An Interview with Chicago Graphic Designer Brooke Becker

I was lucky enough to sit down with the lovely and talented Brooke Becker. In this interview she gives some insight into her design-rich background, what she digs about art, and how she stays sane as a graduate student and professional.

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SARAH: Brooke, you’ve got a great sense of design. Did growing up around art influence your education?

BROOKE: My mom was an art teacher; I was exposed to art at an early age. Other than elementary and middle school art classes, my first art class was my senior year of high school. I played the viola and my mom insisted that I be in the orchestra all four years and take four years of math! So, this was the first year I had extra electives that I could take an art class. Thankfully, the teacher knew my mom and allowed me to join with the other senior classes, Illustration and Commercial Design. In college, I was a Visual Art major with a concentration in Graphic Design. This program didn’t really get established until my junior year, when they built a new Mac lab and brought in adjunct teachers who were in the industry. Currently, I am getting my Masters in Arts in New Media at DePaul University.

SARAH: What’s your favorite kind of art?

BROOKE: I have always been drawn to photography. I like the idea that the moment captured by the photographer will be forever saved and documented.

SARAH: What is your key advice to others just getting into the creative arts field?

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BROOKE: I recommend getting exposed to creative environments and industries by doing internships or summer jobs. I wish I would have been a bit more focused on the types of creative companies out there and tried to get in at the ones that excited me.

SARAH: What is your “expertise specialty”? Has this stemmed or grown from something else?

BROOKE: I consider myself an expert in design for print and web. I am much better executing print work. However, I feel I have become more of a design consultant for print and web projects. Assessing bad design and making it better. I think this has just stemmed from being exposed to both print and web design for so long, and having a strong art background helps me communicate my ideas.

SARAH: What have you found to be most valuable being in the New Media Studies Program?

BROOKE: I love the fact that the NMS program is interdisciplinary allowing each NMS student to explore their own interests. I also have enjoyed the people I have met and collaborated with on projects.

SARAH: How do you keep life balance as a “constantly connected” new media artist?

BROOKE:  I used to do a lot of improv comedy…I’m still doing a little here and there. I play volleyball. I’m also trying to take more fine art classes. I took an oil painting class last summer and it was amazing the amount of anxiety I had from starting the painting. You can always delete or create multiple versions in digital art, so I feel that pushing my creativity to be more decisive is a good thing.

SARAH: And lastly…where can we view your current portfolio?

BROOKE:  www.brookebeckerdesign.com – I use WordPress for my site which allows me to easily update work and include descriptions.

[And be sure to follow Brooke on Twitter]

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A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Pink Floyd fan. I have a black and white photo of the band, circa 1970, hanging by my computer at work, with a young David Gilmour (swoon) in the forefront. My very first CD was “The Division Bell” (1994) which I realize is  late in the band’s collection, but aside from the music, I loved the cover art.

Storm Thorgerson had the best job in the world. He was artistic adviser and graphic designer of Pink Floyd’s album covers. He has an online gallery that can be viewed at http://www.stormthorgerson.com/. In the course of reading his book “Mind Over Matter 4: The Images of Pink Floyd” one cover in particular, the 1987 album “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”, caught my attention, because of the story behind it but also because of Storm’s intense ability to pull together a vision with such scope in real life. That is a dedication to one’s art…FOR art. If I could ask Storm one question, it would be – in 2011 would you have set this up in real life again to photograph or rely more on computer graphics to create the vision?

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

According to Storm Thorgerson, “The idea for the beds comes from two sources. The first was a lyric line from ‘Yet Another Movie’ which read “A vision of an empty bed”. David [Gilmour] had drawn a picture for this which I liked, but not madly so I rearranged the words to become “a vision of empty beds” and that’s it. A long line of beds stretching across the landscape as far as the eye could see. Real beds in a real place. So many that the viewer might ask how it was done or what it might mean. The second source was a lonely rower, or sculler, rowing himself down a cracked, dry river bed. This was a reworking, I realise, of the swimmer in the dunes for WYWH. The beds then became arranged in a gentle curve stretching away from the camera, like a river, as in ‘river bed’!… The same rower, Langley Iddens, occupied a fast moving bed for the concert film for ‘On The Run’ from Dark Side, a hospital bed like the one from the cover. It all connects somehow and somewhere. But where to get all these beds and where to put them?…I wanted Victorian wrought iron, hospital type beds for dreamers, or mad people, or even ill people. Beds to dream in or beds to recover in. Lance Williams, location manager and all around good egg, somehow laid his hands on 700 beds and accompanying sheets, blankets and pillows, plus two articulated trucks and we took the whole lot down to Saunton Sands in North Devon and began to put them on the beach – one by one.”

He goes on to say that the weather didn’t cooperate at the beach and that after it started to rain they had to pick it all up and come back two weeks later. Additionally, the dogs in the photo were brought in with their trainer and the microlite in the sky had to be arranged along with rower, Langley Iddens, looking at himself in the mirror. A second shot of this scene was taken as the tide came in and if I’m not mistaken, this second photo was on the inside of the cover. The visuals that accompanied CDs were fun to look at. The art that accompanies MP3s online just isn’t…the same.

A truly haunting and beautiful photo created organically and orchestrated to fit the vision of the theme. The tight creative direction it must have taken to emulate the exact curve of the line of beds must have been time-consuming. The process is an art in itself and one that can come to really be appreciated knowing the lengths that a whole crew went to to set up this unforgettable shot.

S.L. Jones Photography

Photo Courtesy of S.L. Jones Photography

A young rural Illinois family strolls blissfully along the town canal on a cool autumn eve…a mother smiles as her toddler, who is just learning to walk, exercises his independence and optimism by starting down a long wooded path…a man stops to whisper delicately into his fiancee’s ear and she sweetly smiles and closes her eyes. These are just a few examples of the narratives told in the expertly crafted photos of Stephaney L. Jones, founder of S.L. Jones Photography

 

Stephaney integrates strategies elemental to timeless photography; an artful tilt of the camera…choosing the right daylight that offers the most tasteful array of shadows…using the 2/3 design rule when framing a scene…adding an appropriate punch of color to emphasize a subject when needed. It is obvious from perusing through her growing portfolio that Stephaney transmits through her lenses her intuition on what precise moments of tenderness will best convey her clients’ stories; a talent that Stephaney has come to nurture through experiences in photographing her own children. In addition to families, children and teens, S.L. Jones Photography also covers lifestyle, wedding, engagement and objective photos.

Photo Courtesy of S.L. Jones Photography

On her website, Stephaney notes a pivotal moment which foreshadowed her career as a photographer. “Ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated by photos. My parents have a huge antique dry sink that they use to store old photos in. I would dig out pictures of family and spend the whole day looking through them.” 

I had the pleasure of growing up a few miles from Stephaney and spending time with her at her family’s farm as a kid. And it is no surprise that she uses local nature and its array of colors in her photos, just as a painter uses brush strokes. By snapping moments of families in their familiar, picturesque rural surroundings it adds a real dimensional depth to the stories told by way of image.  And Steph skillfully captures these stories in her photography.

Photo Courtesy of S.L. Jones Photography

If you have family or loved ones you would love to capture in keepsakes that will last generations, S.L. Jones Photography is for you. Stephaney services the Bloomington area and central/northern Illinois region. Contact her for location availability and session information.

Visit the S.L Jones website at http://galleries.sljonesphotography.com/ 
Check out her blog at http://sljonesphotography.wordpress.com/
And be sure to friend S.L. Jones Photography on Facebook.