I knew early on that I was going to build a website, after tossing around a few other ideas but not finding something that really got me excited. What I could really use and would have fun creating would be a personal design-oriented site to showcase my artistic and professional work as well as aggregate my online presence in other areas like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The main inspiration for this I suppose was Dr. Hertzberg’s suggestion that design and engineering students have a personal website to showcase their work and maintain an individual professional online source of contact and information. This made a lot of sense and I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but didn’t really have the motivation to get it started. As it turned out, much of the work in this class has provided (and will continue to provide) the tools and habits I need to design, populate, and organize the site, as well as keep it maintained.
It was a lot of fun approaching this project with a constant eye on my aesthetic goals. While the end result is a bit simpler than I had originally envisioned, it accurately and satisfactorily captures the modern minimalist aesthetic I had chosen. While it may seem kind of silly to say that I was proud my website was modern, there are an entire host of sites that are old-fashioned, kitsch, distracting, or poorly organized. I consider the result of my efforts none of those, and I think you’ll agree—the audience at the ITL Expo sure did, giving me compliments on the layout and style of the website, as well as enthusiasm to check out the podcast for themselves!
I already discussed a bit of the inspiration for my website name in my Final Report Pt I post, but to go into a little more detail: I have been skywalker993 since the old-school MMORPG RuneScape in about 2003. I tried to be Skywalker2000 but that was taken. Skywalker1000 was as well, so I worked my way down from there and 993 was the first to be available!
Well, I had my handle selected, so I needed a good password. I thought about parallels, analogs, etc. for the game or my username, and one of the first things to occur to me was “cloud foot,” to parallel “sky walker.” This phrase (plus many other random letters and numbers, of course) became my password for many years. Later, in college, when I started putting up music and artwork on YouTube and Facebook, I decided to use that as my handle, with “studio” appended. CloudFootStudio was born.
Since it has been difficult to get a hold of the professional content that I’ve authored over the years due to IP and legal issues—engineering drawings, production prints, work instructions, etc.—I decided to shift aesthetic focus for this project a bit. This gave rise to the idea of my podcast, Thinkly.
Thinkly was inspired by my own interests and my personal podcast library. I am all about in science, technology, philosophy, and learning about the world around me, thinking in new ways. But it was pulling my podcast followings towards really heavy and political stuff, sometimes 1-2 hour episodes that (since I’m not so great at listening while working) would end up taking almost a week to get through during my commute. I had been searching and searching for some more commuter-friendly stuff that was lighthearted and informative but that wouldn’t feel like a trudging saga, and I really only had one or two that were even close to my target 20 minutes—things like NPR’s Hidden Brain. So I set out to make my own.
The great news is that Thinkly has been approved by iTunes, Google Play, and TuneIn for listing in their stores and podcast directories! That’s a tremendous encouragement to me and will allow me to continue this project and make aesthetic and stylistic improvements to the content, presentation, and artwork (theme music and cover) while reaching a real audience.
Regarding the future, one of the main actions that will still require learning and improvement beyond AesDes is the nitty-gritty of the coding and layout debugging. I have been focused on the content and podcast that I haven’t had much time to address these goals. But I have some courses and free online learning materials to keep pushing this forward, as well as the aid of my brother (bachelor’s in Computer Science) to help me realize my vision.
As mentioned before, it is appearing that the professional content goal will be a post-launch improvement… it is proving difficult and time-consuming (mostly waiting around) to get permission to publish my contributions to former employers online. Engineering drawings are, of course, typically private intellectual property, for in-house use and to provide manufacturing information to vendors and suppliers. I have scrapped this goal as far as the scope of the course project is concerned, but it will be front-and-center on my radar for future content updates.
But one of the biggest things that I learned from this class—beyond the facts and styles of human art and design history—is that the best way to get a project done is just to dive in! The in-class time devoted to sketching, brainstorming, and discussing made it much easier to break through the typical “slow start” phase of ideation and get right into the possibilities of the work. It was exciting and a bit nerve-racking at first to be thrown into that state unprepared, but it was well worth it. I already find myself applying these techniques as well as the prototype and sketching process to my one professional work at Sunrise Medical, and am excited to continue in the rest of my career. Design away!