Other posts related to art

 | December 14, 2010 6:49 am

BrushNote: Still working on the book.

Back during the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) at the end of October (October 25th through the 29th, for the detail oriented), there were several interesting sessions dealing with design and open source.  In them, lots of things were discussed, and many intriguing ideas were bandied about.  But there was one question which far outweighed the others in importance.

What is the best way to encourage artistic and design contributions in open source projects?

It is difficult to overstate just how important design and art are to the future of open source.  If it ever wants to go anywhere (as Mark Shuttleworth likes to say, “[it it wants] to cross the chasm”), we needs to figure out an answer.  Talented design people need to work with talented developer people to create beautiful things, and there need to be robust systems to enable collaboration.

It turns out, though, that encouraging and enabling open source design isn’t easy.  It doesn’t really work in the same way as open source development.  There isn’t a straightforward way to match designers with projects which need their skills.  There isn’t a clear workflow for design, or a way to cache “works in progress.”  Nor is it as simple as building a team and letting them go at it.

In fact, no one has a good idea about how to enable artists and designers in the open source world.  So far, some efforts have resulted in spectacularly public battles and others have ended in the alienation of existing contributors.

Which is why there was a series of UDS sessions.

But after two days of good, big-picture discussions, Ivanka Majic made a brilliant (and rather obvious) observation.  Finding a way to invigorate the design community is a huge project.  It requires that we understand the needs of artists, how they work, and why they work.

The people in the UDS developer sessions did not seem to have that information.  So, Ivanka recommended the only obvious course of action: Canonical and the Ubuntu community should create a survey and do a study.

It was a very good suggestion, and, like many inspired ideas, not much has happened with it.

Until this morning, that is.  Finally, Canonical has published a survey for artists and designers working (or dabbling) in open source.  Below, you will find the full-text of Ivanka’s email and her instructions.

As you might guess, I consider Canonical’s support of open design to be important.  But I’m not sure they (Canonical) or we (the Ubuntu community) know how to harness the power and talent available.  Thoughtful responses to the survey might help to illuminate the path forward.  If you are an artist or designer with interest in open source, please take time to fill it out.

Here is Ivanka’s email:

Hello everyone,

Please can you take the time to fill in this survey? http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/36WWXCF

At UDS we ran a session discussing how we could increase and manage contributions in the areas of art and design and decided that this survey would be an important source of information.

It will probably take about 15 minutes to complete and, the more detail you include the better!



Ivanka Majic
Creaive Strategy Lead

 | February 5, 2010 12:31 am

DaVinci - HandsWhen I graduated from college and had to choose between a career in industry or academics, I found it to be an easy decision: I stayed in academics.  I like to have my head in the clouds and enjoy the intellectual lifestyle.  (I actually consider the label of “absentminded” to be a compliment.)

It should come as no surprise, then, that one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing a book has been the opportunity to research my subject.  My reading list has included books on analytic design, illustration, anatomy, typesetting, scientific communication, web technologies, LaTeX, the history of science, statistics and informational graphics. And as I worked my way through it, I took some extremely interesting side trips.  One of the most intriguing, however, was an extended tangent through the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Da Vinci died in the year 1519, nearly five hundred years ago.  Yet, the modern world remains fascinated by him.  His name adorns the side of best selling books and conspiracy fiction; and his drawings have become cultural icons.  As an example of his popularity:

In October of 2009, Martin Kemp, a professor of art and history at the University of Oxford, found a portrait of an Italian girl.  Up until Kemp took an interest, it was widely accepted that portrait had been painted sometime in the nineteenth century by an unknown artist.   After a great deal of investigation and the use of a multispectral camera, however, Kemp discovered something startling.  The painting had actually been done by Leonardo and nearly overnight, it went from a value of 19,000  British pounds to over 100 million.

I’m no different than the masses.  Leonardo fascinates me.  He had a very distinctive way of seeing the world and an engaging style.  Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to lose yourself in the details of his work.  Given my interest, a thorough study of Leonardo’s notebooks seemed only natural.

What I didn’t foresee, however, is that I would start to digitally collect his sketches; and in the past several months, I’ve put together a rather eclectic mix from across the internets.  Earlier today, I realized that the images might be of interest to others as well; thus, I’ve created a special online gallery for them.  It can be found under “Art and Photography” –> “The DaVinci Notebooks”  To get there more quickly, you could also just click here.


Update (2011-09-08): Due to problems with the Gallery 2 Plugin for WordPress, I have removed the Da Vinci Gallery. I will replace it with something else in the near future. For now, thought, the link is dead.