Anonymous said: Will you talk about your time at UMBC? Why you might have liked and disliked it? and specifically it's visual arts program.
Feel like I say this a lot, but I prefer questions like this to not be anonymous. I’ll reply directly, or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) — I actually will reply!
So, UMBC. This was a great school for me, and I directly attribute a lot of my current life to my time there. It’s also the only college I applied to, someone told me they had a design program and University of Maryland didn’t. It turned out to be a very good choice, because the smaller size allowed me to really flourish. It’s easier to accomplish more when you get specialized attention and there’s less competition.
The Visual Arts program was pretty good. That is how I will describe it. Art education is strange, because you can teach methodology, technique, and history, but you can’t teach vision or talent. You can’t grade creativity, just problem-solving. I had some art professors that I loved (Peggy Re, Laure Drogoul, Guenet Abraham) and others I didn’t care for. Design moves fast and I found that some professors were more in tune with modern software and others threw you into the deep end. Both approaches work but your success depends on how you learn.
Other art programs are definitely a stronger foundation. But it’s undergrad. You’re going to mess up, you’re going to be busy learning about yourself. UMBC is an environment full of people vastly different than you are. Hang out with athletes and public policy nerds and biologists. Take courses that have nothing to do with what you think art is. Don’t take “History of Music” as a “soft option” Humanities course, it’s a trap! There’s also a very strong Computer Science department and you should be learning as much about web development as you can. Then consider an MFA from another institution to get real arty if you need to later. I wish I had better programming skills. I am considering an MFA myself sometime.
I will say this every single time I talk about UMBC: Most of my education came from working at commonvision. I learned practical skills, designing with production in mind, managing actual deadlines, dealing with clients in a “safe” environment, and benefitted from a ton of smart people around me. We had a ton of fun, we planned and curated events. I chaired Art Week in 2009. I made my first postcard designs at commonvision, I printed my first Unsolicited Advice planner there. I’m not saying that “everything I’ve ever done is because of commonvision,” but I’m also not saying that. It was the single most important part of my time at UMBC.
But really, no matter what you do or where you go, you need to involve yourself. You will get out what you put in. If you want to coast and get a piece of paper, go for it. But you’re wasting your time. I did everything from campus radio to a recruitment web series where I hung out with the college president on the roof. I designed the student handbook & probably a hundred posters, flyers, and signs. I got to explore my own styles and see them plastered around campus. I ate a lot of free popcorn. UMBC gave me a ton, but I can confidently say I gave plenty back.
11:52 am • 25 July 2014 • 29 notes
#umbc #college #design #opinions #growing up
"memory preserves what happened in life and also what happened in the life of the mind."
from night thoughts, by sarah arvio
cover design by malingabriella
1:59 pm • 10 July 2014 • 57 notes
#design #inspiration #colors #books
You guys!!!! 1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion is coming out in exactly 3 months from Perigee Books (Penguin Random House).
This book is everything I’ve been doing and saying, internet humor and self-care and stupidity and unknown spaces and “things are what you make of them” and everything that matters to me. It feels crazy that I even made a book but I am so grateful for all of your support and this opportunity it’s lead to.
There’s plenty more to come, sneak peeks, giveaways, launch events, other editions, and plenty more gifs. The countdown has officially begun!
I know it seems early, but pre-orders matter for first week sales. It’s “a big deal.” So if you know you’re going to want a copy, or you know people who would love this, you can pre-order now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, Penguin Books, Powell’s Books, or anywhere else.
8:08 am • 7 July 2014 • 54 notes
#1 Page at a Time #perigee books #Adam J. Kurtz #jk1page #illustration #design #books #adamjk
"How many categories is too many categories?"
Making decisions is hard. Making decisions on how to best display your work is real hard. I have been “kinda” working on a new site for over a year. Do you have a portfolio site? I’m not talking about a tumblr or a behance. Unless you’re going to utilizing these platforms like Olaf Breuning, Sean Schumacher, or Jason Sturgill do.
I’m talking about an actual site with thought behind it’s organization of your work (please note: it’s images of YOUR work, not images you found on the internet that you think are cool).
Lots of folks utilize existing tools like Squarespace, Cargo Collective, indexhibit, Virb, SiteLeaf, or 4ormat to showcase their work in a professional manner. These are all great and each have credentials that make them worth exploring. Custom sites built on Wordpress are also nice. Whatever you pick, I’d look into a custom domain and make sure you have good hosting.
Bullet Point #PROTIPS
- Show the work you want to be making.
- Let your work be the focal point.
- If you don’t do web design, don’t code your own site (unless you’re awesome at it and have the time). Outsource things you don’t want to do or you’re *not capable of.
- You want a site that isn’t a burden to update and allows you to make changes whenever you want.
- Update your site with consideration. Monthly? Quarterly? Randomly (whenever you don’t have client work on your plate)?
I feel like I do a decent job of updating projects and blasting the web with new content, but I don’t think my work is always displayed as best as it could be. Especially in regards to accessibility for viewers to filter through various projects.
With all of this in mind, I have been asking myself a lot of questions and seeking advice from my friend Cody. He is a very talented designer and is quite familiar with my work. AND he loves torturing himself by *overthinking every possible decision.
Big moves I have been thinking about:
- Splitting up my work into two practices “art” and “client”—in a similar way to Cody Hudson or Geoff McFetridge have done for several yearls. OR having two completely different sites like my pal Ray Fenwick does (Art / Illustration). For now, I’ve come to the decision that my work is stronger when shown in it’s entirety. It’s more complicated/interesting this way. I think in the future as my art practice further develops, it might need to live on its own.
- How big do you make yer pictures?! 1200px-1600px wide seems to be as large as you’d want to go (according to my friend). I’ve been hanging around 900px and feeling real lazy about changing all of those files.
- Landing page or “Splash” page. Seems like a thing of the past has made a recent comeback. I’m into it—but will be implementing a featured project section instead of a straight up splish-splash page. This way I get to have some big flossy photos upfront that shout “hey neato” but then a viewer could easily scroll down for a quick overview of my project buffet.
- Filtering system. How are projects organized? The bombardment of the amount of work I show is the point (I think), but it would benefit me (potential clients) if it was broken down into more digestible bites. Or snack stacks. So I will be implementing several categories to filter projects. I also plan on archiving older work and condensing some pieces into more broad overviews, i.e. “lettering” “identity” “patterns” (picture me saying these terms with air quotes).
So when is this gonna be ready? I dunno. Why am I posting about this? That I really don’t know. For some reason I had an urge to treat tumblr (this blog) like a xanga page and write about my feelings. But, I also teach and will likely share this with my students. (Hi students!)
Perhaps my woes of *grad school are wearing off. I might even go read a book now. One with words, not just pictures.
Wait a second. Did you really read all of this? Wow. If you’re wanting something more critical to read, I recommend this artnet article on instagram and art theory, The Ways of Seeing Instagram by Ben Davis. Very interesting read.
* Cody hasn’t had an updated portfolio site in what seems like a decade. Does this make me an idiot for trusting him? Nope. Just because he can’t make decisions about his work, doesn’t mean he’s not filled with great ideas about my work.
* There are times to learn new skills! Doing heavy web lifting isn’t a skill I wish to have—unless I didn’t have to go through the process of “learning” and messing up and getting frustrated over and over and over and over. Code makes me sleepy.
* In regards to over thinking here’s a link to my MFA tumblr filled with diaristic entries on spazzing out.
Last note: I’m not an authority on this :) these are thoughts of a simple Rad Dad.
why does a portfolio site matter? who cares? do people check regularly or is it only for new visitors and potential clients? is it a business card or an archive? does it matter at all? what is work and what is not?
my own site has split sections for “work” and “play” — except my “play” is becoming my “work” and my “work” is never updated because my actual “work” is mostly internal client documents and uhh it’s advertising so i have signed like 8,000 non-disclosure agreements.
so now what? who knows. but will’s brain is always a few steps ahead so this is very relevant and useful.
11:48 am • 27 June 2014 • 197 notes
#will bryant #design #writing #portfolio #graphic design
1 Page at a Time will be out in just 4 months from Perigee Books!
365 page journal of jokes, creative prompts, internet and inspiration. So it could be a calendar, a sketchbook, or whatever you make of it. Write in dates, add page numbers, soak it in tears, whatever. It’s available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and many other bookstores.
I’m giving away a copy early, but the catch is that I’m giving it out literally just one page at a time. Get a page!
10:01 am • 7 June 2014 • 94 notes
#jk1page #books #adam j. kurtz #art #DIY #design #jk
Designers talking with Adam J. Kurtz about his #weekinscraps, sincerity in form, designing a MySpace layout for Michelle Branch, and why we should think twice before telling someone to “choose a positive thought.”
Hosted on April 5, 2014, at The Pitch Project in Milwaukee, WI.
We had a really nice chat about art & the internet and uhh a bunch of personal anecdotes and stories. Also, I LOVE BEV and you will too.
5:18 pm • 28 April 2014 • 48 notes
#designers talking #the pitch project #adam j. kurtz #video #design #internet #instagram