Date Archives November 2011

Why Instagram is so popular – I couldn’t say it better

Why Instagram is so popular - I couldn't say it better

Why Instagram is so popular - I couldn't say it better

I’ve been wanting to write a post about Instagram for a while, as it’s probably the one app I use most. For a long time there were a number of people talking about how iPhone photos, and Instagram photos in turn, weren’t “real”, basically that they held no value. I say bullshit. Instagram has opened up a new world of art and community that couldn’t have existed without the iPhone or app culture.

When I read this article by Nate Bolt over on Techcrunch it was basically all of my thoughts wrapped up into one, concise article. Nate does a great job of outlining what makes Instagram special: Quality, Audience, Access, Immediacy and Constraints. The final point, Constraint, is exactly why Instagram works, here’s what Nate has to say:

It might seem trivial, but showing one photo at a time is a design decision that creates more value for each image, and enhances your viewing experience. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have the images trapped inside a beautiful iPhone screen. It almost doesn’t matter who you follow—their photos probably look better one at a time. From a UX perspective, we keep learning that interfaces with constraints are successful, and it seems like such a straight-forward principle (140 characters, ahem), but it’s kind of worthless on it’s own. Obviously you can’t introduce constraints without other elements, which is why this is the last point. There’s something enticing about knowing that most Instagram photos are created on the iPhone, since it introduces a NASCAR-like equality. That makes it fun to see what other people can create with the same technical constraints you have. Photography has always been all about the equipment, and not at all about the equipment. Knowing millions of people are creating with roughly the same camera and app as you makes it exciting creatively. So constraints, combined with quality and an audience are what makes Instagram so addictive.

Above is a photo I took of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Reservoir. If you look in the back you can see a thin white line, which is actually the Pacific Ocean. The camera is on the iPhone 4 is amazing, and the social aspect of Instagram allows me to share this amazing site with my friends. Be sure to read Nate’s article, it’s a winner, and if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?


Book cover genius: Peter Mendelsund

Book cover genius: Peter Mendelsund

Book cover genius: Peter Mendelsund

Book cover genius: Peter Mendelsund

I figured to get your creative juices flowing for the Romeo and Juliet Re-Covered Books Contest I should point you to a guy who’s creating amazing covers. His name is Peter Medelsund and he’s the senior designer at Knopf, making covers both complex and minimal, but always getting the point across. I was introduced to Peter’s work through his Kafka covers, which I posted about back in January. Since then I’ve followed his work, soaking in and figuring out what he does and how he does it.

What I really appreciate about Mendelsund’s work is how effortless he makes it seem. I’m sure he labors and toils while he dreams up these covers, but you wouldn’t know. His work adorns the covers of books from all genres, manga to poetry, but each one looks and feels special. I’d suggest looking over the links below as well as reading this interview he did with design:related to get his backstory.

Peter’s website
Jacket Mechanical, Peter’s blog
The Book Cover Archive featuring Peter Mendelsund


An interview with Travis Millard, one of L.A.’s best illustrators

An Interview With Travis Millard

Over on Los Angeles, I’m Yours today, we have a really great interview with Echo-Park-by-way-of-Olathe-Kansas artist Travis Millard. Travis is a super relaxed and cool guy who creates these trippy, sometimes grimey characters. It was really cool seeing where these all come from and seeing his space, which he shares with artist/girlfriend Mel Kadel. It includes tons of his work (zines, drawings, paintings, drafts, etc.) scattered about and sheds light into the creation and inspiration for many of his pieces. His story is also this ridiculously “classic American” story of a guy who grew up in the Midwest, wanted to become an artist, and moved to the big city to become an artist while busting his balls to get there. It’s super inspirational.

Travis was really great to speak with so definitely check it out. You can read the full story here.


Re-Covered Books: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Re-Covered Books: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

This month we wanted to do something a little more open, and a little more special. To make things more open we decided that we’d tackle Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s classic tale. I’m fairly certain that most people on the planet are familiar with the story of a pair of star crossed lovers separated by their families disdain for each other. The story has been covered, parodied and rethought countless times, so now it’s your turn to rethink the cover for the book.

As far as I can tell, the cover has never really been done well. Take a look at these results from Amazon and you’ll see what I mean, scary stuff. So here’s your challenge. Create a cover for the book that feels new and exciting, that would grab people’s attention and make them want to buy the book. Here’s the catch though, you only have two weeks to complete the contest.

Here’s where the special part comes in. As per our usual $100 Amazon gift card, you’ll also get the super rad Nooka Zub Zen-V in black. Since the holidays are coming up soon I thought providing a little something extra might be rad, either an early present for yourself or someone you love.

The Nooka Zub Zen-V


• Please save your images as JPGs no larger than 800px wide at 72 DPI/RGB mode, there’s no height restrictions (within reason). Feel free to play with the dimensions and have fun with what you make. Making a front and back cover with certainly help your chances, but is not required.

• Label your files “Firstname-Lastname-Romeo-Juliet-Cover.jpg”

• Send all entries to with the subject “Re-Covered Books: Romeo and Juliet“. Cut and paste what I wrote there, it’s super easy and it helps me keep track of your entry.

• All entries are due Monday, December 12, 2011 by Midnight, PST.

If there are any other questions feel free to leave them in the comments. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with and be sure to tell your friends/classmates/pets to participate. Good luck and have fun!

Continue reading

The architectural photos of Ian Allen

Ian Allen Photographer

Ian Allen Photography

Ian Allen Photography

While wandering around the internet, searching for information about teepees, I came across the work of Ian Allen. Just to be clear, his work has nothing to do with teepees, other than his taking a photo of a teepee-inspired structure on the side of the road in South Dakota. Instead, his work  is photos of buildings, people and landscapes. Glancing through his portfolio is a little bit of geography quiz, with photos taken from South Dakota to Germany to rural China. Allen is based in Brooklyn, so much of his work happens there, although he is a west coast transplant, having grown up in Portland. His work is great; you should check it out.


‘Too Little, Too Late’ by Fotoshop


Jarno-Erik Faarinen is a musician and producer from Finland who records under the name of Fotoshop. The other day he contacted me to let me know that he’d just released his debut album Lifeforms, and I’ve been listening to it ever-since! Faarinen’s sound sits somewhere between M83 and Washed Out, and although he channels a number of familiar reference points he manages to create something truely unique and exciting along the way.

The album’s opener Too Little, Too Late demonstrates exactly what Fotoshop does so well. His combination of vocals, beats and disoriented synths layer together to construct a slow-building anthem that holds a terrific synth-beat that just rips right through the whole track. Faarinen’s vocals are particularly nice, adding a shoegazer effect to the whole thing. Lifeforms is available for download from Fotoshop’s bandcamp page and it comes highly recommended.


‘Shipwreck’, a new track from MODESELEKTOR feat. Thom Yorke

'Shipwreck', a new track from MODESELEKTOR feat. Thom Yorke

'Shipwreck', a new track from MODESELEKTOR feat. Thom Yorke

I saw over the weekend that there was a new Modeselektor track which featured Thom Yorke so I figured I’d share it. The track is called Shipwreck and feels like a more refined version of what Thom Yorke would have created. It’s a pretty rad song, but not necessarily the best thing I’ve ever heard.

What is cool is the video, directed by Tony “Truand” Datis, who’s done some pretty rad work. The story is centered around a kid who’s scavenging a bunch of batteries in an apocalyptic world. There’s some pretty rad imagery smattered throughout it and the cinematography is really well done. There’s a great sense of mystery to the whole thing, a lot of random but beautiful imagery that interprets the song rather interestingly.


Craig Redman and Ed Nacional spice up your desktop for Thanksgiving

Craig Redman

Ed Nacional

Thanksgiving is tomorrow so it makes sense to change up your desktop to try and impress your relatives. Thankfully we have two rad wallpapers by two very talented guys to aid you in your mission. The first is an old school wallpaper by Craig Redman featuring the always miserable Darcel. It’s funny to think that Craig did this wallpaper 3 years ago, and to see how big Darcel has grown over the years. I still think it’s one of the funniest wallpapers I’ve had on the site, especially because Craig is Australian.

Then we have Ed Nacional’s turkey day inspired doodle which I saw one day and it made me laugh, so he was rad enough to turn it into a wallpaper. This one is the minimalist Thanksgiving celebrators dream, even the text itself has bene simplified down to it’s basics. Throw this onto your desktop when your in-laws pop over and you’ll be seen as festive but with great taste.