Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Moth & The Flame, Simple Products & Stiff Drinks

Weekly Update 2016-35: Radiohead-style dream rock from The Moth & The Flame, the simplicity of products that do one thing really well, and the hypnotic illustration of Johnathan Schubert.

Music: The Moth & The Flame
This band is channeling Radiohead something heavy. Formed in 2011 in Los Angeles, I'm really digging their changes in dynamics and interesting riffs. Not to mention, yet another score for the Discover Weekly playlist from Spotify. Well done!


Accomplishment:
This past month, I focused on the goal of practicing to get my G license. I don't even plan on driving once I have it, but society deems that this is one piece of identification that everyone must have in order to function in daily life. In any case, I took the road test yesterday and failed. I suspected that there was a small chance, even with all the practice, that I would fail. As it turned out, I was assigned the same tester who failed me three years ago on my G2 test. As soon as she opened her mouth to scoff that I didn't know where the air conditioning button was in a car that I had borrowed from my driving instructor, I knew that if there were any technicalities to find, she would fail me.

That said, I still consider this an accomplishment. I have already booked another test – this one in Orangeville where the foliage will be very pleasant in October when I take the test. I'm trying to be as positive as I can about it, though it seems like fate is against me for the current moment (read on)...

Goal:
Luck is not on my side today. After that kerfuffle yesterday, I woke up to a note taped to my bicycle this morning, asking me (very politely) to cease locking my bike against the side of my neighbours' house. I had already confirmed with these neighbours in person about keeping my bike there, as it had come very close to being taken away by my landlord in its previous location at the bottom of our back stairway.

And so, I must now solve a problem that has already twice been solved. After work today, I will find yet another spot to lock my bike to, amidst the ever bearing threat of it being stolen. I also constantly think about investing money in a lighter bike that I can actually drag up the stairs of my apartment without killing myself. That is the expensive alternative. I may end up buying a new lighter bike next spring (happy birthday to me), but the season is almost over and I think I'll be able to manage this until November or so.

I'm also going to churn out a China post this week. I've already written it, I just need to do the hard part (the photos, of course).

Random Thought:
It kind of amazes me that one can find and use all the features of a product. For example, apps are pretty small and straightforward these days, aren't they? I used to think that the opposite of a bloated app was something that didn't have enough functionality even to be considered an app.

I have realized in the past year or so that truly 'doing one thing and doing it really well' is such a key skill that many apps don't get right. I suppose I feel that way about the Facebook app. It's so big and clunky. There are too many menus and other things I can't fully wrap my head around, kind of like a mouth trying to wrap around a huge burger. I suppose it's because the desktop version of Facebook came out first (so passe, I know!) and the mobile version is attempting to carry all of the features found on desktop.

These days, I feel like trying to cram the functionality of a website into a little phone app is like overstuffing a turkey or something. I can't cognitively remember what is inside an app that is built like that. And for that reason, I really think separating out apps so that they have a single purpose is the right way to go. Pick one goal, and if your features aim to complete any sub-task that isn't part of that goal, cut the feature. Or separate it into a different product.

Facebook has done this quite well over the past while (Messenger, Groups, Pages, Moments), trying to separate out products which may be excellent on their own, but are simply too much to swallow in an app that once had not one, but two hamburger menus simply brimming with content. Imagine a net-new user trying to figure that one out.

Inspiration: Johnathan Schubert



I saw this illustration on my Dribbble feed today and ended up staring at it for about five minutes straight. While I am a big fan of simple/clean lines and digital drawing in general, nothing gets me lost in the lines of an illustration like hand-drawn quality. The cross-hatching is amazing.

The other thing I really like about this piece is the way that somewhat simple lines can capture the feeling of an old-fashioned cocktail so perfectly. The sheen on the thick base of the glass, the cherry hiding behind the orange peel, even the line 3/4 of the way up the glass that signifies the level of drink. This makes me realize that I'd like to learn to shade properly. I can draw outlines of real-world objects pretty well, but it's always the shading that I have never been able to replicate.

Johnathan Schubert is a graphic designer at Tractorbeam in Dallas, Texas. Check out his Dribbble and Instagram. You might even find another illustrated cocktail there :O

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