Field Notes Blog
News and thoughts on UI/UX, web design, and more.
I am VERY excited to announce that I'm taking 2023 as a year to do a deep dive into illustration work. For many years I've dreamed of having a shop with my own designs for sale and now, at last, it's here! It took a near-death experience to make it happen, but that's how it goes I guess. While I've always worked design jobs and freelanced for clients, I just never seemed to get around to making my own work. Then in 2022, I developed a brain injury. Welp, it took many months to get back to normal but I lived! And now I'm doing the things I always dreamed of. Simple joys like spending a day drawing. To give myself a way to get the art out into the world, I set up a wee shop. It's name is Mondo Bop and I'm thinking of it as an emporium of goofy t-shirts, gifts and digital downloads. I hope that these designs build community (the Maker Wear collection) or provide inspiration (the Incite Hope collection - coming soon) or just spread a little happiness (the digital download toys - also coming soon). Really my new shop is an outlet for all the designs and ideas scampering around in my head like squirrels. Check it out at MondoBop.com.
Meet Seymour Sea Dragon and Santiago Sea Turtle! You can see Santiago brightly swimming around town on the 3rd t-shirt illustration in the San Diego Blood Bank's 70th anniversary series. After the Dulce, Diego and Duke Dolphin "Celebrated the Past" and Octavia Octopus "Embraced the Present", we needed a cheerful representative to "Improve the Future". Sea Dragons are amazing creatures that have a cool connection to San Diego. While they are native only to Australian waters, our own Birch Aquarium has a world-renown sea dragon breeding program and from the first time I saw them there, I was mesmerized. Although I had already started a sea turtle design, when Michael at the Blood Bank suggested a sea dragon, I was hooked. So how did the third t-shirt design turn out to be Santiago the Sea Turtle then? And where is Seymour now?
For my second San Diego Blood Bank t-shirt illustration I was tasked with creating a fun new design that would carry on the local sea life theme while communicating the second part of the campaign slogan of "Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Present and Improving Life Tomorrow". Who would be better at "embracing the present" than an octopus?!? Whereas the dolphins (our first design) had retro styling to reference the past, we wanted a contemporary look for this one. Armed (yuk yuk!) with these concepts and inspired by action sports logos and my love of cephalopods, I set to work, however, it took a bit of Disney magic to bring it all together.
As many of you know, I am an avid supporter of the work blood banks do in communities around the world. As a blood drive host I'm proud to contribute to that mission and it's a great way to stay on track since I'm working to earn my own 5 gallon donor badge. So, imagine my excitement when I got the opportunity to create some original artwork to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the San Diego Blood Bank! 2020 has been a tough year but it hasn't been all bad. For this design I wanted to create something that would be oh-so-San Diego while helping people feel hopeful and inspired. I immediately remembered one of the high points of the year for me, a very special day in February at La Jolla Shores Beach when I saw bottlenose dolphins surfing with pure delight in the sparkling morning surf.
Pixel Lava has taken over blood drive organizing duties from Anneville Jewelry Lab and I'm super excited to announce that our August blood drive registered 25 appointments and collected 18 pints! It was a big success considering we had just two of the four beds operating due to COVID precautions. Due to the nationwide shut down, blood supplies are at critical levels. If you can't donate, please consider making a financial contribution or volunteering with your local blood bank. If you missed your chance with us, save the date for our next blood drive on October 24th. You can bet it will be a very special Halloween edition! RSVP link coming soon.
Join us for a COVID Caring Blood Drive
11am-5pm Saturday, August 22nd, 2020
Blood Mobile at Liberty Station near the Public Market
Want do something fun and easy to help your community? Join me at the San Diego Blood Bank's Bloodmobile as I work my way towards my 4 Gallon badge! Last time they were showing Godzilla on board and we had so much fun hangin' out in the AC watching the show and eating donuts that they had to kick us out! Due to COVID, blood supplies around the country are critically low. Giving blood is a super easy way to make a huge positive. It's safe, fast and fun. This drive is special as Anneville Jewelry Lab is handing the host torch over to Pixel Lava. As always, we have an ambitious goal - this time it's 30 donations. Help us hit it by download a flyer to share with friends and family. I hope to see you there! Reserve your spot.
COVID 19 has changed the way we work, learn, discuss and create...probably forever. Even after we have a vaccine, the immediacy and cost savings of meeting online will continue to make it the default way to communicate. Learning how to use these technologies is a new basic requirement for all of us. Making the most of them is a great opportunity for making your business or nonprofit successful going forward. Whether you're looking for help in running professional Zoom classes or meetings or you want to live stream to social media to reach a larger audience, I can help. I provide patient, friendly, hype-free assistance with both the technology and content. In addition to hosting live online gatherings I can help you make sure your content will work in an online setting. I can also help you choose and test equipment, practice your presenter skills and work through the details of moving your presentation online. Learn more at my Zoom & Live Streaming page.
With the holidays upon it’s nice to step off the hamster wheel of life to say hello and weigh in on the year’s activities. How has your year been? What were your highs and lows? What are your plans, hopes and wishes for 2020? Pixel Lava certainly kept busy in 2019. It was a year of website redesigns mostly but also some fun new sites. I did a big redesign for the Huntington Beach Desalination Plant, a nonprofit called A Future Without War and I'm in the midst of one for First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego (launching in January). A few fun new sites were the personal site for playwright Patricia Loughrey, a site featuring the stunning photographs of Wayne Brabender and the history of Brabender Farm, and a site for a conservationist working to bring back beavers (I'm totally a beaver believer now) and create a protected watershed called the Superior Bio-Preserve (as in Lake Superior). I also had the chance to do some pretty cool graphic design and a couple of video projects.
Seaport San Diego is a wildly creative and ambitious new downtown development that will add an array of amenities to the waterfront area. With world renown architects and public relations by the talented crew at MNM Advertising & PR, we’ll no doubt be hearing a lot about this over the coming months. This website upgrade project consisted entirely of one key objective - replicating the look and feel of a technically-problematic Wordpress build on the much more user-friendly Weebly platform. As I often find with Wordpress, the site was originally created to be maintained solely by the developer, so the site owner did not have the ability to add additional features over time. Additionally, the site owner wanted to escape the tedious security hassles of maintaining an aging Wordpress site.
About the author
As the owner of Pixel Lava Interactive I've helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits with websites, graphic design and more. I hope you'll find this blog full of useful information.
~ Ame Stanko