DesignThinkers 2015, Day 2

2.1) Austin Kleon
Designer,, Austin, TX
"How to Steal Like an Artist"
  • in high school inspired by Green Day Insomniac album art - collage work by Winston Smith
  • as a class assignment, wrote a letter to Winston Smith (in Microsoft's ransom font) - got a handwritten, 12 page reply - changed his life
  • interested in redacted newspapers - "CIA haiku" - blackout poems
  • soon discovered this concept was NOT unique; previously done by:
    • William Burroughs
    • Brion Gysin
    • Tristan Tzara
    • Caleb Whiteford et al.
  • nothing is original; therefore, steal everything!
  • stealing has been used or endorsed by many artists:
    • Pablo Picasso "Art is theft."
    • David Bowie "[I'm] a tasteful thief. The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from."
    • Woody Allen
    • Kurt Vonnegut
    • Bob Dylan
    • TS Eliot "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal."
    • Francis Ford Coppola "Ripoff everyone you meet."
  • imitation is not flattery; transformation is flattery
  • take what you know and share it
  • learn, teach - repeat
  • just keep telling yourself: it's art.

2.2) Manuel Lima, New York, NY
Author: Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of InformationThe Book of Trees
"Visualization Metaphors: Unraveling the Big Picture"
  • we are in a data deluge
  • similar transition happened in the Middle Ages
    • overhaul in book production
    • cheaper printing created
    • emphasis on classification and organization
  • beginnings of visual communication - graphics replacing text
  • search for universal language
  • form vs. function - should be no distinction
  • TREES = source of
    • food
    • medicine
    • energy
    • shelter/wood
  • TREES = visual metaphor for
    • virtues/vices
    • consanguinity
    • geneology
    • law
    • knowledge/science
  • trees vs. networks - tree metaphor can no longer handle the complexity of the modern world
  • the 21st century is characterized by organized complexity (Warren Weaver)
  • the brain should be seen as "an orchestra" (not a series of compartments)
  • humans do not conform to rigid structures
  • tree = spider = centralized - can be destabilized by removing source
  • web = starfish = decentralized - any part removed only grows back
  • value of multiple viewpoints (Thirty-Six View of Mount Fuji)
  • networks/"networkism" - new visual trend/meme - seen in art - emerging as a zeitgeist

2.3) Chris Dixon
Design Director, Vanity Fair, New York NY
"Telling Stories with Words and Pictures"
  • job at Adbusters - learned through trial and error, experimentation, flow and pace of a magazine is like a film
  • job at New York Times - learned about quick turnarounds (9/11)
  • job at New York Magazine - learned about making photographic solutions

2.4) Sebastian Padilla
Co-founder, Anagrama, Monterray + Mexico City, MX
"Going Fast to Nowhere"
  • as a child, had ADD, was not passionate about design
  • graphic design was the easiest program to get into
  • was CURIOUS
  • embraces "Mexican happiness", camp, and colour palette ("Mexico invented colour")
  • experimented with "norm-core" for taqueria rebrand
  • success = balancing small clients (interesting) and large (well-paid, good exposure)
  • no harm in admitting "I can't do it on my own"
  • you can do just about anything if you find someone who has/values
    • energy
    • diversity
    • sharing
    • principles
    • skills
    • trust

2.5) Michael Lejeune
Creative Director, Los Angeles Metro
"The Power of Staying Put"
  • "stay put" = let something grow and blossom
  • LA was awarded "worst traffic in the country" 25 years in a row
  • campaigns begin to address this - ie. "what do you see when you're not driving"
  • "Stay put to learn your corps."
    • know your team, your people, your community
    • replace out-of-the-box solutions
    • "design works"
  • "Stay put to change your corps."
    • everything is an opportunity for clarity
    • do what is not expected
  • "Stay put to be where you are."
    • Metro campaign "the agency of MORE"
      • more savings
      • more lanes
      • more jobs
  • "Stay put to see the future."
    • you are not fully committed until you are full committed
  • "Stay put to be valued."
  • "Stay put to rock."

2.6) Paddy Harrington
Founder, Frontier Magazine, Toronto, ON
"A Field Guide to Creative Adventuring"
  • "Make it big and put it in the middle." -Bruce Mau
  • the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2 (George Miller)
  • memory power (rational brain) decreased when faces with emotional decisions
  • we live in saturated environments where we are bombarded with information
  • the tree vs. the web - combine the two?
  • Frontier = part magazine, part studio, part ventures
  • power of making something you can hold
  • "Christian Bale-ing it" - turn problems into opportunities
  • "calm makes calm"
  • finds inspiration from NFB archives
  • find what you love – no matter what it is – and embrace it
  • take creative risks - the promise of BETTER
  • balance risk taking and protecting your job
  • most people in the world have no idea what it's like to create something NEW

2.7) Frank Chimero,, Brooklyn, NY
"Design is Borderlands"
  • things Frank didn't do:
    • draw the cartoon
    • write the original LinkedIn email
    • write original caption
    • write Atlantic article, etc.
  • things Frank did:
    • heroicly and geniusly copy and paste some text
  • apply this lesson to daily client work - be more humble, modest, turn down bravado
  • drop the baggage, ego
  • design as method of decoration
    • got bored - became "sad clown designer"
    • change frame of reference - do something different
  • design as manner of construction
  • design as process of articulation
    • earned through self-reflection
    • give yourself space to learn, room for doubt, self-ignorance
  • doubt should not be feared but welcomed
  • from doubt comes opportunity
  • find a place for doubt in the designer's toolbox
  • accept "I don't know"
  • "sometimes a rose can grow out of bullsh*t"
  • how can you find what you don't know...
  • the question is more important than the answer

Day 1 here.

DesignThinkers 2015, Day 1

1.1) James Victore
James Victore Inc., Brooklyn, NY
"Beauty and Magic"
  • always balancing the sacred and the profane
  • "we're living in the future"
  • check the url availability before naming your baby
  • 4 million years ago, apes climbed down trees, and decided to get inside a cave (to evade flying poo)
  • hand became most versatile tool: spoon, toilet paper, backpack, etc.
  • this "spoon" was the same for millions of years
  • spoon became "my spoon" - a totem/talisman - infused with energy, human emotion - CUSTOMIZED
  • tattooes = another form of customization
  • Maslow's hierarchy:
    • CREATIVITY - where beauty and magic begin
    • esteem
    • sex
    • shelter
    • food+water
  • can't have creativity without confidence
  • amazing things happen when you start thinking about the needs of others
  • if you don't have beauty and magic, you can stop your work. You're adding nothing.
  • we need more beauty and magic. We don't need more business.
  • creativity is dangerous - the people in power fear it
  • should be able say "I infused my coolness in _______."
  • "design like you give a damn"
  • "I want all of my work to be love notes." (referring to daily "coffee machine notes" with wife)
  • emoji - a new form of shorthand, language customized
    • a step backwards towards pictographs (history repeating)

1.2) Josh Clark
Big Medium, Brooklyn, NY
Author: Designing for Touch
"Magical UX and the Internet of Things" (slides here)
  • "no pain, no pain"
  • objectives:
    • to make designs physical
    • to change the way we interact with information
    • to move designs from screen to environment
    • to bridge the gap between the digital and the physical
    • take everyday technology and infuse it with imagination, wonder and delight
  • "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -Arthur C. Clarke
  • goal of Alan Kay (1982): make the computer disappear from the environment
  • the smart phone is the first magic wand for everyone - brings computing power to immobile objects
  • problem: people spend an average of 3h16m on their phone - phone has wedged itself between humans; more connected, more disconnected
  • engagement was too easy, and now has become an Achilles heel
  • phones should caption lives, not frame them
  • key: interaction at the point of inspiration
  • screens are the just the medium of the moment - will not always be the case
  • automatic / "automagical" tech makes us weary, worried about the "how", who's in control, big data
  • magical tech is intentional - a human connection between devices; a graceful flow of info
  • real magic is about PEOPLE
  • don't just add data, add insight
  • it's up to us to challenge imagination
  • make technology that
    • bends to our lives
    • strengthens social connections
    • creates joy
    • empowers individuals
  • the magic problem: imagine the world, then make it a reality

1.3) Coralie Bickford-Smith
Penguin Books, UK
"Shelf Appeal: How Design is Helping Put Classics in the Hands of Readers
  • as a introvert, books become  best friend - "the most patient of teachers"
  • surrounded by books as a kid
  • in elementary school, won an award for "hard work and politeness"
  • inspired by William Blake, who wrote, illustrated, designed, printed and bound his books
  • attended Reading University - analyzed 200 covers of Robinson Crusoe
  • while working at a magazine, fighting over the placement of a cat graphic, asked herself "is this my life?" - decided to move on
  • took job at Penguin Books - started designing classics
  • challenge: books that get less marketing - need to grab attention on their own
  • "what can I bring to the party?"
  • with cloth bound covers ("new old"), wanted to explore book production, create books that people want to cherish and possess as physical items
  • challenges of foil: 
    • limited palette
    • some foils don't adhere to some cloths, and you don't know until you ry
  • spines are just as important as covers (perhaps more)
  • "I wanted to blow people's minds and create something of beauty."
  • with pattern design and use of icons, it entices those who know the symbology
  • drink coffee, panic, drink coffee, panic...
Editor: "Stop being so historically obsessive."
CBS: "No."
  • The Fox and the Star - new solo book about love, loss and learning to accept change
    • wrote, illustrated, designed
  • "failure is an option" - keep calm and carry on
  • "just draw and draw and draw..."
  • "the blank page is my nemesis"

1.4) Art Chantry, Seattle, WA
"Art Speaks Posters Yell"

"stop faking design"
grunge poster design: "add boobs"
"grunge" was a marketing term used to sell punk rock to people who hated punk rock
"calling Rocky Horror sexist is like calling water wet"
take everything you know about graphic design and throw it away
teach yourself to work with nothing
universal language of design (line, colour, shape, text) - constantly evolving
graphic design is a powerful language - the power "to change people's minds"
"we're mind blowers"
graphic designers will do it for anyone who pays them (even Ronald Reagan...)
decided "I wasn't going to work for *ssholes"
become involved in community, started doing work that mattered
"want to do cool work? work for cool clients."
"sometimes, the only way to move forward is to take one step back first"
use your hands - engage in the process
drag the client into the work so that it becomes theirs too

1.5) Jean-François Porchez
Typofonderie, Paris
"Adding Value to the Invisibility of Typefaces"
  • typefaces often "invisible" - need to express language
  • make thought tangible
  • "type breathes voice"
  • "Fashion fades. Style is eternal." -Yves Saint Laurent
  • heritage - the importance of knowing what's come before
  • educate clients about type design
Projects shared:
  • Parisine
  • Geneo
  • Anisette
  • Retiro
  • Sephora Europe
  • Nespresso
  • Yves Saint Laurent
  • Galeries Lafayette

1.6) Annie Atkins
Graphic design for films,
"The Secrets of Designing Worlds for Film"
  • designs any and all graphics which appear on camera - sets and props - notes, signage, patterns, newspapers, etc.
  • "don't like" doesn't mean "not good"
  • make it by hand if it was originally made by hand
  • temporal nature of props - several identical copies needed, sometime in "before" and "after"
  • take responsibility for details - imitate tactile world
  • small details seem unnecessary, but make all the difference for actors - create the experience
  • Fascist business cards - "Hitler was the fanciest Fascist."
Projects shared:
  • The Tudors
  • Box Trolls
  • Grand Budapest Hotel

1.7) Karim Rashid
Karim Design, New York, NY
"The Business of Beauty"
  • design is not well-defined
  • graphic design is the bridge between industry and human life
  • world started as a grid because it was easier to cut straight lines
  • we are having more informed experiences than ever before
  • old vs. new, analog vs. binary, material vs. immaterial
  • "bioneers of the digitial age"
  • trying to bring analog back into digital world
  • "I want to make a better world."
  • design is a creative act, a political act
  • obsessed with ovals - "corner represents an obstacle"
  • straight lines to not exist in nature – anywhere
  • nature is cruel, dangerous, dystopic (no order) - we want order
  • make world better, more beautiful, or don't bother.
  • we are hyperaware of our mortality in a digital age
  • "kitsch" is a cheap replica of the authentic; meaningless adornment
  • problem with humanity is the fear of everything - HAVE NO FEAR
  • as humans, we are original (fingerprints, iris) so we want to create something original
  • we are all born with the gene to create; therefore we are all creative
  • find a new way
  • the power to change the world is reliant on YOU
  • the most pivotal moments in history where changed by single people
  • the future is shaped by us, which is the purest form of democracy
  • digital age is actually humanizing us
  • what is luxury in the digital world? freedom.
  • make your hobby your job
  • eradicate banalities
  • don't die saying "I wasted my time"
  • time is limited - don't waste it, use it to shape a better world
  • act like you're not from this planet
  • any dreams can become reality

Day 2 here.

Winter 2015 collection

Just in time for the holidays, I am thrilled to share some new work available for purchase in my online shop. Queue the little drummer boy please (pa rum pa pum pum)...

1) 2015 Holiday cards – $20 (4-pack)

These festive, limited edition A2-size greeting cards were hand-lettered with Pentel brush pens, scanned, and screen printed by hand (with the help of Paul Dotey) in Toronto using water-based robin egg blue and metallic gold ink on pure white 100% cotton archival paper. Matching envelopes included.

1) "1 partridge in a pear tree"
2) "2 turtle doves"
3) "3 french hens"
4) "4 calling birds"

2) Alphabet wrapping sheets – $10

This custom seamless wrapping paper is the perfect touch for your typographic holiday gifts. Lettered by hand and then laser printed on the finest satin, carbon neutral & responsibly sourced fibre paper, each 24" x 26" sheet is ideal for wrapping one small gift.

The Emoji Alphabet project started as an Instagram experiment in February 2015. Each day, I created a new letter in my iPhone's Notes app, using emoji as pixels. Each letter is composed of emojis starting with that letter.

These 9" x 9" prints are ink jet printed in Toronto in full colour on 180gsm ultra white matte cotton-based art paper. 

Please specify letter of choice when placing your order. View the full set here.

This limited edition painting was created specifically for the Buddies in Bad Times annual Art Attack auction, which helps raise money to support Canada's most exciting LGBT theatre. 

The original 11 1/4” x 15 1/4" painting has been scanned and reprinted as a 16" x 20" limited edition (of 5) giclee print, printed in Toronto in full colour on Hahnemühle Photo Rag fine art paper.

5) Emoji Map of Canada – $60

Inspired by my Emoji Alphabet Project, this map of Canada is created using 6855 individually placed emoji. Each province or territory is composed of emojis related to that region:

These 18" x 18" giclee prints are printed in Toronto in full colour on Hahnemühle Photo Rag fine art paper.

Get a head start on your holiday shopping this year! Visit my shop to view the full collection, and please keep me in mind when making your gift purchases this holiday season. Commissioned work also available. And please don't hesitate to share my shop & services with anyone else you think might be interested.

Thanks for everyone for your incredible support this past year. Happy Holidays!


Presenting Macbeth

I'm pleased to announce that my 2011 poster of Macbeth for Shakespeare Toronto / Classical Theatre Project has been published in the new Mirko Ilić / Steven Heller book Presenting Shakespeare: 1,100 Posters from Around the World, published by Princeton Architectural Press. This exciting publication includes around 1,100 curated Shakespeare posters from 56 countries around the world.

Pick up your copy here.