My proposed design was something simple, as I didn’t want to get too lost into perfecting it. All in all, it took about six hours to paint. It marks my first work with paint in probably 15 years, as I’ve been illustrating in digital for such a long time, now.
The end result didn’t quiet match up with the original submission, as I started the evening working in direct sunlight and didn’t account for how quickly the paint was drying. You can find my piece on the southwest corner of Chestnut and Third Streets.
I recently completed the August 2018 cover of The Burg, though what few people know is that it was a second draft of what was going to be the cover for the June 2018 issue. Hooray for low-exposure blogs such as this one, as I’m able to share the original version:
Why was it rejected? It had one too many Easter eggs in it. I knew it was a long shot to incorporate so many inside references and likenesses, but I wanted to make it the Harrisburg I know. It’s funny, because in some ways I can see that references are already outdated only two months later. If you compare it with the approved version and look past the improved the layout, you might recognize a lot of recycled elements accompanying the color palette. These were time-saving measures, as I’d already gone way over my self-imposed quota (I just discovered the Procreate on my iPad tracks hours spent). I can’t say I’m satisfied with either one (the final version feels so sparse to me), but at least I can share them here.
After 14 years of self-employment, I was ready for a new challenge. Starting Monday, I’ll be joining the NYSE full time as an engineer. I’ll only have to work part-time on Wall Street, so I fortunately won’t have to uproot the family out of Harrisburg.
I’m glad I’m transitioning on my own terms, as I could’ve taken a contract over the job offer. I’ve been pinching myself lately, as a number of long-term contract opportunities have materialized since I made this decision and it was hard saying no. Ultimately, though, my decision stemmed from a few factors:
User experience (UX) should be king, and I’m skeptical about the quality of UX in an agency model.
I believe that larger companies that recognize the importance of their user experience (and can afford it) are bringing these services in-house. Yes, there will always be room for agencies, but it’s easy for a hired agency to say “yes” to appease their paying client, even if the work suffers. Furthermore, UX isn’t some print piece that is finite and delivered, it’s a process that needs constant monitoring and refinement. From a cost point-of-view, it makes sense for large companies to internalize this process.
Today’s web designers don’t code.
I’ve always felt design and code go hand-in-hand. It’s part of why I believe I was never pigeonholed into a full-time position somewhere. With the emergence of Wix, Squarespace, and off-the-shelf WordPress themes, though, today’s web designer doesn’t need to code. I look around at peers and competitors that are “winning” design awards with the same cookie-cutter template with a different logo and a color palette swap, and it’s just not what I want to do.
I do believe it’s great that web publishing has been democratized, but I’m getting approached more often by clients that need their sites “fixed”. They outgrow their template or discover that it doesn’t really suit their needs, and then need someone like me to retrofit features. I like helping clients, but this is not necessarily my passion.
Web design is dying.
Can someone that’s been out on their own for so long return to an office job? I guess I’ll find out. I won’t be shuttering my company, but I’ve been recognizing this shift in my industry and am looking forward to focusing on a dedicated product.
In 2003, a police officer stopped me for using a tripod in Times Square without a press pass. I’d just left a Broadway show and was taking a few pictures of the new Hershey Story store’s facade for potential use in a website design (back during my JPL days). The officer informed me that a press pass was required throughout the city. I left disappointed, and I spent my subsequent graduate school years in the NYC area without at thought towards doing decent night photography.
Earlier this year, I was doing consulting for a startup in Bryant Park and learned that this requirement had been lifted. I’ll likely be posting more of my favorite photos, but I spent that first night shooting the Flatiron building. Here’s the results.
I began using Flickr less and less while the service bounced around like a beach ball between owners (Yahoo, Vertizon, etc.). With SmugMug’s acquisition of Flickr this week, I finally decided to pull the plug on my account.
It’s funny to be sentimental about a social media service, but I remember discovering it and using it alongside my friends in grad school.
On a related note, I was discussing with a friend who considered blogging to be dead. The medium is definitely evolving, but I’ve always found comfort in the reliability of self-hosting. Ads, tracking, subscriptions–none of that here.
With that said, here’s a few pictures I recovered from my Flickr account. I’m glad I still have this site as a venue to share them.
Biking the abandoned turnpike in 2011.
Attending the Frank Robinson statue giveaway after a long night at Max’s in 2012.
My son enjoying Hersheypark.
Milton Hershey’s home. Now home to the Hershey Trust, it’s closed to the public, but I was fortunate enough to do a shoot there.
I guess I’m superstitious, but I often think great years are followed by…not-so-great years. This definitely felt like a transition year career-wise, though I did get to mark off a few more bucket list items. Ultimately, what this all means is I’m really looking forward to 2018! In the meanwhile, I’m keeping with my tradition of digging up photos I shot over the year that haven’t seen the light of day.
I finally made it to the Cloisters. Another bucket list item down.
I got to see my first bottle label come to life.
This view never gets old. I’m going to miss it.
Hey, that’s me!
Roadside America. Definitely a kid-pleaser.
“One flower opens; five petals”
Another shot from Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Taking a business meeting in the middle of Bryant Park.
New York, 1:1200 scale.
A shot from Brooklyn during my (very) brief residency back in New York.
Again, this view!
What can I say? I’m a fan of color. Graffiti Alley, Baltimore.
I helped organize TEDx Harrisburg and many of my pictures ended up on the Flickr account. I don’t think this one made it.
Oftentimes the best Christmas present is the one you didn’t know you even wanted. Seeing old friends with Bitcoin fortunes doesn’t hurt, either.
If you’re in Central PA and pick up this month’s issue of The Burg you’ll catch my cover artwork.
Ironically, I did most of this on an train and in Brooklyn, but last night I ran out to see what my inspiration looked like (only to discover the lights weren’t on!). The tree hasn’t gone up, either, so I’m hoping it does get lit up this season.
I wasn’t sad to see it go, but I was sad to see folks applaud the death of it. Sure, I don’t think the vulnerabilities or performance issues were really brought to light until after Steve Jobs’s famous Thoughts on Flash got Adobe hustling, but as a designer and instructor, I had an appreciation for the software that few probably did.
When I first started using Macromedia Flash, it set itself apart from the incumbent interactive software, Macromedia Director, in that it was targeted for the web, and its use of vector graphics yielded a smaller file size. It also offered consistent browser rendering and a single outputted SWF file where all of its contents could be embedded.
Besides the analogy of a timeline and symbols in the WYSIWYG, What really piqued my interest as a designer was the ability to write code to create organic patterns and designs. My first real exposure to this was in the book “Flash Math Creativity”. Suddenly I was interested in sine waves and recursion when I hadn’t ever been interested in math, before.
Later in my career, I began working with object oriented programming in ActionScript. I stopped using the timeline and started writing all of my classes exclusively in TextMate. For animation, I used Greensock or MosesSupposes FuseKit. I also attended the Adobe Flash NYC User Group and built a comraderie with other designers and developers. I even tried Flex (enough to never use it, again).
In the classroom, Flash served as a gateway drug to programming and motion. My students were passionate about creating animations, properly integrating sound, and discovering how to do things with code. Granted, I was the first to advocate eliminating Flash from our curriculum while other schools still taught it, yet while it was a part of my class there was a certain magic that it had with students–one that hasn’t been rekindled, since.
Recently, I’ve read about a petition to open source Flash, as well as played with WickEditor (definitely check it out, it’s incredible for what it is). I didn’t think Flash could be open sourced with its MP4 license integration, but regardless, I’m not sure it’s something the world needs. While I do wish there’d be an easy way to view some of my past art projects and old jobs, Flash was built in a time before responsive web design, before SVG on the web, and before HTML animation had adequate browser support. The other issue with successors to this platform is the output format. SVG? Canvas? It seems like animating in non-canvas DOM elements is the popular way to go these days, though Flash’s potential successors seemingly have bloated code that relies on JQuery for animation.
I do believe that with the fallout of Flash that web design got a lot more static. Websites relied upon basic parallax and (gasp!) homepage carousels for animation. It’s only now with broad browser support that motion in websites is starting to re-emerge.
Don’t mourn it
I don’t miss the polyfills of SiFR for custom fonts, nor do I miss having to make a redundant HTML content with SWFObject. Heck, no one misses those silly preloaders, either! If anything, I should be grateful that the death of Flash steered me towards open source tools and how they prove to be stronger to the community.
What I miss (and I realize I’m part of the minority) is the community this software created and the gateway for design students learning to code. These days, I may have students fire up a text editor with a live server to make edits, and while that’s accurate for the modern industry, it’s clearly a lot more intimidating for young designers.
I hope something comes along someday to fill that gap.
I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and three boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.