Design: Interesting Optical Illusion

This is a progress photo of a 30×40″ painting.

The Money Bags model is a paper doll, so she has holes at her joints which will have strings painted through them to look like they’re holding her together.

Unintended Trompe l’Oeil

Look at the holes – they’re just shaded circles (so I remember to put them in), but they look like they’re really punched. My work is flat, so any hint of depth or perspective is to be avoided – but their effect is so cool, I my leave them as they are. I’m inspired by Gloria Vanderbilt.



Don’t Sweat Filth!

I watched an hour or so of Anderson Cooper’s visit with his mother at her studio, where they got into things that had been stored for a while. (I love her work and she had a load of it to show.)

It was funny to watch her cavalier sorting. Her fingers got filthy from touching the unframed pictures. She didn’t seem to notice, much less worry about making smudges on work she may sell at $18K.

Design: What’s in a Brand ID?

Art Makes a Brand ID Memorable

Colors come and go. Typography has fads. Get a portfolio of art with unique, timeless style and a point of view, and see what happens. The usual result is that people talk and laugh about the art and think well of your brand for being distinctive. I made some ads to illustrate the point.

FLATPRNT6x6marikablackWe Fly

You’ve heard that master yogis can fly, haven’t you?

I made the little yoga characters for someone who opened a yoga practice to differentiate herself from the crowd. The figures are blank vector drawings,

  • Simple enough that she could change their costume colors and patterns to fly with the times
  • Clean enough that she could use them in any size for her various web and print information campaigns.

Alas, she chose a Buddha photo, bad resolution and all, off the internet, because she thought the cartoon look was wrong to represent her terribly serious practice.




Part of the history for a huge, beautiful house that was built for my grandparents in the early 1920’s. Should the house become headquarters for a business, the house alone, or the entire composition could be commercialized for unique branding. The base art is a vector line drawing.

The art depicts my grandmother, mother and aunt, in front of the house, with my grandmother’s Jordan Roadster. In photos, car has a 1929 license plate.

By the way, my grandmother and her two sisters were the first teenage girls in Rochester, NY, to have their own automobiles. I hear tell that Gramma drove like the self-taught driver she was for her entire life.



Who Will Tell Her?

Her guests think she doesn’t know how to give a terribly posh tea party. No finger food. A teabag? Really!

What she knows and they don’t is that the teabag is the ultimate in fine taste. People in the know recognize its green tag, like they recognize a Tiffany box for its blue.

Faux ad for a teabag that’s too exclusive to announce its name. If you have to ask, or if you don’t know enough to ask, you can’t afford it.

The teabag that keeps you one-up on your friends.


moneybagsMoney Bags

Faux ad for a company that makes-to-order ice cream colored handbags with a notable money$ monogram on their clasps. Its owner is also owner of a black puli and likes it as a personality mascot for her cheery and independent brand.

The lovely model is crafted from my Evedom® paper doll body parts and hitched together with threads. That’s the way the handbags are made, too.


Did you see the beer ad about the Jamaican with a puli on his head? I love that ad.


Ulterior Motive

These faux ads (and thousands of other 6×6″ art work donations) are to be sold anonymously at a live gala and online in a popular annual fund-raiser by Rochester Contemporary Art Center: 6X6X2016.   Read more about it.

  • Patrons won’t know whose art they acquired until they pay for it.

  • The artists don’t get to know who acquired their work, unless the patrons contact them.

That’s not a strong enough gamification message for me. I want people to participate in the fun of the fund raiser, in person and/or online. It needs a little boost because the artists aren’t prominent enough to make a good game of guessing who did what.

I think it makes a better game if artists ask the audience to find their entries and report back if they spot one or more of them in the exhibit. Without a mission, the experience of trying to view a thousand art works has to be overwhelming. People should take away more than awed admiration for the people who hung the show.


MK Colling is a Communication professional with a
practice in visual communication. She lives in
Rochester, NY.

Asus Zenfone Zoom to Wanda: Did I See a Murder?

Zooming in to find Wanda in Mumbai

I missed most of the Easter eggs in Mumbai because there are so many windows, so many private moments in private lives, to peer into. Finding Wanda was a side issue — looking right at her, I nearly didn’t notice because I was reading signs and looking at people’s sandals.

At the time the satellite took the picture, there were a lot of people out and about. I didn’t see children or pets outside. The beach was nearly empty. The amount of new construction going on is astonishing, as is the huge number of parked motorcycles. (My daughter said that when you get a car into traffic there isn’t enough room between lanes to open the doors.)

This is the most interesting private moment I found. It looks like he’s been flung out the window. Someone else’s foot is behind him. Person sitting on the balcony below seems to be in process of noticing a commotion above. Click the photo for a larger view.


I thought it a murder; but, Review Center India (@ReviewCenterInd) says that’s somebody cleaning.


Asus Gamification – Why It Matters

It’s a great sample of how to use gamification and social media to increase the mailing list, familiarize the audience with a product and keep them coming back. The game interface is an Asus Zenfone that demonstrates one feature of the phone, the camera with high-clarity zoom. A banal approach would be to show how the camera zooms. The genius approach is to take the audience to cities around the world and give them reason to appreciate the zoom feature as a solution.

Within the phone interface are the straightforward background and rules of the game, more information about the Asus Zenfone (with Intel inside) and the leader board. Asus knows what the audience wants to know and puts the information right where people expect to find it – clean and simple.




MK Colling is a Communication professional with a
practice in visual communication. She lives in
Rochester, NY.

AI: Could machine-generated imagery change culture?


Still Life to Squirm By

The DeepDream image generator certainly put a different spin on Easter Basket.



MK Colling is a Communication professional with a
practice in visual communication. She lives in
Rochester, NY.

AI Art: A Romp on the Dark Side


What about this smart computer technology that might rival humans for creativity? How does it work? How does it look? Can it replace me and my human work?

Artificial Art Show

Google’s DeepDream image generator robot had an art show in real-world gallery to tout the technology and answer questions. DeepDream imagery is not really art; it lacks purpose and creative vision.

The remarkable thing about DeepDream image generation is pattern recognition and matching ability. It analyzes new imagery for patterns and tries to match those with patterns in its database. It prints the matches.

Depending on the imagery in its database, its output can be visually compelling or not.

OMG, DeepDream thinks like me!

I was shocked to find in one of the art show entries a little patch of 3-D shrunken heads wrapped in cords in the upper corner of one of the pieces.

It reminded Talismans & Trophies, my series of bas relief paper sculptures. (When I first looked at the art show, I believed that DeepDream generates images spontaneously.)

Intriguing notion; but wrong. Photos of the art and Photoshop manipulations of the photos were on my websites for years. My photos be in an imagery database somewhere.





Flirting With the Enemy

I introduced a photo of my paper sculpture to an online DeepDream image generator, to see if the robot would return the shrunken heads image. It did not.

The database I accessed is devoted to animals, machines and monks.

It analyzed my art work for patterns, searched its database of patterns and printed matches. It seems to have broad tolerances. It saw two-headed animals with no butts in all the imagery I submitted.


talismans-smallerupload returnfromsmallerlowerresupload

  • The banner at the top of this page, showing dogs in party hats, came from same image at twice the size and four times the resolution.



  • The robot saw the upside-down gray scale version of my art work as a different image. The DeepDream team told me its matches are in color because everything it’s seen before (its database) is in color.






Click for the dream poster enlargement — it’s stunning.


one-pass-on-whiteWhen analysis of the field doesn’t show detail or differentiation, DeepDream puts its own marks in a grid and builds on them in succeeding iterations.

Eventually, it interprets artifacts from its repetitive printing as new imagery.



Style and Subject Matter

At user level on the demo generator, the experience is like playing a slot machine. The machine is in control.

At developer level, the sky is the limit. That’s where you teach it to recognize imagery collections and where you control the general parameters for its output. Imagine the possibilities of having your own generator stuffed with your own imagery and programmed with your preferences.

Google published the source code for developers to expand its capabilities.


Is DeepDream a threat to human artist jobs?

Not now. AI can’t conceptualize. Its range of imagination is limited to the imagery it already has on file. In the future, who knows!





DeepDream Image Generator

Google Research Blog: DeepDream – a code example for visualizing Neural Networks  Wednesday, July 01, 2015.

Google Research Blog: Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks, Wednesday, June 17, 2015.

The Fast Forward Labs Newsletter: How Artists will Shape the Future of Machine Intelligence, 2016.

Fast Co. Design: Designers: Frog’s Ex-President Brings Design Thinking To Academia, Meg Miller 03.24.16

MK Colling is a Communication professional with a
practice in visual communication. She lives in
Rochester, NY.