newsletterSM_livearts.gif The reality is that we work on computers for efficiency. (That “undo” button just can’t be beat.) Often, the computer’s limits define the aesthetics of a project. Using real-life materials is a powerful option to create a unique feeling. We’ve used them in a few projects recently. Examples of this can be seen in our work for Live Arts and in the ad campaigns for Microsoft Windows XP, Knob Creek bourbon and Chevron oil.Text can be hand-drawn to give the warmth and personality that can only come from a person putting pen to paper. It’s loose and full of character, as opposed to most fonts that are highly refined so as to appear machine-made. Hand-drawn fonts typically start on paper and are scanned and then cleaned up on the computer either by tracing in Illustrator or pixel editing in Photoshop.

Found objects and textures are another resource to use. To get images into a workable format, we photograph or scan actual materials at a higher resolution than we’ll actually need. That way, we are sure we have all the detail possible when we adjust the images for color and contrast, as is often necessary. After that, we’re in digital heaven again, with a brand new vocabulary. Scanning works well with fairly flat items such as paper products and fabrics. For items with any dimension, such as beads, or where you need to accentuate the edge (chipboard), we’ve found that photographing the item on a white background works better.