Studio window

I have a bunch of birds that hang out in the trees outside my studio window. I got my good camera geared up with a zoom lens and I try to take photos when I see them. Still getting used to the camera, so expect improvements over time. Here’s the latest:

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.