Elements of Design

By Michael Mulvey on July 25, 2014 10:24 AM

via Quipsologies


By Michael Mulvey on July 25, 2014 9:12 AM

If you've been to big events or company parties lately, you might have taken animated-GIF shots in a PHHHOTO booth.

Well, it's not so much a booth as it is an iPad on a tripod with a circular, photography light around it. Once you take your GIF, you can choose to have it texted to someone. The party my company had earlier this year had the GIFs on rotation and projected on the wall of the gallery we rented.

PHHHOTO is the brainchild of HYPERHYPER, an experimental design/software studio in LA & NY. One of the co-founders is actually an old friend of mine from high school and my former East Village roommate, Russell Armand.

A few days ago, HYPERHYPER released a free, PHHHOTO iPhone app and the best way to describe it is Instagram for animated GIFs. When you choose to take a picture, it takes a burst of 5 photos. From there you only have the filter options of color or black and white. Nice and simple. Like Instagram, you can follow other people and there's also a count of the number of PHHHOTO parties you've been to (you can book an event at phhhoto.com/pro).

Try it out, it's a lot of fun (I'm combustion on PHHHOTO).

What Do You Think of Apple's New iTime Smart Watch?

By Michael Mulvey on July 24, 2014 12:07 PM

Jimmy Kimmel dupes people into thinking a $20 Casio watch is Apple's new smartwatch. Well done.

There has to be something in the LA smog that causes people to be morons.

I lived in LA for one year, so I was likely contaminated as well.

via The Verge

The Lame Decade

By Michael Mulvey on July 24, 2014 11:28 AM

Bryan Larrick


By Michael Mulvey on July 24, 2014 9:56 AM

Oh Mister Rogers, you were cool.

via Explore

You Are Not A Storyteller

By Michael Mulvey on July 23, 2014 8:57 AM

Stefan Sagmeister is an incredible designer, and I agree with what he says in the video below to an extent.

I think many designers mistake articulation with storytelling. They're not the same. Designers and art directors and creative directors need to be able to sell ideas to clients. Doing this involves articulating in words what they and their team made with typography, shape, color and motion.

Articulation of ideas is a integral skill all designers should learn.

But it's not storytelling.

I think the equation is: All stories are articulations, but not all articulations are stories.

Amazon Fireless Phone

By Michael Mulvey on July 23, 2014 8:57 AM

Walt Mossberg gets right to the point in his review of Amazon's Fire Phone:

But I consider the Amazon Fire phone no more than an interesting first step. In my tests, I found its big new features less useful than I expected, and sometimes outright frustrating. And, arriving seven years after the debut of the first modern smartphone, Amazon's new entry lacks some key functions both Apple and Samsung include.

But over at the NYTimes.com, Farhad Manjoo is more bullshitty:

Amazon's focus on the Fire Phone's flashier side is unfortunate, because when I dug beneath the gimmicks, I found something better than 3-D heroics. The Fire Phone is uncommonly friendly and easy to use. As a bare-bones smartphone, it should prove especially attractive to people who find themselves overwhelmed by today's crop of do-it-all superphones. When you forget about its whiz-bang marketing, the Fire begins to stand out as something much more interesting: a phone for the rest of us.

Uncommonly friendly? How so? And what is a "do-it-all superphone"? Is he referring to Android phones? iPhones? Without specific comparisons, none of this means much.

Later on, Manjoo on the "carousel" feature:

But what the Fire Phone lacks in aesthetics and breadth of capabilities, it makes up for in ease of use. Consider the phone's main app-launching interface, the "carousel," which should be familiar to people who've used Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. The interface constantly sorts your apps according to how recently you've used them. This let me navigate my phone very efficiently, often saving me from getting lost in a sea of apps -- a common occurrence on most other phones.

Call me crazy, but I do this thing where I put all my essential apps I use on a daily basis on my first home screen. On my second screen, I have lesser-used apps organized in folders by function: Look, Listen, Read, Socialize, Buy, Pay, Travel, Create and Play. If you're getting lost in a sea of apps on your phone or tablet, maybe you're the problem, not your device, Mister Manjoo.

All in all, I get the impression the Amazon Fire Phone is not a great phone.

Tip of the Day: How to Kern

By Michael Mulvey on July 22, 2014 4:59 PM

Yesterday I gave away my kerning secret on Twitter and it seemed to resonant with a few people so I thought I'd share it here.

(if you had a proper graphic design education, this isn't a secret)

How to kern a word:

1) From the beginning of the word, look at the first three letters; cover the remaining letters if needed (as you become a kerning Jedi, you won't need the blinders)

2) Do these first three letters look evenly spaced from each other? If not, expand or contract the spacing between the letter (s) in question

The controls in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are very similar:

3) Now move to the next letter to the right and the 2 letters following it. Repeat Step 2.

4) Continue this process until you finish kerning the word

Bonus tip: Round letters like 'O' and 'B' need the letters next to them more tightly kerned on the side(s) with round edges. This is to compensate for the illusion that letters with rounded edges are farther away than letters with flat/perpendicular edges.

Mo' Data, Mo' Problems

By Michael Mulvey on July 22, 2014 11:01 AM

Om Malik on Big Data:

Facebook's emotion-driven-engagement experiments are tiny glimpse of what really awaits us: a data-driven and alogrithmic future, where machines make decisions on our behalf, nudging us into making decisions. As I pointed out in my recent FastCompany magazine column, the new machine age is already underway, unseen by us. "It is not really just a human world," said Sean Gourley, cofounder and CTO of Quid who points out that our connected world is producing so much data that it is beyond human cognitive abilities and machines are going to be part of making sense of it all. So the real question is what will we do and what should we -- the technology industry and we the people do? From my perspective, we need to start with the raw material of this algorithmic future: data. Whether it is a billions of photos that carry a payload of emotions, relationships and location data, or status updates announcing the arrival of a new one or those searches for discount Prada shoes or a look-up about a medical condition -- there is someone somewhere vacuuming our data droppings and turning them into fodder for their money machine.


Automation of our society is going to cause displacement, no different than mechanization of our society in the past. There were no protections then, but hopefully a century later we should be smarter about dealing with pending change. People look at Uber and the issues around it as specific to a single company. It is not true -- drones, driverless cars, dynamic pricing of vital services, privatization of vital civic services are all part of the change driven by automation, and computer driven efficiencies. Just as computers made corporations efficient -- euphemism for employed fewer people and made more money -- our society is getting more "efficient," thanks to the machines.

We live in a post now, ask questions later world.

Soft News

By Michael Mulvey on July 22, 2014 8:26 AM

From BGR this morning:

One of the main features Windows 9 is expected to offer users is the return of the Start menu, which Windows users are anxiously waiting for, and Myce has obtained new screenshots showing it. Initially expected to arrive in Windows 8 Update 2 that's said to launch on August 12, the Start menu is now said to only be ready next year, when Windows 9 "Threshold" is released.

So this is where we've gotten to with Microsoft rumors. Outside of the massive layoffs, the only exciting product leaks involve a nearly 19-year-old software feature—the Start Menu.

Contrast this to Apple, where everyone is expecting a new wearable device this fall, and competitors have been scrambling to launch their own versions (regardless of how half-baked they all are), a new, bigger (thinner?) iPhone is expected and everyone was blown away at the number of new software announcements at WWDC 2014 for both OS X Mavericks and iOS 8.

Maybe next decade, Microsoft.

In Defense of Generalists

By Michael Mulvey on July 21, 2014 2:26 PM

via Tim Ferriss

The Backwater Gospel

By Michael Mulvey on July 21, 2014 12:07 PM

I was at a bar this weekend and The Backwater Gospel was being projected on one of the walls. Beautiful animated short.

Weekly Exhaust Ep. 9: El Gato Duerme Sobre el Mono

By Michael Mulvey on July 21, 2014 6:00 AM

This week Michael and Bryan discuss creative habits, inspiration, dreaming in black & white, phone etiquette in cinemas, recording vertical phone videos, the simulated universe, Grand Theft Auto & super hero movies. They also want to remind you Rocky lost in the first movie. The episode opens with the exhaust from a 1971 Chevelle SS 454.

Weekly Exhaust, Episode 9

Kickstarter: Cabin Charger Case

By Michael Mulvey on July 18, 2014 10:37 AM

I have to say, this is a sharp looking battery case.

Scratching My Kitsch Itch

By Michael Mulvey on July 18, 2014 9:37 AM

There's new digital prints up at The Combustion Chamber.

I have an addiction to old, kitschy illustrations I find on matchbooks and in tiny ads in the backs of old magazines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Making these prints is part of my therapy.


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