David K Rodriguez

The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project explained in 96 seconds

The Sketchbook Project collects sketchbooks from around the world, then takes them on tour around the world. Pretty awesome.

Most of the pages in my sketchbooks are far from finished works of art. But the beauty of this project is that sketchbooks can be anything. Some of the examples in this video by MailChimp take the idea of sketchbooks to a whole new level.

The project is run by The Brooklyn Art Library and is open to anyone and everyone who wants to participate.

Redesigned (again)

I've redesigned this website again (and again). When I first published this post (a month ago) I thought I was done redesigning this site. But I hated the new site almost immediately.

My feelings for the site had nothing to do with analytics, user testing or any feedback. It just didn't feel right.

This newer version of the site is much more in line with what I need.

  • A place to show my work that can let the images of the work take center stage.
  • A place to share my thoughts and ideas about design and whatever else.

Those goals haven't changed since the first design a month ago. But I tried to do a little too much and probably stayed in Photoshop too long. It suffered from the virus commonly known as over-design-amongous.

Plugged In.

I'm using the updated fancybox jQuery plugin for the portfolio image galleries. It offers great out of the box functionality, works great with images no matter what the dimensions and of course allows the images to be viewed as large as possible.

For web fonts I chose to stick with typekit, for now. Mainly because it’s still one of the fastest - and cheapest - ways to get great fonts on your website. While this is a good solution for now I plan on purchasing my own licenses and hosting web fonts myself one day. I'm using Museo Slab and Museo Sans mainly. But that could change…

As always this site is built on web standards. HTML, CSS and Javascript. I also used the methods of responsive design made popular by Ethan Marcotte and then expanded upon by Jeremy Keith.

A work in progress.

This site will always be a work in progress. And I'm not going to kid myself that I won't be tweaking and moving things around every chance I get. But I don't plan on “Redesigning” anytime soon.

When I work on a site for a business I like to have a solid business reason to make changes. Based on analytics, user feedback or site performance. It's nice to have the freedom with this site to change things just because.

Thanks for reading this. If you have comments or suggestions please let me know on twitter or send me an email.

Happy Designing.

Be prepared

HILLMAN from Hillman Curtis on Vimeo.

Be prepared to reinvent yourself. Be prepared to go out on a limb occasionally. Be prepared to do the things that you feel strongly about…

I'm not sure why, but I've never heard of Hillman Curtis before just now. And I don't know if this carries extra meaning because he recently passed. But I did find this video to be really inspiring. Especially his message to young designers.

Stay busy

My baby is learning to crawl.
My 9 month old baby is learning to crawl.

The past couple weeks my baby has been learning to crawl. She wants to be on the floor and on the go all the time. Anything she can get her hands on she’ll use to pull herself up.

Just by trying over and over again - and by falling over a lot - she’s growing stronger and more confident every day.

Smokehouse Cove

Smokehouse Cove near Assawoman Bay in Ocean City, Md on a foggy morning.
Smokehouse Cove near Assawoman Bay in Ocean City, Md on a brilliant morning.

I stopped on my way to work a couple times this week to take pictures with my iPhone 4s.

These pictures were taken near Smokehouse Cove. I did add the enhance filter on the phone, but that was all the editing I did.

Getting a great picture has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. But even more than that you’ll need a camera! Having a really nice point-and-shoot camera in my pocket at all times is an amazing thing. I’m plan on pulling over to the side of the road every chance I get.

Tomato Lesson

About 10 years ago, I was standing out in the garden with my dad. He had a garden every year and took good care of it when we were home.

We spent our summers at the beach which was a 4 hour drive away; the garden was mostly hit or miss depending on the weather. Some years there would be buckets of tomatoes and other years, not so much.

I was standing out there with him as he was picking tomatoes, bruised or rotting fruits were tossed into the woods that lined our backyard. He explained,

You have to pick the bad tomatoes or the plant will waste all of it’s energy trying to make them better instead of making new healthy tomatoes.”

I enjoy making things, websites, designs, paintings or songs and hopefully now blog posts. But there are often times in my own work where I run into dead ends, things aren’t working out and I’m trying to nurse a rotting design back to life. It’s best to toss that design to the side and concentrate my efforts on making great work rather trying to save bad work.

Connecting Things

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

The late, great Steve Jobs really nailed “creativity” with this statement. He was partially being modest about his own products, but what he said here is true.

Our experiences both positive and negative are everything that shapes us to be the people we are. But to produce great work and create new things it’s not enough to collect experiences. It’s important to take the time to reflect, think things through and give our brains the permission - and the capacity - to make connections.

Life is too short

My girls trying on their halloween costumes

Life can feel really long when you’re in it. My lovely wife and I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters. Looking at my girls, it’s impossible to imagine them growing up. But I know they will. And I want to take advantage of every moment I have with them and give it every ounce of effort I can. I don’t know how long I will live. Most people don’t. But I want to look back at my time on this earth and be confident that I spent it the best way I could.

Now that brings me to this site, I’ve been working on this website for WAY too long. There have been multiple versions and a lot of experimentation along the way. While I don’t consider that wasted time I really don’t have anything to show for it other than a bunch of files I will never use. I have a theory that you’re not really learning unless you challenge yourself and let yourself be vulnerable to criticism.

So although this site is not finished (and may never be), I have to push it live and start putting my focus where it needs to be. On the content. I love design, but all I’ve been doing is redecorating a blank page over and over. Enough. It’s time to focus my mind on making good work - writing, design or anything else. Then I can design this website around that work/content.

So what does this have to do with my family? Worrying about this site has been an unnecessary and trivial stress that I can do without. Time to push this boat out to sea (sink or swim) so I can spend more time creating things and being with the people I love. My life, my family and this website will be all the better for it.