Sunday, August 15, 2010

Green + Innovation = Awesome


Growing up in Somerset County, I fondly remember the excitement of fair season in late August. The rides, the animals, the exhibits, the greasy food and cotton candy; it was one of the trademarks of the beginning of autumn. Those fairs, of course, were the products of an agricultural economy. Yesterday (08/14) at Hartwood Acres, Allgheny County debuted a new fair -- the product of a new economy, a green economy -- dubbed the Green + Innovation Festival.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finally: A Solution for Creating Letterhead Templates in (the dreaded) Word

I'm not big into doing tutorials... I think they're great; just not real interested in investing the time. However, this issue has been the bane of my professional design existence for years. Thus, the following tutorial: Creating Letterhead Templates in Microsoft (blah... sigh) Word.

AAAAHHHHH! Run for your lives?! There has to be a way to disable this visual menu view. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Indeed, Everthing IS Illuminated


Everything is Illuminated is the best book I have ever read. I could end this post there, but allow me to continue (hopefully without spoiling too much of it for you) and share the personal implications of its epicness. I have not read all that many books, though I have read some of the literary greats. Not since 1984 (my second best book to date) or Three Cups of Tea (my fave non-fiction book) has one had this kind of impact on me. The kind that makes you think on it long after you complete it.

Dream You Crazy Dreamers

I've been involved in a neat Linked In discussion about business ideas (thanks Jason DePerro for sharing... I hope you do not mind that I include your response as well below) and thought the discussion was worthwhile to reproduce here for the benefit my OTV readers. See the full discussion.

I dedicate this post to all my fellow dreamers... Thanks for all your inspiration that keeps me keeping on.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Invitation: Creative Collective

I have an idea, but it requires your help and contribution for it to become a reality.

As I have been building my networking base for On The Vine, I've met so many cool cats with an awesome skill set within their respective niche of the creative field. It is those said niches that are the basis of my idea -- the formation of a creative collective.

Recap: Day #2 of Polish Hill Arts Festival


I was sooo thrilled to be able to attend Day#2 of the Polish Hill Arts Festival and meet so many amazing folks at the artist market and at the Civic Association. I'm sold and definitely want to take up residence in this wonderfully eclectic and friendly, community-oriented neighborhood.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Recap: Day #1 of Polish Hill Arts Festival

(Beautiful sunset view of neighborhood by Polish Hill’s Mark Knobil; postcards available at: http://www.phcapgh.org/phca-gear.html)

I had a beautiful afternoon yesterday on Polish Hill for their 3rd Annual Arts Festival. This year, lots to do and see with the addition of Free4All Music Festival by Project 53 and all the new local businesses -- Urban Gypsy, Lili Coffee Shop, The Copacetic Comics Company & Mind Cure Records. Pop City said it best: Punks, nuns and pierogies: Polish Hill is not just for kielbasa anymore.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Recap: Rivers of Steel - Babuskas & Hard Hats Tour

Photo from Rivers of Steel Archive, Mark Fallon Collection, women in Babuskas posing in front of the Carrie Furnaces: http://riversofsteel.pastperfect-online.com/32278cgi/mweb.exe?request=record;id=90FC3B9A-66DE-4DDF-9308-118872677844;type=102 (Beware: clicking on 'Random Image Search' may result in the loss of several hours to viewing thousands of fascinating images:)

Ever wonder why there is an abnormally high amount of hometown & neighborhood pride in Pgh? Or, why the love of the Stillers is in the DNA of every homegrown & transplant resident alike? Or, why there are so many bars in South Side? Or, why Pgh weddings have a cookie table? Or, the history behind the Hot Metal Bridge and its namesake? Or, what all those industrial relics are called and what they were originally purposed for that line our city's trail system and reclaimed brown areas (like Station Square, The Waterfront, South Side Works, etc)?

Then, I highly recommend taking the Rivers of Steel Babuskas & Hard Hats Tour. In addition to answering to the aforementioned questions, you'll also quickly discover that our great city was build with the blood, sweat and tears of several generations of men & women in this geologically and culturally unique, mini-melting pot of a region where the Three Rivers meet.
http://www.riversofsteel.com/things-to-do/event/babushkas-and-hard-hats-tour/

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating the 1st Amendment Right to Freely Rant... er, I mean, Freedom of Speech

Happy fireworks day, On The Vine readers! Hope that you enjoy all the oohs-n-aahs (pretty lights and resounding boom-booms) of this most monumentus day in the history of our country.

This post is a recap of and expansion upon a conversation had while road-tripping for this holiday weekend. One of the topics that got my blood pumping was the lack of etiquette of written communication via the internet, specifically via social media outlets. Some are the results of the etiquette that is still evolving around social media, others are just the omissions of well-defined/established etiquette because it's being used in a new medium. Still others, are just the virtual manifestation of some people's strange and off-putting communication idiosyncrasies; their general lack of people skills that now weird you out online as well as in-person.

To (possibly) help along the continued evolution of said etiquette and shed light on/create awareness for the poor uses and neglect of it, --  hence, restoring a shred of my sanity from the many irritations of poor communication habits -- I present you with this post on social media pet-peeves, in no particular order (for now). Enjoy... or feel free to skip if you're up to your eyeballs in people ranting already:)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

AIGA PKN Recap: Lessons from Siberia



It's been a few wonderfully exciting and eventful weeks since AIGA + AIA's PKN event on Thurs, 6/17 at the Rex Theater. This post has been on my mind and to-do list for some time, but a great meetup with other internationally-minded folks helped to bump it up to high priority on my list. To give them a quick shout out: check out the Pgh Foreign Language Enthusiasts meetup group here (really great people): http://www.meetup.com/lauraslanguages/

To set the stage, PKN is short for Pecha Kucha Night -- a Japanese word, pronounced 'pay-cha-cha' and loosely translated as 'chit-chat'. It is a presentation format that keeps you from being long winded; you've only got 6 mins 45 secs and 20 slides to communicate your points and then you 'sit the hell down' according to the AIGA event description:)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

International T-Shirt Day: Pgh Style


What an amazingly fun themed happy hour last night (Mon, June 21st). If you missed it, you missed out!

Lindsay Patross (I Heart Pgh), Brett Wiewiora (Only in Pgh) and Dan Rugh (Commonwealth Press) joined forces to host the Pgh celebration of International T-Shirt Day at CWpress and at Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe (OTB) for a happy hour. Responding to a Fb call for collaborators on Friday morning (6/18), myself and Jon Brentzel from AIGA Pgh were added to this great team to help spread the word to our Pgh networks.

http://iheartpgh.com/
http://onlyinpgh.com/
http://www.cwpress.com/
http://www.pittsburgh.aiga.org/

Great conversations were had and new networking friends were made. Additionally, everyone walked away with at least one more awesome t-shirt than they came in wearing. I started the day by buying one $15 shirt from CWpress (my new favorite) and went home with two more... what a deal?! I won my last t-shirt which is of the Pgh neighborhoods that's by my design buddy, Phil Mollenkof: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Pittsburgh-Map/446144



This Pgh T-Shirt Day celebration is intended as a promo / build up for 'The Pittsburgh Shirt Show.' So, there's still hope for you to get in on all the fun that you missed out on last night. Visit iheartpgh's blog and sign up for their email list. You'll be kept up-to-date on the upcoming event (tentatively set for July).

While you're at it, stop by CWpress in the South Side (Carson and 20th, across from Utrect). I bought my Pgh tee over my lunch break in order to be ready for the festivities. All the guys at CWpress are super cool, they have a ton of great shirts available (http://www.compressmerch.com/) and the screen presses are visible from the entry way. Best of all, you'll be greeted by Art of Board's recent installation -- see all about it and interior pics of CWpress here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=186249&id=133099328675&ref=pb

Looking forward to future collaborations with this electic group of movers-and-shakers. Kudos again to all participating parties for a great evening!

See Jon Bretzel's photo recap: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2240934&id=60713112

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Age Old Question

How much should the client be involved in the creative process? It's a tough question and really depends on the exact situation you are facing as a consultant.

I discovered this discussion on LinkedIn's IxDA group this morning and thought my subsequent response was worth a blog post as well. To follow the on-going discussion (I'm pretty sure, I'm going to be flipped out on by someone on these boards, so if anyone can get my back, I would be forever grateful:) the link is: LinkedIn IxDA

Q:     Collaborative Design
    Does anyone do collaborative design? Is it a good idea?

    Different people and groups, other than the design group, can have a lot invested in the final design of a product or service. Going beyond avtivies like JAD sessions, how do these individual collaborate on your design efforts? Should they have a equal say in the direct and final detailed design? Do you have any formal mechanism to include other groups in your organization or is it basically a free flow of ideas? 

A:     My response post:
    That's a tough question... I've been involved in something called an Innovation Session (IS) at my last consultancy (Industrial + Graphic + Exhibit Design) where we would go through a process of interviewing stakeholders, collecting and reviewing all research nuggets obtained, discover themes/problems and structure questions to be reviewed at the actual IS with a collection of stakeholders from the client's organization + the design team.

    I am an organized person, so this process is somewhat terrifying and stressful in that you cannot predict or account for the outcomes. You have to just go through it and trust that it all works out. I have to say that having been through several of these sessions, the results/outcomes/creative ideas produced by clients as well as creatives are always quite awe inspiring. As an added bonus, after such sessions, you are forever seen as a magician in the client's eyes and you almost never have to prove your value to them again throughout the rest of your collaborations.

    The tricky part of your question is assuming that the client doesn't know anything about anything (sometimes, depending on the personality, it's an easy thing to do). As a consultant, we are experts within our specialized skill set (for me that's marketing strategy and design). We forget, though, that the client is the expert in their field/business. Sure, they may need guidance in refining that message and making sure their broadcast channels are effective and efficient, but they deal with their business/industry day-in and day-out every day; we don't and only know enough (what's needed) to work well with them.

    As a consultant, if you do your job right of fostering a positive client relationship -- one where the client understands your role and value in the partnership AND you understand their role as knowing the ins-and-outs of their business/industry and having a story/message to share with their audiences -- collaborations can be a beautiful thing. If this relationship is skewed in either direction, it can be a huge headache at best and a living nightmare at worst.

    It's too bad you rarely can predict which way it will turn out (beautiful/nightmare) until it happens -- thus the risk of such collaborations. I think it's well worth it for the huge benefits and creative ideas that come out of the successful ones. 

Your reaction/response is welcome and appreciated in either the comments below or in the LinkedIn discussion.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another Time/Dimension


Descend multiple flights of stairs deep into the underbelly of CMU and you might miss a treasure trove of wonder, if the door is closed -- mistaking it as another classroom or storage closet. Stand in the threshold and discover that this dungeon is no dungeon at all; it is a cool temp, well-lit, organized and meticulously clean safe haven. Finally, enter and be transported back to another time/dimension; one where craft and creativity meet. Welcome to the AIGA Letterpress Workshop, hosted by Matt Griffin of Bearded Studio at CMU's Letterpress and Bookbinding Lab.

The master of this domain is pressman Joe Dicey, who (according to Matt Griffin) has forgotten more about Letterpress printing than most of us will ever know. Joe, Matt Griffin and Matt Braun (designer and letterpress enthusiast; Bearded Studio) became our guides for the 11 person workshop as we first learned the bare bone basics to the craft and then began exploring and experimenting.

http://www.pittsburgh.aiga.org
http://beardeds.com/about
http://www.design.cmu.edu/show_program.php?s=4&t=7
http://www.design.cmu.edu/show_person.php?t=f&id=JoeDicey-1

My favorite thing about this studio experience was witnessing how much care was given to the craft and particularly the equipment. A consideration that's completely foreign in our modern-day, consumer-driven society; each pressman treated all the pieces to this process with respect (press, gears, rollers, wooden/metal type, etc.) in an effort to consciously preserve each piece because once something breaks down or gets worn out, it's probably gone for good.

Another great full-circle phenomena of this workshop was seeing contemporary, new school designers learning about this old school craft. The best was when Griffin would use current terminology that we could relate to as designers -- gradients or tint/transparency sliders in Photoshop -- to help us understand this craft. We discovered the origins of most of the terminology that we use today; even seeing/using leading used to space metal type and hold it in place during printing.

It's no wonder that our graphic design forefathers were such great typographers. When you work this closely with each piece of type for an extended period of time, it's hard not to become sensitive to the type's form and interactions with each other. It's reminiscent of working with a giant gigsaw puzzle. My team (Team Awesome, of course) came to this epiphany early on when we were searching through one set of type drawers (a row of about 20) for our letterpress project 'ingredients.' There were so many to choose from that we started picking the unique forms of certain letter/numbers out of each typefamily (1-2 per drawer).

Below are the pictures I was able to capture during our spurts of down time, when I had the presence of mind to do so -- there were so many awe inspiring collaborations of prints that kept us engaged throughout the day + great conversations among fellow designers. I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.




After 6+ hours of play, we each walked away with 20+ prints of our choosing. Now... what to do with all those prints? A book, perhaps?

More than the great prints, my takeaway: I've caught the enthusiasm/passion of this craft and now want a letterpress workshop of my own. It will take years of searching and collecting, plus the need for a huge garage or basement. In the meantime, I can begin learning more about this craft, take more of such workshops and seek out others in the field as mentors/guides.

See more pics (via Matt Griffin) on Flicker:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/45888901@N07/sets/72157624272691174/

Also check out Matt's post on Bearded's Blog (Thanks for the plug, Matt! That's my skinny little chicken arm/hand in the pic:):
http://beardeds.com/blog/matt/2010/6/14/aiga-pittsburgh-letterpress-workshop

Addition Letterpress links/resources for further exploration (via Matt Griffin)

Letterpress Resources:

Type Foundries:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When Good Decor Goes Bad

I just came back from a fabulous referral networking breakfast held at a newly removed King's restaurant. To give a quick plug, check out the the Sewickley Professional Referral Exchange here:
http://www.prorefx.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=members.members&ID=152

On with setting the scene for the rant... Kudos to Kings for the update to their identity and dining experience. Where I grew up near Somerset, PA, Kings was the place to go (2nd to Eat'nPark, of course) and I remember enjoying many-a Roast Beef/Meatloaf Sandwiches smothered in gravy growing up. The dining experience back in those days was country-style family (aka: one huge senior citizen stopping ground), but I enjoyed it for what it was nevertheless.

If you haven't been to a remodeled one recently, it's worth a visit. For better or for worse, they've aligned themselves to be more like Eat'nPark, but it's a lovely bright lit, colorful environment with trendy/tasteful decor and furnishings.

Now for the rant portion... I faced this wall (below) for the entire referral meeting and kept being drawn in (not in a good way) by the use of typography for decoration sake. It looks like the type solution addressed the initial problem of 'Flour' being too long for the allotted box -- see far left block. That kind works and I've liked that approach on other designerly/decorative promotion pieces like posters, postcards and/or book covers.

The problem is the execution throughout the rest of the decor panel. I'm all for consistency, but the 'Milk' block is the one that kept catching my eye as a distraction; its short enough to FIT in the box?! Decor is supposed to be decor -- creating an atmosphere, an experience --  not attention grabbing and memorable (in a negative way) like it was for me. Maybe it's because I'm a designer, but I think my background/sensibility just gives me the ability to understand and translate what other people notice on a subconscious level.

I'm not going to even address the tension created by the type placed up against the borders or that the 'x' height alternates outside of the box (either the bottom 1/4 or top 1/4 is cropped-off). In short, for this huge panel... Boo, Kings... boo:P


Monday, June 7, 2010

Recap/Notes: AIGA Pgh Adobe CS5 Workshop


Recapping the CS5 Workshop been on my list for a while. Originally, I had big dreams of making this a multi-post series and finding video tutorials to tie to each of the suite feature. Since it's been almost a month now, I figured it would be better just to get the notes out there.

The workshop was a jaw-dropping frenzy (not unlike past workshops) and Chris Converse did a fantastic job presenting again for the 4th consecutive year of this AIGA/Adobe speaking partnership. He has a way of making the clear connection between feature and application in everyday life -- making you wonder how you ever survived before this newest version and/or kicking yourself for the hours wasted in the past making a work-around for yourself to achieve the same result that now often one click provides.

A few of the AIGA folks took Chris out to dinner the evening before the workshop. It was my first time to Round Corner Cantina (amazing tacos) and it was the perfect atmosphere to chat it up about past/current events (work, life, interests and industry news) and hypothesizing what the future holds. Chris is very cool, talented and intelligent yet down-to-earth and approachable personally as well as professionally. To further give Chris Converse props:
So, as I mentioned, the workshop was one 'what the what?' moment of awe after another. I've broken my notes down by program and truncated them to their essence with the intent that if you're interested in learning more, you at least have the correct tool/technique name to google for your research.

Below is the first post outlining Illustrator and Photoshop miracles. Subsequent posts will cover the other suite programs. Without further ado... enjoy, my fellow design nerds:)




Illustrator CS5
  • Perspective Grid: used to align multiple objects in space and make them relationally correct.
    (working the registration/check, I missed most of this part of the presentation. It looks amazing and it's a reminder for myself to go back out there and investigate further)

  • Width tool: a completely new way to build shapes w/simple and easy modifications; an alternative to using pathfinder to combine multiple shapes together; change the width of a stroke along node points; apply to anything you work on; hold Option and you can change the width on only one side of any object.

  • Multiple Artboards (from CS4, some updates): align artboards (side by side); particularly important for Flash Catalyst workflow; artwork in AI will be translated into Catalyst.

  • Bristle Brush: a new way to paint on sceen... brushes behave like media files, but in vector (still editable); ‘painting’ in illustrator, then apply effects; uses the same idea as the width tool and if using stylis will pick up on thicknesses associated with pressure applied; similar feature/tool inside Photoshop (using pixels).
     
  • Brush pallet: preset brushes with modifiable settings (opacity, sizes, textures, application of stroke).

  • Stroke Enhancements: (amazing and finally?!) ability to align/distrubute dashed lines to correspond with corner points... star for example; provides a consistent/predictable pattern all around object.

  • Arrowhead Improvements: align w/end point and direction of node (effects on top of vector shapes). Flexibility to do the old way as well when needed to stay at very specific lengths. (Options, hip-hip hooray!)
     
  • Varying Strokes: apply new line styles to one line from beginning to end points; increase decrease stroke = increase in proportion; can create your own caligraphy type; can save your own new settings/alternations as a preset = proportionally apply transformation to any new object/line (fun new happy accidents will abound).

Photoshop CS5
  • Scrubby Zoom (guesture keypad)

  • Selection Improvements: intent is to make transformations as fast as possible; quickly mask/select; before Option-selecting a mask caused rough edges which caused you to attempt to fake it; now, Refined Edge Window will allow you to add precision, set parameters and allow photoshop to do the work for you.



    • Edge Detection - smart radius adjustments
    • Show the Radius - shows you what photoshop changed for you
    • Decontaminate Colors - sample colors around area to ‘heal’ the area (adjust transparency based on background colors). Ex. fills in natural color highlight on people based on new background color you place it on?!

  • Quick Selection Tool (from CS3): click and drag to expland; Option + drag = subtract from selection. Refine edge: work with selection as live or as channel or path (very cool and very fast; captures hair strands?!)

  • Content Aware Fill (Chris calls it “Pure Voodoo”): make a selection; photoshop goes in and samples, retouchs and smartly applies new content to fill in selection; works better when you select beyond/outside what you want to edit-out.
    • Edit > Fill (Content Aware Fill, pull-down); click OK
    • Photoshop will remove the ‘man’ from the pic.
    • My response (after picking up jaw): “I hope Photoshop never becomes self-aware!”

  • Mixer Brush Tool (Bristle-Brush concept from AI): manipulate pixels as if you were working on canvas w/paint; adjust presets (wet, load, mix, flow); creates the effect that you are ‘pushing’ paint around/smear around... looks like smudge/posterization combo.
    • Pixel push to create watercolor painting... started from a photo.
    • Create a custom look on each piece -- apply to multiple photos; pressure sensative as well w/stylus.

  • Puppet Tool (came out of After Effects CS3): manipulate transparencies/layers
    • Edit > Puppet Warp
    • Gradient mess applied to object on layer or layer mask only; cursor icon becomes push pin; click to add pushpins to add a rotation point, movement or any manipulation. Ex: elephant trunk can easily be moved from being straight to rolled up to its mouth (flawlessly); photoshop uses healing capability to adjust for the new artwork edges. 
    • My reaction: Ridiculously quick photo manipulation... like the way that non-designers naively think that photoshop magically works; now it does possess the magic.

  • Repoussé (3D Menu)
    • History: CS3 - 3D Capabilities; google sketch up file manip; CS4 - Manipulate camera and record info in animation panel = 3D Animation
    • CS5 - Create your own 3D object from anything in PS
      • Dialogue Box (Presets in center; Tools on left; Materials on right; Extrusion Info; Inflate; Scene Settings; Internal Constraints)
      • Click and drag object on canvas in 3D space in real time w/dialog box open. Then go into dialog box to refine/modify the effect.
      • Me: “3D softwear capabilities that we would use as GD are now at our disposal and simple to use (as opposed to full 3D software challenges).
    • Can save anything you do as a new preset for multiple applications; didn’t actually change the object, just the effect; PS canvas is not 3D aware, so you can make multiple objects w/diff 3D axis/effects; move/control the camera or object (xyz axis)
    • Live 3D Object - modify any of the textures/features at any time after you click okay; manipulate object or camera on the canvas with Tool pallet (move object, move camera)
    • Animation Timeline: manipulate repousse across time; manipulate video (frame-by-frame) in PS (since CS3); now you can puppet warp and repoussé in real time across time; edit (position, opacity, style, 3D obj pos; 3D cam pos; 3D render set; 3D cross section).

Part 2: CS5 Recap/Notes

InDesign CS5
  • Fonts installed per document; no need for font management system or for the user to have the fonts installed (just fonts folder next to indd file).

  • Mini-Bridge: built into all the applications; quick access to all bridge capabilites (file management).

  • Pages Panel (multi-size page capability... finally): stick pages to others instead of adding shift spread; Page Dialog at top (transformation properties for page); can edit page dimensions per page; great for flaps or folds on covers.

  • Rotation on the grab handles (like Illustrator) and Auto Select (no need to switch to direct/indirect selection tool).

  • Track Changes (w/in indd or InCopy story editor... similar to the way Word does it with DOC): Type > Track Changes (accept, reject, delete); great for editors, bosses, client approval; non-destructive way to play with content in doc.

  • Drag/Drop files from OS to Indd: 
    • history - CS3 (loaded cursor); arrow keys to cycle thru; esc to delete one from the loaded gun; CS4 (Com+OPT+shift) to add to a grid.
    • CS5 (click and drag box for the loaded images to be placed on a grid in dynamic frame; click up Arrow to add row; click right and add column); new fitting options: fill frame (w/o distorting) and then move with the auto select; smart guides still in place (equidistant objects).
  • Gap Tool (NEW): live layout idea; ID finds discrepancies in gaps between objects on the page and highlights for you to manipulate; selects and manipulates several objects on the grid together (relationally); select objects or negative space around objects.
    • Auto Fitting - any manipulations you make will automatically be updated to fit as you intended with original. (Object > Frame Fitting Options - Auto-fit check box)
    • Form fitting (non-destructive element): quickly on the fly change the portions of the layout elements with gap + auto fit; gap + OPT = move all objects or set of frames

  • Span Columns Tool (finally); type feature; allows you to span a headline across multiple
    columns; works on style sheets too across an entire doc; found in drop down on Paragraph dialog box, 'Span Columns.'

  • Live manipulation tools (yellow box on the edge of text frame); initates edit mode; corners have yellow diamonds that allow you to manipulate all corners at once (rounded) or one at a time (SHIFT+click).

  • Live Caption: Objects > Captions (follow XMP Metadata); can add text before/after description field you select; Objects > Generate Live Caption (adds text frame and groups w/pic); can edit XMP data in PS or Bridge (file property); Bridge can add metadata to multiple files at once; updates in ID automatically based; Bridge becomes data editor/manager for all files.
     
  • 3D/Interactive Tools in ID: 
    • Interactive manipulation w/in ID (nav, animation, photo advancing; video playing; layer show/hide; pop-up windows); ID builds html, swf file, and resources file (flv, swfs and other needed files to play)
      • Interactive Panel: switches workspace to interactive (animation, timing, preview, media, object states, buttons)
      • Building it: select object, select animation; motion preset (w/preview as butterfly); dotted line w/begin and ending point like flash (manipulate path live on page; select event to happen when... (page load, page click, on self click, or roll over); duration: play loop #, speed, properties; see in Preview Panel - look at individual object or page or whole doc as swf; acts like mini-flash player.
      • Timing Panel: event; can control the order of things that happen in hierarchy. 
      • Object States: multi-state objects (grab a series of photos and convert to multi-state); now all four pics are in four diff states; add button: open button tool panel, add action: on release; action (univeral - destination, first pg, last pg, go to URL, show/hide, sound or video) or one of two catagories (SWF or PDF; timeline based vs. page based); select object and state
      • Save as indd; export as SWF or PDF; ID wrote html file, swf and files.
      • Selecting/manipulating states (double click multi-state to select state - yellow box will indicate you are there); add an animation (event - on state load)

    • Drag/Drop into ID: flv files into ID; media panel (scrub flv video) and control settings (options - play on load; loop; poster frames; controler; navigation points); insert que points to the video; in ID add script to target the points and do an action based on it; add button; Button Tool Panel - target video; options - play from a navigation point; select name of nav pt)
      • You can load external assets to be able to publish once and dynamically update on the server outside of indd.

CS Live Services (free for now w/CS5 purchase); incorporated into all applications (accessible)
  • Browser Lab

  • SiteCatalyst

  • CS Review: anyone can view/review original docs w/out CS programs via the web; w/in program there's a CS Review panel; create a new review and view current ones; program puts file up on website; email and invite others to view and review (opens in Acrobat.com; all it needs is Flash - all browsers are capable so anyone can view and comment); share file in web browser window; enter email addresses; users must register with Acrobat.com (free)

  • Acrobat.com: connect now - share computer screen for meetings; connect, have meetings, have docs to share, create workspaces for workflow; buzzword - online collaboration tool like Word; authenticate other uses who can edit the doc.



Fireworks CS5

  • Goal: how quickly can we make something interactive for client sign off.

  • Native/source file format is png (portable native graphics); good/pluses: format to use; can add it to your website directly with all the layers and info; larger file format; bad/drawbacks: difficult to remember which png files have all of your layers and artwork vs. ones that are just images.

  • Pages - each w/layers; visibility states; composition that you can add interactivity; when importing from PS; you’ll get a layers pallet with the same structure in PS; there is a file conversion when you open PSD; can export back to PSD, though; web layer is a new folder that will open with your file; it’s everything that you’ll add to the doc in FW.

  • Web tools - hotspot tool; click drag over artwork; web layer has a hotspot inside folder; hotspot is invisible (like invisible button in FL); Property Panel - link drop down menu; name of each page with .htm after; select page you want to link to; select all hotspots - multi page layer (master item) or copy them and go to another page to paste (all pages and elements on them are independent, but you can make them master items).

  • Export (dual publishing options... no altering): HTML file and all pieces/pages (html and images; export HTML file; all files; all pages); PDF: activate with Acrobat 9 Pro - comment/approve; shared review (all comments get agrigated to your source PDF file); link tool - you can edit the properties appearance and actions.

  •  Preview in device central

Part 3: CS5 Recap/Notes

Flash CS5
  • InDesign: export file (CS5 FLA); TLF Flash type engine text (requires FL10 player); classic text for FL9 or earlier; ID goes in and saves 24-bit PNG files for FL use; very powerful image processing tool (ex. 200 headshots; add effect; export JPG)

  • Open file in Flash; file doesn’t have any timeline controls set in place; need to add actions; everything in ID has been made to work in native FLA files - everything as pgn files, sound/video or symbols (movie clips or buttons).
    • isolation mode (double click on movie to dig into file); ID also created layers in timeline inside movies
    • only disconnect is that invisible buttons are nested inside movie clips. You have to reference parent clips with AS or cut/paste button onto main timeline.

  • Action Script 3 updates - Code Snipets (Yippee!): click on movie/button; bring up code snippets panel; panel has folders of snippets: actions, timeline nav, animations, load/unload, audio/video,
    • Actions > ‘click to go to web page’
    • All code is imported with correct syntax and FL will made it applicable to your instance (plus it automatically adds notes w/ instructions for editing!)

  • Linked text frames (finally)
    • TFL (Flash 10)
    • Property panel (new panels) - everything is scrubby (position/size; advanced character; containers/flow; columns; color effect; display; filters); similar type properties as ID without converting to dynamic text box - all in one object now; will read in browsers that don’t support TFL Flash 10; but will not have some of the enhancements/features you’ve used.

  • New doc: Properties Panel (one work flow option); Publish - create AS3.0 Class file; main; okay; script written it for your file, independent from fla doc; you can edit AS3 outside of doc;  allows you to work simultaneously with designers on fla files and developers on AS. 
    • Flash Builder: XML, rich text environment; all code/no interface.

  • Drag/drop native PSD onto scene - converts to PNG in libray
    • Fla file format > XFL (CS5 uncompressed doc)
    • Save as folder with XML and all assets; text based files now; versionable; now open in DW and edit;
    • Library Folder - acts like a mini-website; now you can swap out images or update them directly from folder independent of flash.


Dreamweaver CS5
  • In Photoshop: save map pic as jpg (save at least IE6); save file with a series of 3 dots; each diff color; shift file than div and achor tags = fully interactive experience; add New CSS Rule > class; ‘map container’; define dimensions; import jpg as background of div; Insert > Div Tag (reference ‘map container’); Code View: insert achor tag (add class, even if it isn’t defined yet); link to # symbol; achor tags become objects; New Rule > ‘a..’; display - block; background - dots.png; repeat - no repeat; set to zero, zero; position as absolute; container position as relative; all code is generated by CSS; no change in HTML (local rules vs global CSS rules for the objects)

  • jquery - Javascript framework; manipulate all HTML docs; link to it; then script with document ready function; once all page is loaded; you can updated/manipulate anything; built in functions - show/hide, change dimensions; dynamic manipulating on the fly   

  • Spry - Adobe released with CS3 (manipulate while working); select XML file; select layout format and click OK; blue = variables from XML; bindings panel - variables from data set; dynamic XML driven application

  • Webkit/iPhone Simulator

  • RSS feed can plug into XML file on web.

  • Dreamweaver Features
    • Live View or use Hover View (inside DW layout); Non-destructive CSS previewing; temporary de-activing of CSS to see modifications
    • CSS Theme (Wordpress) editing w/DW; ‘Discover’ in DW and it downloads all server files; filter by css and edit your Wordpress site.



Flash Catalyst CS5 (new workflow option for flash users)
  • In the background constantly building code; can be edited in Catalyst or Builder.

  • Open > AI file; convert all to FXG (XML based file); graphic interchange formats for all programs in CS to use
    • At Top: states (similar to FW and PS layer comps); main canvas; timeline (regular and designtime); interactions panel; library w/all layers from illustrator in it.

  • HUD (heads-up display) - choices of all the things you can do based on what you are clicking on; components can be made by grabbing/clicking on it and telling Catalyst to make it a button; States in HUD - double click = inside button and you see states at the top; Button - interactions panel: on click; play transition to state;

  • Timeline is visual - shows the transition states w/every item and ability to preview; visual timeline to see when it’s going to happen; smooth transition button; will create transition between anything different in one state to another (size; location, etc.)

  • Publish to swf or AIR; display-to-web folder; run-to-local folder (to preview on your machine).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Update: Keep/Cut: Facebook Spring Cleanup

Reference original article: http://onthevinecreative.blogspot.com/2010/05/keepcut-100-friend-or-less-facebook.html

So... it took me a while to get around to it, but I began the day with 387; now down to 287. It took me several rounds of cutting, but I met my 100 friends slimmer goal. For those who survived the fallout, God help us all. 

In classic master-of-my-own-limited-domain-style, there are a number of folks who made the cut that I was on the fence over keeping/cutting. I consider them to be on probation... waiting to see them make any of the fore mentioned activity to make the cut decision.

There was something liberating about making these cuts. At first, I was a little apprehensive about cutting some folks... almost like they were going to be mad (still having the long-seeded tendency to care about what people think; it's a tough habit to break). That quickly faded when: 1) I realized that I was reacting to my perception of what people would think and 2) I found it easier and easier to make cuts once I got the ball rolling.

It reminded me of an episode of Hoarders. Most of the hoarders interviewed are not happy about their current lifestyle but have that apprehension and overwhelming uncertainty of not knowing where to begin. 1/2 way through the show (usually with the help of an intercessor), the hoarder makes huge progress, very quickly, once the decision-making ball starts rolling.

Finally, I'm not sure if Facebook is purposely trying to stroke people's egos because I discovered that most of my 'friends' are indeed not people but businesses (as I had suspected in my previous post). However, when looking at the friends breakdown, there are friends and pages distinctions... meaning the pages that I 'like' still show up as 'friends.' Perhaps, Fb would be wiser to go the LinkedIn route of calling friends a more general 'connections' instead.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Miracle of FREEcycle

It's official... yesterday the last three items of my former apartment were moved outside and the keys turned in. It's such a huge relief to close the chapter on the over-one-month long process to slim down and offload over 75% of my personal effects, officially completing the move.

It's amazing how much stuff/junk one acquires over just one year's time; how the longer you stay in one place, the more things fill your space/life; and how, over time, your junk begins to own you.

In a conscious effort -- it was either store or farewell -- I conducted the ultimate spring cleaning this year and tried as best as possible to keep my temporal possessions from living out their last days in a landfill. Most things were in nice condition with many good years of use left in them, so I wanted to see them go to a new home.

With a multifaceted plan of attack, I hosted a moving sale via Fb, posted flyers at my apt. complex, sold a good bit by posting to craigslist, donated to local non-profits to help folks who are trying to get back on their feet, took boxes and bags of clothes to Goodwill, etc.

When it comes to keeping records, I'm a bit of a hoarder, so the biggest task was getting down to the essentials of the last 7-10 years of personal documents. It was a nice trip down memory lane -- especially reflecting back to my college days as I trimmed down my class files to a small stack of syllabi and essential work -- as eight boxes bacame just two.
Note: I was a little leery of doing anything less than burning these docs, but decided not to let the fear of identity theft rule my life any longer. Plus, I found comfort in the fact that if anyone actually goes to the trouble of stealing my identity, jokes on them since my credit is still ca-ca from that extended period of unemployement. If these identity scoundrels wait it out for a year+ until I restore said credit, then kudos to them; they can reap the rewards of their due diligence.

Over this last week when I was just desperate to get the remaining hold-outs, out, I made the wonderful discovery of freecycle. Living in an apt. complex, I knew that I could put a small pile of odds and ends out by the dumpster & recycling bins, which is the universal symbol for 'free to a good home.'

Sure enough, on Friday morning (when most of the residents were out at work) my pile of junk became someone's new found treasure and disappeared within a half hour of its creation; even while I was still creating it:)

http://www.freecycle.org/

Friday, May 28, 2010

News | On The Vine

Very exciting things for On The Vine all culminating this past week... no wonder I am wiped out today and ready for a 3-day weekend!
  • Work | On The Vine
    http://www.behance.net/OnTheVineCreative
     
  • WSBA | On The Vine
    I reconnected with a great group of women on Tuesday for the Wexford/Cranberry chapter luncheon and decided now was the time to join as Premier Member (only $80 through June 15th?!).

    The organization is growing and from all the other business networking groups in the Pgh area, this one tops them all and gives you big bang for your membership buck. I'm looking forward to getting involved with the group to meet other amazing businesswomen and to help out with upcoming events, further developing On The Vine's event coordination experience.

    Sign up for e-newsletter here:
    http://wsba.ws/index.html
    Check out news and events here:
    http://www.meetup.com/Womens-Small-Business-Association/
    Great blog, too:
    http://entrepreneurialempowerment.blogspot.com/

  • On The Vine, on the radio!
    Very exciting news that I received, via email yesterday, from the producer of 'Into the Night with Chris Wakefield' on KHND1470. I emailed Chris in response to a discussion on the Comm Arts group on LinkedIn calling for interviewees.

    I'll be on-air on June 3rd at 10:40pm (EST) chatting with Chris about On The Vine, my design career/experience, the value/purpose of design, and I'll also be chatting up our Pgh design community. Very exciting!

    I'll post a reminder on the Fb biz page that day -- you can stream live via the station website above or download a podcast of the show after the fact. 

Links: The Week in Review

I've come across a number of great reads this week. There are so many blog articles that could be written around each one, but I want to get them out there sooner rather than later. Happy Friday, if you aren't already on Memorial Day vacation (I know, mentally, I have been gone since Wednesday:) and enjoy:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Being Inspired + Getting Paid For It


As far as part-time jobs go, especially for designer-types, one couldn't do much better than to work for Target. Armed with a Dave Ramsey game plan, I've taken on a few extra hours a week in part-time work at Target in an effort to unearth myself from a small mound of debt. Once I began a little over a month ago, I was delighted to discover a few extra benefits to my professional career and personal life that I could never have anticipated:

1) Reconnecting with society: for me, the only undesirable part of being a designer is being chained to a chair with a face in a computer screen for hours on end daily. A nice benefit of working retail is to be interacting with people on a large scale and working along side/getting to know new co-workers. Compared to headache clients as a designer, customers (guests, in Target speak) are a walk-in-the-park to deal with, even when you get the occasional crabby/cranky one. It's helped me to get back into the art of communicating with people. As much as we don't want to hear it, design is a service-industry (though a little more specialized; and hopefully one in which we are seen as experts) and knowing how to interact with the customer is a necessary ability.

2) Exercise: instead of throwing money at a gym membership, I'm just working 2-3 days a week for a few hours being up and about walking around the store. I should get a pedometer to see how many steps I take in a shift. Plus, I'm getting paid for it:)


3) Mind-numbingly easy work w/instant gratification: sometimes, it's tough to work on projects that are critical thinking intensive for long periods of time -- 3-6 months (or up to 3 years, if you're unlucky). It's nice to know what you're doing and to have time to think on random things while doing a mundane task. Additionally, I'm a list-maker, task-oriented person and I worked in retail before (Walmart) for 6 years through high school and college. When I got into the design field, I often missed the satisfaction of looking back across activities of a workday and seeing progress. Many design projects do not provide that daily feedback (the result of a day's work is not in direct portion to the amount of time/effort put into it) that you get from seeing a department go from total chaos when you arrive to clean, neat and orderly by the end of a shift.

4) Design inspiration: lastly, the reason to work for Target as opposed to any number of other retail outlets/positions, is being surrounded by good design and constantly inspired by new patterns or color combos. Liberty is a new edition to the Target line and their prints are always fascinating. I've been taking pics of great colors and pattern with my phone during my shift and have even been able to discover a few new visual solutions to the design problems that roll around in my head on any given day. I also helped a guest :) yesterday to color coordinate a skimpy tank-top with a short-sleeve shirt of complimentary color and level of famine detail. Who would have thought that I'd be applying what I do professionally to this type of work?

Below is a sampling of mobile pics from my Target inspiration file... expect to see some paisley swirls, intricate Indian graphics and organic flourishes making their way into On The Vine's identity work:) 


Friday, May 21, 2010

Gypsy Punk: Renewed Interest in Roma Nations

Oh, man... I double-heart Gogol Bordello and Eugene Hütz even more after seeing this movie -- The Pied Piper of Hützovina. Loved, loved, loved it for three reasons:

1) Mainly because I share a similar passion of getting back to my heritage. My grandparents are from the same general area that Eugene and his family are from; grandma's parents were from Lithuania and grandpa's parents were from somewhere in the present day Slovkia. They played a major role in my life during my formative years -- visiting them 3x/week for my first 15 years; until their passing in '96/'97 -- at their home in a ghost-town of a former coal mining community in SwPA called, Bakerwhitely. In their old age, they still had some of their Eastern European cultural tendencies and superstitions -- ones that had seemed so unassuming to me until I visited Russia/Siberia and saw them first hand for myself as part of everyday life.

As we've been tracing our genealogies, my cousin, Rebekah, and I have hypothesized that our grandfather's family is of gypsy descent... based on the fact that they made special effort to leave the past behind when they came to America and did not tell their children (my grandfather or any of his many siblings) any particulars of their heritage; also based on the family resemblance to photos of certain Roma peoples and because we can only trace the lineage back so far -- to the region where the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Ukraine meet. Records changed hands (and languages) so many times in the early 1900s that we continue to experience trouble tracking their name/details down.

2) It reminded me so much of my trek to Siberia in 2007. The limited photos that I took could only capture a small portion of the people, places and things that I experienced. The Gypsy camp in Carpathia that they visit in the documentary looks just like some of the villages on the outskirts of town that we visited daily during my trip. Such a sharp contrast between the 'modern, city-life' and the old country life co-existing in such close proximity. Now I have a video to show to friends and family to help them to see another part of the world and culture as I had seen it. The documentary even follows Eugene to Siberia, to a city called Chita, which is only a little way east of Irkutsk where I spent most of that month in Russia. Very well done!

3) I understand now why I am so drawn to belly dancing and gypsy music. It is the nature of the culture and music... it has almost a spiritual aspect to it. The human spirit -- the history/tragedy of that dispersed and discriminated group of people who even still have a wonderfully contagious resilience to find joy (laugh, dance and sing) in otherwise miserable circumstances -- is so ingrained in the culture and expressed through that music and dancing. It's given me renewed interest in studying the language and culture again... with a new focus on the gypsy nations. I must find ways to return to Easter Europe at least once time per year and connect with more folks who share similar interests in this culture.
















 Photo from Irkutsk, Siberia: Babushkas (grandmas) are everywhere, here I am stalking three.

Happy Friday: Typography Presentation

For your viewing pleasure; and to get you through the rest of this Friday (closer to a beautiful Pgh weekend). Props to John DeGore for this epic find:


Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

Fav quote: "Don't think I'm a nerd because I've like noticed this... okay? I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions. I'm just like inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty..."

Hahaha, so true! It's the, like, cry of an entire generation, or something, you know?:)

Happy Hour at Embury (IxDA, IDSA, AIGA)


While the sequence of 4-letter acronyms is quite the mouth-full, the Happy Hour at Embury in the Strip on Wednesday night was full of wonder and tomfoolery:)

Embury is a recent edition to the Strip Distict that offers guests 'pre-prohibition style cocktails with a modern twist.' Named Embury, for David Embury, author of "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks," we indeed found it to be quite the 'intimate space featuring hand crafted cocktails, a knowledgeable staff using premium ingredients and classic American fare.'

I posed a question on my Fb and LinkedIn status, prior to the event, wondering if Embury could handle so many design nerds in one place? The answer... almost no:) With a group in excess of 20 at 8pm from all the participating design associations, we nearly had 'the intimate space' bursting at the seams.

I enjoyed catching up with AIGA peeps and meeting some new IxDA folks. Though, I have to say that I more thoroughly enjoyed the old-man-mansion-style-door (the campoflaged one hidden in Bruce Wayne's study bookshelf) leading to the restroom... fantastic! My role became, upon greeting anyone I knew who entered that evening, to introduce them to my wonderful discovery:) I am saddened however, that I did not take a pic to include along with this post. You'll have to just check Embury out and experience it for yourself. The gentleman in the above pic, however, was the bartender for the event and looked pretty much like the pic.

Chatting with the IxDA event coordinators, we came to the conclusion that we need to partner more often on events -- both social and industry-related -- since we end up doubling efforts to do the same ideas with only a limited number of volunteers. Since the design community in Pgh is intimate and tight-knit, it sounds like we'll be teaming-up and pooling resources a lot more in the future.

IxDA: http://www.ixda.org/
AIGA Pgh: http://www.pittsburgh.aiga.org/
IDSA Pgh: http://westernpaidsa.blogspot.com/
Find all of them on facebook, too.

PS: Embury article in PPG: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09190/982550-389.stm

Trying to Be Sustainable & Junk


It's been one of many plans in the works for two years now... this weekend, I finally got my first window-box garden started.

From a cute road side farmer's market stand, I snagged two great looking 1' tall tomatoes plants (Early Girl and Cherry) + a few nice flowering plants (Salvia, Geranium and a third that looks great but whose name escapes me). Target just so happened to be having a sale on planter pots and later that day I also stopped by a local nursery to add green and red leaf lettuce, sweet peas, green beans, chili peppers, green onions and garlic to the garden.

My mother has always had beautiful vegatable gardens and flower box planters adorning the yard and porches for as long as I can remember. Though, she claims that she's never been completely satisfied with her results. For me, the ideal situation is to be able to sprout the plants from seeds in the late winter, and to have an actual small plot of land to plant them in. But, we'll see how this first attempt goes before I invest any more time in the prep work and before investing a lot of $$ in any real estate.

Here's to hoping that in two months time, I'll be reporting on an abundent harvest of fresh vegies instead of mourning a vegie cemetery. TBC...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Overcoming the Overwhelming Fear of Failure (psst... it requires falling flat on your face first)

I recently discovered the design groups and subsequent discussions on LinkedIn. I love them and parusing new topics is becoming a part of my daily ritual. Kudos to LinkedIn for engaging me professionally in a way that Fb has socially.
Yesterday, on Communication Arts group, I discovered a discussion by Jarod Matthew Kessler referencing a blog article called "The Stigma of Being Unsucessful," and responded with the following on that discussion thread as a realization of the past few months in becoming okay (dare I say, comfortable) with failure.
http://www.jaredmatthewkessler.com/the-stigma-of-being-unsuccessful/
  • "Great read... aren't we all on the edge of crumbling and trying just to keep it together long enough until we get home -- so no one else will see that we're just as lost and trying to figure it all out, too?

    A designer friend and I were just discussing this over lunch yesterday. We're very similar personally and professionally. We both had perfectionist tendencies and an overwhelming fear of failure -- as designers, those are probably the two biggest things that have caused us to lament the day we stepped into the field for the first five years of our careers.

    This past winter, we both left our full-time jobs for agencies to start our own individual freelance businesses -- giving up the comfort and security of a permanent position (that we both respectively hated and that had driven us to the point of burn-out). We both also went into our respective freak-out periods of self-discovery and life/career questioning about two months later. What had we done? What kind of mistakes had we made leaving a full-time gig to try to scrap by on our own? What if we can't do this? What if we lose everything? What will everyone think when they find out? What if we have to crawl back to the old positions? What really happens when you don't pay your bills?

    Through those really tough experiences, we both came out the other side as much more confident, fearless and mature people personally and as designers professionally. Instead of being afraid of making mistakes -- and trying at all costs to avoid making them -- we both realized that mistakes are going to happen and it's not the end of the world, the end of our lives or the end of our careers when we make them (though it can still feel like it is the end for a while). We're both much less apologetic for who we are and much more bold and decisive when faced with a problem or decision (without second guessing afterward).

    The only differences in our paths have been the outcomes 6-months after initially leaving those full-time gigs. She's a very successful full-time freelance designer and I've picked up a full-time in-house marketing position while I do freelance as a supplemental income (and creative outlet). Neither are wrong or mistakes... just good fits for our personalities and working styles.

    Very encouraging to read that there are other professionals out there comfortable enough with themselves to share similar experiences and realizations. Thanks again for posting!"
When I was about at my lowest point earlier this year (January and February were personally hell for me because I had lost purpose/direction for my career and life + being snowed in for a month in Pgh didn't help), I thankfully came across an article in Reader's Digest (as luck would have it) summarizing new research to suggest that 1) failure physically makes our brains stronger; and 2) your mind-set (growth vs. fixed) is the key to finding success.
From there, I dove into more research by Dr. Dweck on her mindset theories and made some important self-discovers about my own fixed-mindset -- a another term for being a perfectionist.... not really a new idea or realization. More importantly, I came to a point of peace toward all the people who had unknowingly helped shape who I am today and with that knowledge was able to start recognizing when I was exercising that fixed-mindset (with all it's unrealistic expectations), to counter it and be a little more willing to fail in order to figure something out.
  • Mindset Online: Book Supplement by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D's
    http://mindsetonline.com/

    Particularly the page on how well-meaning parents, teachers and coaches have done number on creating a fixed-mindset in most of our generation.
    http://mindsetonline.com/howmindsetaffects/parentsteacherscoaches/index.html
    Exerpt:
    If you’re like most parents, you hear these as supportive, esteem-boosting messages.
    “You learned that so quickly! You’re so smart!”
    “Look at that drawing. Martha, is he the next Picasso or what?”
    “You’re so brilliant, you got an A without even studying!”

    But listen more closely. See if you can hear another message. It’s the ones that children hear:
    “If I don’t learn something quickly, I’m not smart.”
    “I shouldn’t try drawing anything hard or they’ll see I’m no Picasso.”
    “I’d better quit studying or they won’t think I’m brilliant.”


I hope that these resources are as helpful to all my fellow designers (as quirky and escentric as we all are) in helping to face and accept failure in their lives, businesses and designs -- and reap all the freedom that comes from allowing yourself to not-be-perfect.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Keep/Cut: 100 Friend Facebook Spring Cleanup


A recent glitch in my Facebook news feed settings -- people/businesses that I had specifically chosen to 'hide' for a number of reasons, made their way back into my feed this weekend, uninvited -- caused me to re-evaluate the unspoken Fb rule that you must keep all the people you 'friend' and the game that the more friends you acquire = you win.

Remember the old days when everyone and their mothers (literally) weren't on Fb? When you could talk to the people you wanted to talk to without the world watching? When you could post a rant or tongue-in-cheek blurb and people that you haven't seen in 10+ years (who wouldn't know your sarcasm and cynicism has aged along with you) weren't there to scold, correct, worry about you or otherwise 'mom' you via the comments?  I kinda miss those good old days...

Facebook has been around long enough that most of us have been using it for years -- I think that it's time for a little countercultural backlash. Hmm... maybe that's too strong of a phrase. It's more of a natural life cycle occurance of any new device or fad/trend -- everyone jumps on board and then there's either: a) leveling out period; or b) the thing becomes so big that it fails and off to the next bandwagon everyone goes.

There's been a lot of backlash to Fb via the privacy changes and increased advertising, but what I propose is a little less high level and more of a introspective look to take back the control of ones own virtual account/life (and maybe your mental health, too).

Spring is the time to go through your house/apt and clean out all your closets of clothes and other things collecting dust that you haven't seen or worn in a year or so. I'm going to apply the same principle to the cleanup (or in Pittsburghese, 'red-up') of my friend list. The following is the checklist of criteria that I will be applying to this slim down... the end goal; 2/3 cut down to 100 friends or less:

Keep friends or businesses if:
  • you enjoy their witty or pithy posts; wish they would post more often; virtually stock them to find their humorous allegories on other posts and pages

  • they post interesting articles or videos -- industry specific or totally random/entertaining

  • they've got their finger on the pulse of the local social scene -- the only reason you find out about 1/2 the local happenings is because a post in your news feed alerts you that they are attending a Fb event... you immediately check it out and maybe attend:)

  • they are great photographers and their compositions inspire you

  • you're building your professional network of clients, business partners, colleagues and peers -- you'll actually get to know them better through their fb posts and have something meaningful to chat about at the next happy hour or next business meeting

Cut friends/businesses if:
  • you have hidden them from your news feed (for any reason... most of which follow)

  • you forgot that they were friends because you accepted their request and never heard from them again

  • you only met them once at some event, long, long ago, and cannot (for the life of you) remember who they are or how you know them

  • on a daily basis, you have to hide more than one application that they subscribe to; when you check out their wall... all their activity involves fb applications

  • for sales prospecting purposes, they are constantly hounding you to become a fan of their business page... even after you've responded with an ignore on their past 5 page suggestions

  • their frequent posts are an ongoing matter-of-fact narrative of what they are doing right now and that they mistakenly think the world should know about every detail
    * disclaimer: I use fb as an entertaining escape and do not care to be reminded of the trite everyday; I live in it, too... it's boring and usually uneventful, that's why I'm monitoring Fb

  • they are those parents that photo-documenting every single movement of their little ones lives, AND they are not good photographers
    * disclaimer #2: I'm not a parent and I'm sure I'll do the same thing if I ever become one... many, many years from now. However, some of you could have single-handedly kept the Kodak plant in Rochester, NY pumping out the goods, had not digital killed the film. 

  • you find yourself constantly rolling your eyes when their posts pop up on your news feed; there's a whole group established around this, Reading someone's status and thinking 'oh shut the hell up;' if it's a consistent occurrence, please stop complaining about it and just unfriend

  • you discover that you share almost nothing in common anymore with the people that you knew at one specific point in your life. It's known as situational friends... it's okay that after the situation ends, your friendship comes to a close as well; some friendships don't last forever (online or otherwise)

  • you find that your views on many personally important issues and values are in direct/complete opposition AND you get really fired up when you read their frequent posts about it... just unfriend, it's not worth the time/energy to debate the issues, nothing good becomes of it

  • you're friends with a business; there was a weird early period of fb business pages where you became friends with an inanimate object. All of them now have a 'like' button. Delete the friendship and like them instead... this alone will cleanup about 100 of your friends.
    *PS:'Like' On The Vine on Fb
Of course, I'm going to have special circumstance exceptions to every point I've listed. There's going to be some friends and family members that will make the cut -- even if they shouldn't:) Though, their status updates will be hidden... oh, yes, they will be hidden.

Also note, this does not apply to On The Vine's business page... keep all your biz friends and contacts, but do act as a wall moderator and censor the posts that are negative or unbecoming to your biz's identity and continued success.

Feel free to post in the comments 1) any other checklist items; and 2) the results of your own Fb spring cleaning. I'll be cutting in the next few days... results TBC.

Note: see the update in this article.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Heart Constructivism (Part 2 - Contemporary)

(Note: see history examples via Part 1: http://onthevinecreative.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-heart-constructivism.html)

On all the applications below, you'll notice a consistent color theme: black, red, white (or off-white). Almost 20 years since the end of the Cold War, it's still a challenge to use this pallet without instilling visions of the Communist Manifesto.

Though my love of Russian runs deep, On The Vine lent itself more to an Art Nouveau inspired identity rather than Constructivism. It's my next favorite design/art movement... maybe another design history post next week.

Favorite contemporary applications and interpretations of Constructivism are below.


Neo Soviet Russian Eagle, 2008, source: http://russkieland.wordpress.com/2008/09/25/neo-soviet-russian-eagle/


Franz Ferdinand Album Cover, You Could Have It So Much Better, 2005


Franz Ferdinand, This Fire Music Video, 2004



Stolichnaya Commercial, Born in the heart of Russia, 2007



Stolichnaya Commercial, A Russian Icon, 2007


I like Smirnoff's logo, label and product design better, though... current campaign from website.




White Stripes, Seven Nation Army Music Video, 2006



V For Vendetta, Movie Poster, 2006


Of Course I have to include Shepard Fairy's work... Downtown Pittsburgh Board.



Weird campaign by Shepard Fairy for Saks 5th Avenue. Weird because principles of the Communist/Soviet-era were not about expensive/high-end shopping, consumerism or putting your own 'wants' above all else, but whatever. Another example of a design trend separated from the original ideology of the historical movement. Oh... American Consumerism (... and, dismount high horse).