This piece I created during the Angeles National Forest Artist Residency program I participated in during the Summer and Autumn of 2016. These photos show the piece from raw oak to finished work. The wood is oak from the same area where I worked on the piece near Crystal Lake.
Using my powers for evil
I accepted this contract assignment without knowing who the eventual client was, a strategic move on the part of the agency based on what I believe was their experience with other designers who would rather not work for the petrochemical industry. I wasn't super excited to be working for big oil, but the project was intriguing. They wanted an app that was more than what seemed to be the trend in those days, glorified brochureware in an app wrapper. They wanted to build a tool for their reps in the field that would allow them to do complex and very specific calculations regarding the performance of their products as applied in real world situations. There was a significant math and science aspect to the tool that I found exciting to work with.
I had to design a modular system that would support a wide range of equations and factors with a simple interface that was easy to understand and use. My understanding of the math and science behind the equations was critical to my being able to execute on the task successfully. Looking at it now, the interface does feel very 2008, but there's some thinking and information architecture there that I'm still quite proud of. One of the things I really like about some contract assignments is the ability to play a one-man team: assessing the request, making a plan on how to solve the problem, and then getting my hands dirty designing.
I understand that in the intervening years the company was absorbed by Halliburton, so who knows what became of my pretty little calculator.
Odd that this was the project that got me into "Print" magazine
I was Creative Lead of The Erotic Museum from 2003 to 2006. The beginning of that engagement started with a complete remodel of the whole 13,000 sq. ft. building. It was a t-shirt shop at the street level, a scattering of start-up desks in the vault-like second floor and a lot of just disused space when we took the keys. About 8 months and a half a million dollars later we had dressed up the facade, the whole ground floor, added a second stairway. It was a huge project for me. I worked closely with the architects we had hired to do the official drawings, but I was making the creative calls the whole way.
I joked with the partners in 2003 when we were in the mad midst of construction and installing the exhibition that this crazy diversion from my chosen field would be worth it if I could just get a little sidebar mention in Print magazine for my effort. In the July August 2004 issue of Print, a special issue devoted to the subject of sex, their 8-page article reviewing the 13 museums of that kind around the world began with a 2-page spread about my space, giving it highest marks for overall design.
The culmination of my curatorial effort was the Andres Serrano A History of Sex exhibition (co-curated with Carlos Batts). It brought us the kind of cred that opened doors and brought new relationships to me, sadly not in time to save the museum.
The two images below show the space when we took possession of the building. The exterior looked like many other buildings along that stretch of Hollywood Bl. showing the wear decades and inattention. The second floor was inhabited by some startup, the ground floor a nondescript t-shirt shop. Our early inspections showed that there was great potential under layers of drywall and paint that was all peeled away with our renovation. I have since joked that if only they hadn't painted over the Banksy on the side of the building we could have simply removed that section of wall and sold it at auction for more than the museum made in three years of operation.
I'm not really the orca, dolphin, cetacean type of person . . .
I'm putting these together because they were both part of a user engagement push
A campaign to more fully engage existing users and fans resulted in these little beauties : the old Facebook header, banner ad and twitter background. The messaging was around exposing lesser known account features like custom image debit cards, micro-lending, and budgeting tools.
Timing is everything
The icon set for Green Dot's web presence was full of difficult and abstract representations of banking functions like “direct deposit”, “bank transfer” and “fee waiver”. When I was assigned to bring some life to the icons, I chose to focus my energy on the ones that already had a little life to begin with : "piggy bank", "alarm clock" and others that suggested motion.
I'm an old Flash guy from way back but as that technology falls from favor in the industry I've been glad to see that Adobe is teaching their old dog new tricks : it is now possible to create complex and subtle vector animations in Flash as always, but output to a tiny little JS file that runs right in the HTML of the page. As long as you keep things clean, the JS file is usually under 10k, and it's amazing what you can do with 50k.
Bye bye, SWF.
The animation was in some instances to work in conjunction with background video that set a very personable tone to the pre-login experience. There were also other little moments within the deeper content of the site where things spring to life.
There has been some amazing design rendered in service to this work. As I was researching I came across a dozen genius poster designs that touched on the full breadth of thematic elements in designs that ran from straight forward to downright obscure. Here's a brief rundown of the source material if you're interested.
The problem then was which to choose which ones to focus on in my designs. I though the strawberry (from the embroidery of Desdemona's handkerchief) had interesting visual potential. The concept of betrayal seemed like it might suggest some interesting visual juxtapositions. There is the racial issue and of course blood for some nice color opportunities.
I did one more daring layout (considering the audience) with a design magazine vibe which was mostly just for me and a number of more classic treatments using some public domain imagery and some nice type.
The type ones all had different under-printing textures back behind the black. Some were ornate, baroque borders, others had wallpaper-like patterns, one I tangled with hand-drawn filaments and webs interlacing the letters.
The director chose a slight variation of the second one from the left. Straight forward, classic and simple.
A home page with a story to tell
GoBank is a feature-rich digital checking account targeted at tech-savvy millennials who prefer to avoid the high fees and requirements of traditional Big Banks. The account featured budgeting tools, person-to-person transfers, online bill pay and other basic features, but also had more fun features like the "fortune teller" that analyzed current balance, expected deposits and known bills to give spending advice on big purchases.
This acquisition-focused landing page ran down basic account features in a fun, dynamic way. Page modules include a top section focused on social interaction, a section showing the fun possibilities of your custom image card, mobile check deposit and more, all with a persistent drive toward account sales.
Minding your money and your minutes on your mobile
In 2015, T-Mobile was considering adding a financial services component to their existing pre-paid cellular and data accounts. The idea was to issue pre-paid debit cards that would allow customers to manage their money and their minutes all in one place.
These app screens show the full user experience from pre-acquisition to onboarding to account managements. The account management features focused on ways to tie your minutes with your money to purchase minutes when a certain threshold was reached, set up budgeting alerts and integrate notifications for all aspects of the account.
My designs leveraged the existing T-Mobile visual style expanded to a full user interface. I conceived the "bot" concept for automation and notification engines as well as the primary "T-Money" concept.
Need to get the animation file for this.
Google+ Headers for Green Dot's MoneyPak
Green Dot Corporations core business model involved financial services products for un-banked or underbanked individuals and businesses in need of non-traditional ways to handle their money that the big traditional banks don't offer. Their MoneyPak product provides a quick way to convert cash into movable money to send to family members, transfer to your PayPal account or load to your own prepaid debit card.
The target audience for this social media initiative was non-traditional small businesses, vendors, and other merchants who's business is conducted largely in cash. Their overall market tended to be heavily skewed toward minorities.
My designs (top row) for their Google+ page header featured strong, distinctive photography and a very branded, lifestyle approach with the visuals that represented the type of businesses and personas they were targeting.
The client ultimately went with a much more straight forward, content-focused approach for their Google+ header (below) : duplicate the product web sites home page.
Some marketing concepts for new product exploration.