This past winter/spring season I made good on my New Year’s Resolution to get out and be more involved in the local design community once again. One cannot live and work in a vacuum, and Chicago has a great community: due to it’s large size, there are always events or show openings going on. By far the best event, or rather program, I have discovered so far is AIGA Chicago’s Mentorship program.
After months of waiting, the HOW Design Conference hit Chicago this weekend. I’ve been stoked: I’ve wanted to attend for years, and finally had the opportunity to do so now. Although not my first conference, it is my first one of this size, so I thought that I would share my thoughts at the end of each day before posting an over-all wrap-up at the end.
I missed last night’s keynote opener, but made it in time for the opening reception: a great opportunity to see who all was attending, run into some friends, and also check out the vendors. If I don’t happen to win an iPad from all of these vendor give-aways, I….well..I’ll keep using my laptop. 🙁 Today’s schedule, on the other hand, was packed:
Design + Marketing = Supercharge Your Results
Presented by Cynthia Price and Taylor Schena of Emma, this session focused on email marketing and the technical issues of designing for eblasts. Some key thoughts:
- Social media isn’t killing email marketing: it’s forcing it to adapt and evolve.
- When designing/coding for email, think mid-90’s coding: straight-up HTML using tables and in-line styling.
- Always test your design across platforms: Litmus and Email on Acid are good tools.
Creating the Martha Stewart Living Digital Magazine App for iPad
Presented by Gail Towey, this session was different than what I expected. The session description made it sound as though it would focus on designing for iPad/touch screens. In fact, it was more of a behind the scenes look into the brand history of Martha Stewart Living. Nevertheless, there were some good take-aways:
- When designing products for mass market, you must think about the in-store experience in addition to each object’s functionality/design.
- Think about tactile functionality within your app: how can the user interact with the content? Where can you surprise/delight with interactivity?
- Use your app and other media channels to cross-pollinate your content.
- Consider your app’s findability within the iTunes App Store during it’s creation.
Influence in Business Through Design Thinking
Presented by Matthew Loyd of Method, this session focused on the design method of approaching a problem to all aspects of running a business or dealing with a client. I loved this session because I am so interested in the strategy side of our business. A lot of good information, but my favorite bits:
- The way a designer thinks and approaches a problem is typically different from the rest of the business world: we can share these skills and help provide better insight.
- Defining your company’s brand position, will lay the foundations for carrying design thinking into the rest of the business.
- Begin each problem by listening: avoid designing by template as each problem is a chance to learn and bring something new to the table.
Top Secret Adobe Technology Preview
Can I just say how stoked I am for Adobe’s new Muse to come out? I’m curious to see how coders weigh in on a program that is essentially InDesign for the web, but it looks like a great, powerful, new tool. The only downside, as far as I can see, is it’s subscription payment schedule. I’d much rather pay all at once as you do for the rest of the Creative Suite.
Using the Brand Value Pyramid
Although dense with technical information, this session led by Shannon Carter of Cartis Group was highly interesting. The way he approaches a branding problem seems highly logical and effective. Key points:
- Trust between brands and their consumers is developed over time through mutually satisfying interactions.
- A brand isn’t what we say it is: it is what the consumer says it is.
- Brand strategists make sure internal and external perceptions align.
Critiques: Powerful tool or Power Trip?
This session led by Jaime Pescia and Tip Quilter was by far the most interactive session of the day. It also seemed to be the most controversial if other audience members’ reactions are to go by. The two outlined steps that will remove any egos from the critique room and allow ideas and collaboration to flourish. Seemed pretty common sense in my book:
- Trust between team leaders and co-workers drives collaboration and creativity.
- Being a leader means being genuine and also guiding the critique to stay in line with the creative brief.
- Open-ended questions using who/what/when/where open up the dialog and help remove any ego on behalf of the leader.
- Goal is to get everyone to voice their thought-process and guide them towards a better design that is in-tune with the brief.
One of the best things about Twitter, is the opportunity to meet such fabulous people…that, and I seem to get more industry news through my Twitter feed than through any other outlet lately. So of course, I was excited to hear that Victoria Pater & friends officially launched their all-girl design collective, Quite Strong. Not only that, but it was great to see all of the positive reaction from the Chicago design community as well.
On September 17, the ladies celebrated in style at Edge: complete with taco bar, temporary tattoos, and shaving cream…not to mention, all of the great donations raised for Ag47. Good food, good fun, and good people: it was nice to meet so many people after following them online. Cheers!
So this week’s Weekly Reader is a special weekend edition…mostly because Wednesday was dedicated to celebrating the Blackhawk win with the rest of Chicago. Until living in Germany, I had never given soccer much attention. But that summer, Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup and Nuremberg was one of the host cities. To say the least, FuÃŸball Feber is infectious, and I quickly got caught up in the excitement. Below are some of the best links I’ve been collecting on the World Cup.
3 Best World Cup iPhone/iTouch/iPad Apps
Linden wrote an excellent write-up on the various iPhone apps she’s been trying in anticipation of this weekend. I’ve been using the ESPN app and love it myself.
World Cup Advertising
Graphicology has a great retrospective of this year’s World Cup advertising.
Retrospective of World Cup Logos
Logo Design Love has posted a great retrospective of past logos. My favorite is Mexico ’86.
“Der Superpraktisch und Ultraportable” World Cup Guidebook
In German, but as the title says: it’s super-practical and ultra-portable!
Haven’t tried either of these, but promise good eye/data-candy.
Soccer Aid Bracket Poster
And finally, keep track of your bracket, help Soccer Aid/UNICEF, and have your walls looking good while doing it with this beauty from 777.
Last year, I started a new tradition for myself by setting Design Resolutions for the year. After giving it a lot of thought the past 2 weeks, I think I am finally ready to set this year’s resolutions in stone. So, without further ado, here are they are:
- Be More Disciplined in How I Use My Free-Time
Now that I am back to working full-time, my free-time has once again gotten scarce. I need to focus on using the time I do have in the evenings and weekends more wisely to ensure I can accomplish the rest of this list.
- Launch the Portfolio Site
As a continuation of last year’s resolution, I want to actually launch the site I designed. (I still haven’t been able to get past the hurdle of how to build it out in WordPress.) Whether this means I step up my research efforts so I can code it myself, or that I pass it off to a partner to code it, it will be done! And soon!
- Post More Frequently
While moving to Chicago over the past 6 months or so, I got into the bad habit of not posting here as often as I used to: going to get back in the habit.
- Personal Project of the Week
Yesterday, I had a very inspiring talk with Jason Schwartz, and he challenged me to do one personal project a week. Sounds easy…yet from past resolutions, I know how hard it can be. Whether it’s something as simple as a desktop background or writing an article of design, or as complex/time-consuming as embroidering a new design or doing an ad hoc redesign of a company’s site, this is the year I think I can do it…especially if I have others willing to help me hold to it.
- Find Studio Space
To help with number 4, and allow me to get back into the screen printing habit, I’ll need to find some place that I can spread out my work and not be afraid to get messy.
- Be More Inventive With Typography
I have a lot of really great ideas on how typefaces I want to use in personal projects should look…but have lacked the ability to realize them on paper: practice makes perfect!
In addition, I have two general resolutions that I made for myself this year that somewhat fit in with my design resolutions…
- Take Classes
This is the perfect time in my life to take classes on things that I really want to learn: whether they be on coding/html or more swing dancing classes. I’m going to count the bowling league my friends and I joined as part of this…especially since I currently average around 75 per game. (although for the record, I Have broken 100 before…once…and not on the wii either.)
- Read 2 Books a Month
I just saw Linden’s post on her booklist for the year, and it inspired me to vow to read more. (I’ll have to watch this one though as once I get on a roll, I tend to read too much…) I’m hoping to knock off some of the design books on my booklist while I’m at it. Be sure to check out Linden’s list too as she has some really good ones on there: especially if you are interested in linguistics or running.
Well, tonight I headed over to Firebelly with all of my wares to set up my little table for their Pop-Up Holiday Shop. Unfortunately, (fortunately?) I bought a car last week, so between car hunting and Thanksgiving I wasn’t able to finish all of the projects I had planned. That said, the ones that I did finish turned out great. So: the art is framed, the table set up, and everything is marked. Here is a little teaser for a tea towel I made that will be featured at my booth. Other items include embroidered wall hangings, illustrated postcards and framed illustrations. More photos to come from the event itself.
To continue the theme of November: Design Month, I found out in late October or so that Firebelly would be hosting their annual Holiday Pop-Up Shop to benefit their Reason to Give charity. After asking Dawn how I could help out, I have since spent the last month frantically crafting/designing away in order to have enough wares to sell. Expect to see some sweet embroidered goods, art prints of my illustration work, and possibly some stationary/paper goods. I’ll try to post some sneak peaks before the shop opens, but between the holiday and frantic crafting/designing, they may not come until the shop itself opens. Details below in the awesome flier designed by Will Miller:
So it doesn’t quite have the ring of No-Shave November, but November has nevertheless been shaping up to be quite the month for design. It started out with a bangÂ the first week with three nights in a row of design-filled fun. More reports on design happenings will be forthcoming, but first a recap of that first week:
Designing Obama Launch Party (Nov. 4)
The Post Family hosted a gallery exhibit and party to launch their book, Designing Obama. Regardless of your political leanings, you have to admit that this past election was a turning point in the way political campaigns are branded and marketed. I personally feel this was a huge step forward for the design field, and cannot wait to see how it impacts future elections.
In any case, the exhibit was great: a lot of really good art and design came out of the Obama campaign, and many of the posters were on display. It was nice to be able to see the work in person rather than on a computer screen, and the reprints of the logo development were nicely printed by Delicious Design League.
Bevel/Emboss (Nov. 5)
What was intended by Mig Reyes and Patrick Algrim to be a small gathering of designers at a local bar, quickly grew through word of mouth and twitter into a huge happy hour. I’m not sure if it was the first one, but I am definitely going to any future events! With the large numbers of people there, Mig and Patrick encouraged interaction by posting twitter and text challenges. Door-prizes were given to the winners, and there was even a dance off!
Plus, I got to see a lot of people I knew both from Camp Firebelly and other events. Funnily enough, we were even seeing double: Antonio found his doppelganger! (Hint: Antonio is on the left.)
Camp Firebelly Kids Reunion (Nov. 6)
Finally, some of us Camp Kids who live in Chicago were able to get together for a happy hour on that Friday night. Unfortunately, a few couldn’t make it, and a few more were accidentally left off of the invite. (!! sorry guys!) However, it was great to be able to see everyone who did make it out, and Antonio’s girlfriend even brought cupcakes! She seriously needs to go into business (…or just come be my personal dessert-maker). In any event, there will be more get-togethers and hopefully everyone will make it to the next one.
<!– This is a repost of my entry on the Camp Firebelly blog yesterday: thought I would share it here, since I had a lot of fun writing it. Tomorrow is the last day of the workshop, so I’ll be sure to post a recap afterwards. –>
<html lang=”Camp Firebelly”>
<title>Keith is Awesome</title>
<div id=”content” class=”amazed”>
<h1>Everything I Needed to Know (about coding), I Learned at Camp Firebelly</h1>
<p>When we received our assignments last week, I was really excited to be on the website team. Not only was it great to get to work with the others in my group and Jason Schwartz, among other guests, <!– thanks for the coding help Raphael! –> but I was really looking forward to getting to help code the site. After an intense weekend crash-course-marathon-coding-event, I have come to one conclusion: <strong>Keith is Awesome</strong>. </p>
<p>Now, I donâ€™t want to suggest that any of the other Camp Staff members are any <em>less</em> awesome than Keithâ€¦ (A special thanks goes out to Dawn for having us, Will for helping/learning along with our team, Antonio for supplying a great stock of movies, and his girlfriend for the most delicious cupcakes in Chicago.) However, over the course of the past weekend, Keith has managed to accomplish what two semesters of web-design classes were never able to do in college: I now feel like I understand what I am doing. How did he accomplish such a miraculous feat? Why, with Four Mind-Blowing Revelations. I now present for your consideration the 4 MBRâ€™s:</p>
<li><strong>Crash Course/Ordered vs Unordered Lists</strong>
The first night <!– at 3:30amâ€¦insane, right? –>, Keith totally blew my mind by giving us a brief overview of the basics of laying out a website in code to get it ready for styling in css. Prominently featured was an explanation of Ordered vs Unordered Lists. Is the order of the items in your list necessary for understanding the list? For example <!– courtesy of Keith –>, are you outlining the steps of assembling your own golf cart? Then use an Ordered List. Are the items in your list just listed in a certain order, but not necessarily <em>need</em> to be in that order? Use an Unordered List.</li>
<li><strong>The Subtle Art of Hiding Text</strong>
Have an image with some text on it and think you donâ€™t have to type that text in the html? <rude>Wrong!</rude> Including the copy in the html and then hiding it is <em>essential</em> for SEO and Accessibility. <!– With family members who are visually impaired, I am all about accessibility issuesâ€¦that, and google-bots are a good idea to please. –> To do this, Keith taught us his not-so-secret ways of subtly making said copy disappear. Magic!</li>
<li><strong>Image vs Image</strong>
Much like the Ordered vs Unordered List revelation, Keith made the issue of Image versus Background Image easy as pie <!– or cupcakes –>. It seems that if your image relates to the <em>content</em> of the page, then it needs to fit into an <em>image tag</em>. But, but! If your image relates to the <em>style</em> of the page, then it needs to be set as a <em>background</em> image. <!– cue â€œA-haâ€ moment –> </li>
<li>â€¦and last, but certainly not least, <strong>A Brief History of html, xml, and xhtml Languages</strong>
Did you know that xhtml was created because the Powers That Be thought that coders were being too sloppy with their html? Or that xhtml is ultimately falling <em>out</em> of use because the browsers <em>themselves</em> are lazy? <!– â€¦reminds me of a college professor declaring how lazy I was for auditing his classâ€¦ –> The future of html is looking pretty bright <!– â€¦bright, greatâ€¦ –> and HTML5 promises to be better than ever. How could it not be with a proposed <sarcasm> tag?? Here are a few that I would like to see: <rude><!– I already used this one above –>, <giddy>, and <shockedandawed><!– which would have come in handy when listening to Keithâ€™s explanations… –>
<p>By this time, things were getting a bit loopy due to lack of sleep <!– I believe 9 hours was the 3 day total at this point –>. Strange comments were known to have been overheard. <!– “Zero apples is the same as zero ponies!â€ and â€œSmall Mayo is the shit!â€ and even â€œLetâ€™s stuff some tissue into this websiteâ€™s bra.â€ –> I started making really bad analogies such as comparing the relationship between divs, margins, and padding to a padded white room. Finally, the coder hand-signs started getting busted out. And let me tell you, the site is looking pretty darn good: get excitedâ€¦because we are. <!– and that is NOT a <sarcasm> comment despite looking towards no sleep until the end of campâ€¦I may be biased in favor of it, but you really will like it once itâ€™s done. –> Off to go watch a movie and get my rock band on…even busy campers need a break.</p>
Well, I had a special post planned for this, but then the internet at our apartment went on the blink this past week. (I promise to post it in the near future.) Anyways, in my last post, I mentioned being rather excited for June 22, and now I’ll tell you why: today was the first day of Camp Firebelly. (You may even remember me writing about last year’s Camp.) We are just wrapping up our first day of the workshop, and already I am stoked for the rest of the week. Our mission: to work with a local non-profit public radio station to develop their website, promotional posters, and redesign their broadcasting studio. After meeting with the client today, I have to say that their passion is rather catching. I’ll share more of our experience as I can. In the meantime, you can watch the webcam (a la Real World) over on the Camp Firebelly site. We’ll also be blogging and tweeting live.