Archive for the ‘design’ Category
2 January, 2013 – 1:03 am | Filed under daily creative, design | No Comments »
Happy New Year! I’m glad the world didn’t end, and especially glad to continue sharing this world with all you wonderful souls.
This year I want to revisit a “resolution” from last year which failed within a week: to do something creative every day. I’d like to start with a more manageable goal of doing something creative every day in January. (And if it’s visually oriented and something I’m cool with others viewing, I’ll post it online someplace–most likely here.)
For the 1st of January: updating my friend Genna’s law practice’s website. Genna is an attorney whose practice areas focus on science and patent laws, as well as civil rights and LGBT support. She’s fighting the good fight, and I’m proud to support her with getting her new solo practice off the ground.
(The website design is mine; the photos and content are Genna’s (yes, the upskirt in the background is 100% intentional!). Most of it I’d done previously, but she had some major changes that we aimed to launch on the 1st. In the process, I revisited and revised her logo, and re-created it in Illustrator (why would I ever create a logo in Photoshop again…?). We hashed this out over several hours in November and it was a lot of fun to devise. We had fun coming up with the white-space beaker, and the “Hibbs Law” typeface–Trade Gothic–is a subtle Star Wars homage, as it’s the same typeface used in the opening crawl.)
Upcoming updates: redesigning Genna’s semi-personal blog, where she talks about her journey as an attorney in Chicago. Also, redesigning this website, and perhaps giving it some sort of renewed purpose again. :)
2 March, 2012 – 6:13 pm | Filed under art+illustration, daily life, design, geek culture | 1 Comment »
It seems that it takes extreme measures for me to post anything in here anymore. I had a busy week of work and freelance projects, so I installed LeechBlock on Firefox to keep myself from opening Facebook and Twitter repeatedly/compulsively…and man, what a difference it made. (I’m a little embarrassed to admit it.) However, the one downside is that I haven’t been able to share all the cool stuff that’s come across my radar by other means this week…which is why I’m back here again.
Life’s been good in general. I’ve been keeping busy with work and Meetup events and whatnot, meeting people around town, and generally maintaining a good work-life balance. I’ve gotten involved with the pit orchestra of a local community/student opera group, who’s putting on an obscure Rimsky-Korsakov opera at the end of the month; rehearsals kick off this weekend. And I just started weekly Japanese classes with a handful of JET alumni–the first one this past weekend was already so refreshing after several years without dedicated study time. It’s good to know I can still string sentences together with reasonably accurate vocab and intonation, at least.
Also, I miss writing. Hopefully I can do a little more of that here in the weeks (or months…) to come.
Anyway, fun and neat things to share:
“Give it five minutes” – words imparted from Richard Saul Wurman (one of the early pioneers of information design and information architecture, and the founder of the TED conferences) to Jason Fried of 37signals, about giving yourself time to process and “perspectivize” something before reacting instinctively to it. (Semi-tongue-in-cheek, but this is why I really feel that sites like Facebook and Twitter need an “are you sure you want to post this?” option that gives you 10-15 seconds to recall something you just posted in haste that you would probably come to regret later.)
Manga artist Yusuke Murata, known for Eyeshield 21 (a manga about American football playing students in Japan–the anime version of it was on TV when I lived there), crafted a really creative and delightful set of comics that use folds and shadows in paper to provide dimensions. He did this in part to demonstrate that while there are things that can be done digitally in sequential art that aren’t possible with printed matter, the reverse is also very true. I freaking love this.
I was wandering through Porter Square Books one afternoon and happened across these Whitelines notebooks–interesting shapes, clean and nice cover designs, and–most importantly–fantastic paper design. The light grey background with white lines is nondisruptive, subtle, and incredibly useful and versatile. This slim one was marked down to under $5; since I was looking for a proper sketchbook for work, I gave it a whirl and bought it, and it’s become invaluable to my work practice since. (My coworkers are also intrigued by it.) They’re available in a variety of styles: wire, hard wire, perfect-bound, top- versus side-flipping, black cover, white cover, hardcover, lined, squared, perspective lines…fantastic. And the paper is produced using carbon-neutral practices! You can find them in an art store near you (in North America) or from Amazon.
And last but not least, this image by illustrator James Hance has been making the rounds. Such a sweet crossover…I can’t look at this and not smile. He’s got a lot of great work throughout his site that will definitely make you smile (and some of that work is on t-shirts! Which I would gladly buy, if not for them being printed on shirts by American Apparel, which I will never again support for their horribly sexist advertising).
Wait, that was supposed to be the last thing but that’s not a happy ending. So…here! Baby sloths in onesies!
Have a good weekend, everyone.
23 January, 2012 – 7:33 pm | Filed under design | No Comments »
A friend said that the following statement summarizes her life philosophy. It stuck with me for some reason, so when I realized it has been way too long since I did any creative, purely visual, fun design, I decided to typeset this.
(done on my work machine, which is running Windows 7, hence the lack of great typefaces at my disposal. I’m also really rusty and know that I’m capable of more when I’m in the swing of things…but it still feels good to have done something.)
I’d made a New Year’s resolution to do something visual/creative every day. Considering that I didn’t even start on that until the 4th or 5th of January, that’s kind of done for. But I do want to try to do more personal, fun experiments. Next up: maybe finding something I can capture in an information design piece?
18 January, 2011 – 11:05 pm | Filed under assignments, design, posterous, school | No Comments »
I’m still sorting out the semester’s classes, but am definitely taking a Color and Communication class. I’ve wanted to take a class that was all about making and doing, and it has been so much fun so far.
For today, they asked each of us to bring in roughly 30 objects of various colors within a single category. I raided my roommates’ and my own spices, and collected about 25. Our aim was to arrange them while taking hue, value, and saturation into consideration, then to re-create the colors using an artistic medium (I used colored pencils), to understand the subtle shift in colors between similar objects.
The instructors then encouraged us to look into juxtaposing different pieces to look at the color relationships. (I hadn’t quite gotten to that point so they helped me out a bit…they look amazing but would probably taste terrible together.)
31 December, 2010 – 6:39 am | Filed under design | No Comments »
No rest for the weary–it’s winter break but I’m still slaving over stuff. More on that later, though.
For now, pretty things…a small sample of some of the cool and inspirational work I’ve come across over the last few months. Some of it’s made the rounds already.
Our group photo from the surprise party we threw for the conductor of Georgia Tech’s orchestra and jazz ensemble, who just stepped down and retired. We’d been planning it for many months, trying to reach out to alumni near and far, and it was a huge success.
Picked up a sheet of this at the Virginia-Highlands (Atlanta) Paper Source location. I’m very glad I won’t have a chance to go back there again because the temptation to stock up on more of their gorgeous wares would be way too strong.
(Kevin Dart‘s wedding invitation, via drawn.ca)
13 October, 2010 – 8:47 pm | Filed under design, personal, school | No Comments »
Yay, I’m slightly more marginally famous!*
Print Magazine approached Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design about having us graduate students write articles, reflecting both CMU’s approach to design and our own design interests, for the Imprint Blog–their blog about other interests and interesting areas of design beyond print. A number of the second-years volunteered, and we just started our weekly rotation of articles. (Last week my classmate Jenny kicked our column off by writing about designing for social impact, and next week my classmate and housemate Jeanette is up.) Everyone who’s volunteered is set to write one article this semester–we’ll see how it goes for the spring as well.
My article this week is on intercultural design, its importance, and why I think it’s better to be intercultural than cross-cultural. (Had I had the foresight to include a title, it would’ve been less proclamatory and more punny.) I believe it may have been edited minorly for length (that, or my lack of sleep is making me misremember how I’d written and edited it), but the message is the same. Check it out and let me know what you think!
* When people come to hear of my Pirates of Dark Water fan site, I tell them that I am very, very, very, very minorly internet-famous. :) (Yes, with four “very”s before the “minorly.”)
In other news, I am an “aunt” again–my cousin Yamuna had a baby girl this morning, YAY!–and I determined that printing out the results of my first thesis survey would take nearly 400 sheets of legal-sized paper. Wow.
11 October, 2010 – 4:24 am | Filed under commentary, design | No Comments »
You know the show Undercover Boss? The one where a well-known company’s CEO goes undercover and works in entry-level jobs in his company?
It hit me tonight, during the episode about DirecTV, that the show is a public enactment of human-centered user research, and that the CEO is assuming the role of a designer. He (which I use because every episode I’ve seen so far has featured a middle-aged white guy) is trying to ascertain what the issues with his company are by jumping in headfirst and immersing himself in the thick of things, trying to understand how his company actually functions and what actual employees truly face and deal with on a day-to-day basis. He learns about their jobs and them as people, and he empathizes with them as he himself takes on their responsibilities. He then comes out of it and makes changes company-wide that are directly informed by those real-life experiences, both as experienced by him and as related by the people for whom he’s designing/planning.
There are days when my classmates and I wish we could shut this “designy sense” (like “spidey sense”) off and just accept things at face value and “make pretty stuff” again. But this was a cool realization. It’s neat to see a real-life example of these concepts at work in such a prominent way.
8 October, 2010 – 9:05 pm | Filed under assignments, design, school | No Comments »
My head is spinning as a result of the last week, which was spent in Chicago at the 2010 Design and Emotion Conference. It was my first true design conference (SXSW Interactive in 2008 kind of counts, but…), and my first academic conference. I didn’t present a paper, but I did volunteer and sat in on something like 30 talks about various design papers and 3 of the 4 keynote speeches (I only missed the 4th because I had a headache, but it’ll be online shortly anyway), and had some great conversations and met some great people. It was a great experience, and has given me a lot to think about. (Maybe I’ll write a write-up in a few days.)
We got back late last night, and today I’ve jumped right back in with catching up on my large pile of schoolwork and research. Besides my thesis, I’m in two other classes, with their own research projects:
- Social Impact By Design (mentioned by Jenny on printmag.com’s Imprint blog!) – I’m exploring the idea of getting people to take more responsibility for their surroundings. This could relate possibly to something like littering or vandalism, or being more considerate of people around them, or just shaking the idea that “it’s not my problem; someone else owns it/someone else will deal with it”.
- Information+Interaction+Perception – I’ll be developing some designed product/artifact/campaign that educates and informs about the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism (in a friendly and totally unobtrusive way, to counteract the headstrong and pushy image a number of vegetarians have built).
For the latter, I’m working on reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma right now, and searching for relatively unbiased and reputable sources of information.
For the former, I’ve started by reading up on designing for persuasion. But that brings up some questions: does persuasion imply some sort of tangible and measurable reaction? With something like this, which is more of an implicit and personal cultural shift in how a person responds to a situation, does that mean that this project would still fall under the umbrella of persuasive design? I’m not persuading people to take a specific action; I’m “persuading” (or suggesting?) that they think differently, and possibly even internalize a message or concept that changes their view, which will, in turn, change their actions. Or…is that actually what persuasive design is all about?
Obviously I’m only getting started on my research for this. But the psychological implications and strategies implicit in design are really fascinating to me, and I’m looking forward to learning much more about this.
21 February, 2010 – 7:13 pm | Filed under design, personal, school, web | 2 Comments »
Ha, so I never actually posted my work here, but in the last few weeks I redesigned my portfolio and posted some of my better pieces there. Check it out!
I’m finding myself relying more on Google Reader to keep up with everything, so I’ve added a list of my shared items to the right-hand pane. Amusingly, they do tie in with the “design, music, and science” tagline…there could be more music in there, though. (There can always be more music.)
So we had 3 days off the week before last, due to record snowfall in western Pennsylvania. There’s still snow everywhere, with more on the way, but they’ve at least finally been able to clear the primary and secondary roadways; some of the sidewalks (especially on my walk to school, conveniently enough) are still covered in slush, but that’s where my $30 Target boots have saved the day.
Anyway, last week was pretty intense, in part because of that and because of the huge career/networking/internship fair we had the preceding week (I had five interviews on Friday the 12th, as well as one earlier in the week). This past week, I had a presentation, two papers, lots of readings, and just General Fun Stuff to deal with. But it’s done now, and I can take a deep breath before jumping into the next huge pile of work (and rehearsals, as we have a concert Friday!) that awaits me.
Some fun stuff I’ve come across (a.k.a. going through my list of starred posts in Google Reader)…
Clients from Hell – for designers to commiserate (and for most non-designers to cringe in sympathy).
Volcano-on-volcano action – two neighboring volcanoes are erupting simultaneously on the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia. (It looks like three in the image, but the middle “plume” is simply a cloud.)
Birds on the Wires (YouTube video) – really lovely and inspirational scenery-inspired musical project. I saw a TV commercial recently that played with this idea, but I’m not sure which came first.
25 user experience videos that are worth your time – this is almost 2 months old now, but still a cool resource. I’ll admit that I took notice of it due to the very first talk by Jesse Games Garrett, and how he describes Beethoven as a user experience designer. Last semester, I gave a very similar presentation for my Presentation and Pitch Design course, describing John Williams as an information designer, well before I saw this talk. I guess I’m on the right track, then!
Sleeping kitties! My friend Anne posts adorable animal photo posts all the time. This made me feel so warm and cozy.
Artists take on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe – some great illustrations in here (with a couple of She-Ra throwbacks, too). Also a few months old.
Have a good afternoon!
13 January, 2010 – 12:54 am | Filed under daily life, design, music, personal, school | 3 Comments »
Back again, back again…
Winter break was restful and nice. Three weeks in the metro Atlanta suburbs was perhaps a bit long, but it was great seeing my friends and family again. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I wanted to or should have–I did start on redesigning my professional portfolio, as well as ecomancer.net in general, so hopefully I can launch both of those before the end of the semester (the portfolio will have to be up by February, in anticipation of Confluence and the Creative Arts Opportunity Conference).
Speaking of which, now that I’ve attended all the classes I registered for initially, I’ve finally made my decisions about what to sign up for. Initial thoughts:
CPID seminar: should be very interesting and useful. It’s with the professor I spent a few hours with when I did my campus visit, the former head of the English department–my program is cross-listed between the Schools of Design and English–and beyond simply learning how to write about design, we’re learning how to design our written communication, to gear it for specific contexts and specific users. I definitely enjoy writing, and this should be really good for me.
Intermediate Japanese: will kick my ass. Good god. The class meets 4 times a week, they already assigned homework due Tuesday, there are quizzes and essays and research projects, we have to purchase a 300-page bundle of worksheets on sale at the bookstore…if I had the time to devote to it, it would be really, really good for me, especially since the professor seems really strict (far more so than anybody at Georgia Tech ever was) and demands a lot from the students. It’s geared more towards Japanese majors/minors, people who do have the ability to focus like that (which grad students cannot). Plus, it’s hard to be in a class with people who’ve learned Japanese for a while (at least 3 semesters, if not longer) and still say “annie-may” and “man-guh” (anime and manga, or Japanese animation and comics/graphic novels). I really had to fight not to wince out loud–my friends know I really campaigned hard (but nicely!) to get them all to say it properly, and this is a huge pet peeve of mine.
Design Studio: wow. This is our Major Effort of the year, which we all knew even in August, but the first day definitely reaffirmed that. This class has historically been sponsored by Microsoft to form semester-long teams that take part in their Design Challenge–we’re one of a small handful of universities they’ve selected for this–and the winning team (decided by a MS rep who comes to see the final presentations) presents their work at Microsoft’s Design Expo in the summer. This year, though, we have both Microsoft and Motorola sponsoring us, and the Mattress Factory, a local contemporary art museum, is keen on getting some students to work on something for them. The professor who taught the class in years past is actually working for Microsoft and is our corporate liaison; this year our instructors three CMU design alums who are all successful designers.
The theme for the Microsoft Design Challenge this year is Context: Service Meets Social. I’m trying to keep that in the back of my mind at all times.
Research Methods: should be interesting. I had some very brief experience with some of them during my last job, and it should be cool to learn more. This class is tied in with our studio–we’ll be learning methods and then applying them immediately to what we’re doing in studio. The professor is one of the two I TA’d for last semester, so I feel like I know him fairly well and we do get along, which is cool.
Communicating in the Global Marketplace: I’m impressed with the class and the professor. Even from how she got to know the various students in the course and handled pronouncing their names (which can be quite touchy at times, but which she did with admirable grace), I could tell that she really knows her stuff, and the fact that several students cited enjoying working with her in previous classes as a reason for enrolling definitely helped. Our final project actually involves finding a group or company of some kind and doing some cross-cultural communication consulting work for them (which I’ve been very interested in doing from a design standpoint)–should be amazing, but I’m just concerned about the timing, because studio is going to be mad in March and April.
Rhetoric and Information Design: I’m glad I’m auditing this, for two reasons: it’ll lessen my crazy workload, while still letting me attend this class and reap what I think are going to be some great benefits. (Don’t get me wrong; I’ll still do all the readings and do the projects, but I do have the option of possibly doing the projects later if I get busy, and I will be taking advantage of that flexibility.)
I had the realization last semester that in order to be a good designer, one must be a strong and effective communicator–not just in selling your work (a lesson I totally learned during my last job, and tried to pass on to some of my students in the class I TA’d last term, who were baffled that we were so strict with them and didn’t see what relevance writing and communication has to design), but in making your work say something and make an effective statement or argument. As information designers, this is especially crucial to us, since we aren’t just making “pretty things”–we’re organizing and presenting information (which, as we established briefly today, is by definition more subjective than raw data, as we’re taking it and filtering it somewhat in order to understand it as we compose/construct our work).
Anyway, long story short: I’ve dropped Japanese, and am keeping the other five. (CPID Seminar, Studio, and Research Methods are all required anyway.) I was gutted about losing Japanese, but there’s a conversation session at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on the 2nd and 3rd Tuesday of each month, and I got permission from Miso, the very kind and understanding Ph.D who’s teaching R&ID, to duck out 10-15 minutes early to get there on time. I went tonight, and it was actually a lot of fun, quite informative, with a friendly and eager group of adult students–essentially a reversed eikaiwa. Plus, I have the textbooks and can definitely study on my own, whenever I have the time.
There’s also my TA-ship: this semester I’ll be assisting with facilities and tech support. My first major project is setting up for the three-hour thesis paper presentation the second-years are giving on the 22nd of January. The guy who had this post last year assures me that it’s no sweat, which is a relief. (Well, that is, unless something goes wrong, haha.) Anyway, our first meeting to discuss this and my other duties is later this week.
And my campus orchestra ensembles start up this weekend. I already know I won’t have the time to stick it out with the All University Orchestra for the whole semester, but I’m the only 1st violinist who’s played (most of) Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade before, so maybe I can help out for a short while. String Theory, though, I will be sticking with, and we have our next concert in about six weeks, with another one combined with the AUO in April.
Oh, and there’s the letterpress project I worked on last semester but never finished. (It’s okay–I was just graded on what I’d done, and the instructor had no problem with my needing extra time to complete it.) I really hope I can find the time to wrap that up in the next few weeks.
Something else nice: I have very convenient breaks in my schedule that allow me to go home midday and/or hit the campus gym. I’ll definitely need the stress relief (and the exercise–it’s quite cold and snowy here, which prevents me from walking to campus (or even sprinting up the block to catch the bus, as the sidewalks may not be salted) most days, and I could stand to lose a few pounds).
For now, though, I really should sleep, as the downside of my schedule is that our Seminar course meets at 8:30 AM on Monday and Wednesday. Ugh.
Please wish me luck this semester–even tomorrow, as that’s when we’ll receive our group assignments in studio, and when we’ll learn who among our classmates we’ll be working very closely with for the next four months. I feel a lot better about this than I did about last term, now that I know how the system works here. But we’ll see how it goes. I hope I’m up for the challenge.