Tossed-off visual experiments and ephemera.
Random design thoughts.
Sporadic behind-the-scenes chatter.

New web host, new site activity

Good news: if you can see this, I've managed to jump to a new web host, without completely destroying the site in the process. Yay!

What's cool about this is mostly cool-to-me stuff. For the nerds out there, I've finally wrestled Drush into shape. I admit, I'm a little embarrassed that it took me so long to do so, but, hey, it does now, and it's awesome. Helps remove quite a few of those excused I'd toss in my own path whenever I'd think up something cool or new I could or should do with this site. Goodbye, tedium of syncing up the local development environment...hello, needing to find new excuses not to run more updates to the site in the future.

Forward-facing updates are minimal at this point while I still kick the tires on my new processes but I'll go ahead and point out the "What's New" block down in the footer and the brand new contact form, two items I can at long last cross off my site to-do list. More fun stuff to come. (I've learned a thing or two over the last year, like from the BECA project, which I'm itching to push a bit further where I can.) There's also been a few cosmetic updates, namely around the blog, which is still responsive but a bit more bold with images at the larger screen sizes. I'm planning on giving myself a little more flexibility with blog post types, to accommodate for more or less text-heavy blog entries. I'm still fussing with a few things. It's cool. More to come.

Pictured above: a bit of the sass behind the site theme. I, uh, need to refactor, just a bit.

Simplification

The common advice for any piece of design or art or writing is to remove, remove, remove, until nothing's left to be removed without destroying the work. For me, I find myself fascinated by maximal works, and I struggle a bit from time to time looking for ways to add to something, to make something more lush, more complex, more detail-rich. So sometimes I have to trick myself into adding detail and layer I wouldn't have put there manually. And so we get things like the attached image. Simple ways of getting at not-necessarily-simple results. (Image created in Blender.)

Fascinating advice

I've been experimenting a lot with Blender this year. When I'm not using it to work on Or Eve, it's been easy to kind of stare at the screen, like, uhm, okay, now what? So, pop open a quote directory site, click refresh a couple times, and, well, there you go. Words. Words will do nicely.

Thanks, Goethe.

(Click here for the huge version.)

I sincerely hope you failed to notice how awesome this site is

I've been engaging in web design in some capacity or another since the <blink> tag was a thing. That was a while ago. It's entirely possible I used that tag myself. (What can I say, it was college, it was an experimental time, everybody was doing it. And, to be fair, that was before I learned anything about good design. Or design at all.) In that time I've concerned myself with the state of the web enough to have actually cared about how things have changed and how they continue to change today and will change tomorrow when this entire post could well wind up feeling like it was written by some pre-web-4.0 neanderthal, what, did they code the web 3.754 by banging bones against rocks, or what?

One of the latest web movements is toward responsive design. That and, like, front-end compilers, but I'll save the really nerdy stuff for when you and I are both drunk, or when I am trying really hard to avoid a much more important project or post. You can skip the rest of this paragraph if you're already up to speed on the technique (or you can read on and have a good laugh over all of my mistakes and hacky explanations). Responsive design is, essentially, a web designer's way of keeping his or her sanity in a world full of web-enabled mobile, tablet, computer, and who-knows-what-other devices. Without it, either we're stuck building separate sites for every device or type of device that might need access to its content, which, gross, or, we're forced into building sites that work swimmingly on one very specific device and then we spend the rest of our days hoping they work at least well enough on other devices. Non-responsive websites built for desktops may or may not look or even work on phones, while websites built for phones will probably look silly on 27-inch monitors. By building a single site, however, that checks the size of the screen or browser window and positions and styles content accordingly, designers can make most all site visitors happy, and still have time to sleep at night, now and then.

It seems kind of like a no-brainer, except, for some reason, back in 2010 or whenever it was I first learned about it, I'm pretty sure I shrugged it off. I don't remember why. Maybe I hadn't slept the night before. Did I have a bad head cold? Had I literally gone sub-no-brainer that day? Don't know. What I do know is that sometime between my initial shrugs and the design and launch of FoldedNoteDesign.com, my misgivings became oh-yes-please-yes-givings, and I created this site using a responsive design.

Which, for a portfolio site, one focused on images, seems a little strange. Of course I want you to look at this site in a browser where you're going to see every image in its 1200-pixel-wide glory. Revel in the details! Behold the depth of the textures! See my work in its best light! But, aside from the pure geek thrill of diving into a big old pile of technical problems just begging to be batted around like cat toys, there was also the realistic desire to get you to look at my stuff, whatever device you've got at hand, quickly, without you having to wait for 27 MB image files to squirrel their ways across the network and onto your screen.

That said, a big concern I had was that I didn't want the site to be about its responsiveness. Its responsiveness was just a means to the end of showing you a thing or two about what I can do with color and hierarchy and paint and stuff. There was a certain "bedazzled factor" at play in the early days of the technique. By which I mean, when you pull up a responsive site on your browser window, and you start changing the size of the window, you can see all the changes happen at different window sizes—in geek speak, "breakpoints." Pull your window out to its full width, you see the site optimized for desktops. As you shrink it down, though, whoa, everything starts moving around and changing and suddenly it's like you're looking at the site's slimmer cousin. It might seem weird to you if you don't expect any portion of your monthly take-home pay to be the result thinking at least a little bit about how good web design works, but, there was, at least for me, something positively hypnotic about those first brushes with responsive design. Swooping the browser in, yanking it back out, hours, days, entire weeks spent watching menus appear and disappear and content panels move and un-move. It was all so fancy and geeky and...and...bedazzly!

Of course, I don't remember a single thing about those sites now, other than the "OMG" factor.

Whoops.

That was something I knew I wanted to avoid with this design portfolio site. I wanted everything to look pretty good based on the size of your screen when you first loaded it, and while the site would respond just fine thank you very much if you were to start playing the browser-sizing game (which you can do with this site, honestly, I won't be offended, it is, after all, only natural, and, if you're thinking about contacting me for web design services, you should probably know that I know how this does work) I didn't want to create a design that would pull you away from the content and toward the frame. I wanted a responsive site that looked great without looking responsive. And so—after a lot of technical implementation details and other design concerns that may or may not be the subjects of future posts—in December 2012 I launched FoldedNoteDesign.com, a responsive portfolio site designed to do just that.

And then I went and wrote this long blog post talking up all that stuff that I designed so specifically not to talk itself up, because, after all, it can be hard sometimes to sell details that don't come wrapped in convenient <blink> tags.

Tags: 

On drawing, writing, design, and mistake-making

I wrote a post over on Medium about drawing, design, writing, and mistake-making, in no particular order. It begins like this:

I was supposed to be a writer. I was supposed to get out of school and work a desk job for a year or two so I could say I did the desk job thing once and then I was supposed to go back to school and publish a bunch of short stories that would effectively silence the debate over the existence of an imaginary line between “genre” and “literature” and then the novels and the interviews and then the money and the fame and the autographs and then the tragic death at the age of 104 and the long life after death down through all the following generations down through the words I’d left behind and the being the inspiration where once I’d been the inspired.

The circle of life.

I certainly wasn’t supposed to be a designer...

You can read the rest here.

It's an interesting post in that it really did start out as a behind-the-scenes essay about my thinking behind The Reds, the graphic novel I started working on last year. (The graphic novel I have recently started trying to get my head back into this year when I finally released the one chapter I've completed.) (The graphic novel that, I suspect, is not exactly what a graphic novel is supposed to be.) But through one happy accident or another it became about something a little more complex and a bit more personal than that. Which, given the theme of mistake-making, is probably the only possible way that post could have gone.

Of course, I still need to come back to that original idea for a post, about my rationale and thinking behind that chapter. We'll see what that post becomes the next time I attempt to write it.

Flower Bud

I don't much know plants from weeds, so my opinions on what happens around the outside the house don't exactly carry the most weight. But I do know a good splash of color and texture contrast when I see it.

Photo taken May 2013, posted October 2014.

Pages