keep on rockin’ me baby

DDQ&A: Steve Spatucci

June 24, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

I was introduced to Mr. Spatucci by Rob Kelley (AKA: Keeper of The Aquaman Shrine), who noticed I was profiling various designer dads and thought his friend Steve would be a good guy to blog about. Hailing from the great state of New Jersey, Steve is a fellow comic book fan nerd and an awesome illustrator! He also has a darn-tootin’ cutie of a son. (Ask him to see pictures—he posts them weekly!)

Q&A with designer dad Steve Spatucci

Tell me briefly about your design business: how long in business, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
I started doing freelance illustration back in the early 90’s, after I’d graduated from college. In those pre-Internet days, I’d do sample black and white illustrations, which I’d make into little photocopied booklets. I’d look through magazines, local newspapers and publishers at Borders and Barnes & Noble, compiling my own contact list, then I’d mail the books out. My first professional job came from one of those mailings. The art director for a gem and jewelry magazine, Lapidary Journal, liked my style and hired me for an editorial illustration. I wound up working for them off and on for almost ten more years.

I got a website up in 1997, and started doing more freelance design (mostly for print) and logo work as well as illustration. As Flash developed, I started using it for animation, and by the early 2000’s I’d learned to program in ActionScript and started developing games and interactive demos. I also started doing more website design. I incorporated my business, Plasmic Studio L.L.C., in 2003. I continue to do all of those things – design for print and web, identity, illustration, animation, online demos and game development. I’ve also done voiceover work, music composition, video editing and writing. I love the variety of work, and I really love a project that lets me incorporate those multiple disciplines. I do a lot of work for startups now, but some work also comes from larger, more established businesses that might need an updated identity, an interactive demo or some other type of creative project.


DDQ&A: Dicken Schrader

March 19, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

If you’re wondering “Who the heck is Dicken Schrader?” you’ve obviously not seen this video:

That’s Dicken (a video producer from Bogotá, Colombia) with his kids Milah and Korben — also known as DMK — rocking one of their three Depeche Mode covers. I’m a lifelong Depeche Mode fan (as is Papa) and the night I came across this video we sat in bed watching and laughing so hard at how incredible it was. In addition to being amazed by the video’s cleverness and creativity, I was equally intimidated by this dad’s dedication to raising some seriously talented offspring. Dude has set the bar seriously high. I hunted Dicken down and he generously agreed to do a DDQ&A about all things DMK.

Q&A with designer dad Dicken Schrader

Tell me briefly about how DMK got started.
It just happened very naturally. My kids grew up listening to whatever I listen to, a lot of it being Depeche Mode and other electronic music. They really get into the melodies and love trying to emulate them on our keyboard. When we did our first video, “Shake the Disease,” we never thought we would do more than one, but the kids loved doing it and we just kept on going.

Why Depeche Mode?
Depeche Mode is my all-time favorite band since I was in high school. It was the band that really got me into music and it has been the soundtrack of my life ever since.

Looking chronologically at the 3 videos you’ve done, it’s great to see the increased involvement and musical skill of the kids. How old are Milah and Korben, and how do each of them contribute to DMK?
The kids are getting better and better with each video — their musical abilities growing steady. Milah is 8, loves to play the recorder and is about to take up flute. She’s very responsible and helps me keep Korben in line when we’re practicing. Korben, 5, is a little keyboard virtuoso and is amazing at keeping a beat. He’s also the diva of the band, the one most likely to throw a fit in the studio.


DooDad of the Day: Symphony in B.

March 11, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

B. Toys is at it again, unveiling the next most awesomest toy you your kid just has to have! (It’s at the top of JJ’s list for birthday #3…)

Check out this cute video — proof B. Toys’ latest musical wonder was both kid tested and approved…

JJ’s been a fan of their creations for a while, thanks in large part to the fact that Dad digs their non-primary color palettes and clever toy names. Like the Meowsic keyboard. The B. Zany Zoo activity box. Alphaberry. Parum Pum Pum. Times Square. Toulouse LapTrec. Take It Easel. Wheeee-mote Control. You get the idea.

Learn more about Symphony in B. here, where you can view it in 3-D, and even test out some of the music.

Doo-Dad of the Day: Rocking Sheep

January 18, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Self-described designer/woodworker/craftsman/new father Max Tyrie contacted me recently in hopes I’d give him a shout-out on my little bloggety-blog. I’ve been getting more and more of these kinds of requests, many of which are either unrelated to anything I blog about or just plane lame.

However, these Rocking Sheep (inspired by Danish designer Povl Kjer) are baaa-dorable!

Max creates them in his Los Angeles workshop from Baltic birch plywood, reclaimed scrap wood and real sheepskin.* Go visit his site, read up on additional details, and buy a sheep to support this independent craftsman and fellow designer dad!

Oh yeah, and here’s his test rocker/model, 18-month old daughter Rosie (also baaa-dorable):

*I asked Max about the origin of the sheepskin, and here’s his reply: My Father-In-Law was a sheep farmer in the north of England for many years. He told me the sheepskins were of very little value, and his lambs were slaughtered solely for their meat. So hopefully that would imply that it wouldn’t be cost effective to slaughter a lamb JUST for its skin, and that these skins are a by product of the slaughtering process, and not the main reason for their death.

DDQ&A: John Foster

December 6, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

I can’t remember exactly when I met John Foster, but I believe it was (appropriately) at a baby shower for a fellow designer. I’ve always admired his work, being so saturated with whimsy, sarcasm, and color. Three of my favorite things! Plus he’s a bona fide design superstar, from right here in little ole’ Montgomery County! Be sure and check out his site as well as the ever-expanding library of his books. Can I please be John Foster when I grow up?

Q&A with designer dad John Foster

Tell me briefly about your design business: how long in business, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
I have a little studio in Rockville, MD just outside DC called Bad People Good Things, which I set up roughly three years ago. I have been designing for almost 20 years now. My work is based around entertainment, advocacy, and food and beverage. I work for Fortune 100 companies as well as mom and pop shops, cutting edge record labels, innovative publishers, national arts organizations and tiny start ups. They just have to have a good product/message and be good people. I also am a writer, with several books to my credit (New Masters of Poster Design: Volume Two is out any day now!) and weekly columns. Mixing my writing in with my design work has been the biggest thrill with my current set up. Turns out that I am really good at both disciplines.

Almost all of my work is external – meaning that it has to compel someone to buy a product, donate to a cause, fund a program, join in a movement, attend a performance, etc… so it is a testament to my ability to stay relevant and current visually as a communicator that I am so busy. No hiding for this guy.

How long have you been a dad? How many kids? Ages?
I am from a big Irish Catholic style family so I changed millions of diapers before ever having one to call my own – haha, but I just have one 10 year-old daughter, who more than keeps me busy.


Mixtape: Road trip to Gramms’

August 18, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Gratuitous baby in a car photo.

This past weekend, JJ and I took our first trip alone (sans Papa) and being the music nerd that I am, I made a mixtape. Below is the track list, along with some snarky commentary and a few sound/video clips:

I made the mix in kind of a rush — which is how I do pretty much everything these days. (Any thoughts from you seasoned parents at what point I can NOT watch my child for more than five minutes for fear of him pulling the TV down on his head, or something equally dramatic and horrific?) Anyhoo, the songs had to meet at least one of the following requirements: 1) the song includes a word or action JJ knows or is learning, 2) the song is already familiar to JJ, or 3) the song is generally pleasant and not full of screaming/profanity. So yeah, no Marilyn Manson.

But most importantly, the music would NOT (with the exception of 2 or 3 tracks*) be “children’s music.” I know, I know… there’s a lot of hip kid’s music out there that parents can enjoy, too! — but I already have the theme song to every show on Sprout and Nick, Jr memorized, so my car is a battleground I’m not willing to cede just yet. I think I’ve still got a couple of years months, so cut me some slack…

Without further, rambling adieu:

DDQ&A: Kevin McFadin

July 2, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Kevin McFadin is the husband of a former co-worker of mine. He and his wife Dawn are both incredible illustrators/designers and together own and operate Fan Works Design in Richmond, VA. He also wears a few other hats, which I’ll let him tell you about…

Q&A with designer dad Kevin McFadin

Tell me briefly about your design business and what kinds of clients you have.
I’ve been running the shop with Dawn since 2002. Before that I was an AD in Alexandria [VA] and up until then I was the staff illustrator at a couple of newspapers. I still pursue illustration, inside and outside of the shop.

Getting up and running out of the DC Metro area many clients are, of course, associations and non-profits. We’ve worked with organizations based out of Richmond, such as Southern States and Child Fund, and helped some start-ups here in town when we were starting up ourselves.

I also volunteer/DJ at WRIR 97.3 FM, the independent radio station here (the largest LP station in the country) and volunteer on the Marketing Committee. So I offer up what I can when they need it: posters, logos, CD packaging, ads, etc. It’s an amazing place, amazing people and a real oasis.

How long have you been a dad? How many kids? Ages?
Renny turned 9 in June. She’s it… she sets the bar pretty high.


Father’s Day Gift List (For Every Kind of Dad)

June 15, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

The New Gay Dad

Just like there’s every kind of gay, there’s every kind of gay dad. Unfortunately, every group also has its stereotypes. And thanks to Modern Family, every two-father family apparently consists of a couple of well-off suburbanites (one flamboyant, one slightly less so) and an adorably “exotic” child, adopted from a distant land. You think I’m joking? We have at least two friends who refer to our son as Lily. Mainly because they can’t remember his name, (it’s Jon) but still…

Certainly there are worse stereotypes to be had, but with Father’s Day coming up, I felt it was my duty to represent a wider array of gay daddies, so that not all of us end up with the same (high-end and fashion-forward) necktie.


For the Leather Daddy

The chaps and harnesses may be gathering dust, but leather-lovers can still look studly in these subtle — but still commanding — assortment of belts. Suitable for trips to the pediatrician or a (rare) night on the town.
    Bluefly    Nieman Marcus    ASOS

For the Foodie Father

Every Dad’s Day gift list has to include a grill, so why not show up the breeders with a tasty, tricked-out O-Grill 3000? This James Bond-sounding propane grill is compact, has a push-button igniter, and comes in six delicious colors. Pair it with an All-Clad BBQ tool set, and Dads will be serving it with style.
Travel Q Portable Grill
, $199    All-Clad BBQ Tool Set, $119.95

For the Musical Daddy

Give your fave gay dads a handsome (and high-quality) way to drown out Elmo, SpongeBob or the Paw Patrol with a set of headphones or earplugs from Urbanears. Particularly nifty are the Bagis earplugs, as the earpieces snap together around your neck for when the kiddo needs to be heard. Four different models. Thirteen fabulous colors. Musical genius.
Available at Urbanears or Amazon, $40-$60


Baby Boombox: making musical memories

May 23, 2011 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

It’s been several weeks since I’ve posted what’s been spinning at Club JJ, and the only reason I’m doing it now is that I’m on the Monday end of a long weekend of nonstop toddler, and I haven’t the strength or creativity left to write about anything funnier or more original. But I need to write something… dust is starting to settle on this blog.

So here are a few albums that I’ve subjected JJ to lately:
The Go-Go’s “Beauty and the Beat”
Erasure “Nightbird”
Marie Antoinette Soundtrack*
ABC “How To Be A… Zillionaire!”
Lily Allen “Alright, Still”

I usually try to pick something fun and upbeat, since most of our music time is while getting dressed in the AM or playing in the afternoon. As you can see, I’ve been doing my best to get JJ hooked on “real” music now, hopefully bypassing the monstrous children’s music industry that’s sprung up since I was a kid. It’s bad enough I’ve got various theme songs and jingles floating through my head all day. I don’t want to have to hear Kidz Bop or some such nonsense in the car for the next 10 years, too.

My 2 Daddies (Can Beat Up Your 1)

April 20, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

One of the workshops I attended at Design Ranch included one with copywriter extraordinaire, Wayne Geyer (who, come to find out, also happens to have been a high school classmate for 2 weeks). I chose JJ as my inspiration, and what he might be saying ’bout Daddy and Papa if he could sing Country songs… (I’m thinking this will end up being a tee shirt as well)

My 2 Daddies (Can Beat Up Your 1)

Ever since I was a boy
‘Bout 2 or 3 months ago
People stop and stare at me
Everywhere I go

It’s not because my ears are big
Or that my skin is green
It’s cuz I got the 2 best Daddies
That you’ve ever seen

Y’see most kids got a mom and dad
And that’s just fine and dandy
But having me 2 awesome Dads
Comes in pretty handy

I got the nicest clothes in school
And I’ve been to Paris, France
So all those kids with regular folks
Well, they don’t stand a chance

You better think twice before pickin’ on me
And thinking we’re not a real family
I’m the luckiest boy and a fortunate son
My 2 Daddies can beat up your 1

I got 1 Dad to teach me ball
And take me fishin’ in the lake
I got another Dad who bakes a pie
Better’n Martha makes

You say your Daddy’s big and strong
And that he’s six foot four
But you put my 2 Dads together
And they’re about six foot more

You better think twice before pickin’ on me
And thinking we’re not a real family
I’m the luckiest boy and a fortunate son
My 2 Daddies can beat up your 1

Don’t you worry, don’t you tease
Just keep your feathers and tar
I hope I grow up to be half the man
My 2 Daddies are

Now some folks may get fretful
Or not understand my life
But my parents love each other
There just ain’t no wife

I never did get breast-fed
And no one sits down to pee
We all wear the pants in our house
And we’re as happy as can be

You better think twice before pickin’ on me
And thinking we’re not a real family
I’m the luckiest boy and a fortunate son
My 2 Daddies can beat up your 1

© 2011 Brent M. Almond

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