pink v. blue

The Mural Project: Meanwhile…

October 12, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Okay, so it’s been embarrassingly forever since I’ve either posted about or worked on the mural for JJ’s wall. I had shot photos of the room, taken down what was hanging on the wall, and even purchased paint. But several weeks later I realized I was never, EVER going to get anything done on the weekend because JJ’s either a) asleep in his room or b) running around needing to be corralled. I was ready to throw in the brush and declare myself an unfit Designer Daddy…

But then Papa had the idea to let JJ nap upstairs in his pack-n-play. And there ya go, I had the time to get some painting done. Take a gander at a few photos of my “progress.”

You can never go wrong with a few colored polka dots

If you’ve seen this blog (which you have) or the site for my day job, or quite a few other things I’ve worked on, you can tell I like me some dots. Polka dots seem to cycle in and out of vogue, but I’ve been a fan from way back. Comic books, pop art, TV screens — some of my favorite things at their root are made up of polka dots.

By the way, I gotta give Martha props on her awesome Specialty Sponges. Great for all your polka-dotting needs.

The changing table doubles as a handy paint-mixing station.

And it’s more than kind of intentional that I’m using JJ’s three favorite colors: “bwoo”, “gwee”, and “puh-pah.” Is there anything in this world cuter than toddler-speak? Pwobawy not.

Can you tell I'm making this up on the fly? There is a (loose) plan, I swear.

And what did JJ think of his room now that it’s covered in what looks like Candy Pox? His exact words were “WOOOOWWWW. Bubbles!” I’d say that was about the most rewarding critique I’ve ever gotten.

More to come…

Scary for All the Wrong Reasons

September 5, 2011 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Sadly, Labor Day weekend is now behind us, which means summer is over, both astronomically and emotionally. So now it’s time to pull out the Christmas decorations, buy eggnog in bulk, and start bargain hunting for Snuggies or whatever asinine infomercial piece of crap will be the go-to White Elephant gift this year.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a teensy bit. But certainly Halloween is already being shoved down our throats. Candy corn has been on sale at CVS for a couple of weeks now, but I refuse to buy it until the month has a “-BER” at the end. My sweet tooth does have some standards.

Another sign that autumn is lurking around the corner is this frightening catalog we received in the mail recently. Not frightening in a Pinhead kind of way, but more of a Twilight meets Toddlers & Tiaras* kind of way.

Click to take a closer look at the dolled-up vampkids.

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DDQ&A: Armin Vit

August 4, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

I met Armin Vit at Design Ranch, the awesomely hands-on creativity conference I attended earlier this year. Armin and his wife, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, led one of my favorite workshops, “Posters from the Ground Up.” Also in attendance were Armin and Bryony’s two adorable kids, who got crafty right alongside us and even strolled around the room, critiquing our work. In addition to being a designer dad, Armin (with Bryony) runs UnderConsideration, where they not only design, but tirelessly blog via sites like BrandNew and FPO. Originally from Mexico City, Armin and family now live in Austin.

Q&A with designer dad Armin Vit

Tell me briefly about your design business and what kinds of clients you have/what kinds of work you specialize in.
We’ve been in formal business since 2007, when my wife (and fellow designer and business partner) and I established UnderConsideration as an LLC and left our respective jobs. BUT, the core of our business — blogging — had been in place since 2002, but that’s part of a bigger story. In our first two years we did a lot of client work. Websites and identities for a good balance of for-profit clients and non-profits. In 2009 we sort of lost all our clients (thanks, economy!) and we were forced to figure out how to make money on our own, and we have transitioned into a strange “publisher” where we generate content online through our blogs. We’ve self-published one book and are in the process of another; we run one conference right now and are planning to run two next year; and we’ve established a couple of design awards that have attracted some really fantastic work.

Armin doing double duty as designer and dad.

How long have you been a dad? How many kids? Ages?
I’ve been a dad for four years. Two daughters — the oldest one just turned 4, and youngest one is 13 months.

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Captionpalooza 2011: The Winners!

August 1, 2011 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS DAD DIGS

At long, long, LONG last, here are my top pics for each photo from Captionpalooza 2011. Thanks again to all who participated — I’m honored to have such creative (and sarcastic) readers!

Photo 1 winner: Ryan W

No officer, I don’t know what happened to Papa Smurf.

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Captionpalooza 2011: photo 5

June 26, 2011 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

Like every other child on Earth, JJ finds the most enjoyment not from the expensive “educational” toys we buy him, but the random piece of furniture or household container. Mr. Laundry Basket (shown) has served as a fort, a boat, a wagon, and here, apparently, a TV.

Captionpalooza 2011: photo 5

On another subject, note my son’s awesome pink shirt (on sale now at Naartjie, where they refer to the color as “reef”… LAME). Most of the stuff I buy him I would kill to have in my size (okay, maybe not this). And as a gay man and a designer, I don’t have many hang-ups about the whole Pink is for Girls vs. Blue is for Boys issue.

There have been several stories recently on gender identity and kids. But while I like to think of myself as a liberal, open-minded, woman-empowering, proud gay Daddy, I admittedly find pleasure in the sheer boyishness of my son. I called my parents on Father’s Day (mainly to ask them how they hell they lived through raising FOUR boys) and my Mother confirmed my suspicions — JJ is a whole lot rowdier than I was at his age. I was pretty content with some crayons and the Super Friends, whereas JJ is all-outside, all-the-time. I’m enjoying the challenge of raising a kid that may end up pretty different than me. Just as long as he’s okay wearing pink once in a while.

Pink toenails = fearlessness

April 18, 2011 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Everybody and their dog blog has already covered this story. But as someone in the design/advertising field and one of 2 gay fathers of a little boy, I felt it was in too many of my wheelhouses not to toss in my 2 cents.

I assume you know the basics… J. Crew emailed an ad depicting their President/Creative Director playing with her 5 year-old son, who’s wearing neon pink polish on his toenails. Numerous talking heads have decried or defended this image (and PrezMom’s commentary) as either inappropriate or innocent, respectively. One Ablow blowhard even went so far as to suggest mommy save up for the kiddo’s therapy, as she had obviously scarred him (or at least his toes) for life.

I imagine PrezMom knew the ad would incite some discussion, but maybe not coverage from every network news show, comedy/news hybrids, more than a few politicians, and the entire blogosphere. In any case, I give her props for being secure in her son’s choice of nail polish color, especially when it clashes with his preppy J. Crew duds.

But this whole brouhaha brings up a couple of things for me personally. Namely my own childhood and that of my son’s.

I was once a little boy who liked to dress up. Sometimes in mom’s clothes, but more often as a super hero. In either case, some manner of flowing was required (hair, dress, cape). And yep, I turned out gay. But I know plenty of gay men—my husband among them—who never bent their gender, not even a bit. It’s kind of a non-issue for me, seeing as how I’m proud and happy of who I am, sexually and otherwise.

But now that I’m a dad, I think sometimes about the potential ways JJ could be ridiculed. He’s got 2 dads. He’s adopted. He’s got 2, possibly 3 cowlicks in his shaggy, little head. He’s just about to turn 18 months, so I know his teasing days are still a ways off, but I’m feeling like he’s gonna do okay. Because the boy is fearless. He’s already gotten his fair share of bruises and bumps, which never ceases to put knots in my stomach and a lump in my throat. But it’s a thrill for me, who spent most of his childhood inside drawing or watching Super Friends, to think of JJ being exponentially more adventurous than I was. Not to besmirch my boyhood, but I probably missed out on a lot of things due to my fears and insecurities.

So I revel in seeing JJ’s exuberance and never want to quell that, whether it manifests itself in sports, glee club, or toenail polish. I’m so honored to witness it all, hoping I can always allow his true self to shine, and that I can learn a thing or two from him about being fearless.

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