Traci Goudie

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Traci Goudie
Photo By Todd V. Wolfson

Lifelong Austinite Traci Goudie may well be the most stylish techie alive. Funny, clever, and way-cute, belying the "guys who like Star Trek" stereotype with a flick of her two-tone hair, Goudie turned on to new media while studying at the American Film Institute. When a professor brought in some of the earliest effects sequences from Star Wars, Goudie remembers internally shrieking: "Oh, a new toy, a new tool!" That revelation prompted (Goudie says "forced") her to become a techie, and a career as a graphic designer was in motion.

In 1996, Goudie signed on at Austin's 501 Studios, where she uses high-tech equipment to control the look of all things visual: TV show intros, commercials, political spots, advertising text materials, and, in her own time, digitally enhanced photos and rock videos (yes, that was her husband's band, Goudie, on the Chronicle cover just a few weeks back). Her stop-motion collages of found objects are renowned, and she has developed a reputation for coming up with innovative designs for 501's clients, among them Southwestern Bell and GSD&M. 501 is the proud owner of a super high-end editing machine called "The Henry" (so high-end it has its own name plaque on the editing suite door and 501 charges $900/hr. for work done on it). With Henry and other computer equipment, Goudie achieves visuals you simply can't get any other way -- colors that don't exist in nature, dense overlays of images, and special effects like that freeze-jump in the Gap ads.

Through SXSW, there's an exhibit of some of her personal work at Therapy Clothing on South Congress. Her lush "Hugs and Kisses From the End of the World" photo series, its aesthetic evocative of David LaChapelle and Japanese anime, casts beautiful, wistful people adrift in industrial, futuristic, otherworldly landscapes, occasional bubble cities in the air. One piece, Just Let Me Keep My Baby, depicts a large woman in a bikini clutching an infant as a spaceship looms in a post-apocalyptic sky.

So, does the fact that her digitally enhanced work is so exciting bode ill for old-fashioned darkroom work? Goudie, who loves low-tech haunts like piñata stores, salvage yards, and construction sites, and also designs old-fashioned products like clothing and jewelry for her company Ghetto Sushi Bowl, claims new media is not the future -- but rather a future. Just as CDs haven't completely replaced records and tapes, there will always be room for every medium. "I like the balance," says Goudie, "doing something the old-school way and then taking it the high-tech way and seeing what you can get from it -- some weird crash of the two."

But there's always room for new toys. Goudie gets frustrated with using herself as a palette for design because there's only so far you can make yourself up. She gets giddy thinking about ways out of the dilemma: Maybe, she says, "someday they'll have little shirts that are like little computer screens and you can walk around and open your shirt at people and they'll see another face right here. And you can say, 'Are you looking at my breastplate?'"

In any case, Goudie believes new technology will always be guided by the evolving needs of creative folks like herself. "Someone comes up with some kind of style and that style then dictates what machine you would use to get that effect without having to go through the 50 steps that person came up with to do it." And Goudie finds style-seeds everywhere. "You can walk down the street and notice a person's eye color, and it inspires you to have texture thoughts, or the way they dress. -- It becomes a Pavlovian response -- you become an image maker -- you see something and are like: 'Ah! That can be this!'"

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