Its actually more about sharing than writing. I somewhat dislike writing and absolutely hate trying to make my writing actually correct in english and punctuationally accurate (and sometimes I like to make up words like “punctuationally” and use parenthesis too much for my extracurricular thoughts). BUT I really enjoy sharing experiences to others and using all the knowledge I absorb to make a difference and possibly assist others in their experiences. The other angle I like about this is becoming an influencer. That term is buzzing right now as entrepreneurship is all the rage and becoming influential to younger people is not only helpful, its actually sought after by the young people in order to stay inspired and motivated in today’s crazy distracting society.
I’ve found myself writing about design topics, creative team stuff and also business type practices. Its an interesting forum where I feel like I can contribute in all three areas but also become more appealing to leadership opportunities and startup type companies if I come across as strategically understanding organizational methods and ways to ensure people adhere to them or can easily digest and excite against them.
My goal for 2016 is to start taking steps to becoming more of an influencer which essentially helps me become a better team lead when people find you more influential too look up to, trust and follow. So this whole LinkedIn platform for people to publish more article type content, rather than just an update post, is a great way for people like me (who are not writers nor want to be professional writers) to have an outlet and are encouraged to post some content to it. When I say “encouraged”, I mean how this actually adds value for the writer, as in having content posted out for all your connections to see and also other people to have the opportunity to read as well.
I’ve only written 2 of them to date, but I’ve see some of my connections ‘like’ the articles and also been messaged by random other people just for them to tell me that they liked them. Its an interesting feeling to have strangers tell you they appreciate your article which essentially appreciating your time, effort and experience. Its an addicting feeling. If I could scale that up a bit, I think I would want to learn more about writing (maybe take a class) and really exploit that feeling for possible revenue opportunities.
Article 1: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/scouting-college-design-graduates-senior-show-neil-rieger
Article 2: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dont-hit-send-folder-snippy-email-24-hours-neil-rieger
It never fails, my work productivity on a plane is around 200%. You don’t have the normal distractions and for some reason I always fall into this super-productive zone where I just want to get as much shit done as possible before the plane lands. Maybe its because I know I should maximize what I get done in this zone because once I land, its usually back to the chaos of the office, home, or some fun travel plans. Regardless why, up in the clouds is my secret office, my sweetspot.
My favorite task to do in the clouds is write. I can bang out blog articles left and right and don’t know why. is it the heightened focus? Maybe it has something to do with travel being somewhat motivational to me because I love it. It has this successful factor to it in my mind because you have the means and freedom to do it… not sure about that, but just my random thought on the matter.
The other benefit, or detriment sometimes, is now wifi is pretty standard on all planes. So now you can stay connected for emergencies, or appear to be working somewhere if your boss doesn’t know you stuck out on a friday for a early long weekend. But it is nice to have access to email because you’re undoubtably going to have at least one thing to respond to in real-time which is always helpful and also shows your team and peers you’re dedicated and even when traveling you’re attentive and adding value.
The funny part is when the person next to me notices what I’m doing. It happens about a 5th of the time in my experience. Usually they try not to watch or bug me because I have headphones in and am banging out work… but the curious and outgoing people always tap my shoulder, about as soon as the flight starts its descent and i’m putting away my laptop. Their comment or question is the funny part as its usually some version of, “What were you doing that whole time” or “What type of work do you do because that looked interesting.” That always cracks me up because they essentially caught me scribbling notes by hand or drawing little wireframes during takeoff, then transcribing them on my laptop once I get that out, and they are always curious if I was just playing around or if it was truly some form of professional activity. Then they sometimes find out the client, or they saw a logo of a fortune 500 brand they recognize and then its more comical to them because they see this young (at least i feel young, or think i look younger or more casual than your usually business professional) guy cranking out work for a big time company while being all cramped and semi-limited in the small airplane seat and awkward seat-back tray.
This also reminds me of my thinking on work/life balance (which I don’t even really like how that term is named really), and if I can fly out on a Friday, work on the plane and airports (during layovers) for at least 4-6 hours, then I love it. I get work done while flying my ass to some other city to visit friends, have an outdoors adventure, visit family, see random sites, etc. That is how I am enjoying life currently!
Sometimes you just need to take over a room, sprawl out all your shit (and by “shit” I mean tons of prints outs, whiteboard markers, pens, tape, push pins, snacks, drinks, dogs, etc) just to get yourself focused in on the large challenge at hand. It surprisingly gets you motivated in an indescribable way and tunnels you in, eliminating the other normal day-to-day distractions.
In the latest situation, the project was challenging enough but then myself and the lead designer both were sick at the beginning of the creative concept sprint, and of course our deadlines were really tight and not moveable. So at the beginning of the next week, we checked out were we were and I got a little freaked out knowing how much work still needed to be done to really impress the hell out of this new client. I took some deep breaths and said, do what you need in the next 30 min in order for us to take over conference room 2 for war room madness the rest of the day. We printed out client branding examples, video stills from the best client vids, conceptual research of bad ass interface and UI graphics, site maps, and project wireframes. The room was beautifully littered with shit all over the walls and table for us to start our work session.
I think madness is key, as it helps you hone in on your messy situation and then your mind can’t even fathom other normal distractions; like email, text messages, other employees dumb chatter, etc. I usually like to start scribbling over the print outs, using like a red whiteboard marker to circle/asterisk elements on the print outs that we liked and want to pursue. Then you freestyle the hell out of your whiteboards (did I mention you HAVE to have a whiteboard in your war room?… cuz that is a must) and be sure to snap pics of your progress at certain points because you will erase it randomly in the heat of the moment.
Then get some outside opinions. Don’t just keep your ideas within your small group, and I’ve seen some heated debates fester in that little space which is usually getting hot and smelly. Take a break, stretch, go find and call in an outsider to gauge your progress down your solution path. See if there’s other random ideas the pop up. I’ve noticed people like to be invited in, checking out your Ray Finkle style room of horror, and provide helpful spitballing. Try it out and see.
Senior shows are a great place to easily and efficiently check out a lot of potential candidates. Now that I’ve been more accountable for hiring, going through the process of posting a job, screening people, and interviewing candidates is a bit of a … lets keep this positive… a crazy shit-show, when you’re also trying to do your normal work too.
A senior show is a such a relief. You can literally walk around and have mini-interviews with these soon-to-be graduates, which is a great first-level screening process. Its not too hard to get a feel for their passion (or lack of), design careers direction, attitude, and personal interests. This saves me about 20-40 hours of email, resume hunting, scheduling coordination, and phone chats.
Some times, like this latest one at San Jose State Univ,, there’s a website where you can view the students, their bio, and a link to their portfolio. I love that. I put it on our design team to review all candidates and pick out the top 5 people for us to aggregate and go after. But its not real surprise that when we got to the show our opinions changed a bit based on our interactions with them. Maybe next time, I’ve save the up-front time of reviewing them and just go to the show with the expectation of talking to every single person and taking it from there.
For the record, I will say I was a bit shocked at some of the lack of digital or motion knowledge that the students had (or should I say “received from their instructors”). One question I asked every student was, ” Do you know what 4k is?” Only 1 student even tried to answer, and even that 1 student just knew it was a type of high video resolution. The kick in the balls was that this whole graduating class just went through a motion graphics class, where their project was produced at some small size like 900×600 (or thats at least what most students tried to tell me when I asked, but the really didn’t know). I just feel like the size of the “composition” in after effects is one of the first things to discuss. How the hell did this instructor not at least chat about that, or better yet, require these kids to produce their motion graphic piece at 1080p? Hello, the real world called. How far removed are college instructors today??? Maybe after 2 good startup buy-outs, I’ll feel comfortable enough to go teach college…. that article is to come!!!
Last year I noticed Behance started introducing company pages where multiple designers can associate their work to their company’s page. This immediately made me think about attracting design talent by them seeing all the cool range of work that our company handles and how it can help them get the coolest portfolio.
I like to promote the fact that our company will help grow a designers portfolio like no place else. And sometimes thats hard to show a potential hire without having to whip out a powerpoint presentation and start showing mockups. The behance page seemed like the thing to easily shoot a designer, or even put in the job posting for them to go checkout. (I’m tired of just having people checkout our website because I hear too many weird things which makes sense because potential hires is our sites target audience)
After asking the design team if they would want to pursue a behance page for their portfolio, which they answered yes, I took this a little more seriously and figured out a way for us to ensure we load up that company page. I asked the project management lead to give the design team 2 fridays off of client work over the course of 2 months. She didn’t really baulk at it and just essentially skipped those friday’s in our project plans, almost like a holiday. I planned with the design team to have a behance day, and we figured out which projects to try and tackle. The days were pretty relaxing, even though creating a portfolio page is always tricky (us designers are so picky when it comes to presenting our work… probably like a model getting dressed in the morning… or not, that just came to me) After those 2 fridays, the company page is now loaded with over 10 new projects ranging from mobile apps, tablet apps, data widgets, video walls, motion graphics, social media, etc. It was also the perfect timing because we were wanting an intern after the first of the year and were seeking out local colleges for talent … we’ll shall see.
And it was a great way to start playing with final projects and products in a marketing manner, like how to position them in real environments and make them look super sexy for when we want to start using them in our real company marketing material.
Staying connected to the local colleges that have design departments is a bit tedious but an important task that I try to fit in. There almost needs to be some mechanism or website that fulfills this need. Now, I’m just relying on Facebook and hoping those design programs are posting about upcoming shows or related news. There’s way too many talented college students who could truly benefit from experience like an internship or even talking to professionals in the real word and get some key advice.
At one portfolio show I was surprised to be the only person there from an outside company. There was just the students and few professors. I admit I was taken back by that, and when I approached the professors afterwards, they were almost surprised I showed up. I thought that might be the point of these shows. At my university, our senior show was advertised to every single agency and design firm in a 100 mile area … and about half of us got internships and interviews.
I do feel like a bit of a stalker having to follow the schools on Facebook and then when I see a picture of work hanging up, I almost want to comment and ask if it’s a public show. Here I am, practically begging to get in there and catch some of this talent … BUT shouldn’t that be the other way around? I would absolutely love it if I had department heads at these design programs contacting me on a regular basis to discuss opportunities for their kids, or asking me to come in and talk about digital media and real world projects. Hmmm, I think I have a new goal. I’ll make this happen soon.
I’ve been researching spaceship graphics for a mobile app game we’re wanting to concept out, and I’ve been really impressed with how some designers have approached a more flat-ish skew-morphism style which really comes across contemporary and professional. It also helped me to see all the various states and pieces these designers are putting in this sprite-type view of their graphics.
The other important element is the overall brand of the game, and before I even thought of a logotype or identity, I was worried about the color palette. Some designers were really pushing the boundaries of normal color convention and going with a wide range of colors and chromas. I expected to see some monochromatic ranges mixed with various grays and black, but most of the ones I saw were using at least 3 or 4 different colors and some neutrals or browns in the mix also. I love doing this type of research before I start just to help me step up my game and not re-invent the wheel, or don’t start way behind the industry when these examples can boost my starting point.
The more 3D modeling turned into animated motion graphics that I see, the more I think its the future of inspiring new cutting edge visual design. There is something completely unique about setting your 3D objects up and then upon a motion sequence, seeing how it visually looks when either the objects are moving or the camera angle is moving, and everything is churning together creating unplanned visual states, lighting affects, overlaps, etc. This type of composition building, with various visual elements at different perspectives and angles, become mind-blowing when you start to think about re-creating that without any 3D software. Its almost impossible.
In this virtual space which becomes an infinite canvas of opportunities, seeing even the simplest shapes take form into something greater can blow your mind. Like having a close zoomed-in angle with motion and color/lighting change, then change into a greater object or motion sequence … and along the way you get all these amazing visual states each with their own evolving composition. It all can go by so quickly when you’re actually watching a video, but if you break it up and export them to individual images, you start to see how this type of design can create the most innovative graphic design that starts to hint at the future of exploration. Any young designer in today’s world should at least be learning 3D modeling, if not fully embracing it.
I just came across an article about a Paul Rand exhibit, and it never fails that this guy motivates me in this oddly serene way. If you’ve ever heard him talk (in person or just in videos), he just comes across calm and controlled while definitely in control of every creative discussion … which is amazing considering how subjective and innovative all of his work is and falls in. Paul Rand define “timeless” to me when speaking to designs needing to stand the test of time and still appear appropriate for its context.
Working with IBM currently on various projects across digital media platforms, I see the logo everyday and also all the innovative usages and implementations we (and other partners) are doing with it. That speaks to the logotype creation, and how it allows for this timeless flexibility for branding opportunities with various colors, image, graphics across all types of media and orientation.
I just noticed a new quote from Rand in this article, where he says, “Don’t try to be original. Just try to be good.” I love it. It seems like the type of calming yet direct direction you would receive while working with this type of legend in the industry. I’ve always remembered a mentor telling me ‘the best design is not always the best design’ which has always stuck with me and makes me remember to not aim for this unobtainable perfection, but what is appropriate and will hit your specific objectives. With that said, I’m going back to work to which will probably be a very productive day now.