Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Walk in the Park with Amanda

Amanda Aschinger is a friend of mine. She is a smart business woman. I met her when she was a producer of a local television show called All About Business. I remember learning that she has a newborn baby (her second child), husband and a career to manage. I was impressed by her ability to effortlessly juggle all of that activity.  Over coffee at the Starbuck’s at Price Crossing in Olivette Amanda explained the business model for the show.  The format offered quality broadcast production elements for featured companies to use for their marketing purposes once the program aired. A win-win argument that admittedly blurs the lines between paid advertising and earned media but an opportunity for small businesses and non-profits to cost effectively have a media presence with the bonus of video they might use for their respective websites and promotion.

That newborn is more than two years old now. Amanda is now leveraging her producer/writer credentials at Solstice Productions which she and her husband originally started in 1997. Amanda is skilled at business development and will continue to succeed in my estimation. She is a go getter in the best sense of the term.

We met at the Laumeier Sculpture Park recently one afternoon to catch up. I congratulated her on a luncheon presentation she recently offered to the American Marketing Association that was generally well-received. I encouraged her to stay close to AMA. She agreed to do so. As we headed to the parking lot, since the conversation naturally lead to story -telling I told her about my book (Failure Coach, a novel by Wes Morgan) being available on She smiled and admitted that she had a book in  early stages of development and that she would be buying my book.

“Great I would love to know what you think. And I hope you will let me know how your book progresses. And if/you feel ready to pursue publishing it I can share my experience but also refer you to some others who can help you navigate the process.”

“Well, first I have to write it.”

“True but consider this…Have you been to Key West?”


“Well you know Ernest Hemmingway was a young man when he lived there and if you visit his house – now a museum. ..Well, what I remember most from my visit there was that Hemmingway would get up each morning. Go to his small office/studio and write 600 words a day. After that he would go fishing. Later, maybe Ernest would visit local.”

“Sounds like a pretty nice way to approach a book.”

“I know you are a busy person, but I think that's the key. Make time for writing and keep writing.”

In the meantime, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment in recommending Amanda as a resource for your next corporate video production. For more information -    

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Morgan Studio - back in the day

Morgan Studio by Wes Morgan

Morgans probably remember some of this stuff that made up Morgan Studio back in the day. (I am cc'ing Lindsey, Ben and my pal Dave Cox in case they are interested in list of the retro art studio (state of the art in its time). I remember all about the Morgan Studio format. The “right handed” set up with the T-Squares and Northern Light exposure. God forbid someone try to work at Morgan Studio and be left handed. At its peak, Morgan Studio was a well-oiled machine.

Here are some of the things I remember:

Razor Blades – as many as you need. The rule was to throw them away often so you always had a good edge. X-Acto blades were for other designers – not Morgan Studio designers because the extra time and cost of X-Acto products lead to less efficiency.

Morgan Studio Pencils – as many as you need or want. Soft enough lead to make a nice bold line. (Not quite a #2 pencil.)

If you can’t finish up a job. You have to put it back on the production table. (This way if the artist calls in sick the next day, someone else can pick up where he/she left off. A truly industrial manufacturing approach. Henry Ford would have loved it.)

Don’t even think of reading the newspaper at your drawing table. Even if you come in early – the culture at Morgan Studio frowns on that sort of thing. Read your paper at home. (Radios are highly discouraged too.)

If you think you are fooling anyone with that portfolio case at lunchtime – you are wrong. Morgan Studio will start planning for your replacement the first time you are spotted carrying one at lunch time. It’s just obvious you are looking for another job.

Technology – Morgan Studio was innovative for it’s time. The Typographic Machine and the Stat Camera and the Color Key equipment. All those photo chemicals and all those fancy screens (for Mezzotints and effects). Why spend a bunch of money at Boehme & Blinkman when you can mock up a pretty sharp looking package design or annual report with all these great tools.

Tab Type – How about that summer I spent dusting off the tab type. Interesting concept – but not much flexibility with spacing. Again – it beats spending too much money at Arnie Boehme’s place. (He sure has a pretty nice tan for February most years.)

Press Type –  Why does it seam like you always run out of S’s on those sheets. You can’t even fake an S with press type.

Airbrush – only a few highly skilled artists can handle this equipment. Chances are you’ll have to send it out.

Job Tracking – those time sheets at every work station. Seems reasonable enough. But I’m sure glad that I don’t have to account for every billable half hour in a day. I’d have too many of those 9000 “in house” projects on my time sheet. Then again – someone’s gotta do those Claig Playhouse programs, Lake Erie Tap Water Labels and stats of the World’s Tallest Ferris Wheel (for the flats).

Jack Leg Carpentry – as long as you keep white paper board on top of all the surfaces you can have clean areas to work on things (Flap and Tissue, Trimming Keyline boards, building flaired envelopes for deliveries “West” etc.)

Sell what you got – As long as Dick Mahoney is on board we can propose an annual report with a lot of loose illustrations of business people in meetings, shaking hands and doing business (Acrylic and ink mostly). But if you have a guy that’s a little bit stronger with type design – recommend against the illustration approach.

Sign Painting – Ernie could sure do a nice hand painted sign. Not too much call for it – but as long as Morgan Studio has that dimension let’s leverage that skill for the Cleveland Federal Savings Holiday Window Display.

Guarding the fort – What a great set up that office had for the Mr. Morgan. You only have two ways to gain access. As you have said the flow was East (only a couple dared head West – Jane “Can Do No Wrong” Geiger and Mary). The only other way in was by having the audacity to sneak around Mary’s desk. Kinda like the “Wizard of Oz” (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…)

Limitless supply of Communication Arts Magazine, Graphis, Print and other annuals. When in doubt, steal an idea from the great ones (Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser, Paul Rand or who-ever).

Type Books Galore – If you wonder what Bodoni Bold looks like in 12 point type with 6 point leading…just pull out one of those books. Safest thing to do is keep most body copy in the Times Roman family and Headlines in Univers or Helvetica family. Ya can’t miss. But sometimes you can have a little fun with the miscellaneous decorative faces with names like Smoke or Olive Antique. If you’re really bored see if you can name the typeface without looking: Garamond, Caslon, Univers, Helvetica, Times, Futura, Bookman, Gothic. And what could be more fun than imaging words using the alternative letters with an extra swoosh or flourish. 

Awards – Morgan Studio was never obsessed with winning awards. I’ve worked at several advertising agencies that spend thousands of dollars each year entering design and advertising awards competitions. Still Morgan Studio had a respectable wall of awards from various sources – none of them for awards shows requiring entry fees.

Points, Picas, and Pocket Pal. Rulers and gadgets that showed you about how much space you needed to leave in a layout if you were considering say a standard Times Roman face in maybe 12 point type.

Rubylith, Amberlith – Morgan Sudio had drawers of stuff like this. It usually came in sheets and was stored in big old flat file drawers with Acetate and kept near the drawer with the register marks that were printed on rolls of what otherwise looked like scotch tape. All these films had a very specific purpose – to produce Keylines. Keylines that told printers exactly what they had to do.

Cold Press and Hot Press board. Railroad board. Poster Board. Tag Board. Vellum. Tissue paper. Shoot – even wrapping paper if you needed it. And if you needed it and it wasn’t there – It could be delivered in no time by a messenger from the Art Supply store.

Bonfoeys – Need something framed. Just drop it off and it will be ready in a few days. Rex Art in Miami was no match for this place.

Flap and Tissue. This is Morgan Studio 101. You simply must learn how to catch  the edge of the flap and the tissue and coordinate it with a well-placed double-sided tape. Do it wrong? Do it over.

Krylon spray paint in just about any color. Take the dowl pins you bought from Kohler Brothers across the street. Saw them into Lip Smacker-sized cylinders and spray them to suit every flavor. But do it across the hall. And open the window. And when they are dry, wrap the color keys around those cylinders with careful precision and just a twizer square of double sided scotch tape and presto:  “You’ll have 6-12 design options for Rootin’Tooty Fruity Lip Smacker in time to ‘head west’ by 5:15pm.” Jim Grace won’t believe how fast Morgan Studio rose to the challenge – Again!

RC Photo Prints – Bonne Bell wants 200 prints by tomorrow. Greg is printing them as fast as he can (and this RC paper dries pretty fast) but he might not have it done by 5:15.

 ...and one more thing....we work 9 to 5 around here. Be on time. Work a full day.

Wesley A. Morgan
Morgan Studio/East

cell 314 402-1202