Design is everything.

Design is the lens in which we find opportunity and unlock potential. It’s a strategic partnership and a thoughtful journey so much more than an execution of visual elements or material objects.

Design means a chance to get to understand something from its core and surface its authenticity. It means connecting to people and thoughtfully finding the answers together.

I think on the mission statement from LIFE magazine as a perfect definition for what design means: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

I’ve been a fine artist for most of my life and I try to maintain a focus on producing work where I can. I tend to do anywhere from 5 to 15 pieces a year. I even published a book some years ago that collected one of my series. You can find a bunch of my work up on my Society6 page, but here are a few of my more recent pieces.

There are so many people and that list grows almost daily. I’ve always loved the work and approach of guys like David Carson and Stefan Sagmeister, also Ray and Charles Eames. Dieter Rams and Naoto Fukasawa. Tinker Hatfield. Danny Mall. Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman. Khoi Vinh.

There are so many amazing creatives out there that further the definition of design and change the world while doing it. Michael Bierut’s another one. Ellen Lupton. I was always a big fan of Julio Lima’s work back home in Florida.

General curiosity really. That and being attached to a zillion email lists for groups like Creative Bloq and Web Designer News. I also love to see what Adobe’s doing with some of their new projects like Project Felix, which, if you haven’t played around with, you really should.

I’m pretty captivated by software and hardware on the whole, so I love the opportunity to dive into a new tool and test its limits. I’m not sure what I’d do without my iPad pro and Apple Pencil. And I like the possibilities presented by Microsoft’s move into the creative space with the Surface Studio. Also Wacom’s new MobileStudio Pro.

My day-to-day can vary wildly in terms of the tools needed for a given challenge, but here’s a decent list:

Software

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Experience Design, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Acrobat DC, and Fireworks)
  • Sketch
  • InVision
  • FontExplorer
  • Asana
  • Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, Drive)
  • Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
  • iWork Suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote)
  • Cyberduck
  • Evernote
  • iTunes/Apple Music

 

Hardware

  • Wacom Tablet (Haven’t used a mouse in over a decade)
  • Sketchbook
  • Zebra Mechanical Pencils
  • Woodless Graphite Pencils
  • Copic Markers
  • Micron Pens
  • Prismacolor Colored Pencils
  • Prismacolor Markers
  • Staedtler Fineliners
  • Sharpies
  • Post-it Notes
  • Play-Doh
  • Legos
  • iPad Pro
  • Apple Pencil
  • Macbook Pro 15″
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Apple Airpods

Sometimes it’s absolutely appropriate for design to overrule data. While data often drives design and helps to report on the successes and failures of a design’s execution, sometimes it’s our charge to create an experience that speaks against data. Maybe it’s for a desired emotional experience that’s intended to shock the audience out of a typical pattern, or it’s introducing a product that has either never existed or changes the paradigm of the space. Maybe we’re trying to appeal to a different audience or to cross audiences in a way that’s not been done.

Data is an incredible weapon in the arsenal, except when it’s a crutch that impedes creativity and innovation. Sometimes following only the data isn’t what best meets the need. Sometimes it absolutely is.

Without question, my toughest critic is myself. I’m always trying to dive deeper and find more meaning. That shows up as high standards and a demand for excellence that stays just out of reach.

It keeps me sharp and it keeps me curious.

Inspiration comes from a lot of places. I took to heart what one of my mentors told me in my early teens about the more informed I am about everything, the better I’ll be at design.

I’m a voracious reader and I draw information from all sorts of books across various genre. A book I often gift to other designers, and one I hold dearest, is Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. 

I also like to go for runs and experience my surroundings without the lens of a project or project constraints. A run through Prospect Park can turn on an idea for me much faster than pages of CMYK or HOW would.

I’m also a movie buff and an insatiable consumer of music. A line in a film or a lyric in a song will transport me some place that opens doors creatively. Sometimes kicks them wide open.

I also follow many of the typical design inspiration vehicles from designspiration, Abduzeedo, Behance, Muzli, and so many others.

I like to keep an eye on trends in the event that there’s something there that makes sense for a project that I’m in to, but I’d never allow a trend to drive a design. It cheapens the process by making it all about the visual and behavioral layers of an experience without discovering and surfacing the intent.

I think we all remember what happened with trends like web 2.0 and skeumorphism. They ran rampant and we were all the lesser for it. I’m cautious of places like Dribbble for that reason. They run overfull with trendy design, but it’s ‘armchair design’ at best. No context, just aesthetics.

I’d love to take a crack at Spotify.

I’ve lived in a deep musical space my entire life and I’d love to immerse myself in the process of materializing that for listeners everywhere. Without knowing the challenges and the constraints that the super gifted design team over at Spotify have undergone to arrive at the product’s current state, I can’t really criticize it beyond my own subjective views, but if left to my imagination, I could see the Spotify experience quite a bit differently.

Reach Out.

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