function-complex-victor-papanek

Design for the real world by Victor Papanek

Resources

Even if written in 1971, “Design for the real world” by Victor Papanek is still relevant today and probably will always be since it’s advocating responsible design in a world where the resources are getting poorer. He strongly believes that design must be used to shape the society in a positive way by improving the life quality of the ones in need.

Design is the conscious effort to impose meaningful order.

Anything that does not add functional value is considered by Victor Papanek as a perversion of design. In a more elaborated definition of Louis Sullivan’s simple principle that “Form follows function”, he enunciates six parts of the function complex.

function-complex-victor-papanek

  1. METHOD: the interaction of tools, materials and processes which need to be used optimally by appealing to creativity
  2. USE: answering to the question “does it work?”
  3. NEED: genuine need (economic, psychological, spiritual, technological, intellectual) vs. instilled one by fad and fashion
  4. TELESIS: the design must reflect the times and conditions that have given rise to it and must fit in with the human socio-economic context
  5. ASSOCIATION: our psychological condition determined by environment, education and culture comes into play towards or against a certain value
  6. AESTHETICS: a tool that helps to transform shapes and colours into elements that move and please us

I do encourage you to read this book and share your opinion in the comments.

roundicons_animals

Icon collections available online

Graphic Design, Resources

There are great collections of icons over the internet, free or premium, for web or printing purposes. I am sharing here my favourites, as a place to go to for inspiration in your designs or for download to use in your personal or commercial projects. Either way, I believe you are going to find them useful and there are pretty good chances to get in love with some of them as well 😉

The Noun Project

A very cool website looking to build a visual language of icons anybody can understand. They come in two styles, line & solid, and they can be created by anyone with the condition to follow certain guidelines in order to be approved for publication.

One of the founders, Edward Boatman, has also taught a free class on Skillshare which I find perfect if you are a very beginner in iconography and/or Adobe Illustrator. The project assignment is to create a set of symbols that tells the story of your day. Once completed, you are encouraged to upload them on the website which is exactly what I did 😀 and I am looking forward to expanding my collection!

Round Icons

I am completely hooked up by their flat round icons. They are sooo colourful and the animal collection, I just love it! The bee, the zebra, the elephant, the cow, the pig, the sheep, the owl (and I could go on and on 😯 ), just ADORABLE! (ain’t so?!)

roundicons

They also have an amazing collection of yoga poses. And a very nice one of space icons! Or if you need an icon with Burj Al Arab or the London Eye, you can get that as well!

Bottom line, there is no way to leave the website without finding some pixel goodness, as on their count, you are able to dig into no less than 74.520 of them!

Icon Finder

This is probably the largest collection online with more than 450.000 icons. Search for anything and there are pretty good chances that you may find it 😀 except for “anything”, tried this one 😆 Also a wide range of styles including pixel, 3D and photorealistic.

iconfinder

Flat Icon

Only flat icons, mostly useful in web design. What sets them apart is that they have a generator incorporated that helps you convert icons into font icons so it’s worth checking it for your next project!

flaticon

Icons Mind

Targeting mobile applications, you can find here vector icons with two different styles: line icons for the new iOS and solid icons for Android.

iconsmind

Hope this is some valuable information to you, please share if you are using any other awesome icon packs!

picture_this_points_and_curves_shapes

Picture This by Molly Bang

Graphic Design, Resources

Molly Bang shows us in a wonderful visual book how emotions can be very well represented only by abstract shapes with a series of principles in mind.

The key of how emotions are brought on the canvas stays in the associations of colours, shapes and placement of the elements forming a picture with our own experiences from the day to day life. Therefore, this kind of associations determines our emotional response to a picture.

I have gathered all the principles and represented them by shapes as showed in the book not to get away from the point made by Molly Bang. All these principles work together, they impact one another and are also linked to the context and content.

Gravity
  1. Horizontal shapes give us a sense of stability, even more if they are wide & flat (grounded)
  2. Vertical shapes are more exciting and inspire energy (skyscrapers)
  3. Diagonal shapes are very dynamic and signal motion by expressing objects moving from one state to another and tension due to balance challenge
  4. An object placed on the upper half of the picture looks like it’s floating which makes you think of happiness, spirituality, freedom.
  5. An object placed on the bottom half of the picture looks heavier and more constrained

picture this gravity

Frame

  1. If you put an object in the center of the page, then it will be the greatest point of attraction. To be avoided when the picture is meant to be explored.
  2. When there is no object on the centre of the page and even more, when there are objects crossing over the page, then the picture takes a more dynamic form.

picture this frame

Light and Dark

White/ light backgrounds feel safer than black/ dark backgrounds. White signifies brightness & hope and is used to represent the day while black signifies the unknown & fears and is ideal for showcasing night moments or twilight or bad weather like a storm.

picture this light and dark

Points and curves

Pointy shapes look threatening to us while curved shapes look like they embrace and protect us giving a sense of security.

picture this points and curves

Size

The larger an object in the picture, the strongest it feels.

picture this size

Colour associations

We associate the same or similar colours seen within a picture frame much strongly than we associate shapes.

picture this colour

Repetition & confusion

We prefer repetition over confusion as the first gives us a sense of stability while the latter is frightening for most of us. In the same time, too much repetition is monotonous so either extreme is not preferable.

picture this repetition and confusion

Contrasts

We notice a contrast. This can be between shapes, sizes, colours, placement or any combination of these elements.

picture this contrast

Space

  1. If an object is separated by an empty space from a group of objects, it will look alone, free or vulnerable.
  2. The shapes may imply movement but also may the space between them.
  3. Overlapping two or more objects will blend them together.
  4. A sense of depth can be created by keeping a regular geometric progression rather than an arithmetic one in the space between the objects i.e. if space is 1/2 smaller than the preceding one rather than a fixed amount.
  5. Space implies time, therefore in a situation of danger it will be more tension between two objects farther away than closer as you have the time to become aware of what is about to happen. It’s true that very little space can create the feeling of tension as well.

picture this space

The book also has, in the end, some exercises that invite you to play around with shapes and colours and apply these principles in order to tell a story and communicate a feeling or mood. For example, situations that represent danger like a group of birds attacking a victim or a person trapped in a cage or illustrations of emotions expressed in a poem, painting or song.

I love it that there are so many ways of exploration and the recommended limitation to 3 colours plus white and the usage of sole circles, rectangles and triangles, only make it more interesting.

I gave it a try and exposed myself in the playground area, so you can check mine here. And I am super curious to see yours so please do not hold back from sharing your experiments! 🙂

Hello Photoshop 1.0!

Miscellaneous

What happens when you go back 25 years right to the first version of Photoshop 1.0? 😀 An experiment carried out by CreativeLive with the support of the most appreciated instructors of this beloved software program.

Check it out, you’ll be mesmerised and I can bet it will put a smile on your face if not make you laugh out loud!

Since when have you been using Photoshop? Have you come across the first versions?

Doors I’d like to open every day…

Inspiration

There have always been something with these massive doors that draw you in like there’s some mystery you have to solve. It may be their grandeur that makes you feel little and vulnerable or paradoxically their welcoming arcades with friendly curves. It’s almost like you know there’s danger awaiting for you but still can’t help yourself to explore..

In my wanderings today on the streets of Bucharest I have captured these two wonders. I love the metallic colours, the geometric pattern, the sense of history and the feeling of promise.

Romanian Cultural Institute | 38 Alexandru Alley, Bucharest, Romania

Romanian Cultural Institute | 38 Alexandru Alley, Bucharest, Romania

Beautiful House | 40 Blvd. Lascar Catargiu, Bucharest, Romania

Beautiful House | 40 Blvd. Lascar Catargiu, Bucharest, Romania

I would make a series of the doors I’d like to open every day… therefore, I will update this post with new findings, please share as well your favourites!

time

Take back your time!

Miscellaneous

Since time seems to be the top offender when it comes to following your interests outside work (could be anything from really weird stuff to very serious matters), I am constantly searching for ways to manage my share and achieve more.

time

In one of my wanderings over the web, I came across Michael Hyatt and that was a lucky day. He is a very successful speaker, author, and coach with pieces of advice around personal development, leadership and productivity to apply in your personal and professional life.

His most recent eBook “Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek” is exploring 4 strategies to make the most of your time. The overall approach is to concentrate on the activities that matter and declutter your days from any items that do not bring value. All the tactics he shares in this 50 page eBook are listed below, along with my short  personal notes as extra guidelines so you won’t have any excuse for not using them!

Boost your energy

  • Get enough sleep: this is mandatory for a clear mind and good focus during the day
  • Take a nap: keep it short, just 10 to 30 minutes, between noon and 4 pm
  • Stay healthy: exercise and eat non-processed foods like vegetables and fruits
  • Be positive: it is ultimately your choice to keep a good spirit however the day unfolds

Guard your time

  • Plan your day the night before: think of the most important things you want to accomplish the next day and make a to-do list
  • Plan your week: check the progress from the past week and schedule next steps, together with reviewing your annual goals and upcoming projects
  • Schedule everything that matters: consider also the time for rest and exercise (in line with strategy no 1) along with the time spent with family and friends
  • Triage your calendar: eliminate nonessentials and reschedule the rest by using the priority matrix built by Stephen Covey in his book “First Things First” – the main idea is to shift your time and energy more and more in quadrant 2

prio-matrix-light

Sharpen your focus

  • Get offline: no distractions, turn off your app notifications and close all social media sessions (yes, even facebook); music can also help to keep you on the task at hand
  • Use batch processing: treat similar activities together so that you don’t fall into the risk of having to shift your focus, this is the reason for which multitasking cannot work
  • Touch emails only once: you read it, you decide what to do with it! if you ponder about it, it’s called procrastination 😉

Stretch your “no” muscle

  1. Practice the art of quitting: it can be hard but some things might prove not to be worthwhile, hence better to quit before investing more time without results to justify it
  2. Weigh the pros and cons: review what are the benefits considering the efforts involved
  3. Automate your “no”: as soon as recurring requests are identified, you can build a template to use whenever needed
  4. Fix or quit useless meetings: cancel useless meetings or propose shorter times when not possible

If you’d like to dig in deeper which I recommend, you can get the eBook for free by subscribing to his email newsletter (usually 3 posts a week). Also, you can access many other helpful resources on his website

Have a productive day and please share in the comments if you learned any other tips & tricks for time management!

learning_platforms_1

Online classes and tutorials for creatives

Resources

Here you can find my favourite platforms for learning! Some are free, others charge a membership fee. There are also mobile and/or tablet apps developed for most of them if you’d like to take your learning dose on-the-go.

learning_platforms_1

CreativeLive

This tends to be my favourite due to the format, you can watch classes live and interact with the speaker on chat with the help of the CreativeLive staff. There are five categories: art & design, photo & video, music & audio, craft & maker, money & life. The sessions can be watched for free while on air or bought afterwards to watch at your convenience. There is also a very nice calendar that gets updated with the classes available during a month for each of the categories. This allows you to schedule ahead and register to all that is of interest to you.

Skillshare

Arguably the second best, be aware it is a strong competition! Skillshare is full of classes for creatives in a wide range of areas: from culinary arts to crafts, photography, design, fashion, film, writing, music and even entrepreneurship. The class is a series of videos that sum up usually to around 1 to 2 hours but can go to several hours as well. What is really engaging on Skillshare is their approach of learning by doing as each class ends with a project that should make use of the acquired skills and techniques.

They are also preaching that everyone can teach so if you feel up to, you can give it a try and share your skills with the world. You don’t need to have any kind of teaching experience, only a big passion for the chosen topic.

Coursera

Not focused on Arts & Design but there is a section you can check out and you’ll come across some very well documented courses. The instructors are from universities around the world and the courses are a long-term engagement spreading on a few months usually. Each week you have a series of short videos to watch and an assignment to complete. They use a peer assessment model, therefore you’ll be graded by your colleagues around the world. End of the course, there is also an exam to take and you have the option to earn verified certificates if this is one of the things you’re looking after.

learning_platforms_2

EDX

Less coverage on the creative domains, most of the courses are in areas like math, computer science and physics but art and design are also amongst the subjects. Like Coursera, they have nice partnerships with top universities around the globe, Harvard is one of them!

Iversity

Same as the last two, this is worth mentioning especially because of the powerful institutions where the teachers come from. And there is a wide range of courses you can take in several languages: English, German, Spanish and Russian.

Gibbon

Based on your topic of choice, you can subscribe to playlists that point to resources over the web, be it an article, documentary or book.

learning_platforms_3

Hack Design

This is a 1-year commitment to learning design. If you sign in, you’ll get one email a week with the most relevant blogs, books, videos and tutorials organised in topics like graphic design principles, typography, UI / UX, product design and a few more. The lessons are curated by designers specialised in these domains to make the best of the experience!

Lynda

The first place to go to for the best tutorials if you’re up to learn the Adobe suite, on different skill levels, from the very beginner to advanced.

Tuts+

As an alternative to Lynda, with a huge library of free articles embedding videos to help you learn.

Most of what I know now in the graphic design field I owe to these incredible, wonderful, don’t know what I would do without them, learning platforms. Hope you’ll find a few minutes to check them out as I’m sure everyone can find something valuable in here! And please share if you also have some great go-to learning sources, as I’m sure you all do! 🙂

Why the blog

Why I’m here

Miscellaneous

I have come to realise over the last few years that I crave for more creativity in my life. I started to explore options and got stuck on graphic design. I find myself drawn especially to whimsical illustrations, geometric patterns and witty book covers.

Why the blog

What I want with this blog is to:

  • make a commitment to myself about learning new things every day
  • share my findings with others that have similar interests
  • get feedback on my playground in graphic design
  • connect with people that value creativity