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Magic Potion

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Graphic.ly

Will comic books survive the media maelstrom? Can graphic novels pack the same visual punch on screen? A new player in publishing is working to ease the transition. Launched to the public this week, Graphic.ly is looking to build a niche as both an online community and digital content delivery platform for comic books and graphic novels. Publishers including Top Cow, BOOM!, and Arcana have signed on to make their content available via Graphic.ly. The first applications out of beta allow users to download, read, and chat from their computer desktops, but stay tuned for iPhone, iPad, and other versions. According to CEO and co-founder Micah Baldwin, "Graphic.ly is the online version of hanging out at the comic book store, finding new friends, new comics to read, and new interests and genres."

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Modern Family Tree

Looking for that perfect Earth Day gift? Try a twenty-first century take on the family tree from My Tree and Me, a new online company that specializes in modern geneology charts that double as inspiring wall art. Opt for a customized version of vibrant designs that range from minimalist to mod or order a DIY chart to fill in on your own (practice on the included black and white copy first). Just add family! The site offers a list of links to help you research your family history and fill in the blanks.

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Mod TV

Ever wonder what would have happened if Saul Bass had applied his graphic design talents to the small screen? Albert Exergian seems to have a pretty good idea. The Austrian designer combined his love for posters, modernism, and television to create Iconic TV, a series of mod posters that boils down popular TV shows to bold icons. The Sopranos is represented by an circular swatch of red-checked tablecloth, and Two a Half Men is a jazzy take on piano keys (two and a half of them), while lollipop-loving Kojak is symbolized by a simple ball and stick sucker. Some posters appear to have required more thinking than others. The X Files poster? A large "X." Archival prints of any of Exergian's 47 TV posters are available for purchase from online gallery Blanka. Just click through the swatches on the left to find your favorite.

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T-Shirt Heaven

Can't get enough artist-produced t-shirts? Set aside a sizable chunk of time (and your paycheck) before heading to Rumplo, where 12,000 t-shirts and counting are just a click away. The mission of the fully searchable site is simple: "to make it easy for everyone to find their new favorite t-shirts, and to give designers and tee shops great tools to promote and share their killer work." Go high-end with artist Dan Colen's $116 white tee dotted with pressed blobs of chewed gum or side with the masses, who are snapping up a blunt message tee that reads "Design is Honest. Advertising is lying."

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Photoshop for Lazy People

If you like your photomanipulation quick and dirty—or just need to tweak images on the fly—you'll love Rollip, a no-frills site that transforms uploaded images (jpegs, bmps, gifs, and pngs) with your choice of 40 effects. It's easy, fast, and, thanks to a smattering of unobtrusive banner ads, free. Tint your childhood photos a wistful sepia, impart an eerie glow to last Christmas, or warm up a cold city shot with the nostalgic tones of a faded Polaroid. Live it up with the "Styled Lenses" but for the sake of your memories, go easy on the "Extreme Stylized" effects.

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I(ce) Love You

New York City is celebrating Valentine's Day with the installation of a ten-foot-tall heart in Times Square. The cold caveat? It's constructed from masonry-scaled blocks of ice. Moorhead & Moorhead, the architectural and industrial design firm who created the public art project (with the help of structural engineers, lighting technicians, and a team of chainsaw-wiedling ice sculptors), are sharing the love online, with a web-based tool that allows users to create photo mosaic e-Valentines. Fill the virtual Ice Heart with your own photos or those selected automatically based on the Flickr tags of your choice, add a message, click "send," and prepare to melt the heart of that special someone.

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Ponoko

"Ponoko" may sound like the latest adorable animated creature or addictive puzzle game to come out of Tokyo, but it's actually an online venture that aspires to be nothing less than the Flickr and YouTube of product design. The virtual marketplace brings together creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers, and buyers to take part in what Ponoko's creators describe as "the world's easiest making system." The vast site allows users to design their own products (from jewelry and toys to furniture and lighting fixtures), price them for sale, and arrange for them to be produced locally, as close to the point of consumption as possible. Those less inclined to DIY can choose from among Ponoko's tens of thousands of user-generated product designs, all ready to be customized and made into real things with the click of a mouse.

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Netflix Origami

Those initiated to the world of Netflix, the twenty-first-century version of a video store, are familiar with the distinctive red and white envelopes in which the company's millions of DVDs are dispatched and returned. The residue of a Netflix transaction is the squarish paper flap that must be torn off the envelope before dropping it into a mailbox. But before you toss that flap into the recycling bin, click over to Netflix Origami, a site (unaffiliated with Netflix) that provides step-by-step instructions on transforming your humble Netflix flaps into folded paper creations such as swans, frogs, airplanes, and (deja vu!) envelopes. Want to impress that environmentally-conscious film buff this Valentine's Day? Go with the heart.

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Smart Art

Scout and support emerging artists without leaving your desk. Affordable art is just a click away at CollegeArtOnline.com, which aims to bring art to the masses. The site offers a wealth of original student artwork at prices that range from $50 to $3,000 (the average sale is $200) and allows would-be collectors to pay the listed price or make the artist an offer. As for sifting through the available works, you can browse categories including paintings, photography, and sculpture, but we recommend checking out the site's "curated exhibitions," an ongoing series that features works selected by guest curators around themes such as simplicity and fate.

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The Year’s Worst Album Covers

As 2009 draws to a close, list makers around the world are busy counting down the year’s best and worst in various realms. The hardcore music buffs at Pitchfork are concerned with album covers—specifically, graphically tragic ones. Among this year’s group of 20 “goofy, offensive, amateurish, and puzzling” covers are Green Day’s sad take on street art, a Neil Young cover that appears to be the work of a third-grader, and Razorlight’s presentation of its four members inside squares that recall the opening credits of The Brady Bunch. Other highlights include the appearance of mermaids, sprinkle-covered donuts, and endless night skies. Pitchfork cautions that the list is “Not safe for people at work or those prone to nausea.”

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