August 2013 Archives
If you’re in Belfast on Wednesday, 28 August, Mr Murphy – one half of The Standardistas equation – will be running a masterclass on Storytelling and Social Media, as part of August Craft Month.
A half day, afternoon session, subsidised by Craft NI, the masterclass is absolutely free and is open to all to attend, however, places are limited and we’d advise you to snap up a ticket before they all disappear.
If you’re interested in learning about how social media can be used to help tell the story of your business, you’re very welcome to attend. The masterclass will explore:
How craftspeople – indeed any creatives – can embrace social media (tools like Twitter, Facebook and others) to increase audience engagement and, as a result, increase sales. Introducing social strategies used by a range of creative professionals, we’ll investigate the benefit social media can offer the creative sector through adding value, building networks and ultimately driving a sustainable creative business.
This is not a ‘how to’ masterclass on becoming a ‘social media guru’ (or any of the other terms these ‘specialists’ tend to use). It’s a masterclass about the importance of knowing your own story, the art of telling that story in a captivating manner, and finally an overview of the social media landscape, and a guide to some of the tools you might use within that landscape to tell your story.
Places are limited. If you’re interested, you should pick up a ticket now.
You may or may not have heard of the wonderfully named Mr Bingo. An illustrator and animator, living and working in London, he describes himself as having, “a slightly smaller than average,” head and, “girl’s arms,” plus, “the same haircut as his mum.”
As his Twitter bio puts it:
Some say he’s the ‘Master of Pens’. Some call him ‘The Justin Bieber of Drawing’. Some say he fucks about for a living.
Fucking about or not, Mr Bingo – like many a creative – earns his keep through a combination of a witty worldview and delightful draftsmanship. When the two come together the results are striking. One of Mr Bingo’s better know pieces is his series of ‘Hair Portraits’, which includes an instantly recognisable portrait – in hair alone – of Leia, Luke, Han and Chewie from ‘Star Wars’, titled ‘A New Hope’.
The print is available to buy via Nelly Duff, who state:
Mr Bingo didn’t learn a lot at school, but he did discover one valuable thing: he was good at making people laugh. Now a successful illustrator based in East London, he is “drawing stuff” for the likes of The Mighty Boosh, QI, the Guardian, MTV and The New York Times. As well as making pictures, Mr Bingo regularly speaks at events on his favourite topics, such as religion, the internet, dating, animals, art and terrorism.
Imagine Mr Bingo’s shock on discovering his artwork lifted, lock, stock and barrel, imaginatively retitled ‘Hair Cut Star Wars’, and applied to – of all things – tote bags. (Not to mention framed art prints, stretched canvases, T shirts, tank tops and hoodies… in short anything you can apply it to. This truly is ‘design as thin veneer’, applied to base material in an effort to turn it into gold.)
One can only hope that this egregious state of affairs will be speedily remedied by Society6 who represent, “hundreds of thousands of artists from around the world.” One prays they’ll also remove the ‘artist’, appropriately named Thug, behind this creation and another, which looks remarkably like Peter Saville’s iconic work for Joy Division.
Amongst the nuggets of wisdom he offers is this, which stood out for us:
If a potential client replies back with one word answers, it’s a big warning sign that they’ll be putting that same kind of minimal effort into a project. We’ll still talk to them, but we approach that kind of client much more cautiously.
Other topics to probe include questions on timelines, scope and compensation. The last point is critical, never skip the million dollar question: “What kind of budget do you have allocated for this project?” (As Mall puts it, hopefully that is – literally – a million dollar question.)
United States Blocks, courtesy of House Industries:
These fifty united timbered tactile territorial tomes feature state specifics graciously presented in a civically civilized color palette. Designed in Delaware, Made in Michigan.
Are you addicted to Entrepornography? If you’re suffering from the following symptoms, you probably are:
ODing on GTD? Too many productivity blogs? Constantly reading Paul Graham essays and Seth Godin books? You might be an entrepornography addict.
It’s not too late to seek help. The first step is admitting you have a problem.
Q. What do you get when you cross Base64 SVGs with CSS3 animations and live web text (complete with PNG static fallbacks, included for older browsers)? A. A little something like the new Mixture site.
Team Mixture, working with the fffellas at fffunction, have unveiled a lovely new CMYK site for Mixture, complete with SVG and CSS3 goodness. It’s a real beauty (as is Mixture itself).
Get a feel for the attention to detail that’s been laboured on the new site, by taking a wee look at this Mixture Bolierplates Animation over at Dribbble. Nice.
An HTML5 online presentation tool, Presentate is, as its creators put it, “A new and better way to create, present and share your story.” Presentate works everywhere, as the twin talents behind it - Faruk Ateş and Justin Hileman – explain:
Presentate is online presentation software that works great in almost any resolution, on any desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.
When you share your presentation, you don’t know what browser or device they’ll open it on. With Presentate, you won’t have to worry. See for yourself what happens with the layout and presentation above by opening this page on your phone or tablet (or by resizing your browser).
Interested? Sign up for the beta. It looks very nice indeed.
A handy diagram explaining Impostor Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which sufferers are unable to internalise their accomplishments. As 99U put it:
Impostor Syndrome is feeling like you’re not worthy of whatever success you’ve had. You feel that you’ll be ‘found out’ at any second.
If you find yourself relating to this – and you’d be surprised how many do – you might like to hop on over to Cyclone Life and read Crushing the Impostor Syndrome. It not only offers valuable advice on crushing the syndrome, but equally – and interestingly - highlights a few others who are sufferers too, including Meryl Streep, Tina Fey and Maya Angelou.
Jonnie Hallman (one of the many designers working in Studiomates) has put together The Perfect GIF Workflow Using Dropbox and Alfred. As he puts it:
Like many internet dwellers, I prefer to use GIFs as a form of response rather than words. Why say you’re angry when you can show it.
On Twitter, I’m quick to respond with a GIF, which catches most people off guard — they wonder how I found an appropriate GIF so fast. Some assume I already have the URL copied to my clipboard, and this is partly true, but how did it get there?
The answer is this carefully considered workflow using Dropbox and Alfred to designed to optimise Hallman’s TTGIF (Time To GIF). Nice.
Yesterday, Edward Snowden’s reported email service of choice, Lavabit, shuttered abruptly. Barely a day later, Silent Circle – “a provider of secure communications services,” founded by Phil Zimmermann – has followed suit, closing down its Silent Mail service. As the company puts it:
Silent Mail has similar security guarantees to other secure email systems, and with full disclosure, we thought it would be valuable. However, we have reconsidered this position. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system. We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now.
As Glenn Fleishmann put it:
When Phil Zimmermann folds, it’s a bad bad sign for freedom.
So it goes.
With a new semester right around the corner, the fine folks at Take Control are running a 50% Off Sale until 15 August. With everything half price, this is the perfect opportunity to expand your ebook library and, as they put it, “Polish your Mac and iOS skills, and start working more efficiently.”
As died-in-the wool BBEdit and LaunchBar users, we can highly recommend Take Control of BBEdit and Take Control of LaunchBar, respectively. They’re both full of useful advice and, even if you’re a seasoned user, they’re guaranteed to pay for themselves in productivity savings as your proficiency in each increases.
Of course those are just the tip of a very large iceberg, which includes a wide range of topics, including books covering: CrashPlan Cackups, Dropbox, iCloud, TextExpander, and a whole host of others.
Take Control’s books are free of DRM and available in PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle) formats, so you can read them wherever, whenever, and on whatever device you like.
We strongly recommend you take a look.
Lavabit, the email service Edward Snowden reportedly used, has shuttered abruptly. Ladar Levison, its owner and operator, writes:
I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot.
It’s a sorry state of affairs indeed when one has to shut a business they’ve run for a decade and isn’t even in a position to talk about it. As Levison puts it, as things currently stand, he cannot even share his experiences over the last six weeks, despite making repeated requests to do so.
In a sobering conclusion, Levison sates:
Without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Repeatedly.
If you missed our tweet yesterday, the folks at Adobe are rolling out file and font sync for Creative Cloud members. Simply sign up at the Early Access page to be added to the waiting list and notified the moment you’re in.
The desktop font syncing aspect looks particularly nice, allowing you to browse the Typekit library and use a selection of these fonts on your desktop. By enabling you to sync fonts from Typekit to your desktop with a single click, the feature allows you to use Tyepkit fonts in applications like Photoshop (and, apparently, all your desktop applications, not just those created by Adobe), so you can benefit from font consistency, right across the board.
Take ninety seconds out to watch the sneak preview by the Typekit folks. We’re sure you’ll agree, it looks like a lovely feature.
On 1 July, 2013, Michael Birch, the original founder of Bebo, bought Bebo back for $1M (he’d sold it to AOL for $850M in 2008, so not a bad deal). Today, Birch announced his plan to wipe the slate clean, and start fresh with a brand new, less ‘cocky’ Bebo.
Birch’s video announcement – where he announces, “It’s time to come clean.” – is a fantastic example of what a little self-deprecating humour can do to reinvigorate a brand that’s been driven into the ground by big business.
Focusing on the site’s ‘whiteboard’ – “a creative canvas for unlimited self-expression” – Birch celebrates Bebo’s users’ penchant for creating, as he puts it:
The single biggest repository of illustrated cock and balls ever recorded.
It will be interesting to see how Birch reinvents Bebo in an era of Facebook and Twitter dominance. Regardless of what he does or doesn’t achieve, you should spend ninety seconds to watch his entertaining video announcement.
Bebo, it would seem, is growing up.
The quest for absolute zero might, just, have been reached in the search for beautiful, minimalist and versatile templating markup languages. Darius Kazemi – “I build weird internet stuff.” (His words, not ours.) – has lifted the veil on Gaunt, “The most aesthetically minimalist markup language ever.”
As Kazemi puts it, “The core idea of Gaunt is that it maximizes the beauty of your markup,” clearly demonstrated in the following example of Gaunt markup:
A mix of tabs and spaces – each tab representing a binary 0 and each space representing a binary 1 – Gaunt’s markup is nothing if not elegant. (The above markup renders, “Hello world!” – What else did you expect?) The beauty of this approach is clear, you only have to remember two characters to use it and, its simplicity is unparalleled.
As Kazemi puts it:
Reading a Gauntfile is like looking at a Suprematist composition by Malevich, or listening to John Cage’s 4’33”. Its beauty is transcendent.
It’s hard to disagree with this assessment, and we’ve no doubt that Malevich and Cage would be equally enamoured by Gaunt’s elegant approach. Truly great work.
Traditionally, the phrase, ‘too long; didn’t read’ – used on the internet as a reply to an excessively long statement – has been abbreviated to tl;dr. Thanks to Fabienne Serrière it’s now got another friend, pw;dr: ‘paywall; didn’t read’. Nice.
Barely a day into Yahoo!’s 30 Days of Change rebranding experiment and the feedback is well and truly mixed.
It’s common practice for a new CEO to wish to impart their stamp on a company on taking the helm, and Marissa Mayer’s certainly taken that to heart with a string of changes at Yahoo!: no more working working from home; a series of high profile purchases (hello Tumblr, goodbye porn); and a much-needed breathing of life back into the long-neglected Flickr, being just some of the highest profile.
Yesterday, Yahoo!’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kathy Savitt, kicked off the next phase of the once mighty giant’s transformation, stating:
Over the past year, there’s been a renewed sense of purpose and progress at Yahoo!, and we want everything we do to reflect this spirit of innovation. While the company is rapidly evolving, our logo — the essence of our brand — should too.
As a part of the process of unveiling their new logo, which promises to be, “a modern redesign that’s more reflective of Yahoo!’s reimagined design and new experiences,” Yahoo! is kicking off 30 days of change, “to get everyone warmed up.” 30 days in which Yahoo! will display a variation of the logo on their homepage, and a special Daily Logo page.
Promising to preserve the character that it unique to Yahoo! – apparently fun, vibrant and welcoming – Yahoo! are keeping their signature purple and, of course, their iconic exclamation mark because, “Some things never go out of style.”
Reaction to this branding experiment has been mixed. Business Insider’s response was unambiguous: ‘Marissa Mayer Finally Got Rid Of Yahoo’s (sic) Horrible Logo. Their misspelling of Yahoo! notwithstanding, their opinion was clear, “A year after joining Yahoo, CEO Marissa Mayer finally pulled the trigger. She’s ditching [its] awful logo.”
The perspective amongst designers (and on Twitter) was a little more derisive, with the general consensus leaning towards the opinion that this wasn’t the wisest of Mayer’s decisions (at least not the ‘30 Days of Change’ part of the process). Khoi Vinh perhaps summarised it best, tweeting:
Yahoo! counts down to a new identity by unveiling a new logo you don’t care about each day for 30 days in a row.
Our opinion? This – very much like the
50 Shades of Blue experiment at Google (funnily enough another experiment, courtesy of Mayer) – seems a little too much like the ‘throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks approach’ to branding. One can only hope that this is all a little light-hearted fun until a properly designed logo is unveiled on 4 September.
We’re, admittedly, a little late to the Type Hunting party, but that’s no reason not to share it. A veritable cornucopia of vintage typographic inspiration – collected by Jonathan Lawrence, a graphic designer based in Atlanta – it gathers together a wealth of truly tastebud tingling analogue typography.
As Mr Lawrence puts it:
Type Hunting is an ongoing archive of found typography, for your inspiration and viewing pleasure.
Lawrence has a keen eye for found typography and if you’re searching for a little offline inspiration to freshen up your scrapbooks we’d highly recommend you take a look. Lovely work indeed.
Not busy enough working on Mixture, Messrs Kinnish and Nelson have partnered up with Mr Murphy (another Mr Murphy, no less) to create QuickCast, a lovely little app for creating shortform screencasts.
As the trio behind the app put it:
Designed to be lightweight, free and simple to use [it] offers everything you need to create a three minute QuickCast.
Using it is simple: 1. Download the app. 2. Record your QuickCast. 3. Publish and share it. It’s nice and easy, and with each QuickCast benefitting from its own unique URL and embed code, it’s a snap to share.
A lovely little tool, it’s available for Mac OS X 10.7+ now.
If you’re looking for a static site generation tool (and isn’t everyone these days?), you might like to give Mixture a whirl. As the Mixture team put it:
A rapid prototyping and static site generation tool for designers and developers, Mixture brings together a collection of awesome tools and best practices. It’s quick, no-fuss, super-powerful and works with your favourite editor.
That, however, is just the tip of a very large iceberg, with Mixture offering: simple, but powerful templating (it uses Liquid for templating, but straight up HTML is fine too, it also supports Haml, should ‘templating haiku’ be your thing); automatic support for preprocessing Sass, LESS, Stylus, CoffeeScript and Compass; live refresh and instant multi-device testing; and a host of other features.
Though it’s currently in beta, the Mixture team are currently working on, “a number of small, but important usability tweaks,” and – even better - have provided extensive tutorial screencasts to get you up-and-running with the minimum of fuss and bother. Very nice indeed.
Pour some src on your project!
There are few books on art and design that one could – hand on heart – describe as, “a masterwork in twentieth-century art education.” Josef Albers’ ‘Interaction of Color’ is, without question, one.
Albers – an artist and educator whose work both in Europe, as a member of the prestigious Bauhaus faculty; and the United States, as Head of School of Black Mountain College (where his students numbered, amongst others, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly), and, later, as Head of the Department of Design at Yale University – is a pillar of twentieth century art and design education and his ‘Interaction of Color’ distills his thoughts on colour into an indispensable book.
Originally published by Yale University Press in 1963 as a limited silkscreen edition with 150 color plates, ‘Interaction of Color’ first appeared in paperback in 1971, featuring just ten representative color studies chosen by Albers. In print ever since, it is now – to celebrate the book’s 50th Anniversary – available as an iPad app.
As Yale University Press puts it:
Fifty years after [its] initial publication, this new edition presents a significantly expanded selection of close to sixty color studies alongside Albers’s original text, demonstrating such principles as color relativity, intensity, and temperature; vibrating and vanishing boundaries; and the illusion of transparency and reversed grounds.
As is fitting for a book of this calibre, Yale University Press has crafted a book worthy of its original author’s intentions. Featuring archival audio and video of Albers talking the reader through special excercise, and additional commentary courtesy of Albers’ former students, Albers’ most challenging principles are explained and clarified.
As Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters, puts it:
Beyond groundbreaking…. This is the example the world has been waiting for. An extraordinary piece of education and inspiration.
Navigation between the original text, additional commentary and the book’s colour plates is seamless, with important definitions just a click away. Plates – one of the most important aspects of the book – are now fully interactive, offering new ways to experience the book’s core content.
The app is wonderfully immersive, enabling readers to interact with – and save - colour exercises. This ability, to really work with the book, helps you to truly understand Albers’ ideas and Yale University Press aren’t guilty of hyperbole when they state: “This interactive edition … offers users an entirely new way to experience Josef Albers’s original masterwork.”
Should paper be your preferred medium (and given the different ways colour is realised both off- and on-screen, it perhaps should be), you might like to pick up a copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition, priced at just £11.99 or $18.00. Every self-respecting designer should really own a copy.
Lastly – should money prove no object – you might like to invest in a copy of the New Complete Edition, described as follows:
Lavishly produced as a two volume slipcased set, this book replicates Albers’s revolutionary exercises … through the use of color, shape, die-cut forms, and movable flaps that illustrate his astonishing demonstrations of the changing and relative nature of color.
Also included for the first time are new studies from the Albers archive, produced by the artist’s students in the early 1960s. A celebration of Albers’s legendary achievements, this beautiful publication is an essential addition to any serious art library.
An investment, priced at just £165.00 or $250.00, we’re sure we don’t need to tell you that we’re sorely tempted to make a case for picking up a couple of copies of the New Complete Edition – “on purely educational grounds,” of course – it looks lovely indeed.