The fine folks at Instrument, hands down one of the best digital creative agencies, have released a new experimental projects which pairs a short film with contemporary web technologies. Titled The Build, the film follows the lives of three motorcycle builders – Casey, Thor, and James – as they discuss their lives and passions.
This film is everything I truly love about Portland. First, it’s about makers, people who really do get their hands dirty and are passionate about what they build. Truen Pence, Instrument’s resident filmmaker, does an incredible job of capturing each of these guys as they ride around town or in the woods of Oregon. And from tech side it’s great that Instrument is pushing HTML5 video and WebGL to do some interesting projects. It makes me excited for the possibilities of film on the web and how the two could mesh together even more to create some truly unique experiences (see also: Carly’s Cafe which Andi wrote about).
Off the top of your head, how far away from Earth do you think Mars is? If you were to ask me I’d say something ridiculous like, “a million billion miles.” Now there’s a rather fun way of answering that question: a pixel-by-pixel journey from Earth to Mars which takes place in your browser.
Created by David Paliwoda, How Far Is It To Mars? starts with the simple idea that the earth is 100 pixels wide, as you can see above. If the Earth is 100 pixels wide then it would be 3000 pixels to the Moon (which would only be 27 pixels wide, for comparison). You then zoom down the page, travelling toward Mars at a rate of 7,000 pixels per second. It honestly takes a good minute or two to get down to Mars, which ends up being 428,000 pixels away.
You really need to just click the link and do this for yourself. Using pixels and the browser as a way to measure scale is actually a really neat idea, one I haven’t personally seen before. I feel like we might start seeing more of this sort of exploration in the near future.
Over the last few days I’ve really been getting into the festive spirit by visiting It’s a Shape Christmas. This special seasonal website is a digital advent calendar that features the work of 25 illustrators from all over the globe. Created by Shape Design Studio, the project is now in its second year and they’ve really brought together a great selection of talent and built a great looking website around their work.
Everyday you can unlock a new illustration from the calender, with illustrators creating Christmas themed pictures based on a number of different shapes. You can take a look below to see some examples of these including Barney Ibbotson’s hexagonal snowflake, Brandon James Scott’s circular present and Dave Raxworthy’s triangular birdhouse. They’re all great pieces!
Best of all, each illustration is also available to download as a wallpaper for either the iPhone or iPad so you can visit the site each day and get a brand new festive wallpaper. What more could you want! Go check it out here!
The other day I was trying to think up a tweet that would best sum up my feelings about Instagram. Unfortunately 140 characters just wasn’t enough for the ideas I had in my head, so I figured I’d write in a bit more depth, especially with the arrival of the new Instagram profiles.
It’s hard to believe that Instagram is only 2 years old. It’s occurred to me that your Instagram feed is a digital scrapbook that can be shared with others. Having the ability to look back through a collection of photos brings back memories for yourself and informs other people of what your life is like, whether they know you or not. Surprisingly there’s never been a service that’s been able to hit the nail on the head quite like this.
I think there might be two reasons for this: Social and Filters. The social part of the equation instills a sense of obligation. Most people aren’t going to post a ton of shitty snapshots onto their Instagram like they might on their Facebook. The filters part is a step in the upload process that makes you stop and consider if what you’re about to upload is worth a damn. This ties back into the idea of social obligations. In the end you have people sharing less mundane photos in order to produce a semblance of what they feel their life is.
With the release of Instagram profiles you can now share your feed with anyone. You can see mine above or click here to view it on the web. I think this is extremely helpful when it comes to people like my mom, who may not want to actively take photos on Instagram. This gives her a peek into what I’m doing, just like a scrapbook might.
The design is clean and straightforward, with a bit of interactivity in the hero area where the images fade in and out. I do think it’s weird that the area at the top is your most recent photos, especially when you scroll down and see them again. Wouldn’t it be better to have randomized photo in the hero area? The idea of seeing an old photo I’d taken would be great. I’m also not sure why they put divider lines between each row, it’s not like these are collected any other way than chronologically.
Overall I think the Instagram team really nailed he profiles and I’m looking forward to seeing how they evolve in time. Hopefully Facebook stays out of the mix.
Last week I was at a backyard movie screening speaking to a friend of mine who was looking to have a logo made. She told me that she’d been recommended a guy in Portland from a friend who said he was pretty good. Knowing a few people in Portland I asked what the guys name was in the off chance I knew him. I didn’t, so I Google’d the guy, and nothing came up. I asked my friend to spell the designers name, thinking maybe I had misunderstood, but still nothing came up. My friend was being set up on a blind design date with a guy who was going to charge her $1500 to $2900 for a simple logo design.
This astounded me.
I often tell people, “It’s 2012, we should be _________.” – I guess I have a lot of notions of how the world should be. I find it hard to believe that in 2012 that a freelance designer who’s charging $3k for a logo design wouldn’t have a portfolio of any kind. It’s like going to buy a car and not being able to test drive it. It’s like going to the butcher shop and being hand a brown paper package filled with mystery meat.
Being a successful designer means that you allow the web to do the work for you. If you do good work people will find you and they will hire you – if you have a portfolio. Example – I decided over the weekend that I was going to redesign our apartment as it was feeling a bit cramped. The one thing I really needed was a place to put mine and Kyle’s keys and to hang our dog leashes, those random front door accessories. Randomly browsing the web I came across a Kickstarter project called Clip Tree, which was exactly what I was looking for. I found out about the Clip Tree through this article on Fast Co. Design who instantly turned this recent grad student into an industrial designer in the spotlight. All he had to do was put his work on the Internet.
I think it’s an absolute must to have some sort of web presence. When I speak to design students my advice is always the same – put your work out there for the world to see. Having a web presence doesn’t need to be complicated either. I personally prefer for a designer to use a portfolio site that’s out of the box like Cargo than try to be artsy and make your own website. Even sites like Dribble, Behance or Flickr will showcase your work in a clean, organized manner that gets the point across. I’d even be happy to know that a designer has a Twitter so I can get a sense of their personality to see if I’d want to work with them.
Granted, my totally inflammatory headline more to freelance designers, but even so as a designer you should maintain some sort of blog or Tumblr to express opinions and ideas. I honestly can’t imagine a designer who doesn’t have strong opinions. Isn’t that the whole point of designing to make something the way you see it?
Honestly though, this piece should probably be titled If I Can’t Google You You’re Not Real.