All Posts in The Sketching Mechanism

Maybells and Magnolias

October 15, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

Autumn is upon us. Along with its cool breezes comes the ocher beauty of fall leaves and yellow sneeze-inducing pollen. Allergies have long plagued me but thankfully they only strike between seasons. I look forward to them subsiding soon. They can come from nearly anything and they effect us all differently (if we're so unlucky) yet our pollen-producing friends are surely inspiring.

A doodle of strange flowers turned into probably one of the best digital paintings I've done to date. After watching a nifty tutorial online I think I finally have basic color blending down.

In spite of the sinus irritation, my allergies remind me that I still live in a world dominated by nature, even if I rarely see it living in a city. Nick Pedersen wonders in his works what our urban lives would look like if left alone to be taken back by the wild. A sole explorer wanders through the overgrown streets in search of food.

Nothing represents fall more than trees. I have vivid childhood memories of the streets overflowing with the long brown strands of pollen dropped by the various large trees on our street. I'd imagine all of that junk swirling about in the air, getting inhaled and causing my endless sneezes. The Inspire Conference uses wood as an allegory for the craftsmanship involved web design. The cute character crowning the page and rich textures throughout the site reflect the conference's values of quality and invigoration.

Ok so it might be a bit of a stretch to call pollen-producers inspiring. I'll admit, they can be real pain. It can be difficult to get much of anything done when the pressure in your skull distracts you from getting even the most menial tasks done. Add to that the constant supply of tissues, cough drops, nose drops and other assorted mucus-related items you may require and one can easily lose most if not all productivity. Yet this week's video goes to show that at the end of the day anything, even as miserable a thing as all this, can be truly inspiring.

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Malicious Meritocracy

October 08, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

Sweet sweet revenge. We are obsessed with it. This stems from our inherent sense that there must be some sort of justice in this world. What better form than that met out by dubious heroes and benevolent baddies. The irony of course is while we may root for the vengeful protagonist, we almost always acknowledge that something is not quite right about the scenario. Ultimately the vengeance begets tragedy, from Hamlet to Moby Dick. At best a lot of people die, at worst everyone does--though at least the former makes good fodder for sequels. Yet we can't help but love our anti-heroes doing whatever it takes to make things right, even if neither we nor they know how to make such vigilante justice into a lasting solution. Such tales, despite their repetition, are evidence of one thing for sure: revenge is inspiring.

Further, terrible, efforts at digital painting. This week: the main character from the new game Dishonored. "Revenge solves everything" is the game's tagline.

Soldiers are duty bound to protect their masters and honor. As such they're the center of many revenge stories. In my mind, it is impossible to think of the vengeful soldier without thinking of the Japanese samurai, the paragon of the honorable warrior. One of my favorite graphic series is Lone Wolf and Cub, the story of a samurai with his young child on the run for a crime he didn't commit. Their goal: to avenge his wife and the disgrace heaped upon his son's now tarnished family name. Its rich story is perfectly matched with its fantastic art, reminiscent of Japanese block prints. Likewise, the evocative works of Rola Chang speak of traditional sumi-e ink wash painting with a modern twist. Many of her works depict the samurai in action, honor within his grasp.

Today our reprisals match our equally petty grievances. In my case I'm glad to say I've completely cut the cord and now get all my media from the web, with much of it originating there as well. Finally--reparations for all those hours spent mindlessly consuming pointless ads or channel surfing for something, anything, of interest. Now I can watch what I want when I want. I have networks of channels and feeds that are intelligently offering me new things to try based on past experience. Even ads, now targeted, are more bearable. Revolver, a site that delivers a curated collection of web videos, is another new celebration of our TV independence. The slick design belies the bloody retribution Revolver and it's ilk have wrecked upon the traditional media landscape, much to our collective pleasure as audience.

While literature seems to relish a bitter revenge story, film is overly biased towards happy endings for its murderous protagonists. Kill Bill, Taken, The Bourne Identity; the list goes on with each silver screen story ending with at least a glimmer of hope. The revenge drama is an old tale, yet no matter how often it's repeated it never ceases to consume our imagination. The story of Tarboy below is no exception. Though it's animation may be simple, the voice acting, music and perfect timing make this short an epic for the ages.

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

My Monsters

October 01, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

Deny it all you want: humans are animals. So much of our culture and lifestyle seems an effort to obfuscate this fact. Yet I believe it key in recognizing our place in the world, possibly being the only creatures capable of such introspection. From a young age we are inclined to project our human view of things on the wild. Such anthropomorphism is a large part of what has made humans such successful creatures even though today this is now more apparent in the form of pets and films like Finding Nemo. But no matter what our age, we all have some inner animal that inspires us.

For this week's work I tried to visualize my inner animal. I can never escape from the fact that we're all monkeys but deep deep down I love water so much I'm convinced that I'm actually fish.

It's no secret that many artists use themes. From Dali's melting clocks to Monet's lilies, some of the art world's most famous works are variation on a theme. The most successful work comes from such iteration which leads to perfection. Many artists use animals in their work, often representing the artist themselves. I know I often draw monkey-like characters as they are my personal obsession. For Scott MacDonald, it would seem the fox is his. His stunning works are beautifully minimalist with a cartoon quality that jumps off the page into its own colorful universe.

Animals often represent brands as well as people. One of the most famous branded animals is the eponymous Penguin Press. I can't count the number of books I've read published by Penguin. And with this short web-story/classified ad I believe they have inadvertently hinted at the future of digital picture books. The wonderfully focused presentation of subtle color, text and animation result in a perfectly honed site with a clear message and goal.

Though who can think of cartoon animals without thinking animation? What was once Disney may now be Pixar, but regardless our love of animals, especially anthropomorphic ones, is quite palpable. This stunningly animated French short about a woman's struggle with shyness in the form of an alligator is equally powerful stupendous.

When we project our emotions in such stories, they allow us to work through tough moralistic issues no matter what our age. For children, this has become a key tool in teaching right from wrong all the way back to the first fables of Aesop and the Grimm brothers. Clearly we naturally identify with nature and to deny our place in it, whether scientifically or ideologically, is a denial of those very things that ground us to Earth and our humanity. So go howl at the moon and swing from the trees. Be an animal!--just remember to give it a good think after. That's the human part.

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Manky and Matted

September 24, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

What a lovely time of year. The sun still shines yet a cool breeze plays across the tree tops. It is, in effect, sweater weather; that most charming intersection between Summer and Fall. Yet it is also the sign of the cold to come and precautions must be taken. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is beard season and some of histories most distinguished men sported honorable beards. Perhaps its service as a prime stroking location during deep thought is what makes beards so inspiring.

A quick doodle from this morning in Invader Zim style. Sadly the sketch I wanted to use seems to have gone missing.

A scratchy warm face muff is a wondrous thing to have upon your muzzle in the depths of winter's cold. A good one takes time to grow so getting an early start is key. I've already begun in anticipation of my Halloween costume (no spoilers). And though you may think I have excluded half my audience with this subject, fear not my fair female readers. With the modern marvels of Photoshop, you too can enjoy at least the look of hair upon chin. Davide Tremolada recently explored this concept in his series Upside Down, taking the backs of subjects heads and stitching them to their jowels for some interesting beardy effects.

There's no denying however that beards look funny. I particularly love how they're just as diverse as their wearers if not more so as they're so easy to style, grow or simply--sadly--shave. Some take their facial hair quite seriously though I just enjoy the fashion options it allows me. A Book of Beards by Justin James Muir celebrates every man's favorite chin accessory along with it's accompanying website. The page is simple and slick, no mousse necessary. I particularly enjoy the way the background moves incrementally from section to section, giving the singular page a feeling of depth. Lastly the subtle use of a monochrome palette has only a hint of color to emphasize the good cause the book supports.

Today the beard is largely associated with the hipster community. Yet the beard does not belong to any one group. It stands for something greater than any ideology, something truly ancient. In Amish, Sikh, Hassid, and many other religious communities, the beard represents devotion to the faith. In modern times, they tend to define their owner as counter-culture, from hippies to hipsters. In this way, beards are a universal sign of branding oneself apart from the crowd much like tattoos. Inversely beards take time to earn but have a delicate existence, while tattoos can be given quickly but last forever. They show two different types of commitment, the former temporal the latter binding. The fact that beards require care make them, in my opinion, of greater value to personal identity. An interesting current event recently reflected this in an intra-Amish hate crime case in Ohio.

For all they are and continue to represent, Long Live Beards!

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Más Mexico

September 17, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

Sorry for the silent week but I was on vacation in Mexico with my sister. It was my first vacation since starting work here at the Mechanism. My first vacation in my real life. And even though it was on the short side in comparison to some of my other trips, those new stakes made it one of the best trips of my life. There are many ways to travel but I prefer to try and throw myself into the culture, both local and backpacker alike. Doing so, every person you meet and thing you do becomes richer. Each experience, each personality, slowly changes who you are as a person. It is an additive and subtractive process that is wholly inspirational.

Taking a dip in on the perfect beaches of Isla Mujeres.

We live in a blessed age where jetting around the world is a affordable possibility for most people. Such traveling gives you an appreciation for other peoples cultural differences and similarities. There's something very special about sharing a moment with someone with whom you must rely on your common humanity for communication via a smile, a gaze. Before such travel reached the masses however, people had to use the only tool available to them to try and grasp the greater world: mail. Molly Rausch's series of stamp paintings are a pen pal's dream come true, opening up the small window of the stamp into a full blown world.

There are many other ways to travel over shorter distances such as by car. We typically cross many bridges when abroad, some over water, others over presumptions. One of the most famous bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge, recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and to commemorate the event Goodby Silverstein & Partners created a fun tribute project called Band of Bridges with the help of Google Maps and Famous Interactive. In it, users can add any satellite image of a bridge to a long continuous chain. The slick design uses elements of the Golden Gate while the slick design melds form and function seamlessly.

There are many things we expect to find abroad including good food and souvenirs. But something quite unique and even more exquisite can occasionally be found. Story Corps has created a series of heart-felt animations in classic cartoon style about true stories, narrated by those involved. In this episode, two people separated by an ocean find each other by accident only to fall in love. The idea of such a long-distance relationship can be daunting but their commitment to each other is so romantic one feels that anything is possible, especially in our modern connected age.

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Moving Mess

September 04, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

Hope you had a delightful holiday weekend. I spent mine changing apartments from Park Slope to Prospect/Crown Heights area. Living in New York City adds many unique obstacles and concerns to moving but I think my roommates and I made out okay. Ah the glories of moving house. There's nothing like it to make you appreciate how much useless crap you own while also providing a therapeutic cleansing of junk, fully owning your inner consumerist nature. Moving is like any creative process as it consists of three acts: packing, moving, and unpacking. Each requires a bit of inspiration.

We now live in apartment 4A. For some reason none of the doors have numbers and everyone makes their own so I thought I'd use this opportunity to make ours.

The first step of any move is to organize your sprawl of useful, useless, and, arbitrary stuff. Thus it turns into an orderly boxed tower of stuff. I've always found a strange pleasure in packing. On trips as a kid I always enjoyed packing our stuff in the trunk of the car. It's like a real-life game of Tetris and a great way to practice your spacial thinking skills. Photographer Sannah Kvist seems to share my twisted passion as shown in her photo series "All I Own." Each photo shows the subject alongside all their belongings. Scarily I think my pile would be a bit bigger than these. There is something eerily fascinating about seeing such a pithy summary of an individual within a single frame.

The actual move is probably the least enjoyable part of any relocation. Even with movers it can be a long and frustrating process. But such is life, especially on the web where sites are constantly on the move. But what do you show while the guys are loading up the digital truck so to speak? (By their very nature such sites don't, or shouldn't, last long so forgive me my time-traveling reader if these links now lead to a full site). "Coming Soon" sites demand a mix a radical minimalism and clarity to capture the visitor while clearly articulating the soon-to-be product. Carbonmade, provider of easy online portfolio sites, does just this with this adorable site promoting a new talent sourcing website called Talent Pool that is on its way.

My new room is much cozier than before, requiring some ingenuity in making everything fit. Getting the feng shui of your new place just right is an art form, every unpacking a canvas upon which to rearrange your life. How your room is arrayed can have massive consequences on your lifestyle and productivity. For instance my new layout allows me to easily lay in bed and watch TV a.k.a. ultimate procrastination. Yet there are some places I could never imagine living comfortably--like inside a cat for instance. Yet the little fellow in this week's video seems to pull if off (though it doesn't seem to help him win over the ladies).

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

The Maya Method

August 27, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

In order to understand any complex system, it becomes vital to understand its most basic components. Theoretically, anything can be broken down into a set of discrete smaller parts. The predictable behavior of these bits will then help inform us as to the nature of the whole. This idea is the foundation of Western thought and most, if not all, progress since the ancient Greeks. In the physical sciences, these parts are particles and forces. In the social sciences they are ideas and people. And lastly, and perhaps most strangely, in math and art they are the point and line. These two fields have only recently begun a beautiful courtship empowered by technology. Both rely on collections of points forming lines and shapes, numbers and functions being interchangeably writing or represented as geometry. Likewise in both, the simple components are recombined and elaborated upon to create new works. The simplest component to have shape is the polygon, making them the fundamental building brick of all art (pointillism aside) but also truly inspiring.

This week's sketch was inspired by "The Moor's Last Sigh" by Salman Rushdie

The beauty of such simple shapes is endless. They're abstract form allows for infinite possibilities; complexity or simplicity. Andy Gilmore leverages this unique ability in his kaleidoscopic works. It's easy to simply appreciate them as wonderful pieces in and of themselves but the more I stare the more I begin to see shapes appear, like cloud watching. His sketches are even more fascinating as they reveal a pointillist nature to his method and a very precise control of symmetry.

They say you can draw anything if you can draw a box, cylinder and cone correctly in perspective. That's because nearly every surface imaginable is some combination of basic geometric shapes. This knowledge is key to becoming a great artist as it allows one to break down the complex into its fundamental parts. This commonality is what allows works of all sorts to be displayed side by side in spaces such as Goverdose, a design zine. The neon color scheme and scintillating hover states give this geometric site a truly electric feel.

Of course polygons have become most important in the world of 3D and computer animation. Looking back at Pixar's first efforts, it's incredible how far the technology has come. While I can't wait to see the levels of realism that will soon be possible, what interests me most is the creation of new worlds rather than the imitation of the one we know already. This video for the band C2C gives us a peak into just such a world, where everything runs on music and the beat.

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

 

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Magical Metro

August 20, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

It was inevitable. I ride it every day and every night. It's lines are my city's arteries, it's trains the blood. Wherever one exists, metro systems are an essential part of their city and the people who live there. This is reflected in their myriad names: Metro, L, Underground, Subway and many more. But in every case, the reliable high speed transit offered by subway systems is part of what makes the bustle of modern life possible. What fascinates me most about metro systems is not only the unique character of each city's, but also the qualities of each line therein. Whether it's hipsters on the G train or gangsters on the A, each car is a unique environment every time. Its often the rule that I fall in love at least once per ride, only to have my heart broken at the next stop. This strange enclosed space is equal parts bus and elevator. Strange and intimate. Such a unique environment must be this week's inspiration.

I find my time in the subway to be very important. If it weren't for that hour under ground every day I wouldn't read or draw half as much as I do. Occasionally I'll even draw my fellow passengers if I feel I can be discrete enough. We are all aware of the subtle rules that govern subway behavior, as strange as they may be. Clearly collecting discraded metrocards does not unnerve artist Nina Boesch as illustrated in her collages depicting classic New York sights and people--made of chopped up metrocards.

While many metros cater to all crowds, modern extensions have begun to specialize in purpose. The Gatwick express is a quick way for Londoners to get to Gatwick airpot. Such trains are particularly curious since their passengers tend to be as specialized as the train itself. Anxious businessmen sit across from backpackers in a peculiar societal collage. This recent site aims to provide riders with a 30 minute track inspired by the journey to Gatwick facilitated by the new line. The site is a lovely short story artistically illustrating the trains journey.

Subways are always changing. Whether its the latest extension, closure, opening or renovation. Through time, few systems have seen as much change as New York City. What was once a dangerous and scarily beautiful place has now become a lifeline for tourists and commuters alike. As graffiti has given way to advertisement, one simultaneously yearns for that wondrous grimy past while cherishing the comforts of the aseptic and commercialized present. However through it all, art has always been a part of the NYC subway. From the beautiful old stops to the modern art adorning others. These dark tunnels beneath the city will always be a bright spot for me.

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Missed Modicum

August 13, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

There are many things that pass us by unnoticed. And while technology has greatly improved our ability to suss out the forgotten or unknown, the more we consume the more we miss, summarize and abbreviate. Science tells us that everything we experience, whether consciously or not, can and often does have an effect on us. Such subliminal stimuli are probably as old as language itself. Every time we talk to one another, we are in a way imprinting an idea on our listeners. If there is a conscious intention to keep part of that impact a secret as there often is, it becomes subliminal. We are constantly manipulating and being manipulated by ideas from people, governments and religions. It is this communication of ideas that plants the seeds of inspiration, the most fruitful of which we are often never aware.

We often, and perhaps mistakenly, associate the subliminal with the noisy and busy. We have a bias which assumes that the more junk there is, the more likely part of that junk is meant to stealthily lodge itself in our brain. Yet there is something magical about a message arising from such noise. Danny O'Connor does just this with his pieces that border on the abstract. While the figures in his pieces are clear and anything but hidden, one begins to wonder what else may be concealed between the lines.

Subliminal messages have found new life on the web. I suppose the dreaded pop-up was created with the intention of manipulating users into buying a product by bombarding them with ad windows they'd have to view and close. Yet not all has been for ill. The portfolio site for young interaction designer Pierre Georges teems with information. Interaction design is the very definition of subliminal: done correctly it should never be noticed by the user though it unarguably leaves an impact. Pierre's site, and especially his portfolio, is a wonderful example of intuitive subliminal interaction.

Hidden messages are probably most famously found in film. The idea of hidden frames has been popularized by films such as Fight Club. Though now largely illegal, there are still occasional examples that seem to push the line by attempting to associate ideas by showing them together in film. Video artists such as Nam June Paik used a barrage of frames to create texture, motion and emotion. Such pieces often feel like there's many subliminal elements lurking behind them. The following video for Brooklyn band MS MR echoes Paik's work with its montage of pop culture clips edited to the music. I love the way the rough cuts imitate the stream of consciousness and catchy chorus: "welcome to the inner workings of my mind."

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

Martian Magnificence

August 06, 2012 | benchirlin

From: The Sketching Mechanism

Good news everyone! We've landed on Mars! Again! Think about that. We shot a sizable and expensive package through outer space and hit a target crater on a planet millions of miles away--multiple times. What could we accomplish if all the world's nations worked together, Sagan willing. Mars has been the seed of many interesting ideas over centuries. The need to explain its retrograde, or apparent backwards, motion in the night sky was one of the greatest observational pieces of evidence against geocentric models of our solar system. On the other, less scientific, hand the signs of dried out watery canals discovered in the 19th century lead to the idea of alien societies living on the once water-filled planet composed of resident martians, a word now synonymous with aliens at large. Thus the idea of life on Mars was launched the popular imagination and has since continued to be an unearthly inspiration.

Nothing epitomizes our space age fascination with the void more than the pulp era. Sergey Kolesov adds a sharp modern edge to the classic space opera style within his greater portfolio of stunning work. His work uses depth and perspective to great effect, creating epic scenes within each still image. This is strongly complimented by his skill in color and composition which leave the viewer feeling as if they've just gained a peak into a magical world unto its own.

Going to Mars would never be possible if it weren't for the corporations getting us there. Weyland megacorp, last seen undermining poor Sigourney Weaver, has an exquisite site that any fictional 23rd century company could be proud of. Clearly the marketing department for this film did not suffer for lack of budget, disappointing as the actual product was. Though this page is in essence a glorified index of their marketing strategy, the strong design stands out, crappy mini-games aside, as a prominent showcase of the capabilities of HTML5.

There are some obvious choices for Mars in video form but I rather prefer this short animation which depicts how I imagine NASA is currently corresponding with their newly landed probe. And though I can't post it here, I'd like to give an honorable mention to Insterstella 5555, the album length music video for Daft Punk's discovery. This animation in an incredible tale of alien abduction with a twist, all in anime form. Please seek it out especially if you're at all fond of Daft Punk (the low resolution versions online just don't hold up).

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

Published by: benchirlin in The Sketching Mechanism

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The Mechanism was founded in 2001 on the principle that success in new and traditional media would demand tighter connections between multiple customer messaging channels. We strongly believe that a good team is one that collaborates face-to-face and in person, which is why we avoid outsourced development. Our mission is to help our clients communicate with their target markets effectively and seamlessly across all channels and media types. We do this by using time-tested skills, processes, tools and techniques to deliver rich user experiences and solid technology platforms.

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