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Creative Types: Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh
By Carolyn Gregoire – The creative fuel behind the most powerful duo in the design world today is simple: Boredom.

For Austrian-born Stefan Sagmeister and native New Yorker Jessica Walsh, designers and creative directors of New York-based firm Sagmeister & Walsh, that shared creative restless has led to a collaboration based on the ethos that you can—and indeed, must—be free to follow your interests wherever they lead.

Boredom can be good for creativity—if you do it right. The upside of a restless mind is the fertile ground for creative exploration.

Sagmeister and Walsh embody a personality trait that psychologists have found to be at the very heart of creativity: openness to experience. Psychologists say that openness is the strongest and most consistent personality trait that predicts creative achievement in the arts and sciences.

Openness to experience speaks to our motivation to engage with ideas and emotions: to seek truth and beauty, excitement and novelty. The act of exploring often provides the raw material for true innovation.

People who are high in openness tend to be imaginative, curious, perceptive, artistic, introspective, and intellectual. They’re driven to explore their internal worlds of ideas, emotions, sensations, and fantasies and, outwardly, to constantly seek out and make meaning of new information and experiences.

Research has shown that those who are high in openness to experience actually benefit creatively from the experience of boredom—it leads them to generate more and better ideas—while those who are less open don’t experience the same creative benefits of boredom.

“I love learning and doing new things,” says Walsh. “That keeps things fresh and constantly evolving.” more>

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5 & 3/4 Questions
By Erin Robinson – I am in my head a lot…a perpetual daydreamer of sorts. It’s quite a high when I get truly inspired. My mind goes into overdrive, and I can barely physically keep up! I tend to scribble numerous miscellaneous thoughts on Post-its and on my left hand.

My work, I usually describe as sometimes hauntingly beautiful, bold, graphic, vibrant, textured, and always magical. As a woman of color, I also like to illustrate women that represent me. Living in Brooklyn for numerous years, I found myself surrounded by some of the most incredibly stunning black, brown, and beige women from a variety of different places and different cultures…full of eccentricity.

When I draw for myself, I tend to create illustrations with a story behind them. The stories usually pull from fairy-esque things I believed in as a little girl. You’ll notice hints of red string and lotuses through many of those pieces. I like adding bits of symbolism.

I’ve been drawing since I can remember. My parents are both very creative and made sure I had the tools to nurture my animated mind.

I went into corporate America as a fashion design VP for children. I found myself stifled after a period of time and felt like I wasn’t really expressing who I truly was inside…what my true artistic capabilities were. I felt like I had climbed the corporate ladder as far as I could go, and after a sabbatical, a lot of thinking and stepping out of fear, and encouragement from a handful of friends, I decided to really share my art world. more>

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Nick Rasmussen’s Path to Portrait Photography
By Summer Wilson – Nick Rasmussen moved from Michigan to Los Angeles about nine years ago to attend film school. He became an improv student and performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade; for money, he shot photos for an estate sale company.

Today, instead of photographing people’s knick-knacks, he takes people’s portraits as a way to connect with them. Because Rasmussen has been surrounded by comedians, many of his early photography subjects were actors and professional funny people.

Rasmussen brings several cameras on a shoot, typically starting with a digital camera and then switching to large-format film cameras. A small closet in his living room serves as a makeshift dark room for cutting and loading negatives, and he develops the negatives in his kitchen sink. Once dry, he scans them and brings the scans into Adobe Photoshop for digital editing.

Always pushing his comfort zone and learning new things, Rasmussen feels like he’s a little past the beginning of his career. He’s not content for his portrait photography to exist solely on the Internet.

“The struggle with a lot of this art stuff is you can make it and you can feel good about it, but what do you do with it? How do you make something that goes beyond the Internet?” He’s still working on it. For now, you can see his work on Instagram. more>

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I Can Get Paid for Bike Helmet Art?!
By Jordan Kushins – There’s so much freedom to be found on a bike: hop on, start pedaling, and go go go. But before setting out, adults have an important decision to make: to helmet or not to helmet. Danny Sun understands that despite the fact that strapping one on can literally save your life, helmets can be a tough sell for adults. “I know I work on a product that no one really wants to wear,” he says.

Sun is an art director at Bell, a longtime leader in the motorcycle and bicycle helmet field. He and senior designer Anne Mark have been adorning bike helmets—specifically, “mid-price-point helmets for average everyday riders,” she says—with colors, graphics, finishes, and more for more than a decade. They regularly collaborate with companies such as Disney, Lucasfilm, and Marvel, and produce custom lines for major big-box clients. The full-time job of a helmet designer requires far more than digital creative skills; here’s what it takes to make it in the challenging, curvilinear world of helmet art.

Personal reasons for going without headgear varies, but often, it’s an image thing. “There’s a whole generation who feel like helmets are really dorky,” says Sun.

In the quest to get as many riders as possible opting in, helmet designers have got to offer options that cater to that wide range of potential customers. It’s about finding a balance, but also pushing the boundaries a bit on what might spark a potential purchase—but also joy. more>

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Beautiful Disruptions
By Charles Purdy – French artist Arthur-Louis Ignoré, better known as Ali, arrived in the city of Rennes eight years ago to begin his art studies. Since then, his public murals and street art have become well known in the city—and beyond.

Ali’s first works developed in a circular fashion; he describes them as mandalas or kolams. In the early days, he always worked without making sketches or plans, or using tools beyond his painting or drawing implements.

He adds, “Since I wasn’t asking permission to paint in these spaces, I had to work fast. Once I’d chosen a place, I would define a center and then add elements one by one, enlarging the circle.”

As time has progressed, his works have become larger and more complex, so he likes to have an idea of the overall form he’s going to create before he starts working—though he still creates each piece’s patterns and ornamentation as he goes.

A recent example of Ali’s large-scale work is the more than 11,000-square-foot mural on the roof of the family welfare (CAF) building in Rennes, which he created for that city’s Maintenant festival.

“For this project, I first traced out the lines that form the basic structure. Then, as with my smaller works, I filled in the shapes and added motifs and ornamentation, organizing everything in a symmetrical manner.” more>

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By Serena Fox – Laura Zalenga has come full circle. Known for her hauntingly ethereal and hyper-composed conceptual self-portraits, the German art and fashion photographer made a radical departure last year at the start of her tenure as an Adobe Creative Resident. She spent months exploring an opposite direction: completely natural, documentary-style photographs and interviews of elderly subjects for a project called The Beauty of Age.

Now, as her residency ends, Zalenga is returning to self-portraiture but finds herself changed, incorporating insights from the time she spent listening and capturing the stories of 80- and 90-year-olds.

Even people in the stone age, who were painting with charcoal on the walls, were already documenting themselves and their daily life. Painters from centuries ago used the first versions of mirrors that existed to try and draw a self-portrait of themselves. So the need to document ourselves is a fundamental one—the urge of people to show who they are is incredibly old and very deep.

One thing I do in my workshops is explain how different a selfie is from a self-portrait. Especially in today’s world, where selfies are everywhere and often viewed negatively, I think it’s important to recognize that self-portraiture is an art form, and always has been. more>

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Bringing Language to Life
By Amy Papaelias – Isabel Lea didn’t expect to fall down the rabbit hole of variable font technology. But since the London-based graphic designer started the Adobe Creative Residency in May 2018, she’s repeatedly found herself at the intersection between technological experimentation and typographic innovation.

If you haven’t spent much time on that particular corner, you may not be familiar with the variable font format. It can reduce web font file sizes and give you loads of typographic variations. (Let’s say you’re unsuccessfully searching for a condensed but slightly bold version of a typeface for a web design. If you choose a variable font, you simply tweak the font’s values using CSS until you get exactly what you’re after.)

However, the possibilities go way beyond the typographically practical, into animation and other areas people are just beginning to explore.

Lea first learned about variable fonts at a two-week intensive type design course at the University of Reading’s Department of Typography. “We had a hands-on workshop where we were looking at variable fonts,” says Lea.

“I thought, ‘Great, you can make a font pulse. Can you make it pulse to something, like music?'” more>

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Solving Problems with Smart Package Design

How does a Kansas City design agency get hired by an Indian food brand based in Trinidad and Tobago? For the Papadums Go-Go Gourmet project, that unlikely turn of events was simply par for the course.
By Terri Stone – Matt Wegerer is the founder of Whiskey Design. He’s not afraid of risk, so when the email came asking for a food-truck design for the Caribbean start-up, he didn’t blink an eye. “The client had some great recipes and he was doing some food-service stuff,” Wegerer says, “and before he went all in with brick and mortar, he wanted to build a fan base and work out the kinks through a food truck.

In Trinidad and Tobago, those don’t really exist.” And that’s how the geographically unlikely relationship came to be: The client searched the internet for “cool food truck design” and stumbled on the Rocket Pizza Truck in Whiskey Design’s portfolio.

Wegerer and Micah Barta, Whiskey’s art director and illustrator, jumped into the Papadums challenge. Because the client didn’t have a visual identity, the duo had to build the brand from scratch.

The brief for that was, um, brief. “They basically said, ‘You guys just do what you do,'” Wegerer recalls.

However, the lack of direction didn’t indicate a lack of vision. Wegerer says, “He told us to make it scalable—that they were starting with the food truck, but we should make something that works when they have 50 stores.”

Eventually, the project encompassed the logo, food truck, to-go bags, food packaging for markets, and more.

While a bare-bones brief may sound freeing, it has its own challenges. more>

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Updates from Adobe

The Joy of Making Things
By Jessie Young – Jenny Yu’s masterfully crafted illustrations feature solitary figures wrapped in blankets of light and color.

Yu gravitated toward art at a young age.

She earned a BFA in Illustration at California State University, Long Beach and was initially focused on traditional materials. She only started using digital tools during her junior year. “My friend gave me her old Bamboo tablet for free,” she says, “and that’s how it all started. I was really bad at it!”

References are important to Yu’s process. To imagine the essence of a scene, she must first understand its structure in the real world.  She’s inspired by the light and color she sees on walks around the city; her favorite photographers; and the work of Hayao Miyazaki.

She chooses her subject matter according to her mood, in “slice of life-y contexts.” She’s drawn to quiet contemplation: sitting and having coffee, walking alone down the street, looking out the window. Her work often captures moments when the subject is lost in thought, unaware that anyone is paying attention. Instead of populating these spaces with crowds of bystanders, she fills the page with architectural details, angled lines of falling rain, and layered shapes created by late afternoon or early morning light.

Her favorite parts of the illustration process are to lock down the basic composition and structure and then experiment with value and color. more>

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Connecting with the Extreme
By Serena Fox – Renan Ozturk captures stories at the edge of the human condition. “I want to show humanity on the fringes,” says the photographer and documentary filmmaker. “Whether that’s high in the mountains or isolated on the edge of the earth, these cultures need their voices amplified in some way.”

A world-class climber, Ozturk is best known for his work as the director of photography and high-altitude director on the award-winning documentary Sherpa—which explores the Sherpa people’s cultural connection to Mount Everest—and for the Sundance Audience Award–winning Meru, which recounts the near-death accidents and transcendent beauty of Ozturk’s attempts, with climbers Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin, to climb the most-tried-and-failed peak in the Himalaya range.

In addition to being a prolific documentary filmmaker, Ozturk is a photojournalist for National Geographic and Sony, an expedition climber for The North Face, a co-owner of the production company Camp4 Collective, and a commercial director for clients including Apple, Nike, Yeti, ESPN, and NBC. On top of all that, he’s also a talented landscape painter.

Driven to show our connection to the natural world, the soft-spoken Ozturk faces extreme challenges: physical, cultural, and technological. He dangles thousands of feet in the air while shooting, hauls gear through the planet’s most extreme environments, flies ultra-light experimental aircraft to capture aerial shots, pilots drones during technical ascents of the earth’s most challenging peaks, and spends months slowly getting to know the people who live in the world’s most remote locations. more>

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