Mad Panda Lab? What the hell is that about?

Some of my tools

Woo-hoo! It’s finally here. My first blog post. Well, let me introduce myself..*ahem* My name is Jessica Tolliver, but I go by the nickname Mad Panda. Currently, I’m a freelance filmmaker and work at my local library as a graphic designer.  And let me just say that life has been a humbling experience thus far—and let me also add that the older I get, the more humbling it becomes.

The reason I pursued film is because as a kid, I was passionate about music videos—and still am. Back when MTV didn’t lose its mind, and actually played videos, I’d stay up in the wee hours of the night and just watch music videos. Not to mention I’d jam out a little bit in my oversized T-shirt and undies while everyone else was sleeping (Shimmy shimmy).

Fast forward to today—I learned that there’s a lot shit you need to learn to make a music video. And I’m not talking about grabbing a t2i, picking a popular street corner, and editing it on iMovie. (No offense ya’ll. I do that too! No shade!) but a real music video. Like “Ex-Girlfriend” by Hype Williams…or the brilliant first 1 million dollar budget video “Scream.” I truly hope to get to that point one day. 

A few years back I received my B.A. in Film/Video Production, but currently I work as a Graphic Designer. How does this happen? The grace of God. Basically, I landed the job because I knew a thing or two about Photoshop. Little did I know that it takes just a wee bit more than the quick select tool to conquer Graphic Design. So, I guess you can say I am now a student of graphic design (and get paid for it…POW!) 

Now to the point. The reason I’ve started this blog is because of my growing respect for the art of visual design in the digital realm. It truly is a remarkable art. And my obsession has spilled over from film/video to graphic design, illustration, and photography. Though they’re different mediums, they all sort of share the same principles. Using composition, a dope color palette, type, and other elements to effectively communicate or tell a story—It makes the panda in me shimmy, for real. 

So I came up with the Lab. Why the lab you ask? Well, I believe that this stuff is both a science and an art. It’s important to learn the laws and principles of typography, color theory, composition, technical skills (the list goes on and on, really). But once you’ve got a solid foundation, the fun part comes—experimentation! Break rules, trial and error, and getting dirty with visual arts (puts on safety goggles…Hellz yea!  >:D). 

I truly am a dabbler. Whenever I discover something or someone that inspires me. I try it. Do I master it? Hell no. But I definitely pick up tips, and know-hows along the way that make me a stronger artist. So, I want to share it with you.

On this blog I will include..

  • Tips and tricks
  • DIY projects and tutorials
  • Personal experiences and stories
  • Digital artist inspiration and spotlights
  • Hell, who knows what other shenanigans I'll post...

As I mentioned in my intro, I’ve been “humbled” in this digital art game a lot—a WHOLE lot. But you know, when you’re humbled, you learn a whole lot too. And maybe I can save you some humbling along the way. 

And so it begins, my documented journey as a life student in visual communication. I hope you’ll tag along for the ride, homies. 

—Mad Panda out.