Featured Artist: Richard Zielenkiewicz, aka "Monsieur Z"

I'm a big fan of Richard Zielenkiewicz's artwork, and decided to try reproducing one of his pieces in Adobe Illustrator, similar to the way I free handed a United Airlines piece by Joseph Binder last year.  Monsieur Z's artwork is well known in the advertising world, and has often been described as edgy, retro, and even swanky.  Colorful, cartoonish characteristics abound, often with a dash of whimsy thrown in.  Below is a side-by-side comparison of his original masterpiece next to my reproduction.

Monsieur Z and My Reproduction.jpg

Eight Years in Colorado

Hard to believe, but we are approaching eight years living in Colorado.  It was quite a trade-off sacrificing a military career for maintaining a high quality of life for my family.  I can't help playing the "What if" game now and then, and wondering how things could have gone differently.  But none of my alternative scenarios would have had us having this much outdoor time and such good friends.  Thanks Colorado!


Saturday Satire: Flag Color Representation Parodies

Another Saturday; another irresistible meme.  This time it is "Flag Color Representation Parodies," which exploded across the interwebs this week on places like reddit and knowyourmeme.com.

My satirical examples are below and all created in Powerpoint.  My European Union Flag is trending on knowyourmeme.com right now and currently has over 5,000 views.  Enjoy!


A Harry Potter Reading Room Befitting a Wizard or a Muggle

After nearly a year, and working around an overseas deployment, we are calling our Harry Potter reading room complete!  Besides being furnished in a Gryffindor Common Room style, (including a Lumos/Nox light switch, stuffed Hedwig Owl and a 9&3/4 pillow), this reading room also features much of my Harry Potter artwork created in Adobe Illustrator and Microsoft Powerpoint, (most of it in 20" X 30" posters.)  It also comes with a Marauder's Map tapestry, House Gryffindor banner, and of course a Harry Potter collector's steamer trunk and two wands from Ollivander's wand shop!  Let us know what you think!

Just in Time for Tornado Season......

Hello everyone!  It has been a whirlwind few weeks returning from a year long deployment abroad and being thrown into the middle of a busy semester teaching a new course back at the "home 'drome."

In between adjusting to being back with family and working around dozens of projects I had put on hold for the deployment, I managed to complete one of my goals from 2015; becoming a trained SKYWARN weather spotter for the National Weather Service!

Latest Map Created Entirely in Microsoft Powerpoint: "The Northlands"

Hi everyone!  I've returned from a long deployment overseas and am enjoying some R&R.  Here is my latest cartographic creation.  I'm slowly adding in more content on each map as I develop my skills. "The Northlands" is my first attempt at adding hills and creating a monolithic ruins.  As always, feedback appreciated!

Everything in this map is created entirely within Microsoft Powerpoint; no clip art!  Most of the map is created using the shapes tools.

Creating Detailed Map Icons

Hello everyone.  I decided to see if I could create detailed map icons inside Powerpoint using just the basic shapes tools.  The "Royal Lighthouse" and "The Citadel" on this map are the products of that effort.  Both are modeled after internet finds and recreating them from scratch in Powerpoint was painstaking, but doable.  As always, thanks for visiting and I hope you find my work here inspiring for your own presentation work and creative endeavors!

Latest Map Created Entirely in Microsoft Powerpoint

Created inside Powerpoint without any clip art and using just the basic shapes tools.  Most people have no idea how easy it is to do serious artwork inside Microsoft's premier presentation software.  One of my goals with this website is to showcase just how versatile Powerpoint can be when you get away from templates and clip art.

Showcasing Creativity is the Goal

What is the purpose of this website?  I'm using it for a variety of reasons that all fall under a general goal of showcasing creativity and changing perceptions people have about presentations.

Firstly, I wanted to change perceptions about Microsoft's Powerpoint software.  It is actually incredibly versatile, and remains the benchmark presentation tool for many good reasons. Always the scapegoat for every bad presentation, the truth is usually that the presentation was bad simply because the presenter and the material they put together was bad.  In short, Microsoft makes a great product and takes the blame, when the presenter is usually the one at fault.

I'm currently a military briefer for senior and mid-level military leaders, forced to employ the absolute, most hideous slides anyone has ever seen.  Think about a Steve Jobs presentation and his supporting graphics......and then realize I brief the exact opposite of those design principles and what you see in those presentations; daily.  It hurts my soul.

What do these slides I labor under look like?  Is there text filling all available white space on the slide?  Check.  Font size 10 for an older audience wearing glasses sitting up to 50 feet away?  Check.  Tables, Charts, maps and graphs strewn about the slide in an unorganized manner with the only logic being to cram as much as humanly possible on one slide?  Check.  Color palettes that resemble a Rainbow Bright vomitorium?  Check.  You've seen it yourself wherever you work.  It is painful.  We can often do better.  When we can't, or aren't permitted to do so, then we can do the next best thing and at least show the world it doesn't really have to be that way.  That's what this website does.  Call it an outlet for some of my workplace frustrations.

A second goal for me here at powerpointparade.com is that I wanted people to think differently about default templates, and other pre-canned layouts within presentation software.  Making your own graphics is actually quite simple and allows you to truly customize a presentation exactly the way you want it.  I'm a jack-of-all trades Air Force navigator who has been an aviator, a military aviation instructor, an executive officer (a glorified secretary), a Space wargame director, and a geography college teacher.  I also have seven years in the grocery industry and picked up a smattering of insider advertising tips occasionally helping build the weekly full-page newspaper ads.  I have no formal training in art or graphic design though, and my academic degrees are in history, political science and geography.  So, if I can do it, so can you.

Third, I'm a meticulous borderline workaholic.  Despite all my hobbies from cycling to numismatics, this is a genuinely fun and satisfying outlet for me.  I just enjoy working hard, and relish the focus that comes with crafting creative projects.  For me, creating something elegant, appealing, and useful is a reward in and of itself.  The cynic in me realizes that art is really exactly the same thing as a military strategy called deception; (all art is an illusion getting you to see something that isn't really there; and this is a very useful military skill for survival).  But the goal here isn't victory; just the satisfaction that comes from creativity and educating people.

Lastly, I'm approaching the end of my military career.  I have no idea what's next.  But after a lot of disappointment in the Air Force, I'd like to return to the civilian world and corporate America; perhaps designing education materials or working in advertising or some other graphic design venue.  I have a solid ten years of public speaking for audiences ranging from classrooms to large auditoriums of mid-level and senior government and industry leaders at home and abroad, and would consider that as a gig, (as long as I had control over the presentation material.)  I'm hoping potential employers see this website and are intrigued with my work, my unusually broad background, and my "talent stack," as Dilbert creator Scott Adams calls it.  What say you?

Fantasy Map Created in Powerpoint

Happy 2017 everyone!  Work and the holidays have been busy, and my aggressive agenda to learn a bunch of new map making skills in the early part of the year has been pushed back UFN.  In the meantime, please enjoy this simple fantasy map created in Microsoft Powerpoint.

All elements were created using just the basic shapes tools, except the scale bar, which was pasted in to save time.

Trying a New Skill.....Hand Drawn Maps

Hello everyone!  I'm taking a break from Powerpoint for a bit to learn the art and skills associated with hand drawn cartography.  Here is the result of Day Two, after watching WASD20's excellent YouTube tutorials.  Feedback is appreciated!