Ethics & Design

I love the show ‘The Good Place’. Besides being hilarious, I love that it packages lessons of morality and ethics with an amazing cast and great writing.

If there’s any bright side to the screaming hell-scape that is our darkest timeline, is that our society has been forced to reckon with ethics and technology. The results of this reckoning are slowly filtering down from thought leaders & the decision makers to designers. Apple’s addition to Screen Time to settings is a great evolution for Time Well Spent. I stumbled upon this seminar and think it’s a good reminder for any designer, especially one who works in the technology space.

I went to school for advertising, and one of the classes that was a part of our curriculum was Law and Ethics for Advertising and PR. We covered not just the law pertaining to advertising, but also had a background in basic ethics philosophy. I rarely see values and ethics discussed as a part of the design process or even education, and there are few options to blow the whistle when designers have ethical issues with what they’re working on. I see a rise of awareness about design ethics like how disability advocates have pushed for designing for accessibility. While ethics is harder to pin down than text size and contrast, designers can start by incorporating questions of intent and morality into our brainstorming and creative process. How do we encourage conscientious design, even when they misalign with a corporation’s profit incentives?

I don’t have the answers, but I feel like as long as we continue to ask questions, we will be moving in the right direction.

Curiosity Club Week 01

In 2018, one of my goals is to commit to strengthening my creative skills outside of my freelance practice. This month I'm learning After Effects, and specifically challenging myself beyond the few tools I know in AE and learning more complex animation skills. 

To start the week out, I wanted to warm up and do something simple. Using Illustrator I whipped up this little heart and used a combination of what I already knew in AfterEffects (position, scale, easing frames) and used a new plugin called Overlord to animate it. I'm super happy with how this turned out, but I knew I wanted to challenge myself even more. 

The second project I worked on was MUCH more complex. I wanted to make a very simple walk cycle using the plugin Rubber Hose. Even though I was using a tutorial to guide me through using Rubber Hose, my first attempt was laughable. There was something wrong with the second foot and I just couldn't figure out why the keyframes were dropping.  Frustrated and without the knowledge to fix it, I paused for a day. Luckily, I connected with a friend from college who happens to be a freelance animator and MoGraph wizard.  (Check out her work here!) She graciously offered to take a look at my project file. Not only did she send me a fixed project file hours later, she also wrote up what I was doing wrong (in detail, with screenshots!!) and how I could prevent it in the future. 


Ta daaaa!!! It's definitely not perfect, but if this week is all about challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone I definitely accomplished that! 

Process: Chef Conf Poster

Digital sketch with Photoshop and my Cintiq

Digital sketch with Photoshop and my Cintiq

Final digital rendering in Adobe Illustrator

Final digital rendering in Adobe Illustrator

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the guys at Chef Conf to create a 3-color, 18x24" poster for their attendees. The timeline was condensed—but the team gave me all the copy and the band lineup for their farewell party at the end of the conference, everything else was free reign. 

I wanted a poster that was related to music, unique to Austin, and was edgy enough for the venue (Empire control room), bands (a mix of punk/rock/"sexy time" music groups and DJs) and the attendees (overwhelmingly guys). What's more Austin than some Mexican-free tail bats playing a guitar and flying around with a taco? Making it "edgy" would come to play in the execution.

For a screen printed poster, I like to start with a digital sketch rather than a traditional sketch in order to figure out a rough color palette before I make everything. There was also a lot of type for the lineup (and it was requested I make some parts of the type larger than others) so I wanted to have the flexibility working in digital to move things around as I sketched everything. 

After a few attempts to render the bats digitally, I wasn't quite getting the look I imagined. Below is a quick sketch of the bat overall and a closeup of the face that I scanned in. 

From the digital sketch to the final I changed the type on the moon and amp to make it stand out against the background, and I also nixed the second bat, and added some bat silhouettes.   

I was also asked to convert the design into 1-color for a t shirt design that would be screen printed live by the lovely Fine Southern Gentlemen. The only change I made was editing the opacity so that there was more contrast.

I was one of four designers and illustrators to create a poster. All copies of the poster went quickly so I don't have any photographs of the final poster, but someone on twitter was kind enough to take a photos of the full lineup. Sidetone: I'm a fan of Carlos Hernandez's work so I was very happy to create a poster alongside him!