Pipe Minimal

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I’m calling the typeface Pipe Minimal, at least for now; easier than calling it “the typeface”.  It’s aggressively minimalistic in terms of the core design elements, and those elements could be commodity bits of piping, just a bucket full of straight bits and an elbow joints in PVC or copper.

The above demo plate is what I put together as soon as I’d crossed the threshold of having an actual usable font file; I managed to sort out a few problems that only came up once I tried to get FontForge to export, and got a set of lowercase characters into an .otf file and Photoshop was happy to use it.

But when I went back to FontForge to start working out upper case glyphs, I found myself frustrated by a couple things: Continue reading “Pipe Minimal”

Creating a typeface

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Minimalist typeface, work in progress.

I like typography.  I don’t quite like like it; not because of misgivings, I’ve just never gotten that deep into learning about it.  There’s a lot going on there, a lot of history and art and science and discipline, that I’ve only skimmed through in fits and starts over the years.  I know just enough to know that I don’t know much at all.

But I like it.  And I like the idea of designing type, and now and then I end up needing to create or manipulate a cohesive set of alphabetic characters (mostly in a pixel art context), so I’ve thought a little bit about it a few times.

And one of the thoughts I’ve had is about the idea of designing a typeface with an aggressively minimal set of reusable sub-components. Continue reading “Creating a typeface”

Self portrait in pencil

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Sketch based on my passport photo.  Originally I’d just meant to get basic shapes in to try inking over, since that’s something I need a lot more practice with, but I ended up digging in a little bit with pencil.

I cam out looking more like Alan Ruck than I’d meant to; something in the set of the mouth and the long face.  Like Cameron Frye scraggled up for a bohemian Ferris Beuller sequel.

This is in a 5×5 inch notebook, drawing while holding the notebook with my left hand and looking at computer screen for reference.

I’m not unhappy with it as a drawing per se but as always happens with portraiture I’m unhappy with how it fails to feel like I got the key proportions right.  Working from my own face makes this worse in some ways because I’m fighting not just my eyeball take on subject vs. portrait but also some deeply wired self-identification stuff.

Here’s the actual photo, for reference: Continue reading “Self portrait in pencil”

Fractal Mailbag #1

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Lego Sierpinski carpet, Kacy.

Blanketing my friends and family and social media network with fractal imagery for months on end is paying dividends: I get people throwing found imagery and straight up craft projects my way now, which basically always makes my day.

And so I’m gonna celebrate a lazy, snowy (in Portland, again, somehow) Saturday by showing off other folk’s stuff instead of my own. Continue reading “Fractal Mailbag #1”

Isometric graph paper!

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Simple isometric Menger sponge with orange striped shading on one face.

Little things make me happy a lot of the time, and fancy graph paper is a pretty little thing — a few bucks for a pad of 50 sheets of the stuff feels like a big pile of promise.

And with the stuff I’ve been doing lately with fractals, grids are a handy thing to have. But a standard square grid doesn’t help as much as I’d like with things like isometric views and triangle-based designs.  You can wing a pseudo-equilateral design on square grid paper by centering a triangle in a 2×2 square, like so: Continue reading “Isometric graph paper!”

Large die-cut Sierpinski carpet

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12″x12″ paper Sierpinski carpet, with shadow and background Menger sponge for maximum visual argh.

I bought a consumer die-cutting machine late last year, after thinking a lot about the possibilities of using machine-driven cutting to do elaborate fractal pieces that’d be difficult to execute with an x-acto knife.

The machine’s a Cricut Explore Air 2, and I’m very happy with it and will write a bit more about how it operates and what I’ve been doing with it at some point.

But what I was doing with it yesterday evening was cutting out an approximately one foot square Sierpinski carpet.  (Slightly less than, because the cutting material itself was a 12×12 sheet and leaving a small margin at the edges is a safe bet.) Continue reading “Large die-cut Sierpinski carpet”

Cope, But Don’t Acclimate

A brief preface for context: I wrote this on November 14th, 2016, in the immediate wake of the election of Donald Trump, and published it on my Facebook feed where friends and MetaFilter folks would have a good chance to see it.  Six weeks later, my feelings haven’t changed. But some of the things I forecasted — the abatement of rawness and immediacy, and the onset in its place of fatigue from accumulated stress and anger and sadness — are now understandably part of where many people are.  It’s part of where I am.  

And having this morning had a conversation about this piece and about the state of things right now and in the near future, I wanted to rehome this on my blog as part of my effort to use this space more often and more deliberately.  And to mark the time a bit, as we find ourselves in this post-election, pre-inauguration limbo.  I’d call it a lacuna but everything is still far too noisy for that; we’re in a busy and worrying wayfinding place between more concrete checkpoints.  But wherever and whenever we are, we need to keep taking care of each other.


It’s been an overwhelming few days, and there’s a lot more hard ones coming. I don’t post much on FB but I feel like I should try and put something coherent up here about where I am and where we all are in the aftermath of Trump’s election, for folks I know who may not follow me on other platforms.

First and foremost: this is not normal. This situation isn’t normal. It’s a dangerous error to convince yourself otherwise, to believe that all the grief and anger and worry that has been visible on the news and in social media is just the usual post-election blues and folks unhappy their team didn’t win.

Elections are always fractious, someone always loses, yes. It’s tempting to say that’s all that’s going on here.

But this election wasn’t normal *long* before election day, and had the electoral vote margins broken narrowly for Clinton instead of narrowly for Trump we’d be in far better shape in the short term but we’d still have a problem.

Even if Trump had lost, we’d have still had a deeply unqualified man running for high office by trumpeting racist and xenophobic policies, by lying about and dismissing a well-documented history of sexism and misogyny and sexual assault, by in turns tolerating and outright embracing brazen anti-semites and racists like Steve Bannon and David Duke, by locking arms with one of the most aggressively and maliciously anti-LGBTQ politicians in the country in his VP pick of Mike Pence.

It’s a problem that that was a major party candidacy. It’s a bigger problem that it was a competitive one, that everything in that previous paragraph and the mountains of additional nastiness and bigotry and outright anti-American rhetoric of the Trump campaign didn’t render it a toothless, hopeless fringe platform. Even if Clinton had gotten the win, that is a horrifying portrait of the state of things in the US.

But Trump won, and that means we have to deal with not just the question of how in the long term to move the country in a healthy direction, but with how to start to fight immediately against it moving in scarier, more harmful directions under the direction of this incoming administration and its regressive docket.

This isn’t a normal situation. It wasn’t normal before the election, and Trump crossing that finish line resets nothing, excuses nothing, justifies no renewed sense of generosity or restoration of the benefit of the doubt. He campaigned on awfulness; that he won is a tragedy, not a vindication or a justification of that awfulness. It’s still awful. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s normal. Don’t try to tell yourself that.

But, and this is one of the hard parts: this is new right now, and the anger and the sadness and grief that so many people are feeling is still raw. But that will fade. You’ll get tired. Fatigue will set in. Life will need to go on. And so that rawness will fade away. It happens, it’s understandable. It’s even healthy and necessary to some degree. But don’t let that break down the sense that this is a problem, that this is not normal.

Take care of yourself and get back to work and keep your life moving along, but don’t let yourself believe that this is normal. Carry that with you, the understanding that we are living through an extraordinary situation and that it’s not okay, it’s not just something to get used to. Cope but don’t acclimate. Keep your chin up but keep your eyes open. And when you see other folks trying to normalize this, confront it. Push back. Don’t cede the point.

Be the voice that keeps insisting on the reality that this is not normal.

Be the voice that encourages others to speak up as well.

Be the voice that reassures every vulnerable person out there, every American facing this reality as something even starker and more personally dangerous to their person than it is for you, that you are here and you see it to and you refuse to let it go, that you refuse to let them suffer in silence and fear.

There is so much to say about this awful situation, and there are many other people who are saying it better than I can and have been saying it for longer. Read, listen, share. Try to do some good. Try to be there for others who need it. Try, and keep trying. Don’t let it become normal.

Lessons From a Crappy Sierpinski Carpet

This is a Sierpinski carpet.  Or more precisely this is a dodgy approximation of one using brush-tip marker on post-it note.  It’s got all kinds of problems, and those are interesting to me.  Let me dig in on this a little.

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(Disclaimer: I’ve been thinking a lot about, and making a lot of art out of, fractals in the last few months, and I’m working on a long writeup about some of that that will cover a fair amount of artistic and personal ground, but I’m gonna try and write here more often and part of that means remembering to do smaller things quickly and to share them regularly.  So if you’ve been following me on twitter or elsewhere and are thinking This, At Last, Is The Exegesis: nope.  Whether that’s relieving or foreboding probably varies from reader to reader, sorry not sorry as necessary.  More to come.)

Ceci n’est pas une tapis.

So.  This is a Sierpinski carpet, and it isn’t.

What’s a Sierpinski carpet? The short version: Continue reading “Lessons From a Crappy Sierpinski Carpet”

Closing Out the Year

2016’s been a shitshow. Not universally, and one of the things I struggle with lately is trying to find the balance of anger and sadness the last twelve months have produced with all the good things and good people that have filled the year up. The temptation to say that literally everything is terrible when in fact it’s just that there’s been a lot of terrible in the mix.

And so with a few hours left, I’m writing a little here and getting ready to head to a friend’s house with my wife to celebrate as well as we’re able, which should be well enough, the fact that the year has been a year and that the next one is starting up full of opportunity along with the foreboding. It’s been a shitshow, and it may well be another one, but it’s a year and another year and that’s the pattern of life as it happens.

I’ve done a lot of stuff this year, even as there’s been a lot of stuff I meant to do and didn’t get around to. The former I hope to organize a little here, as part of an effort to blog and document creative and personal stuff more deliberately; the latter, well, 2017 is coming up and that’s another chance to get to it.

I’ve got an overabundance of thoughts and feelings about the state of the US, and of the Internet; about MetaFilter, about my own music and art and creative drives; about the balance of self-care and caring for others; about a lot of things. And I’ve got a deficit of vim for putting it down on paper right now, and a party to get to. So. Next year.