Susan Kare, Iconographer Extraordinaire!

An exploration of ways to represent Innovation graphically led me to the portfolio of Susan Kare. The name may not sound familiar, but her work certainly would be. Susan Kare has been designing interface icons since the birth of the interface in 1983. She is responsible for the folder, the paint brush, and the trash can, to name a few.
I highly anticipate a Mongrel Expose on her work, but in the meantime you can check out her online portfolio!


Expose: F.H. Pierpont

I developed a brief presentation after spending a surprising amount of time doing predominantly inconclusive research. The gist of which was:

Frank Hinman Pierpont was an American engineer who worked in Germany, then England and is responsible for 'overseeing' the production of Monotype Corporation's works in Salford from 1899-1936. He is credited with the design of the typeface Plantin, although I have my own suspicions that this too was simply 'overseen'. 
References to his personal character lead me to believe he was a rigid, argumentative fellow; but I was not alive in the 1920's and therefore have no way of being certain.

I can, however, confidently assure you that this is the whole of the reliable information on him. Should you find more, that does not rely on wikipedia as its sole reference, please feel free to correct me. 

Morison, Stanley. A Tally of Types:  With additions by several hands. Ed. Brooke Crutchley. New Hampshire: David R. Godine, 1999. Print.
Type and Typography. New Jersey: Mark Batty Publisher, 2003. Print.
Meggs, Philip, and Rob Carter. Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1993.
Macmilan, Neil. An A-Z of Type Designers. Yale University Press. 2006


He does care when you cry - at least inversely.

While unrelated to design, this little gem was interesting enough to make it into my archives for future exploration. Who knows? I might someday design a tear factory.

Women's Tears are a Turn Off

Loving Jackson Pollock

Pollock and the Drip, by Arthur C. Danto for the Nation, Jan. 1999, has sent me down the rabbit hole in search of another, somewhat recently read, mentioning of Jackson Pollock.

This article, in a magazine I can only describe as thin, high-gloss, high-brow, and of standard dimension, outlined Pollock's special relationship with left-brained viewers. Left-brained individuals generally detest abstraction and favor realistic art, sometimes to the extreme (aka photography). Research, sited in this article I cannot find, found that these realism-loving left-brainers had a special appreciation for Pollock's works. It was, in fact, a complete anomaly within left-brain - right-brain art preferences. The article proceeded to explain how the left-brain processed visual input and why it was that Pollock was an exception to expectation: his works are mathematically resonant with nature itself; perfectly organic.
I'll continue my hunt for this fantastic snippet, but in the meantime feel free to learn a little more about Pollock's unique accomplishment in this related article in Discover magazine.

Related: The Unconscious Brain on art appreciation.

Make Music Like the Pros!

says Web 2.0 via Facebook via my Pandora account. Pro standing for "professional", in case anyone has forgotten.
Sony intruded on my Madeline Peyroux groove ('feat' Ray Charles and Billie Holiday) to tell me about a great new opportunity - now I can visit Sony on Facebook and learn how to remix a Bob Dylan classic with the Ting Tings, et cetera, and possibly win amazing Sony Prizes! 
I'm not sure exactly what Keen would have to say about this, but I'm sure it would be poignant (and emphatic). 


Web 2.0 - Know It When You See It

It occurs to me that those of you outside of the conversations taking place here at SCAD may not see the immediate connection between an article on friendship and design. Allow me to illuminate.

When napster kicked off in 1999 (sited), most of us thought "Sweet. Free music." Since then we've watched from the sidelines as the music industry fought legal battles to ban the file sharing that was eating away at their revenues. Then the FBI began warning us against illegal replication at the start of every movie. There was a general sentiment of nonchalance - the music and film industries paid their stars millions, what was a few bootleg copies to them? (Pause here for a moment of silence in honor of the thousands of individuals responsible for the production of 'We R Who We R' and 'Sex in the City 2')

The threat starts moving closer to home, though, when design becomes public domain. Don't pretend you're not somewhat threatened or at least annoyed by sites that convince users they can Design their own Home!  or Learn Designer Secrets. The truth is, the Do It Yourself (henceforth referenced as DIY) movement has been nibbling at the edges of the Design profession since design became a profession. The only difference being that now,  it has the internet in its back pocket.

It's not the profit loss that really sets us professionals on edge - frankly, if you're happy with the ducktape-spraypaint version of whatever it is, then I'd rather not have you as a client anyway. It's the sensation of watching design's mystique and prestige run down the drain. It's knowing that we're all up against the public perception of "If anyone can do it, then why is it so expensive?" or for those of you familiar with the more rural parts of the country, "I don'eed no fancy...." There is also, of course, the passionate but loan-paying student in the back of your mind murmuring quietly 'if anyone can do it...but it's hard!... if anyone can do it, then why am i studying so long to learn it...?'

Consider, also, the newest insult to design professionals: Crowdsourcing. Now you can compete against teenagers with a bootleg copy of CS4 for the praise of an uninformed client - for FREE! That's right designers, you can work without pay! (outside of school, that is.)

What does this have to do with facebook? Everything! The internet as we know it, aka Web 2.0, truly is a world wide web; one that is rapidly flourishing and tightening its grasp on social systems globally. Don't get me wrong- I'm not about to sell my human trappings and devote my life to escaping Google. I simply believe that it is worth our energies to pause and reflect upon the new mechanisms of connectivity. It seems to me that technology seems to pose us with the same timeless question: 'I know we can, but should we?'

I would love to interject here with some save-the-day optimism, but I haven't really wrapped my mind that far around it yet. I can, however, offer this tiny snippit of insight: When the Industrial Revolution took hold in the 18th century, people were petrified that the machine was going to replace them all. Now, technically it did... but they evolved with the new opportunities and became, well, us. Designers are nothing if not innovative. Who knows what amazing opportunities we might elicit from the unstoppable Web 2.0.

[ readings to consider include Cult of the Amateur, You are Not a Gadget, and The Long Tail. feel free to suggest more. ]

Do you really think you have 10,000 friends?

The facebook phenomenon puts all of us in the awkward position of accepting or declining the virtual "friendship" of those we hardly know. But what does it actually mean to be a facebook friend? Take a look at this article from Psychology Today on the significance of virtual friendship.

Psychology Today : Facebook and Friendship