Typography sucks on screen

We’re in an odd place with the whole typography thing.

Most people who look at computers on a daily basis have an idea of what fonts are. They just have no idea about how beautiful they can be.

The reason is that screens suck. They are either too low resolution (we can see the pixels) or too tiny (phones). And everyone reads screens nowadays, not paper.

Screens have sucked forever. Just that word, “screen“, is nasty. It’s like a mesh, or a veil; something you have to look through to see the real thing.

If you want a good screen, you’d better be rich. Which is why typography as an artform still only exists in print. If we remove the barrier of location, which the screen claims to have done, artwork should be look the same to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Put the same printed piece in someone’s hands, regardless of this restriction, and she will see the same thing. Stand in front of a painting, sculpture, heck–even digital art, and you see the same thing as anyone else in the gallery. Share a link to your design on behance, dribbble, or your website? Forget it. Everyone’s seeing something different, and most of them are seeing garbage.

Print is inherently ubiquitous. Physical location and space is definable. Screen is nowhere near being able to make the same claim. Screens suck, and it’s pointless to use it as a forum to discuss typographic merit of any design until screens get better, way better.

Frottage

This was one of the first techniques I learned when I began art school, back in fall ’89.

It was eye-opening. For the first time, I wasn’t responsible for every nuance that came along. The surface dictated what marks were left. Suddenly, I felt a sense of freedom from that burden of decision in art; micromanaging every line, discrediting hours of work based on unsound logic, those things were no longer mandatory.

I never recognized the role this technique played in my development as an image maker. Maybe the school I attended (SUNY Buffalo) was enamored with stuff built with frottage, or maybe it was the current “flavor of the day” in the academic art world. I never stopped using it, though.

Summer Gouaches

These have been really fun to make and gouache is just the best medium IMHO. I made a bunch of prints of them at the local shop, and after a couple of shows sold quite a few. Contact me if you want one!

Software and Experience

The longer you’ve been using an application, the less value you hold to the app developer as a user. Take Facebook. Once upon a time, it was a linear, flowing post stream. If you missed something, you missed it. Now, I have no idea where my posts go or who sees them or in what context. Facebook doesn’t give a dang about me; it’s catering to new users, trying to hook them. It doesn’t want new users to be confused. So it abandons behaviors and functionality that experienced users have become accustomed to, and absorbs whatever stuff the latest shiny hot flavor of the day social media platform might have.

It’s not just Facebook. I love Adobe products, but I feel like they’re trying harder and harder to compete with Sketch and the like. The reason Adobe software is so great is because it’s extremely powerful, and it takes a long, dedicated time to get good at. Lately though, Adobe products seem to be stripping away functionality that may seem daunting to new users, afraid that those users will head to more familiar territory.

Software should reward experienced users, not ostracize them.

TV Shows

Vikings is one of my favorite shows. Great characters.

I’ve especially liked scenes with Harbard lately. He’s an amazing, intriguing character that embodies the mythology and superstition that were rampant in that time.

My favorite line of his came during the last show, “Possession is the opposite of love”. Can’t stop thinking about how true that is. Harbard loves all the women in the village, who are lonely as their husbands are off raiding. Alyssa, one of these women, gets irate, and that’s when Harbard tells her the quote.

I also watch the entertaining “Girls” on HBO. It’s basically an NC-17 version of “Friends”. All they do is try to possess everything–the city, their lifestyles, eachother. The show portrays a sense of this amazing friendship they share, and these idyllic lives they lead, but I can’t relate. First of all, no one lives like that. Shows like “Girls” and “Friends” celebrate possession. Characters that live like that are never happy in real life. They embrace the opposite of love, as Harbard says.

WordCamp US

Quick summary of the trip:

The conference:

The location:

Weather: was awesome

Family: Loved seeing my Mom, Dad, Clare and Bob, walking around and learning the neighborhood

The Barnes Museum was too crowded. But this made it all ok.

Food: Spice End was the best thing I ate on the trip. Second best was Tir Na Nog because it was pretty good and my folks were there. Woulda been first except for the Papyrus logo. Worst was the disappointing cheese steak at some place I can’t remember. I don’t know what I was expecting. I don’t know how you could possibly beat Jim’s Steakout’s Diablo.

Travel: American Airlines came through nicely  My first experience with Uber was bad. I downloaded the app and had to put in my CC info. Being a typical traveler, screw that wallet noise. Especially after seeing a 40-60$ estimate to get me to the hotel, and the long line of GOF taxis waiting to bring me there, and especially the quote of $25 from the guy in the front. My last experience with Uber was good. A bunch of west coast dudes had an Uber XL reserved with an extra spot. They were all over 7′ tall but there was room for me. One of them (from Arizona, didn’t catch his name) paid for it and wouldn’t take my $, so thank you AZ dude.

 

WordCamp Scranton

What an awesome experience, and great job done by the organizers. As an organizer myself, I learned a few tricks and got some ideas for the next WCBUF. One thing I want to consider is killing the whole lunch thing altogether. Too many variables that inevitably go wrong. Provide coffee and water all day long, and people can bring their lunches.

I’ll write more when time permits.