All posts by Mike McAlister

DesignFeaturedSpotlights

Visiting an artist in his studio

Most often, the term “artist” describes those who create within a context of the fine arts or high culture. People who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts, and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only. The term is often used in the entertainment business, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers (less often for actors). “Artiste” (the French for artist) is a variant used in English only in this context. Use of the term to describe writers, for example, is valid, but less common, and mostly restricted to contexts like criticism.

Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly skilled workers in media in the applied arts or decorative arts include artisan, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter, goldsmith or glassblower.

Wiktionary defines the noun ‘artist’ as follows:

  1. A person who creates art.
  2. A person who creates art as an occupation.
  3. A person who is skilled at some activity.

Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially as “a person who expresses him- or herself through a medium”. The word is also used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of the fine arts or ‘high culture’, activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, new media, photography, and music—people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly skilled workers in media in the applied arts or decorative arts include artisan, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter, goldsmith or glassblower.

Fine arts artists such as painters succeeded in the Renaissance in raising their status, formerly similar to these workers, to a decisively higher level, but in the 20th century the distinction became rather less relevant.

The term may also be used loosely or metaphorically to denote highly skilled people in any non-“art” activities, as well— law, medicine, mechanics, or mathematics, for example.

Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences among “artist” and “technician”, “entertainer” and “artisan”, “fine art” and “applied art”, or what constitutes art and what does not. The French word artiste (which in French, simply means “artist”) has been imported into the English language where it means a performer (frequently in Music Hall or Vaudeville). Use of the word “artiste” can also be a pejorative term.

PoliticsScience

Getting NASA back on its feet

Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the United States government agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

Since that time, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

The first person to stand on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above. The first person to stand on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. Throughout these six Apollo spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon. These missions returned a wealth of scientific data and 381.7 kilograms of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismology, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind. The Moon landing marked the end of the space race; and as a gesture, Armstrong mentioned mankind when he stepped down on the Moon.

Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit to date. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Many objects and artifacts from the program are on display at various locations throughout the world, notably at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museums.

ScienceTechnology

James Webb Space Telescope

In contrast to other proposed observatories, the JWST telescope is the last big NASA astrophysics mission of its generation to be built. The James Webb Space Telescope, previously known as Next Generation Space Telescope, is a space observatory under construction and scheduled to launch in October 2018. The JWST will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength visible to the mid-infrared, and is a successor instrument to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The telescope features a segmented 6.5-meter diameter primary mirror and will be located near the Earth–Sun L2 point. A large sunshield will keep its mirror and four science instruments below 50 K. JWST’s capabilities will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology.

One particular goal involves observing some of the most distant objects in the Universe, beyond the reach of current ground and space based instruments. This includes the very first stars, the epoch of reionization, and the formation of the first galaxies. Another goal is understanding the formation of stars and planets. This will include imaging molecular clouds and star-forming clusters, studying the debris disks around stars, direct imaging of planets, and spectroscopic examination of planetary transits.

In gestation since 1996, the project represents an international collaboration of about 17 countries led by NASA, and with significant contributions from the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It is named after James E. Webb, the second administrator of NASA, who played an integral role in the Apollo program.

Travel

Traveling South America by bus

Brazil is the largest country in South America and fifth largest in the world. Famous for its football tradition and its annual Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife and Olinda. It is a country of great diversity, from the bustling urban mosaic of São Paulo to the infinite cultural energy of Pernambuco and Bahia, the wilderness of the Amazon rainforest and world-class landmarks such as the Iguaçu Falls, there is plenty to see and to do in Brazil.

Owing to Brazil’s continental dimensions, varied geography, history and people, the country’s culture is rich and diverse. It has several regional variations, and in spite of being mostly unified by a single language, some regions are so different from each other that they look like different countries altogether.

MPB stands for Brazilian Popular Music, which mixes several national styles under a single concept. Forró, a north-eastern happy dancing music style, has also become common nationwide. New urban styles include funk – name given to a dance music genre from Rio’s favelas that mixes heavy electronic beats and often raunchy rapping – and techno-brega, a crowd-pleaser in northern states, that fuses romantic pop, dance music and caribbean rhythms.

PoliticsSpotlights

Barack Obama is just getting started

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States, and the first African American to hold the office. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at University of Chicago Law School between 1992 and 2004. He served three terms representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, running unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2000 to Bobby Rush. In 2004, Obama received national attention during his campaign to represent Illinois in the United States Senate with his victory in the March Democratic Party primary, his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July, and his election to the Senate in November.

He began his presidential campaign in 2007 and, after a close primary campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008, he won sufficient delegates in the Democratic Party primaries to receive the presidential nomination. He then defeated Republican nominee John McCain in the general election, and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. Nine months after his inauguration, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

During his first two years in office, Obama signed into law economic stimulus legislation in response to the Great Recession in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Other major domestic initiatives in his first term included the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare”; the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.

In foreign policy, Obama ended U.S. military involvement in the Iraq War, increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, signed the New START arms control treaty with Russia, ordered U.S. military involvement in Libya in opposition to Muammar Gaddafi, and ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. In January 2011, the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives as the Democratic Party lost a total of 63 seats; and, after a lengthy debate over federal spending and whether or not to raise the nation’s debt limit, Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

Travel

Cooking is easier than you think

This is our favorite recipe for poblano and onion hash browns. This is a dish you can easily improvise with and add your own flare to make it your own. Everyone we’ve made this for absolutely loves it!

What You’ll Need

  • 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation and Cooking

  1. Soak the shredded potatoes in cold water for about 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, removing as much moisture as possible.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the shredded potatoes, onion, and poblano pepper and stir.
  3. Place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the potato mixture, sprinkle with half the chili powder and cook until the bottom begins to brown (about 5 to 7 minutes).
  4. Flip over, or stir, the hash browns. Add the remaining chili powder and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Once desired crispiness is achieved, season with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.
DesignTechnology

Branding Overhaul Project

A brand is a name, term, design, or other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising. Initially, livestock branding was adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot branding iron. A modern example of a brand is Pepsi which belongs to PepsiCo Inc.

Here’s what we did for this project:

  • Printed on super thick card stock
  • Hand screen printed cards
  • Embossed for professional touch

In accounting, a brand defined as an intangible asset is often the most valuable asset on a corporation’s balance sheet. Brand owners manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value, and brand valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a money value to a brand, and allows marketing investment to be managed (e.g.: prioritized across a portfolio of brands) to maximize shareholder value. Although only acquired brands appear on a company’s balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value.

Design: 26 Lettres.

DesignFeaturedTravel

Graffiti throughout the city

Graffiti are writing or drawings that have been scribbled, scratched, or painted illicitly on a wall or other surface, often in a public place. Graffiti range from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings, and they have existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire.

Graffiti range from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings and pieces.In modern times, paint (particularly spray paint) and marker pens have become the most commonly used graffiti materials. In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner’s consent is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime.

Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles. Within hip hop culture, graffiti have evolved alongside hip hop music, b-boying, and other elements.

Graffiti can also be a pastime

Graffiti can also be a pastime

Controversies that surround graffiti continue to create disagreement amongst city officials, law enforcement, and writers who wish to display and appreciate work in public locations. There are many different types and styles of graffiti; it is a rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested and reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.