Communicate with certainty
and your Voice will be heard.

Monthly Archives: March 2012


For the past several weeks we’ve been under deadline, and as we come through to the other side of a major website launch we thought we would share some great videos from the fantastic 99% Conference to tide you over until next week when we’ll return to our usual publishing schedule:

In this high-energy talk, Frans Johansson illustrates how relentless trial-and-error – coming up with an idea, executing it on a small scale, and then refining it – is the distinguishing characteristic of the greatest artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Why? Because humans are not very good at predicting which ideas are going to be a success. Thus, nearly every major breakthrough innovation has been preceded by a string of failed or misguided executions. So, as Frans says quoting Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

 

In this wide-ranging talk, ethnographer and leadership expert Simon Sinek discusses the importance of trust, authenticity, and meaning. Sinek argues that as individuals and companies, everything that we say and do is a symbol of who we are. And it is only when we communicate our beliefs authentically that we can attract others to our cause, and form the bonds that will empower us to achieve truly great things.

 

Photographer and filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman shares the lessons learned from his iconic WISDOM project, in which he interviewed “elders” around the world, including Chuck Close, Bill Withers, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Massimo Vignelli, and many more. Zuckerman talks about the anxiety we feel as we start a new projects, how fear can help us get things done, and the importance of honesty and good, old-fashioned hard work.

 

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts written by Antonio Ortiz and published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients. 

There are few things more inspiring than a beginning, perhaps only an ending. Humanity’s fascination with the end stretches back to the dawn of religion when the first creation and destruction myths were told. Yet we seem ever more possessed with the latter as intuitively we know all things end. One need only look at the yearly predictions of the end for proof. Such forecasts will invariably grow more prevalent with 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar, approaching (though their calendars ended fairy regularly making the doomsday connection meaningless). This obsession’s roots can be expressed as a single question: what will remain of us after we’re gone? From this single question endless amounts of work have poured forth, from best-selling novels to blockbuster films.

WasteMy personal interest in the post-apocalypse stems from the way it turns the tables. To us, our constructions seem indelible but most trances of humanity would be wiped off the Earth within a couple centuries if we weren’t here to maintain them. A look at the haunting photography from post-fallout Chernobyl is a chilling reminder of this fact. But such devastation doesn’t require a nuclear accident to occur. All that is needed is time and nature as the photography of Peter Lippmann beautifully illustrates in his series, Paradise Parking and Photo Finish.

Paradise ParkingCamera4Of course there was no era as obsessed with the end of world as the decades of the Cold War when both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. seemed a hair’s breadth away from pushing the nuclear launch button. The aesthetic from that era speaks of hope for a technological future mingled with the fear that civilization wouldn’t live long enough to see it. The website for Small Studio based in Australia captures this era wonderfully with a modern graphic twist that is to die for. I love the simple one page horizontal design. My only gripe is the reliance on large light boxes for additional information where I think a more elegant solution could have been integrated. As a side note, I feel that almost all of these one page sectional sites require some code to cause the window to lock onto each section so you don’t end up between two when scrolling.

Small StudioI was inspired to do an apocalyptic post after seeing the following short, RUIN by OddBall Animation. More is to come which has me very excited. I hope to see this made into something, anything, I can pay for. It’s just that good! I love the setting especially. The overgrown skyscrapers sate my desire to see what an abandoned New York City would eventually become. The cinematography is gorgeous, resulting in one of the best chase sequences I’ve seen in years.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

Avast pirates seem to be the hot new thing. Between last month’s Wired and Megaupload woes, it’s impossible to escape these swashbuckling bandits of seas both wet and digital. Probably every illustrator has drawn a sexy pirate and now I’m no exception. She turned out pretty good but could use some ratio refinements and such. For the time I’m happy with it.

Figurehead

Of course it’s not happenstance that Pirates, in their classic crusty form and otherwise, remain such a popular subject for creatives worldwide. Something about their almost noble quest for freedom and booty overshadows their darker aspects. I remember growing up scared stiff of pirates with tales of Black Beard and the like. However, three Johnny Depp movies later I’m not so fearful.

But pirates aren’t only relegated to their 18th century ships. The ideas they represent: independence, camaraderie, freedom and exploration with  a dash of questionable morality have reached into nearly every genre imaginable from sci-fi (Firefly) to non-fiction (The Social Network). Yet despite the dark overtones, a key aspect of any pirate story is the child-like longing the induce. The artwork of Peter Ferguson exemplifies this story-book view of pirates, and many other classic themes, gorgeously. His crisp sepia-toned works are equal parts Rockwell and fantasy.

Sealegs

MudsharkFerguson’s pieces have an unavoidable story-book feel but their complexity defies such a simplification. His composition’s are extremely nuanced to the point that the small images available on his website cannot possibly do justice to the work. Furthermore his sense of texture, perspective and color is impeccable. While his commercial work all has a very similar feel to it, it’s nice to see his magazine, personal and sketchbook work to get a better feel for his versatility. It’s hard not to think of turn-of-the-century commercial illustrations when going through his portfolio.

One can hardly go anywhere on the web without running into pirates. That hacker-geek culture would take up the monicker seems inevitable. Yet for all their digital raiding, internet pirates lack any sense of design (see 4Chan, Reddit and Pirate Bay, Anonymous being an exception). However some in the internet community, like Bones of Themble, took the theme of pirates and did some beautiful things.

BonesThe beautiful artwork aside, this site is clear and wonderfully laid out. The animated HTML5 header is very well done as well. Moreover the site is marvelously responsive, going to a still one-column layout on resize. Bravo.

But let’s not forget the pirate’s Scandinavian counterpart: the Viking. In tribute, please enjoy the following music video/rock battle/robot fight. A classic but still amazing.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

I share a sentiment common with most of you (I hope): I love food! There are so few similarly universal aspects of life and I’ve already covered a major one in my dreams post. It seems only fitting to focus on food this week as we wrap up a cuisine related project.

I never understood picky eaters. There are so many amazing things out there to taste and try. I always opt for the strangest, newest option whenever ordering off a menu and while what I get may disappoint, at least its a new experience.

Head Eater

While today’s sketch started a metaphor for the hunger of my brain, I feel its suitably food related. It represents my craving for new information, often food related as I said above. I’m always exploring new recipes to cook and unique things to eat. In fact, I love cooking since it’s an art form you can eat. I’m working from home today so this became an exercise in digital art sans my normal tools, namely my tablet. Tough sauce.

While food can make for a fascinating subject, it can also be a stunning medium as evidenced by the food photography of Ilian. While food art is something we’ve all played around with, either on the dinner plate or on a Halloween night, Ilian’s work showcases a whole other level. He turns these organic canvases into sleek modern works of art.

http://www.ilian.co.ukCarrots

Of course what’s a fine meal if not accompanied by fine drink, specifically a complementary vintage. Switch Wine is a small wine bottler based in Australia with a gorgeously simple site. It follows the trend of scrolling sites with animated elements based on your position but I quite like their minimalist approach and the beautiful graphics that accompany each vibrant page.

Switch WineMost people typically eat the best and strangest foods when they travel. There’s something very special about trying new and exotic foods abroad; every meal is an adventure. This STA ad, one of an amazing series, encapsulates that great feeling of being presented with a beautiful dish in an out-of-the-way restaurant far from home and taking your first succulent bite. Yum. Savory. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s lunch time.

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

This week we are in the midsts of a large project deadline. Inspired by the situation here is a post on that theme that was originally posted on my blog:

Unexpectedly the origins of the word deadline appear in a book I am reading. The book mentions Benson John Lossing’s “History of the Civil War” (1868) and describes the birth of the word. “Deadline” is said to have appeared for the first time during the Civil War when a general in charge of a military prison, having a shortage of supplies and therefore no fence, drew a line around the perimeter of the prison. If any prisoner crossed the line and attempted to escape soldiers were authorized to shoot to kill.

“Seventeen feet from the inner stockade was the ‘dead-line’, over which no man could pass and live.”

The birth of the word as serious, intense and stressful as the feelings we experience when approaching our version of a deadline.

And a deadline is something else too.

Despite the troubling circumstances the dead-line was a clever solution to what was a real problem for that general.

Next time you find yourself starring at deadlines feeling like they are the enemy remember that deadlines are part of the solution to the problem you are trying to solve.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts written by Antonio Ortiz and published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients. This edition of The Thinking Mechanism is cross-posted in the blog SmarterCreativity.com.

Some say our ability to recognize ourselves in our reflections is a defining human characteristic. From Narcissus to Snow White, our obsession with reflections has permeated our lives. You could say this is an extension of our vanity and consciousness. A close relative to reflection, symmetry, is in fact one of the most important aspects of any creative work. Either playing to or against it can create striking works from simple elements. We seem to prefer this sameness but asymmetry can be just as potent if not more so.

Reflection

Deadlines loom and thus today’s sketch is a quick one. More of a proof of concept rather than a full piece. Reflections have been integral to my work. It is by looking at a mirror that I learned much of the human face and anatomy. In fact, to this day when I draw a face from scratch it looks quite similar to its creator. I’m convinced it is this self-modeling that makes it easier for artists to make things that resemble themselves. For instance I’ve always found it easy to draw tall lanky men but difficult to draw female, elderly, or fat people without reference.

Christian Montenegro experiments with symmetry extensively in his vector work. I love how his work evokes the medieval portraiture of old while maintaining a modern graphic and comic feel. Many feel like details of some larger Bosche piece, a classical favorite of mine, seen through a modern illustrator’s lens. In fact, many of his series deal with similarly classic themes such as the Seven Deadly Sins or Tarot Cards (seen below).

El Gran Jardin Amoroso

Anger

Of course there is no lack of symmetry in web design. Most pages rely on it in fact, with small exceptions made for logos and menus. But few do it with the precision or resplendence of the website for studio Soleil Noir’s 2012 New Year’s wishes.

Soleil Noir 2012

The site is a mesmerizing cacophony of color and animation. Truly, I’d say this is less a website as it is an interactive power point presentation. However I have to commend it for its use of  brilliantly colored, overlapping and animated elements. Sadly it has the same failings of many of these ever-so-trending parallax scrolling sites: performance, navigation, purpose, and smoothness are all lacking.

If you stick solely to the navigation links on the right, each slide animates nicely. However as you scroll they begin to slow down. Thankfully the animations are not driven by the scroll itself like on so many other sites of this ilk but since they’re all animated seemingly all the time, performance seems reduced (I find it ironic that one slide is titled “believe in flash” but the entire site is done in HTML5). Also, the lack of a clear purpose makes this an interesting art piece but little more. But this is fitting as the piece is meant solely to highlight what the company is looking forward to in the New Year, a visual resolution list of you will.

What spurred this interest with reflections, symmetry and mirrors this week you may ask? Well it was one well done, rainbow colored (this week’s sub-theme apparently) video. Reminiscent of an OK Go music video for its lo-fi ingenuity, the music video for Off the Wall by Yuksek is disarmingly gorgeous. After feasting your eyes on its magnificence I’d suggest shutting down your computer and enjoying your reflection in the darkened reflection of your monitor. Not only will you disconnect for a bit but you’ll get a feel for what your poor computer has to stare at all day. Enjoy!

The Sketching Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Mondays, containing the artistic musings of Mobile Designer/Developer Ben Chirlin during our Monday morning meeting at the NY Creative Bunker as well as his inspiring artistic finds of the week.

This week we’ve been under deadline and taking little breaks here and there to follow TED2012. We would like to finish the week with a TED Talk fresh from the TED2012 stage from our friend Peter Diamandis.  He makes a case for optimism — that we’ll invent, innovate and create ways to solve the challenges that loom over us. “I’m not saying we don’t have our set of problems; we surely do. But ultimately, we knock them down.”

 

 

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts written by Antonio Ortiz and published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.