Archive for the 'Art' category

 | October 2, 2011 4:19 pm

LIbreGraphics Magazine - Issue 1.3LibreGraphics magazine is one of those sorts of bold things that the open source world needs more of. It’s designed as a catalyst for discussion and, more importantly, a showcase of what can be accomplished with open source software.

In the graphic arts world, a sizable number of graphic design users have this idea that the only software worth using is a suite of proprietary (and extremely expensive) tools. For that reason, one of the stated goals of LibreGraphics magazine (part of their manifesto, in fact) is a desire to shatter this idea.

They want people to know:

As users of [free software], we know that our work, when executed well, is indistinguishable from work produced by more traditional means. Thus, ehre we will unite all our previously disparate successes. We will elevate the discourse around LibreGraphics as a professionally viable option, raise awareness, and show that it is the vision of the artist (and not the cost of the tool) that is important.

They do an excellent job.

Issue 1.3 of the magazine was just released. It takes a look at what it means to work collaboratively. It is available for download on the LibreGraphics website or for purchase. (If you have trouble downloading from the main site, there are mirrors available.)

The Voice in the Shell - Page Spread

LibreGraphics - In Print


Colored Extravagence

Breaking Into Floss

 | September 28, 2011 4:28 pm

If you’ve followed this blog for long, you probably know that I have a slight interest in typography. I’m fascinated by the aesthetic quality of letter-forms, the psychological effect they can have on those who are reading them, and the ways that they are created.

In this TEDx talk from UCLA, graphic designer Andrew Byrom touches on all of those, and more. He speaks to the heart of a common artistic challenge: how to reveal the form within.

 | September 25, 2011 4:33 pm

Amongst horse trainers, there is a common piece of advice. It goes like this: “Experiment, observe, remember, and compare.”

This monicker is usually given in answer to questions such as, “How do I learn to understand my horse better?” or “How can I know if a particular technique will work for me?” But as useful as it might be for students of the horse, “Experiment, observe, remember, and compare” is sound counsel for just about anyone. (It summarizes the methodology of the scientific method, after all.)

For the most part, the work of observation is personal. There are cases, though, where it is possible to see the world through the eyes of another. This might be through artwork or explanation, but when it happens, it can be magical. Such is the work of Ernst Haeckel, a 19th century biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, and artist.

Haeckel spent his career trying to understand the relationship between the different species of the animal kingdom. It was a life of intense observation and comparison, which is readily apparent in his artwork. Below, you can find some of my favorite folios from his books. All of the images are available from Wikimedia Commons. As are many others.

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 | September 14, 2011 10:39 pm

There is something about traditional Chinese illustration. It may be the soft colors, the soothing themes, or the conscious stylization of complex topics. I absolutely love it. I also appreciate when artists take the boundaries of a style and do new things with it, though.

Which is what New York illustrator Dadu Shin has done. When you see his work, the influence of traditional Chinese artwork is clear. But alongside the older themes you can also find weird and wonderful characters. The effect is simply beautiful.

b.o.l.t and the gates (Forest)
b.o.l.t and the gates  (Inferno)
Inside or Outside?
The Last One Standing
Second Thoughts
Secondary Solitude
Under Threat
Many Things to Consider

b.o.l.t and the gates (Forest)

b.o.l.t and the gates (Inferno)

Inside or Outside?

The Last One Standing

Second Thoughts

Secondary Solitude


Under Threat

Many Things to Consider


via Dadu Shin via The Fox Is Black

 | 4:27 pm

In Holland, we have two words for design. One is vormgeving (in German formgeben), and the other is ontwerpen (entwurf in German). In the Anglo-Saxon world, there’s only one word for design (which is design). That is something that you should work out.

Vormgeving is more to make things look nice. So, for instance, packaging for a perfume or for chocolate in order to make things fashionable, obsolete, and therefore, bad for society because we don’t really need it. While ontwerpe means, and the anglo-szxon word, but its stronger, means engineering. That means you as a person try to invent a new thing — which is intelligent, which is clever, and which will have a long-life. And that’s called stylistic durability. It means you can use it for a long time.

— Gert Dumbar

via SwissMiss via Frank Chimero

 | June 20, 2011 4:07 pm

This (more or less) perfectly captures my conflicted feelings about modern art.

 | June 9, 2011 5:51 pm

At the moment, I’m entranced with eBooks. There are many reasons for this (and I’m preparing a rather long blog post which explores them), but one rises above all the others: electronic books offer an author the best way to tell complex stories.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this video from TED, which demonstrates a “next generation electronic book” called Our Choice, by Al Gore. (The video is only four minutes long and well worth your time.)

Though I may be succumbing to hyperbole, I really think that we are seeing the future of non-fiction. We live in a tremendously complex world and those of us who in the business of shaping and communicating ideas — scientists, engineers, idealists, philosophers, teachers, and so forth– face an enormous challenge: how do we take that complexity and make it understandable to others?

For centuries, books have done an excellent job of combining two types of media: text/narrative and images. But while you can communicate many ideas with text and images, there is still a limit. For example, who really thinks that math and certain scientific disciplines are best learned by reading a book? Even an excellent mathematical textbook is only an adequate tool, hardly an exceptional one. It simply leaves out too much of the logic necessary to understand how certain relationships are derived. In such cases, one of the best ways to understand those relationships is to watch them be derived in front of you. When done well, think Richard Feynman, it’s much more instructive than a text narrative could hope to be.

This is where electronic books might take up the slack. In addition to text and images, it’s possible to add video and even interactive elements. There are certain principles that are best explained by a narrative and video clip. There are other concepts where an interactive examples best illustrate an idea. And there are still others where trial, error, and feedback are the best way to teach the concept. With an electronic book, you can include all three. Indeed, just about anything you can do on the web is possible, which is really exciting!

For the electronic version of the Open Source Writing book, I’ve been experimenting with video. (Both ipad and the Nook Color provide rudimentary support for the HTML5 <video> tag.) In the process, I’ve learned an important point: motion and voice make it really easy to show certain points. For example, if talking about how to accomplish a certain task with a computer program, there is nothing more effective than showing how it is done. The rest of the text becomes supporting documentation.

And I think that’s cool because it expands the types of stories I can tell (and isn’t that generally the point of new technology). Cool tech without soul is just flash in the pan.

Which leads to the next important question: how do you create these amazing pieces of electronic art without breaking your wallet or mortgaging your soul? Turns out, the answer isn’t nearly so complex as you might think.

 | June 8, 2011 8:47 pm

In November of last year, I helped KDE e.V. (the foundation that represents the KDE desktop project in legal and financial matters) redesign their quarterly newsletter. At the time, I thought that it was going to be a one-off project. There was to be an aesthetic facelift, after which I was to return to work on other things. That’s not how it’s worked out, though. Instead of  a one-time favor, the newsletter has become an ongoing commitment.

What is funny is that I wouldn’t have it any other way. The newsletter has allowed me to meet some wonderfully interesting people, such as Eugene Trounev (a graphic designer and illustrator) and Claudia Rauch (who handles the business side of things KDE), in addition to scoring me a free trip to San Francisco. But as wonderful as all that’s been, continuing involvement has allowed me to watch the design of the newsletter evolve.

Today, we just finished the third edition since the redesign … and … I’m really happy with the direction that it’s moving. The illustration, photography, and layout has gotten stronger with every issue and people seem to appreciate the work that’s gone into it. (It’s always nice to be appreciated and I had a squee [1] moment when Nuno Pinheiro, one of the fantastically talented artists behind the Oxygen project, actually said we were doing “really good work.”)

But don’t take my word for it (or Nuno’s), below are some of the layouts from the second and third editions of the newsletter. The second edition adopted “more than the sum of it’s parts” as a visual theme. The theme of the third edition is “India.”

 | March 28, 2011 10:06 pm

You know that obsession I’ve got with awesome stuff and the compulsion to share it? Well, it seems to have taken hold this morning.

There are two things in the RSS feed today that simply must be shared. For these, everything – looming deadlines, familial responsibilities, and miscellaneous addictions – can wait.

The first item is a link to LibreGraphics magazine. The second is a call for proposals from a conference of the same name.

LibreGraphics Magazine

First, the magazine:

LibreGraphics magazine is designed to serve as a catalyst for discussion; to build a home for the users of Libre Graphics software, standards, and methods. As users of these tools, we know that our work, when executed well, is indistinguishable from work produced by more traditional means. Thus, here we will unite all our previously disparate successes. We will elevate the discourse around Libre Graphics as a professionally viable option, raise awareness, and show that it is the vision of the artist (not the cost of the tool) that is important.

LibreGraphics Magazine - Issue 1.1LibreGraphics Magazine - Issue 1.2

There are two issues currently available. Both are great examples of what a LibreGraphics and open design magazine should be. They provide tutorials, opinion, perspective, and healthy doses of ideology. (Not too different from the publications written for open source code jockeys, actually.)

You can download both issues from the project’s website, or from one of the handy mirrors.

LibreGraphics Conference

Like LibreGraphics Magazine, the LIbreGraphics Meeting exists to “unite and accelerate the efforts behind Free, Libre, and Open Source creative software It’s the premiere conference for developers, users, and supporters of porjects such as GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, Krita, Scribus, Hugin, the Open Clipart Library, and the Open Font Library to gather and work.” In short, a meeting of magic and liquid awesomeness.LGM

The conference organizers are currently looking for help on two fronts:

  1. They need money. Since there are many open source developers and volunteers who would dearly love to attend and might not be able to afford the travel costs, they are trying to raise money for travel grants. They estimate that they need about $12,000. Please donate.
  2. They are also in need of presenters. If you are doing amazingly creative things with open source, consider submitting a proposal. The submission deadline is April 20th.
 | 4:57 pm

kde-iconNext Monday, I’m going to be giving a talk entitled “Writing and Publishing With Open Source Tools” at Camp KDE, the annual KDE conference for North America. For those interested in attending, the talk happens at 12:15 pm at the Hotel Kabuki, in San Francisco.

I’m really excited about the talk and I think it’s going to be excellent. (I know, having high expectations for your own performance is the route to obscurity, disappointment, and insanity.) If you live in the bay area, or are going to be near San Francisco next Monday and Tuesday, please consider coming.

Note: While I think you should come to hear me, you might also be interested in the conference as a whole. There are going to be a number of interesting talks that cover KDE developments and core technologies.

I’m particularly excited to hear about what KOffice/Calligra is up to. The abstract talks about “Office Engines” and how KOffice/Caligra can be used to build custom applications. I’m wondering if the technology might be adapted for a mobile project I’m working on. The talks on QtWebKit and the Qt Graphics tools also look neat.

One of the reasons why I’m so excited about my talk is that it brings developments with the book full circle. I first started writing “Writing With Open Source Tools” due to a request for proposals  launched by KDE nearly two years ago. Now, I’m going back to KDE to talk about the (nearly) finished project.

I’m also going talk on other developments I consider timely. For example:

  • How open source publishing tools can be used to target print, web, and eBook platforms from a single source file.
  • How editors, writers, designers, and production people can work together in a seamless, collaborative manner.
  • The strengths of an open approach and where things stand to improve. (Especially for writers and designers.)

While there will be motifs common to the Salt Lake Linux User’s group presentation, most of it is exciting and new. (Which also means untried and untested. So, if it goes well, you can expect to be enlightened. If it goes poorly, expect to be entertained. Either way, it should be a good time.) Since I haven’t quite finished the presentation, it’s also adaptable. If there is anything specific you’d like to see covered, let me know in the comments and I will try to oblige.

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