Periodical 19 — Creative Miscellany

Design texts, maker stories, Figma complaints, and more.

Hello from a very steamy Durham. It was 99° as I wrote some of this yesterday with the felt temperature well exceeding 100. And then it started to rain. The temperature dropped a few degrees and the air was filled with steam. It was surreal and beautiful.

Two of my favorite design texts are Editing by Design and Graphic Design for the Electronic Age by the late Jan V. White. Did you know that White’s family maintains a website about him where you can access most of his books that have been preserved by the Internet Archive? It’s a treasure trove of graphic design knowledge, most of which predates the web as we know it, but remains applicable to anyone working today. Very highly recommended!

I have made a life surrounding myself with inspiration — books, images, and sounds that fill me with ideas — there’s more than I could ever need! But if I ever need to be reminded that there are communities of other people in this country that live different kinds of lives than those that celebrity and social media manipulate us into thinking are desirable — the kind of life that I want — I will turn to the PBS series, Craft in America. I stumbled upon it sometime last year on YouTube and it was exactly the balm my soul needed.

I started with the PROCESS episode, just by chance, but you could start anywhere, letting the theme-based titles guide you. You’ll find episodes on family, borders, music, home, origins, and many other big ideas. Each one takes you into the little worlds of artists working now. They’re bigger, warmer, kinder, richer, and slower than the world so often looks these days. And that reminds me that the world isn’t summed up by any one thing. I need that reminder.

I made a YouTube playlist of the full episodes. I hope you find them as enjoyable and important as I did.

Hot take, maybe, but if you’re going to pay for a streaming service, I think YouTube premium may be the best value. I’m certainly not eager to endorse any Google service, but YouTube is basically the watchable web, and though it’s full of all manner of degenerate, radicalizing lies, it’s also full of wonderful material (not least of which is the series I mentioned above). Just do your best to avoid Blippi.

Figma released a UI update, which looks interesting, though I must admit that, at a glance, I’m anticipating finding it more difficult to use. It seems they’re preferring minimalism over utility. I get it, but hiding features may clean up the workspace, but it also makes them less reachable. I haven’t used it yet, so we’ll see.

I have used Figma slides, however, and boy is it disappointing. It’s clearly an acquired app that has been bolted on. The biggest WTF is that N O N E of the standard Figma composition tools exist in the slides environment. You can’t even make your own layout grid. You can copy from a standard Figma workspace into a slide layout, but when you do this, editing the individual objects becomes very cumbersome. Aside from slide-to-slide transitions, I’m really not sure why any Figma user would prefer their Keynote copy over creating slide decks — a thing you can already do — in a standard Figma workspace. Amy I missing something?

If you’re reading this via RSS, that’s really cool! Email me —  — and let me know!

Written by Christopher Butler on July 6, 2024,   In Log

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