Falcon: Digital Chess Set 07/20/17

One one of my favorite hobbies is playing chess online. Being a nit-picky designer, though, I have been unimpressed by the icon sets available to play with. They work just fine, but most of them are old fashioned and look strange on a modern computer screen. So I made my own set. It’s called Falcon, and it even has its own website.

Falcon is an attempt to create a distinctive modernist style digital chess set that doesn’t sacrifice usability. The pieces are sharp and simple, highlighting the aggressive nature of the game and projecting the pieces’ particular powers visually. They are fresh, but they draw heavily on the traditional piece forms that players are familiar with. Falcon aims to feel natural to play with after only a handful of matches, while looking beautifully at home in a modern computer’s user interface.

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Art in the Park Elkader 07/20/17

Art in the Park is a regional fine art festival held every year on the third weekend of August. Elkader is a small town, but the art festival is a big deal. Every year there are twice as many attendees as there are people who live in the town itself.

For the last couple years I’ve been the chief graphic designer and marketing person for the festival. When I took over, my goal was to create a brand image for the festival that represented its status as an urbane, top-notch art festival, while retaining the character of small town Iowa.

Update: You can find the 2018 graphics here.

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July 20th, 1969 07/20/17

On July 20th, 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first human being to set foot on the moon. It’s impossible to overstate how incredible this moment. It had only been 60 around years since man had first taken flight, and now this man born in Wapakoneta, Ohio was standing on the ladder, about put is foot down and say the iconic words, “That’s one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” His presence there wasn’t just a technical achievement, but an achievement of national willpower. There was no specific reason to go to the moon, but we decided we would do it. And we did it.

It’s amazing to me because the moonshot was a truly noble pursuit, insofar as there was no reward for doing it other than having done it. There was nothing practical about going to the moon, and that’s part of what makes it so special. Politicians talk about having ‘moonshots’ around things like curing cancer now (which is all well and good of course) but that’s an investment in something we want…not a moonshot. The moonshot was a massive investment without any hope of paying itself off in terms in tangible terms.

In my lifetime, there has never been a human on the moon. I know it’s expensive and there lots of reasons we haven’t gone back. But it’s just a strange thought.

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Elkader 07/20/17

Elkader is a small town in northeast Iowa that sits on the banks of the Turkey river. The most iconic structure in the town is a beautiful keystone arch bridge that serves as the main artery connecting the two sides of the river—I believe that it’s the oldest bridge of that style west of the Mississippi. This little logo uses the image of the bridge, and behind it features a silhouette of another iconic Elkader building—the Elkader Opera House, which is an opera house (who would have guessed) but also the City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Main Street office.

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A Guide to Teapots 07/20/17

Sometimes it’s good to go a little over the top to solve a problem. I like to drink tea, and so I have a few different teapots, each in a different size so I can choose how much tea I’d like to brew. The problem is that it is impossible to remember the volume of each pot, so I would end up boiling way more water than was needed—an annoying waste of time and energy.

So I took some measurements and created this handy little guide that lives on the refrigerator. The best feature is the list of kitchen sink fill times, which tells me roughly how long I need to hold the kettle under the sink to get just the right amount of water for the teapot I’d like to use (important note: you boil the water in a kettle and pour it into the pot once it is boiling. That’s why it’s not just a matter of filling the teapot to the brim). This is a lot more convenient than having to measure out the water exactly.

It’s probably easier to understand the process when you’re actually doing it, so if that all made no sense to you, just now that it is in fact very handy, and I use it often. It would have been faster for me to just write the info down on a sheet of paper and hang that on the fridge, but it’s more fun to make something nice.

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Sakura 07/20/17

The Japanese word for cherry blossom is Sakura. The pale pink five-petaled flowers have been an icon of Japanese culture for over a thousand years, symbolizing the brief, intense beauty of life. Imperial Japan would plant cherry trees wherever it conquered to assert its dominance and leave a piece of itself behind. I’ve read that the blossoms are the reincarnations of dead warriors.

This is a city identity project that I did for fun featuring the city of Sakura Japan. It features a stylized cherry blossom, of course. Without the context you’d be forgiven for not realizing that what it was based on, but I like that. It’s identifiable and pleasing to look at, but I believe a good city logo should have the ability to melt away into the environment, and this one does.

Astute readers may notice the words and characters are english. That’s because I don’t know Japanese, alas.

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