VIDEOS:Get In or Get Out.
While writing a review for a guitar tuner, of all things, I was reminded of a story. It’s a somewhat sad story, but with an exceptional silver lining: it brought me to the guitar that changed my life as a musician. And it all started with me hitting up Craigslist.
“A BOSS TU-3, brand new, for half the price. BRAND NEW. There must be a catch!”, I thought to myself. Well, I decided not to question good fortune and visit the gentleman seller. A few email exchanges later, I was on my way.
An older Eastern European man and his startled guard dog welcomed me at the door. He takes me to the basement, past yesterday’s laundry, through the storage area, and to a room with a startlingly contrasted atmosphere. Dark wooden floors surrounded by freshly painted beige walls, and lighting perfectly dimmed for its purpose. It would appear I walked into the sanctuary of a guitar enthusiast. Guitars, carefully chosen and respected, adorned any free wall not supporting amps and cabs.
A golden Gibson stood radiant in front of me. My heart skipped a beat.
He proceeded to show me the tuner and assured me it was in great working order. Fair enough. “Why are you selling this so cheap? It’s practically new”, I inquired, against my better judgement. “It’s got to go. All of it”, he replied with arms open to the entire room.
It turns out this older gentleman was in the construction business, but had a passion for music deeply rooted in his childhood. When he moved to Canada to pursue better fortunes, he built this sanctuary as a tribute to his undying love for music and the friends he left behind. But why then must he see it all go?
A recent accident during work had robbed his left hand of the mobility he needed to play. There was very little chance of a full recovery. For him, the joy of playing music was gone. The gear he used to relive the joys of his youth now merely mocked him. My greatest fear in life now stood before me as a reality to this man. It was heart-breaking to hear him describe it. As a complete stranger, there was very little solace I could offer.
“I need to get rid of all of it. I don’t want to look at them anymore. They deserve to be played.”
“What about this one?” I immediately took the Golden Gibson into my hands. “It’s great, isn’t it? But look at these others!”, he said as he drew my attention towards the other guitars in his collection. I indulged the gentleman and tried some of the other fine specimens. As fine as they were, it did not matter. They only made me more stubborn in my initial choice — the Golden Gibson. The smell of the wood, the way my hands glided effortlessly across the frets, the inexplicable smile it put on my face; the guitar didn’t fight me, it befriended me.
Ladies and gentleman, finding the right guitar is akin to falling in love. You don’t see it coming, you can’t explain it, but you just know. When I held that guitar, I submerged into a body of warm water. Goosebumps covered my skin as the rich natural aroma intoxicated me. The notes became an extension of myself, not an external stimulus. I was no longer speaking through a megaphone to those who would listen, but having a conversation between two long lost friends. Reality only returned with a splash of cold water and sense of longing. If you don’t understand where I’m coming from, I don’t envy you.
He could see it. I can only imagine he felt the same way. The hesitation in his eyes was painfully evident. Clearing his throat, he proceeded to describe the technical qualities of the specimen, maintaining upmost professionalism. The Gibson Les Paul ’60s Studio Deluxe was a mahogany masterpiece with two uncovered humbucking pickups — the 490R and Burstbucker Pro, a bookmatched Grade-A Heritage Cherry Sunburst maple top, and a Bigsby Vibrato. Beautiful.
He took the guitar from me. And as he held it, he broke character.
“This guitar is a 50th birthday present from my wife,” he said, pointing to the gold truss-rod cover. On it was engraved, ‘To Vladimir, 1962’. “A lot of people have been interested in this one. But they all just want to take it and resell it for more money. I couldn’t do that. It deserves a good home.”
With a mixture of frustration and duty, Vladimir returned the guitar to me. “You won’t do that. You’ll give it a good home and play it like it deserves to be played”, he said sternly. He didn’t have to tell me; I had no other intention.
We settled on a price. He didn’t even put up a fight. Neither did I. I left his home with the Golden Gibson, an Ampeg combo + cab that complimented the Gibson perfectly, and the guitar tuner that started it all for far far less than their worth. Vladimir kept the engraved truss-rod cover; I wouldn’t of had it any other way.
Perhaps the importance of this story is not very evident to anyone but myself. But the way this guitar has changed the way I play, and the joy I get out of it, has made all the difference. What happened to Vladimir is terrifying. I couldn’t imagine how it feels to be in that situation. But one dream dying to give life to another. That’s something, isn’t it? I hope I never take it for granted.
Whenever I get a new instrument, I always give it a name. It’s just a little thing I do. My Godin is ‘Oscar’ and my Larrivée is ‘James’. ‘Vladimir’, the Golden Gibson, was the latest addition to the family.
We here at TVC corp. usually like to make our own doodles. But we just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to involve one of Vancouver’s finest local artists, Monte Strong. With TVC’s fourth EP being kind of a big deal for us, we wanted the art to have the same statement of quality and passion as the music.
We are so thrilled to present Monte’s piece, “Hot Beat”, as official album art for TVC’s upcoming fourth EP. We think the piece really captures the style of music we strive for; subtle and unique layers built upon each other to create vivid colours and textures. The soft warm colours and sharp edges also compliment the current theme spectacularly. But enough of our take, here’s what the original artist has to say:‘This work is inspired by the metaphor of music as geometry. Consistent repetition with each beat building on the next to create visual form and structure.’
You can find more of Monte Strong’s art on his Etsy.
Shameless bragging aside, we get great positive feedback for the artwork featured by TVC. Varied styles, colours, and subjects keep the art fresh and interesting. But here’s the dirty little secret: almost all of it is done effortlessly on a smartphone. It’s true!
Getting a smartphone/tablet really opened up opportunities to capture and sketch out ideas on the spot. And that’s really what it comes down to. You’ll be surprised what great things you can create when you always have the tools you need, right when inspiration hits. In this article we cover a few of the choice apps used to help capture and transform those ideas into really great art.Note: this article was written with iOS devices in mind, but should apply to the android equivalents.
Most smartphones these days come with great cameras, which takes care of most of your snapping needs. For example, the latest iPhones come with 8MP cameras, with some android devices clearing 12MP, and great sensors. The only real trick is to remember to take lots of pictures. You’ll never know when an otherwise bland picture could transform in to great filter art.
ProTip: When playing around with some of the filters/apps mentioned, make sure to take note of how they react to shapes, lights, and colours. Knowing what makes the apps tick will help you identify those really awesome app-friendly shots out in the real world.
“The secret of perfect image-processing is the skillful blending of fresh, imported pixels, precise color temperature, and the fastest numerical filtering. Percolator packs your images with well-rounded, full-bodied color — every time.”
Hands down our favourite filter. Integral to the theme of the 2011-2012 EP collection, this filter is featured in a lot of the album art. Percolator takes a loaded image and uses colour and tone averages to create a circle-mosaic of the original picture. Custom settings allow you to change the style, size, and overall blend of the circles. Check out some of the examples below:
So what happened here? Well, we fired up one of our first artsy apps, Sketchbook Pro, to make that gorgeous little finger painting. Then we saved it to the camera roll, booted up Percolator, played around with the settings, and brewed the second picture. That was it! BOOM, album cover.
Some other funky examples:
Percolator has a lot of great options worth checking out. Really, sometimes you have no idea what cool creations you’ll get unless you put the pot on the boiler.
“Instantly create beautiful etched illustrations from any photo! Experiment with twelve stunning styles you can tweak to fit your image perfectly — it’s easy and fun to turn your photo into a unique work of art.”
Want to raise the classy-ness factor of your web art? Etchings can do that for you by rendering your stock picture in a hand-drawn “etch” style. We’ve adopted the etch filter style throughout the website, behold!
We know, it’s shameful. All this time you thought these were hand-drawn beauties, but alas.
“You’ve probably heard the tired cliche about a picture being worth a thousand words. We’ve taken this phrase quite literally and created WordFoto, an app that turns photos and words into amazing typographic works of art.”
WordFoto brings a unique twist to the mosaic-type filter category. Enter a few words into a list within the app, and WordFoto analyzes your photo to a create a mosaic of the original using your customized words. Change the font, size, saturation, etc. to create your unique WordFoto mosaic. We used this app to create the album set list for our summer 2011 EP, “Clusterfunk”, with outstanding results:
“Halftone turns your photos into unique, vintage comics that friends and family will love! More than a simple “photo filter” app, Halftone makes it easy to add paper styles, captions, speech balloons, graphic stamps, and fonts (including built-in comic fonts).”
Although we haven’t used this app for any official releases as of yet, the opportunities have been quite tempting. Halftone creates classic paper-printed comics out of your original picture. Choose the paper type, “printer” type, and add captions to your creations. We aren’t going to divulge our devious plan for this app just yet, but you’ll know it when you see it ;) Here’s a sample from one of our play-throughs.
Here are some other apps we’ve experimented with that may tickle your fancy.
Retromatic: “Remember those cool posters back in the 50’s? Neither do we, but Retromatic gives you the ability to create collage style images reminiscent of the groovier times. “Retromatic provides 17 original retro-style filters, 11 background images and 30 authentic retro-style ornaments. All these images aim to reflect a social atmosphere of early 20 century.”
ColorSplash: “Color Splash lets you quickly and easily give photos a dramatic look by converting them to black and white, while keeping your chosen details in color. This effect draws the viewers’ attention to the colored areas, creating striking images.”
Gridditor: “Gridditor shows you four filters at any given time, one in each cardinal direction with your original image at the center. The farther you go in any direction, the stronger the effect gets. By arranging the previews in a grid, you can see the effect of applying multiple filters at once letting you edit faster, and showing you creative possibilities you may not have considered otherwise.”
“Diptic lets you combine and edit photos to create awesome collages that can be shared with friends and family via email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr or Posterous. With text captions, 14 filters, rounded borders with pretty textures and 165 customizable layouts, there are unlimited options to create unique photo collages!”
Initially created by the Flickr community, Diptic gives you a plethora of options for framing your new artistic creations. Set the aspect ratio, choose the number and orientation of embedded frames, select and position your pics, add some final effects, and send it to the press! The framing in our albums and our business/download cards were all made with the help of Diptic!
“With stylish templates which are already within the application, you will be able to create posters without great effort. When you get the job done of first step making posters, you can utilize various effects and decorates to complete the chic posters your own. This App is for you to create posters to promote and invite your friends at your party, concert, birthday etc.”
Okay, we’re going to take little detour from apps for album art. But this is equally important for you burgeoning artists out there. Phoster provides appealing and unique templates to create appealing posters.
Have an album release? A gig announcement? Just want to seek attention? Well enough of those boring MS Paint posters with the comic sans font (no, seriously. Enough). Use the apps mentioned above to create some art unique to your project and use Phoster to make the details of your event stand out, without making eyes bleed.
Although there’s a lot of room for improvement (for example, no undo or landscape mode), the entry price was well worth it for a tool far better than what I was already using. Even the smallest effort can help set you apart ;)
This really isn’t rocket science. And once you get in the habit of snapping pictures frequently, messing around with filters, and using frames effectively, you’ll find yourself making amazing art before you know it. Not to mention, it’s really fun!
So try out the apps (most have free versions available to test-drive), keep snapping, and let’s see those beauties! Post your creations in the comments, and if you find any cool apps out there, tell us about them!
Let’s get something straight. I’ve spent a ton of time and money on my pedals. Figuring out exactly which ones I need, and spending the extra few mullah to get the extra smooth sheen that maybe two people in the audience may notice. But it’s my sound – it’s the heart of it all. So when it comes to the pedal board, it’s serious business. Not only because I want something great to house my precious babies, but stock boards you find at stores are way overpriced and are hard to customize to my needs.
Enter GORM, an $11 IKEA shelf that dreams of being so much more.
After I arrived at my perfect pedal lineup (I know, I know. Can one ever be satisfied?), I realized that I needed a pedalboard. I thought to myself, “boy, it would be nice to afford food tomorrow. There must be a way I can make one for cheap, with my own two hands even!” After my first failed attempt, I did what any sensible person would do; I fired up Google.
A quick “how to build a pedal board” search later, I came across this handy little forum thread. In the thread, “Armchair Bronco” took me on a narrated step-by step photo journal of how he turned a bland unassuming shelf into a wicked custom pedal board.
Needless to say, I was sold. A solid wood construction, nice long slats to place your pedals, spacing between slats for cable management, customizability (both aesthetically and functionally), and, did I mention, cheaper?
I won’t go into too much detail in the steps, since Armchair Bronco did such a great job, but here’s a quick synopsis:
After having this board for a few months, I can happily say that it is doing VERY well. There has been no give in the joints and the board is as solid as the day I made it. For transportation, I bought a very cheap keyboard gig bag ($10 from Tom Lee!!), which fits the board perfectly with just enough spare room for extra cables.
So there you have it! Simple! Brilliant! Affordable! If you give it a go, let me know how it went in the Comments!
a new face, same voice.
“The Velvet Chameleon” is the creative brainchild of musician/songwriter Adarsh Fernando (me!). The music project focuses on a homegrown sound that blends the off-beat melodies and rhythms of Radiohead with the drive and structure of Queens of the Stone Age.
This is going to be an exciting space for us to share and get to know one another. Much has changed, and more will surely come. But you and I will always remain the same. Lovers of fine music and great ideas.
So relax, enjoy the music, and we will talk again soon.