I’d said I was taking a break from theme weeks, but after I did Martian Manhunter last Monday, I caved and decided to do ALIEN WEEK! In brainstorming, I found that while DC is teeming with beings from other planets, there are significantly fewer in the Marvel universe. At least ones that my son would know. In the DCU, on the other hand, its brightest and best—Superman—is an alien among aliens. Add in all his cousins, pets and villains, the Hawks, Starfire from the Titans, all of Apokolips and the New Gods, the Green Lantern Corps, plus the entire Legion of Superheroes, and you’ve got yourself a full-scale invasion. Enjoy this collection of alien doodles, I hope you will!
WEEK 29: Feb 24 – Feb 28, 2014
My only regret about these early weeks of SuperLunchNotes was the bad lighting and soft focus filter I put on them. What is this, Prince of Tides?
WEEK 3: Aug 26 – Aug 30, 2013
Spring is starting to slowly creep its way into the world again. And while I’m greeting the end of winter with open arms, I dread the invasion of insects that follows close behind… Welcome to BUG WEEK!
WEEK 28: Feb 17 – Feb 21, 2014
These notes from week 2 are so simple they look like they were done years ago (by a 6 year-old) instead of months ago, yet they look more spontaneous than some of what I’m doing now. I need to do notes like these more often…
WEEK 2: Aug 19 – Aug 23, 2013
This one was a favorite as soon as I finished it. The Penguin’s goofy proportions, tiny umbrella and the little rain drops crack me up. And I got to use my purple Sharpie!
I know I said I’d post a week’s worth of SuperLunchNotes the Monday after, but it’s Valentine’s Day and Papa has been out of town for a few days and won’t get back until late tonight and we’ve had a couple of snow days and I’m going nuts and need to spread some cheer.
WEEK 27: Feb 10 – Feb 14, 2014
Thus starteth my attempt to bring my SuperLunchNotes to the bloggety-blog on the regular. My plan is to post twice a week — an older batch and the most recent week — until I’m caught up. And then probably just post the previous week every Monday. Or not — I’m open to suggestions!
And if none of this is remotely interesting to you (it barely is to me), then just please come visit Designer Daddy often to look at the pretty superhero doodles. Cool?
WEEK 1: Aug 12 – Aug 16, 2013
Of all the fellow designer dads I’ve interviewed,* Khoi Vinh is the one I’ve known the longest. We were together in the DC design trenches early in our careers, building up our portfolios and burning lots of midnight oil. While I can’t think of a designer whose style (and personality) is more different than mine, I’ve always respected and admired him and his work. As we’re both now dads of preschoolers, we finally have something more in common. Except that he also has twins, so I obviously have some catching up to do. I settled for catching up through this Q&A.
Q&A with designer dad Khoi Vinh
Tell me briefly about your design career: how long in the industry, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
I graduated from art school in 1993 with an illustration degree but have done some kind of design ever since. Jeebus. Twenty years. I started out in print media and switched to digital media in 1998.
DD note: Khoi’s being coy (sorry, had to do it) and leaving out lots of details. He was the design director for NYTimes.com from 2006-2010, created a photo collage app, is a published author, and has been blogging for over a decade at Subtraction.com. In 2011, Fast Company named him one of “The 50 Most Influential Designers in America.” Coy, indeed.
Last year about this time I was suffering from my usual Holidays Over-commitment Burnout Lethargy (or HOBL), but was determined to muster some of that elusive Xmas Spirit and do at least one creative thing. I discovered my muse in the form of a Christmas Terrarium (yes, I realize how gay that sounds) made from all sorts of “found objects” and a bit of late-night Christmas Eve gumption.
To me, the best craft/art projects are simple and straightforward, especially when it comes to Holiday decorating ideas. If I have to learn to use a soldering gun or wear protective gear or mix any kind of potion, I haven’t got the patience. The fun for me comes from the spontaneity of pulling together unrelated items, creating something new and hopefully bringing a smile to someone’s face…even if it’s just mine.
So here’s what I used (with links of where to purchase, if available)…
- Cake pedestal: Received as a gift ages ago — we’ve used it for actual cake maybe 2 times. But it’s gorgeous as hell and was the perfect base for my Christmassy masterpiece. I couldn’t find the same one, but Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel have some nice options.
- Miniature trees: I’ve been collecting Christmas trees for the last 15 years, but was short on the super shorties. So I hit the baking shop (cookie cutter) and toy store (model train set pine tree) to fill out my forest.
- Paper Easter grass. Regular Easter grass was too shimmery for my taste.
- Miniature LED lights. I snatched these up at our local hardware store even before I knew what I’d use them for. I used white, but they come in pretty much any color full-size Christmas lights do.
- Small glass ornaments. I toyed with using white felt or something to make snow, but it just looked goofy. These kind of imply snow…or just a bunch of shiny balls. Either way, I thought it looked purty.
I know it probably looks like I just laid all this stuff on a platter and called it a day, but it did take a bit of trail-and-error (and a rum & coke or two) to get it looking magical and not monsoon-ical.
The trees are kinda flimsy, so put down lights and grass first, covering the bottom of the platter evenly. The lights come with a little battery pack, which you can hide under grass or let hang out the back. Keep the lights on while you’re arranging everything, so you don’t cover too many up. Wiggle your trees in place, pushing aside the grass and lights so they’re resting directly on the pedestal, then place the balls around to fill in the gaps. Gently put on the cover, trim off any extra grass, and voila! A Winter Wonderland Under Glass!
Helpful Hint: Wash the pedestal and cover before beginning. If you forget and get it all together, smudges will only look worse when backlit. TRUST ME, I KNOW.
And for the craft-averse who thinks this is WAAAYYY too precious for your cynical sensibilities, I whipped up something silly and snarky just for you…
For my Nerd Nativity™ I used a small cheese platter (again, it’s had cheese on it maybe ONCE). It didn’t work with the cover, so I hot glued a star-shaped cookie cutter to the top and put it on a red salad plate to make an even mini-er tree terrarium.
This is a great activity to do with the kids, either for putting it together or having them run all over the house looking for things to include (JJ loved dumping every last figure out of his toy box). Put them on the kitchen counter, as a Christmas dinner centerpiece or in the kids’ room as the coolest nightlight ever.
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If you try one, be sure and send me a pic and I’ll share it on the Designer Daddy Facebook Page!
Happy Crafting and Happy Holidays!
My son started preschool this year, and I wanted to do something special for his first day. I’m no master chef (and he’s a notoriously picky eater) so a super fancy/fun/creative lunch was out of the question. And he already had his Spider-Man backpack and Superman lunch bag and Batman t-shirt — so he was set accessory-wise. Yet I wanted to do something truly, uniquely* Designer Daddy-ish to celebrate this milestone.
That first morning was pretty hectic, as it was a new schedule for all of us. Between making breakfast and getting JJ dressed and brushed and toothbrushed and backpacked, all I ended up having time to do was write “Daddy Hearts U,” on a Post-It note, added a quick doodle of The Flash and snuck it into his lunch bag. I pictured him discovering it at school, being reminded of his dear, old Dad, and bragging to all his new toddler pals how cool I am. Or more likely how cool The Flash is.
He loved it. And so the next day I did another, thinking I would do one each day of his first week and leave it at that. However, if you’ve ever had a preschooler, you know how THAT turned out. Toddlers are not known for their flexibility with a routine.
So here we are… 68 or so days later, and I’m still getting up a few minutes early each day to make JJ a note. But I gotta admit, I’m having a blast. It’s a great way for me to hone both my doodling and pun-making skills. It’s also been pretty cool having JJ’s teachers tell me how thoughtful and creative I am. But really — and not to get too heavy here — it’s all about my legacy. I’m never going to be my son’s sports idol. I don’t have vast carpentry or mechanical or bronco-busting skills to pass down to him. What I have is my love of superheroes and my talent for doodling. This is my way to instill in him a love of those things, and to keep being his superhero for as long as possible. Or until all my Sharpies run out.
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You can view all 68 (and counting) superhero lunch notes on Instagram. I’ll also be mixing them in on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure and let me know where you see them, and which are your favorites!
*While I haven’t found anyone else doing this particular thing, I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to David Laferriere, whose awesome series of sandwich bag doodles definitely inspired me.
Recently I found myself, yet again, frantically trailing after my son as he ran on ahead of me, weaving in and out and through the crowd like a pint-sized quarterback. This time we were at his preschool, attending a Halloween-themed fair, where each classroom offered a different adventure in which JJ would embark and then move on to the next as quick as he’d gotten the requisite prize. His little black cape swooped around with an extra amount of drama — the Velcro closure was itchy around his neck, so he wore his cowl unfastened and scooted up on top of his head so he could plow ahead, unencumbered.
He — being 4 years old and nimble, and me— about a parent-and-a-half in size, made this chase an exercise in futility. So I followed close enough to appear somewhat in control to concerned onlookers, and where he could hear my voice without me having to shout. But I allowed a bit of distance because otherwise we’d be butting heads all night, or I’d be plowing half the hallway down. Or both.
I perpetually cringed as he barely missed bumping into a child in a wheelchair or tripping the teacher carrying a large box of cupcakes, bobbing and weaving with such disregard and joyous abandon. The only way I was able to keep up at all was because every few seconds he would stop, plant himself in front of someone and declare,“I’m Batman!” Then off he dashed to vanquish the next foe and add another trinket or treat to his plastic pumpkin.
And I found myself, yet again, thinking “Is this normal? Is he okay? Am I being too uptight? Am I doing this right? Will he ever slow down?”
You see, I’m an introvert raising an extroverted child, and I’m way out of my depth.