Monday, January 31, 2005


I haven't made a post in a while. Not sure really why that is, but not really important, I guess. I have stumbled upon SmokyMonkeys’ website once again. This site has some incredible artwork and also has an amazing browser based game called Triglav. The only problem with the game is that it is platform specific. I am told that is actually bad practice to write an applet with Javascript (a platform dependent code) rather than Java, but I am not a developer. Aside from not being able to experience the game, it is remarkably beautiful and, I imagine, well done. The artist’s illustration skills are just gorgeous. The colors are rich and deep. You feel like you are in the world these characters live in. This seems to be the site’s 4th version, that I have seen and while it looks clean and concise, it doesn't have the painterly feel of the previous versions. I want more.

I bought my niece a sketchbook this weekend. She says she wants to draw/make comics. I think that is great. More power to her and I, for one, will support her artistic dreams as much as possible. So, to little Emily, her first sketchbook. I hope she fills it up with anything, everything and more.

Elsewhere, quite a while back, there was this outstanding short animation (clay-mation) film, by Mark Osborne, up for the Academy-Award®. I am not sure who it was up against, but whatever won must have been ridiculously outstanding. We always want More.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

This Little Piggy…

Since September 18, my life has changed. And it is remarkable and getting remarkably better every day. In just a few short months (ok, 4.5), I have experienced a sense of new life. It has grown into something that is uncategorically surreal. I am closer to my wife for it. I am closer to myself as a result of it. I am further along my path – my family’s path – with much thanks to it. Coincidentally, it is taking shape rather eloquently.

I present to you, fine readers — The Foot.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Another Mouse In The House!

So the big level 2 sonogram was today. You know, the one that they can check the gender of your baby with… Ya, that one. Anywho… we are about 90% sure it is a little girl. YAY! I am in big trouble. No doubt about it, this girl will have anything she wants, whenever she wants it. Bankruptcy will be my new best friend.

Aside from having a gleefully giddy girl (which I am actually quite ecstatic about), we are having an incredibly healthy baby so far. The spine is just amazing. It is crazy how much focus I have on a 10" long portion of baby. I suppose I was most nervous about this particular part because it is one of the first pieces that develops in the beginning. And it just looks marvelous. Like a perfect zipper on a pair of comfortable Levi’s. The first picture we got of our beautiful baby girl was of, wait for it, her foot. It was crazy. Big ’ol left foot slapped up on the plasma screen. She is gonna be a star and she knows it’s your feet (and hands) that gets immortalized. Getting started on the footprints early, then.

My wife and I were very pleased to know that our baby is very healthy. That is all we wanted really. Boy, Girl, it didn’t really matter, just as long as there wasn’t anything crazy. I am happy to report that we are that fortunate. I would like to express how happy and emotional we are about this, but the internet is a poor excuse for a narrator.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Contest Consternation

I have been involved, in some facet or another, with design as a career for a little over 6 years now. This does not include my internships. I am speaking post-graduation with my degree. I do not consider myself an artist (in that I don’t think I have the hand skills for illustration or “general” art). I am not saying I can’t draw, just that it is not my branch of expertise. I should clarify that I also do not consider myself to have an expertise in anything... except perhaps Egyptian spiny mice farming.

Anyway, this latest brooha over at Airbag got me to thinking — What are the ethics of design? I mean, what set of rules are actually enforced in our industry? Are there any rules that warrant being set? I had a portfolio review to graduate from college, but I am not “certified” or “registered”. Does that make my work less valuable? If anyone can do it, why would a company come to me to have it done?

I have noticed two modes of thinking in the thread: 1) Spec work is bad. 2) This is just for fun. Now the (1) folks think that this is what is hurting our industry; that companies can get design work done for them for next to nothing (or less) and thereby, devalue the industry. The sentiment being, “Anyone can do it, so I see no reason to pay your company to do it. I will simply hold a “contest” and get the best design for a ridiculous fraction of the cost.” Supporters of (1) make reference to the GDC and their issues with the Vancouver Olympics Emblem Contest. There are other organizations in Canada arguing the same points on the same contest. Others simply chant the mantra that “not everyone can design”. I am on the fence as to whether speculative work is actually bad or not. In college, all my work was spec. However, if a company asks 10 design firms to give them speculative work and they will then pay a fee to the firm that created the best speculative work, I find that a little smarmy. The company is essentially getting 10x the work done for 10x times less the cost. At least in my view.

The (2) folks feel that this contest has no ill intentions, the client is not out to get a very cheap logo for his company and this is all just for fun. Greg Storey (Airbag Industries) put this contest together for a friend of his creating a start-up (LedgerPaper). Mr. Storey didn’t have time to do the logo himself and thought this would be a fun, community building activity that would result in a decent logo for his friend’s company (at least, that is my take on it). He put together a rather esteemed board of judges to vote on the winning design (Jason Santa Maria, Jim Coudal, Jon Hicks and Tom Dolan). Whomever’s design gets chosen is going to get a considerable slice of attention, even if for only 15 minutes. To the winner — an iPod Shuffle, among other nifty shtuff. I think Mr. Storey’s intention was one of getting the design community together as well as creating a rather nice logo for a start-up financial company. Though Storey isn’t judging the logo himself, one has to imagine that he might be devoting perhaps more time to this contest than had he just designed the logo himself. He is certainly devoting some time to monitoring the comments in the thread. So far – 154 comments.

Personally, I don’t think I will participate. Not that I don’t have time, so much that I am just not interested in the contest. The notoriety would be swell, but I am a man that gets a little touchy when it comes to losing to these sorts of things. I know I would think my logo was the best (all designers think this, I suppose) and it always seems to devastate me irrationally to lose the “small” contests. Example: The Millennium Youth Entertainment Center — a contest was promoted asking designers of the community to design the logo for the MYEC. While mine may not have been the best, the winning design is just horrible. This was the best the community could produce? I just can’t believe that.

Also, and this is the more important reason for not participating, I don’t feel like I have the access to the client, or the interaction, that is necessary to create a logo for that business. The few posts made by The Client or even the very brief brief on the project is not enough for me. My wife is an accountant and would know enough to fill me in on what this guy’s business is all about, but it wouldn’t be his business. It would be an interpretation by my wife of his business. I just don’t think I could contribute an effective design for his company.

I can’t say whether I think this contest is “wrong” or “right”. I can understand with both side’s views. In the end, I am likely to just step back and watch how it plays out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Fleurons On The Pillow

Those crane machines at midways? Well, they have an enormous one at Dave & Buster’s. I mean huge. As I was there yesterday, enjoying the holiday and having lunch with my wife and her mother, I had the opportunity to witness this monstrosity of a quarter fiend. With a claw the size of a small child, there were prizes equally as large. A 2' diameter, blue, happy-faced pillow, for example. My wife asked me to get her that pillow in her most cutest of ways. And wouldn’t you know it — I did! On the first try. Her face lit up with that beautiful smile that I love. It is what I live for.

Posted my submission to Font Aid III in the Lab, finally. Can’t wait until the font is available.

There is an incredible debate happening at Airbag Industries at the moment. Very hot issue.

PS: My cell on Colorcell didn’t make it. It died this morning.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Font Aid III

At our last OB/GYN check-up, we opted to have some blood tests done to check for certain things. AFP tests. So far, our child is healthy and happy. Well, as long as my wife doesn't eat at Taco Bell again. Only 11 more days before the big sono!

Font Aid III is about up and I made a small contribution to the effort. I will post it to the Lab portion of my website by the end of the day (hopefully). When the font comes out (hopefully with my submission included), I will buy a copy to support the relief effort.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

News From The Blogosphere

LiveJournal, to me, has always come across as sort of the ignored older brother of Blogger. I am not going to attempt a discussion at which is better – each has their own offerings that make them unique and desirable to a vast number of individuals. One reason I chose Blogger over LiveJournal was the customization and control one has over the elements of your blog. Not to mention the power of Google behind your blog. Six Apart is a leader in blogging software and had I the means to implement Movable Type on my own website, I would be using that instead of Blogger’s great service. All this blah, blah, blah — Six Apart Acquires LiveJournal. What this means for existing LiveJournal users is most likely improved service and quality of their weblogging. Will it become a better method of blogging than Blogger? Personally, I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a good tool.

David Firth comes up with another, horrifying animated offering.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tasty Apples

Apple announces the new Macintosh computer – the Mac mini. As well as the newest member of the iPod family – iPod shuffle. Apple seems to be really pushing the super compact market. The mini is amazingly small and is only $500. However, the monitor, keyboard and mouse are not included in that price. Still a good price for Apple, I think.

The new iPod doesn’t seem to be too competitive. Now you get only a gig for $99. I have a 40gig iPod that cost... $400? I got 40x the iPod for only 4 times the price. Also, iTunes just loads it up with 240 random songs from your Library that the iPod shuffle then shuffles through on its own. To quote a friend, however, "I sho want the iPuffle."

If you read Hanzi Smatter, than you probably already read Tian’s other blog. Well, Tian learns yet another reason why Windows is just a lame excuse for an OS.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Public Markings

Awesome - iTunes has a Top 100 songs list... sadly – many are the rank Pop that currently litters the airwaves. Music is music and only iTunes could sort it out.

I want to post an in-depth review of the new marks for Williamson County and the City of Georgetown, TX. I will work on making it as unbiased as possible while still maintaining the integrity that I believe they are some fine examples of bad design. I am also trying to figure out how many blogs, or blog-style sites, create posts that have a "Read More…" link to read the entirety of the post. Ultimately, you might have to deal with a really long post.

Half the time I think my blog is just lame. Especially when compared to those like Jason Santa Maria.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Winning Shows

Blogging has become a small part of my life and, no doubt, the lives of many others. Typically, this blog tries to be concerned with typography and design. I think that when I am “on topic”, I do a good job. When I am not, the post isn’t horrible. I could be more witty perhaps… even a little more clever. I’ll tell you how that works out for me - being clever.

Anyway, there are several awards that are given out for whatever these days and I just stumbled on another one. The 2005 Bloggies. Interesting to say the least. I live in Austin and I have yet to attend a SXSW. I know — as a designer, I should at least be trying to make the Interactive portion of the festival. That sounds all well and good, but this festival isn’t cheap. Not by a long shot. It would cost me $225 to attend this year. Sorry folks, I just don’t have that kind of money to toss around for one day, for one portion of the entire festival. Going Platinum (all panels and shows) would cost me $650 ($520 if registering before Oct. 1, 2004).

“On Topic”: type type font CMYK type web design type type.

In other news: A good laugh can be made over stinky meat and its effects on neighbors.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Happy Anniversary

January 3rd marked the 7th year anniversary for me and my wife. 2004 had its ups and downs, but we made it through another year and I couldn’t be more happy and thankful. We both got great jobs. We both dove into starting a family. We both will grow stronger with each passing year.

Copper and wool are the traditional gifts for the seventh year. Roses made of wool resting in a copper bowl was my gift to her, littered with slips of paper with the reasons I love her. I will add to the bowl a new thoughts as they comes to me.

She gave me a multi-pointed star that is copper in color and gorgeous. It holds a candle and is thus illuminated from within. Also a picture gallery for displaying up to four photos. I have it in my office now. She wrote new vows for me. I will read them every day.

I love you, Melissa.


BlogAid. ’Nuff said on that.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Ninja Dopplers

New Year’s was quiet but still very fun. Obviously, we can’t do much for celebration by way of alcohol, but we managed. My brother-in-law and his wife, along with my mother-in-law (basically my wife’s family), were our only guests for the evening and we played games to pass the time until January 1st rolled around. One such game was Ninja Burger (by Steve Jackson Games), a Christmas present.

I first saw an online application for a fictitious fast food joint named Ninja Burger quite a while back. It was a simple one-page site showcasing a JPG of the application. It was hilarious. Now it is a huge multi-page site as though it is a real franchise. Hilarious! The game is based off that website and is equally riddled with hilarity.

Today was our 17-week check-up on the new addition. We had gotten rather used to the sonograms with every visit and were so a little disappointed by not getting one this round. My wife even downed a mini can of coke to get the bugger active. So, our baby was hidden from view, like ninja. Instead, we received a doppler of the baby’s heartbeat. Holy crap! There is really something in there, growing, developing, having blood pumped through its little body. Amazing. The sound of the heartbeat was just incredible. I could listen to it all day…