Golden Gate Swim Poster

Sakura’s sewing lesson

Interview from France… rock poster artist

Kirby hands

One of my favorite things about Jack Kirby’s art is the hands he drew. Hands are a little tricky to draw so lazy artists like myself try to hide them (in pockets, behind things) but Kirby went out of his way to include hands in his panels. The above X-Men cover is a great example. Of the seven main figures (a lot!) you can see most every hand–he’s worked them into the open spaces between heads. And they are not just randomly placed, Read the rest of this entry »

Alcatraz Swim Poster

Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon poster

Yacht Harbor Swim Poster

New poster for the Dolphin Club’s Yacht Harbor swim. The swim & poster was a big success. Temperature was the biggest challenge. Took me about 50 minutes and that was definitely past my comfort zone–I was a drifting ice cube at the end. A month later and it’s still unusually cold in the bay.

Last week I came in first in the Crazy Cove swim! What? That’s right… well, I swam the short course (3/4 mile), and it was a confusing route, mostly goofing off as the name suggests. When I guy like me can come in first you know something’s wrong but I’ll take it. I heard reports of the temperature as low as 51 degrees F for that evening swim. The delicious BBQ that followed was great!

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Pier 23 Art Exhibit; Jan20-Feb12


I have the above piece (16″ x 20″) in the 15-artist group show at Pier 23 Cafe (on Embarcadero near Battery & Lombard) from January 20 to February 12, 2010. The opening reception is Wednesday, Jan 20, from 5:30-7:30pm.

Dolphin Club Art Show, Dec. 10-20, 2009


Trying to catch up… Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. I’ve upgraded to Wordpress 2.9.1 and as of today it’s still the current version!
This art show was last month, and was a big success. My image (above) was used to promote the show, and it sold! My first fine art gallery sale. Also my first digital print sale and that’s probably a big reason, with on-demand printing I can keep costs down to affordable.

Sakura Myers, August 16, 2009

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Hotel Signs of Waikiki3

More unique script signs from high budget to low.

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One of the best, this script for probably the classiest hotel undoubtedly had the budget for a custom logo from a real sign painter. It’s likely the ownership put a lot of care and thought into this script so that it sends the right message and the design has stood the test of time.

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One of the most unique script fonts although a little awkward, apparently designed to mimic forms seen in real coral chunks.

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The above sign has the distinction of actually being hand painted and is most likely in the artist’s own brush font. Note the variation in the a’s & k’s–this artist seems rushed, other signs have more uniformity in the characters. The origin of the craft (sign painting) goes back to the 1880s and peaked in the 20s-30s before the process became more mechanized, but in this case an actual hand-painted sign looks really low budget… this place is more like a skid row tenement than paradise.

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I really like this bold script, it’s very neutral and would make a nice digitized font, an alternative to Brush Script which is similar but this is more graceful and heavy, and more polished without the chunky stokes of Brush.

Hotel Signs of Waikiki2

A few more good script signs, none of which identically match any modern popular font.
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Hale Waikiki seems close to the classic Brush Script but is totally different. The caps are non-script, and k’s open, plus the weight is heavier. It’s much closer to Freehand but fatter and more flair.

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Pretty close to Brush Script but different shapes, taller & thinner. Looks like they manually curved the logo from preformed straight letters. See the stroke mismatch in ic, to & ia.

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Unlike Brush fonts with its mono-weight stokes somewhat like Kaufman or Sante Fe.

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For a tacky supermarket but staying with the script theme. Goofy with its rounded i’s, and paired with the slab serif caps. No luck finding a modern font like this script.

Fort Point Swim

BoomFest Flyer Art

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April Fool’s Day

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April 1st, aka April Fool’s day, aka Saint Stupid’s day (and parade) in San Francisco. I drew this old school flyer for the official after-party tomorrow. Spot me in these parade photos published in the SF Chronicle and I’ll buy you a beer!

Everything’s Air

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I went to the launch party for Adobe’s new software AIR, and got this cool t-shirt by eBoy. AIR is software that allows you to build cross-platform desktop apps with Flash actionScript. The cross platform-ness is a big deal… used to take a lot of tweaking to get Director to work on Mac & Windows. Using an AIR app is a two-step process; download the free AIR software from Adobe, then install the particular app you want. For example, eBay has a dashboard app to watch your auctions in a richer environment than a web browser.

Air. The hottest marketing trend.

Adobe Air, MacBook Air, Nike Air Max (nice site). Trend Alert! What does “air” say about American marketing in 2008? Tomorrow night’s SanFlashCisco meeting features beer, pizza, and of course AIR.

San-Flash-Cisco

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Last week I went to the 2nd meeting of the new Flash User’s group; San Flash Cisco.

It was pretty cool, about 30 people showed up and it was slanted more towards technology & coding, rather than graphics or animation.

Alex Bustin and Luke Bayes gave presentations and combined we learned about the history of Flash and actionScript (and it’s relation to Javascript), as well as other software like Adobe Air, Adobe Flex, Rake, Ruby, Rails, (Ruby on Rails), Gem, Sprouts, Thermo, and Zinc and on and on.

What is all that stuff and what does it have to do with Flash? Basically it’s software that can be used to build applications. If you wanted to build a shopping cart or address book in Flash, you could write it in actionScript with some of this software.

This is Flash for people who don’t use the timeline–they write all their code in actionScript in a one-frame movie. If you are using Flash to create graphic animations in the timeline, then this users group is probably not the one for you. That includes me. Regardless, it’s kind of interesting and I’ll probably go to the next one on March 20.

Rent or Buy? Part2

Since the last blog I’ve been surprised to find a lot of support for my claim that renting may actually beat owning your home. Patrick.net is a great source for daily info culled from the nation’s largest sources, and there have been a lot of articles about investors who can’t even cover their costs with their rental income. There are also a number of “Rent vs Buy” calculators where you put in your numbers and see who comes out ahead.

Conditions have changed (lower interest & investment rates) and I left out a couple items (sales commission and property tax deduction) on my last analysis so I’ll run the numbers again on the same two properties in San Francisco. Again, the question is whether you’d make more money renting or buying your current apartment. Assume the renter and owner both spend the same amount each month, and if the rent is less than the homeowner costs, the renter puts the difference in the bank. At the end of a number of years they both decide to move to Tahiti, the owner sells, the renter closes out their bank account. Now neither one has a home, but who has more cash? If you grew up in America you were always told the owner does. Let’s see.

Here’s the facts and assumptions:

For a five year timeline, my calculations [download them] show the renter comes out ahead slightly, by $13,000. Pretty much a wash. I assume constant annual costs even though they actually change, like all those other rate assumptions, so there is a big margin of error. One of the biggest assumptions is the appreciation rate of 5%. This may be very optimistic since many sources are predicting the opposite, that prices continue to fall nationwide for the next couple years.

To make the same comparison over longer periods of time I turned to the online calculators because the little errors start to pile up. The New York Times [calculator] agrees with me that the renter comes out ahead (but by $52k) for the five year period, and for any time period up to 30 years. As long as home appreciation is below interest rates, the renter wins. But when SF gets back to it’s 25-year average of 8% appreciation then the owner wins big by $2M over 30 years.

The calculators are nice because it’s easy to see the effects of each separate factor. What if I double my down payment? Or if rents, inflation or investment rates increase? All those things make a difference, but not nearly as much as the combination of interest and appreciation rates. This makes common sense; if I borrow $1M at some rate for 30 years, and it increases in value at the same rate then I’m breaking even. All those other factors don’t do much to change the outcome. The interest/appreciation of the asset is the 800 pound gorilla, and all those other factors are like flies buzzing around it.

Another “Rent or Buy” calculator by Yahoo is not so hot. It predicts the opposite, that the renter loses by $20k in five years, like people have been saying for years. But the huge problem with this analysis is the owner paid about $30,0000 more each year! Try it for yourself, and look at what the owner pays, twice as much as the renter even after the big tax benefit. So while the renter pays $20k/year, the owner pays $50k/year and after five years comes out ahead by only $20k? That still sounds like a rip-off to me.

Rent or Buy?

I’m about to become very unpopular by making a case for renting versus buying a house. The American dream is to own your home–your slice of the pie, and a popular way to become rich.

I’m saying that in San Francisco, in 2007, you can rent and not be throwing your money away. To understand how this can be true you need to compare apples to apples. Most arguments for buying a home in the bay area hinge on moving to a cheaper neighborhood, getting a fixer-upper, or paying twice your old rent. I don’t consider these fair comparisons.

To level the playing field I’ll look at the same apartment, same condition, in the same neighborhood, paying the same amount of money, and then look at selling out of your home in five years and see who ends up ahead, the renter or the owner?

If you bought an SF condo for $700,000 today, and sold for $900,000 in five years most would say you did pretty well… lived rent-free and earned a profit while the renter threw their money away. But I say the guy who rented that same condo for five years came out ahead! Impossible? Here’s how I figured it:

I found two comparable apartments on craigslist, one rented for $1,650, the other sold for $710,000. Both were 800 square foot one bedroom apartments, on a high floor with a city view, in an older restored building in good shape on the same street, seven blocks apart in essentially the same neighborhood. Both were good deals priced below average.

For the condo buyer I considered a $100,000 down payment, with 30-year 7% loan for a $4060 mortgage. HOA was given as $504/month, $10,650 property tax (1.5%), $13,000 closing costs and I’ll assume $3,000 annual maintenance costs. This brings the homeowner’s total annual costs up to $68,000 and if he qualifies for a maximum tax savings of $15,000 then his net annual cost is $53,000.

To make a fair comparison look at the renter spending the same amount for an equivalent apartment. The $100,000 down payment goes into a CD earning 5% or $5,000 annually bringing the total annual rent outlay down to $14,800. Now here’s the key ingredient, to normalize the two cases the renter should also pay $53,000/year. That’s $14,800 rent and the rest ($38,500) into some guaranteed cash investment.

That’s one way owners build home equity so fast, the huge mortgage payment. The equivalent renter also builds equity totaling $224,000 in five years at 5%. His accumulated monthly outlay was $267,000 so after five years he posts a total net loss of $41,000.

Meanwhile, assume the owners sell their condo for $910,000 five years later. Looks like a cool $200,000 profit, but wait. First, pay off the $573,000 loan balance then subtract the $380,000 paid over five years and you end up with a net loss $43,000. The renter comes out $2000 ahead even with the huge tax bonus the buyer earned.

I make a lot of assumptions and these numbers will turn out different in real life. I may also have made a huge miscalculation so let me know. If you lose your job or business slows down then not only is the mortgage gonna be tough but you’ll need to come up with an extra $15,000 to cover that missing tax credit, the double whammy! The market could rise at 25% a year like it did a few years ago and then the owner could pocket $1.3M on their sale, more than many people make in a lifetime! The renter never has exposure to that kind of a gain. But that’s like talking up the stock market because Google gained 600% in 3 years. Owning makes total sense in places like Texas or Michigan where a small down payment gets your monthly costs below the rental value and after 30 years you get to keep it, plus the huge lifestyle benefits of owning over renting no matter where you live. But there’s also a lifestyle hit in sweating a $5,000 monthly payment in an earthquake zone where no one has earthquake insurance. The point is sometimes renting may not be as bad as it seems.

Tahiti Book Review

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A while ago I mentioned some classic books about Tahiti. Since I recently read them together here’s a quick comparison.

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener
Pretty good but not Tahiti, it’s the New Hebrides near Australia. The fictional enchanted island of Bali Ha’i where the natives stashed all the virgins during the war is pretty awesome, looks like Moorea. Bloody Mary is a good character and the bar named after her on Bora Bora is pretty true to the story charging $8 for a shot of Cuban white rum! The American influence in French Polynesia borrowed a lot from this book. Aside from a few highlights like the fungus outbreak the book drags, and is pretty boring.

In the South Seas by Robert Louis Stevenson
I take back what I said about Tales of the South Pacific, THIS book is the boring one! It must have been much more interesting in 1888, before planes, tv, etc. Originally written as a series of letters for a New York magazine, it reads like a list of dry observations about several island cultures. The grass is green, the men are taller than the women, etc. No real memorable characters or events. a lot of mention of cannibals but no real action. This actually does take place partly in Tahiti, so reluctantly wins the book award for now.

Typee by Herman Mellville
This was the best one of the bunch. A real adventure story filled with jungle details. A couple guys jump ship while in the Marquesas to live in paradise. It turns out to be tougher than they thought, they get captured by cannibals, fall in love with a native girl, and eventually escape. In spite of the super old-fashioned language, it’s a great story, but not really about Tahiti although it’s awful close, close enough for Gauguin.

Omoo by Herman Mellville
The sequel to Typee, hey this might be pretty good too, but was too tough to find, so I read Moby Dick instead.
Moby Dick by Herman Mellville
Again with the awkward language, but another good one in spite of being so long with way too much detail on everything whale. The characters were great, so is the adventure, and Joe Donohoe’s edition was filled with great drawings. They make a quick stop in Tahiti to pick up more workers, we meet Starbuck (coffee empire?) and the vicious Lakemen who, true to Detroiter fashion, mutiny against poor, maniacal one-legged captain Ahab.