Just over a year ago we arrived in NYC during a cold night and used wifi at a McDonald’s at 3am in order to contact the person responsible for the place we would stay at for the first month near 137th street. Amber immersed indoors to work and I outsidedespite the weather. After the first month we moved further up Harlem to 145th street with Gianni and Maude.
I got my first job by walking around the Columbia campus and finding a notice looking for a graphic design student in the History department. I wrote and was called in to work a few hours a week with the lovely staff at the Italian Academy after convincing them that I am a life-long student.
After four months we moved to an old apartment by the campus on 114th Street, sublet from two nice History professors, and I got my second job helping a legendary street photographer and his family pack and move from New York City to Beacon. I got in touch with Bruce again through a nice person called Cameron from Magnum Photos who I met after doing a workshop with Peter Van-Agtmael, another nice person recommended to me by my friend Mino. I’m very happy to be friends with Bruce and his family — such special people, the Gildens, cats included!
Meeting photographers on the street has been a highlight of living in New York and I am glad to have spoken to many. The first was Omar Robles who encouraged me (along with Emelyne) to try Instagram. I still don’t know what to think about it other than perhaps this: There is a strong, instinctual human desire for visual communication, and people and companies are taking advantage of it. I even attended a meetup, though ultimately the act of photography is, to me, a solitary one.
During my walks photographing the city I passed in front of a chip shop 20 minutes before an explosion that killed two people and subsequently destroyed the building by fire. Death reminds me to make the most of life’s moments, and not worry too much.
We moved to Inwood, which was a pleasant surprise. I did not know one could live next to an old forest in Manhattan. There is a lot of good food all around us, we hear, but we have only been able to afford to eat at home while getting settled in New York City. Only free (or highly discounted, due to Amber’s student status) concerts and museums, too: NYPL Public Eye and Cooper Hewitt exhibitions; Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, released 50 years ago, performed in its entirety by Fiona Apple and Watkins Family Hour house band and guests (my favorite performances were Fiona’s A Mistake and Shawn Colvin’s cover of Ballad of a Thin Man); Shakespeare’s The Tempest at Marcus Garvey park; Tosca at Lincoln center together with Amber’s advanced Italian class; Magdalena Baczewska’s concert, for which I made a poster; Photographer meetups on Tuesdays at Doctor Thoms’ (thanks Theo, Mike, Tanner and Robert!)
Towards the end of the year I began working for my graphic design mentor Milton Glaser, Sue and Dan in the legendary studio on 32nd Street. I had only met Milton through his work and still find it hard to believe and am amazed to be in the studio where the words ‘Art is Work’ are written on the door.
I like to remember the good things happening around the world, and how small we all are in reality. Yes, 2015 was also a year of progress for people living together.
—Simon, writing from Rome, with my mom, my brother, and Amber, who has worked incredibly hard this year (though she makes it look easy!), and without whom I would not have experienced anything close to 2015.
It was after reading Milton’s book Graphic Design that I decided to be a designer in addition to a photographer, and the chance to work with Milton was a transformative experience that inspired me to begin drawing again as I had in my childhood.
Helped complete a design project for a U.S. state and a Japanese clothing accessories company. This included the creation of logotype variations and patterns, typesetting, layout and presentation design.
‘Drove’ the computer with Milton by my side as navigator to design a poster for a music festival and a Japanese design magazine anniversary cover.
Made presentations for projection during events where Milton was interviewed.
Assembled a spreadsheet to find and catalogue Milton’s artwork.
Developed an in-house image catalogue application prototype with Django.
Produced editioned fine prints of Milton Glaser’s artwork and Shirley Glaser’s photographs.
The IPPC is an international agreement on plant health to protect cultivated and wild plants by preventing the introduction and spread of pests.
The existing IPPC site contained a wealth of information which was difficult to access in an unclear hierarchy. Navigation was difficult for visitors, content updates were complex for staff and the site lacked a visual voice.
I worked with IPPC staff to produce a new www.ippc.int design based on web standards.
A design process was carried out which consisted of the following:
Identify main site user groups
Understand site content and organize it into logical sections
Create wireframe and visual design mockups based on findings from the above
Create code templates based on the visual designs
User testing and modifications
After the IPPC’s main audiences were identified the information architecture was drawn out and a wireframe prototype was created which allowed direct use in a browser and better initial feedback.
A visual design was chosen from a series of mockups which were presented to the IPPC Secretariat.
I then created a custom backend administration interface design for the website which makes management and updates much easier for IPPC and countries’ staff to use.
User testing was carried out with www.ippc.int audience members and staff and modifications were made based on test results before, during and after the new site launch to identify and resolve problems.
Throughout the project I worked closely with IPPC staff both remotely and in the Food and Agriculture Organization offices which I eventually joined as a staff member.
A text editing system I hacked together using existing tools to help people that were having formatting problems when publishing content.
Example of a wireframe for an IPPC sister website.
Links on the homepage are ranked using a time-scaled ranking algorithm. This means that both the time since a link was published (its age) and the amount of up-votes a link has received (its popularity) affect a link’s rating, so fresh, interesting links should be present on the homepage every day, especially if the site becomes popular. I.e. The homepage lists the most recent links with most votes, while the New page lists the most recently posted links.
People publishing on Food News have a ‘karma’ number, which is a measure of their reputation on the site. Karma increases when a person’s links or comments are up-voted. Recent comments with most upvotes are listed in Best.
Ideally, food lovers, as well as people with knowledge in food-related sciences and disciplines such as agriculture, animal health, biodiversity, climate, forestry, gender, plant protection, land tenure, nutrition, soils, water, etcetera, would use Food News to publish links and comments with good information about food to help us develop better eating habits that are less damaging to our planet and the species living on it, including us humans! Note that links to not-for-profit endeavours are preferred and that spam will be deleted.
Food News was the first thing I made that appeared on the front page of Hacker News, which was exciting for me!
The ♨ glyph in the logotype is Unicode character ‘Hot Springs’ (U+2668) in the Miscellaneous Symbols Unicode block (2600-26FF), which I am using in the text above. For the Food News site, I made a PNG image of it for reliable rendering across browsers.
Lightcrafts Photo Editing Software Wireframes
Wireframe Visual Mockups
Some wireframes I made for a proposal to redesign the Lighcrafts Lightzone image editing software website.
IPPC IT Wishlist
I hacked together a web application where anyone in the team could post a bug report or feature request and also vote on others’ posts, thus creating an agile, organic todo list.
In addition, I made:
A file upload system where people could drag and drop files directly onto the browser window and upload many files at once instead of spending lots of time uploading files one by one using the existing system. A lot of extra time spent in front of computers was saved, which made many people happier.
About This Particular Macintosh (ATPM.com) is an online magazine which has beenwas around since the beginning of the Web in 1995. The magazine symbolizes one of the best qualities of the internet: free content by a passionate community of volunteers.
ATPM’s design needed some refreshment to be brought up to date with modern web design techniques whilst keeping the familiar look and feel. I took the job.
I worked with Michael Tsai and Christopher Turner to create a new CSS-based layout, with more generous whitespace and other graphical refinements. The new layout and semantic markup also reduced the site’s file sizes by almost half.
Cantos needed to attract new visitors interested in online business video to their website. An audience accustomed to seeing a great deal of financial information on a daily basis proved to be a challenge.
Simon worked together with a marketer to create a group of clear, modern, accessible HTML landing pages targeted by a focused Google Ad campaign. The landing pages succeeded in bringing a large number of new visitors to explore Cantos’ services with very high impression-to-click rates.
Graphic design, HTML markup, CSS, CMS templates and implementation.
Australian Plant Biosecurity Program
The Plant Biosecurity Program of the Australian Government needed a website to promote a postgraduate course in plant biosecurity offered by a consortium of Australian universities.
I created a new design, coded the markup and stylesheets and implemented a CMS for the program staff to update the website as well as a private forum for student discussion. The website art direction uses imagery from The Endeavour Botanical Illustrations online exhibition currently at the Natural History Museum.
IT Works needed the client-side of the website to be as easy to use as possible for an audience spread across most of the planet using a wide variety of computer systems and of varying computer skills.
I designed the front-end for the ITPGRFA internal website. An easily customizable site was made and built on a foundation of web standards with maximum usability, accessibility and simplicity. This ensured the site was as usable to someone with a modern computer and a DSL connection as to someone with an old machine and a 14400 bit/s modem.