Monthly Archives: September 2008

You Like Naps, Too?

A few weeks ago, a friend told me that the photo of my late-2004 creation, the “I like naps.” shirt, has been used to make “flairs” on Facebook by three different individuals, all of whom I don’t know. This news first upset me. The Naps Shirt was my precious widely-loved creation, and now it’s been taken for other uses without my permission.

Very quickly, my mind skipped the stage of acceptance and landed in the state of dilemma. What should I do? Should I let it go without intervention? Should I inform Serge Varela, Kelly Barnes, and Nora McLeese and confiscate those virtual “flairs” (if it’s even possible)?

I weighed the pros and cons: If I let it be, my design could be spread virally, and some nap-loving organization could potentially trace it back to me and give me the job of a lifetime and I become a successful designer. Or, the origin of the design could be lost, someone else would claim authorship, and they would get the job of a lifetime and become a successful designer.

And even if I fight for it after the fact, I would be perceived as (if not already) a bitter, bitter man, unwilling to let a silly design go, which could also be the outcome anyway if I “confiscate” the flairs now and establish maximum control on the use of that image on the Internet, where the spirit of “FREE!” and community-based sharing contributes to the thrive and success of the medium.

At the same time, who am I to talk about the ethics of stealing, being an Internet user myself? I often search the web for free stuff, and sometimes for free stuff that aren’t supposed to be free.

So what should I do? I realize now that more relevantly, the question should be, “What can I do?” And the answer is, “I can blog about it.” As of right now, this is as much as I will do. It may be passive aggressive, but I also have to consider the original spirit of the shirt’s creation: to spread joy, to have fun, and to share a common affinity with fellow nap-likers.

Flush.

Career Routes: Web Developing and “Green” Companies

In the past few weeks, as I have been working on my portfolio site and learning PHP and Ajax, I re-found my excitement and fascination in coding, and I could imagine myself working on it as a full-time gig, despite the hairsplitting troubleshooting (but when it works, it works beautifully!) At the same time, my interest in environmentalism and sustainability still exists. Not so much, though, is visual design, at least as a career. Therefore, I now have narrowed my choices down to two: web developing and “green” jobs.

I don’t know which is more correct, web “developing” or web “programming,” but I know what I want to do. The problem is that a quick job search online shows that most of those jobs require multiple years of experience, which I don’t have professionally.

And with green jobs, I still don’t know where to start, because I don’t know what my education in (mostly visual) design can contribute to the organizations. But I’m sure there is a future and potential for growth for the entire industry, so I’m not too worried; there’s something to do for everyone.

Therefore, the perfect job right now would be to combine both: to code the website or whatever for a “green” company, letting me contribute to my passion of changing/saving the world by doing what I enjoy doing.

This is not too far-fetched of a dream, compared to my other ones. If I have to pay more dues by working for a year or two somewhere to get there, I just might do it.

Flush.

Advice for Design Students 2008

With my alma mater beginning a new school year this week, I want to give the students at the Design Program there two more advice to continue from the list I started last November.

Have a Life Outside of Design

Don’t let design be your life. I’m not talking about doing all-nighters in the final two or three weeks of each quarter/term and declining invitations to parties. You may love design, but it’s not everything. I have quoted Michael Bierut before that “design is about everything,” but that doesn’t mean design is everything; it’s about everything else.

Have a separate passion: music, the environment, politics, sports, love, whatever. That way, 1) you have an escape if you get frustrated with design or have a designer’s block, and 2) you have a topic on which to base your next design project.

That’s partly why I chose to go to UC Davis instead of an art school; I got to be around people of different interests: Bio-chem majors, Engineering majors, Sociology majors, etc., and I got to take different types of classes, and learn about nutrition and grammar and neuroscience and exercise and acting and a bunch of other non-design topics. Take advantage of college, especially since you’re paying so much for it.

Teach Yourself

It’s not that they’re not doing a good job, but our professors and faculty are there to give you information and guide you with their knowledge about the subject; you have to use that information for what you want to do. Just because it’s a class on ActionScript doesn’t mean that you just need to complete the bare minimum of the assignments and you’ll be an AS expert. You know that one student who’s exceptionally good with it? Yeah, he/she didn’t learn it from a class, it’s from self-teaching.

So do yourself a favor, and teach yourself what you don’t know but want to, be it a programming language or the history of printing. You can take a class if you don’t know where to start, but in the end you are the one who’s going to have to do it; no one can live your life and learn ActionScript for you.

Flush.

Cookies Basics

Portfolio section, Show/Hide Panels button

I can now write cookies. I had been avoiding it for a while because I knew it would be a little more complex than basic JavaScript, and that I don’t like how cookies are used for “evil” sometimes. Cookies have a bad rap of taking personal information and whatnot, and I want to avoid that for my sites as much and as long as possible. And now I’m using it only to enhance visitor experience and it does not collect personal information.

I created an experiment with cookies in my Experiments section. It involves taking a name and storing it into the browser cookies, and then also created a switch button that just makes a setting go on and off. I did it for my portfolio section, where I want the visitor to have the option to show the “panels” of navigation within the portfolio section or to hide them, and not have to keep setting it every time the visitor returns to the site.

It’s a basic function, and it’s non-intrusive, and it still works without the function or JavaScript. In fact, if the browser disables JavaScript, the button disappears! You can test it yourself with your browser. And like I said before, the portfolio page exists; follow my site’s navigation format and you’ll get there.

Flush.

What Am I Doing? (Sept 2008)

Peet’s

It is discovered and decided that I will be working at Peet’s for only four more months, through the holiday season. Hopefully, this gives me a sense of having a deadline again and I can get more things done.

Olympics

I don’t know if I had made it clear a couple of posts ago that I love the Olympics, but I do. Not only did I enjoy racing home from work to watch Olympic history being made, but I was also impressed with the level of detail with which the Beijing team executed the events and their appearance in the world.

The opening and closing ceremonies were the best ever in my opinion, but not only that, it makes me want to take part in performances like those for a living, mainly in the planning and conceptual stage. This goes beyond “graphic design,” but I never said I am interested in graphic design alone. It’s times like this that lift my spirits and believe the best of days is always ahead of us.

Beta Portfolio

I’ve been working on the portfolio section for the past few weeks, and now I’m working on the coding before I pump out the images and make the link available, although you can still access it by manually entering the URI based on the site’s navigation. Constructive feedback is always appreciated.

Future

With a four-month timeframe in place, I now have a sense of what I’m doing in the near future. After that though, I don’t know. I’ve been revisiting the idea of a road trip a lot, and it seems like there’s no better time than the present (or asap, e.g. four months from now). I would have some money saved up, and either get on a train or drive myself across the country, maybe with a friend or two.

I might have a revelation in the four-month period and know for sure which path I want to go on after Peet’s. It might not be far from what I had been planning all along; it could be a regular graphic design job right here in the Bay Area, or it might be somewhere in the East Coast. Or, I could be in Asia, or Africa, or Europe, following some hint of an opportunity that is remotely related to design and more related to the environment or humanitarian work.

Flush.