Jan 27, 2007

Shifting Position

I've been thinking in the past few weeks how to position myself and The Visual Field. To be honest, I have no expertise in positioning, but I imagine it's really nothing more than putting your particular approach to design into a succinct, clear message. A little like finding the spoke around which to spin your work.

So after giving it a lot of thought I came to this conclusion:

Our approach to design lies in interaction: the line which turns a passive consumer into an active explorer. Direct interaction is the point at which (the way I see it) a consumer invests him/herself in an experience. And personal investment is invaluable to creating a bond between a brand and a consumer. But wait...I'm a designer...why am I talking about brand experience and consumers? Shouldn't I just be talking about using the right mix of form and material?

Well, I am. Experience is a form and interaction is a material. Take a look at the evolution of art during the 50s and 60s. Increasingly you see a strong movement from paintings, sculpture, drawings, etc. to performance, to experience, to an involvement of the viewer. Interaction is as vivid (if intangible) a design element as color, space or material. Performance art has been deemed as valid a form as oil painting.

So we, as The Visual Field, are viewing our work through interaction. We are "Active Designers" creating "Active Design." The elements of our work are called "Active Ingredients."

"Active Design" can apply to all forms, not just the most obvious. Of course it includes online interactive experiences (websites), but also forms which are usually passive experiences (street posters, commercials, stationary). From here on out, we approach everything from solving the problem of how to bring a consumer to interact physically, emotionally, and mentally.

details developing...

Jan 17, 2007

The Tenuous Relationship

We designers love our work. A lot. We're like mama bears cuddling our precious cubs. Cute right? But, alas, there are other creatures in the forest. Take for example, the wayward hiker (our client). Sometimes a hiker (client) will inadvertently wander into the mama bear's (designer's) territory and separate them from their beloved cubs (work) by suggesting changes or offering disapproval. This is when the urge to kill (to kill) rises in the mama bear (designer). But if the mama bear attacks the hiker--who happens to be armed to the teeth--the mama bear will be sadly offed (fired) and the cubs (work) will starve and die (become a waste of time).

So how can the mama bears (us, you, me) keep their heads about them? Well, here's how I think you do it:

A client (hiker) is never wrong. If there is a weak link in your presentation, the clients are usually spot on in detecting the errant piece. but they may not have the vocabulary to truly express what's wrong with it. They may just say "I don't like this so and so, try something else altogether," or maybe they'll give you a specific direction: "We don't think this element should have this so and so, do this instead."

That kind of relationship is like a hiker poking an already angry bear with a stick. Speaking for all the legless wonders out there (they're the lucky ones) this is not something you want to do.

As a designer it's our job, surprisingly, to ask for something more from our clients. Yes, they're paying for our services and if they want something they should get it, but they're also paying for our expertise, for our eyes, for our vision. It's our job to listen, to help them explore a vocabulary for their concerns, to help them feel around the problem until both we and they have a true sense for what's ailing the work, at which point--if we've done our jobs--the solution should be clear to both parties.

By keeping an open dialog you disarm your client. Demanding legitimate communication keeps your client from treating you a bit like a trained monkey and allows you to create real solutions for your client, instead of just taking orders.

Why do I preach so much?

Jan 14, 2007

Feeling Fresh?

Lord knows we are. Today, Sunday, January 14th, we have launched the new Visual Field website. We'll be tweaking over the coming weeks; adding, subtracting, salting to taste. We just thought you should know. Whoever you are.

Jan 11, 2007


My breakfast tasted better than any breakfast I had ever eaten.

Jan 10, 2007

The End Is The Beginning Is The End

Today, my friends, is Independence Day.

It is my last day at my day job: Neighborhoodies. Tomorrow I jump headlong into the world of self-employment.

I am so stoked that I'm having trouble breathing. Well, it's either that or I'm developing late onset asthma. Either way, I need health insurance.

Before I Forget

I just wanted to remind myself that staying loose (psychologically that is) is so important to turning on my imagination (which is really the best little designer inside us all).

If I've got some preconceived notion of how something should look before I actually get into it, I've lost the battle already.

I'd prefer to squoosh a bad design whose details I've been fiddling with for four weeks (and send out a better design idea that I spent 5 minutes on) than put something immaculately ugly out there with my name on it.

In summary: Don't be afraid of the "delete" key. Use it freely. If you use it too freely...there always "Apple+Z."


Here's a fun poster I've just finished for The XYZ Affair's 4 day tour with Pela, The Teeth, and The High Strung. Should be a good time. It's pretty self-explanatory. It made me chuckle. Hopefully it does the same for you.

Jan 9, 2007

Apple Inc. post #308,129,999

If you belong to the cult of MAC, today is was a big day. Today was the day we all drank the punch and waiting for our intergalactic flight. Well, we got it. The unveiling of the iPhone put the end point on the life line of many industries. Apart from combining the ever-dominant iPod with both a full-functional wifi web browser, 2.0 megapixel camera, and phone, Apple also managed to reinvent the basic operation of a cellular phone.

As a designer I can't help but be impressed, but I'm also a little jealous that I couldn't get in on the brainstorming process. Wouldn't you have liked to have been in the room when they came up with multi-touch touchscreen idea. What's that? You want to zoom in on that photo? Hmmm...well why don't you pinch your fingers, touch the screen, and expand them.

Not to be just another voice of praise, but that's stupidly brilliant.

Why am I talking about this? Well, you can't be a graphic designer and not appreciate Mac. Not only because their identity, packaging graphics, & product design are beautiful, but because their products (mostly computers) make your work and life better, or at least more stylish--which, when you're a designer, means better.

Jan 3, 2007

Okay...Here's Something

So, right now, I'm sooooo predictable. My work is about as corporate and bland as it can be. I think I've come to the point where I need a major shake down.

You know what did it? It was a really simple thing. It was the Lifelong Friendship Society's webpage. the background image takes FOREVER to load. You know why I don't care? Because It's awesome. That background image is worth every second. They ignored a major caveat of web design: Don't keep your public waiting. But, like I said, who gives a shit how long I waited? That background image leaves that rule in the dust and pisses on its mother's grave.

How can I implement that kind of rule breaking into my current work? I don't know yet. But I feel a post on how to break rules coming on.

Article 1 in my manifesto states:
Design should be surprising; sucker punch, hand-buzzer, frogs from the sky, finger-in-the-gun-barrel surprising.

I think more rule breaking might be a key element in creating surprising design. It seems so obvious now that I said it out loud.

Thank You, Jessica Pearson

I officially love the Lifelong Friendship Society. Please, God, allow me to make things half as cool as this. Preferably as.


Click here

Jan 2, 2007

It's So Now

You may have thought that because of the holiday season I'd be taking it real easy. You'd be wrong, El Capitan. With days off from my day job (only one more week to go) I'm working harder than ever. Here's a few things I'm working on right now.

Below are some business cards my brother and I collaborated on for our father. He was fussy as they get. Enjoy:

The general branding was done by my bro, I was more the layout artist here. I think they came out rather nicely. The way the words and logo on the front form a kind of building-scape is nice.

Next, I'm working on a logo for toy manufacturing startup. These are some of the first attempts. I'm having a trouble striking a balance between the two halves of their name. They are, as you can see, Intellitoys. They are a technological toy company. Cool right? Well, yes and no. As a designer, my task is to marry the cold ones and zeros of modern computer-chip technology with the cuddly-wuddly feel of a much-loved teddy bear, all the while remembering that their target market is the new "Apple" generation of iPoders, iTuners, and PodCasters with babies. Whew. I've got one word for you. Sisyphus.

I am open to ANY AND ALL suggestions/insights.

I got so POSTED on New Year's Eve

Today I dipped my toes in the sweet, sweet waters of freedom. I took today off from my day job so that I could stay home and catch up on some freelance work and make a few calls and arrangements.

Surprisingly, I found myself not sure really what to do with my time. I'm an extremely fast and hard worker when I know what to do, but I realized...I didn't know what to do. I made a to do list, but found myself still floundering about for a bit. Truth is, I couldn't really figure out my priorities. I did a bunch of miscellaneous quick tasks--emails, etc.--but by one o'clock I realized that I hadn't gotten anything substantial done.

I decided that I'm going to need to really concentrate on prioritizing my time. I came up with some loose rules:

1) half of my hours will be devoted to billable clients, the other half to the studio itself (i.e. blog posts, making calls, working on the soon to launch website, etc.)

2) I will not prioritize tasks by what I WANT to do most, but by what NEEDS DOING most. That's tough.

3) I will not touch my guitar until after 6:00. Ever.