Archive for the ‘design’ Category

New Castro Design

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Fidel Castro T-shirt

I’m ordering this t-shirt for myself.

So I export a lot of my illustrations or frames from my animations to images that can be printed onto various products from t-shirts to coffee mugs to stickers and I post them to RedBubble or Society6 or TeePublic. This design I really like and I partly do this because I want to wear some of the stuff that I draw, and this is such a case.

Written by ricardo

January 20th, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Even God Recycles

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This past fall, I entered in to a conversation with a man named Jerry who sat near me on a downtown Brooklyn bench. Jerry was very interested in what I do for a living and asked me to teach him any skills I may have. I told him that I’d be happy to, gave him my card, but told him that he’d have to show up sober. I haven’t heard back from Jerry yet. Some weeks later, I photographed people recycling in the Lower East Side during an afternoon walk about a week before Christmas 2015. There was no particular reason to take the photo other than I liked the composition. Here is the photograph as an animated illustration and a small portion of Jerry talking about the social contract in U.S. culture… According to Jerry, we all play a role in the project that is this country and he wants to play a larger role.

Written by ricardo

January 14th, 2016 at 9:51 am

Mugabe Is Old

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I have been working on a series of portrait illustrations of individuals that I consider akin to dictators over the past year. The series is titled “Drunk with Power”. The intention of the illustrations is to make them into animations which is happening very slowly. Occasionally, I’ll make a quick animation, such as the one above. There is also a web version of this animation that uses code for the background rather than triangles colored using markers: http://rmz.nyc/mugabe.html

Written by ricardo

November 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 am

That Angry Inch – Putin’s Twitch

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I’ve been following closely the dispute between Russia and the Ukraine regarding Crimea. At first, it seemed to be no more than a power grab by Russia for all sorts of reasons from capitalist power to cultural identity to saving face from a post cold-war reality. I’m not sure that this is not all true from the perspective of Russia, however, from the view of those who dissented and revolted against the Ukraine, it seems even more complex. Without living the reality, who knows, however from a distant observation, I couldn’t help, but create the GIF below.

Putin's Twitch

Putin’s Twitch

There’s more to come soon!

Stalin & Putin T-Shirts, Totes, Phone Cases…

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I’ve added new art work to my Society6 site. Now you can get vector illustrated portraits of Putin and Stalin on everything from t-shirts to tote bags to coffee mugs to clocks and more…

Written by ricardo

March 27th, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Amanda Cox at Columbia University

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Yesterday (2/23/2015) morning I attended a data visualization presentation by New York Times graphics editor Amanda Cox at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Amanda presented some great examples from the Times as well as other sources while breaking down her presentation to the topics Scale, Context, Pattern and Annotation Layer. I arrived late and missed the majority of the Scale portion. The following are notes from the presentation…

Make the data open, make it flexible, present a user with an interface to manipulate the presentation of the data, to see the data in various groupings.

The power of text: the most common thing that people do on a page is read and by far it is only the top of the page that people read. Most people do not click on buttons.

The example that Amanda presented regarding pattern is “Mapping America: Every City, Every Block”

Form is key to revealing patterns – use of familiar geography to superimpose information employing color, shading, shape and size. In geographic placement of data regarding the House District results one may quickly grasp that urban versus rural areas is decisive.

Annotation Layer
Annotation should be minimal, no more than a layer of pointers or outlines or brief notes superimposed onto graphics be it image or video. Amanda momentarily turned it over to a video interview with NY Times Science Graphics Editor Jonathan Corum:

She then presented a brief video documentation explaining aerial skiing by United States Olympic aerialist Ryan St. Onge and science reporter Henry Fountain in which extremely simple annotation is superimposed on to the video to make important points. She also compared this very simple graphic with and without annotation – “graphs are stronger when they say something” – Amanda Cox.

Peak Break-Up Times without Annotation

Peak Break-Up Times without Annotation


Peak Break-Up Times with Annotation

Peak Break-Up Times with Annotation

An example of the using annotation to illustrate different ways of looking at data is the NY Times “One Report, Diverging Perspectives” – a visualization of the last jobs report before the 2012 elections. The visualization allows one to view the report with “Democratic Goggles” and “Republican Goggles.” The data is the same and both interpretations are true, however the manner in which the data is interpreted depends one’s perspective.

Amanda Cox showed varying forms of engagement through the representation of data. In “All the Medalists: Men’s 100-Meter Sprint,” the reports begins the page with a 3D video animation that depicts the change of speed of gold medalists in the 100 meter run from 1896 to 2012. Following the video the page scrolls down to scatterplot displaying the same information. Of course, the time based animation will engage the viewer very differently than the static scatter chart.

The final example that Amanda Cox presented was a the superimposition of two separate data visualizations to present a cultural and historical reality of the United States. One was a visualization of the Republican versus Democratic votes in the 2012 Presidential Elections from southern states. The pro-Obama areas presented an arch of concentration that presented strong similarities to a very old visualization of cotton farms across the same states. When these two visualizations are collapsed one over the others, a strong sense of history regarding the present is established as the areas that were once cotton farm areas voted strongly for Obama.

Amanda made a point that beyond interactivity and cool graphics is the strength of the content. If one has minimal resources, focus on the content and in depth research. Practically, with so many people looking at the web on their phones, a simple text and image may be much more effective than an immersive experience.

Written by ricardo

February 24th, 2015 at 5:10 am

Naomi Klein & Kate Orff at Columbia

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Kate Orff at Columbia's

Kate Orff at Columbia’s “Planning for Climate Change”


With the imperative of Climate Change radical action is required immediately, including re-thinking design.

Written by ricardo

September 24th, 2014 at 10:21 am

The People’s Climate March Warm Up at La Casita Verde

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The People's Climate March

The People’s Climate March “Warm Up” at La Casita Verde – come and make posters for the march!

Come out Saturday to the green space at Division and Bedford, Brooklyn – La Casita Verde – for a fun afternoon of poster making for Sunday’s People’s Climate March. 1-4pm Saturday, September 20th at 451 Bedford.

Written by ricardo

September 16th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, Part 6

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Following lunch on the second day of the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, Jason Wagenheim of Teen Vogue took the stage to discuss what Teen Vogue’s mobile strategy to increase audience and traffic. As Kremins of Epicurious pointed out, mobile ad engagement is key while the reader is in store, when it matters most. It is at the moment of shopping while in the store that Teen Vogue can help retail advertisers connect with its audience.

Wagenheim pointed out that 17 year olds have smart phones and she influences the rest of the family, the 17 year old with the smart phone is powerful force that advertisers must successfully target. He stated that by 2018, internet traffic will be 35% mobile and 65% desktop. Social networks function as a mobile gateway, referrals are 25% social, 33% search based and 39% direct.

Although native apps present the advantage of third party APIs, Teen Vogue decided to focus and optimize for mobile web. Since doing so there was a 33% lift in unique visits largely due to batching image resize for mobile web. By 2018, less than .01% of consumer apps will be financially successful.

Wagenheim presented a case study in which a mobile product launched in unison with a sales event. The launch was designed to showcase partner content and drive retail engagement. Targeted coupons were presented via the mobile web app at the moment of sale. The teen would take a picture of the dress and share it along with the coupon id and sales skyrocketed. Wagenheim did make a point that business partners must use their own mobile tools for an ad campaign to succeed for everyone.

Teen Vogue partnered with a couple of developers from Taiwan to create “me girl” that lead to 4 million installs. Users use “me girl” to dress an avatar, see what an outfit looks like and then purchase.

Wagenheim ended his presentation by stating the following keys to success:

  • Know your audience’s consumption trends, most visible via mobile web
  • Support intuitive behavior through UX development
  • Understand internal resources and limitations
  • Execute a social conversion strategy
  • Plan for change
Teen Vogue's keys to success for mobile advertising

Teen Vogue’s keys to success for mobile advertising

Following Wagenheim, Hayley Romer of The Atlantic took the stage to discuss “The Role of Premium Publishers Today.” She stated that publishers need radical change without changing who they are. And went on to discuss the paradoxes of programmatic advertising such as:

  • sell on quantity versus sell on quality
  • advertisers want CPM data but are unwilling pay for it
  • shorter is better versus longer is better
  • mobile is our downfall versus mobile is our future

Regarding “shorter vs longer” she pointed to the two top stories from 2013 and 2014. In 2013, it was a data visualization simulating “World Births and Deaths in Real-Time.” Whereas in 2014 it has been Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “The Case for Reparations,” a 16,000 word article. This demonstrates that it’s not about shorter or longer being better, but rather presenting compelling content in the right format.

Regarding “mobile downfall vs mobile future,” Romer pointed out that mobile usage is up 43% whereas ad spending breaks down to 7 cents on mobile, 14 cents desktop and 83 cents for print. 2014 banner ad spending is at $10.27 billion and expected to rise to 11.29 billion by 2016. Romer’s keys to success are:

  • Strong Concept
  • Brainstorm different ways of telling the story based on the medium… what is the right format
  • Testing
  • She presented the highly successful visualization of red lining in Chicago, because it doesn’t present the data in words, but rather a time-based visualization onto a map of Chicago to visually show the information.

    Amongst the weakest speaker at the summit was Mike Germano who presented a Vice commercial, talked about being a Yankees fan and then went on to give a motivational pitch on the importance of fear. He was very charismatic, but really did not present anything of value. And I missed the final speaker Paul Rogers of Liverpool FC who discussed the need of thinking global while acting local as a form of media engagement.

Written by ricardo

July 25th, 2014 at 7:56 am

Digital Publishing Innovation Summit, Part 5

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contextual shopping is coming

“Contextual shopping is coming…” Epicurious has partnered with Target to use iBeacon for in-store advertisement and coupon deployment

Carolyn Kremins of Epicurious was the fifth speaker on day two. She began by presenting data on the rise of mobile, however advertisers have not figured out how to reach mobile users. The same banner ads that work on the desktop are employed on mobile, however they do not work on the mobile platform. Generally, when people click them, it’s by accident. She did point out that native apps can be highly successful as the Epicurious App demonstrates – #1 in food and lifestyle, 450k sign ups for recipe box in first six weeks and people spend 28 minutes per user over the last month. Due to the nature of mobile, Kremins feels that the future of mobile advertisement is in in-store engagement. Apps that present content – information and coupons when the shopper is walking through a store.

In-store advertisement deployment

In-store advertisement deployment via app on smart phone

Kremins went on to discuss mobile geo-targeting via iBeacon as the future of shopping. Epicurious has partnered with Target to launch this emerging form of advertising. iBeacon uses blue tooth to connect with the phone app. The iBeacons will be strategically placed throughout the store to present a series of messages from a Welcome message upon entering, a lifestyle message and then an offer notification. Studies show that 2/3 of consumers are okay with marketers using online behavior and information to personalize ads. Hence a personalized shopping experience is likely to be a boon. Rather than receiving unwanted ads randomly upon opening an app, the app will launch at the appropriate time to present useful deals at the moment of shopping. Kremins stated that “contextual shopping is coming. Users are 19x more likely to engage an ad and 16.5x to use an Ad in store and a satisfied user is 6.5x likely to keep the app. The key to Ads is to present a value to users and create transparency of opting-in. The value of the perpetually connected shopper can not be underestimated.

Laura Kenney of YouBeauty.com followed Kremins. The primary point of Kenney’s presentation “What a Difference Your Data Can Make” is the effective use of quizzes to gather data on their users and spin the data into personalized content. She used the term “Information Diet” coined by Clay Johnson in referring to the YouBeauty.com website as the plate, and the content the nourishment. Users engage with the personalized and favorite content first followed by the desert content. Kenney feels that appropriate uses of quizzes can make websites into data machines. Quizzes may be used to connect users with brands while presenting personalized valuable information to the user.

YouBeauty.com quizzes

YouBeauty.com employs quizzes to present personalized content to its users and to connect users with appropriate brands.

YouBeauty.com quiz output

YouBeauty.com makes quiz taking fun and presents the data collected in a useable format.

YouBeauty.com knows that their readers are obsessed with body shape, personality, attachment style, lipstick and healthy hair. This insight is a tool to organize and present a successful website. A key to YouBeauty.com’s quizzes has been making quizzes fun to take and useful for the reader to see the quizzes output. Of course as with all these brands, YouBeauty.com has uses with social applications and referred to Pinterest as a “slow burn” whereas FB is a quick spike.

Kenney did warn of too much information and the need to use refined data metrics to understand what information is useful and what works on the site and to get rid of what is not working.

YouBeauty.com quiz output

Through the quizzes, YouBeauty.com knows its users.

Following YouBeauty.com founder was Tim Clark, senior director of digital media for NASCAR. Clark began by describing failure and the understanding that people do not like change regarding their interfaces. What has worked for NASCAR is “competition based storytelling…” people like to consume drama. The effective formula for NASCAR is:

Quality Consumption = (60% Scroll Page Views + Video Completes) / Visits

This is not merely landing on a page or clicking on a video and viewing the beginning, but actually tracking the depth of consumption for pages as well as videos. Clark identified the peak hours for user spikes as 8am, noon and 6:30pm.

Following NASCAR was Angela Tribelli of Harper Collins. She discussed the transformation of Harper Collins from being “disinter mediated” between themselves and the reader to becoming a platform that connects their authors with the consumers. She broke down 5 myths about book publishing and the ones that I found most interesting are the last three: 1. “Media consumers have short attention span,” 2. “Only fresh content sells – consumers always want what’s next,” 3. “Self publishing will put an end to traditional publishing.” And in response to these myths, Tribelli presented these realities:

  • Amongst the top sellers for Harper Collins last year were Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Each book is approximately 500 pages. Consumers desire immersive reading.
  • Regarding “only fresh content” there is an enduring backlist of opportunities, because the classics sell. Amongst the lasting top sellers are The Alchemist, 1988, Brave New World, 1932, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960, Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937.
  • And regarding the last myth, although self-publishing presents a great opportunity to new writers, Harper Collins value proposition can not be matched, as demonstrated in the image below.
HarperCollins value

Self publishing can not match HarperCollins value to its writers.

Tribelli sited finding the right audience as the biggest challenge for publishers today, because publishers have traditionally been “disinter mediated.”

Written by ricardo

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:30 am