Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weekly Update: Fitting In

Music: Gold Panda
I've been all about ambient electronic music lately. Sometimes, you just need some really good simple music to get into the coding zone, and that's exactly what Gold Panda is. I find that music with a steady dance beat is also great for concentration, which is exactly what Gold Panda (aka Derwin Schlecker) has done to make such awesome music.

Based out of London via Japan, the guy hasn't put out a lot as of recently, which gives me some time to catch up. Listen below:


Accomplishment:
I didn't get the chance to look into more business card ideas or the "Brew Beer Drink Beer" design this week. I've been focusing on meeting new people, and managed to get out of my house and into the night scene in a way that's making me feel more and more like I belong in my new neighbourhood. Specifically, I was amazed at the breadth that is Christie Pits, the huge park right beside my place. Every time I step outside, I find something new to love in my neighbourhood. Check out the crazy twisty slide that (I assume) will be open when the weather gets warmer:


Goal:
It's been a welcome change of pace to move into the city this month, and I have been finding that my close proximity to all that Toronto's night scene has to offer has left me completing fewer blog-related goals, while feeling more fulfilled by absorbing my new surroundings. For this reason, I am going to be limiting myself to one goal per week. I want to provide ample time for myself to get out and meet new people, while still keeping an achievable balance of personal work going.

So this week, on Sunday, I will be COMPLETING my "Brew Beer Drink Beer" design, so that I can begin to find a place who will cut the vinyl design for me. Nice and simple.

That said, I want to complete a retrospective of my 20-day instagram journey through Dovercourt, so I'll be compiling that into a blog post tomorrow night.

Random Thought:
Humans are naturally unique and obviously come in all shapes and sizes. And yet, for simplicity's sake, we measure our clothes in only a few catch-all sizes like small, medium, large, etc. And even though there can't really be any standardization of exactly what a 'medium' should be, it is possible to tell by look if an article of clothing will fit. That said, there is one item that I will never be able to fathom on look alone, and I'm sure I am not alone in this.

And that item is the bath towel. If there's one luxury that everyone should be able to enjoy, it is that of a properly sized bath towel. Now, all of this has to do with nothing more than two dimensions: length and width. Simple enough! And what's even simpler is the fact that towel width can easily be determined by a person's height. So my random thought is this: why don't we size bath towels by human height? I'll buy the 5'4"-height towel and you buy the one for whatever height you are. I think the world would be a much happier place for it.

Inspiration: Fonts In Use
Ah, context. Designers have so many tools at our disposal, but sometimes it can be hard to garner the vision through which to pick the right tools for each project. And that is why I love Fonts In Use. More context than you could ever need. Here is a font, and this is what it looks like when used in a real project. You can't imagine the joy I find just scrolling through the examples and seeing proper usage of fonts, from the most boring and plain to the craziest and most exciting (and sometimes downright ugly) fonts. Not to mention, it's a great resource for tried-and-true font pairings.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekly Update: Old Pennies

Music: Arms And Sleepers
I don't know what it is about dreamwave/chillwave but the genre keeps reinventing itself and dragging me back into its cloudy clutches. Lately, with the growing popularity of bands like Odesza, many new sounds have been landing on the scene that are reminiscent of the 2011 chillwave movement. I loved it back then, but have since outgrown some of its known motifs. And lately, I have sensed it coming back in a new, more dance-driven way with a technological/spacey feel.

If none of that made sense, check out this band from Baltimore. I found them on a Spotify playlist that Slow Magic released in hype of his upcoming Toronto leg of his current tour. I would love to see him mix one of Arms and Sleepers' songs into his set!



Accomplishment: A Big Estate
I have a first draft of a business card for my dad going. He won't be back in the country until December, but I thought it would be nice to welcome him back with a few designs to choose from. Then I can get them printed for the new year. How nice!


I also put a placeholder page on my website for 21 Days. A good start, I think!

Goal:
This week, I will be refining some more business card ideas, and working on the "Brew Beer Drink Beer" typographic piece. I found an awesome reference that I want to follow:



Random Thought:
Ah, the binge watch, Is there any better immediate gratification than sitting back and watching eight or ten episodes of something? I love the way that our habits of watching television are changing with advances in technology and design. Once we would wait for a specific timeslot each week, only to be let down by the ever-increasing amount of cliffhangers that leave us feeling mistreated. Now, we download full seasons or series at a time and let the storylines and characters wash over us all at once. Honestly, I much prefer this method. I find I can really connect with characters in stories and follow the plot line much more easily.

Which brings me to my point. If we no longer spread out the episodes of a show from week to week, why do we even need episode recaps? They could be useful if a viewer has taken a break between stints of binge-watching, but I wonder if there is better method than tacking these incessant things onto the beginning of every episode. On services such as Netflix, there could definitely be an area of the screen dedicated to episode recaps, appearing on a needs-basis.

Inspiration: Micah Adams
Personally, I love vintage...stuff. Anything old, especially if it has a story behind it. Old currency certainly falls into this category. Even a coin from five years ago already has wear and tear on it, and has passed through literally countless hands.

Micah Adams, a fellow Canadian, repurposes old currency into beautiful upcycled items like pins, bracelets, and cute little knick knacks that make my heart warm when I look at them. Check out a pair of earrings made from old pennies!


Repurposing old defunct items is such a wonderful thing. Take something that has history but not much functional value, and add functional value. The process of doing so actually adds a layer to its story, and makes the item that much more special.

A photo posted by Micah Adams (@micahadams.ca) on

Check out more on his instagram, and at City of Craft in a few weekends!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Weekly Update: Mason Jars

Music: Robotaki
Straight outta Montreal comes another great find on SoundCloud. I first found this electronic artist while performing my favourite pastime, which is to listen to related tracks of a song I am currently digging. I have no idea what SoundCloud's algorithm is for linking these tracks together, but it is spot on every time.

As I have said before, SoundCloud is great for bridging the gap between artists and audiences. For example, I found this on Robotaki's profile:

"To talk about Harry Potter, contact: preston.chin@gmail.com"
In case you aren't familiar with SoundCloud, this is the usual area where the management information goes, as seen above that quote. But Preston, whom I can only assume is Robotaki himself, just wants to chat with you about Harry Potter (and presumably his awesome music). 


Accomplishment:
I finished the Bahamas logo! I can't express my excitement to get this thing put on a real-life t-shirt. I got slightly ahead of myself and posted the logo to Dribbble, because why not.


I also somehow forgot to add my current position at EventMobi to my Linkedin profile. I've been getting the odd job offer, which I thought was due to having added the position. But it turns out that Linkedin thinks I am unemployed! No longer. I also added my recent win in the Startup Weekend in September.

Goal:
Speaking of Startup Weekend, I am going to start working on getting the work I did during the hackathon to a polished portfolio piece. I am really proud of the hard work that my team has already done, and I did enough design to get this thing to a final stage for sure. Plus it will be a good exercise in a bit of product thinking/design on my own.

1) Put placeholder page in motion on website - This week.
2) User journey map
3) User stories
4) Identify and create missing screens from flow
5) Invision
6) Upload to website
7) Profit!

I will be making the placeholder page this week, as well as starting to work on my dad's business card and continuing work on the "Brew Beer Drink Beer" project. Not to mention cleaning the apartment for Friday's housewarming. Lots to do!

Random Thought:
As you may recall, I made a delish stew last week and have been portioning it off to eat pretty much every day. Nothing like a good stew. But if I am walking to work every day with a small purse, how am I to transport this wondrous stew? The answer is mason jars. I don't know what it is about walking around with a mason jar full of stew tucked into my purse, but it's a really good feeling. Maybe it makes me feel homey or maybe I feel safe knowing I could crack someone over the head with it if I really had to. I live in a safe neighbourhood but you never really know.

Inspiration: Illuminite
I have been keeping myself abreast of the free events in Toronto, as seen through the lens of Facebook. And boy, there are a lot. Between the city of Toronto, the Drake Hotel, and The Harbourfront Centre, I would never go home. This past Saturday, the city held a non-denominational winter holiday party at Dundas Square, complete with live music, acrobats, lanterns, and a giant white piano. It was awesome to watch a live performance outside in a big group of people before the weather gets too cold (although let's face it, I'm still going to go to these things when the weather gets really Canadian).

The piano was attached to a crane that was pretty high in the air, so naturally you can see how I assumed that the finale would include some mixture of the piano and the air. By the end of the performance, just as I was letting my hopes down, I was able to snap this awesome video:


That's some skill.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Weekly Update: Job Genie

Music: Charles Murdoch
Straight outta Brisbane, Charles Murdoch originally creeped into my SoundCloud with a wee tune called Straws. I think it was reposted by my favourite Australian label Future Classic. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is, this guy has talent. If you ever wanted to get into ethereal down-tempo chillwave whatever, but found it too boring or slow, check this out. I could jam to this while I did the dishes. And maybe I did.


Accomplishment: Moving In
I'm all moved in! The christmas lights have been hung, the side tables have been pushed together into a pseudo-coffee table, and the irregular carpets have been forced together to live in peace with each other. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for how fast I got everything together (with a lot of help), but some of it was all my own. For example:

  • I needed more desk space so I turned a shallow drawer upside down and use it as a pull-out desk extension
  • I made a very extensive Google Doc of cheap recipes
  • I made a slow cooker stew (currently cooking at the time of writing this post)
  • I got a new credit card (and that makes TWO)
  • I bought a storm of spices at Bulk Barn on discount Wednesday (that one was a fluke but will surely be repeated)
  • And the best one: I am currently walking to work every day until my office moves on December 1, so the next 20 days between now and then will feature an instagram photo blog for each day. Seems to be picking up popularity! There is a lot to see in my neighbourhood.

Goal: Bahamas Logo
My office is very kindly springing for a retreat to Bahamas in December, and I have volunteered to make the logo that will live on the shirts in commemoration of the trip. I have always been very inspired by the recent tourism branding of Bahamas (see below), and I'd like to channel some of that wonderful creativity into my logo. But you'll have to wait until next week to see what I cooked up (at this point, I'm as curious as you).


All of the individual logos of the twelve islands are part of a bigger system. So clever.


Random Thought:
While I do love a good DJ, I am quite picky with my beat matching. If a DJ can't slow down or speed up a song to match the speed of the song that came before it, they're honestly no better than the crossfade feature in iTunes. Harsh, but true. I think I have been ruined by learning the basics of DJing, and now my standards are too high. Have you ever been dancing to a song, only to trip as the next song is blended in? That's bad beat matching. Just turn on the crossfade in your iTunes and you'll see what I mean. End rant.

Inspiration: Job Genie
Ever wondered what sort of job you be suited for, based on very minimal input? Job Genie breaks it down into four possible job goals: money, power, impact and freedom. Pick one! Within each of those categories, you can pick up to four specific aspects. I chose impact, and I got social worker! I actually wanted to be a social worker until I realized that I am too empathetic for it. Just can't handle the drama.


There are also some great gifs and animations sprinkled throughout the website. A little bit of great design goes a long way.


The website is pretty low-stress for people considering a new job path, and even offers video interviews with people in the jobs offered. Anything is attainable if you have the right knowledge! I like to think that people who are bored at work might stumble upon this website and realize that they can be more fulfilled in another career. Why not! Life is too short.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekly Update: Rare Books

Music: Chrome Sparks
The more music I find on SoundCloud, the more mesmerized I become by the amount of big sounds that are derived from one person. Today's slice of music is no different. Here I present to you, an electronic act called Chrome Sparks. From the mind of Jeremy Malvin, the guy is 22 years old and spinning some really great trancey stuff. And it turns out, this is good music to listen to in the shower. Take a listen:


Accomplishment:
As I promised, I managed to find a track listing to Harrison's spin for the Plastic Platform. Which is good, because as I tried to Shazam it, two songs couldn't be found and the third was an incorrect tag. Thank you for documenting your music, Harrison! Check out the track listing here. I can't wait to explore some of these bands, especially Vanilla and Pional. I also find it really cool that he sped up the tracks to a dancey tempo. The slower original versions are more versatile for different occasions.

Goal:
No goals this week, except to move into my new place! I am literally atwitter with excitement (in that I can't shut up about it). Good times.

Random Thought:
I've been having some especially random thoughts regarding moving into a new place this week. For example, one thing I will be learning about rather rapidly is the social norms of using a laundromat. Yes, my new place doesn't have laundry. But it's not all bad news; apparently the #1 laundromat in all of Toronto is an 8-minute walk from my new place. So what I want to know is, if someone is using a washer, is it rude to use the dryer directly below their washer? Is it assumed that they will want to use that dryer next, instead of having to move their sopping wet clean clothes to the only free dryer across the laundromat? I'm sure I will soon find out.

Inspiration: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
I went on a Jane's Walk way back in May that included a bunch of University of Toronto buildings, during which I snapped a rather brutalist pic of the Toronto Reference Library (and tagged it on Instagram as such). Soon after this feat of social media prowess, a little Instagram account @fisherlibrary liked my photo. This piqued my interest, so I followed the digital breadcrumbs and so fell in love with one of my favourite Instagram accounts.

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a wonderful little nook and/or cranny inside the reference library, with, as you may have guessed, rare old books. Their Instagram account is of equal wonder. Check out some pics below.


A photo posted by Fisher Rare Book Library (@fisherlibrary) on