Art Imitates Life

More Art than you should ever need.

To celebrate his 100th birthday, noted graphic designer Paul Rand’s 1947 book “Thoughts on Design” was re-released. While reading it, I was struck by this passage which could easily apply to web designers today:

Consciously or unconsciously, [the designer] analyzes, interprets, formulates. He is aware of the scientific and technological development in his own and kindred fields. He improvises, invents, or discovers new techniques and combinations.

When he wrote that, Rand was referring primarily to the field of print design, but I think this can easily be applied to any medium. Whether you’re working in oils, watercolors, video, print or the web, you’ll produce your best work if you truly understand the medium.

Wise thoughts from Brad Frost:

Jack Bishop and I gave a presentation at BK.js a few weeks ago about progressive enhancement for the mobile web (thanks Marco Carag!) During the Q&A, someone asked “With all this diversity and inconsistent/shaky support for this Javascript for mobile browsers, why don’t we just rely more on HTML?” EXACTLY. Yet it was asked as a question. There’s a mentality that in order to do create functional experiences in the browser, especially for mobile, you need to use some hardcore JS framework, rewrite the scrolling logic, add a bunch of interstitial animations, create overlays and add swipes. I have nothing against frameworks or these techniques, but for whatever reason people think they’re a prerequisite for creating mobile web experiences. They’re not.

Via GigaOM, an explanation of Louis C.K.’s novel idea:

With the release of his latest standup special Live at the Beacon Theater, comedian Louis C.K. went straight to his core audience with a cheap, easy-to-stream and easy-to-download distribution strategy. He asked interested viewers to pay just $5 via PayPal and in exchange they were given access to two streams of the show and two downloads of the show.

I hope this works out for him (and I’d like to see others try it is he is successful).

Helpful links that I’ve been collecting.

Responsive Web Design (RWD) Overview

Image Solutions

Tricks and Tools

Love City!

Sly and the Family Stone, from an aborted live album (recorded October 5, 1968 at Fillmore East). The horns on this remind me of the “Mean Machine” cheers in The Longest Yard. I can just picture the transvestite cheerleaders on the Fillmore stage…

Work is done for the day, laundry has been started, and the dogs are asleep. I took a few moments to work on a recently digitized Todd Rundgren show from January 20, 1988 in Tokyo. He’s a one-man band in this show, performing with a rack of sequencers and computers. I saw him do a similar show in Chicago around this time, and it was quite a bit of fun.

Here’s a guitar-only version of Hammer In My Heart.

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Author/designer/genius-kinda-guy Mark Boulton puts forth the proposition that responsive design is creating a new canon for web designers and developers.

In the real world, responsive design is nothing new. Products adapt to our needs. Technology monitors local environments to adjust lighting, temperature and even physical spaces. But what about web? In designing with words, the desire to bind content to a device has been around as long as there have been books. Mark will take you from desire to implementation, from theory to practice. How can we build upon what we know from literally hundreds of years of responsive design practice to define a new era of online publishing? An era where we strive for the same level of human / technology connection that started with the monks.

View his slides, listen to his talk.

Spec work:

A Bay Area employee described what happened last year when he and about a dozen co-workers realized employees with years of service were being paid less than new hires doing the same work. Agitated about the situation but concerned about retaliation, the workers committed to a plan: during the approaching round of annual one-on-one meetings between workers and managers, they would each ask about pay disparities. Those workers who did ask received a consistent response: “Money shouldn’t be an issue when you’re employed at Apple.” Instead, managers said, the chance to work at Apple “should be looked at as an experience.” “You can’t live off of experience,” said the worker interviewed.

Since I finished digitizing my CD collection, I’ve turned to my boxes of cassettes featuring bootleg concerts. (Bootlegs, by the way, are live recordings, not pirated, and don’t constitute theft.)

One of the perks is rediscovering music I’ve loved in the past, but have let drop out of my internal jukebox. Take, for example, Material Issue. I was a big fan early on, and the International Pop Overthrow album was a favorite for quite a while. They were standard bearers of that muscular kind of Chicago power pop – great hooks and harmonies, strong beats, master showmen. Take a listen to a gem from a 1992 concert, the first single from their second album:

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(If you’d like the whole show, Power Pop Criminals has you covered.)

Sadly, most of Material Issue’s stuff is out of print. The surviving members of the band (Jim Ellison passed away, tragically, in 1996) released a 20th anniversary edition of the first album this year. I urge you to pick it up.