Monthly Archives: August 2012

I Didn’t Build That

fishingboatproceeds:

So I own or co-own a few businesses that have experienced varying degrees of success. I am in the educational video business, and the book-writing business, and the merchandise distribution business, and the conference running business, and the making YouTube videos with my brother business, among others. These businesses employ people and generate more jobs per dollar of revenue than Pepsi or Google or most other large corporations.

If small business is indeed the engine that drives job growth in America, then we are certainly trying to do our part. And so as a small business owner committed to job creation, let me just say:

IF I HEAR ONE MORE FREAKING PERSON TELL ME THAT I BUILT MY BUSINESS, I AM GOING TO VOMIT.

You know why there aren’t a lot of small online media companies emerging from Somalia these days? Because they don’t have a freaking government. They don’t have bookstores where I could sell books, or roads I could use to get t-shirts to your house. My businesses—like all American businesses—exist because we live in a successful and stable country, which is only successful and stable because for generations, we’ve paid taxes that have allowed us to build an infrastructure and make investments in innovation that allow for increased economic productivity and efficiency.

The free market has shown again and again: It can’t make such a world without government assistance. (Witness, for instance, how bad the free market is at developing new classes of antibiotics, even though such antibiotics would be very useful at keeping people healthy, which in turn increases our Gross Domestic Product.)

My work—like almost all work these days—depends upon the Internet, which wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for government investment. If I hadn’t received excellent free primary school education, I could never have written books. And if primary education weren’t free and compulsory in the United States, I’d have fewer readers, because fewer people could read. 

In his stump speech, Mitt Romney has said, “The other day, you know, I thought about a kid that works hard to get the honor roll. And she works real hard. I know that to get the honor roll she had to go on a school bus to get to school. But when she makes the honor roll, I credit the kid, not the bus driver.” 

Well, I credit the bus driver, for providing a safe and comfortable environment for that student. But drivers aren’t just collecting a paycheck: They’re performing a vital service, and one that involves tremendous responsibility. So yes, I credit them.

And I credit the kid’s teacher, who works tirelessly to get the kid excited about learning. I credit the kid’s parents, and I credit her peers. I credit the school’s cafeteria staff, who work to get the kid as nutritious a meal as budget cuts will allow. I credit the school librarian, if the school still has a librarian, who teaches the kid research skills that will serve her well throughout life. I credit the politicians who raise taxes to pay for better schools rather than cowardly arguing that taxes should always be lower, even if they’re already lower than they ever have been. I credit the school board and the people who repave the roads to school to keep them safe.

I credit the kid. But I also credit her community. They recognized the kid (like all kids) was worth investing in. They cared for her. They made it possible for her to succeed. 

Over the years, I’ve encountered a few successful people who believe they did it all themselves and achieved success because they are just better than their fellow human beings. Some were bankers; some were writers; some were lawyers. Some male, some female. Some rich, some not. Some were born into privilege, some weren’t. I guess they’re a pretty diverse crowd. They only have one thing in common, really: They’re all assholes.

I don’t think I’ve ever tagged something with both ‘awesome’ and ‘politics’ before.

drawnblog:

frenden:

Photoshop doesn’t do well with light pressure recognition. Making thick-to-thin strokes requires a lot more fidelity than would even be necessary with a proper sable brush and ink in meatspace. It blows out pressure at the low end and makes soft lines blobby as hell.

You can combat this by turning off the lowest pressure settings of your tablet at the driver level, but you shouldn’t have to. I want a brush engine that senses those slight variances and accurately translates them.

It’s possible. Manga Studio, which I’ve used for inking since about 2006, does a stellar job at light pressure translation. Getting feathered strokes that look like they came from my Raphael 8404 #4 sable brush is no harder than inking in the real world. Painter does a pretty good job of this too. At the very least, both allow you to tweak how the brush engine interprets your strokes on a per-brush-setting basis instead of using a sledgehammer on a finishing nail by leaving you with an only recourse of neutering your full range of pressure sensitivity at the driver level.

Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash all exhibit this problem. I don’t know if it’s an interpolation/smoothing issue or something larger, but I do know that the result is shitty lines.

Since around the time of the Photoshop CS6 Beta, I’ve been attempting to create a brush that combats these shortcomings by dropping out some of the lowest pressure mark-making with a combination of flow and texture settings. The result is a brush that, while not 100% opaque at the lightest marks, provides a hell of a lot more fidelity and control.

This is a quick video of the brush in action. Below is a download link for the latest test version of the brush’s Tool Preset.

DOWNLOAD THE BRUSH TOOL PRESET

Illustrator Ray Frenden just made your life a lot easier with his Photoshop brush tool presets. Say thank you. 

There goes Drawn! my favourite blog before tumblr being awesome. Can’t wait to check this out.

The second design I made for the This Star Won’t Go Out T-shirt Contest.

I actually spent a lot of time designing the star lettering font by hand (got to use my beloved light table) before creating digital vector versions I could arrange more easily. I also did like the effect of the variety of the hand drawn stars so I may upload some of the rough work later.

aliasspace:

topherlooks:

Dowling Duncan and redesigning the American Dollar:

Why the size?
We have kept the width the same as the existing dollars. However we have changed the size of the note so that the one dollar is shorter and the 100 dollar is the longest. When stacked on top of each other it is easy to see how much money you have. It also makes it easier for the visually impaired to distinguish between notes.

Why a vertical format?
When we researched how notes are used we realized people tend to handle and deal with money vertically rather than horizontally. You tend to hold a wallet or purse vertically when searching for notes. The majority of people hand over notes vertically when making purchases. All machines accept notes vertically. Therefore a vertical note makes more sense.

Why different colors?
It’s one of the strongest ways graphically to distinguish one note from another.

Why these designs?
We wanted a concept behind the imagery so that the image directly relates to the value of each note. We also wanted the notes to be educational, not only for those living in America but visitors as well. Each note uses a black and white image depicting a particular aspect of American history and culture. They are then overprinted with informational graphics or a pattern relating to that particular image.

$1 – The first African American president
$5 – The five biggest native American tribes
$10 – The bill of rights, the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution
$20 – 20th Century America
$50 – The 50 States of America
$100 – The first 100 days of President Franklin Roosevelt. During this time he led the congress to pass more important legislations than most presidents pass in their entire term. This helped fight the economic crises at the time of the great depression. Ever since, every new president has been judged on how well they have done during the first 100 days of their term.

Love these.

Cool Design!

Admittedly, I have an advantage because J.K. Rowling doesn’t have a tumblr…

fishingboatproceeds:

But I’m really thrilled that four of my books ended up in the Top 25 of NPR’s all-time Top YA Novels poll, including The Fault in Our Stars at #4 and Looking for Alaska at #9.

The list (Your Favorites: 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels) is up! Five John Green books, four of which made the top 25!

A lot of my favourites on here (though reading over the descriptions all at once ws a bit overwhelming, lots of heavy topic matter – though there are some lighter reads that made it too.

There’s also this article Best YA Fiction Poll: You Asked, We Answer! which discusses why some books were cut from the list including Ender’s Game, Walk Two Moons and Ella Enchanted, all favourites of mine.

Happy Reading, those of you who aren’t studying for Summer term exams.

Why Did You Use the Strings?

onlyifyoufinishedpapertowns:

Where did the strings metaphor inPaper Towns come from?

Someone said it to me once, after a friend had attempted suicide, that “maybe all the strings inside him broke,” and I liked that image a lot because 1. puppets, and 2. We are all aware that there is this emotional/psychological life inside of us, right? But it’s very difficult to talk about, because it doesn’t have a physical location.

When your back hurts, it’s relatively easy to address this problem using language: You say, “My back hurts,” and I can understand what you mean, because I also have a back, and it has hurt before, and I remember that pain, which makes it easier for me to empathize with you.

It is much harder for me to empathize with you if what hurts is abstract. When people are imagining sadness or despair, they often try to render it in terms we find familiar. You often hear, “My heart hurts,” for instance, or “My heart is broken.” This problem, of course, is not actually in the heart.

(I do think a lot of people feel emotional pain physically near the solar plexus, but it’s not the physical manifestation of emotional pain that makes it so difficult: It’s the emotional/psychological/spiritual/whatever pain itself, which you can’t describe easily in concrete terms.)

To talk about emotional pain (and lots of other emotional experiences), we are forced to use abstractions. (“My heart is broken,” is a symbolic statement.) And many people feel, in this world driven by data and statistics and concreteness, that abstractions are inherently kind of less valid than concrete observations. But emotional experience is as real and as valid as physical experience. And the fact that we have to use metaphor and symbolism to describe that pain effectively does not make it less real—just as abstract paintings are not inherently inferior to representational paintings.

You often hear in high school English classes, for instance, that thinking about symbols is dumb or useless or “ruining the book.” But underneath it all, this is why we have language in the first place. We don’t really need language to share the news of your back pain: You can point at your back and grimace to tell me that your back hurts, and I can nod sympathetically. 

But to explain to you the nature and nuance of my grief or pain or joy, I need abstractions. I need symbols. And the better our symbols are, the more clearly we’ll be able to communicate with each other, and the more fully we’ll be able to imagine each other’s experience. Good symbolism makes empathy easier.

So why the strings? The strings inside a person breaking struck me as a better and more accurate abstract description of despair than anthropomorphized symbols (broken heart, etc.).

And this is very important to remember when reading or writing or painting or talking or whatever: You are never, ever choosing whether to use symbols. You are choosing which symbols to use.

My design for the This Star Won’t Go Out T-shirt Contest.