Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lenovo Flash Drives

I've always liked the look of my ThinkPad, so when this USB flash drive project came up, I decided to explore what some Lenovo memory sticks might look like. Here are my design ideas, demonstrated using a combination of 3D and 2D tools. I built a basic model in Alias, did some quick renderings and then finished out the images in Photoshop. First, here are the sketches that led to the final designs:


And next some VERY quick 3D models with some sketching/exploration on top. An IBM branded version and then a cool click-open-click-closed design that I really liked:


Finally, I tweaked the model a little and added rounded corners, rendered again, and finished it out in Photoshop:


I've learned that there's not always one perfect tool for any given task; sometimes the best choice is to make your own, combine, manipulate, or re-configure. I've also realized that by doing this, you have the opportunity to create your own unique visual style (imagine if every designer used the same design programs and all the default settings!). Just like learning to write or draw, desginers must deveop a personal digital style.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Love. This. Trailer... Oorah!

Movie trailers are in some ways just as important the movies they are made for. I'm keeping this in mind as I continue to build my portfolio as well as some "teaser" postcards to send to potential employers.


My favorite trailer from the last few years was for the 2005 film, Jarhead. I remember the teaser immediately sparking questions at the theater: "How do you make [what looks like] an action movie about a war in which the US Marines saw little action?" "Why are they playing football in NBC suits?" "Why is Jake Gyllenhaal running around wearing nothing but a Santa Claus hat?" I remember coming to the realiztion that the film must be a brutally realistic depiction of the war, telling the stories of the soldiers rather than just creating cool action sequences. The trailer succeeds because it sets in intersting stage, but at the same time it's obvious that there is much more to the story.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Brand to Live by


I found out about Nau back in January through co-workers at Kaleidoscope. From their site: "Nau is an outdoor apparel company born out of a desire to do business differently. From designing our clothes and developing our fabrics, to the way in which we build our stores, to our dedication to supporting organizations working for positive change, we are striving towards a more sustainable approach to being in business."


This brand is innovative in almost every way, from their "webfront" stores (Which encourage internet shopping, a more sustainable choice) right down to their products which embody "beauty, performance, and sustainability"- attributes that have traditionally been viewed as mutually exclusive. Their strong belief in these three qualities pervades every aspect of their business, and they are happy to share that fact. By being transparent and encouraging customers to contribute their own ideas, via a blog/community called The Thought Kitchen, Nau succeeds as a lifestyle brand.

The company unfortunately closed its doors back in May (now under different ownership) but plans to reopen later this month. They are really the only clothing company to integrate sustainability so fully into their products and practices, and not at the expense of performance or style. I highly recommend keeping tabs on their site this month.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Word on Portfolios


Over the past few weeks, I've been sifting through my projects from the last couple of years and selecting those pieces of design for my portfolio that best represent the way I think and work. It's been tedious work; trying to make the same story you've told over and over seem new and interesting is not that easy. I found some inspiration on Coroflot's Creative Seeds though, in the form of Carl Alvian's April 17th article: Building Your Portfolio Website: Six Things to Always Do. Alvian's portfolio must-haves are these:

1. Make sure
you are in there somewhere.
2. Get your own domain.
3. Be broad. And deep.
4. Make sure at least some of your images are professional quality.
5. Pick--and stick to--a consistent visual style.
6. Make it easy to get additional information.

Some of these suggestions are obvious, but the points that really rang true for me were number one and three. He goes on to say that the most impressive projects that he sees in portfolios are not necessarily the most elaborate or for the biggest clients, but rather ones that the designer is obviously passionate about: "A portfolio that contains nothing but sober, perfect client work can get in line with hundreds of others just like it". The point is that a good example of your passion could come from anywhere; a school project, freelance work, or from client work.

"A portfolio that contains nothing but sober, perfect client work can get in line with hundreds of others just like it."

Point number three is also very relevant to what I'm doing. It is important to show both breath and depth of your skill set in a portfolio (being "T" shaped). This communicates that you are a well rounded individual in a very timely manner, without making your portfolio take an excessive amount of time to review.