Getting lyrical


Mal`s here. Rita`s retreated to bed as she had a long and busy day.

Today at the office I showed the blog to a couple of colleagues and they were all very suprised that I was writing. I mean they all know pretty well that I am inseparable with my heavy Canon but somehow nobody realized that I was also into short – stories and poetry. It got me thinking. Both Rita and I write since we were able to hold a pen. We`ve got a whole cabinet full of notes, stories, poems, lyrics, how on earth nobody knows that we do it?

Oh well, did we ever advertise it? Hardly.

Perhaps a good moment arrived to change it.

Below you will find two lyrics. One by me and one by Rita. Accidently they are both written on the 20th of January, but there is six years between them. They are not poems, they are song lyrics without music. They are extremly personal, and that is a reason we do not show them so often.

I will however try to change it  and post some of the lyrics on the blog in the future.

 But I also want to combine the lyrics with the artworks. I have always loved “Perspective nr 4” that Rita did a while back. It goes just perfect with the piece as it adds another meaning to the text. “As needed for” is my homage to Mike Williams, who was one of my main influences as a songwriter. You may know him as a lead singer of “EyeHateGod”. It has a lot of layers and references, second stanza doesnt require any explanation if you remember Al Rosa Villa incident…

Image by Rita

As needed for…

And as the levee broke
We cried your names
Water drowns the fear untill you remember to

Report the loses

Departed – not dead
Separated – not gone
We did what had to be done

And as the shots died out
We bled with you
Words bear no meaning untill you have to

Bury a brother

Departed – not dead
Separated – not gone
Through suffering respect is earned

And as you were dying
We starved with you
Bread mixed with water untill you shed

Your disease away

Departed – not dead
Separated – not gone

Take as needed for

your pain

January 20th 2011

I have always wanted to illustrate “Seattle Rain”, i find this piece hauntingly beautiful. It deals with the loss of somebody we have always respected and admired. The polaroid to this lyrics is called “Troubled Moon” after a song by Devil Head. It is a sister polaroid to the “Way of blue” that I created a year ago.


Digital polaroid by Mal

Seattle Rain

Been there waiting
Sitting on the doorstep
Seen your moon shining bright

The day never came
Once again I was lost
Hungered and dreaming of u

How much lie is in the truth I was told?
How much truth is in the song that I sing?
I got nothing to lose but myself
In this cold Seattle rain

The shadows they move
Dance on the egde of my view
Close my eyes not to see

My voice is unheard
All my questions uncalled
My love’s buried deep

How much life is in the death I have known?
How much death is in the life that I live?
You got nothing to lose but myself
In this cold Seattle rain

I can’t reach the other side
With all the stoplights so green
And I heard your scream through it all
It was our last year like this

How much lie is in the truth I have known?
How much death is in the song that I sing?
We had nothing to prove but ourselves
In this cold Seattle rain

January 20, 2004

I hope you  like it.

Off to bed with me.



Freedom or fire


“Dissension is our way of life. We fight for it” – Faction statement


Past two weeks have been dedicated to writing. Mal has at least three notebooks placed around the house in various rooms, all filled with notes and character designs. To be very honest, we dont remember last time, we had been so occupied with a single story. Not only the story-line, but also visuals and design of characters, their actions, beliefs, even clothes they wear seem to be very important. We dont have a steady title as yet but we call it “Philosophy of distrain”, and we think this will stay, unless we think of something more user-friendly (read more commercial ;)).

“Philosophy” is planned to be a cyber-punk with a plot resolving around man – machine war but believe us the story -line touches on a series of rather contemporary subjects. Last decade provided enough of material to visualize quite a dark and dystopian future where death and oppresion dont even raise eyebrows anymore.

“I have no blood in my veins but liquid fire, it is burning out my heart” – Columbine

The story follows a group of dissidents who call themselves “Faction”. This group formed mostly by young people (some of them are as young as 5-8 years old and not older than 20). They are the lost generation, children of the streets, orphans, misfits, addicts, who for most of their lives were neglected and ridiculed by the State. Forgotten and left alone, members of “Faction” lived and survivred on their own. They are maybe young but their experience on the streets is second to none. While the rest of society depends on machines and technology in their daily life, “Faction” members depend on their skills. 


“Dishonesty is death. There is no redemption” – Arche

Regarded as troublemakers and incurables, “Faction” was commonly refferred to as “street rats” by press and often suffered abuse from law enforcers. Nearly all members carry a scar that resembles a triangle from police teaser guns. The triangle serves as recognition mark and as a symbol for the group.

Faction is organized by  five protagonists known as “The Core”. They are Arche, Columbine, brothers Kaji and Kori and Spark. They are the most experienced both in direct combat and sabotage. Each of them commands a small unit and is responsible for a different task within the organization. “The Core” considers themselves as last hope for humanity and swears to wage a war on the high technology that enslaved the Society. 

“Human being has one choice – to die like a coward or to become a tool of destruction. Now ask me where I stand” – Spark

They run a succesful series of attacks on infrastructure, machines and government officials. But it is their latest attempt that puts them in the spotlight. A bomb planted at a local police station explodes claiming more than 200 lives and making “Faction” an enemy of the State. With Army closing on them, The Core desperately try to find a way out. Columbine sets on a mission to locate a man knowns as Phobos- a legendary leader from a previous War while the rest of the group continues their cause of terror.  

“We are not a cancer of your society. We have never been part of it. Your world is built on greed, pain and slavery. We think of ourselves as effect to your causes. We are the gun to your temple, where trigger had been pulled generations ago. We are the path of annihilation that will bring your end” – Kaji

Columbine`s quest is followed by the  most powerful digital creation of the State known as MINA. Both are equally determined to achieve their goal, no matter the cost. So will man or machine prevail?

The project will  have approx. 17 chapters, each illustrated by either digital polaroids or paintings by Rita. We know it may sound ambitious but we want to do it best way we can.

“When all is lost, violence becomes an act of heroism. With nothing left to sacrifice, you can only offer yourself” – Kori

That brings us to the miniseries we designed last week and which you can see illustrating this entry. It is called “Immolation”. Each polaroid is representing a stage in the burning process and is accompanied by a quote from one of the Core members.

The element of fire is strongly incorporated into the story. It is not only a symbol of rebellion and fight but sometimes it is also extreme form of protest against the evil one sees in the world. You may think about the Buddist monk Thích Quảng Đức or more recently Mohamed Bouazizi – who`s death started uprising in Tunesia. Nearly half of self -immolation acts are commited by women.  One of such incredibly brave and commited individuals was Kathy Change.  We want to dedicate the “Immolation” series to those who chosed  freedom by fire instead of slavery.

Next week we will post more illustration and some character designs. So please watch this space.


The Arrival of SCP (Some Curious Polaroids)

Welcome back in the 2011,

eerie mobile shot by Mal

We took December a bit off the blog due to amount of work. You know how it is- wrapping presents, writing cards, cleaning and travelling for the Holiday season. Now we are back and its gonna be hectic, we tell ya. We still have a lot of stuff to post from the last year and new projects coming up.

Mal had a great idea recently. She worked on the 1st. The first day of 2011 offered us a splendid sunset. Something out of some apocalyptic science fiction show or right out of “Black Hole Sun” video. A big, burning sphere was hanging low on the horizont partly covered by the clouds. Everybody in the office was running taking photos. This is why you should be ALWAYS carrying a decent camera in your bag, folks. But if you dont have anything decent in hand, shoot with what you have. Even a mobile phone.

Mal is owning Nokia XpressMusic. Not the best gear when it comes to photos but its great if you need to listen to music. Another issue that Mal had to overcome was the window at work. Since she works on the 9th floor, windows open only slightly on the sides so she had to put her hand through a narrow gap and put the mobile outside and shoot nearly on instinct.

mobile photo by Mal

She had to turn the mobile around in search of the “most creative” way to capture the moment. In this instance the only creativity she could use was to “misplace” the horizont line (we like technical terms, thank you very much). The photo looked like that:

mobile photo by Mal

As you see a lot of pixels and artefacts due to low resolution of the mobile camera. To be very honest she wasnt pleased and even thought of deleting the file. But then she thought that many people face the same issue. You see something nice, you dont have the proper tool, you use whatever you have and then the outcome is dissapointing. So you throw it away and complain how bad you are. It doesn`t have to be that way. What if you use a software and try to re-claim the “bad” shot? Sounds like a challenge and we at Vanadian Avenue are always up for a challenge.

This is how the idea was born. Take a shot you want to “reclaim”, think of what you want to achieve, put a story behind it if you need to, to help you with the transition, use the software you have and play with the shot. Something will come out of it.

Below you will find a kind of tutorial that shows what Mal did. Maybe it will inspire you to do something similiar.

As we have mentioned before, the sunset was “nearly” apocalyptic. So we wanted to keep the feel of it. We had a bit of discussion what the photo could present before we actually started editing. We thought it looked like somebody was falling from a tall building or was looking from a high point onto the area below. Then there were the pixels. Rita suggested it was like a motion capture from a CCTV cameras. And then we had it.

Mal is currently working on a cyber-punk story. It has all the nice elements of the genre: humans fighting the machines, urban warfare, tight security everywhere and the dramatic ending. The heroine in the story – Columbina (meaning “white dove”in Italian, a name taken after a character from Harlequinade in Commedia dell’Arte) in the finale climbs onto the roof of a tower in an attempt to blow up the whole place. This particular sunset could be the last thing that our protagonist would see on her suicide mission to bring down the machines. It could also the view that security forces see before the whole place goes up in smoke. A final battle with a bloody sunset in the background – we pretty much loved it.

Knowing what we wanted to achieve, we set up to edit. Mal uses two separate softwares: Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom. First we did a bit of work in the Lightroom (go to develop section) and altered the exposure and contrasts. You may want to also experiment with temperature to have effect of over-saturated colours. Alternatively, if you only have a Photoshop, try by setting Cyan +15, Magenta -33 and Yellow -44 in the Colour Balance/ Shadows section. What we received was this:

Photo by Mal

Not bad, we thought. But it was not close enough to the feeling of danger and “apocalypse” that we wanted to show.

So it was time for some serious adjustments in the Lightroom. Exposure +0,19, Blacks -31, Brightness +36, Contrasts +27 (it would make the buildings on the edges darker and gave the whole area feel of being a ghost town, which was perfect having our story in mind), temperature +2, saturation +5.  We raised noise resolution to 32 and colour to 6. Now things began to look more like “Matrix” and not your crappy mobile phone shot through the window.

Photo by Mal

For the final adjustment Mal transfered the file to CS3 again and fixed the colour balance further.

For the shadows part: Cyan +1, Magenta +4, Yellow -16
Midtones: Cyan -8, Magenta +5, Yellow +14
Highlights: Cyan -27, Magenta -11, Yellow -25

It may look weird but colours around the sun disc on the photo were really subtle, so changing even one degree would mark a difference.

We also selected the clouds area and put brightness +17 and contrast +43 to expose the textures of the clouds (storm was coming!) and to have a tone of sepia.

So this is what we were left:

Photo by Mal

For the final (and nerdy) touch we decided to put the file through the Poladroid software. It turns your shots into polaroids (its a plus) but adds a random effect to it (its a minus). So we have decide to make multiple copies to be as close to our original as possible. If you are not familiar with the software you may find it here:

Our final version is this:

Final product – Yay!

But we have saved two  alternative versions because we though them to be cool:

Version B

Version C

Looking at the final image, we can really feel the desperation of Columbine as she climbs on the top of Sky Net to commit the act of self destruction. She stares at the dying sun and feels that her battle had failed. She will take down herself, humans and the machines before the hollow disc descends into the eternal night. She whispers to herself  “Open your eyes” as she shots through the tanks of fuel and grabs for the matches…

You may of course disagree. But we have tried our best to transform the bad image into something that could be used in other creative projects.

We hope you like it or will try something similiar yourself.

This is first in the series of what we call Some Curious Polaroids.

Have a great time

Mal + Rita