educate the masses when necessary — consider me, if you will, a kindly Ambassador of Design. Today’s lesson is based on my escapades at Revelation Graphix’s website.

    LESSON #1
    Never...ever...ever, use the word “graphix” – not even as a joke. If you choose to do this, you are a tool. When referring to design, there are only two acceptable variations, “graphic design” and “visual communication”, that’s it. It should be noted however, that if you claim to be a “visual communicator” to anyone outside of the field, they may stare as if maggots are crawling from your eye sockets. So for the sake of ease, lets just agree to use “graphic design”. Also, it is never acceptable under any circumstance, to vary the spelling of “graphic” or “design”. “Graphix”...NO! “Grafix”...Please Stop! “Dezine”...Where’s my X-acto knife! “Grafix Dezine”...Ask for a refund from whatever online design school you’ve been attending for the past six weeks, reunite with the members of your recently defunct high school band and move back in to your parents basement, placing the requisite KEEP OUT! sign on the door.

    LESSON #2
    Avoid the use of absurd personal or company taglines. Taglines are not a necessity, but if you choose to have one, make sure it accurately represents you. Our friends at Revelation Graphix have chosen the tag, “The final chapter in graphic design”. Choosing to go in such a direction is downright ballsy. As a matter of fact, you should probably be inflicted with elephantiasis of the groin before selecting such an egotistical tag. What makes this decision infinitely worse, is that Revelation’s site design looks as if it was inspired by 1987, and not even the totally rad 1987. I suppose it is possible that Revelation Graphix had one of the first websites ever created for the Internet, thus appearing contemporary at the time, but failing to update in a 20-year span.

    LESSON #3
    Outer space, lightning, comets and glowing swords are all splendid, but attempting to include them into your logo treatment can prove troublesome. On second thought, unless you are hired by a government weather or space agency, or you happen to be contacted by a sports team named the Comets or Excalibur, just avoid this kind of imagery altogether.

    LESSON #4
    Your mission statement need not glow. I know Photoshop filters are a tempting treat, but save the glow for light-bulb icons or something “Xtreme”. Also, unless your company is named PIXAR, you might want to avoid using all of the following words in the same sentence: high-quality, professional, computer-generated, cutting-edge and high-intensity graphics — it just screams overcompensation. Imagine that guy at the end of the bar with one too many shirt buttons opened, revealing a tuft of chest hair and a cornucopia of gold jewelry. This mission statement screams, “That Guy!”

    LESSON #5
    Be consistent. Every typographic virtuoso wants to show his or her skill, but remember uniformity. Visitors may become confused when you start them off with a little of this:

    Then without warning, you decide to switch-it-up and hit them with some of this:

    The goal should not be to blow your entire typographic wad on one project. Pick your poison, and stick with it. There will be plenty of future endeavors that will allow you to break-off a little somethin’, somethin’.

    And Finally...

    LESSON #6
    Use your site to show the breadth of your work. It is important as a designer to show the ability to problem-solve differently for each client. I know that most clients drool over concepts that involve, flames, fire and flaming-type, but sometimes you need to throw a monkey in the wrench. Instead of flames, you could try...Oh Hell, who am I kidding, flames are sweet! Who needs a concept, when you can just light the thing on fire? It is apparent that the student has schooled the master, lesson complete.

    If you would like to see Revelation Graphix in person, below is the address (yes, that jumbled mess is really it), I am not going to link to the site for what should be obvious reasons:

    It’s kind of sad really, they’ve only had 31 visitors since 1987 – that’s an average of 1.5 visitors per year. What’s even worse, I account for 5 of those 31 visits.

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    Saturday, March 24, 2007


    I received this link from one of my dedicated readers. It arrived with no set-up or explanation, and I absolutely loved it.

    I would normally provide you with a running commentary, however, anything I say will take away from the experience. So I offer you the same courtesy that was given to me, no set-up, no explanation, no images, only a link. You’ll thank me later.

  • Link
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    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Do The Hustle

    Dear avacadolite,

    Damn you! Damn you straight to Hades!

    How in the name of Zeus am I supposed to get anything done around here? I am tired of having my ass kicked by your sweet, cuddly little farm creatures. Please, I beg you, remove Farm Hustle from your website. If I actually had an employer and was required to fill out a time sheet, I might have to ask accounting to add the job number AVOLITE 001. At least that way, I could bill you for the hours that were dedicated to your site. Honestly, without the new job number, I don’t think anyone would believe that I was cleaning my desk or doing clerical work for four hours a day.

    What? What did you say strange little peach blob guy? Aw, you shouldn’t taunt me like that; it’s not good for you. Here strange little peach blob guy, meet my friend Mr. Bomb. Ha! Take that! Bitch!


  • Farm Hustle
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    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Tarred, But Not Feathered

    If you’re an enthusiast of things covered in stuff, and really, aren’t we all — then this is the artist for you. Los Angeles-based Mattia Biagi’s work centers around found, made and purchased objects which he covers in tar, or as he put it, “I Tar Everything”.

    The work is really stunning, as the object’s original form is maintained, but visually altered by the tarring process. I find the work appealing because the final outcome is guided by the artist’s hand, however, working with such an unpredictable substance, the opportunity for unexpected results must be embraced as part of the technique. Mattia’s site offers many samples of his work, and a nice video that documents its creation.

  • Mattia Biagi
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    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Mexia, Texas

    Okay, so it's 6:00am, I'm completely sleep deprived, and what do I stumble upon but Gibbs Memorial Library website. Questions running through my mind at this point: Uh, how in the hell did I get on this site? Why on earth did I bother to look around once I got here? Has anything noteworthy happened since the update in May 2003? What does it say about your town, when Anna Nicole Smith was your most famous resident? I wonder if Anna Nicole ever went to the library? Was she completely literate? Maybe she liked the pop-up books? Anyhow...

    Buried deep within the bowels of this site (which I refuse to link to, just on sheer principality), was a fantastic find. Drawings from the 2001 bookmark challenge, featuring the robust theme, To the Library, AND BEYOND!!! Let me tell you what; the 4 year-olds rocked the house. Look through the bookmarks, and every time you come to a badass drawing, 4 year-old. I will give props to 8 year-old Ryan Fite, for his overt phallic depictions of the rocket and astronaut (and you thought it was an arm, sinner).

    I have a serious beef with a few of the selections, I mean, who did the Library get to jury this exhibition, Louis Braille? How on earth could Kyle Vest win 1st place among 8 year-olds, not only did he unworthily steal Ryan Fite's crown, he got the name of the library wrong. In addition to that, he spelled "library" incorrectly twice, but hey, at least he was consistent. Librarians are supposed to be educated, and should never encourage misspellings. Note to Kyle, clients hate it when you spell their names wrong, especially twice.

    Alex Lin got the shaft as well. His 3rd place finish is unfathomable, because honestly, that drawing is the baddest-ass of all. His parents were probably outraged with these results, and I seriously can't blame them. Look at the mature use of white space, his stickin' it to the man, by avoiding the library's uncontemporary theme, and what about the imagery: Is it a horse, possibly a dinosaur? Perhaps it's some creature with no eyes, a Fu-Manchu and a parasitic head? Really, any of those will do, because they're all gold!

    One last thing, does Mexia have something against crayons or markers? You know, a tool that dispenses color. Unsharpened #2 pencils are great for standardized tests, but have limited appeal in the art world. I realize that the library probably has a $400 a year operating budget, and with the cost of color copies skyrocketing, your best option must be these fantastic fax-machine-quality-duplicates. Come on Gibbs Memorial Library, throw the kids a bone, and if you ask nicely, maybe Mexia Kinko's would be willing to offer you a 2-for-1 color deal. Remember, being a patron of the arts is never cheap.

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    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Looking for Feedback

    During the past year, there have been a few requests for drawings and small-scale paintings that maintain the look and feel of my larger works. I would periodically brainstorm, experiment and sketch, but enjoyed little success making the transition from large-scale painting to small-scale drawing. For guidance, I even summoned the spirit of the great Bob Ross, but alas, the “happy little trees” remained absent from my forest.

    Anyway, I have recently been experimenting with some new ideas, and was able to find an approach that works as both a painting and drawing. The image below is the first tentatively finished drawing.

    Your positive / negative feedback is requested. I’m trying to determine if the drawing is resolved and interesting, or just the best of the failures. The framing (and matting) still needs to be finalized. Overall size (including frame) is 17.5 x 10.5 inches.

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    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    French Kiss

    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has been on my “movies to see” list, since its release in late 2005. This post is not intended to review the movie, although I will say, Robert Downey Jr. has one fantastic scene, in which he avoids arrest by pretending to be an actor. Also of note, the Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, could eat the Val Kilmer from Tombstone and The Doors, and still have room for dessert...just an observation.

    Anyway, the film title sequence was fantastic, and arguably the best part of the movie. That’s not to imply that the film was a disappointment, only that the intro was impressive and completely unexpected. Danny Yount, a director for Kyle Cooper’s Prologue Films, created the title sequence. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has the graphic sensibility of a Saul Bass title, but is undoubtedly contemporary. For me, it’s the most memorable title since Catch Me If You Can (2002).

  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
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    Friday, March 9, 2007

    The Dayton Art Institute

    The rumor has been leaking for months, and Sara Pearce of the Cincinnati Enquirer may let the cat out of the bag in Sunday’s paper, so here it is — I have been invited to exhibit The Parishioner Series at the Dayton Art Institute museum.

    The work will be shown as a solo exhibition in the museum’s Regional Artist’s Gallery, running from mid-July through mid-December, 2007. The curator for Contemporary American art and I, are in the process of selecting which works will be included in the exhibition. It has been determined that the questionnaire book (which is described in the previous post titled, “Help!”) will be included as part of the exhibition, assuming enough people respond.

    I will post additional information about the exhibition as it becomes available.

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    I’d Rather Date a Spider

    What it is: a dramatic reading of an actual break-up letter (make sure your sound is turned on)

    What makes it funny: it’s painfully juvenile, massively incoherent and oozes junior high school

    Why I dislike it: the drama is sparingly dramatic, the narrator seems lost at times, and the vocal delivery doesn’t consistently convey the letter’s anger

    Why I like it: it seems like something we would have made one sleep deprived night at graduate school, and, it walks that fine line between art and some idiot just screwing around

    Conclusion: funny, inspired and somewhat disappointing all at once (if that’s possible)

  • Dear Loser
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    Tuesday, March 6, 2007


    A friend from my days in San Diego has convinced me that myspace is a great way to network with other arts loving individuals. I admit that I don’t fully understand the “friends” feature, or how the networking occurs, but I’m up for the adventure. Any advice from those in the know would be greatly appreciated.

    If you’re just dying to know what I look like, there is a picture of me on the page, even though I wanted to post nun pictures instead. Hit me up...

  • Tom’s myspace
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    Monday, March 5, 2007

    Cup Runneth Over

    This work is utterly amazing. If you love sophistication and minimalism, Tara Donovan will rock your world.

    Donovan uses everyday materials, such as: drinking straws, glass, fishing line and paper plates, to create large installations and sculptures. The outstanding installation below, was created using styrofoam cups and hot glue.

    I have come across several artists using similar materials and techniques, but Donovan’s inspired work is on a whole different level. Anyone capable of creating so much, from seemingly so little, is aces in my book.

  • Tara Donovan
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    Thursday, March 1, 2007

    From Russia With Love

    The Russian design studio _FIRMA is sporting a memorably snazzy web site. When you initially visit _FIRMA, the intro sequence will leave you scratching your head, with a sort of “what the HELL!?!, did my computer just get hacked?” kind of feeling, but continue to click, and you will find a refined site that offers extremely high-quality photography for a design studio.

    Two aspects of the site that really stuck out, were the rotating facial segments used as part of the main navigation, and also, the year’s worth of work in a 33 second video clip (found in the About Us section). I found it amusing that they described themselves as “young, rich and almost happy”. Oh, to be young (kind-of, but not really), rich (maybe in ten years) and almost happy (check).

  • _FIRMA
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