All Posts in Inspiration

July 10, 2018 - Comments Off on Monthly Fascination: June ’18

Monthly Fascination: June ’18

My monthly round-up of interesting design that I've come across in the past month. If you missed the May post, it's right here.

Prospectus Typeface

Last month, the Lost Type Co-op released a really interesting serif face titled Prospectus. If you just look at the heavy weight, it looks like another take on the high-contrast serif faces that have become quite fashionable of late. I'd encourage you to look at the full set of weights and styles, especially the lighter weights an italic styles. It's a really unique face, with a very nice microsite art directed by Riley Cran.

The Guardian: Consumerism vs. Materialism

"If we want to cure affluenza, we have to get more satisfaction from the things we already own, more satisfaction from services, more satisfaction from leisure time, and less satisfaction from the process of buying new things."

While not explicitly about design, it's hard not to think about the implications of our consumer lifestyles without considering the part that design has to play. I'm just as guilty of purchasing things for that immediate rush, but I've really become frustrated lately how expensive or just difficult impossible it is to repair so many of the electronics that I've acquired over the years. At the very least, it's a reminder to appreciate the things that we have.

A Shift in the Design for Politics

As much as our current political climate feels like a dumpster fire, it's nice to see that some progressives are embracing modern branding as a tactic to engage with a younger voting populace. The recent success of NY Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been really inspiring to watch, and I hope it signals a change in our national political discourse. In addition to the work for Ocasio-Cortez, the campaign of Suraj Patel also caught my eye.

I hope you found some of this inspiring, and check back new month for more.

June 10, 2018 - Comments Off on Monthly Fascination: May ’18

Monthly Fascination: May ’18

I thought I'd try a series collecting some things that I found interesting in the previous month. They might be design, art, articles, words…whatever causes me to pause and dig deeper.

Robert Dawson's Library series

image © Robert Dawson

I've always loved libraries, and have since childhood had access to really great libraries and librarians. Dawson's Public Library photo series really captures the huge variety of libraries across America. Each one a reflect of the place where it resides and its history.

Phil Patton Lecture with Natasha Jen and Khoi Vinh

An excellent discourse by masters of the design field. I tend to side more with Vinh on the topic, but excellent points are made by each side. In all, a very relevant topic for the field of design as a whole.

The Art of Akira

When I stumbled onto Akira sometime in the early '90s, it blew my world completely open. It was such a transformative piece of art and an absolute marvel of the medium. The Art of Akira reveals of of the process work that went into creating it. Hat tip to Ricky Bloxsom for the link.

January 29, 2018 - Comments Off on About Ursula

About Ursula

I've been thinking about the death of Ursula K. Le Guin and her affect on me. I discovered her books—specifically The Wizard of Earthsea—at a relatively young age. What age exactly I don’t quite recall, but certainly in that formative period of between 10 and 12 years old. While at the time I didn't really have any knowledge of Le Guin's work, the book resonated with me a way that few did from that period of life. After I had finished the book, I strongly call a feeling of, this is good, this is different.

What I loved about The Wizard of Earthsea was its humanity. Ged, the protagonist of the first book in the series, is of very humble origins. Throughout the book he struggles with purpose and ambition, greed, selfishness, and ultimately a path to personal redemption. Far removed from typical mythological or fantastic tropes, he follows a winding path that returns as often to internal conflict as it does external forces. In fact, all of the Earthsea books that I've read don't have a typical MacGuffin like so many fantasy and science fiction books. Instead Le Guin uses the tool of fantasy to focus in on the human condition, as all of the best genre writers have done before and since.

After finishing The Wizard of Earthsea, I moved on to other authors. I don't recall why, whether it was ignorance of other books in the series or even if I had not thought to see what else Le Guin might have written. Three or four years ago, however, I picked the book up again and read it absolutely enthralled. It seemed like an entirely different book; one with so much more depth and subtlety than I recalled. After finishing it, I move on to the second and third books in the series. Each was different but fascinating in its own way.

In reading some other's impressions of Le Guin's writing over the past week, I'm realizing the tremendous impact that she had by being an incredibly outspoken champion of female voices in genre fiction. She also wrote nuanced stories that centered around non-white characters and stories that explored gender. I wish that I could say that her writings had impacted me in that way. In truth, I haven't read the books where those issues are central themes but I'm looking forward to doing so. Regardless, it speaks to the myriad ways in which Le Guin challenged assumptions and spoke out for under-represented groups.

The world is certainly a less magical place, having lost the voice of Ursula K. Le Guin. Now is one of the times when we could most use her. With any luck, the people that have been influenced by her will rise to the challenge of shaping this world into a greater place in ways that we can't imagine.

Note

I created the image at the top of this post for my New Years card last year. It's one of my favorite lines from Le Guin, and remains extremely relevant and poignant. If I learned nothing else from Ursula K. Le Guin, it's how to imagine ways in which things might be different from how they are now. If you've made it this far, I hope you'll also do the same.

December 28, 2016 - Comments Off on Inspiration: Zach Lieberman

Inspiration: Zach Lieberman

I took a dive into Processing this year. It started with going through Josh Davis's intro class on Skillshare, and then moved on to Dan Shiffman's intro book. While the dive was fairly shallow, I really liked getting into it and I'm hoping to get back to it sometime soon.

Last week I discovered the work of Zach Lieberman via Instagram's discovery feature. He has been spending the last year doing daily sketches using a variety of generative art tools. Tools aside, I particularly like that his work has more of an organic quality than much of the generative art that you see around. Indeed, that's one of the qualities that I most hope to be able to create with my own explorations. While I'm certainly not there yet, I really encourage you to check out Zach's work. Of particular interest is the (lengthy) article that he recently published which talks about the process behind some of his daily sketches. It's an interesting look into the process of creating digital art.

Header image is two of Lieberman's daily sketches.

September 5, 2016 - Comments Off on Inspiration: Richard Diebenkorn

Inspiration: Richard Diebenkorn

I've been looking at the work of Richard Diebenkorn a lot recently. With his unique structuring of space and sun-seeped color palettes, I'm drawn deeply into his world of abstraction. The work resonates deeply with both the work that I do professionally as well as my more artistic practice.

Richard Diebenkorn - Berkeley No. 3

Richard Diebenkorn - Berkely No. 3

Richard Diebenkorn - Albuquerque No. 4

Richard Diebenkorn - Albuquerque No. 4

It's difficult to describe the compositions as anything other than artfully balanced. Dramatic in their asymmetry, pieces often strongly emphasize the right or left of the picture plane while calling attention to the verticality of his preferred format. Although many interpret his work as an abstraction of California landscapes, Diebenkorn disliked the association. For him the work is purely abstract and not grounded in a metaphor of the physical world. Each piece is problem to be explored and unraveled through regular practice. I can relate to the tension and challenges that he alludes to in the video below when trying to figure out a particular painting:

When it comes to color, Diebenkorn was an absolute master. Though difficult to perceive in reproductions, each shape is made up of layer upon layer of translucent color. The resulting tones echo the light of the southern California sun, and have a certain dirty radiance that I'm continually in awe of.

Richard Diebenkorn - Ocean Park No. 125

Richard Diebenkorn - Ocean Park No. 125

Richard Diebenkorn - Untitled No. 18

Richard Diebenkorn - Untitled No. 18