Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interesting interactive, flash and web design

jefflindesign is a student site. He appears to be a gifted code writer and visual designer. I jumped around his site and liked what I saw. Despite the dark, gloomy appearance of his site, his gothic signature and broken links, his sideflip animation and breakout game display a playful nature in his creativity

Check it out and give me your thoughts. Or better yet, post a link to your own site.

The Cure, Snow Patrol, Beatles, Arcade Fire

What are you listening to while you work? Please comment. I don't know if ANYBODY reads this blog. I live in isolation here and need some feedback.

I won a door prize raffle and got this nifty ipod nano. The slim one that shows pictures and rotates the pic as you rotate the pod.

The dog, well one dog, Abby, already chewed up the sync cord. Neat toy anyway.

Creatively stranded

Been through one latte and three espressos from the good 'ole Gaggia Synchrony machine in the kitchen. I love/live espresso so much that when designing this house/studio I planned in a "Coffee Bay"—a nook housing a small sink, cupboards for coffee and cups and counters for machines and paraphernalia.

I need to come up with an annual report cover for a hospital foundation. The theme is helping visitor and local alike. I keep going back to "cookie cutter" silhouettes in a spiral or rows — really stock, first idea stuff. I am trying to conceptualize a helping hand, illustrated in typography—names of local and national/international locations visitors arrive from. I am not an illustrator, although I sometimes pull off covers and designs, illustrated from scratch or manipulated images. Know your strengths!

While looking for a digital artist who's site I recently encountered, I stumbled onto a site chock full of MIT designers. Some of the work is quite dull but innovative in its own way. aesthetics and computation illustrates what you get when you cross computer geeks with innovative technology. I have seen this before, when I was struggling with early cold typesetting for a catalog with lots of type runarounds. One of the engineers handling the machines spent a night
creating a grid that would give character counts in any line length on an 8.5 x 11 inch page of text — an aid to typefitting. The only thing was that most typehouses handed out guides for calculating various character counts per inch for various common fonts and sizes. I broke it to him gently—he was such a nice guy, I debated even telling him, but I thought it was my duty to defend my industry.

This all gets back to the idea of illustrating with typography. A touchy business.

I will post the solution when the project goes to press.

Cold type—The evolutionary step up from hand-set lead type. Type on photo paper created mostly by shining light through film masters moving at high speed. (Google "Compugraphic typesetting) You had to calculate how much type would fit in your design space, then hand it off to a specialized "typehouse" who "set" it on a page for paste-up. You marked up the first print to get rid of widows and put in line breaks, paragraphs, leading adjustments, and then sent it back for a final. Sometimes, the typehouse would print out a rough copy first in order to save on photo paper and development costs.

Paste-up—Illustration boards laid out with page/spread sized guides on which you "pasted" your cold type sheets. The cold type sheets were glued in place with rubber cement or wax, and hopefully stayed on the board until they were photographed and plated for printing.

None of this will help you today, as computers do it all very nicely and digital imaging takes several of the board/film/plate out of the equation. Although some print jobs that exist only on film might still be plated the "old way," but not very often.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The advantages of precise language

In the PR business, observing and deconstructing a client's speech patterns is often necessary when they are involved in public speaking—this includes say, a retailer. I found this article, in New Yorker magazine that is pertinent to several of my bugaboos: Correcting Caroline. I am guilty of both from time to time, so I'm doubly sensitive and welcomed the news that there are people who actually study these flaws for a, like, you know, a living.

I don't know if I can totally identify with their conclusions about these habits of speech being artifacts of insecurity or vulnerability. But after hearing a conversation of which one half was almost ALL "like," the rest consisting mostly of pop speech such as "like, shut up!" spoken as a single word in three syllables with the UH being the accented, I could feel myself cringing. Ok, it was a nervous teen-aged girl, riding a chairlift with her mother. But soon she will need to present something to someone she needs to win over to her point of view. Job interviews tend to be places where you feel vulnerable or insecure. Purging these colloquialisms may be a kill-or-cure way to pluck yourself from your peer track, but learning to turn them off under duress is an important skill that will help you attain your goals more swiftly.

Later I will address a similar problem in graphic design.

Attack of the politicians

Not too long after color palette update, The election of three new board members to the client's organization (a non-profit, county-ish hospital)took a dire turn. The logo project, now well along its way to approval and implementation, got snagged on one member's demand that the board see two options and pick one. Well, this stage had been completed months ago and this turn of events would open the door to the living hell of multiple, unqualified opinions that would pass as genuine, working criticism.

Fortunately, the demand turned into a gripey email memo sent around to and reported by the local newspaper. I believe this has spent the board member's energy and he is moving on to other targets of his wrath. It only goes to show how one's best critical path to a design solution can instantly be derailed and tossed into committee hell. You can look all around this country and you'll be hard put to find a monument erected in the name of a committee.

One working alternative to the broad examinations of a group of individual's who's only common ground is that they were elected to a board is to require a contact/managing point person to handle the liaison between you and the board or committee. This will rarely be an optimal solution. Unless they have an amazing grip on the board, the point person will have to assemble, prioritize and relay the same information you are un-exposing yourself to. This, too, can lead to seemingly never ending revisions and frustration. But it sometimes, if the liaison is clever and resourceful, leads to a smoother, more intelligent process.

Try it, you have nothing to lose, and from my experience, about a one in three chance of it working.