I got my start in this business in 1984, when I graduated from art school and opened a photo studio. In school, I studied all sorts of things – cabinetmaking, jewelry, glass-blowing, graphic design, typesetting (oh, and my major, studio advertising photography).
In 1990, I moved to Philadelphia, where my wife was in graduate school, and where I knew exactly two people besides her. Instead of ramping up my studio photography business again in a strange town, I got a job in the advertising department of a regional department store. I photographed beds and toasters and towels and cookware. And at lunch time, I would sneak in to the design studio and teach myself how to use the Mac, because I was just fascinated with it.
I knew the towels were a dead end, so I made up a bunch of spec ads and showed them around until I landed a job at an ad agency as an art director. And then moved up the chain through a number of different agencies until the Web happened in 1997.
When I met Freeway and started down the path to my current position.
I have always, throughout everything I have done, considered myself an artist first.
And a craftsman.
I consider the latter to be even more important than the former. A craftsman is sensitive to the needs and wants of their chosen materials. This is why I have bothered to learn as much code as I have. It’s the raw material we work with, and without it, I could only make static things that were pretty, not applications that do things and add tangible value to the world.
When I worked in print, I went to press checks, and because I had taken a class in high school, and knew how to run an offset press, I could talk intelligently to the operators and learn from them where I had gone wrong, and what they had to do to make my unprintable mess work correctly. I have always dived deep into anything I do, I need to know at a very visceral level exactly why things work the way they do.
The Web is no different. My work has always pushed the limits of what I know how to do, and I have always relied on the help and understanding of those who knew more about what I was trying to do to complete it. I read, ask questions, and dig into how things work under the surface. I have never felt that design as decoration, or design as glossy opaque surface covering incomprehensible complexity was doing anyone any favors. My favorite work celebrates the complexity, exposes it in a way that is not threatening, and makes it understandable.
One thing I’m reminded of in this discussion is the wish some people have that scientists would just talk in plain language that anyone can understand. A few scientists (Carl Sagan, maybe) have approached this pinnacle in their work, but most struggle to explain things in the specialist language that they know how to use well. And the secret here is that the language they use – arcane and specific though it may be – is actually the only way to express some of the ideas that they work with. When they say three words that mean one precise thing, and it would take 27 words to approximate (badly) the same thing in “layman’s terms”, then you see that the effort that they took to learn that language and precision is rewarded with harder problems to solve, and higher mountains to climb.
Web design is a continuum and a journey, and no matter where you are today, there will be something new to learn tomorrow – some new thing that a client will ask for and hope you can give them. Keep reaching, keep stretching, and keep reading and listening and asking questions. There is truly no end to what you can do in this medium, and your only limit is your own imagination.
On Aug 29, 2014, at 4:44 PM, Thomas Kimmich wrote:
Thanks guys so far.
So let’s fire a few aspects more.
People think Gutenberg found “print-technology”. This is (partially) true, however and more importantly he found a way to print with movable type. He was clever enough to even create a marketing strategy which could be outlined as:
- Strategy - (mass-production)
- Content - (handwritten testament)
- Pre-process - Setting the words by movable types (the tool)
- Production - (Printing)
The interesting point here?
This basic strategy (1439) outlasted 600 years - and is still present. So this guy could be seen as the first web-designer at all.
Pretty much as a printed magazines a web-project requires an outline as well:
- Post Production (Images, colors, Fonts, Scripts)
- FrontEnd Developing (the Tool - Freeway?)
- Publishing (CMD-P)
No matter how “big” a web-project is (or will grow), it’s highly recommended to follow them. If I seek for the place of the designer, I guess somewhere on point 3. Naturally all people should work together - preferably if it is one singular person challenging all 5 steps.
Web-Design is a sorted list of different disciplines
while working with Freeway is FrontEnd developing and just part of this process
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