new media design principles, plus tips on inspiration
Hillman Curtis is one of the new generation of multi-media designers – with a background in writing and rock music rather than art college. This is his credo on the process of professional new media design – which is centred on listening carefully to what clients want, and helping them to articulate their ideas. It’s a glamorous production, with big margins, glossy paper, and double-spread photos.
In the first part of the book he spells out his approach to designing and managing projects. He gets his stimulus from magazines, movies, and other people’s Web sites, collecting examples of good design for inspiration. One of the main purposes of this book is to communicate this personal enthusiasm – which he does very well.
You feel as if you’re only a couple of steps away from your own award-winning designs. The down side is, he doesn’t go into any technical detail on how to do it. In the central section of the book he gives examples of the people whose work has inspired him – graphic designers Saul Bass, Kyle Cooper and Joseph Müller-Brockman, painter Mark Rothko, plus film directors David Mamet and Sydney Lumet.
I’ll visit a gallery, buy or borrow a few CDs, see a couple of movies, and study my favourite movies on DVD. I’ll read art history, film theory … and of course I immerse myself constantly in design books and magazines.
It’s interesting to note how the possibilities of motion and the Web has led to these Flash designers thinking of themselves as directors of sixty second movies which must deliver a theme, plus a coherent and complete experience.
When it comes to the technical matters discussed in part three, he hands over the baton to other writers, so what we get is a series of essays from experts. These are on colour theory, design with grids, font construction, and Web page layout. These are quite useful primers, particularly if you want a quick introduction to HTML and XML. He also includes a chapter on usability from Steve Krug’s excellent Don’t Make Me Think, and a there’s a finale encouraging would-be movie makers to try their hands at digital video.
© Roy Johnson 2005
Hillman Curtis, MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer, Indianapolis (IN): New Riders, 2002, pp.240, ISBN: 0735711658