On The New 2019 Mac Pro

Apple Mac Pro 2019 and Pro XDR Display – Photo: Slash Gear

Been a while, and I am back, since this issue is on my immediate horizon.

I make my way as a working Graphic and Web Designer in the green hills of West Virginia where I relocated from the NYC region in 2014. In that time, the Mac computing landscape has changed immensely – and not changed much. But you KNOW that the New Mac Pro would catch my eye, and appropriate pro kvetching. It’s design, it’s features, it’s engineering, and it’s blink-worthy pricing, all very worthy of discussion.

Am I going to get into it? As a mid-tier working-class Design Guy – Oh, Hell Yes.

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Reconsidering Facebook

Take a Break. Facebook Sreen Shot

I take a bit of time off from Facebook’s toxic noise.

Good gods, I really should posting more often. However, I might cast some of the blame to the topic of this very post. Facebook. Lately, I have been keeping Facebook at arms distance – with hazmat gloves. Other than my duties as an Admin or a Moderator on various Pages and Groups, including work for clients, I have largely been leaving Facebook the hell alone, or at the very least, trying to limit my dosage.

Over the past two years, especially since the Trump era, Facebook has descended from a somewhat weird and warped community space, to a terrifying echo chamber of screaming, flames, and snarky memes. It’s essentially devolved to two tribes of monkeys with different colored asses flinging monkey poo and shrieking at each other at the top of their lungs, and not noticing they’re in the same cage. I characterize myself somewhat left of center, like many art people, leaning liberal, but have some conservative views too. I suppose, I follow –  “Tax fairly. Spend wisely, Try to balance the budget. Defend the nation. Protect the people. Equality before the Law. Help people where we can. Show respect for others differences. Stay the hell out of my worship and my bedroom, and your liberty stops the moment you stretch your arms and put your finger in my eye.” For this, acquaintances on the F-list seem to lose their freakin’ minds – on the Right and the Left.

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Pro iPad – We weren’t quite there yet

iPad Adobe Comp CC

iPad running Adobe Comp CC

I am a professional graphic and web designer and I utterly love my iPad Pro. Now it’s not the latest and greatest or the biggest, I am still a working fellow and can’t snatch up every bit of shiny new tech that drifts over my horizon. But I do have a fondness for sturdy and capable kit.

One of the relentless pushes of the idea – and marketing – people at Apple is the notion that you could easily replace your laptop for professional creative work. Creative pros have been a specific target for advertising the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. As a designer, I am to whatever degree, Adobe’s bitch. Mostly due to the necessity for having to deal with clients and vendors and an installed base of fellow professionals that goes back decades. I am not totally sold on Adobe Creative Cloud, but that bit of professional extortion is a topic for another entire column.

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What Graphics Programs Should A Pro Graphic Designer Know?

Graphic Applications on my Mac PRo. -

Graphic Applications on my Mac Pro. – Yep, the Big Kahunas are there.

Recently I came across this post on the MacRumors Design and Graphics forums.

“Hello, Got a friend who’s interested in going back to school to become a graphic designer. Wondering what programs graphics pro’s are expected to know.”
Chris7, Mar 10, 2010.

There were a lot of thoughtful replies over a few years, so it might be worth your time to visit the thread and read through them. A lot of good recommendations. It was also very interesting to see the trends in design and publishing software evolve over the multi-year span of the thread. What was common, even essential, even a decade ago falls by the wayside, and new entries rise in prominence and usage. However, I noticed my comments weighed in at article length, so felt they were worth sharing, with some clarifying edits. Hope you find them worthwhile.

If you look at some of the (few) job listings out there, the short answer is, apparently, ALL OF THEM. But the practical reality is: the software your Employer/Client uses in their shop. Which could be state of the art everything on cutting edge machines, to legacy dedicated-purpose applications from the 80s running on ancient Windows NT boxes they can’t update, as the software publisher went under in 1997.

As a battle-scarred veteran of the Desktop Publishing wars, I entered the field in 1980 B.C… Before Computers. When DTP came along in the 90s, it was heavily marketed as a way to eliminate entire art departments. Since then, it has been discovered that training, taste, the ability to draw, and understand principles of Design still makes a difference. This revelation lead to the the idea that giving Creative Pros robust tools and paying them was more effective than giving them to High School interns. However the ubiquity and strength – what nuclear missile guys would call “throw weight” – of our digital tools has put a LOT of talented people to pounding the floors in Walmart, if not on the street. A spectrum of design assistants and outside services I would have employed and used in the 90’s are now all contained within my workstation and software.

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Sekrit N1nj4 Project

FRS_Book_tease_1200Having been at this for over 35 years, and from time to time taken a few moments to digitally restore some of the work recovered from the house fire, the not entirely (well, a little) insane notion came across me that I should pull together a retrospective of some of my better work from my student days to the present. The original thought was it would make a nice giveaway to friends and some of my better clients. Given that the technology to self publish and offer print-on-demand is out there and getting better year after year.

So I started to pull together FANTASTIC REALITIES: A Life In Art & Design. A labor of voluminous free time and love. Was quite the trip down memory lane. Also some minor frustrations as I discovered that some storage and archive technologies did NOT stand the test of time. So for instance the breakthrough digital files of the 1996 Witches Ball Poster are apparently lost to digital mischance. ZIP Drives, anyone? Retrospect Express on a Pre-Power PC Mac? Hoo Boy.

But I scanned, reconstructed, touched up. Sniffled a little over fire damaged originals. Curated my own collection. Let me tell you, that is an exercise in humility. There were a few moments of, “oh god, I got paid for this?” But finally I was able to pull together the book in InDesign, and had an editor friend give the text a once-over. And I sent it up to the self-publishing site Lulu.com.

Got my Authors copy… it’s stonkin’ beautiful!

Beautiful... and too big.Beautiful… and too frickin’ big.

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