Thursday, July 23, 2009

From Florida with Love!

At the end of last month I received an order for liqueur labels from the USA. Actually, it was my first international order -- I had done some labels for export before, but only for local customers. The order was placed by a small manufacturer from Florida. It was a series of three different flavored liqueurs called Limonzala -- Lemon, Lime and Orange. The shape of the bottle suggested two separate labels: the primary and the secondary. After we agreed on prices and I received the basic concept, a blueprint of the bottle and a photo of the actual product, I set to work.

The order didn't fit in my usual understanding of liqueur labels, so I had to improvise. The thing is, the liqueurs here in Georgia are mostly based on sweet fruits, almonds, coffee, chocolate, etc. -- but never on citruses. Also, they are mild, considered to be a "ladies' drink," with no more than 25% alcohol by volume. Consequently, the liqueur labels I usually make are somewhat "feminine," with floral ornaments, pretty vignettes and so on.

Limonzala Liqueurs are in fact citrus vodkas, with 40% alcohol, so the choice of style was obvious -- no heavy decorations, ornate elements or dark colors, but everything light, bright and "vodkish." As for the fruits, photo-realistic ones wouldn't do here, so I locked myself up in the FruitLab and bred the new sorts of "digitally hand-made" citruses, exclusively for U.S. export.

I finished the labels in a week or so. As a finishing stroke, I added some Florida sun, palms and a girl on a beach chair, and sent the demo version to the client, along with an actual product prototype, as I call them (you can see it on the right).

I liked the results myself, but even so I didn't expect the reaction to be so rapturous: the client was so happy that he doubled the payment! The labels were approved without a single change, except minor edits in the back label text.

Last week I safely received my payment and sent the final version in Adobe Illustrator format, as requested by the client. The labels are ready for printing, but we still have to wait for the U.S. Government approval. My work is done, and I'm looking forward to the long-term business relationship with this new-found partner from Florida.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Russia, Nicaragua... ESET

What these two countries and an antivirus software developer could possibly have in common? I'll tell you what -- they all regard Abkhazia, a breakaway Georgian region, as a country (although, as I've heard, the parliament of Nicaragua still hasn't ratified Ortega's recognition of Abkhazia and so-called "South Ossetia").

I discovered this fact last Monday, when I was browsing through ESET's website (my trial version of Smart Security 4 had expired and I was looking for purchase options). While the presence of Abkhazia and "South Ossetia" in the country lists of Russian websites and software products is a common rule after Medvedev's recognition (some displayed Abkhazia even PRIOR to the recognition), the rest of the world usually respects the territorial integrity of Georgia and avoids listing its breakaway provinces among legitimate states. So it was rather unexpected to see something like this on a Slovakian company's website:

Generally, ESET seems to have a thing for including autonomous regions in country lists -- like Aland Islands (Finland) for instance -- but that's not really our business. But Abkhazia is certainly OUR business, so I decided to let them know how wrong they are. I sent a short letter to Christopher Dale, ESET's PR manager, aiming for the weakest point of all companies -- the sales numbers. Here it is:

Dear Sir,

I had decided to buy ESET Smart Security 4, but then I saw Abkhazia in a country selection list and changed my mind. If you think a couple of extra purchases from this Russian-controlled province is worth loosing a lot more Georgian customers, then be my guest. Maybe it's just business for you, but it's politics for us.

Rezo Kaishauri

I had little hope for a positive response (or any response at all), so I decided to start a thread in a political section of Tbilisi Forum -- the largest Georgian-speaking web community in the world. The reaction was immediate, and soon a squall of angry letters rained upon Dale's mailbox.

Apparently, the massive onslaught did its work -- in a few days ESET silently removed Abkhazia from their country list, as you can see below:

Some may say, who cares about country lists, when there are much bigger problems. Well, we care. Because every small victory matters in this great war for people's minds.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Between Two Worlds

Long time, no post. I was a little busy last month -- Diana took a holiday and, naturally, decided to spend it here, with me. We had a great time, mostly doing nothing, just enjoying each other's company, listening to music, watching movies, walking in the nearby park, visiting some friends, doing some shopping, taking pictures and... am I forgetting something? Ah yes, we got married!

It was like one of those spontaneous Las Vegas marriages, only in Tbilisi, without getting drunk to the point of kissing the priest instead of the bride (there was no priest, no begin with), and insidiously planned in advance. On June 18, after some epic struggle with the Eternal Guardians of the Civil Registry, which lasted for three days and three nights (actually, it took only two working days, but it's strictly off the record), we became man and wife... Okay, okay, maybe the struggle was not so epic -- I just had lost my bill of divorcement (yep, I was married before) and had to retrieve it from the dusty archives (yep, I was married in the previous century), and Diana had to have her papers re-translated from Lithuanian by a local certified translator (speaking in RPG terms, finding one turned out to be quite a side quest) -- but for us it was a real adventure, a romantic tale of registering an international civil marriage!

In fact, it was a double marriage, because my best man (or rather the best witness, since it was a civil marriage) and his de facto wife, with whom he has two grown-up kids, had never been officially married, so they decided to join the ride. A group marriage registration is always fun, although a bit odd-looking. Ah, and we totally forgot about the flowers! And the photos! And the kids from the previous marriage -- one kid, actually (and yep, he's mine) -- and relatives, and the dinner! Well not entirely -- my younger brother was there, and my mother... Jesus! I just remembered -- I forgot to tell my dad! He doesn't know I'm happily re-married! Excuse me, I need to make a phone call...

...OK, where were we? Ah yes, the dinner. No, forget the dinner -- there was no dinner anyway -- the marriage itself, that's the most important thing! You may ask, what's the point in being married, if you don't live together? Well, the point is... it is... okay, there's no point, actually, but it's so romantic! Yep, we're the most romantic married couple EVER -- I live in Tbilisi, she lives in Vilnius, we see each other mostly through our webcams, but look at this from the brighter point of view: we spend our best time with each other -- our holidays! We accumulate our passion day by day, saving it for our sweet reunions... What can be more romantic?

Now seriously. Of course, we don't like living apart, and we're working on that. For now, we live between the two worlds -- Vilnius and Tbilisi, Lithuania and Georgia, her world and my world -- but these two worlds are getting closer to each other with every single day, her world becoming mine, and mine -- hers. According to the laws of the universe, someday they will merge together. How, when and where exactly, it doesn't really matter -- the most important thing is LOVE, and all the rest is just details.

Now that our improvised honeymoon is over and Diana has departed, I have very busy weeks ahead. We made a plenty of photographs for many of my future projects, including the sequels to Red Bound, Crank-Up, Quagmire of Lust, Masochist, Body Language, Stairway from Heaven and many others. Also, I'm planning another trip to Vilnius next month, so I have to make some preparations.

As for this semi-virtual marriage, there is nothing unexpected or hasty about it. If you trace back the history of our relationship, you'll definitely see it coming. We've known each other for five years and met in person a year ago, just to confirm that we are a perfect match. At some point we felt that the search for that special someone was over, and we were meant to be together. Of course, we don't need official papers for that, especially when we both are religious persons and regard church wedding as the only TRUE marriage, but consider this an act of commitment, a declaration of intent, if you will. There will be a real wedding, with flowers, relatives, kids from previous marriage and everything -- all in due time.

That's it, folks -- just wanted to let you know, where on earth I had disappeared for the whole last month. Now you know everything and hopefully you are happy for me. Ah, and sorry for the absence of new photos -- all we have is that blurry one taken in the airport just before Diana's departure, the rest is from summer 2008, like this one, where we're eating the famous Mtskheta meatloaves. Want some?