I put in my two weeks at Jefferson. Which means my last official day will be October 12th. There are a lot of reasons for the job change, some personal and some professional. More on that later, but right now, I’m just feeling very free.
Nothing strikes fear in John’s heart quite like The White Board.
The White Board and I have a long relationship. I’m a list-making kind of person, and I find it hard to keep everything in my head that needs to be done. The busier it is, the more I feel like I’m constantly forgetting something, unless I write it down. But this, this is nothing. I bought my first White Board when I was in grad school, about the same size as this one. And that sucker was FILLED. With the dry erase marker equivalent of about 8 point font.
So when The White Board makes an appearance, I’m not just busy, I’m THAT busy.
Over Labor Day weekend, we drove out to Columbus for a vintage baseball tournament. John played, I took photos (well, actually I played in the ladies game, and then John took photos). At any rate, I had this idea to make a website for them. Behold!
I’m not sure how I want to go about constructing this. On one hand, it might make a nice project on which I can learn how to use WordPress as a CMS tool. On the other, I kind of really want to use Lightbox for the photos. Decisions, decisions.
I managed to get a few pieces together for this exhibit. If you want to check it out, it’s at the Frank L. Melega Art Museum (in the Flatiron Building). Opening reception is on Saturday, September 25th, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. I’ll be shooting a wedding, so I can’t make it up for the opening. It runs through Sunday, November 21st, and will have a closing reception then from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
I ended up doing a photo essay from the vintage baseball tournament we went to in Ohio. More photos to come on that, but here’s what I entered.
I was one of those kids that couldn’t decide on a major. I was interested in art, in science, in education. I still am interested in all of those things.
I started out in Elementary Education, then added a Graphic Design major. I realized at some point that I would rather teach at the college level than K-12, and dropped the education major. I had more than enough credits to have a minor, but I didn’t have enough in any concentrated area. I’d taken credits in Zoology, Chemistry, Ballet, French. Many of our other design students took a minor in marketing or communications, but I used my free electives as a chance to take whatever classes I found appealing.
I was also in our honors program (oh yes, I was THAT kid). I loved the way that our honors program was set up. There were a few courses you were required to take to graduate in the program (Honors Composition, Honors Orientation, and a Thesis course). Our program really stressed interdisciplinary study, and every spring, we had what was called a centerpiece course. It rotated between science, art, and social science. To take the course, you were required to create an addendum to another class.
At California, you could turn any class into an Honors credit by doing an Honors Addendum – some extra project that you would arrange with the professor. I did an addendum to my Intro to Music class by taking violin lessons, to my Photography class by creating a cyanotype, and to Intro to Earth Science by creating a Flash animation that explained weather patterns. For these centerpiece courses, you’d have to tie in another class you were taking that semester, and write a seminar paper that would apply to both.
When I see agencies that are pulling together design and technology, it’s just a natural way of thinking for me. I’m fascinated with TED, and projects like Deeplocal’s Nike ChalkBot or Nikon’s Small World. Creating connections between different fields, between different ways of thinking, finding new ways to disperse ideas. Design is design, whether you’re talking print, web, or automated chalk-spraying robot.
Combining science with art allows you to get a message across in new ways, but it’s the message that drives the technology. Without purpose, without research, these sort of projects would still be interesting, but they wouldn’t be useful. Infographics are often criticized as making data harder to understand, instead of easier, rendering them useless. I’d agree that this is sometimes the case, but many data visualizations I’ve seen have managed to be both useful and beautiful.
As mobile and interactive media become more pervasive in our society, the intersect of art and science gets larger, and the possibilities for design are nearly infinite.
This was supposed to be done at the end of August. Just sayin’
We’ve had near constant generator noise since the beginning of the month. I’ll miss the lack of traffic going through here, but I won’t miss that noise.
I’ve been posting my word art projects for a bit now, but I haven’t been posting them as I do them. I’ve scheduled them out, to pop up on the blog in between regular updates. Fairly common for people that keep blogs. But you can see all of them, side by side, on my website.
Looking at them, all together like this, I noticed a trend. I love me some white space. Sometimes, very literally white space.
It isn’t client work, which means I get to design a piece however the hell I want. Still, I’m trying to communicate whatever meaning I got from the text. There’s a feeling that I want to get across. They don’t share the same goals as a logo or a website, but I still look at each as it’s own visual problem to solve.
When left to my own devices, I tend toward clean, simple, plenty of breathing room. I like to boil something down to its most basic parts. Or as Einstein put it, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Maybe I should add that one to the list.
At an agency I worked for, the boss man told me to “lose all the wasted space” on a layout. Space is money, and something (anything) could be printed there. Pixels are free. But in print, white space is a bit of a luxury. If you look around, you’ll notice that ads for budget places are packed to the gills with print. Text, images, shove something in there, because we’re paying for that space.
So what’s with all the “wasted space?”
There are a lot of advantages to negative space. You may not be getting as much information onto a page, but the information that is there can be communicated more clearly. Giving elements some space aids legibility – blocks of dense text are more difficult to read. Elements that are grouped together are often perceived as one item (it’s called the Gestalt Effect – see, I was paying attention in Psych 101). When images are grouped together with little space between them, your brain can read it as one big object. (This can also be used to your advantage, if you want your user to perceive disparate objects as a group.)
Which leads me back to communicating more clearly. Visual hierarchy is based around the idea that when everything is screaming for your attention, no one thing gets it. Establishing a hierarchy will lead someone through your layout – one element will pop out, then they’re led to secondary and tertiary elements. If you’re doing your job right, they’ll notice the most important thing first. There are plenty of ways to do this, and negative space is one of them. If you have a header with a lot of space around it, followed by a block of dense (by comparison) text, the header has more “visual weight.” When you came to this site, did you look at the header logo first?
Negative space is as deliberate a choice as any other decisions you make while designing. I don’t use white space because pixels are free, or I couldn’t come up with something to put there. I use white space because it belongs there.
Another fun food assignment from City Paper, this time I got to check out Los Chiludos in Canonsburg. This one was especially fun for me, because they have an open kitchen – you get to watch the chef do his thing.
Check out what the folks at CP thought of them.
I’ve been asked to participate in a photography exhibit that they’re having at the Frank L. Melega Art Museum (the Flatiron building, for you local folk). It’s called “The Working Press: Time Captured”, and it’s featuring work by local photojournalists.
Their description: “This is one of the first photography exhibits in the area to focus on photojournalists. The outstanding work of press photographers, preformed on a daily basis, is often taken for granted, but the impact of the still image in telling the story and confronting us to stop and understand its importance is resounding. This exhibition promises to be a powerful statement of the world around us.”
I’ve got to pick a few pieces to submit, then get them matted and framed by next Sunday. I can submit up to six, but all of them may not be displayed. Honestly, it’s like picking your favorite kid.
Some time last month I got a call to head out and do a shoot for the Herald Standard. You can read the whole story on their website. But the gist is that while she planted a perfectly normal looking pack of cucumber seeds she’d bought at Lowe’s, what grew was lemon cucumbers. She gave me a few to take home, and they’re really pretty tasty.
This is going down in about 5 days, thanks to the very cool dudes over at 40/60 photo and The Mischief Committee. I’d imagine you can still get in on it, if you are so inclined. I went ahead and filed it under “Oh, hell yes.”
The website is done!
No, I mean it! Aside from necessary content updates, the design and layout are finished, and I’m finally really happy with it. You may notice that it looks effectively nothing like the sketches I posted earlier. Once I started adding some content, and moving some things around… the layout I’d come up with just didn’t work anymore. And I couldn’t help but think that I could do better.
So I put even more time, and even more thought into it, and it makes me happy when I look at it now. Unfortunately, the blog no longer echoes the web design (which is just a branding no-no). But that’s a project for another day.
This past February, when we got two feet of snow dropped on us, we decided to take off for Florida. I thought I bought an assortment of black & white film. But one of them turned out to be Fuji Velvia 50, which is slide film. Oops. I brought it on our Florida trip, and while I did bust out the slide scanner at work and get them digitized, I haven’t brought those files home yet.
So who wants to see some vacation slides? Eh?
I had a conversation with the husband the other day, about these.
John: “These things on your desktop, did you download them as a pack or something?”
Me: “No, I made those.”
John: “All of them?”
Me: “Yes, all of them.”
John: “Cool. Why?”
Much like photography, design is something that I just love doing. And since I’m not getting to any of it at work since the web design has been finalized, I’m looking for other outlets. I’m also looking for other work. I miss design.
Plus my desktop’s had the same background for something like 6 months now, and that’s just inexcusable. So I guess my only real answer is “because I can,” or maybe, “because I need to.”