Apr 6, 2006

Gradients and Drop Shadows

I've come to realize that I use a lot of gradients and drop shadows in my work. I've made a concious effort to use other design elements but some sites just end up with a bit o shade in them. You could almost call it my "style" but I don't agree. Looking at my porfolio one thing many people comment on is that I have the ability to come up with a different solution for each of my clients. There are some common threads but each design is unique to the character and personality of the client.

I attribute this to my broad range of skills. Being well versed in photography, color, illustration, and flash as well as photoshop means that the possibilities are wide open. A lot of people are experts at photoshop but not so much at illustrator. You can tell by looking at their work. Its the combination of those programs that makes anything possible. Moreover, it is the lack of any kind of technical limitation or lack of focus on technology that allows me to have a wide vision.

BUT, I will say this about gradients and drop shadows. They are a trend. Web2.0 is full of them. And they are important in web design for a good reason. The early days of the web were ruled by bandwidth. Flat, one color GIFs were easier to swallow than textured jpegs. As we move to high-bandwidth pipes detailed, photographic, textured imagery are now easy to incorporate. The flat, bitmapped graphics of yore have actually gained retro appeal.

Gradients and drop shadows are an effort to mimic reality. When you design a print piece the end product is effected by light and shadow. A lot of my designs have subtle light and shadow treatments. Sometimes you can barely percieve the color shift, but the end effect is an element that has depth and texture to it. Interactivity can go a long way, but the touch and feel of print won't be replaced for a while. Even the smell of paper and ink adds to the experience. You can smell a good quality paper with a spot varnish.

Of course, a gradient and a drop shadow can be an easy way out. A default look. The important thing is to create a design that fits the client or project. And, knowing how to use the drop-shadow filter in photoshop and creating the interplay of light and shadow on a screen are two entirely different things.

Apr 4, 2006

This is going to save TV

I've done it. I've figured out a new way for big television to make more money. This is the greatest thing since... since yodeling! Its not exactly a new idea, in fact, I am just ripping off the British.

Think of all the great sitcoms that have come and gone. The pain that we all feel when they go is tragic. McGyver, A-Team, Knightrider, Airwolf, Friends (not one of my favorites), Seinfeld, Saved by the Bell, Family Ties, etc. Think of all the tearfull goodbyes at the final show. I mean the look on Danny Pintauro's face at the last taping of Who's the Boss was enough to make a grown man cry. Why did he have to suffer?

He didn't. Nobdody does. Not anymore. My idea is for American sitcoms to do what the British did with Black Adder. What they did was change the era of the show. French revolution, WWI, WWII, it doesn't matter. They use the same characters/personalities/etc. Its like repainting a car.

Imagine Friends in WWII. I'd watch it. Well, at least once anyway. Who's the Boss in 2056? Hell yeah! Lets say Alyssa Milano gets too old and Tony Danza becomes COMPLETELY unintelligible. Change the show to be based in China! Boom! You've got a whole new show!

This makes writing new shows totally unneccessary. Why come up with original content when you can recreate what you already have! Plus, the British did it first! It must be good, right?

No point here. Sorry if you read this looking for one. Just a random idea.

Apr 3, 2006

What I want

I've been asked what I am looking for in a job a lot as of late. Lets just say I've had the opportunity to meet with random people and the subject has come up. It's a toughy.

What am I looking for? I'll tell you, but keep a couple things in mind:

A. I don't ever expect to find what I am looking for (I can hear Bono singing! Can you hear it?!?).

2. Most likely, I will have to create or change the position I am in to get what I want.

III. The grass is always greener.

So, with that in mind, here goes. I am looking for inspiration. I "heart" the internet. But I want the internet to "heart me." I want to lead not follow and I want a company that is right there with me if not pulling me along.

I've worked for almost every design firm in Portland and I've heard the talk. I want a company that walks the walk. I've seen razor scooters zipping down hallways, Herman Miller furniture, flat-screen monitors, and Gamecubes. I've seen thick-framed glasses and limited edition Paul Frank t-shirts on people listening to only the latest and greatist indie bands. Its all very cool. Unfortunetely, it all seems to fade after the first week. And, eventually you realize that EVERYONE is working for Intel and Nike and that "working for _____" doesn't always mean the same thing. Moreover, you realize that, like the Ben Folds song says, "there's always someone cooler than you." And, sometimes people aren't expressing themselves through their clothes.

I'll admit, I'm a consumer of creativity. I've got my iPod and my Paul Frank shirt and my Ben Folds catalogue. And I'm not going to run if I see a gamecube or a razor scooter (although they are SOOO 1999). But I've realized its more important to create creativity. You have to USE all that creativity that you're sucking down. Embrace it but don't focus on it so much that all you end up doing is mimicking it. Its easy to get pushed back on your heels when you're on the cutting edge.

I'm looking for a moving target. Let me jump on but lets keep moving. Lets see where we take each other. Help me help you. Resumes and portfolios are just a snapshot a career. I want a place that can see my potential and wants to help me get there. Even if that means I will move on to bigger things.

I was asked the other day, "What was your most exciting project? What project are you most proud of?" My answer was Freightlinertrucks.com. It should have been this:

I haven't worked on my most exciting project. Sure, my portfolio looks great. I have done some great work and I am proud. But still I haven't done my best work. There is still a lot more left untapped. I'm looking for an opportunity to create something great. To do something I call my best. That, is what I am looking for.

Mmmm... that's del.ico.us

Thought I would put my del.ico.us link up in here. Not really getting the whole del.ico.us thang completely. It was kind of cool to see how many other people tagged my sites.

If there are a lot of tags, it makes me feel like I'm in with the in crowd. If there are only a few, it makes me think, I'm in a secret club that knows about cool stuff before anyone else! I'm so cool. :-)

My del.ico.us

Nice flash site

This is the site of the day on thefwa.com. It is a great flash geo navigation scheme. As someone who has done a couple flash world-navs, I think it is a great example.

One subtle touch is how it switches between low and high quality during transitions. This is a great tip for anyone doing large scale line animations. You can tell flash to switch to low quality and then do the transition. When its done, switch back to high. The line work gets a little bitmapped but I think it is a good comprimise. The alternative is that dreaded chunky animation. Chunk-a-chunk-a-chunk never looks good.

Check it out:


Apr 2, 2006

Moving Grandma

We moved Amy's (my wife) Grandma today. She is going from a retirement apartment to an assisted living home. Hard work but the reward is this:

I love the wood grain. I'm thinking this will be good office decor.

Also, I got a great record.

Its an Elvis hymnal record, "How Great Thou Art." Its part of this record mosaic project I have. The dream is to have a mosaic of interesting records in a grid on my office wall. So far I've got a Liberace Christmas album I got from a white elefant thing, South Pacific, Sound of Music, and the Graduate. Things seem to be leaning toward soundtracks, but Elvis will begin to balance things out.

The criteria for the mosaic are a mix of kitsch, artistic quality, and musical relevance. Elvis and Liberace are pure kitsch. I can imagine Elvis' producers saying, man, this guy is basically seen as satan. We need to do something! A hymnal! Yeah, that'll do it. On the oposite end of the spectrum, I chose South Pacific because it is a great piece of illustration. The goal is to have a mix of records with this kind of flavor. I'll put a pic up when it is finished.