Community is something that’s been on my mind recently, particularly since last year after my friend Jenny Wilkson from the School of Visual Concepts presented at TypeCon about building community around analog things in the center of a growing digital environment.
This sparked an idea that I’ve been mulling about since then, but which will hopefully be crystalized when I’m back on stage at TypeCon this August for a talk about design, type, community and a somewhat magical machine called the Risograph.
It’s a machine that you may never have heard of though you might have seen something produced with it. And there’s a really interesting community that’s been forming around it over the last few years — in the US but even more perhaps elsewhere across the globe.
Here’s the abstract for the talk which is scheduled for 3:25pm on the Friday afternoon of the conference.
As new technologies continue to blur the lines between our real and digital worlds and we lose the edges of traditional mediums, obsolete technologies like letterpress or vinyl records become desired objects of art. But can type be art, and how do obsolete technologies transform and elevate type in unexpected and curious ways?
This brief talk will look at how the Risograph, an unusual, effectively obsolete, and inherently imperfect machine can add value and desirability to letterforms and design, and what their increasing popularity has done to bring creative expressions of typography and design to new audiences.
I may have a few Riso goodies available for conference attendees too.
The second Swash and Serif show kicks off next Thursday evening in Toronto at the Black Cat Artspace. A piece I painted earlier this year is currently winging it’s way to Toronto and will be on display (and potentially for sale) throughout the show’s run.
The particular piece I submitted for the show, titled “Best Served…”, happens to be a personal favorite and it’s a treat to make it available for others to enjoy. Better than it sitting in my studio space here in California. Credit for the concept belongs to fellow sign painter John Barrick from San Jose, california.
The Swash and Serif show runs from October 1st at 7:30pm to October 7th. The Black Cat Artspace is located at 2186 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario.
The title/descriptions of each of the talks tell me there’s going to be information that even for me is fresh and interesting. My own talk will be a considerably updated and expanded version of the one I gave originally at Typecon this past August.
Monday marked the start of Polaroid Week and I’m taking part for the first time this year (despite missing the first day due to travel). As I’ve done the last couple years when travelling, I had my trusty SX-70 with me in New Orleans and was shooting a mix of older expired 600 film that my bud Brian Warren had brought down for us to use along with a range of film from The Impossible Project including the new PX-70 Color Shade which is easily their best yet.
I’ve owned a Polaroid camera of one type or another for probably longer than I remember though it’s only been during the last couple years that I’ve started to find myself interested in the medium again and excited about what the The Impossible Project is doing, particularly Annie and Dave who I had the opportunity to meet last year while in NYC on my way to Connecticut.
Annie and Dave and the rest of the Impossible team get customer service like few companies. They frequently going above and beyond to take care of customers. They’ve certainly helped me on more than one occasion — and have my utmost gratitude and respect for being so constantly wonderful. I can’t think of another company who would ship me something overnight and keep an eye on the order themselves to ensure it got to me. There’s just not enough nice things I can about them.
As an aside, if I can offer one simple piece of advice — do yourself a favour if you ever plan on visiting the Impossible Project Space in New York — take the elevator!
As we discovered, the narrative on the topic of web fonts weaved its way into even more presentations than previously at TypeCon. This meant editing and rehearsing up until the last minute to ensure our spin on the topic was sufficiently unique. And while we somewhat ended up winging it, all three of us came away feeling good and have had great discussions with other speakers and attendees since.
The premise of the talk revolved around the idea that web designers have all along wanted the same typographic control as print has historically enjoyed. In that same vein, now that fine-grained control over type using CSS is becoming a reality, there’s a greater need to educate web designers on how to sensibly select and pair type, evaluate web fonts, and to know when to use advanced typographic features such as those found in newer OpenType fonts.
During the talk we also briefly covered the history of workarounds and hacks that have been invented to bridge the gap between what’s available and what’s really possible.
Additionally, we’ve made the complete anonymous source data from the unscientific, yet (we think) still relevant and interesting survey we ran not long ago to help prepare for the talk. The way to best explore the data is to put it through the lens of early adopters. It’s reasonably safe to assume that’s who the majority of the respondents were.
From Brian, Luke and myself — a big thank you to the TypeCon and SOTA board, staff and volunteers on hand during the conference — especially Michelle, JP, and Grant who helped get us there and made presenting painless. And of course everyone in the audience too.
The last two years have seen enormous strides in the advancement and adoption of web fonts. Like any new technology though, designers and developers need time to push and pull it to understand how it works, where there are gaps and to come up with new or unexpected uses.
Access to real fonts on the web means a familiarity and understanding of 400+ years of typographic history is even more urgently needed by web designers to suitably pay respect to the typefaces and type designers whose work we now have greater access to. Or as Jason Santa Maria so succinctly put it during Ampersand in Brighton, UK earlier this week:
If your type is bad, the design fails
In just over two weeks, Brian Warren, Luke Dorny and I will be giving a talk titled “Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Where are Designers Going with Web Fonts?” at TypeCon 2011 in New Orleans. In finalizing our outline we felt it would be helpful to find out how other designers are using web fonts. To do so, we’ve put together a brief anonymous survey to help us identify common behaviours, patterns and gaps.
The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. We greatly appreciate all those who take the time to help us out with this and we promise to share the results along with our slide deck after the conference.
Typography continues to be an important facet of the work I do, whether online or in print, so joining type designers and those from related disciplines at TypeCon is an obvious extension of that line of thought. Although last year’s conference in Los Angeles was my first, I’ll be back again this July in New Orleans but with a twist.
Our talk will look at web typography from a different angle than in previous years by focusing on how type is being used on the web and what web designers are looking for in web fonts. At the same time we’ll cover the unique challenges that face the medium and where we need help from type designers to bring typography in the web and mobile landscape to the next level.
We hope you’ll join us in New Orleans between July 5 - 10th along Ed Benguiat, David Berlow, John D. Berry, Veronika Burian, John Downer, Jessica Hische, Akira Kobayashi, Erin McLaughlin, Thomas Phinney, Neil Summerour and everyone else on the incredible lineup of speakers.
On top of providing a few of the long sold-out limited edition LL&S prints as prizes for Ampersand attendees, we’ll also be putting together an exclusive for the event. I can’t promise we won’t keep it a surprise until then, but we’ll see…
And if that weren’t enough, LL&S will also be sponsoring TypeCon 2011: Surge in New Orleans this year. We’re still working out exactly what we might do for that event, but needless to say, as was the case last year, the entire Butter Label crew will again be on hand.
There’s a lot I could say about SXSW, but others have alreadywritten pieces that echo my own sentiments about the conference this year.
Simply put, SXSW has arguably outgrown it’s effectiveness as a design and technology conference in spite of itself. It’s too big, too uneven, and perhaps, even too corporate. On the other hand, because it’s size, it’s helped foster something else entirely — what you might almost call a resistance.
The last two years have seen a growing group forsaking the official conference almost entirely, instead travelling to Austin during that same period to join friends and peers in small, usually informal gatherings, frequently at many of Austin’s popular coffee houses, pubs or restaurants to share knowledge, ideas, have a laugh, or just to catch up with each other and discuss the future.
There’s reasons why I think this is important, though Josh nails it:
I love meeting new people and connecting with old friends. I love talking about all the crazy stuff we do and what it means and why we do it and how we can do it better and how we can actually make the lives of others better by sharing our ideas and making things and being genuine and opening up to one another and buying rounds of beer for people we don’t know and getting to know them and coming up with crazy, goofy ideas that just might work and practicing a whole new type of alchemy: converting bytes and bits of virtual connectedness into actual, physical relationships that mean something.
Although I love Austin as a city, it’s those relationships and that open sharing of ideas that keeps me going back every year. Strengthening existing connections and making new ones. It’s what the web is made of. It’s what life in the real world is made of.
This coming Saturday, May 15th is the second annual BookCamp Torontounconference. As one might expect, as someone who’ll be speaking at said event, I’ll be talking books — but not alone. I’m lucky to be sharing the desk/podium/stage/whatever with my friend Joe Clark to pontificate specifically about electronic books, publishing models and everything that’s right, but perhaps more importantly about what’s wrong in those worlds with a particular focus on independent publishing.
During my bit, I’ll be making the official public announcement about a couple projects that will be occupying a significant portion of my time throughout the next year or so.
One of these has been in the works for some time, but the stars have finally aligned to do something about it. The other one might ruffle a few feathers at U of T. Enough about that for now. I’m sure there’ll be more to say in a few days time.
BookCamp 2010 is sold out but there’s still a waiting list up at EventBrite if you’re interested in attending. I haven’t done this type of public speaking in a long time — it’s not quite the same as design presentations to clients, so if you’ll be in attendance, please be gentle with me.
I don’t know exactly where the days have gone since last year but SXSW 2010 starts today and as much as I’m excited to see old friends and connect with new ones, I’m feeling largely unprepared — even if I’m really not. I’m definitely a tad sleep deprived though, so I apologize in advance for being potentially incoherent while in Austin.
As much as I and others have been a bit blasé about it since ‘09, Southby is still something I think most of us look forward to every year — it’s that one big opportunity to catch up and exchange ideas with the web/interactive world as a whole. It’s more than a simple conference or “geek spring break”. The last couple days have had me thinking that this year is going to be a little different, maybe a little special somehow. I’m not yet sure what that means exactly but we’ll see.
Based on conversations via Twitter, it definitely feels like more people attending this year will be in Austin even less for the conference sessions than for the bits that happen in the hallways, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. I’d say that’s largely true for me even though after finally looking through the panels and talks, there are certainly some potentially good ones. Potentially.
Butter Me Up
Part of the excitement might just be around some of the changes that have been underway for me over the last few months, one of which being my working more with Luke on ButterLabel projects and planning what’s next with Ligature, Loop and Stem.
Luke and I have all kinds of schwag to hand out — some lovely foil stamped business cards, stickers, buttons (ButterLabel and LL&S), and even a few ButterLabel tees. I think we’ll be pretty selective about who those go to. All are definitely first-come, first-serve though.
On top of that I’ve got a few copies of Life in the Dead of Winter, my band’s 2009 EP with me (on 180g vinyl no less) for any vinyl enthusiasts out there. For anyone interested in a digital download, let me know and I’ll arrange to get you a special download code.
Information is available on the Flickr group page, the awesome Sitby.us app by Weightshift, and Eventbrite through which you can RSVP to attend — there’s no cost and it’s always a good time. I believe Grant even has a little treat for those that do… Just sayin’.
For those in attendance — see you around Austin over the next five or so days. Who’s buying the first round?
With everything that’s been goingon lately, my third trip down to Austin for SXSW couldn’t have come at a better time. I definitely needed a break and some time to decompress.
In every sense: mission accomplished.
I was largely offline while in Austin. I didn’t bring my MacBook and it was often challenging to get connected on my iPhone since roaming data rates are insane (thanks again Rogers and AT&T). The often spotty wifi access didn’t help either. Despite that, being somewhat disconnected much of the time was refreshing — I think we’d all benefit from doing it more often.
Bigger, yes. Better?
Although I didn’t expect it to be bigger this year given the current economic climate, SXSW Interactive indeed was. Whether the conference itself was better than previous years though is still largely up for debate. Reports seem to indicate some good, a little bit of awesome and a whole lot of “meh” which isn’t really any different from previous years.
I honestly spent more time connecting with friends, both old and new than I did going to panels. I can count the number of panels I attended on one hand, but the ones I did were all enjoyable. Not mind blowing but enjoyable nonetheless.
It’s Made of People
SXSW has definitely become much more important to me (and many others) for the things that happen outside the conference sessions than in them. So much so for some that they didn’t bother to even get a conference pass this year, something that I would hazzard a guess will increase a bit more next year.
Now that the 2010 dates have been announced (March 12th—16th), if you’re thinking of attending, you mind want to consider skipping the conference pass and just hang out in the hallways or at Halcyon or Gingerman. I know I am. That’s where you’ll likely find a lot of us anyway.
More photographic evidence of my time in Austin at SXSW is available for your viewing pleasure at Flickr. On a side note — if you didn’t get a chance to see Gary Hustwit’s new film Objectified, do yourself a favour and make a point to.
Now that I’ve been back for about a week, caught up on work, the big iPhone OS 3.0 announcement and everything else going on in the web/design world, I’ve started to dedicate some time to reconnecting with a few of the things I’ve had sitting on the backburner or that will help me build up the momentum I need in planning what’s next.
First up: writing more and getting back on my book reading bandwagon. Two blog entries this week alone so I think I’m off to a good start.
Join the Wishingline crew (Scott, Anna and Dale) for Toronto’s second Lunch 2.0 event which will be happening on Friday, May 30th, from noon until 1:30 at the still kinda-sort new Wishingline studio in Toronto.
Come out and meet like-minded people from Toronto’s design and tech communities and help us inaugurate our new studio space, rock out on the finger drums, and check out the comings and goings of our strange neighbours across the street all while enjoying yummy pizza and fizzy or otherwise bubbly beverages.
The event is totally free, but space is extremely limited and once the tickets are gone, they’re gone. Full details including location, time, tickets and anything else you might need to know are available at Eventbrite.
For the scoop on what Lunch 2.0 is all about and who’s behind it in Canada, check the official Lunch 2.0 website. Hope to see you on the 30th!
Though nearly two months from kickoff, 2008 conference fever is already ramping up with two big ones currently marked on the calendar, tickets purchased and hotels arranged with more surely to be added as the year goes on.
First, one of too few relevant and topical Canadian-based web/design-related conferences — Web Directions North. Unfortunately due to other commitments I missed the inaugural event last year, but after speaking with both Derek Featherstone and Dave Shea during SXSW, which only shortly followed WDN, I realized I couldn’t afford to miss it a second time.
Given the great lineup of speakers, can you afford to miss it? I’m excited — new faces, old friends, and no dobut spectacularly organized! Plus I haven’t been to Vancouver in over 10 years which is a treat in itself.
And then there’s old reliable — South By Southwest down in lovely Austin, Texas. Last year, oddly my first year attending, was a blast and I’m looking forward to catching up with friends, hopefully generally more interesting talks and panels than last year and just an all-around good time. I’ll be at the Hampton and staying a couple extra days at the end of the Interactive portion of the conference to visit with clients and hopefully putter around Austin a bit with anyone staying for the week of music mayhem that starts when Interactive ends.
Hope to see you there at one or both conferences. Do say “hello” — I promise I don’t bite.
For those in the web/design/interactive realm, SXSW is like Mecca. It’s this place you go every year — sometimes to hear great panel discussions, other times just to meet and hang out with your friends and contemporaries.
A few weeks back, the SXSW crew posted the 2008 panel picker giving you and anyone else who wants the chance to vote on the panels most deserving to be included in the SXSWi 08 lineup.
Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. will be representin’ (but not presenting) in Chicago at the end of August for the third An Event Apart conference of 2007 which will be featuring talks from such web luminaries as Dan Cederholm, Jeffrey Zeldman, Derek Featherstone, Jeremy Keith, Lou Rosenfeld, Jim Coudal, Eric Meyer, Jason Santa Maria and more. We’re looking forward to seeing a few old friends and hopefully making some new ones, so please do say hello if you see him milling about between sessions.
At the moment, there’s still a few tickets left, so if you’re looking to attend what will surely be a great two day conference, you had better hurry as they undoubtedly won’t last long.
And anyone who’s headed out for the @media conference in San Francisco, CA should take some time out on Friday night, May 25th to take part in the inaugural Avalonstar Grand Prix, a sure-fire fun event that we just happen to be sponsoring and have donated the grand prize for — namely a full license of Adobe Fireworks CS3 (for the Mac, though Adobe will let you easily switch platforms if necessary).
So, go out. Have fun. Race your asses off and make sure to take lots of pictures since we can’t be there for the event ourselves!
Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. will once again be attending RailsConf, this year in Portland, Oregon with our friends, clients and colleagues from FiveRuns, who, incidentally, are one of the big sponsors of the event.
The FiveRuns crew have a few special announcements for the Rails community planned for the event and they’re going to be giving away another new MacBook Pro at the conference too. So if you wouldn’t mind walking away with an awesome new computer, be sure to stop by their booth at the conference or pre-register for the draw at their website.
We’re looking forward to seeing what’s coming next for Rails and catching up with a few friends we haven’t seen in a while. If you’ll be in attendance, be sure to say hello!
SXSWi 2007 is now over and I’m back home in Toronto. What a week away! I’m sure I’m still a bit out of it after being awake for over 24 hours (8:30 AM Thursday though 9:30 PM Friday) so hopefully I’m somewhat coherent.
My 6AM Friday flight back to Toronto left me feeling particularly paranoid about sleeping through an alarm, so I stayed up chillin’ at my bud Rob Jones’ place in Austin until it was time to leave. I had to gas up the rental car, drop it off and then do all the usual stuff at the airport. Luckily, no problems with my connecting flights and I actually made it home a few minutes earlier than expected.
March 9th through the 16th was a crazy week and I’m flat out exhausted. SXSW was a great time and a nice break from work, allowing me to finally put faces and personalities to the names I mostly knew only online via Flickr, Twitter or other social networking sites.
The web standards/design community has a lot of great people in it; folks I admire and look to for advice, encouragement and inspiration. People from the Canada, the US, UK, Australia and elsewhere - all of whom came together to what is truly an international conference like no other.
Based on what I heard from numerous people who’ve attended previous South By conferences, this one, in terms of the actual conference panels was a bit of a let-down. The talks were often less interesting, less focused and poorly prepared.
In some ways, looking at the names of panellists, it stuck me as a bit of a changing of the guard in some respects. A lot of names I didn’t know with only a handful that I did. As such, I found myself spending more time socializing with my peers outside the panels, at various restaurants or bars around the 6th Street area rather than actually attending the panels. The handful that I did attend in general were good or at least passable.
Given that this was my first South By I find it hard to judge fairly aside from saying that these panels were generally much less well prepared than those at Apple’s WWDC conference, RailsConf or other conferences I’ve attended in the past. I think some of the panels touched briefly on topics that overall would have been more interesting than what the panellists actually spoke about.
Unfortunately, I think I missed just about all of the really good panels such as Richard Rutter and Mark Boulton’s panel on Web Typography, Khoi Vihn and Mark Boulton’s grid design panel. Luckily there are podcasts to make up for that in the same way Apple provides WWDC attendees video/audio and PDFs of the sessions each year.
THE Social Conference
Aside from the panels, and as I hinted at earlier, SXSW is really a massive social experience, even more so than I expected. Meeting the people and personalities I’ve almost exclusively known online and having them all turn out to be really cool, fun, and down to earth was the icing on the cake. Although I didn’t get to meet everyone I would have liked or had enough time to chat with the ones I did, I can’t complain.
I was fortunate enough to get to meet and/or hang out with folks like Dan and Alex Rubin, the entirely awesome Blue Flavor posse, Tiff Fehr, Matthew Pennell, Derek Featherstone, Veerle and Geert, Andy Budd, Paul Boag, Robert Scales, Mark Bixby, Brian Warren, Steve Smith, Patrick Haney, Jina Bolton, my homie Mike Stickle, Dave Shea, Jason Santa Maria and his lovely wife Liz (your mugs are in transit), Shaun Inman, Jesse Bennett-Chamberlai, Jon Snook, Faruk and his Apple Web Store cohorts, Anton Peck, Greg Storey, Bryan Veloso, Scott Raymond, Garrett Dimon, the Veer gang (Grant, Brock, Aaron, Issa and Yuval), Sean from frogdesign and undoubtedly many more who I’m blanking on right now.
I also finally got to meet the business partner of Theresa Neil with whom I’ve been working on the FiveRuns application for the last year - Rob Jones, a former frogdesign(er) and who’s just the best. Rob rocks, and along with his girlfriend Shara, was kind enough to put me up for my last couple nights in Austin while I was takin’ care of business.
The Year Of The Button
2007 was the year of the button. I’m nearly positive I’m heading home with more 1” buttons than business cards. I can think of a few folks though who I just realized I never snagged a card from and a few who just didn’t have any at all. But the buttons seemed to really be a big hit all around. They’re fun and it’s just something a little different.
I’m still adamant that the Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. popsicle buttons were the only ones that were hand-made (by my lovely wife). I think they turned out fantastically given the fact they weren’t printed and assembled until just hours before I left to come down to Austin.
There’s still a small handful of those buttons left for anyone who didn’t get one that wants one. Just send me an e-mail or IM me with you deets and I’ll get something in the mail for you.
About SXSW’s Idiotic Registration Process
As I said to Bryan Veloso when we briefly chatted during his and Dan Rubin’s Live from the 101 podcast, my biggest complaint about SXSW, aside from some bad or uninteresting panels and poor scheduling was the absolutely ridiculous registration process and just some generally bad conference structuring problems in terms of the location of things, including the panels.
Assuming you pay $300 to go to the conference, I think there’s a pretty darn good chance you’ll actually go.
Taking that into consideration, badges should have all been pre-printed for registrants like at every other conference in the world so that when you go to register, everything is just waiting for you. Having to wait in line, fill out a card with info they already have, possibly get your photo taken, then wait around for someone to print out your badge and yell out your name before you can actually finally get your badge. That’s just inefficient and stupid if you ask me.
For a conference with as much history as SXSW, that seems like a lesson they perhaps should already have learned. The same goes for putting the registration area right in the middle of a major throughway of people going to and from panels. Apparently much of this was worse last year which is a scary thought.
A Few Fun Moments
Other random fun moments — the Trailer Park Boys wandering around the convention centre, some dude dressed as Superman though with a cellphone and Blackberry case attached to his bright yellow belt, and apparently missing Paul Rudd as we left the trade show area. I’m also still convinced I saw Tarantino a few times on Saturday or Sunday night too when we were all out partying.
In terms of parties, I had a great time at just about all of the ones I made it out to - definitely the Blue Flavor party being my fave and MediaTemple one being possibly the most pretentious and possibly dull (hence my early exit) even though I made it into the “VIP” area.
The fact that Monday’s events were on my birthday made them particularly memorable and the most fun. Thanks to all for the birthday wishes and Twitters and to Mark Bixby and Brian Warren for filling me full of beer and assorted alcohol.
Monday the 12th was also made special by the Veer gang for taking me out for a big birthday steak dinner at Fleming’s. I know everyone loves Veer — but those guys really are the coolest, and if I didn’t enjoy working for myself, I could see having a lot of fun working with them. Right, Grant?
It was nice to get away for a week though I missed Emily and Gillian and was very happy to get home. Talking with them on the phone or via IM just isn’t the same. I’m still filtering through pics to upload to Flickr, but should have the ones I want to post all up soon enough.
Thanks again to all my South By peeps, it was a blast. See you next year!
Like many others in the design, web, film, music and related industries, in March I’ll be making the trek down to Austin, Texas for SXSW. This will be my first time attending (finally) and I’m looking forward to meeting up with old friends, finally putting some proper faces to names, shaking hands and kissing babies.
Seriously though, I’ve heard SXSW is a good time (lots of parties), and it looks like there’s a solid speaker/panel lineup, I just hope I can deal with all the people… WWDC is around 4000 — 4500 which is a lot. SXSW I’m guessing based on hotel availability will be quite a bit more.
And for anyone interested, I’ll probably bring a few mugs and CDs with me.
The Wishingline Design Studio, Inc. office will be closed during the week of January 23rd through January 28th while we’re away in Reston, Virginia at The Rails Edge where we’ll be learning more about what’s new in Rails 1.2 and other interesting, related Rails topics from Rails luminaries such as Dave Thomas, Mike Clark, Marcel Molina Jr., Chad Fowler, Justin Gehtland, Stuart Halloway and more.
If you’ll be attending the conference, please stop by the FiveRuns (primary sponsor of the conference and one of our clients) table and say hello.