Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘design’

17 AUGUST, 2009

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life

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Birds, insects, monkeys, and 12.6 pounds of design genius.

If you think of nature illustration as the sterile visuals of a science book, you haven’t seen the work of Charlie Harper. The iconic American modernist, famous for his spunky stylized wildlife illustrations, spent more than six decades adorning books and posters with his highly distinctive artwork.

In 2001, New York based designer Todd Oldham — a legend in his own right — rediscovered Charley’s work and decided to comb through his ample archive, collaborating closely with Harper to curate, edit and design a book that captures the iconic style of the great master. When Charley passed away in 2007 at the age of 84, Oldham went on to publish Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life — a magnificent coffee table tome full of illustrations in Harper’s unique self-described “minimal realism.”

The book is massive tribute to Harper’s work — literally. At 12.6 pounds, the 424-page A3 monster is a dramatic, visually gripping antidote to today’s nano-culture. It’s also a lovely reminder that — as much as we love the interwebs — experiencing artwork on the screen is just never quite the same as the rich, lush, tactile glory of perfect print.

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life comes as a must-have for the serious design aficionado — so snag it for your own library, or as a certain-to-floor gift for a visually passionate other.

via Melexodus

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11 AUGUST, 2009

Design-Off: Top 3 Live Design Competitions

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Cardboard monsters, digital marathons, and why design is just like tennis.

Geeks may be the new rock stars, but designers are the new jocks. Live, real-time design competitions are springing up as gauntlets of creative prowess. Here are the top 3 live design-offs, where seasoned designers and rising stars alike get to hash it out for honor and glory.

ART CLASH

Every year, 10 artist duos from all around Europe get invited to Zurich’s Art Clash — a live art battle, where teams compete against each other in 3 rigorous rounds of painting and drawing on different objects, from a cardboard box to the back door of a car.

The competition is a super-condensed version of the creative life, reduced to the bare bones of a design career: deadlines and ego.

In June, Austria’s Permanent Unit, took home the 2009 title.

See more of the work, impressive in its own right but even more so in light of the adrenaline-inducing time constraints.

LAYER TENNIS

We love Coudal and their numerous incarnations. One of them is the cleverly conceived Layer Tennis — a series of live design events, held over a “season” of Fridays, where players from all over the world face off with with video, animation, sound, photos, typography and more.

The format is part competition, part collaboration — two players swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley,” after which the artwork gets posted to the website. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action during each ten-volley match. In the end, the 9,000+ Season Ticket Holders — that’s how seriously they take the tennis metaphor — vote on the winner.

Chattanooga-based designer and developer Shaun Inman took the Second Season title in July.

Sign up for next season’s tickets — it’s free — and join in this glorious work/leisure intersection for creatives. Once you do, you’ll have the opportunity to nominate yourself or a friend to actually compete — they’re now accepting nominations for next season.

CUT&PASTE

We’ve featured Cut&Paste before, so we won’t overelaborate. Suffice it to say the global digital design tournament has only been getting more intense over the years, drawing high-profile designers and animators from all over the world, backed by an army of heavyweight sponsors.

The competition includes three divisions — 2D Design, 3D Design and Motion Design. Each round is a grueling 8-hour face-off, where four competitors go head-to-head, frame by frame, to render their way to victory.

After a series of qualifying events in 16 cities worldwide, this year’s global championship will be held on October 16 in New York, where the 48 finalists will battle it out for the grand title. The event will be broadcast via live webcast, so stay tuned.

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10 AUGUST, 2009

Subway Personality: The MBTI Map

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What your subway station has to do with your propensity for extroversion.

We love psychology. We love data visualization. So we’re all over the MBTI Map, a visualization showing the relationships between human personality descriptors from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test — a tool designed to make iconic Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types more digestible — using subway lines as a metaphor for the connections between the different representative words and personality types.

A product of the Integrated Design Laboratory at Korea’s Ajou University, the map is a rare application of information design to the fields of psychology and sociology — and a brave effort to capture something as vague and abstract as personality visually and concretely.

Using the 161 words in the MBTI test, the team conducted a survey asking the relative closeness between pairs of words. Using cluster analysis, they extracted a total of 39 representative words. These were then arranged spatially using multidimensional scaling (MDS), which explores the similarities and dissimilarities of data, and wrapped in a subway metaphor.

Each subway line represents one of the 16 MBTI personality types, with subway stations arranged based on the semantic distance of the 39 word descriptors based on the MDS analysis. The outer circle contains the 161 original word descriptors from the test, grouped in 8 layers based on their hierarchical order. Finally, the colors of the words intuitively represent their meaning — so “calm” is in the blue spectrum and “passionate” in the red.

Pore over the brilliantly crafted map in this high-res PDF. And why not kill a few hours by taking one of these Jung-inspired tests, each resulting in a four-letter personality type, then finding yourself on the map? They aren’t the real MBTI deal, but they’re free and a ton of fun.

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