Category Archives: Design

Design as medium, design as message, design as quality, design as motivation, design as standard, design as profession, design as thinking.

Humanity Needs Identity

Language is new again. Words and images are deconstructed, transformed and uploaded into something radically different. The process creates curiosity, bends opinions  and steers new behavior. It requires science and art. This is what I do — collaborate in Art, Media, and Technology.  20121203-IMG_2372   20090205L1029451   20091204-2009IMG_5558-2

Shouts and Whispers II

 

“‘It is only half an hour’ — ‘It is only an afternoon’ — ‘It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes — or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day … Who ever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.” — Charles Dickens

The task is not to breed generalists. It is to enable the specialist to make himself and his specialty effective. — Peter Drucker

Patterns are graphics in a very pure form. They are made, then wait for further employment. They ask for your imagination. If there is a thread that runs through my work, it is that it is not easy; it does not offer quick and simple solutions. 

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dual-duty

The text above was designed to cover an entire store window, a story-as-graphic. One could look through a few words and see what the store has on display behind the glass. Stand further back and see what appear to be sentences, which will combine with reflections from the outdoors. In our rushing about, these graphics make one pause and consider.

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 Above: Cursevex 50-1 — Very large pattern with a host of feasible technical solutions.

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Above: BSQ 1041b

 

Art and Democracy

What’s still lacking is the interface. We have more information than we have skills to turn it into useful knowledge. It’s a human problem, not for lack of the technology. We are still using computers that require a ton of babysitting and human guidance to get much done with them. We need more background, policy-driven computing. The real goal of the vision is a deep extension of our senses—more knowledge and more control of our world. We want to know more about people, more about the places we’re in and where we are going, and more about the things we have and might acquire. — Mark Rolston Chief Creative Officer, frogdesign

I have in mind patterns I have created for years, forming a tissue framework that works in reverse: rather than information design content as a starting point, the idea is to begin with an abstract framework and see how the surface of it, the architectural tissue might better guide an effective interface.

Design for twenty tiles:

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Shooting Cataracts

I’m ten days out of my second cataract surgery. My eye scratches, wells with tears.

 “Oh, don’t worry, “ said the non-medical world I encountered. ‘My sister was at the movies the same afternoon.” “My uncle went out for lunch straight from the hospital.”

Not me

Eight months before we were satisfied the left eye had settled, the cataract was removed from the right I’ve had a life of eyes.  

I want to talk about photography and design, taking photographs daily,

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Art is Not About Communication

Art is not about communication.  Art is not a way of conveying information. It’s a way of understanding information. That is, creating a work of art is a means we have of making sense of the world, focusing to make it clearer, not a way of communicating some understanding of the world that we already hold.’  — James Kochalka

 

 

A Word On Templates and Custom Design

I HAD THE OCCASION TO SEE SOME WEB DESIGN WORK clients of mine had commissioned by another designer. The clients appeared quite proud of the work delivered. Until I pointed out that web design templates had been used, that these templates were widely available on the web for free, and that there were thousands from which to choose, using a simple two-word Google search.
This revelation caused some dismay and distress. The clients were certain the work done was original,  created from the ground up. I felt quite badly for them paying for custom work in good faith, but they were clearly getting ripped off and I felt a responsibility to provide some insight into what I saw. Why did I not just let it go? Because such improper practice by designers damages the design profession. Templates require simple modifications. Some added content, changes to text style and colors. It’s working with a kit of parts. Custom work, by contrast, takes time, some depth of humanistic thought, as well as technical expertise. A high bar.

Custom design works hard to be compelling, to solve problems — templates do not care. Original custom design can be reconfigured to offer new solutions — templates have no such ambition. Templates have no intention. Custom design marries itself to brand positioning—templates choke the branding program before it draws first breath.  It’s like branding behind bars. This is  problematic on several fronts. It undermines professional standards designers like myself must maintain, and as importantly, I don’t like seeing people getting ripped off by professionals in any field, whether by lawyers, mechanics, dentists, or designers. We put our trust in a mechanic, that the replaced part has not already done fifty thousand miles in two cars. The free template website is one of those parts. You might be able to drive it for a while, but pretty soon something breaks down. Will your designer be able to make seamless additions building parts indistinguishable from the template? If so, why not build from the beginning? Because one can skip over the hard part and miraculously present something born fully formed. That’s your clue as a client: The first iterations are too polished. There is no evidence of early stylistic struggle, the blind alleys, the rough starts. The best designers have all of these.

Template sites will show their weakness when new content must be added, or a change is needed in function. A part is needed and it is missing from the kit. Our designer is now stuck. He actually has to make a part that fits. He makes an element out of spit and glue and what usually happens is it just doesn’t match perfectly with the template.  Should the client find the fix unacceptable,  the cost or logistics of replacement could be prohibitive. When you employ a designer, I urge you to ask whether the work you will receive will be original work, if that is what has been promised. Original work means someone is not, at this very moment, looking at a version of it on a screen somewhere. Ask whether it can scale, be flexible enough to serve the changes companies inevitably encounter? Modified templates do not mean the work is now an original design. Templates mean your “custom” work is actually all over the web. If you are OK with that, ask yourself why.

 

Stay Eager

DO STUFF. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.” ― Susan Sontag

STARE. IT’S THE WAY TO EDUCATE YOUR EYES. Pry, Listen, Eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. —Walker Evans

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