Academic History Part 2 – Graphic Design Spring 2007

::Whoosh…Hackk…Aaaaa…chooo!:: Ahh damn.  All this stuff is so damn dusty.  You see what I do for you folks.  I put my lungs at risk digging up my old projects.  You see I don’t like some of these things.  You know why?  Because I can do better.  I don’t want these being the only thing that will represent my abilities when I go looking for a job this fall.  But I should at least show you folks how I’ve gotten to where I am.  Now the following are photomontages I created for GRD 170 aka Digital Image.

Chicago in Alaska

In this assignment I was told I had to create a montage involving a road and I had no other restraints.  Now my teacher, Dr. John Fu, required us to do sketches before we did any work.  My problem was and still, kind of, is that I can’t draw.  It’s why you won’t see that many sketches on here for my Academic history.  They weren’t very good and I did not keep them.  But he did not require it for this project.  I created this picture by doing searches through Google Image search and then picked out ones that I thought would work well together.  Then I spent three classes playing with the masking and image adjusting abilities of Adobe Photoshop CS1. I’d say this isn’t too bad for one of my first projects. 

The next picture was our final.  Dr. Fu told us we could come up with our own idea if we want.  So I decided that I would make a photomontage.


Yeah I’m a nerd.  This picture is the only copy I have left of it.  I posted it to my MySpace page shortly after I made this.  I never deleted it.  Yes the picture and the MySpace account.  Hey why don’t you see if your MySpace account is still active and what you might have forgotten that you put up there.  😛  
Now I know you folks are noticing little imperfections because I didn’t do a very good masking job on a certain Mega-Nerd.  This was not an easy piece to do.  Plus, I think, I the monitors i was using back then, were not as bright and articulate as the monitors i use now.  My monitor at the time was an Old color television from the nineties.  In fact, the black frame around all the figures is actually said television. I connected my PC (that I built) to the TV with an S-Cable.  So I ended up missing small little things and when I printed them out, the gray spots were overpowered by the black ink that was printed at the same time.  Now a days I have a much better screen thank you.

Well now that I’m done defending myself I’ll explain the piece.  🙂 
I decided to try to make a photomontage of everything that I found nerdy or everything that I enjoyed and the people who made them happen.  I put Wolverine, Magneto, and Sabertooth playing Dungeons and Dragons (With Magneto as the Dungeon Master) on the moon. For you non comic book fans, Magneto had a fortress in space called Asteroid M and many stories also took place on the moon.  So I figured the moon would be as good a place as any for the game to occur.  Their game was also being acted out for them on the board as they played….

What…you say Mario and master chief aren’t in Dungeons and dragons?….Well duh.  This is where I started turning it into something that would represent all that I enjoyed.  I couldn’t figure out how to integrate the video games I enjoyed into the story the picture was telling.  So I put Mario and Master chief off to the side, facing off against each other just for fun.  Now Since I was in space I was going to try to have the Enterprise D face off against the Death Star.

::Covers Ears:: DAMN.  Gentleman and Ladies…please…leave the arguing over which one would win for a later date.  I’m trying to explain why i put them in there.  ::Room quiets down.

I did it because I wanted too.  😛

 But I could never get them to line up properly.  So I just placed them on opposite sides of the page.  Then I still had a lot of room so I put in all the nerds who created these things that I so greatly enjoyed.

::man Raises his hand:: Yes, you in Tulsa, Arizona.  You have a question?  Why is Bill Gates in this picture??  He had nothing to do with anything in it.  Well technically he did.  Microsoft made Xbox, he made Microsoft.  But that’s not why he’s in it. 

 It is because if you notice the computer keyboard at the bottom of the picture, this whole scene is clearly not occurring on a Mac.  Sure, the Hypothetical PC probably crashed 20 minutes into the game because I didn’t have enough ram, but the PC got big because of Bill Gates.  So no steve jobs for the apple followers out there.  sorry.  Also he’s the richest, most powerful nerd I know of.  If you folks know of one richer, drop me a line.   

Well that’s it for these.  You want to critique, go ahead.  I can take it.  /:-\   

More to come.
Type ya Later,
James McGill

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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Academic History


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Academic History Part 1: Graphic Design – Product Pamphlet – Summer 2005

Hey Everybody, The picture below was my first job after NIU. I had graduated the year before with my BS in Marketing and I had found that whenever I asked people if I could do marketing for them, they all said that they wanted me to make a pamphlet, magnet, etc. Now I’ve known the owners of Ream’s Elburn Market since I was three. When my parents moved to Elburn my parents made friends with the Ream’s because my dad is a big fan of cooking. He loved buying the food at the Meat Market. Eventually Mrs Janelle Ream taught my sister how to play Flute and piano. So I grew up knowing these people. For some odd reason that still eludes me, they liked me and still do. They hired me to work at the market for the summer of 2000 before I went to NIU. Fast forward to summer 2005, i was working for them again before I started working at the Big Box.

GraphicDesignProject1SdA by JHM Project
GraphicDesignProject1SdB by JHM Project

GraphicDesignProject1SdA, GraphicDesignProject1SdB, a photo by JHM Project on Flickr.

This was the first Graphic Design Job I did after I graduated NIU. This is what basically started me on the path i’m on today. I was only considering going to Waubonsee Community College when I got this job. When I finished I knew I could do better once I learned how to use Quark and Indesign. 

This is how it came to be.  While I was there I asked them if I could do some marketing to try and improve my resume. They asked me to do a pamphlet, just like everyone else. So I said I’d give it a try. If I messed up, they wouldn’t pay me and not think I was wasting their time. I got all the information from them to put in the pamphlet. I took the picture of the front with my mom’s Sony Sure Shot Camera. I then created the whole layout with my mother’s copy of Microsoft Publisher. I went through the templates, because I knew nothing on how this worked at the time. So I took bits and pieces from different templates to create something that wasn’t just plug and play. I charged them what they were paying me to work at the Market. As you can see they got what they paid for. Something simple. I still am very greatful that they gave me this chance and helped me figure the path I wanted to take.  That’s pretty much how this came about. 

More To Come.

Type ya later
James McGill

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Academic History


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Attempt #2

Ok, I just spent the last hour and a half surfing the freem themes here on  Many are quite interesting such as Toolbox, Sandbox, and of course twenty ten (the one that I was given when i first started).  But what caught my designers eye was Choco from CSSMayo.  It matches the theme of the purpose for my blog, which is to be a written documentation of my On-line portfolio.  The next step is setting up all the nick nacks and pattiwacks, then I’ll give the dog a bone…what the hell is dog doing in my house.  GIT!  GiT!.  I said GIT!  Anyway, If you know of another theme that is similar to this one and you think it will do me better,  post a comment and tell me about it.  Please supply a link so that I can go to it or make it real easy to find it. I’m a busy man with busy fingers.  I don’t what that means but it sounds really professional.  Anyway, tomorrow I’ll start telling the story of my Academic history and you’ll finally get to see some pictures.  YAY!!!. 

Type ya later,
James McGill

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Attempt #2, WordPress


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My question has been answered

Ok, I took me all weekend to find out the answer.  At the beginning of this weekend I started looking for a starting point that would allow me to created a custom theme for this blog.  I spoke to friends and I even asked for help on twitter.  They sent me to Youtube, various sites from a google search, and a few dark back alleys where i had to do things i wish to forget.  ::shutters::   They all got me to the same point.  PHP know-how.  Well I don’t know how and i don’t think I can learn php in six weeks.  I’m going to try but Its going to be hard.  However the question i had was “what is a good starting point that will allow me to do my blog well over the next six weeks (School ends, for a second time)?”  My answer came when I stopped in at Barnes and Noble on my lunch break.  I was browsing the Web Design section and found the Blogging for dummies book that explained how to use Blogger and WordPress.  I instantly turned to the chapter explaining WordPress and Found my answer.  Here it is:  Because I have my Blog on and not on a personal server or a server where i rent space, I cannot Upload custom themes.  So that means my starting point is going through wordpress’ free themes and choosing one that works for me.  Then using its customization settings to make it mine.  So for the following week my posts will be on the free themes here at WordPress and my ratings of the ones that would work for me.  I will also start a new Category called Academic history.  I will show the work that has actually survived the last six years due to neglect. (Hey i thought i wasn’t going to need them and the flash drive I kept the files on died on me two years ago, just before i realized I needed them.)  And yes I hear the dick heads off in the distance yelling “Hey, its called backing up your shit!”  I know and I’ve fixed it, but it doesn’t help telling me how much of an idiot I am.  it just creates bad feelings all around.  So With that said, I bid all you folks a fine adieu…um, that’s french for good bye…and I’ll see ya in a day or two.

Type ya later,
James McGill

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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Attempt #1, WordPress


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A little Frustrated

Not a big deal.  When ever I start something new I get a little frustrated.  Why?  Well mainly because I’m doing something I’ve never done before.  This Blog is a big example of that.  I have no idea how profiles are made and i have no idea who most the people who are reading this are.  I would like to make the profile from scratch but I know nothing about PHP.   This blog is how I’m going to try and teach myself PHP.   So over the next two days you will see certain aspects of this blog change.  I’m going to do the easy changes.  It will be simple-background image, header image, etc etc.  I know CSS so that will be the next thing i’ll be working on but I checked the CSS File for the current Theme i have which is the one WordPress selected for me.  It has over 1350 lines of code to go through.  I have no idea what parts of my blog are connected to what.  So for the next week I will be logging on and researching not just the set up of my blog but i’ll be hitting the web looking for explanations on how wordpress works.  If any of you have a good site that helped you figure this place out.  Let me know.  Post a response, send me an e-mail, go to facebook and join my JHM Project group to post on the wall, or just send up smoke signals.  I won’t understand them but I’ll drive towards em and you can tell me in person.   So We’ll see how this goes. 

Type ya later,

James McGill

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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Attempt #1, WordPress


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Before we get started let me introduce myself

 Hey, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is James McGill. Nice to meet you…oh wait I’m sorry I can’t hear you. We kinda have an internet separating us and I don’t have the VOIP programs up and running at the moment to hear you. Plus this is a message so I’m probably off doing something awesome and spectacular that you just wish you were doing or wish you could do. I’m just that cool. Now if you’re reading this entry, that means either we are in the first week of this blog or you’re checking out my profile and reading my “About” section. You could also be reading my previous entries, if that’s the case…why weren’t you here sooner? Either way thanks for validating my existence. Otherwise I would probably just fade away and join my other forgotten godly brethren who are no longer worshiped.

Now you’re probably wondering “oh my goodness, this fine, handsome, and astoundingly smart young is trying to achieve god-hood. That’s sacrilegious. May (insert whichever deity you believe in) strike him down for thinking he could be so great.” Well I hate to disappoint you, but though I have the good looks and charisma needed to be worshiped by many beautiful Lingerie models, that is not my purpose here. The truth is far more…realistic.

Here’s the situation…Not the idiot from that Jersey show-the actual situation I’m in. This blog is all about me trying to get a new job. You see about six years ago I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. (Bachelors of Science, there will be no naughty words in this entry sorry) in Marketing. I was 22 and the only jobs I could get interviews for were telemarketing and door to door salesman jobs. By mid-May I got hired to walk around Chicago and sell those Coupon books that some businesses give out as prizes for employees or customers. When I left my first day, I got really depressed as soon as I got into my car. This was not what I wanted to do. So the next day I called them up and told them that I really wasn’t interested. I apologized for wasting their time and I wished them luck in the future. I’m sure as soon as they hung up, they had some choice naughty words yelled at the receiver that no longer held a connection to my line.

So I went on and started looking through the marketing jobs to see if there was anything that looked interesting. Most were telemarketing and door to door sales, but there were a few that sounded fun and creative. These jobs stated that I needed to have a good understanding with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark in order to apply. So I decided that I wanted to try and get those types of jobs. The ones where you used your mind and creativity to sell things rather than just coming up with a pitch and being a persistent pain in the butt. Now I know many of you reading this might take offense to that and to you folks I say…Suck it up. Those jobs just aren’t for me. It’s not a critique on you folks as people but I need something that challenges my mind more than my patience. So I took a job at a local Big Box store (Please note I will not be saying where I work, until I leave my current job. I would prefer to leave at a time of my choosing rather than at a time of theirs). The Big Box gave me a job pushing carts. Not glamorous but it helped to pay the bills.

The Fall of the next year I signed up at my local Community College to take the Graphic design classes that taught you how to use these programs. I also, just for fun, took an HTML Class. Skip to the end of the semester…I got hooked. I decided to go for the Associates degrees in Graphic design and Web site design. Now since I was a cart pusher I couldn’t afford a full semester of classes. At the time I was only making $8 and some change an hour. Plus the only reason I could afford to do it is because my parents decided to take on the task of becoming Catholic Saints by allowing me to continue to live at “home” rent free. Now this was difficult mainly because my parents aren’t catholic. But the simple fact that they were willing to put up with me should get a Papal Letter of Recommendation at least.

So given my limited funds, I took 1 to 4 classes a semester. Then, a few semesters ago I decided that I wanted to learn photography as well. So during a semester I decide that I’m just tired of my current job. I don’t want to work at Big Box anymore and would like to start my career. So the following semester I take one class that will get me my Web Design Associates degree. Then half way through the semester a friend of mine by the Name of Buddy Scalera tells me that I need to know WordPress. Now I haven’t even created my on-line portfolio yet, so yay something else for me to have to learn. So a week later, I had an epiphany. Cue Windows 7 commercial flashback “I should make a blog documenting the creation of my on-line portfolio”. I created this blog the same day and a week or two later, create its first posting on April 1st, 2011.

That’s the story, so here is what the blog is going to do. I will be doing a series of projects over the next six weeks and the following summer. While school finishes up, the first six weeks of this blog, I will concentrate on WordPress. I will figure out how to make profiles, decide which widgets/apps/whatever they’re called to be placed on here, and figure out the complete look of this blog. Then when the summer starts, I will begin making my on-line portfolio. Through this whole process I will be documenting what I do, where I get my info and how I did it. You guys want to steal the techniques, go for it. But please leave my creative ideas alone. I really don’t want to go into further debt suing people before I have a new job.

Now one word of caution before I end this. I AM A NERD! HAHAHAHA! That’s right, you’re dealing with a nerd, a fanboy, a geek, a computer enthusiast, a comic book aficionado. Many of my projects will be leaning towards those things that I love. Comics, video games, movies, music, writing, photography and…well…women. Hey I’m a full-blooded male. Of course I’m going to include the beauty that is the female form. ::he said nervously trying not to make eye contact with the women in the room who are staring suspiciously at him:: All of it will be in good taste. The furthest I will go will be cheesecake photography, 3-D artwork, etc. But there will be no nudity.

Now if you are an employer who decides not to look at the skill that the project were done with because you didn’t like the content. Then I do not wish to work for you. This is my Project and this is a reflection of my personality and my enjoyments. If you don’t like it then you probably wouldn’t like me. So thanks anyway for stopping by, I hope the proverbial door doesn’t hit you in the butt on the way out.

Anyway, thanks for reading and It was pleasure meeting you. I sincerely hope to have a long relationship entertaining you and informing you over the time period in which the JHM Project is in effect. I hope you come back and check out all of my posts.

Maybe you might learn to be as cool and suave as I am….

AW who am I kidding, No one can be as cool as I am.

Type ya later,
James McGill

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Posted by on April 2, 2011 in Introduction


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