17Jul
6-26-2014 1-12-44 PM

Tips for Getting a Web Gig

I have interviewed my share of web designers over the past few years and there are always some things that stand out to me, in the “Don’t do this if you want a job” kinda way. If you are about to apply for a web gig, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Be Findable on the Interwebs
    If I Google you and have trouble finding your digital footprint, FAIL. Create some blogs where you talk about web stuff, make a site about kittens, get a LinkedIn account, whatever. Just have a presence beyond your Facebook profile.
  2. Have a Flippin Website Portfolio
    Applying for a design position? Where’s your portfolio??? Too many people apply for gigs at my company and they have no website. I need to be able to see what kind of designer you are, and I most totally am peeping at your code (God help you if you use tables for layout…)
  3. Design Your Resume
    Please don’t show up with a generic Word resume. Take the time to design it in Illustrator or InDesign and make it look AMAZING. And do NOT show up with a scrapbook resume with glued bits of craft paper (true story). This aint Hobby Lobby, yo.
  4. Learn to Write Real Good
    Yes, I am using wacky grammar all over this thang, because it is my blog an all, but the point is my resumes and professional writing are flippin AMAZING. I craft my words and double-check everything, because the ability to communicate in this profession (or any profession, really) is extremely important. Please don’t mix cases, don’t misspell words, and don’t sound like you dropped out of third grade, because I won’t even bother interviewing you if I don’t believe you have a sufficient grasp of grammar.
  5. Do Your Research
    If you know my name or the name of my company, activate your Google-Fu and learn whatever you can about me and who I work for because I will ask you if you did any research. Interviews are a two way deal-you might not WANT to work at my company and if you don’t take the time to learn about what we do, what our values are, and how we make a living, then I am going to assume you are lazy and just don’t care.
  6. Don’t Over or Under Sell Yourself
    I will totally figure out real quick if your supposed knowledge about xyz is real or not, and if not, FAIL. Please don’t waste a companies time by lying about your skillset. If a company says they need advanced knowledge of Picklemeister Pro, you better have it.  And if you are a master at abc, let your interviewer know! Being humble doesn’t mean hiding your skillz. My advice to people is if an interviewer asks you if you know how to do something and you don’t know, say “I don’t know how to do that at this time, but I will. I will learn any and all skills required to perform my job”.
  7. Don’t Be a D!ck
    Do not come up in here with all kinds of sassy pants attitude, acting like you all bada$$ and own the place, because you don’t. The person interviewing you probably has way more experience than you do and even if they don’t, they have the power to influence your hiring, so show them proper respect.  :)

So there you go, 7 super awesome tips to help you in your quest to rule the interwebs.

19Mar
L1060224

I Like Toys

So I have decided to face the reality that me, myself, an almost 38 year old woman, loves her some toys. I love to photograph them. I stay up late thinking of different shooting scenarios for them. That is who I am. I have surrendered to my calling. I started a new Tumblr, called Fun with Toys. I will post my shots there.

 

Check it out: http://shellstoys.tumblr.com/

23Feb
12446296605_33d9379716_b

Lego-tastic!

So last weekend I did what ever other grown women did, I went and saw the Lego movie. And it was AWESOME!!! I also recently spent my evenings photographing some of my toys, Legos included. Wouldn’t you know, I’m not the only person who takes fancy photos of plastic friends. May I present some of my Lego toy fancy shots, and some from other folks on the interwebs:

My Photos:

Photos from Other Folks

Other Lego Groovies

2Feb
snowflakes-2014

Discoveries for 2/2/14

I have been busy the past few weeks working on three major projects at the same time. I did find time to do some discovering, and here are some of the interesting things I found:

Sneauxmaggedon 2014!

Oh nos! It like, snowed, in the south!!!!! I was fortunate enough to, for the first time in my life, see real, true, powder snow here in Mississippi. Back home in New Orleans, they got mostly ice and slush, but it was enough to shut that city down. Alabama and Georgia also had sum interesting consequences of a wee bit of snow… Anywho, yes, to northerners, we southerners are hysterical. The pure joy we exude at the slightest snowflake, followed by the abject horror of any accumulation and the realization that we have no idea how to drive in this stuff, is pretty funny. But we know how to deal with 100 degree/100% humidity, tropical storms, and hurricanes, and giant flying roaches (you set them on fire, or just scream until your daddy kills them with his shoe…), so stick that in your pipe and smoke it! :)

I was able to take some groovy shots of this amazing fluffy water, and I found some macro shots of snowflakes that are flipping amazing.

NOTE: Snow spelled Sneaux is a Louisiana thang, we add eaux in whenever we can, cuz that’s how we roll. Geaux Saints!

In-Browser Visual Editors

Froont

Froont is an in-browser web prototyping tool that allows you to drag and drop elements onto the screen to visually design responsive websites. It goes from free to $49 a month, with no in-between plan. As someone who already pays $50 a month for Creative Cloud, I would be hesitant to shell out that much for what this program does. The best feature of Froont is the immediate responsive feedback-you can instantly see what your design will look like in several common breakpoints. Though to be fair, you can do this is Dreamweaver as well, and you can even create your own breakpoints in Dreamweaver. You can also preview multiple Typekit fonts in your design, which was my favorite part of this service. Once you are done designing, you can export the project. Here is where they lose me-you get their code. As a web designer that can actually code HTML and css, letting a program do that for me makes me feel, well, icky. I want to choose what frameworks I want, what snippets I want, and I want to decide exactly what to name my classes.

I do see value in the free version for quickly prototyping a general idea, which you can then move into a code editor and actually build yourself. The paid version has value for those sad “web designers” who can’t code worth a dang, or for developers who are terrified of css and have found themselves forced to design a site. Overall, an interesting service that has plenty of time to mature and find its place in the web designer’s arsenal.

Jetstrap

The other in-browser editor I checked out this week was Jetstrap, which is built specifically for the Bootstrap framework (which happens to be the one I prefer and use, for now…).

Jetstrap is different from Froont in that it is less about prototyping a fully designed site and more about prototyping what the different Bootstrap elements look like. So after you drag all those elements on the page, what you end up with is a completely generic Bootstrap design. For me, I would find this useful only so I can quickly get a feel for a Bootstrap element to determine if it serves my purpose. Jetstrap also has no free version, it has a demo version , and then three pricing tiers, starting at $16 a month to $99 a month. I really find these pricing models a bit ridiculous. Web designers already have code editors they have paid handsomely for. Having to pay what could be a grand a year for a prototyping tool is nuts. For either of these tools, if they had a $5 a month plan then I think they would get more traction.

Photography Groovies and Thingies

Super-Charge Your iPhone

This is so cool-the Ladibird iPhone Portrait Camera. It is a case for your iPhone 5 that connects to the camera and it adds a prime lens AND a big ole CMOS sensor! This is kinda a big deal, because it isn’t just adding another dinky lens on top of the iPhone lens, it is literally a camera that uses your iPhone to store and process the photos. The lens is a 50mm f1.8 prime-that’s the ideal portrait lens, and it is fast, much faster than the iPhone’s built in lens. A lens like this gives you beautiful bokeh and is great for taking pictures of life that you see right before your eyes. 50mm is also considered the “journalist’s” lens because they prefer to travel with small cameras with a fixed 50 lens to capture everyday life. The sensor in this thing is 7.5x as big as the one in the phone-that’s a huge difference!!! Bigger sensor = better pictures. This baby is not in production yet but is ramping up for release later this year. It won’t be cheap-it will most likely sell for over $300-but that’s a lot cheaper than my Leica DLux6 that I bring with me everywhere (heck, I’m still gonna bring that baby everywhere…).

New Toys from Nikon

I am a Nikonian. I started off with a D50, then got a D5100, then a used D200, and now I have the D7100. I love me some Nikons. Announced at CES 2014, the D3300 has a lot of the same goodies as my D7100, but is much cheaper. It is the next evolution of the D3000, which I recommended to a friend. This is an entry-level DSLR and they take excellent photos. I found them a bit too small in the hnad for me, but maybe that’s because I have big man hands, but anyway… The D3300 also comes in red… Nikon also announced a new full frame 35mm f1.8 lens. I have the cropped 35mm f1.8 and it is one of my most favorite lenses. These things are soo freaking sharp!

Nikon also announced the upcoming D4S-a camera I will never be able to afford to buy. If I had a ton of money, I would get the Nikon Df, just cuz it’s so retro groovy looking.

Sigma Makes Lenses Sexy

The new lenses from Sigma are hot looking. They just announced a 50mm f1.4 Art lens. Fast lenses really make a difference. The slower lenses impact spontaneity and make it hard to shoot critters. The Sigma lens I want is the 18-35mm f1.8 Art lens. That’s the lens you want for landscapes and shooting buildings on vacation.

New Old Stock: http://nos.twnsnd.co/

Copyright-restriction-free vintage photos. I’m not quite sure how I would use them in my projects, but they sure are interesting to look at.

 

Hugs and Pugs People!

12Jan
trends

Web Design Trends 2014

It’s that time of year again when everyone decides what the web trends for that year will be. I have done the research so you don’t have to. I’ll start off with my list…

My List O trends I would Like to See More Of and Ones I Think Should Die – 2014 Edition

More:

simplified content and design: my motto is “get people in and out”. For many websites, users are coming for something specific. I’d like to see more streamlined experiences that allow for that, rather than the overly complex sites that now dominate.

custom icon fonts and SVG: I think these are a great way to add scalable graphics to sites that need to support IE 8 and 9. I was never a fan of sprites, so I think this is a great method of combining the core icons and graphics for a site into one tight file (assuming they are created correctly and no unnecessary icons are included to add to the file size). For those lucky enough to not have to support IE 8, SVG all the way…

even more responsive: they are just way too many popular sites and ecommerce sites that are not mobile optimized. I do an awful lot of browsing on my iPad and I cant stand having to zoom just to click on something because the site I am on refuses to make their site responsive. With more and more people browsing on mobile devices, responsive is not a trend, it is a necessity.

color, beautiful, bright, color!: my fav trend that I am seeing, and one I have been waiting for. I have been trying for years to make my sites more colorful and less corporate, and since I have bosses and clients, I generally have to sneak my happy colors in as accents. With this being a trend now, I am actually being encouraged to use more color! Yeah!!! Seriously, drop the old corporate colors and come into the light bright happy!

Die:

80 bazillion sites that all look like Bootstrap: I get it, Bootstrap is cool, it saves time and makes web development a bit easier. But please, move away from the out of the box templates and customize that mess. The majority of the web sites I have seen on “best of” lists all have the same dang layout.

giant photos as content: if that giant photo isn’t content, it is fluff, that I fricking have to download. I know it’s a trend, and those of us with bosses sometimes have to bend and be trendy, but make these pics count. And learn to optimize them for all that’s holy! Selective blur and progressive jpgs, and use something other than Photoshop to export your files (Fireworks or one of the jpg and png website tools).

forgetting IE: I know all us cool kids use Chrome or Firefox or Safari, but Joe Average most likely still uses IE, and an older version at that. It really doesn’t take that much effort to make your site at least be usable in IE 8 and 9-not doing so is just lazy and alienating. Design in terms of progressive design-cool stuff should degrade gracefully in older browsers, not keep the site from working at all.


Now let’s see what the interwebs have to say…. and what I have to say in response:

Web Design 2014: What to Watch Out For

Webdesigns tuts+ http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/industry-trends/web-design-2014-what-to-watch-out-for/

solutions to the slicing problem: I find this one curious as I have not “sliced” an image for use for the web in years because I build things in Fireworks and export individual files rather than slicing. This article presumes web designers hand over flat photoshop files to a dev-does this still really happen??? If you are a web designer, you need to be able to build your own UI’s, other wise you are just a decorator.

significantly fewer graphic pngs: I agree with this. As we move towards more mobile everything, retina everything, we need our core graphics to be scalable. SVG is still our best hope but it does not have the support I would like yet. I will be using more custom icon fonts myself to overcome these issues.

adoption of flexbox: Man, I want flexbox, now, but since I HAVE to support IE 9, and to a large degree, IE 8, I cant go there yet. Le sigh…

an overload of video-oriented web design: this is an interesting trend, having a short informative video in place of textual content. So much more real understanding comes from this type of imagery over reading, so for certain types of sites, this is a no-brainer.

animated and responsive icons: yes, yes, yes

adoption of second screen: this trend might be fun for tv shows, but not so informational sites, at least, not that I can see yet.

easier mobile optimization: with frameworks becoming mobile first, creating mobile-optimized experiences should become easier this year, hopefully

published content without the fluff: new platforms are allowing writers to get their words out as cleanly and efficiently as possible.

Web Design Trends That Will Disappear in 2014

webdesignledger http://webdesignledger.com/trends-2/web-design-trends-that-will-disappear-in-2014

Oooh, let’s see if I agree…

homepage sliding banner: I think this will stick around, for some sites it is the most logical way to present featured con tent. That, and people love themselves some sliders-that’s a neutral thing.

extensive fill-out forms: I hope this is true. Long forms say “please leave this web site, thanks” to me.

circular script logos: is this an issue?

flash intros: what is this, 2002? I thought they died a long time ago…

too many fonts: maybe this will die out, but a lot of designers are still discovering Web Fonts and might not be able to drag themselves away from trying every one.

complicated design: this goes hand in hand with the current  “simplify all the things” trend.

10 Web Design Trends to Leave Behind in 2014

Wix http://www.wix.com/blog/2013/12/web-design-trends-2014/

pages, pages, pages: I guess they are pushing for more 1-page websites, which is fine for portfolio sites and smaller sites, but portals and corporate sites can’t get away with putting everything on one page, nor should they try. I do think it is time to kill “Mission” and “About” pages that are literally one paragraph-combine that mess, dangit!

ribbons: yeah, they need to die, unless your site sells ribbons, then it makes sense.

unreal stock photos: yes, please die. I despise the majority of stock photography, particularily with people in it-they always look staged and cheesy.

confusing websites with newspapers: I agree, too many columns, too tiny type, too many words…

skeumorphism: bye bye elaborate gradients and textures

ambiguous content hierarchy: all the sites should not a pinterest be, seriously

mixing fonts: I like type, but it is an art to mix them properly. I stick to one or two type families. The trend of using many disparate fonts on one site just feels like someone just found out Google Fonts was a thing.

Too many share buttons: good grief, who shares everything they read? I so hate all the social media and share glop that stands in for content nowadays…

obscure color contrast: is this a trend? If so, knock that out!

overly clever icon menus: Yes!!! Icons are supposed to provide instant recognition, so you don’t have to read the label. Too many sites are using wackadoodle icons that make you sit and go” what the hell is that?” FAIL.

BONUS:

Some nice lady made a  groovy wall on Pinterest with 2014 design trends: http://www.pinterest.com/melissacales/2014-design-trends/

6Jan
780553662_43b75d1e7f_o

The “Best of 2013” Best Of List!

The last week of December brings with it a multitude of “best of 2013” lists. I went through them so you don’t have to (unless you want to). Here goes!

The best of 2013 for designers | Webdesigner Depot   http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2013/12/the-best-of-2013-for-designers/
This is a  great list, soo many groovies and thingies to look at, there isn’t enough time! A week later, I am still going through this list. Here are some of the highlights:

Best JQuery Plugins of 2013 | Wed Design Ledger http://webdesignledger.com/tools/best-jquery-plugins-of-2013
Great list of JQuery plugins-I have been looking for solutions like these for projects I am working on-Equalize.js: http://tsvensen.github.com/equalize.js/ I am talking about you!

Best Web Designs of 2013 | Web Design ledger http://webdesignledger.com/inspiration/best-of-web-design-in-2013
Literally dozens of sites that are giant photos… design is sooo subjective….

2013 Best of the Web Award Winners | Center for Digital Government
http://www.govtech.com/cdg/digital-government-achievement/Best-of-the-Web–Digital-Government-Achievement-Awards-2013.html
Ok, disclaimer, my day job was a finalist :) (State of Mississippi portal)  You would be surprised by what state and local governments are doing on the web; some of these sites are pretty impressive.

50 Best Websites 2013 | Time http://techland.time.com/2013/05/06/50-best-websites-2013/

Highlights:

Top 10 News Stories of 2013 | Time http://nation.time.com/2013/12/04/top-10-best-u-s-news-stories/

Best Photos of the Year 2013 | Reuters http://blogs.reuters.com/fullfocus/2013/12/01/best-photos-of-the-year-2013/
Some amazing photos here.

Top 50 Albums of 2013 | Pitchfork http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9293-the-top-50-albums-of-2013/
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these albums and have never heard of 90% of these artists. I am getting old. I’m gonna go listen to Roll the Bones again.

The 10 Best Ads of 2013 | ADWeek http://www.adweek.com/news-gallery/10-best-ads-2013-154404#kmart-ship-my-pants-10
My favorite is number 9, Chipotle “The Scarecrow”, that features a fantastic cover by Fiona Apple of the Willy Wonka classic “Pure Imagination”

Best iOS Apps of 2013 | Cult of Mac http://www.cultofmac.com/259426/best-ios-apps-2013-roundup/
I only have one on the list, the Yahoo Weather App, and me loves it.

The 21 Best Infographics of 2013 | Fast Company http://www.fastcodesign.com/3023118/infographic-of-the-day/the-21-best-infographics-of-2013#1
I love info graphics, and the one with all those cameras has me all hot and bothered….

Best Apps for Mac 2013 | 9to5 mac http://9to5mac.com/2013/12/25/mac-holiday-2013/
If I didn’t already have Creative Cloud I would be all over Pixelmator: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id407963104?mt=12

20 Best Memes of 2013 : Mashable http://mashable.com/2013/12/31/top-memes-2013/
Yea, so I made a Harlem Shake video with finger puppets, i’m in good company.

3Jan
creativity

Creativity

A few months ago, I presented a session at my companies annual Tech Conference that focused on what science and design pros had to say about creativity. The session went really well and I got a lot of good feedback on it, so I have decided to turn the session into an article. Here goes….

What Science Says About Creativity

“Constraints shape and focus problems, and provide clear challenges to overcome as well as inspiration. Creativity loves constraints, but they must be balanced with a healthy disregard for the impossible.”

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer

CONSTRAINTS FUEL CREATIVITY

Research from the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Amsterdam has shown that certain constraints can actually increase creative thinking. When people are given something to struggle with, either a physical obstacle, or difficult question that must be answered, people tend to shift into what is called “global processing”, which tends to increase a person’s creativity in problem solving.

An intelligent constraint informs creative action by outlining the “sandbox” within which people can play and guides that action not just by pointing out what to pursue but perhaps more importantly what to ignore. (Mathew May, How Intelligent Constraints Drive Creativity).

TAKEWAY

Find the constraints in the problem you are trying to solve, and if you have none, create some. It could be as simple as determining some parameters, such as “must be responsive and must not take longer than 1.5 seconds per page to load.” If you are doing a brainstorming session, give the participants clear constraints to focus their creativity.

SOURCE: Stepping back to see the big picture: when obstacles elicit global processing.

BRAINSTORM ALONE

One of the classic idea-generation techniques is the group brainstorming session. A group of people get together in a room and throw out ideas about how to solve a problem. How good are the ideas generated from such a session?

Not very good, according to research conducted in 1963 by Marvin Dunnette, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota. In the study, multiple groups were given different topics to brainstorm over. Some groups were allowed to brainstorm alone, while others brainstormed in traditional groups together. What was found was that the quantity and quality of ideas generated from solitary brainstormers was higher than from group brainstorming sessions.

TAKEWAY

Next time your team wants to brainstorm about a topic, give the topic, along with constraints or parameters that the solution must meet, to each team member and allow them to brainstorm alone. Then bring everyone together to review the solutions generated. Without the peer pressure to “show off” in a group dynamic, or to conform to popular opinions, you might find that the solutions generated are more feasible and of a higher quality.

SOURCE: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Chapter 3: When Collaboration Kills Creativity

EMBRACE CLUTTER

A common stereotype about creatives is we tend to have a lot of clutter in your workspaces. This clutter can be from books, toys, papers, sticky notes, maybe even the odd plant or two. Research from the University of Minnesota suggest that those of us who embrace our need to be surrounded by objects tend to be more creative and produce more ideas than those of us who are more zen-like in our work environments.

To be fair, the research was not terribly scientific and was much more about subjective observation than a rigid scientific methodology, so take this insight with a few grains of salt. Study participants were either placed in a cluttered room or an orderly room. Participants in the cluttered room tended to make choices that suggested openness to new ideas, while those in the orderly room tended to make choices that were more expected.

TAKEAWAY

Again, this research is not as scientific as I would prefer and therefore we are relying more on subjectivity, but we still might benefit from creating workspaces that are filled with objects that we love. It makes a certain sense that constantly seeing objects rather than seeing a blank wall, could spark more creativity than not. If your workspace is pristine, consider adding a few things, such as a plant or a toy or two, to increase the visual stimuli that surrounds you.

SOURCE: Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits

“But anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provides requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

GO WITH THE FLOW

Ever notice how sometimes you get so engrossed in what you are doing that time seems to stop and your output increases? This state of being is called “flow”, defined by researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus.”

Research suggest that those who are able to get into a flow state more readily, “high flow” individuals, tend to not only be more positive and have more feelings of contentment, but tend to also be more creative.

TAKEAWAY

Some people can naturally enter a flow state while for others it requires a more systematic approach. Flow starts with a clear, singular purpose. Abstract goals rarely produce flow. It also helps to produce a creative challenge that is somewhat hard-our brains tend to get bored without interesting challenges. Make sure that you are in an a environment that matches your personality. If you need stimulation, then maybe that is a coffee shop. For others, being alone might be the ideal situation. If possible, try to prevent any disruptions or interruption-they pull you out of flow. Read more about how to achieve flow.

SOURCES: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

GET HAPPY

Rub Some Bacon On It

I have found that the number one obstacle to my being creative, to generating ideas and solving problems, is my attitude. When I am stressed, annoyed with someone at work, or frustrated because I can’t figure something out, my brain locks down and nothing useful comes out. I force myself to do things to change my mindset, and being that I am generally a goofy person, watching silly videos or listening to comedic music tends to change my attitude rapidly. There is science to support the idea that simply feeling happy can positively impact your intelligence and creativity. So next time you want to drop kick someone at work, Rub Some Bacon It and get back to being awesome.

SOURCES: Happiness: Good for Creativity, Bad for Single-Minded Focus
Happiness and Creativity: Going Along with the Flow

“The brain looks different if you’re trying to solve a creative problem than if you’re trying to solve a math problem”
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson of The Center for Neuroacoustic Research in San Diego

MUSIC CAN AID IN CREATIVITY

According to Dr. Jeffrey Thompson of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research in San Diego, music can alter your brainwaves and change your state of consciousness to be more receptive to creative ideas. The types of music that have been shown to aid creativity are ones that are slower paced with regular patterns, like classical or more ambient music. As you listen to the music, your brainwaves attempt to time themselves to the speed of the pulses in the music.

“That alters your consciousness, creating a more dreamlike state,” he says. “That dreamlike state, Theta, mirrors the state of consciousness associated with creativity.”

TAKEAWAY

Next time you are trying to get into idea-generation mode, turn off the Nine Inch Nails and turn on some Enya. Leave the gangsta rap for when you are in “get r done” mode.

SOURCE: http://www.howdesign.com/design-creativity/music/

SHELL’S “I need to be Creative NOW” PLAYLIST

What Pros Say About Creativity

“creativity is just connecting things.”
Steve Jobs

8 Steps of Creativity

According to the book Zig Zag:The Surprising Path to Creativity, there are 8 steps that the author has found are essential to the creative process:

  1. ASK Look for the right problem to solve
  2. LEARNBe a constant student, always learning new skills, mastering your craft
  3. LOOK Regularly seek out the new in all facets of your life
  4. PLAY Engage your imagination to release your unconscious mind
  5. THINK The more ideas that you generate, the more likely some of them will be great
  6. FUSE Ideas come from multiple sources and are fused together to create a unified vision
  7. CHOOSE Curate your ideas and only choose the best ones to cultivate
  8. MAKE Now bring your idea to life and make something real

Random Thoughts on Creativity

Stay a Beginner

When we become experts at something, we become burdened by that knowledge. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Be a Collector

Keep a morgue file, or swipe file, filled with anything and everything that inspires you, that is done well, that you wish you had designed. Go through it every time you need to spark your creativity. For this digital age, I recommend using Evernote for your morgue file.

Take Mental Breaks

If you are getting stuck on an idea or a solution to a problem, walk away from it for awhile, switch tasks, and allow your mind to generate unconscious connections. You may find when you go back to the task that you have a fresh take on it that you hadn’t thought of before.

“Limitations often force you to view things from a perspective you are not accustomed to and, in turn, can stimulate the clarity and purpose of the design, rather than debilitate and hinder your creative process.”
Joshua Brewer, Constraints Fuel Creativity

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Read more about the 10 Paradoxical Traits of Creative People

“Creativity is just intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want-that just kills creativity.”

Jack White

“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic”

Jim Jarmusch

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is we do not get them from our laptops.”

John Cleese

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Howard Aiken

“The creative act is nonlinear.”

Josh Linkner, Jazz Musician

Related Links

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. ”

Albert Einstein

LEARN MORE

GET HAPPY

OTHER RESOURCES

  • SITE: Lumosity  Lumosity is a subscription-based site that lets you play games that are designed by neuroscientists to improve core cognitive functions-smart people are creative people. I have been using this service for the past two years and highly recommend it.
  • SITE: Coffitivity  Recommended by a company colleague, Coffitivity is a site and app that plays the sounds of a coffee shop, to act as background sound, meant to aid creativity. There are downloads for MAC, iPhone, and iPad as well as the site itself.
  • SITE: Safari Books Online: Safari is an online book shelf, with thousands of technical, creative, and business-related books and videos. An important aspect of being creative is being knowledgeable and having access to information. Safari is subscription based and allows full access to the included resources and also includes apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry. We have a subscription at work that I use extensively.

BONUS

  • PUT THIS ON REPEAT: Couleurs by M83. This is my creative anthem, it feels like the backing track to an awesome montage scene of me being awesome :)
1Jan
pugtower

My 2014 Resolution

I have but one official resolution for 2014 (that I will share): to write one weekly “here’s what I thought was interesting/cool/etc this week” post. I started this blog six months ago and have two whole posts for 2013 on it. Why? Because I work alot, and once I am done working I come home and work on freelance gigs. After all that, I want to collapse on the couch.

I have been trying to carve out time each week to look at web blogs, read more about the design industry, and learn new skills. If that means less Netflix, so be it :) So here is my first “this is what I learned/saw/thought was cool this week” for 2014.

First off, I have gone to the dark side, or rather, the shiny chrome side. I finally bought a Mac Pro tower. It’s from 2008 but it is a beast with 8 cores and 16 gigs of ram. It is a lovely addition to my MacBook Pro and increasingly cranky PC tower. As much as I appreciate the aesthetics of Apple and the stability of their products, there are still things about them that make me crazy. Why can’t I get a physical button to open the superdrive bay??? 30 minutes screwing around trying to find the magic keystroke to release the thing is uncalled for- a wee chrome button next to the bay would have been logical and useful. Why hide functionality?? Le sigh…

Another toy that I recently bought was the Google Nexus 7 tablet. I already have an iPad2 and  a Kindle Fire HD. I wanted to have an Android device for testing purposes as well as I just thought the commercial with the little kid asking Google was glossaphobia was seemed cool. I wanted to ask Google questions too. The Nexus is a beautiful little tablet, with a gorgeous high rez screen. I really like the form factor. I never liked how the Kindle felt in my hands, and sometimes you don’t want to deal with a giant tablet like the iPad, so the Nexus is the perfect fit. I’m not getting rid of my other tablets or anything, I just wanted a different experience, and for the money, it is a great tablet. My websites look so shiny on it :)

Hmm, what else? I just upgraded my onOne PhotoSuite to version 8. For my personal photos, I love using the suite because it helps make nice photos look cool, and heck, isn’t that the point? No software can make a crappy photo great, but most of us aren’t submitting images to National Geographic, so I say have fun. The onOne suite is cheap and has a ton of features and is easy to use. You don’t have to own PhotoShop to use it as can run as a standalone app.

Another photo enhancing app that I really like is Snapseed. As I am transitioning from my PC to the Mac, I am finding that some of my software isn’t available anymore. Snapseed used to be available as a desktop app, but Google recently canceled it. I saw today that Google has made it available again, though not as a stand alone piece of software. If you have Chrome and Google+, you can open an image in Google+ and when you click Edit, it pops up an in-browser version of Snapseed, so thats pretty cool. I’m not getting rid of my PC, so I think I will use the standalone version of Snapseed when I really want to do some editing, but in a pinch the in-browser version will work nicely. Now if I can figure out how to get Google to let me download the Nik filters I just bought in May to my mac, all will be good in the photo world for me..

My last discovery of the week has nothing to do with technology, design or the web, it is about your face, or rather my face. I just bought a PMD, or personal microderm machine, and lets just say, don’t leave it in one spot too long unless you want to sandblast a hole in your face…. because I kinda did, oops….

 

Until next week, Hugs and Pugs!

bebe

28Jul

New Version of Bootstrap

So the release candidate for the new Bootstrap version 3 is now available. If you haven’t checked it out, it is a bit different than the previous major releases. The biggest difference is how columns are created. Instead of span4 you use col-lg-4. They have new classes for mobile as well. It feels a bit more like Foundation now…

I created a demo site so I could get up to date on the framework: http://www.michellepakron.com/Pets/index.html

 

 

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