Friday, February 29, 2008

and sent

one of the discussion points for my new site is the "contact" page. do i include an email form? or just offer up my contact info and hope?

since i had a little break today (even though i have way too much to do i still managed to find myself in a holding pattern for each of my projects) i found and followed this tutorial on creating email forms in flash. of course, i wasn't interested in creating one that looked exactly like the one in the tutorial, so i managed to figure out how to create the look i wanted by sifting through a couple of other websites and forums.

the result? it worked! amazing! i still don't understand why it only works on "test movie" and not "publish preview," but i'm not going to search for that answer right now. i'm happy enough with my new knowledge of input fields.

65 illustrator tutorials

Emma Alvarez has put together a nice collection of tutorials for adobe illustrator (65 to be exact). thanks emma!

Links, Week 5

This week in links was actually quite a bit more difficult than usual. I found myself not wanting to critique any of the sites i was coming across—there wasn't anything new, no interesting navigation, nothing catching my eye. maybe i'm just getting too picky, but it was really pretty glum! hopefully next week i'll find more inspiration.

interesting: the thumbnail size and layout on the home page is pretty much exactly what I was thinking I’d like to do. The size is large enough to celebrate the work, but not so large that it gives it all away on the first date.
The information offered up on the home page is minimal, just as I am hoping to do. To me this says “hi. This is my name. I have some impressive work to look at. No need to get caught up in anything else right now”

Looking through the work is simple. The nav bar remains persistent and the project breakdown is clear. I think it’s missins next and previous buttons for even smoother navigation through the projects, but all in all it’s clean and easy.

Midwest Is Best
I don’t like how the “brand new” nav bar is all different colors. Is there any rhyme or reason? It actually kind of confuses me. Note to self: don’t do this.

Sometimes I’m a fan of hand-drawn type, as long as it makes sense. Since I don’t know mike maybe it’s very befitting and I just don’t know it, but not knowing him? Eh. It’s not doing it for me.

His next and last arrows are kind of funny—they don’t seem to integrate with the look/feel of the site very well.

One thing to discuss: we haven’t talked about the option of having a downloadable pdf of my work. What are your thoughts on this lotus?

here’s an instance of holding back almost entirely on the homepage. No work, just color, personality and a big ole graphic. The graphic thing is something I was toying with earlier, but at this point I’m still thinking I’d like to have thumbs of my work.

The rollovers on the nav bar are certainly adding to the personality of the site, and I think it’s in keeping with what they’ve set up for themselves. While it’s not the style I’ll be putting out there for myself, it’s a good takeaway thought: don’t just design the layout, think about infusing “you” into user interaction as well.

War Design
we’ve discussed new work on the homepage quite a bit, and what I’ve ultimately decided I’d like to shoot for is thumbnails that refresh…on refresh. Here’s a new spin on the concept: featuring one at a time, cycling through featured work on its own. Always something new to look at without even having to interact with the site.

Honestly? They spent a lot of time in flash, and I’m not convince it was worth it. The swirling hangy things that act as the navigation make me a little ill since they move around so much (and quickly). I’m glad they have the option of “easy navigation” at the top of the page, ending the swirling madness.

Transitions are smooth, from page to page and for sliding elements, but I’m not sure about all the bounciness.

They certainly like movement based on cursor position. I like that for certain things, but it’s not always necessary. Like in the client list? Why? What is it adding? Personally I just think it wastes time.

I don’t like how there’s no linear movement around the site. once you go in one direction you need to back out of it in order to move on. Annoying!

go bananas

i haven't used this yet, but GorillaSpot looks like a simple way to edit video online. they have a sleek and simple UI and (after having watched the demo vidd) seems like it works exactly like iMovie.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

i'd like to buy a vowel

Flickr has definitely become my main tool for sharing photos with friends and family. now that its popularity has skyrocketed, it can be fun to find out new ways to sift through the content. with
Spell With Flickr you can type in any word or sentence and it will pull random images of letters from the depths of Flickr to create it. you can then click on any letter to get a new one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Taken: James Turrell

On Friday I had the pleasure of going to the MoMa with my coworker Patrice. They were having a members-only party for the opening of Friedlander’s work, and I was the “+1” for the night. Oddly enough, I’m not going to talk about anything I saw there, but it did get me thinking. One of the exhibits included an artist named Olafur Eliasson that works with light and reflection; and, while the experience was most definitely appreciated, in my opinion it paled in comparison to another artist’s work.

The first year I went to Pilchuck to spin fire for a few weeks, I went on a short field trip into Seattle. In addition to a few tours of some local hot shops, we went to the Seattle Art Museum. There I got to experience some of James Turrell’s work. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes fly through museums too fast. But. Not this time.

People. The man doesn’t create art, he puts quotation marks around time and space. Here’s what he has to say about his work:

“First, I am dealing with no object. Perception is the object. Secondly, I am dealing with no image, because I want to avoid associative, symbolic thought. Thirdly, I am dealing with no focus or particular place to look. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking.”
—James Turrell

Instead of trying to explain what this means, I’m just going to share my own experience, all story-time-like:

I walked into the room and saw a projected rectangle of light on one of the walls. Certainly, it’s beautiful, but whatevs. It’s just another Modern artist trying to prove he doesn’t need to use oil paint. OK, maybe it is beautiful. I’ll give it a moment.

So I sat down across the room from the light and looked at it for a while. It was sort of dark in the room and my eyes needed to adjust to the balance of tones. Then I noticed the shoes sitting on the floor next to the projection. Wtf? Who took off their shoes? Or is that some sort of symbolic artistic turd?

Then, THEN! I saw what was truly happening. There were PEOPLE moving around inside that stupid projection of light. Real ones! WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE? ARGH!

So I went right up to the thing and looked real close. I was having one of those depth perception issues: is there a wall there? Embarrassed as I was, I decided to go for it: I slowly reached out my arm to touch the light (making sure there were no red coats around to yell at me)….and…NOTHING! no wall! It was a freaking ROOM filled with pure, colored light.

And at that very moment someone stepped out of what I thought had been the wall and sat down next to me to put her shoes back on. Freaking art. Totally had me. And now, it totally had me.

It turns out good ‘ole James had been toying with me (and everyone else) all along. I fell right into his trap. The man had manipulated the light and space in the room to amplify my own perception of it. I’m not looking at anything, but what I thought I saw isn’t really there. That velvety blue square of radiant color hovering on the wall is actually a portal into a deep depression in the space. He’s managed to lull me into a state of self-reflexivity. The damned quote made sense all of a sudden: I was seeing myself seeing.

What else could I do but step into the light?

What had first appeared to be a floating, luminous plane without surface or depth, I was now stepping through. I was standing in a room contemplating the space that I was still convinced didn’t really exist. I was prelingual.

Now that I’ve gone all art-geek on you, I have to pull myself out of the reverie. I haven’t relayed this story to pull it around to advertising. I don’t want to make it into some metaphor for lulling your target audience into a false sense of comfort and product-love. It has nothing to do with that. I just loved the artwork.

Monday, February 25, 2008

show and tell

i've been researching a lot of sites lately as inspiration for my own, and come across this script so very many times. it's the one that overlays images on top of the screen within the browser, so you don't have to open another window. it's simple and clean, and certainly worth considering. in my lunch (quarter) hour today i found the actual script: Lightbox 2.

Now, if only i knew what all that technical jargon meant. hm. must get on that.

Friday, February 22, 2008

wear your thoughts on your sleeve

The not-so-modest guys at VC Wear are offering capitalist wannabees inside jokes on tees. lucky us. unsurprisingly the shirts cost $100 each, or you can drop $100,000 and invest in the company along with each purchase. You passed on Google, hopefully I won't regret passing on you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When the ads are fresher than today's headlines

Now this is pretty damn cool. For the launch of the new Norwegian news/entertainment/info portal SOL, Mediafront created a campaign that uses contextual, hand-written banners called "SOL comments." Using a Flash media server and a pen tablet, a team of 3 copywriters took shifts around the clock monitering news sites and responding to the editorial content. Over a thousand ads have been created so far. If only advertising was always so relevant.

Pepsi Takes It All Off

Pepsi has jumped on the health bandwagon and is introducing a new "natural" cola to their line: Pepsi Raw. It's not "healthy," mind you, "it's a premium drink for people who like natural products." (Times)

So what are the ingredients?
[...] apple extract, plain caramel colouring, coffee leaf, tartaric acid from grapes, gum arabic from acacia trees, cane sugar and sparkling water. It is paler in colour and less fizzy than other cola brands.

Apparently there's no caffeine or phosphoric acid.

ok, i'm slightly intrigued. and the bottle design is pretty — reminds me of a shelfish exoskeleton. alas, it's only been released in the U.K. so i won't be tasting its naturally sweet nectar. (only looking at the naked chicks in the ads. i guess if the "natural" part doesn't do it, they figure sex will always sell.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Links, Week 4

This week I’m going to start nit-picking individual aspects of the sites, that way I can apply specific information to my own design/functionality. here we go:

I like the size of the images used. None of them give away to much information up front, so you still want to click on them to find out more. (i.e. there’s still an air of mystery, “what’s behind door #3?”). I AM wondering if my front page should be a collage of images like this. It’s interesting to look at for sure.
the page is not overly designed, so the focus remains the work.
He chose to group the work into two buckets: client work and artwork, which is interesting since we were just discussing this. I think I prefer my “drawer menu” still, but I’m not opposed to this navigation.
Use of our favorite plug-in! I still like it, but not sure I want to use it. I’d rather designate a space on the page itself to view large images.

I find it a little odd that information from one section crosses over into another. Example? Under “work”, the right column is “who am i?”. shouldn’t that be under “about?” I’m confused! Another example: under “contact” there are “latest blog entries” in the right column. Weirdo.

One of the things we have discussed is the placement of “latest work” on the front page, which is something he’s done here. Although to be onest, I think I refer the idea of having a bucket of work to choose from and having a different one featured each time the page is refreshed.

I don’t like how “branding & identity” “webdesign” and “print” are NOT clickable on the front page. They look like buttons, and aren’t.

I still think I like the email form, to email the person directly from the webpage. I don’t think it’s necessary, but it adds a handy element that might up the number of emails.

Dragon Interactive
ok, this smacks of “trying too hard” in my opinion. The little 3D “shelf” they created as a backdrop doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. If you are going to create a 3 dimensional space, use it! All it does is hold type (that lays over the line between dark and light grey, which bugs me).

I dunno, even the rollovers, which they obviously spent a long time on, are too flashy for me. I think the overall design is all you look at, I barely even understand the WORK they do other than building their own site. (all talk no walk?)

One thing I DO like, though, is the color palette. So, there’s your bone, dragon.

the age-old question we’re continuing to face? “what goes on the front page?” well, studio3k’s answer? A little bit of everything! We have a phone number, a definition, a banner ad, recent clients, recent projects and even some news & articles. Oh keep scrolling! There’s more! About, services, and ANOTHER phone number.

Jeez. I don’t think this is the answer I’ve been waiting for.

Here’s a question: why do you get an overlay when you click on the recent projects but not the recent clients? They look the same, shouldn’t they act the same? Hm. And on a similar note, why aren’t “graphic design” “web development” and “corporate branding” clickable (in that big definition). Lesson here: if it ain’t clickable, don’t make it look like a link/button. Crazy, I know.

Okay, I threw dragon a bone, so here’s one for you, studio3k: I like your client list page. The images are crisp, clear, and a nice size.

I Am Always Hungry
well. There certainly is a lot going on here. It’s pretty interesting that each time the page is refreshed, there’s a new background. While they are beautiful, some of them don’t work so well (you can’t read the nav bar, it’s too cluttered). But I like this idea. It’s basically what we had been discussing earlier about fresh content on the homepage.

The “menu”…bold! Technically it’s similar to the ones I was dreaming of for my “portfolio” section. It’s just bigger, and animates on rollover, and has sound. I kind of like the sound.

So let’s get down a little closer. On nav bar, I like the method of letting the user know what page s/he’s on. The text turns orange and that little arrow extends from the left. The arrow is cute, but not cutesy. There’s also a history function, so that all the links you’ve already visited remain highlighted. I don’t know that I’ve seen this before built into a site (rather than the “history” function in your browser).

Man! You can even use your arrow keys to navigate through the site! see those four little squares at the bottom of the nav bar? Rollover them.

Scrolling through the work is smooth. All you have to do is click on the work and it moves to the next piece. It’s kinda neat how they animate behind the entire site, rather than being confined to a certain area within it. Not sure how I feel about that. Thoughts?

search and destroy

as i've been diligently researching websites i've come across so very many that made me cringe. closing the window doesn't suffice, i want to smash the screen and say "why?! WHY?! did you create this horrible mess?"

well! now i have an answer: destroy them with Net Disaster! Just pick your target website, choose your weapon, and off you go. there are the usual suspects like gun, chainsaw, and paintball. but then...then! there are gems like dog poop, Led Zeppelin (with music!), and acid pee. you may not be able to destroy sites forever, but at least you can get out some aggression.

but how do i do my timesheets?

we'd all like to think we can do anything in photoshop. alas, we're all students, and i'm certainly not ashamed of perusing online tutorials in my down time (and even in panic time!). PSDTuts is a resource for brushing up on photoshop skillz, or finding an easier way to create that damn texture that's been giving you trouble.

one of the things i like best about this site is that it's easy to navigate. there's a clear nav bar at the top of the page and a nice list of tutorials at the bottom. i've found that a lot of tutorial sites are hard to sift through. if you're looking for a specific thing, say, "how to create those awesome glassy orbs," you have to look through every single entry only to find out it's not there. so thank you, PSDTuts, for creating a helpful website that's actually helpful.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

pay me and i MIGHT pay you

sorry if you thought so, but die-cut plastic is not the next advertising frontier. right now, phones are the #3 most important thing we take with us (right behind wallet and keys), and soon enough the mobile device will be taking over the jobs of the first two. so we're all online, all trackable, all mobile.
so! now advertisers are paying users cash to watch ads on their cell phones. users can sign up at Pumbby, regardless of their wireless carrier, indicate how many ads they are willing to receive each day, and those ads are sent to them via SMS. Each WAP opened puts cash in your pocket (or pays part of your wireless bill). now who'd like to pay my car insurance?

and i heart you

with so many blogs out there (what is it? like 60 new blogs are created every minute? i dunno. i could be way off on that) it's hard to find the ones that are worthwhile. well! a resource for us blogaholics: I heart Blogs is a list of blogs they feel are content and design-worthy. you can filter them by "well-designed," "well-written," or both. several of the ones i frequent are on the first page, so it must be a good resource, right?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

i'm no dummy

i think we probably all know as a quick way to generate dummy text for our layouts. recently i came across Blind Text Generator, which allows for more advanced options than my old fave. You get different languages, word and character count, even a little html. Way to be.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

this ain't no cruise ship

Here's a new spin on in-store events: retail entertainment. Adrenalina is the self-proclaimed "Extreme Store" that's taking shopping to new levels. Their indoor Flowrider lets customers ride a perpetual wave, for a fee, and then feast on all the skate-rat goods the store has to offer. I love that they sell ride packages (monthly, yearly) to keep people coming back. To add to the experience even more, stores have "intimate lounge areas with music and video stations." Who needs to leave?

"play time is over"

i'm petitioning to graduate today. it's true, there might actually be an end in sight for me: MFA, i will be victorious! that's why it was pretty funny that as i was checking in on Indexed this morning, i came across this entry:

Jessica Hagy, you've struck a chord.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Links, Week 3

Design and Design
now we’re talking uber-simple. Not sure that I would be able to convey all the information I have in this kind of set-up, but (and here’s the reason for the link) I do enjoy the rollovers and how the image expands to the size of the grid.
I will say, however, that even though this is a completely simple design, at least it’s designed. Think back to some of the simple sites we've looked at previously — Simple. Boring. Not pretty.

Justin Maller’s online portfolio.
Certainly celebrates the work. I’m not sure I want to go this big, but for this work specifically I think it’s just right. You don’t even leave the main page to get the bio/client info, they pop open in another window. Another instance of this plugin with the overlay technique. I’m beginning to feel like it’s overused, since I’ve seen it so often and it’s only week 3.

New Future Graphic
simple setup, I’m certainly never confused. Love the integration of the blog. But…that might be it. Nix the scroll bar. Long lists of titles aren’t inviting. See? I’m learning! At least I can explain why I don’t like things now!

Aline Caron
now here’s something to talk about. At first glance the site looks like a tshirt graphic. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but it sure is purdy. Whether or not this initial fault is really that bad is up for discussion, because then you start interacting and it becomes abundantly clear. FILTERS! I like the little rollover states on the nav bar, which in and of itself is fun (I like the different lengths on the black bars)
I’m not sure I love the little shaking rollover on the work links, but that’s a minor thing.
Once you click on one of the project links it takes a while for the page to load, but that’s just because it’s all flash. Not sure how to get around that. The imagery is BIG and beautiful, and if you click on “autres projets” you get a new nav (pink squares) so that you don’t have to go back to the main page every time you want to move on. Nicely done!
This is an entirely fresh look at a portfolio site, and I like it. BUT! I do wonder your take on it, Lotus.

perhaps a little beyond my capabilities, but it sure has personality. Bringing back the hand-drawn type is always fun (if it fits), but this is taking it to a whole new level with the rollovers.
Also, remember that issue I had with a plethora of work (i.e text links) just barfed onto one page? Well, here’s a much better way of organizing lots of links into breakout menus. A bit easier to digest, and keeps the user interested.

As an aside, I like the little sound on/off button. Guitar that smashes when you turn it off? Lovely.

a new view

fun application from airtight interactive: the tiltviewer let's you view images (specifically Flickr photos, although i can think of other uses for it) in a 3D space. read more about it here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

with this ring i thee wed

Here's Victor Soto's conceptual design for the iRing. The touch-sensitive band controls media playback and volume while it communicates with your iPhone or iPod via Bluetooth. No, really. Take a look.

Adi Dassler

The Adidas global site has a great new movie about the founder of Adidas, Adi Dassler, a "humble shoemaker who wanted to make shoes for all sportsmen and women..."

beautifully compiled claymation? stunning artwork? love it.

Adi also has a Flickr account.


Insanely Great Tees has quite a selection of tshirts for the geeky designer in all of us. buy one for your friends that didn't leave the office all weekend. or not.

Friday, February 8, 2008


i'm such a sucker for simple and functional. ceramics got me going, i can't deny my roots. it's interesting to me that my artistic theory, if you will, has followed me throughout each of my disciplines. i focused on thrown functional ceramics back in the day—minimal ornamentation, no frills. a celebration of form. i couldn't get enough of the Song Dynasty (the first image shown exemplifies the work of the time: simple form, harmonious, amazing). and today, as an adobe junkie, i hold true to this thought. simplicity of design rings beautiful, gratuitous ornamentation makes me slightly ill.

so, maybe i won't be getting my next idea from ancient china, but it's nice to remind ourselves that nice design and inspiration can be found anywhere.

and it ain't just chinese dynasties whipping out the great work:

buy these here.

i'm a vector image slayer

so this would be the "friend of a friend of a friend" type deal. this guy wrote, composed and produced an entire rap album about agency life, featuring titles like Copywrite (do it all damn night), So Viral and Art Direct Me. holla.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

how could i resist?

i mean really, the name of the episode is "nitty gritty."

justin seeley hosts this photoshop quicktip, showing us a great way to give a photo a gritty, high-contrast look. i've added noise before, but never thought of rendering clouds over it to vary the grit. nice.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

not so ordinary after all

please go directly to Ordinary Kids and watch their effects reel. it's rad.

Links, Week 2

A very special edition of Links this week: Friends and Coworkers. Scary, no? I couldn't possibly find the websites of everyone i know, but i managed to find a nice collection for perusing this week. So let's get down to it, shall we?

Cassiano Saldanha

Courtney Cochrane

David Shearer

John Reid

Geno Burmester

Ryan Cochrane

Dan Fingerhut

Alice Sladek

Jon Clifton

John Dohrmann

Jeff Fang

Robert Wakeland

Tonja Stott

Devin Gillespie

Mark Edwards

Jill Whysel

Leanne Milway

Phillip Vo

Kevin Sullivan

Jennifer! Nellen

Bruce Doscher

Andy Slopsema

Clay Chaffin

Jason Koxvold

Larry Johnson

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Conflict Resolution: Who's Winning?

More training today here at the office. Good things, for sure. I wish we had a single subject that we took to the streets for a several-day off-site; but alas, i'll take what i can get.

today's seminar focused on conflict resolution, specifically with clients, but the steps can be applied anywhere in life. the key information i took away from the seminar was the "issue resolution process" — the 5 key steps. while they might seem obvious, we don't always go there when we're faced with a difficult situation. defenses go up, emotions get in the way, and we stop actively listening to the other person. some of us are competitive, others avoid conflict at all cost. we're not all instantly collaborative, which is fine—but are we willing to learn how to be?

one of the reasons some of us can't reach a "winning" resolution is because the client/agency relationship is defunct to begin with. good relationships require understanding (comfort), trust (which takes time), respect (reciprocated), partnership (better work & less stress), and chemistry (the element of fun). If you're missing any of these elements, it's nearly impossble for both parties to be happy with an outcome. one side concedes, another feels victorious. rinse, repeat.

remember: "unless both sides win, no resolution is permanent." and if you can't achieve a better process for dealing with your differences, this partnership ain't gonna work.

Monday, February 4, 2008

well, would you?

Laura Tessinari is a senior partner at O&M and runs the organizational training department. she's been in SF for the past week and will continue to be here for at least one more training session. so far i've been able to participate in 2 of her sessions: "The Power of Full Engagement" (time and energy management) and today's "The Brand Called You!". As it happens, she also came here a year and a half ago and i was able to take her Presentation Skills Seminar, which i found very useful.

In any case, I feel that today's seminar was very applicable to what I'm trying to do this semester with Lotus: create an online presence that effectively communicates my "brand" while also showcasing my work. This all sounds great, of course, but when i really sit back and think about it, what defines my brand? It's harder than you might think to answer this question.

Of course, over the course of the day's events, we worked on answering this question for ourselves by attacking it from many different angles. One of the exercises we did was The Elevator Speech: answering the simple question of "what do you do for a living" in 90 seconds or less while still delivering a clear, thorough description (i.e. you don't just say "i'm an art director"). Laura provided a skeleton for how the Speech should be set up, starting each of our sentences for us. i thought it was an interesting, valuable exercise that everyone could benefit from, and so here i am sharing mine.

You know how some companies have products and services that they want to sell but aren't sure how?

Well what i can do is work with a team to figure out the best way to reach the client's target audience and create an effective piece of communication.

Which means that I help these clients sell their products by reaching the right audience and talking to them in away that they'll want to listen.

Meaning I know how to solve the problem of reaching the right people and then go on to create an inspired piece of communication.

The benefit of which is that people don't hate advertising quite as much, clients feel they've effectively reached the right people and created a lasting relationship with them, and we've all had a little fun.

Would you like to know more?

upon reflection i'd definitely like to refine this, but for a first shot in fifteen minutes i don't think it's too terrible.

Friday, February 1, 2008

we fail, you fail, i fail

yesterday i was cleaning out my bookmarks and came across this old one. old, yes, but it's still pretty funny. reminds me of amber and our failed attempt at a fun banner/microsite. don't miss the welcome ditty.