Dick Bruna 1927- 2017

"Before he went to sleep, I told him a little story about a rabbit we saw run around the beach house we rented." - Dick Bruna

You’ll never believe what wastes your time the most!

Tic. Tic. Tic. The echoing sound of stress gets louder every second. Thousand of unhelpful questions rushing through your head; will i finish in time? could i have started earlier? will it ever be possible to split into four copies of yourself to handle all those tasks that are still on your list - including ordering that dog sweater your mum has been nagging you about for the last month because she is too scared of online shopping. 

Why is it that we struggle with time? It cannot be poor time management skills. You have gone to those Friday seminars enough times to understand they are a waste of your time. And you know you are not the only one. The world has become this anxious, pulsating, greedy, cliffhanger just like the animated dots ‘…’ on your messages when someone is taking their sweet-ass time to answer to your simple yes-or-no question. We grew up in a culture that is never satisfied, because we are told that there is always something better out there. Just to clarify, millennials were spoon-fed this distress before they could have an opinion of their own.

This greed is exponential - we want faster, they give us faster, yet it never becomes fast enough. Brands at this point can no longer flight over who makes a better physical product, but rather switched to how efficient it is. Companies find ways for you to have more time, to end up spending more time on them. (Street) food became faster, we buy it more often. Products are more accessible being sold online, we buy more. Efficiency became key, and with this efficiency comes attention. Energy supplier Eneco is one of many examples. How could they make their product stand out from their competitors? They went for efficiency. Their apps Toon and Mijn Eneco allow their customers to manage the heating in their house using their phone - making it easier and faster. Reviews are mixed, but it certainly caught our attention back in 2012.

Marketing cannot be simplified to a single formula, especially with constantly changing society, culture and technology. The AIDA structure (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) has drastically evolved over time. Additional factors of Satisfaction (AIDAS) or Confidence (AIDCAS) have been added. It even extended to a mouthful: AISDALSLove (Attention, Interest, Search, Desire, Action, Like/dislike, Share, and Love/hate). Sadly, this expansion of these broken down elements shows an evolution of finding stronger methods to gain clients. It’s obvious that brands are constantly on the search for new techniques to capture our attention, to stay afloat as a business. Marketing itself is an art, yet it disregards the effect it has on people. Why is it when we talk about this, it’s only seen for the positive marketing perspective? What about the consumers’ point of view? When have we stopped having a say? Have characters like Don Draper doomed us for eternity?

Power to freely talking about what matters to us! Social media is here to save us all - or so we think. Social media has many dimensions. The scariest is not the one with hours worth of cat entertainment. It’s the one dedicated to brands trying to lure us in. We all know technology consumes hours of our attention a day. Those first few minutes when we wake up, during our commute, lunch break, commute back home, and a few hours more. To no surprise. Social media developed from simply a platform to catch up with friends and a means for social acceptance, into a place for never-ending entertainment and a source for news. Over 36% of Dutch Facebook users rely on their daily news from their wall. If at this point there are over 1.6 billion Facebook users, it’s incredible to think that the company has that amount of power to censor content and news it doesn’t agree with - yet it will happily spam you with BAD clickbait. Bollocks, Attention seeking, Distracting clickbait. Unfortunately it’s not just Facebook, or social media. This applies to many entertainment sites that feed off of your curiosity.

No matter how much we try to manage our time better, we will not succeed. There are far too many factors in todays culture that stand in the way. Whether our greed for more, marketing constantly finding new methods to grasp our attention or social media flooding our feeds with secretive ads. This scarcity of time is simply driven due to the abundance of waste information. The best way to deal with it is ‘to separate the wheat from the chaff’ or to put it in a less old-fashioned way, ’decide when to swipe left or right’. 

 

Doodles on a Pug

Like to follow creatives on Instagram, but also like a little of pet cuteness? Don't miss out on your daily dose of silly pugness by Lucile and Max. They started uploading illustrated photos of their hero pet @mr_georges_doodle, expressing its true inner identity of the day. Their fan base grew from 1k three weeks ago, to over 3k today! Go Mr. George! 

 

 

Apple WWDC 2016 iMessage Highlights

Apple seemed to really focus on the improvement of iMessage this year. So far we heard about the upcoming batch of random emojis, but they did not stop there. With the new iOS update we’ll get to express ourselves with drawings, full screen animations, larger emojis and more stuff that seem fun for a while before they get old. Check the video on Tech Insider.

Or get a wider view of yesterday’s keynote in 10 minutes.

Introducing Johnston100

Johnston, the type everyone recognises from the Underground. London's iconic transport typeface gets refreshed to celebrate 100 years of use. The aim is to being back some original elements that were lost along the way, but also to suit today's trends and digital needs. 

Live, Create and Grow Together

In the beginning of the last century, Residencia de Estudiantes became a house for creatives in Madrid. The house hosted well known Spanish artists such as Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel, but also international innovative thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Howard Carter. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and have a better understanding in how art and science intertwine.

 Heesterveld Creative Community

Heesterveld Creative Community

Similarly, the Heesterveld Creative Community is a foundation in Amsterdam who's aim is to enrich the creative environment in Heesterveld - a neighbourhood in the south west of the city. They want to promote artists of any kind, whether visual, musical or linguistic, to come and live and work together as it stimulates mutual inspiration and co-creation. If you are a creative interested in living in Amsterdam, check out their site and sign up!

Is it too late now to say sorry?

Social media blew up in the past few days because Justin Bieber is being sued over his song ‘Sorry’. Casey Dienel, an indie-pop artist from White Hinterland filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Bieber and Skrillex, stating that the single borrows from her song "Ring the Bell."

She wrote on her Facebook: “As many of you that follow my career and work have already recognised, Justin Bieber's song 'Sorry' copies the vocal riff prominently featured in my song 'Ring the Bell. The writers, producers and performers of 'Sorry' did not obtain a license for this exploitation of my work, nor did they obtain or seek my permission.”
"Like most artists that sample music, Bieber could have licensed my song for use in 'Sorry.' But he chose not to contact me. After the release of 'Sorry,' my lawyers sent Bieber a letter regarding the infringement, but Bieber’s team again chose to ignore me." Dienel also added that she was left with "no other option" but to file a lawsuit in order to "stand up for my music and art". "I have worked very hard to preserve my independence and creative control, thus it came as a shock to hear my work used and exploited without permission.”

Mentioned the word ‘sorry’ over five times now - sorry, not sorry.

Enough of the sentiment for the little-guy, there is a bigger issue that society in this creatively-expanding world needs to tackle - we need to acknowledge that ideas and creativity don’t come from thin air and should not be considered as property.

The American Copyright and Patent Acts from 1790 were made to create a rich public domain to expand creativity - not to become territorial. Kirby Ferguson from Everything is a Remix perfectly explains the history and issues that make copyright. I highly suggest that you watch the whole thing for a better understanding, but if you cannot focus for more than half an hour, you can skip to part 4 [22:50 onwards] if you want to only focus on the legal aspect. Evolution of work should be based on ‘copy, transform, combine’. We feel fine to copy ideas from others, but feel threatened when that is done to us. Even non-creatives, like sample trolls and patent trolls, found a way to sue and get rich effortlessly.  

 

Casey Dienel's move may be protective over her work, but also could be strategic to gain more popularity. One thing for certain, Dienel isn’t a mastermind and like any other artist, was inspired by others. I wonder how long it will take the internet to figure out which riff she stole?

A Soft Murmur

Enjoy different ambient sounds to help you keep focused and productive. A Soft Murmur has a simple and sleek layout that allows you to play around with the combinations and volume of calming sounds. Maybe the nostalgic harmony of crackling fire combined with soft hushing waves from last summer eases your mind at work and gets you through the day with a smile on your face.

Challenge: Splurge on Books

 Photo by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine

Photo by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine

A great way to really enrich my interest in interior design is to buy books. I’m not talking about the ones that are simply colourful pages filled with inspiration that only make you realise how envious you could be over a pinterest-perfect set room. I’m talking about theory so you know what you’re doing, proper vocabulary so you know what you are talking about and step by step guides to take you through the process without you feeling overwhelmed. 

After some research into the top best interior design / home decoration books I came across a few that caught my eye.  

 

Home Decorating For Dummies - Katharine Kaye McMillan and Patricia Hart McMillan 

$15 (3.7 stars on Amazon)

Published October 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0764541568

Paperback - 388 pages

Simple book with theory to help you create a stylish home. There are no exclusive, expensive, unattainable examples of living rooms the size of your whole house; just basic tips to give your house a sleek makeover. Elementary book to start with. 

 

Domino: The Book of Decorating - Deborah Needleman, Sara Ruffin Costello and Dara Caponigro

$25 (4.5 stars)

Published October 2008 

ISBN-13: 978-1416575467

Hardcover - 272 pages

An easy guide to find what suits you best; from finding inspiration to determining your style or assessing the things you already own. It includes a diagrammed handbook explaining the details in layered curtains, chair leg styles or sofa skirts - sounds like a fashion catwalk, doesn't it?

 

Styled - Emily Henderson and Angelin Borsics 

$21 (4.4 stars)

Published October 2015

ISBN-13: 978-0804186278

Hardcover - 304 pages

New York Times Best Seller that helps you find your own interior design style. I never thought that going through my closet and understanding my fashion style would be such a simple method to help me define my interior decorating style. 

 

 

Sage Living - Anne Sage and Emily Johnston 

$15 (4.3 stars)

Published September 2015

ISBN-13: 978-1452140063

Hardcover - 208 pages

The book breaks down the different purposes for each room at home and how to address that when decorating. It reminds us that trends do not help us connect, entertain, create, disconnect and grow; our wellbeing and happiness in the place we live does.

 

 

Four books under $80? I say that’s money well spent.

Do you have another great interior design book suggestion? Let me know!

Challenge: Moodboards

My plan was to make a moodboard for a room I am moving into soon. Firstly I tried niice.com and wasn’t satisfied with the process nor the outcome. The search for visuals takes long as there are far too many and too varied tags on the images. I search for bronze flower pot, I see a gold tiger statue. Not quite what I had in mind. The board at the end is sleek and I can manipulate the image order and size within the gridlines. Unfortunately I need to upgrade in order to download the final file - not pleased. Click here to see the full image. 

Polyvore could end up nice, with practice though. The possibility of layering, resizing, collage-ing per se, allows to make the moodboard a little bit more artistic. Or you could be a professional and simply use Adobe CC.  

Pinterest really is a winner. Although when scrolling down there is unnecessary visible notes and links to whom posted it - which really should only show up once you hover over the image. Apart from that, I find the search size and accuracy to be spot on. It will never disappoint. Check out my board here

If you are looking to decorate with items seen on Pinterest, have a read on The Debrief. They made a list of popular items with info about where you can get them and for how much.

 

Now excuse me, I’m off to IKEA!

Challenge: Start a Blog

 Greetings from Mars by Julien Muave

Greetings from Mars by Julien Muave

World Press Photo feels too elitist or unobtainable? The 9th annual Sony World Photography Awards has been recently announced. This year there was a record-breaking 230,103 entered images. Photographers from over 180 countries sent in their work under the categories Professional, Open, Youth, Student and National Awards.

An exhibition in London will take place at the Somerset House from 22nd April till 8th May for you to see. 

If you’d like to participate in the next one, hurry up as the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards will be open for entries from June 1st 2016. 

See this year’s winners here.

 

Challenge: Follow designers on Twitter

If social media taught me anything, is that I suck at being active. Twitter might just be the worst one of all. I tried to use it, pretend that I know what is going on and the aim of it all, but before I know it I start to question too many things and didn't open it for another few weeks. Whilst working on Epilepic I managed to get into it a little bit more, but I guess I felt safe as I was hiding behind a project identity rather than exposing my true self. There I tweeted daily - full on active user. When using my private account my passive activity turns into inactivity. I guess following some people wouldn’t hurt. Aim: follow 50+ people.

Here are some great ones I came across:

@XplodingUnicorn - comedy writer that tweets what his daughters say. Toddler honesty is brutal.

@LamadieuThomas - merges photography and illustration into one

@jessicawalsh - because many people suggest her

@RobinDePuy - photographer. just went to her show. love her work. secretly hoping to be friends with her.

 

Tons of funky magazines I would love to work at someday:

@GUPMagazine - conceptual photography

@teNeues - large publisher focusing on design, photography, lifestyle, travel, architecture, fashion and pop culture

@hearstnl - publishes ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, (Wo)Men's Health

@designboom - architecture, art and design

@printmag - graphic design, technology and culture

@MonocleMag - current affairs, business, culture and design

@grafikmag - graphic design inspiration

 

Aim completed. I’m hoping this will be easier on other social media platforms. Instagram perhaps?

Challenge: Turn Handwriting into Font

It’s incredible if you think about it. Our grammar went out the window now that autocorrect has taken over our thinking abilities. We no longer care. We know our spelling will get corrected. Even worse, we don’t know we spelt something wrong because it corrects it before we realise it. We continue spelling certain words wrong because we aren’t really confronted with the error and how to fix it. It’s done for us. 

Typing out my thoughts in my own handwriting took it to an entirely different level. I don’t have to think about spelling, nor about how readable my handwriting is. All I have to do is hit my fingers in the right place on the keyboard. I know the message will communicate, if you can read my handwriting that is.

Instead of just converting my handwriting into a typeface, I played around and made some actual graphics out of it. I managed to make two types; one is my usual handwriting, named is Ms Duka as it’s ok to name your handwriting after yourself. The other is what I use for heading, named it Tall House. Each has a light and heavy version. I think their combination would best suit a cafe chalkboard design - cliche, I’m fully aware of that. I based it on the menu of my favourite cafe.

It’s an awesome thing to try out. Click here to give it a go. It’s a matter of printing out a template, filling it in, scanning it and ta da! - ready to download. Now to think of a name. This article has great pointers. Pretty much think laterally, do research, think smart and test it. 

If you’d like to download my fonts, hit me up.

Better Designer Challenge

People see New Years as an opportunity to drop their old ‘negative’ habits, whether smoking, stress or drinking. Only in spring there is a sudden rush to start ‘positive’ habits. Media reminds us that there are only 12 weeks till beach season and if you start working out now you will just make it. Diet cereal, toning cream, self tanner, yoga mats! Must. Get. In. Shape! 

I took this time to think how I will exercise, my brain and skills rather than my physique. There is so much I would still like to learn, or get back into. I stopped oil painting a few years back. I would like to be able to code. If ten-year-olds do it smoothly nowadays, why am I behind? I do need a little structure at first to keep the ball rolling. I came across a challenge on Creative Market: How to Become a Better Designer in 30 Days

Alright, game on.

 

task 1 - Take Stock Of Where You Are Now

Short and simple task to answer some questions.

 

List your skills as a designer:

  • Research
  • Mind maps
  • Lateral thinking
  • Considering and using social/political/historical aspects
  • Hierarchy
  • Colour and type theory

 

List your weaknesses as a designer:

  • Used to constantly look out for new methods/techniques, but stopped.
  • Horrible at social media, especially Instagram.
  • Coding
  • Calligraphy
  • Maintaining a fresh (constantly developing) mood board

 

What do you enjoy doing? 

I used to be very hands on - analog photography, continuous line drawing, doodling, oil painting. At the moment I work behind the computer and forget that I do not need CC to create something.

Oh and challenging perceptions. Love making people think.

 

What could you be better at?

Look out for and practice new creative techniques, while still developing the old ones I learnt.

 

Conclusion: Think less, make more.

Blog-making vs. blog-writing

When researching ‘How to blog?’ there are many tips on how to get started. From which platform to choose, picking a design or whether it’s wise to get your own domain or not. But how about answering all the other factors: how to chose a topic, does it need to be very specific, how to stay on track or how to keep motivated? I’ve noticed this week that it’s very possible that I’m just a bad blogger. After two posts my (virtual) passion stopped. It’s not that I couldn’t decide on a topic or didn’t have ideas for content; I just simply wasn’t writing it down into a post. I like to share opinions on things I’ve seen or read, but I share that verbally with people around me. How is it different when all those thoughts get squished down into a post? Does it feel more restricting as you need to stay to a structure of intro, body and conclusion? Maybe it’s just difficult, as you actually DO need a structure of the process while making a blog?

What quickly becomes clear is that there is more advice on the internet about blog-making, not blog-writing. When sieving through all the information, only the last pointers mention how to go about the actual blog content. Most sound a little like: ‘and then write!’ To make it easy for all bloggers that know their topic but are having writer’s block at the very beginning, I’ve gone on a quest to see whether I can make a guide on how to start writing a blog.

 

 

 

1)     Decide on target audience

Remember that your content is going out there in the vast unstoppable web. This is not your hidden diary; someone will be reading your content. So who do you want it to be: family, friends, people with similar interests or possibly your future boss? Making a blog purely for professional purposes may sound scary, as you may feel you have to watch yourself with everything you say. It can also be a great advantage to allow people to see how awesome you are, aside from your CV.

 

 

2)     Analyse frequency and timing

Looking back at your target audience, think about when during the day and week will your reader be most likely to read your work. This will help you with creating a schedule to spread the content throughout the week. Keep in mind that there is no specific amount of posts a week that you need to keep up to. Marcus Sheridan at The Sales Lion compares blog-stars and their frequencies to find that it doesn’t make a difference. In this case quality and quantity are not two different strategies, nor are they comparable.

 

 

3)     Write work ahead

It’s easy to fall behind and end up not writing that post you were planning. You fall a day behind. That day turns into two, those two turn into a week. Creating a few posts in advance and setting the date when they get published solves this problem for you. Just make sure you always have more than 3 posts in advance as a safety net when you have a busy week coming up.

 

 

 

4)     Plan work ahead

So how to write work ahead if you need to manage many topics at a time? Simple, keep a journal. You don’t need to write detailed plans, bullet points will do. Mention the topic and how you feel about it or what made it special to you. This makes it easier when you look back at a bullet point written a while ago. E.g. Basquiat at Brooklyn Museum: children visiting, thinking they can do better (keep an eye out for that one sometime in the future).

 

 

5)     Do your research

Yes, read before you re-post. Reading just the first half because you think you got the whole gist and then posting it may lead to trouble. You never know whether the tone changes by the end of the article. If you are researching a topic to write about, look up facts from a few sources. Name and add links to them too. If the reader wants to find out more, they can always do some more reading - like this article on CoSchedule on how to ace your blog research.

 

 

6)     Make it your own, make it quirky

The Minimalists have actually quite a few tips on their site on blog-writing. They say: “Don’t blog about something unless you have a unique perspective.” Indeed, the amount of repetitive data out there is insane, so make what you write count. Explaining how you view the world not only makes it interesting to read, but also, without trying, forms your own style, be it serious, educational, light-hearted or plain silly.

 

 

7)     Add imagery

No lengthy explanation needed here. Make it visual, make it appealing. Do make sure the images relate to the text and that they do not overpower the written content.

 

 

8)     Add CTA (call-to-action)

Ending a post can be difficult, as you cannot have a post feeling like it wasn’t finished. HubSpot brings up an interesting technique. At the end add a CTA to get the readers involved. In this case it doesn’t need to be in the typical marketing sense (subscribe now, find out more, visit a store today), but it can be created with the use of a question or a quest. The reader might not necessarily do it, yet it lingers in their mind. Challenging them to notice how many apps use blue for their logo will pop in their head when looking at their home screen. Go on, do it. I dare you.

Hopefully these eight pointers will get you rolling. Most of all, to cheese this up a little, have fun with it, yea? Blogging is there to relieve you from the overload of thoughts in your head, and to create an overload of content on the web. 

Lateral photography all the way

Philipp Shmitt created a prototype camera that may just change photography as we know it. Camera Restricta, as he calls it is "a disobedient tool for taking unique photographs". This camera is so smart that it detects whether a specific scene is too common, and physically will not allow you to take that photo. It forces you to be more creative, rather than expand this generic collection of data cumulated by thousands - if not millions - of people.

The camera features a rectractable shutter, antenna and a speaker.

This links back to July when the European Parliament was serious about proposing a copyright restriction towards buildings. As the camera has access to geotags, it can easily tell whether a photo is common or not. We seem to have an urge to collect mementos, let's say that photo of the Eiffel Tower. When in Paris, right? But do we really need it, is it really that worthy if you have the same take on it as everybody else? I say go Mr. Shmitt for making people work a little to make their photos personal.

Photography has become so assessable in the past decade, many people think that their photo is fantastic. To be honest, your feet in the sand look just like the other dozens of pairs I saw when scrolling down my newsfeed this summer. So imagine that this Camera Restricta isn't only a physical stubborn tool, see it as a software. Now try to picture how photography would change if this concept were on our phones. That would be phenomenal. I would love to see what would happen then.         

This product was judged on So Bad So Good and I'm happy to see that over 70% of the people approve of this - possibly because they like the concept but would never buy it. Despite that, my hopes are high. There's just one comment in the section below that made me giggle: "wow, photography for idiots, level expert". Photography can be for all, despite the technical knowledge. In my opinion it's all about the creativity and how to present a common sight in a new light. A little lateral thinking can go a long way. 

Office Lifesaver

All these years working with files, converting them, getting frustrated that something is not the right format or size. It's silly to think that it took so long and only this week I stumbled upon smallpdf.com. It does anything you may possibly imagine. Did you know you can upload a pdf and get a single image out of it that you wanted? Wicked.