What is good art and what does design mean?

11 03 2011

I first stumbled across Scott Ligon via The Carrot Revolution blog and decided to purchase the book Digital Art Revolution: Creating Fine Art with Photoshop. It’s a rather good read and one I’d like to use in class. But, I also like these videos he has posted on YouTube with some good advice for students, and since I had parent-teacher conferences tonight, I wish I showed them to parents as well.

Elementary Library Mural

11 02 2011

library mural designs complete
I’ve been busy the past month exploring designs for a mural in the elementary library at my school. My sketches are now complete and we will let the students vote on their favourite design. I’ve been posting this process on my other blog, which is pictured above. Feel free to visit there to see the complete works or the sketches. If you are patient, I have also embedded the Flickr set below.

Abstracting Patterns

17 12 2010

My grade 8s are currently working on an abstract art unit. As their second art activity, students were asked to transform a pattern. They were to:

1. Devise a single element, such as a dot, diamond, squiggle, or square.

2. Copy and repeat the element in columns or rows to make an overall pattern.

3. Vary the spacing of the elements in the rows to create variation.

4. Continue to create new variations by varying the size of the elements, by creating overlapping rows of elements, and changing the color, size, and orientation of elements.

Below are some student examples simply done in marker (click the picture to see a slightly larger version).

Gr8aU2-2010-Abstract pattern prac-001 Gr8aU2-2010-Abstract pattern prac-002

Gr8aU2-2010-Abstract pattern prac-003 Gr8aU2-2010-Abstract pattern prac-004

Grade 7 Prints

14 02 2010

grade 7 prints 2010 thumb

Here are some softoleum prints one group of my grade 7s made. They needed to create a well balanced print design with positive and negative space, patterns and motifs with coloured inks and paper. Their prints were then arranged. Feel free to comment here or via Flickr here. You may also view the 5 week project outline here if interested. More examples will be added over the next 10 weeks when the other two groups complete the project.

Bad Design

19 06 2009

OK. Here we go. True story. A coworker is cleaning out his class, disposing of old materials. I walk in and lo and behold, what do I see? The instructional booklet pictured left. It’s a how-to for a construction kit toy from 1992. It’s geared towards kids. What were they thinking? I’m not even going to discuss the catchy title. Are the instructions clear to you? It’s a perfect example on why design is so important and what it’s like when it’s not done well. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Painted Manhole Covers

31 05 2009

I have seen a few of these around Japan and even a few tiles on sidewalks depicting historic scenes from local areas. Thanks to Toxel, here are a few more to view. A bit more interesting than a simple circular piece of metal and just as good as the storm drains from Brazil.

“Think Like a Designer” with Garr Reynolds

8 04 2009

Last night I went with some co-workers to the Mac Store in Ginza (Tokyo) to hear Garr Reynolds give a talk entitled, ‘Think Like a Designer.’ For those of you who don’t know, Garr is the author of the book and popular blog, Presentation Zen. When giving presentations, audience members usually want content and a clear message. More often than not, we usually get confusion or boredom.

Basically, everyone is a designer if you know it or not. Everyone wants to change things and/or make them better. What do designers know that we don’t? Here are my notes:

  1. It’s not about tools: It’s about the ideas. You can visualize your information in any format you wish. Abandon death by PowerPoint.
  2. Start in analogue mode: Don’t start your presentation on the computer. Plan on paper just like a storyboard. Find some alone time to get your ideas down.
  3. Take a risk, lose the fear: Just like children, take a chance. Be comfortable with the idea of maybe being wrong.
  4. Put yourself in their shoes: Think of your consumer’s point of view.
  5. Look for the ‘story:’ Involve your audience by telling a story. Dan Pink also dedicates a chapter to this in his book ‘A Whole New Mind.’ Make it ‘sticky’ (Chip and Dan Heath) by using (a) simplicity (b) emotions (c) unexpectedness (d) concreteness (e) credibility and (f) story
  6. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication: Why do we make simple things complicated? Being simple doesn’t mean being stupid.
  7. Show restraint: Use control and moderation. Think about what to both include and exclude.
  8. Vision trumps all other senses: Use graphics and images. We are great at remembering photos. Use these to enhance your story and ideas.
  9. Signal vs. Noise: You should have a high signal, with low noise. Are your slides distracting to the viewer? Why use various random colours? Why use 3D text? What are their purpose?
  10. Empty space: Embrace it! Don’t cram it all in. Create more slides instead. Be minimal.
  11. Learn to see the lessons all around you: Everyday we are bombarded with signage and graphics. Look for examples that strike you as interesting or bad and consider why.

What were some of the best and worst presentations you have seen? I have posted the clip below before, but it’s worth sharing again. Also, check under my ‘Arts, Learning & Talks’ tab to see a presentation done by Garr at Google. UPDATE: Check Garr’s Posterous site for more pics from the event.

UPDATE: (April 9) Note the graph for hits to this site. It’s the power of Garr and Twitter. Looks like a graph of popularity for saying ‘happy new year.’ Spikes once a year.

UPDATE 2: Slide:ology has a good post about improving slides and shows examples of their paper drafts.

Visual Guides to the Financial Crisis

15 03 2009

27 Visualizations and Infographics to Understand the Financial Crisis

The above sure make the current economic crisis look hip!

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

26 02 2009

Here’s a right-brained way to explain the current credit crisis. It’s well designed, presented and informative. From the site:

The goal of giving form to a complex situation like the credit crisis is to quickly supply the essence of the situation to those unfamiliar and uninitiated. This project was completed as part of my thesis work in the Media Design Program, a graduate studio at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. For more on my broader thesis work exploring the use of new media to make sense of a increasingly complex world, visit my website here. or email me at: [email protected]

Thanks to Shane M. for the tip.


27 01 2009

Gary Hustwit has a new documentary coming out. He’s the guy who did the excellent documentary about the font Helvetica (trailer here), which I have written about in the past.

From the Objectified site:

Objectified is a feature-length independent documentary
about industrial design. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind
everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the people who
re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a
daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and
sustainability. It’s about our relationship to mass-produced objects
and, by extension, the people who design them.

Through vérité footage and in-depth conversations, the film
documents the creative processes of some of the world’s most
influential designers, and looks at how the things they make impact our
lives. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from
the objects with which we surround ourselves?

Read director Gary Hustwit’s post about the film.

Objectified is currently in production and will have its world premiere in March 2009.