When approaching my site redesign, it was hard for me to commit to seeing myself, Flashless. Naked. Without frames. I was nervous. I wanted to live on all platforms – showcase work for the masses. I wanted a stage for my work that had no limitations. How could Flash not be loved when it was adored for so long? It was my canvas of choice. My passion was and still is animation – watching every pixel dance in visual decadence. It’s a true science of sorts. Sir Isaac Newton is at the core of my approach because of this truth: “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It’s that third law that made me love animation. Every sprite that was born on screen, died on screen – leaving a legacy of light, motion and art. It was marvelous. But it’s not gone. The way we deliver methods of motion are simply changing. As designers, we must be willing to do so as well. We have to be open to new possibilities and discoveries. It’s how the world advances, excites, grows and moves. That in itself, is animation.

Even game design has evolved. Gaming devices and smart phones have seen the movement towards touching, swiping and gesturing – spawning a whole new world of design entertainment possibilities. What about the energetic growth and support of HTML5? We soon will begin to see a whole new way to “work the code.” Genius developers or what I think of as “code artists” will continue to surprise us. It truly is – what you do with what you have.

From smooth scrolling pages generated by code, to easing in and out, to fluidity and pacing – some of the core parts of “animation” still live on and are evolving – we just don’t “see” the frames. If we can capture the core and beauty of what makes animation spectacular – we can transform the art into something even more powerful.

What about traditional, awe-inspiring animation? How will we breathe new life into a static logo? Bolt light across the canvas to give birth to a tag line? How can we capture the true essence, mood and feeling of traditional animation – when delivery support is changing? We change. We alter delivery so it is supported. We peruse compromises in design, we teach ourselves new methods of animation – we rediscover animation. We alter the definition of animation all together.

We have no restrictions – no boundaries. We just have challenges. Solving those challenges, makes us stronger artists. Regardless of how we do what we do, one thing remains the same with animation: we continue to make the unseen – visible. Logos will still dance with the same sexy moves and lights will still radiate across our screens to the beat of a heavy track. And if done right – no one will even know the difference of how you got there – they will be so deeply captivated by the story you are so desperately trying to tell.

Visit the new Stung Media.com. Flashless.

Honest Steve

A million and one articles have been written. Posts and tweets have been chirping. I mean – we discovered the news on a device he had created. When Steve died – a legacy was born. It’s what he did, with the time he had, that made his existence (he’ll never really be gone) part of my design DNA.

I know – I’m not alone. I get it, everyone is “obsessed” with him. A dime a dozen. But when I am alone, the science behind his brilliance, the passion behind his heart and the notion of just being simple resonates with me and becomes a broken record. It’s because it’s truth. Truth wins. Truth succeeds. Truth made him a wealthy man. He was visceral with design – from the gut – the only place where truth lives. He made truth emotional. He made truth an experience we thought we knew – but really, we didn’t. Steve was called on to give us truth. And it’s that truth that changed not just the design world – but THE world, forever.

He got the user. He got the customer. He got us. From the introduction of aqua designed iconography and interfaces to the brilliant products born from his genius – he wanted better for us. He wanted us to embrace not only what you were seeing – but what you were using. He was an incredible problem solver, an inventor. He reinvented love, over and over again. Every time that love grew stronger, and meant so much more than it did before. This entire time, someone was really in love with us. I’m blushing.

My romance with his aesthetic won’t ever end. He will always be the truth in design. And the truth is this: when in doubt – edit out. Keep design simple – that will keep design functional. When it’s simple and functional – it’s provocative and sexy. Steve made the world a sexier place. A more functional place. He brought us closer to our hearts and connected us through brilliant design. He made us fall in love. Thank you for loving us Steve– and showing us what honesty and passion can do for our big world. Wrote and posted, from my iPhone.

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Married For Life

It’s been sometime since I’ve hit the keys and caused some “hopeful” inspiration here. I’ve been tied up in social media – moonlighting on Twitter and sleeping with Facebook. I’m not cheating on my blog – I’ve simply been blindsided by the attraction of 140 characters, constant updates and live feeds. Forgive me. Design truly is about the relationships you have with one another, and most importantly, with yourself.

I’ve recently been obsessed with the idea of “marriage” – as a designer – and the fact that design is, and will always be, our long term relationship – our one true love.

We as designers need to be aware of this relationship – acting as one and learning from one another to become secure with what we are together. We must understand that what we are getting ourselves into is a union in which we must make sacrifices, be aware of each other’s faults, and always, always compromise for the good.

Our craft and skills for creating powerful creative won’t ever evolve if we don’t evolve together. We must listen to one another, as design speaks volumes and has the right to be heard. We must back away from a finished piece and have it speak to us – have it stand on its own and let us know if it needs more support – or if it’s ready to show themselves off. We must allow time for evolution – for work to be influenced by the time it’s taking to grow and take shape. We must not crowd – we must breath together. We must communicate if something doesn’t feel right – when results cause visceral reactions. As we listen to one another, we grow with one another. The results of that growth are something that maintains strength, integrity and substance. We must learn from what we have created, as it always takes on a life of its own. Growth is beautiful. Growth is success.

As with any successful relationship, what you put into it is what it uses to live. Anger grows – but so does heart and compassion. Allowing yourself to free your spirit and approach every complex situation without toxicity will allow the innocence of that to become the base of something brilliant in the end. Listen to what your work is telling you and accept it – even if you don’t want to hear it – it’s telling you because it’s the truth. As designers – if something “fails” we are built with the skills and talents to turn that around. It’s part of what makes us artists. We just have to be aware of it. We are artists, in love with design.

If we want our work to truly evolve, to make a bold statement in this world and cause imaginations to surge, we must be aware of the fact that we are, indeed, in a relationship that is always exposed. We are in bed with design. Growing and sharing, listening and evolving will allow us to be mature about our craft and be proud of what we have done allowing the next big thing to be created. This relationship is for a lifetime – make it the best possible experience you can and embrace what you have become and will become. You may now kiss the bride.

An After Effect

A recent animation I did for the 2010 Ace Awards. Nothing too deep – just pretty.

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The Tune of Covering Art

Everyone knows what music can do to you – it’s a given. Happy, sad, determined, somber – it just renders emotions. The one major part of my drive in life, stems from music that inspires, moves and captivates. When I was in school, I would practice voice-overs for my video work on my 50 mile-one-way-commute, so I’d be prepared to discuss my concepts with my teacher. It also allowed me the opportunity to look forward to creating the next best thing, whatever that was. Some of the best feelings we experience, are just unexplainable – they just are. High low and everything in between, music is the welcomed emotion animator.

Dan Darrah - Cover design by Nandor Tamas

Dan Darrah | Cover art by Nandor Tamas

Art and music go hand in hand. Music is art, communication to the heart… to the soul. When I discovered Dan Darrah’s music, it was something that weeded itself out of a compilation CD and stuck to me like Chicago heat on a July summer day. Dan a local talent made it all the more thrilling from me. The track “Jungle Gym Literature” was on repeat that summer. Windows down, air off, and half the time no real reason to get somewhere, it was just to drive and be free. The song was rhythmic, smooth and juiced with soul. His voice has character, great strength but rare simplicity and I needed to find out more. Dan had a website – go figure.

When I discovered his library of music – I discovered a whole new playlist on my iPod – “Inspire My Art.” His music is the company artists need. After clicking around on his site, I thought to myself – I should be doing this for him – I could do his site – I could do it better. That’s how inspired I was. As I floated back down to earth, and reality set it, that idea passed. I mean, he was a music man, larger than life, someone who painted a bigger canvas than I, how could I even get in that circle. Still, I kept that in my pocket, and pressed on.

Dan was playing at a local bar in Chicago, and a friend of mine was begging me to go. My work was begging me to stay. I couldn’t leave work to save my life. Gotta love a great deadline. My friend went, and he went far. Later that evening I arrived home to silence and a ringing ear from driving with my music too loud. I was ready to turn in and do it all over again the next day. My phone was blowing up – my friend that had happened to go do Dan’s show seemed he need to rub it in my face. Or so I thought.

“Nandor – you will never guess who I was at the bar with… Dan Darrah!!” he said.

“Get Out.” I barfed.

“Yes – great guy – we got to talking about his music, and I mentioned him to you.”

At that point – I fell over. How could someone I had musically admired for a short period of time, someone that was so untouchable, had my name in their hands? Incredible. Or is it? I knew what was so visceral, so real with determination, something had to come of it. But I had no idea it would be this.

As a year or so went on, Dan and I got to talking about his site and how we could parallel his musical genius with something more in tune with his web presence. In that time, Dan was also working on a new album, a cover of sorts, with his unique spin. It was exciting stuff, and more exciting when Dan asked me to do the cover. Yep, the cover. After falling over, I jumped all over – it. My first album cover, and for someone who I truly admired as musician, as an artist – well, it just had to be good.

The disc was a compilation of covers, and some new tracks – all acoustic. “Covers, Blankets and Afghans” was the title and we needed something brilliant, something that would be as unique as Dan is. Working side by side we developed the concept of a guitar, and yarn – this idea of his music and song “covers,” the idea that the tracks were “woven” together through his acoustic arrangements. With photo props by the talented photographer Tommy Digiovanni, the cover evolved into what you see here. A concept I felt truly reflected Dan’s character as an artist and a musician – bold, rare and uniquely talented.

Music sings emotions, emotions trigger art. Your inspiration can inspire not just people – but possibilities. Looking back on how this all evolved, I figure one thing was certain – as artists we can render our own fate. What we dream about, what we envision, could very well be there for us someday. Just like a painting, or any art we create – the possibilities we put into it have no boundries. You are in control of it all. Let your passion fuel your work – your ideas, your soul. Destiny will take over and what is supposed to happen – will. It has to.

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