True Blue: A Special Design & Art Project
Every so often, I get the chance to work on a design project that fills me with so much enthusiasm it affirms why I do what I do.
For the past two years I’ve been collaborating with novelist and close friend Eliot Peper and illustrator Phoebe Morris on a genre-defying public art project called True Blue. We just launched it!
True Blue adapts a short story of Eliot’s into a visual experience—fusing meticulous graphic design with charcoal and watercolor illustrations—all tailor-made to live online and be free for everyone.
My role on the project has gone beyond graphic and web design; I’ve been the art director, the image retoucher, the lettering artist, and the engineer. We’ve tried to use every element to advance the narrative, which has lead us to innovate throughout the creative process. Eliot wrote a brilliant article about it:
One of the most exciting design details is how we’ve adapted the illustrations for different screen sizes and aspect ratios—not simply by cropping them, but by actually changing the composition and contents of certain illustrations at different sizes. The imagery adapts to enhance and add meaning to the story—no matter what device you’re experiencing it on. We’re calling this Narrative Responsive Design.
To engineer all this, I leveraged some rarely-used techniques for responsive images, and pushed them way further by building a custom tool. I plan to open-source that tool and write an article about it soon!
And at some point I’ll have to write an article or course about implementing advanced graphic design on the web, because I’ve been learning so much from this project and last year’s French Press Films website. Digital design—especially on the web—really deserves the same artistic diversity as print graphic design from the last 100+ years.
Both artistically and technically, True Blue is my best work.
Here’s the link to True Blue and to the making-of article. I invite you to check them out, and—as always—I would love to hear what you think!