Blog: Archive

Brief thoughts that jump between the internet, design, writing, music, film, self-development, and work culture.

A Like Can’t Go Anywhere, But a Compliment Can Go a Long Way

This is a blog post about how social networks can structurally inspire negativity by making posit...

Monkey Trap

Every once in a while you come across a fact that is so sumptuous it begs to be considered a meta...

Tweenage Computing

Last week’s Apple event came and went without surprise. The phone is a camera for text messages, ...

Leave the Phone at Home

This post was originally written for Harvard’s Nieman Lab, as part of their yearly “Predictions f...

Built-In Resistance

From Ted Hughes’ 1995 interview with the Paris Review, discussing the different yields of writing...

Better Words

I’m writing to share a link to the best blog post I’ve read in the last few months: You’re proba...

When the Work Looks Back At You

A few weeks ago, the folks at Milanote asked to interview me and brought along an unexpected brie...

A Few Bullet Points on Design Criticism

Criticism is placing yourself in an earnest, difficult, and awkward conversation. This is most...

A Modest Guide to Productivity

Hello, zonked Frank! It’s me! That ideal Frank you wish you could more regularly be! I’ve taken ...

MVP Soundsystem

My ears are greedy; they always have been. When I was 4, I cried because I couldn’t listen to The...

New Visual Essay: Back to the Cave

Frank Chimero in his most desperate state is Frank Chimero writing a talk. Each time I go through...

SuperHi Foreword

I was commissioned to write the foreword to SuperHi’s first publication, Learn to Code Now. If yo...

Plainness and Sweetness

It’s human nature: I over-value where I have influence. Since I am a designer, this frequently me...

Tarkovsky’s Flame

When the world is brash, fast, and stupid, we must seek out what is quiet, slow, and intelligent ...

Hi, I’d Like to Add Myself to the New Yorker

A few months ago, I stumbled into the little cottage industry of media manipulation. I weaseled m...

Other Halves

There are three ways to cut something in half: front and back, top and bottom, left and right. F...

The Second Trip-Up

Designers from my generation and before didn’t come directly to design. We started somewhere else...

Jettison the Rest

A few weeks ago, I reread Joan Didion’s essay on self-respect. It smacked me on the back of the h...

Boring Future, Vol. 1

Boring Future #1 The income gap continues to grow. Most white collar workers choose to work offs...

There Go The Grown-Ups

Last weekend, M and I had a really nice chat about all of these articles on adulthood. Everyone w...

The Only Note to Self

You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This i...

Rules of Engagement

We used to have audiences, but the information age has transformed them into users who are no lon...

Reshape, Reprint

The point of this blog post is to announce The Shape of Design is being reprinted and you can pre...

Refragmentation

Sometimes it’s worth reading the comments. For instance, take this comment on the web’s consolida...

From the Porch to the Street

Dear J, To answer your question, I haven’t much felt like it. I’ve been quiet, because there has...

I Can’t Read Walden

Time is already a tough customer, but it is torturous when you start measuring yourself to others...

Massimo and Me

I can pinpoint the moment where my grudge against Massimo Vignelli began. About halfway through G...

Only Openings

On May 14, 2014 I spoke at the School of Visual Art’s Thesis Festival presented by the Masters in...

Three Things to Say

Communication in the city is so frought with bruskness, and words at work can be so soulless, so ...

No New Tools

Being an early adopter is exhilarating in the same way that riding a rollercoaster can feel like ...

Madness and Rowing

I was in a tough spot this past week. The Great Discontent magazine is consuming all of my workin...

New Computer

Buying a PC, 2002 Open box, turn on computer, run updates, download third-party software to repl...

My Tattoo

I have many blueprints for tattoos: festina lente in a small roman italic on my right wrist, two ...

This One’s For Me

Thirty isn’t that old, but I feel like I’ve aged two lifetimes in the past three years. Maybe agi...

Designer’s Poison

Earlier this week AIGA sponsored a round-table discussion with every designer on Twitter called O...

Some Lessons I Learned in 2013

Life isn’t a story. A lot of things don’t need to be intellectualized: “because I want to” is ...

Writing Advice

Just try. You’ll improve. Keep going. Enjoy it.

The Inferno of Independence

You’re not supposed to hear these sorts of things from these sorts of people. Things have gone we...

Portraits

Good art is pointable. Something complex occurs, and you can’t quite explain how you feel about i...

Generosity of Perspective

Louis CK has a joke where he lambasts anyone who complains about the speed of their mobile phone ...

Woozy Walk

I was thinking about the city last night. It’s hard to remember the things outside of New York wh...

Why vs. How

Goodbye, Reading Rainbow. From NPR’s article, emphasis mine: Grant says that PBS, CPB and the...

Waste Need Not Waste

When you don’t have someone to teach you, looking closely at good things and noticing their patte...

Let’s Talk About Timeless Design

I have a pet peeve when it comes to describing design (or any kind of creative work). The word “t...

The Cloud Is Heavy and Design Isn’t Invisible

Timo Arnall’s dismantling of the “invisible design” ethos is a rousing read. There’s too much I w...

All Kinds of Awesome

A few days ago I got an email from a close friend. He wanted me to make an illustration for his h...

Digital Jubilee

As work slows for the holidays, I try to put the year to bed. I sweep out the dust clods in the c...

Saimese Dream

I think far too much about how to best listen to my music. It’s a fun time to be a music fan, bec...

The Humble Pencil, The Mighty Computer

Creative people tend to romanticize their tools. We place them on pedestals as the conduits for o...

The Wall

It feels as if everyone is working in public these days. Public working leads to public criticism...

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is wonderfully profound film. It takes effort and attention, but I think like mo...

The Particle

This talk was originally given at the Emerging Designers Symposium at the AIGA National Conferenc...

The Long, Hard, Stupid Way

What follows is an transcript of a talk I gave at the 2011 Do Lectures in Wales. The text may dif...

Suggestions for Speakers

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I dread speaking, especially in light of how many ...

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

A subway car is a sealed room between rooms, an inconsequential destination—the negative space be...

On Baseball

I’ve been jonesing to go to a baseball game—must be the summer heat. It’s a beautiful sport: the ...

Sorting a Mass

To prepare for an upcoming lecture, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between collecting ...

Reading Readiness

I always come back to the truisms of the classic kung fu instructor depicted in the movies. Not s...

Velocity

I’ve got one charge left. Only a few minutes of battery on this laptop, and a cacophony of though...

Making the Bed You Sleep In

If I had to describe my philosophy toward technology, I’d say I aim for the crux of whatever work...

The Setup

A few weeks ago I mentioned on Twitter that I’m using a top-of-the-line 13" MacBook Air as my pri...

On Content

You ever order soup at a restaurant and get a bowl that’s mostly broth? The problem is the regis...

Kid A

Kid A turns ten-years-old this month. Ten! That’s quite the anniversary, so I feel obliged to spe...

There Is A Horse In The Apple Store

There is a horse in the Apple Store and no one sees it but me. I think, “Why?” Am I nuts for t...

What Advice Would You Give To A Graphic Design Student?

Design does not equal client work. It’s hard to make purple work in a design. The things your te...

There Is No Catching Up

It’s hard to hold it all in your head. All the different possible ways that you can enjoy life...

You Are Here

In Stephen King’s On Writing, he talks about the concept of an ideal reader, the exemplary person...

Big Ideas

Why is Greater Than How A complex world has made us over-emphasize How-based thinking and educat...

Anti-Pre-Pro

First, a quote from Eva Zeisel: To be different is a negative motive, and no creative thought...

On Iteration

Two related quotes. First, Pixar president Ed Catmull on sharing work: In the process of maki...

Ten Principles

I hate the word “tip.” It implies that there’s something that you don’t know. Some secret little ...