The Eagleman Stag

So. Good.

To dissect it further would be to distract you from it itself, so I’ll leave for the moment. Watch.

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8-Bit Google Maps

A few days early of April Fools, but brilliant nonetheless. Google Maps, the charm dripping way.

Man, now I want to go play some Pokemon Yellow…

Hugh Ferriss – delineator

Hugh Ferriss wasn’t really an architect in the designer sense – he didn’t design the buildings himself – but although trained as an architect he found himself as a very successful freelance delineator, someone who draws the buildings for use in advertisement or to pitch to clients.

His style is iconic and inspired a lot of other styles including Batman’s highly stylized Gotham City.

Really cool work with a fascinating history.

Check out a huge repository of his work on Flickr (which is the credit for the photos above)

The Knife Maker

Made by Hand / No 2 The Knife Maker from Made by Hand on Vimeo.

This video is brilliant and resonates deeply with me for several reasons.

As an industrial designer it’s sort of a hard reality that hand making things is probably one of the worst ways to manufacture something. We are industrialists, makers of things en masse, which has it’s own stigma to it that really isn’t accurate. I see myself very much like this guy: deeply passionate for the creation of something useful. It’s just a base root level love for the creation of something. I just look at things with a slightly larger output which means automation. It’s a hard stigma too – mention “factory” to anyone and immediately they think of poor working conditions and virtual slave labour, which is an unfortunate truth in some places but really doesn’t need to be in order to make things.

So I see the romanticism of one guy in his basement studio working on something he loves, I understand it and have experienced it and I want to take that experience and elevate it into something bigger. It gets trickier as you expand, and I think that’s the sort of problem I like solving.

Craftsmen are held in high regard for me. I appreciate his words when he mentioned leaving the abstract and coming home to making something so very simple and immediately useful. It’s something I’ve been learning a lot over these past two years of schooling as we’re introduced to the art of crafting in various mediums. I could never be a machinist all day, but I deeply love that zen found in machining. I think this guy found that and I wish him all the best for it. I think everyone should find something that gives them that feeling, be it in maths or science or art or writing. It’s a deeply spiritual thing, in a way, that sort of fulfillment that’s entirely separate from corporate success. I watch my instructors do what they do and they might openly smile or they might not but you can tell in their actions that there is a deep passion for their craft, and a deep joy that they find in it. The way they pour the molten aluminum into a sand casting or the way they slightly nod their head with approval after solving some equation. I think, at the root of it all? That’s probably the most neglected part of life, of society, of culture, as I see it.

I sat outside a financial plaza last sunday morning just watching the cars lazily wind through downtown, watching the handful of people coming into work that morning. These are people who genuinely love whatever it is they do in there. These are people who get up on a sunday and smile as they walk into work. Are they soulless corporate pigs? Maybe; I don’t know. But I respect the attitude with which they approach the door and as much as the 99% complains, they are the sharks who happen to make financial success out of their personal passion. Some of them, at least.

The video was well shot and edited and everything, and the medium is a craft unto itself, but I think in the end his words ring true. Passion might equal success by sheer blind luck in some cases, but for the rest of us hard work equals success and passion negates the ill effects of hard work.

So, be inspired. I am. Make something yourself. Do something new. Hone something that you like to do and reap the satisfaction from that. You can’t buy that feeling, no matter how much money you have.

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Money Face

That last one is me, with the fantastic jowls of Sir Laurier of Monopoly-colourful Canadian fiver fame.

They are all hilarious, though. Check out the whole gallery.

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Canadian Museum of Making

A few of us went on tour of this private collection which seems to have one of every machine ever conceived. Since we’re nerdy steampunk fanatics and mechanically-minded industrial designers, we mostly wandered around with mouths agape, pointing and squeaking at each other to “lookit this one!” like Christmas morning in Disneyland.

The cool thing about it being a collection is it’s less stuffy than public museums because the invitees are usually our types who are deeply fascinated with the machines, which means we were allowed to play with them and watch them move and see how they work. For me (us) that’s the best way to learn: experimenting and finding out what really makes it tick.

The bookshelves were fantastic. Everything from engineering Tesla turbines to steam engines to playing billiards like a gentleman (complete with illustrations featuring tophats and monocles!) to bird watching to botany. I commented several times that I would just stay there and read the shelves end to end, top to bottom, forever – if I could. As much as I could easily download all the texts into my iPad, there’s just a magic to reading leather bound tomes with grease on the pages from a hundred years ago, with little notes scribbled in the margins from some machinist at some point. It just feels like it has wisdom trapped inside, you know? And you trace your finger over the gold embossed title text and can’t contain your excitement to learn all about the topic contained within.

Anyway, the photography is mediocre and really doesn’t do the place justice. I had to skip posting entire sections of the collection in photos because there really isn’t a good way of making such massive galleries.

Still, definitely check out the part one and two of the gallery I did post – about 40 photos in total.

Re: Formally Concerned

This post is in response to Mitch Goldstien‘s recent exploration essay.

I wanted to both reiterate the points he made to further reinforce them (I do agree with the viewpoint from which he writes and have had a good conversation with him overviewing this very post) and add some thoughts and questions of my own.

The Tumblr community is broad, with users posting some 50 million posts every day [1] and so when he and I speak of that community we speak as a broad average. Of course there will be exceptions to every rule, and this is by no means to suggest every user is using it for the same reason. The trend, though, on a whole, is alarming: it’s content recycling instead of content creating. It’s reposting instead of posting. Which begs the question, and I Tweeted jokingly about this a while ago: “Where does the content come from – where does it truly begin?”

The problem breaks down nicely.

People like audience. I’m not sure if it’s a culturally learned thing or an inherently human thing, but we seem to have this desire to be heard and known. This simple fact drives everything from Hollywood to Facebook. For the most part, it’s the thing that drives Tumblr. There is a satisfaction of having followers and people hanging onto your words and posts, waiting for the next thing you do. As a blogger, I’ll be the first to admit, it’s a very real feeling. For some people that’s the sole reason why they do it  and for others like myself, it’s the byproduct of a personal thing like exploration. The problem Mitch points out is true: people are getting satisfaction from reposting things that aren’t theirs. It makes sense, and it seems natural: you don’t need any talent or ability to cruise around the internet and sort things into collections from which you can derive purpose and pleasure. Why not?

I would echo his concerns that this is creating a low barrier to entry which can devalue the true creators of things but as a devil’s advocate I would like to point out that the sheer numbers have a testament. The change is in medium. Before the internet we had this ratio of creators (artists, designers etc.) to consumers and the roles were slightly different: the creators were probably trained in their craft and created things as part of their career while the consumers typically had to pay to access it. It’s hard to generalize over all the mediums, but I’m thinking gallery arts and music here. The consumer designs like advertising were free to view, of course. This meant the creators and audience were older and there was a higher barrier to enter into this realm from both ends of the spectrum. The internet has changed that. I don’t have actual stats for Tumblr, but I’m guessing the average user age would be a teenager of some sort and it’s free to both use and view, which means anybody with internet can do it. Isn’t it natural that the rate of consumption would increase? Should we truly be concerned for this trend, thinking that it’s ruining true creation? Of course the ratio changes, but are there net more or less creatives out there? Which brings me to the next point:

Barrier of entry for creatives.

So let’s assume you aren’t just reposting things, let’s assume you want to make awesome art! So you pirate Photoshop and go find some tutorials to make trendy things just like the ones you see on Tumblr. Then you post your version to Tumblr and people praise you for making it. Win-win, right? You’re a creative, not just a consumer. The problem, of course, is there’s a big difference between creating content exactly as a tutorial says and learning from tutorials to make your own thing from the heart. Sadly, trendy being the beast it is, people don’t really get to the second part, which is the thing that we worry about. There is a difference between creating and being creative.

And so the whole system comes down slightly. People can make things from free + a little investment of time, which will be reposted by people for free + time and they’ll be consumed by people for free + time (and these latter people have far too much time).

Full circle with the devil’s advocacy, I wonder if it matters at all. Is this not an evolution of the time spent by the average teenager of yesteryear perusing magazines? Sure, we’ve added the ability to clip out the things we like and share them with other people, but that makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course we feel like people should try to grow and question and learn, but given the trend of teenagers over time, is this actually any different than it ever was? Sure it’s bleak, but is it net better or worse?

I can identify with Mitch and his article, and it’s all very true and valid – the true creatives are running alongside the trendy “creatives” which tends to discredit the whole thing, but wouldn’t there be some natural falloff that mimics the older system (growing up, getting proper training and building real skills for those interested, the rest fall by the wayside as they get swept up in other careers)?

As a footnote, I want to comment on my own Tumblr usage. Yes, there is an Acrylo Tumblr and yes, it’s there for the sole purpose of your enjoyment, but before it was ever public it was a scrapbook for me, living on my HDD and slowly growing as I moved through the internet. I wanted to share the things that inspired me and to which I was drawn to inquire and explore. These are things that mean something to me because they were something to me when I found them. Questions I asked about them and pondered to myself. Elements that I liked (or didn’t) and kept as a reminder. I never kept them with the intention of sharing, but I shared because I feel it’s valuable as a resource for other people like me. I’ve had experiences where I’ve come across Tumblr galleries and cried when I got to the end because it was such a well curated journey full of things that were deeply inspiring to me. It sounds utterly silly to admit, but I do get sucked into these things with a sort of romanticism.

So I don’t want to say Tumblr is inherently evil – don’t get me wrong. I don’t even want to say I’m special or exempt from the things I’ve outlined above – I’m not. I do try, to the best of my ability, to not fall into that trap and use the platform to promote better thinking and inquisitive designing which is a good thing. As with anything, it’s not the platform, it’s the users. And I’d love to have users that follow (and spread the trend of) this better model of being.

Good artists ship.

BLACK – Susi Sie

BLACK from Susi Sie on Vimeo.

Awesome short film featuring ferro-fluids.

Abstract Paintings – Amy Shackleton

Loving the mix of architecture and raw, explosive colour. The organic meets the constructed, and it collides into this beauty.

The second one is my favorite. Those greens and blues are superb.

Definitely check out the rather extensive gallery Amy’s got going on. Awesome to see Canadian artists who don’t paint drab prairie scenes (because trust me, it’s all you see around here).

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Continuous – dancing and architecture?

Continuous from adriene hughes on Vimeo.

Am I a terrible person for thinking “Girls, get out of the way, I’m trying to study that gorgeous concrete.”?

I mean, it’s all very poetic and everything; well done and so forth. But I want to look at the building, and they’re distracting that.

That is, of course, the Salk Institute by the ever-awesome Kahn whose works you probably recognize from the parliament building in Alex Roman’s Third and Seventh.


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