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Best way to learn new things? Talk with your smart friends!

I am a very lucky person. I have managed to seek out and surround myself with some incredibly smart people. Different type of smarts too: culinary, scientific, farming, emotional, technology, design, craft, gardening, parenting, card playing, fashion, historical, and a myriad of topics I’m sure I haven’t even tapped into.

It is also well known that I am a knowledge sponge: If I can learn something new, you can bet I want to and most likely I want to learn it from a person! I use the internet just like everyone else to get a base foundation, but the connection I feel when I converse about knowledge is something pretty special. Not only do I better my life for the skills I’m learning, but I tie it to my connection to that person. It makes for a pretty great mental library of knowledge/skills and exceptional people.

Photo Credit: Scott Ichikawa, 2015

Recently I was talking to one of these exceptional people, a Mr. Josh Klekamp, a Visual and Interaction Designer based in Seattle. To me, he is the guru to all things websites and apps. This is partially due to how we met each other, which was in grad school, and then as he attempted to instill some website knowledge into a bunch of VCD students. Josh always did like a challenge…haha Since that occasion, he has been a wealth of knowledge and a Website Fairy Godfather on numerous occasions.

Recently we were remedying a website situation over a few beers (I was distracted petting his dog Rue) and Josh asked if I had heard of Marvel? I of course first thought of superheroes, but was shortly enlightened that it is actually a new (and free!) mobile and web prototyping tool. As we all know, the best tools are those that leverage existing user technologies, not requiring us to learn yet another approach to trying to prototype user interactions in a more realistic way for testing and review.

Marvel connects with your Dropbox account (woohoo!), allowing you to easily make your user interface mockup files, add your hotspots, and if you end up wanting to make a quick visual change, make it and your prototype syncs with the updated file! While seemingly simple, that is what makes it awesome! The simpler the better. Every company will have their prototyping apps they use the most, but it never hurts to know what’s new and how people are approaching the same issues as you. Could be something to bring up at that next weekly design meeting!

Take a look at their demo video and let me know what you think. Have a prototyping tool you like better? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

Expanding my horizons…

So sometimes you don’t realize how dense you’re being when you’re, well, being dense. I most often live in a world where a graphic designer either does, print, web, or both (the most marketable). But with technology being what it is today, that’s pretty much loosing it’s validity. Graphic designers, more than ever, are starting to add their 2 cents or even 10 cents to projects around the world that would otherwise be “none of our business.” Move over traditional roles: Graphic designer coming through.

My preamble was to introduce my thoughts on video. My friend Laura, a great graphic designer out of Chicago, sent me this link (see below) of a video of lightening striking 3 buildings simultaneously in Chicago. One of the most amazing things I’d seen! So I start looking at this man’s other videos and low and behold! He had just gotten back from HOW in Denver! I knew I recognized him! His name is Craig Shimala. Truly his work is phenomenal. I sat at work and watched all his films. I just couldn’t get enough.

As I was watching I started thinking: A t-shirt designer (He works at Threadless), a graphic designer, and a movie maker. That’s a lot of hats! But it all started to make sense. T-shirt designer and graphic designer, we can easily see the connections. The movie maker part took more pondering, but then it hit me: Graphic design is the organizing of information to best communicate an idea, and at best to communicate an experience. And there was the connection! On a print piece we organize words, colors, fonts, and pictures to create an experience. Isn’t movie making just that? Organizing moving images, shot in certain color palettes and laid out in a sequential order (possibly to music) to create an experience for the audience?

So I see my horizons changing. While I most likely won’t be picking up a camera tomorrow to make a movie, the divisions I once saw between what a designer could/could not do are no longer quite as defined.

Lightning strikes three of the tallest buildings in Chicago at the same time! from Craig Shimala on Vimeo.