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Illustration/Animation Project Yule Log 2014 Donates Licensing Fee to C/I

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 08, 2014

Dan Savage © Yule Log 2.014The second season of Yule Log (Yule Log 2.014) has been published, featuring the illustration and animation efforts of over 80 artists. The website features 70 short animations of yule logs curated by the animation studio Oddfellows. This year’s selection features the imaginative creations we’ve come to expect, such as the espionage-inspired Silent Knights by Joe Russ, Ben Tillett, and Syd Weiler; Chris Lohouse and Salih Abdul-Karim’s homage to 1920s cartooning, Stay Tooned; and Erin Kilkenny’s lovely retro, Smoke on the Water.

Yule Log creator Dan Savage designed the project to reimagine WPIX-11 (NY) TV’s Yule Log broadcast loop. Last year’s publication was a huge success, with over 1 million viewings and extensive coverage in industry blogs. This year, Viacom/MTV licensed Yule Log 2.014 to play in their lobby. Their licensing fee – all $2,000 – was donated to C/I, an organization which teaches computing, leadership, and professionalism skills to underserved high school students in after-school programs, camps, and paid summer internships.

Top right: Dan Savage's contribution to Yule Log.

Below: (clockwise) Silent Knights by Joe Russ, Ben Tillett, and Syd Weiler; Stay Tooned by Chris Lohouse and Salih Abdul-Karim; So You Say There's a Chance by Ege Soyeur and Nick Petley; Log Ride by Impactist; Smoke on the Water by Erin Kilkenny; and Hello Old Friend by James Wignall.

© Yule Log 2.014

Best Typography Websites Showcases Fonts in Action

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 12, 2014

Designer Jeremiah Shoaf showcases webfonts in action in his ongoing blog series, “The Best Typography-Based Sites…” Every month, Shoaf showcases his favorite websites, discusses the typography behind each, and provides links to both the websites and the foundries featuring the webfonts. The series is avaluable tool for designers — the web fonts are shown in action, and a wide range of websites are covered. For example, “The Best Typography-Based Sites of October 2014,” covers sites created for a design and illustration studio, a law firm, a restaurant, and a magazine.

The blog is hosted on TypeWolf, Shoaf’s website determined to “help designers choose the perfect font for their next design project.” (Earlier articles in “The Best…” series are hosted on Type and Grids.) For those who need a daily inspiration, Typewolf publishes a “Site of the Day” as well. A comprehensive resources page includes learning resources, links to purchasing and hosting webfonts, foundries and type designer, blogs, forums, organizations, and books.

Below: The Best Typography-Based Sites of October included this elegant design for Violaine & Jérémy, utilizing Stanley, Regular, and Caslon typefaces. Image used with permission.

Violaine and Jeremy interface, featured Best Typography-Based Sites of October

Exhaustion, Obsolescence, and Self-Worth

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 24, 2014

In May, designer Jason Santa Maria published an article speculating on what course his career (and life) would take should he ever stop designing websites. Considering the impressive trajectory of his career, the article was notable. Santa Maria is a Senior Designer at Vox Media, founded of Typedia and A Book Apart, formerly worked as creative director of An Event Apart and Typekit, served as an AIGA/NY vice president, authored On Web Typography, and currently teaches at SVA’s Interactive Design program. What would make an individual with such extraordinary experience question his future in his chosen field?

In “What’s Next,” Santa Maria explains that he’s preparing for the possibility that someday he won’t be able to (or interested in) continuing his career in web design: “I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think that there will be a time when I don’t want to, or can’t — due to fatigue or professional obsolescence — work in this industry anymore.” He worries that his own fascination with bygone skills, such as handset typography, and his drive to explore deeply into topics will leave him off-guard as technology progresses. He concludes by speculating that “[f]lexibility in work habits and in thinking, rather than languages and programs, might be our most useful skills.”

However, in a follow-up article, “Correspondence with an Ex-Designer,” Santa Maria reveals a deeper disquiet that lead to his soul searching. A reader named Ruth responded to his earlier article by describing her journey from designer to sheep farmer, reassuring him that “(w)hat’s next — all depends on you, what motivates you and what makes you happy — there will always be new challenges, but that is what life is all about...” In his response, Santa Maria spoke of his “exhaustion [that] comes from the industry often taking more from us than it gives” and his growing sense of disconnect. Again, he found that Ruth’s reply was on target: “Keep working on it — it is important to you, in your own personal development — that development is important — not the expectations of anyone else. Self-worth is so important.”

With the daunting external factors facing creatives — marketplace pressures, client expectations, the unceasing need to up one’s skills — the exchange between Santa Maria and Ruth is particularly reassuring. It highlights the commonality of professional burn-out, and provides some insight into the personal strength individuals can draw from. Here’s to hoping that Santa Maria continues to find his inspiration, and in doing so, share his story.

Photograph of Jason Santa Maria used with permission.

© Jason Saint Maria

Dorm Room Tycoon: Information & Inspiration

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 07, 2014

Dorm Room Tycoon sounds like a startup founded by a 20-something cobbling together the next big Internet sensation. In fact, it’s a collection of podcasts with innovators in design, technology, and business. A wide range of design disciplines is covered, featuring the likes of Jeffrey Zeldman (webdesign and coding), Erik Spiekermann (typography), Swiss Miss (communication design), and Jason Saint Maria (interactive design). The interviews are a relaxed exchange, as DRT founder William Channer and the interviewee seem to wander from topic to topic. Listening to the podcasts is rather like overhearing two very bright people having a comfortable conversation.

Channer started DRT in 2011. As a creative and mobile product designer based in London, he was frustrated by the dearth of solid advice on building a startup business. Reading profiles of entrepreneurs in technology publications exacerbated his frustration, since most articles focused on irrelevant life stories, or perpetuated origin myths. Channer decided to conduct his own interviews that would focus on questions about process, drawing out practical advice and life experience. He chose the name, “Dorm Room Tycoon,” to reflect the idea of starting small and doing something big.  

Channer has applied what he’s learned from the DRT interviewees. Just this year, he launched Panda, a web app and Chrome extension, which provides a steady stream of news and inspiration. The web app provides a split screen with news feed of article links on technology, design, and job listings on the left, and thumbnails streamed from portfolio sites Behance, Dribbble, and Awwwards on the right. The news feed streams from technology and design aggregators, such as Hacker News, sidebar.io, and Layervault Designer News. Users can add the Chrome extension to their browser window, book mark the web app,  and subscribe to Panda’s  weekly newsletter.

Below: The speakers featured in Dorm Room Tycoon are tagged by color codes: red for business, green for technology, and gold for design.
Image © Doorm Room Tycoon. Used with permission.

Outdatedbrowser: Show them the Rainbow

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 31, 2014

Outdatedbrowser illustration © BürocratikWeb developers complain that testing websites for outdated versions of browsers is one of their biggest headaches (as well as a huge, frustrating time suck). Portuguese digital design agency Bürocratik has developed Outdatedbrowser.com, a lovely solution that encourages users (in the nicest, most colorful way) to update their browsers. The developers at Bürocratic have created a script that coders can incorporate into their website code. The script detects whether visitors to the website are on old browsers, warns them if they are, and offers a button-click to remedy the problem. If the user clicks onto the “Update my Broswer” link, a drop-down graphic permits them to select from the five most popular browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.

The script works well at detecteing outdated versions of the five major website browsers, going back as far as IE6. The script also does not force the visitors to update their browsers, but rather simply makes the recommendation; users can continue to visit whichever website is utilizing the script unimpeded. This addresses concerns website designers have on behalf of users who are reluctant or prohibited from updating their browsers (such as individuals working in corporate offices with strict IT department restrictions on downloads).

Developers can download the full package of JSS, CSS, and language files from Github, and the Outdatedbrowser website offers simple instructions to embed the code.  A version of the package has been developed for coders working in WordPress, as well as a RubyGem package for Rails.  

Images © Bürocratik. Used with permission.

Outdatedbrowser screenshot © Bürocratik

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