Sunday, November 9, 2008

Field Trip: Factory Design Labs

Thursday we had a chance to visit Factory Design Labs in Denver. The most obvious difference between Factory and the two previous firms we visited is that Factory is a larger firm. They have around 100 employees, while Anabliss had 6 and Ironton had maybe 10.

The firm is located in Cherry Creek, which is a very nice area. The building itself is brand new and beautiful inside and out. Everyone was diligently working while we were there, but we did get a chance to speak with several people. The designers seemed to be split into small teams according to the client project they were working on. There was a sense of camaraderie that was apparent between everyone who works there.

My favorite part was getting this super-sweet Bjorn Borg sticker with Factory's logo on his shorts. Thanks to everyone at Factory!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


The unbound concept continues to develop. 
unbound ( is up and running.

I found the below images researching the idea of unboundedness in mathematics.

The first one is the graph of a calculus function. It's an elegant, curvilinear line amonst a bunch of straight perpendicular lines. As x approaches infinity f(x) can always be found between the shaded region. This I realized after a little closer inspection of the image, which I think is a little too math-y.

The next image is a section of the Madlebrot set. When computed and graphed on the complex plane, the Mandelbrot set is seen to have an elaborate boundary, which does not simplify at any given magnification. This qualifies the boundary as a fractal. An important characteristic of fractals is that they exhibit self-similarity. Not just that, but unbounded self-similarity, you can zoom infinitely in or infinitely out and they remain similar or identical in structure. This could be an important addition to the philosophy of unbound.

The next image has to do with oscillation. As it approaches point p, the wave oscillates infinitely many times without converging with itself around point p. Which is pretty cool. I could possibly see a version of this wave function image as maybe providing a sort of frame for the unbound logo. I could widen the dark area and put my logo inside, or even enlarge the image and use it as a bg for an entire page.

Anyways, I ended up creating versions of both the fractal image and wave function image in Illustrator. I made a 1200x1200 background image of the fractals first and used it on unbound. I didn't hate it. Then I made a version of the wave function image at 1200x1200. So far I definitely like it. It's the one I used as the background. I made the other background image into a sort of footer-banner decoration.

The last image is an example of a fractal tree. It exhibits many of the same self-similarity aspects that fractals do through the method of unbounded branching. This branching concept also appears in interactive narrative and game design theory. It needs a little work, but it could be a nice addition to the concept. 

So there you have it. Check it out at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Unbound Identity Concept

The new assignment is to create a portfolio website showcasing our identity. I have yet to learn any Flash, but HTML and CSS I can do. So building a website is not a problem, but my And before I can create an effective website about me, I'm going to have to develop a concrete and cohesive identity concept.

Not at all "in love" with my logo concept, I have doodled around with the idea of an RC logo.

My main issue is that I don't really have any concept behind the idea of the wave. The R and the C look cool together, but why do they make a wave?

Thinking about concept, I recognize a certain minimalist tendency in my work. From this idea, I came up with 'streamline' as one of my core design tenets. After more brainstorming, I eventually came up with "Unbound" as a design concept. I think it is an elegant concept drawing on my interest in science and mathematics. Unbound also connects with the design world from the perspective of unbound books, paper, etc. and in that same line of thought with the paper-free environment of the internet and screen-based design.

Below is a quick mock-up of my rc wave design utilizing my new Unbound concept.

I still don't love it, but it's coming along. I'm going to keep thinking about this whole Unbound idea. More to come...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

David Foster Wallace Is Dead

His elegant complexity was the perfect counterpoint to (my second favorite dead literary figure) Kurt Vonnegut's elegant simplicity.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Photoshop/Illustrator Parody Software

Something I "discovered" in my digital art class...

Adrian Ward is a musician and “software artist”. He creates generative art software products which parody well-known graphic art creation programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I’ve been fascinated with the concept of software art since I first read about Adrian. As a budding graphic designer, I find his programs to be quite entertaining. His programs appear similar to the well known programs, but do unpredictable things. For instance, you can create shapes in his Auto-Illustrator program and apply “creative”, “destructive”, or “inspirational” filters that generate odd creations. Or apply a “childish” setting to the regular shape tool to create ‘circles’ which are actually random squiggle patterns. Also available is the ability to add a slogan, product image and tagline to parody an Apple or Ikea ad. There is also a program that uses the existing images on your computer to generate a real-time montage of a person named Netochka Nezvanova. All of the programs must be purchased and downloaded, but some have free demos available.

Adrian doesn’t simply create images or games digitally, he creates programs which can be used to create digital art. However, rather than just making utilitarian software programs, his programs have entertainment value and are (in some ways) intentionally non-functional. So, the medium really is the message.

His programs rely on existing forms of art such as literary parody and image creation technology, but add the idea of informality of behavior, cut-ups and combinatory image creation, and (obviously) interactivity. He also touches on Nam June Paik's ideas of cybernated art helping us cope with cybernated life, as well as Wiener's concept of cybernetics--the relationship between people and their computers.

This is pretty incredible stuff...

Field Trip

The class recently took a field trip to two Denver design firms. Both very professional and very different.

First, we stopped in at Anabliss Design Studio. The president and creative director of the company, Matt Coffman, was our tour guide. His company was very tidy and well-kept. He introduced his small staff and spoke about his work, his clients, and his dog Boxer. We were treated to several examples of past print projects as well as a discussion regarding one of his most recent clients, Warren Village. All of the work exhibited was beautifully designed.

Our second venue was Ironton Studios. Jill Hadley Hooper showed us around and invited us into her inner sanctum to view a few of her illustrations. I would describe her office as 'artistically cluttered'. I felt very much at home. While in her office I found myself a little distracted by her book collection. She had stacked in the corner several titles I have read, including Dee Brown's "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", as well as several more that I intend to read, such as a series of Joseph Campbell books, an approximately 3 inch thick book titled "Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde", and a positively enormous typography book. I couldn't help but feel a certain psychological kinship.

I would sincerely like to thank Matt Coffman and Jill Hadley Hooper for their hospitality.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My brand

The new Practice of Design project is to develop a brand for ourselves. The process of developing a brand for someone who is not exactly sure what his chosen field of expertise will be has proven to be rather challenging. However, being a student of design, I began at the beginning. That is, I treated the task as though I was developing an identity for a client.

First, I defined the problem: Using my current interests in web design and illustration, I decided to call myself just that, a web designer/illustrator/graphic designer. My plan is to try not to associate myself with any currently existing design firm as I hope to become a freelance designer. With that, I did a little research on the internet as to how other illustrator/web designers have branded themselves. I quickly noticed that many of my future colleagues out there (who shall remain nameless) have logos that I consider to be rather busy, with too much going on, or appearing too 'clip-arty'. Others have logos that appear to have been created by professional designers who have been creating logos for many years. These logos are simple, to the point and elegant. So I decided to try to go that route.

Next, I doodled. My doodling resulted in many pages of really bad attempts to make my name look cool or 'logo-y'. I quickly realized that I could either go the corporate route or more of a typography-based route. My corporate idea was deemed too generic and "inside the box". 

After that I decided to change gears completely and start over with a blank canvas. That's when I came up with my current design, which consists of three lines and resembles a wave (sort of) but is actually an 'R' and a 'C', my initials. I think it's simple and elegant and exactly what I'm going for. My only criticism is that it's not obviously the logo of a graphic designer/illustrator/web designer. It is, however, the best logo consisting of an 'R' and a 'C' that I have personally come across, so I'm sticking with it. 

The coordinating letterhead consists of only the RC/wave logo centered at the top of the page.