Posts filed under ‘arts and culture’

Graphic design and the 2010 civic election

Let’s switch gears and look at the candidates’ promotional material from a design perspective.

Some may argue you can’t judge a book by its cover but you can often tell a lot about a candidate by the quality (or lack thereof) of their campaign material. It’s impossible to meet every potential voter face to face so your website and signage stand in when the candidate can’t.

Some candidates design their own material. Others farm it out. Doing it yourself is probably a bad idea. One, because you’re probably lousy at it. Two, a candidate needs to be out meeting people, not tweaking their web page or laying out a brochure. If you don’t have the funds to do this you really have to ask yourself if you are a credible candidate capable of being the frontrunner. If donors are contibuting to your running mates but not you, maybe it’s time to drop out gracefully before you’re clobbered at the polls.

So let’s put politics aside and look at things from an esthetic perspective.

Marianne Alto has a slick campaign with a palette of muted tones; a yellowy-green on the website and the signs combine it with a subdued light purple. The colours are matched with an urgent, modern condensed typeface (Yanone Kaffeesatz in all caps) that keeps the overall look from getting too laid back and feminine. Alto appears to use Barbara Walter’s soft-focus lens on her videos–Barry, you might want to look into that…just kidding, heh.

Barry Hobbis is a close second design-wise. His page has all the bells and whistles Alto’s has but in a more conservative wrapping. Basic blue is the colour scheme here and the site is well organized although he uses the reliable yet dreaded Arial typeface. Barry’s signs are basic blue text on white with his name prominently displayed.

Paul Brown has done some improvements to his site. It’s clean and simple but is generic and lacks character. I haven’t seen a Brown sign yet.

Steve Filopovic‘s page looks like a template recycled from his run in past provincial and federal campaigns with photos of ocean-side camping. It’s probably not a good idea to show your commitment to the city by showing you getting far away from it. Palatino bold is the typeface which looks a bit clunky here. Steve uses a lot of plain green-on-white square signs hung in the diamond position.

Susan Woods doesn’t really have a website as much as an online pamphlet. Navigation isn’t an issue as there’s nothing to click on. The template used is fairly well-laid out and professional.

George Sirk‘s page is busy and quirky. Sirk’s signs use a spray-paint stencil.

Pedro Mora managed to throw together a skimpy Google blog.

Saul Anderson starts out good by getting a good header designed for him, featuring his fuzzy mug behind the wheel of his cab and his name in a rusticated typeface. The rest of the page disappoints with a rambling short essay and checklist of favourite topics cluttered together.

Rose Henry uses a Facebook page as a website.

Rimas Tumasonis apparently doesn’t have a website! This is odd because anyone can slap together a free WordPress site (like the one you’re reading now) in about five minutes.

Note: I say typeface, not font. Comic Sans is a typeface. 12 point Comic Sans bold is a font.

November 15, 2010 at 1:56 am 1 comment

Victoria to bid for 2014 Juno awards?

A dozen or so local biz-types are discussing the possibility of putting together a bid to host the 2014 Junos. Vancouver hosted them this year and it was a great success by all accounts.

Not merely an awards show, these days the Junos are a week-long celebration of Canadian music where national acts and local musicians find audiences at the numerous stages and venues while insiders and spectators take in the party atmosphere. This year’s celebration included the Westjet Party Tent–a block-long covered street closed to traffic and open to revelers.

Can Victoria pull it off? St. John’s will and they also have a relatively small arena for the awards. It’s true that it is usually held in larger sports stadiums like GM Place and the Saddledome but word is that the Vancouver show was far from a sell-out even at reduced prices. So Victoria can promise an intimate venue packed with enthusiastic fans. The loss of potential ticket revenue will have to be made up in other ways. Perhaps more second stage venues.

How much cash do we need to round up to get the ball rolling? Probably up to two million dollars.

I believe Victoria can pull this off and it will be a success. We have fond memories of the ’94 Commonwealth Games as well as the numerous concerts on the Legislature lawn over the years that drew thousands. It will be something to anticipate following the inevitable post-Olympic letdown. I want to make sure this great opportunity doesn’t pass us by.

October 28, 2009 at 11:49 pm Leave a comment

Victoria Vice [updated]

Victoria Police and PEERS did separate canvassing to determine the number of underage sex workers on the Downtown stroll.

Two former sex-workers conducted the survey at various locations and times in the first week of September. They finished the second part of the survey last week.

“It’s been the last while that it’s really skyrocketed,” said Kelly Ransome, 32, a night outreach worker and former sexually exploited youth.

But Victoria police only found two underage youth in a three-week survey they conducted from Aug. 14 to Sept 4.

Both were between 16 and 18 years old.

The numbers don’t agree but both would concur that there are sex workers under the age of 19 working Victoria’s streets. This comes on the heels of the recent conviction of a customer who killed a Duncan-born prostitute in Vancouver. Meanwhile we seem to be no closer to improving life on the streets for sex workers. B.C. prostitutes remain prey for the disturbed, whether it be the simple-minded pig farmer or the international billionaire.

Maybe it’s time to look seriously at Victoria artist Bob Wise’s The Office: A Portable Amenity Kiosk for Female Outdoor Sex Workers.

I discussed Amsterdam’s experiment with cracking down on “vice” here.

UPDATE: Jody Paterson examines our outdated laws on prostitution in an Op-Ed piece in today’s Times Colonist.

Sex work is legal in Canada, yet everything required for a sale to take place is illegal — location, marketing, even the earnings. That renders the work just legal enough for men to be able to acquire paid sex anytime they like in any city, and just illegal enough to continue the pretense that Canadian society is hard at work trying to eradicate prostitution. What exactly IS the purpose of laws like that?
Read the research. Prostitution doesn’t increase when it’s decriminalized, because it’s already so well-entrenched in every community that there’s no increase in demand just because it’s legal. All the men who buy sex are already buying it.

October 4, 2009 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

Rob on C-FAX

Thursday, April 9 from 12:30 to 1 p.m., I’ll be a panelist on the Ryan Price show on C-FAX 1070 AM talking about random Downtown things. Click the link to listen live.

April 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Who’s afraid?

Edward Albee’s classic play about alcohol-soaked intellectuals battling it out after midnight should be a must-see for theatre fans and UVic professors. And I’m not saying that just because I made the poster. So go help Victoria’s art scene and souse yourself in quality drama at the same time.

February 16, 2009 at 9:35 am 2 comments


MetroCascade is live. This Victoria-based aggregator should be part of your daily read.

February 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Predictions for Mayor-elect Fortin’s Council assignments

Now that the dust has settled after the election, attention will be focused on a lesser-known aspect of City Hall–the portfolios assigned to the Councillors by the Mayor. There are several, and each Councillor has at least two, and some portfolios are shared by two Councillors. Let’s take a look at them: who has them now and who might end up with them…


Currently, the Harbour Portfolio belongs to Councillor and GVHA Board member Bea Holland. Her open-minded pragmatism will be missed by many. This will be a key portfolio if the Belleville Terminal concept is resurrected this term. The person with this portfolio should be on good relations (or be willing to be on good relations) with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and Transport Canada (among others). Chris Coleman might be a good candidate for this one, both for his familiarity with James Bay issues and his expertise in inter-governmental relations. Lynn Hunter could end up with this.


This was Pam Madoff’s portfolio until it was handed to Bea Holland in 2005 in a controversial move by Mayor Lowe. Saying Holland was more “staff-friendly”, Madoff’s cherished portfolio was taken away along with the prized Heritage portfolio. Madoff was quoted by the Times Colonist saying, “I’m mystified by it and at the same time I’m appalled.” You can expect both portfolios to be handed back to Pam once Mayor Fortin takes office.

Seniors Liaison

A Holland portfolio. Could also end up with Madoff or Hunter.

Deputy for Heritage

Another Holland portfolio. This person will be Pam’s deputy. Perhaps Sonya Chandler, or more likely, Fortin might use this portfolio as on opportunity to get rookie John Luton up to speed. His platform was light on urban planning specifics and he would benefit from Pam’s mentorship.


Right now this is Sonya’s portfolio and it could remain hers but newcomer Philippe Lucas will likely be chosen, especially if Sonya’s platter gets full with other portfolios.

Youth Liaison

Chandler feels strongly about this minor portfolio and I’m sure she’d be pleased to retain it as long as Fortin (also a youth advocate) feels the current youth angle is on the right track.

Deputy for Parks and Recreation

Presently held by Chandler, another natural deputy position for John Luton. It might be tossed on Chris Coleman’s plate. Madoff might get this if she’s taken off the main Parks portfolio yet still wants to keep a hand in it.

Social Planning

A broad portfolio that covers everything from Downtown beautification to harm reduction. Currently Sonya’s department it would be a good fit for Charlayne Thornton-Joe. I serve along with Charlayne on the Downtown Service Providers Committee and the DVBA Clean & Safe Committee and know she’s already fully up to speed on all the topics covered by Social Planning. I bet Charlayne would be happy with this and the fact that she topped the polls Saturday will gain her respect when it comes time to divvy out the portfolios.

Economic Development

Chris Coleman’s portfolio; he could retain it. Harvard-trained economist Geoff Young would qualify but it could end up in Lynn Hunter’s lap.


Save as above.

Deputy for Housing

Another Coleman portfolio. Lucas or Chandler. Maybe Hunter if Coleman doesn’t retain it like I’m certain he’d like to.


Currently co-shared with Fortin, this could go to Young or Coleman.

Social Planning

Co-shared with Fortin right now, sharing this portfolio with Charlayne would be a step up for Chandler or Lucas.

Deputy for Environment

Chandler or Lucas. Possibly another mentorship opportunity for Luton.


Retiring Councillor Helen Hughes’ portfolio. It might go to veteran Chris Coleman, who distinguished himself on the subject at the recent UBCM convention.

Deputy for Downtown

A possibility for Thornton-Joe if she doesn’t get the main Downtown portfolio. Could be a good training portfolio for Lynn Hunter who is weak on planning issues but interested in social problems.

Arts & Culture

Currently held by Pam, she’d prefer to keep it.

Parks & Recreation

Madoff’s shocking replacement for the Heritage/Planning portfolio. She’d gladly give it to Lucas, Luton or Coleman (who has experience with the Rec Renewal project).

Deputy for Transportation

A no-brainer for John Luton. This is another Madoff portfolio from the Lowe era. Geoff Young needs to have a hand in a transportation portfolio to further his transit agenda.


This should stay with Charlayne unless Fortin gives it to Madoff.


Madoff will steal this back from Charlayne.

Deputy for Planning

This is a tough one. Fortin would prefer to let one of the incoming Dean Team rookies cut their teeth on this important entry-level portfolio but he’d be wiser to let one of the indepents tackle this. Geoff Young, perhaps, or it could stay with Charlayne.

Advisory Cycling Committee
Advisory Transportation Committee

Both these portfolios are held by Geoff Young and he’d love to keep them but John Luton is certainly eyeing them. Seeing as these would be the only portfolios dear to John’s heart he’d be frustrated and ineffectual without them under his belt.

November 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm 5 comments

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