This blog post is about designers and how they show their work on their websites. I also have a website I show some of my design work. I will be looking at one designer local to the Milwaukee area, and another designer who focuses on toy design, the industry I want to go into.
The first designer I will look at is Zach Gracia, I found the website through google images for “toy design website”, which is what I like to do sometimes to get a rough idea of precedent. Zach Gracia appears to be a recent graduate but has been working alongside his degree program. His resume features a cartoon character self portrait which enforces a creative and fun personality. The education section is highlighted and separated from the rest of the resume and work experiences are the main focus on the right side. He has worked at Disney consumer products and has risen up through positions there. His cover letter is short and probably his weakest portion. It says he wanted to play basketball, but then his parents bought him a sketchbook. It offers little on his life and work style. His portfolio itself is really good showing off a variety of work with callouts as well as finished products. He does more traditional illustration work in addition to his toy design work. However, he doesn’t get too far into details, and does not really offer his projects as a “story” with problem statements and a full process development. There is a level of confidence shown with his restraint. (Best resume page, lettering could be more clear). I think that his resume layout is a fairly good standard to set myself too, but his craftsmanship is pretty high standard to set myself to. Websites like his show how much more I’d like to improve my own technical skills.
The next designer I will look at is a local designer, who also happens to be a recent MIAD graduate Connor Kriah. Connor is also a toy designer. His website has a lot less information than Zach, but he has more information on supplemental websites, such as his linkedin profile. The work he shows on his website are his personal toys/figurines. He has a very specific and consistent style to his figurines. Animals that are wildly proportioned and eccentric, with big eyes and little bodies. His photos of them are really well composed. The figurines themselves are all solid colors, and appear to be molded. He also includes a sketch of one of his figurines that highly resembles a finished figure. While these figures are nice and well presented, I would like to see some more of his other design work that involves his design process. His linkedin says he is currently employed so maybe its not updated because he doesn’t need it to be. I knew Conner my freshman year and he’s a really interesting person. I’m glad to see he is still making crazy characters. I wonder if he is still making new characters to sell in the future.
What information do you think is most important for a designers website? If you are a designer, what insights do you have?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
For my research, I tried to focus in on industrial design work, but I don’t think I was very successful in this regard. This doesn’t strictly have to be “product” design in the traditional sense, but also “experience” and “interactive’ design. Maybe this is a place that was designed for specific users in mind. In addition, I also looked at local films mainly because of my general fascination with them. This is where I found most of my research. I will analyze them from a problem solving point of view, such as why were these places/initiates/films made, what problems do they attempt to solve (if at all), and were they successful. I chose some websites that were on the list and some that were not. These are the examples I found.
First, I found an article about an amazon prime original TV series, which was made by local filmmakers. This series is called “Shangri-LA”, and I found out about it from this article on Shepard Express. The series stars Milwaukee filmmaker and actor Nick Sommer, who plays a struggling actor in Hollywood and the other people he meets that also try to become stars (or try to exploit them). What was interesting about this to me is that a local business, Riverwest Film & Video is featured in the series, including its owner Xav Leplae. I took it upon myself to find out more about this place and why it was featured.
Riverwest Film & Video, is an independent and locally run film resource. A documentary about its local influence was recently shown at the Wisconsin Film Festival, which I found out about at the Milwaukee Magazine website. Riverwest Film & Video is one part video rental, one part equipment rental, and one part radio station, owned by Xav Leplae. The documentary is a meta narrative about the lives of the many people that use the space as a resource to create films, and how the space is also offered to people in the community (for instance, the article states that a man “they call Rabbi”, has lived at the store and cooks meals for people. It was a little unclear if he is an actual Rabbi or just a homeless Jewish man with a deep love of film and the Riverwest community). The people that make use of the store may come from a background where they may have not had the resources to realise their visions and tell the community (and the world) their messages and beliefs. It is clear to me that the space was designed to be as inclusive as possible, and because of this the people who use this space are influential to the people of Riverwest. It is also evident that the store’s influence is taken with the people who move on to bigger projects outside of Milwaukee. This space has a spirit of self empowerment; taking initiative on your own, and helping out people with similar goals as you.
The Milwaukee Magazine article referenced a Huffington Post article that was about the radio station part of Riverwest Film & Video, which is called Riverwest Radio. This article is a lot about Xav Leplae. In the article it gives Riverwest Radio’s mission statement (much like a design statement in industrial design) is to “provide a community platform for education, advocacy and creativity, as well as an outlet for marginalized and alternative voices.” This is pretty close to what I inferred in the last article, but this one really fleshed out what the space is all about, and why Xav Leplae made it that way. Xav was born in Belgium, but moved to Milwaukee. For a few years he was a New York City taxi driver, but eventually he moved back in the late 90’s to found Riverwest Film & Video and in 2012 he launched Riverwest Radio as a new part of the space. His goal was to operate Riverwest Film & Video like a food co-op, because Milwaukee (Riverwest included) is a very segregated city (by race and wealth) but Riverwest is become more race integrated in part to initiatives like his. He also travels to underdeveloped countries such as Haiti and creates artwork to raise money for them. His end goal is not to create a product (while, could be made to solve a user’s problem, is ultimately) for profit; all of his resources and initiatives are for the community. Everything he does is to better the people around him and bring them together. To me, seeing an experience design like this, one that is entirely made by and for the users is really eye opening. Usually, I am taught that design happens when there is an unaddressed need by the users, but in this case, the users addressed themselves and took matters into their own hands. Anyone can be a designer to solve problems.
Have you ever experienced a place like this? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
In my rapidly decreasing time at MIAD, I have been thinking a lot about what design means to me. I certainly feel like it has been a journey. I came to MIAD from an engineering prep high school, and my personal philosophy clashed with the new skills I was being introduced to. I had been conditioned to think in a concrete and sequential way, were there was very specific outcomes to problems, often represented as numerical values. At this early point, I did not really understand artwork. I was being presented abstract ideas that I was attempting to analyze without context. I also did not understand how artists came to the conclusions that they did. I would think, what were the exact reasons why you made this piece? Does being in your particular circumstance automatically result in the kind of artwork you produce? I was thinking about art and design, and the artists who make them, in simple terms of inputs and outputs. I quickly realized something needed to change.
The first lesson I learned was that design is not an equation. It is an iterative and spontaneous process. An artist may or may not have a specific outcome they want, at least not from the start. Influences can come in so many different ways, whether it's a critique, another artwork, or a shower thought of an idea. You have to constantly be thinking of what you are trying to do from every different angle, but there is no particular order to this. It's seemingly anything goes, but the strongest ideas come from an emotional argument. The only other requirement is craftsmanship, and this only comes with dedication and patience. Both artists and designers who have a strong emotional argument and craftsmanship in their practice come across not only as masters, but that their work is effortless; it makes too much sense to have not been done before.
In terms of this class, which is about art analysis, criticism, and discovering practice outside of the school, I want to discover the kind of design I want to make someday and figure out on a deeper level why it resonates with me, and how to share and articulate this resonation with others. I think I struggle the most with this in my portfolio (you can find my public portfolio here at... https://jasonward.myportfolio.com/ ) and when applying for positions. I want to get better at explaining to people my perspective of design. Part of this involves my craftsman ship, but the other half is the emotional argument. The “why I do what I do”. I want to get better at this in this class by seeing how other professionals do it.
Well, with that being said, what is your definition of the design process?
Tell me what you think in the comments!
Until next time,