The French Paper Connection

When I started out in this business back in ’98 the coolest shit laying around the creative department where I worked were always the paper sample books, posters, and swag from the French Paper Company designed by CSA Design. With their use of mid-century patterns, vintage iconography, and exotic printing techniques, they looked like nothing else coming from the paper mills at the time. Over the years I amassed a decent little collection. And you better believe that on any project I could, I spec’d French Paper.

Rust Belt Co. Home Office

Many years later, I was told about this Aaron Draplin guy. I watched his Portland Creative Mornings video “The 50 Point Plan To Ruin Yer Career” and became a huge fan immediately. How could you not though? If you’ve ever met him, or heard one of his talks, you know what I mean. I had always had a passing interest in heavy duty, modern, industrial, design. Seeing Aaron’s enthusiasm for these same styles was like I had “permission” (it’s a long story…) to let them influence my work as well. It changed how I designed and how I thought of myself as a designer in the Midwest.

Josh Tuck's Draplin Post Card

A few years ago, I was able to bring these two huge design influences together. A good friend of mine, Ron Myers, got the idea to bring Draplin to Fort Wayne to give one of his trademark talks. Ron called it “DDC vs. FTW”, and I got to do the poster and other KickStarter swag. I had not been that excited to work on a project in a decade. I was scared as hell though, because I wanted to hand illustrate the poster, and I hadn’t picked up a Rapid-o-graph since art school.

Close up of DDC v. FTW poster

In the end, the poster turned out great. Good Night Sweet Prints screened it on 100# Pop-tone Berrylicious French Paper of course. The show went off without a hitch; I got to shake Draplin’s hand; the excitement died down; and, soon enough, life returned to normal.

Josh Tuck & Aaron Draplin

A little over two years after all of that, one of the posters was chopped up and turned into Field Notes. Another thing I never could have imagined happening. You can read about that here.

Fast forward to this past May. I get an email from CSA Design. I thought it was junk mail, but I opened it anyway. Turns out, it’s an invitation to have my Draplin illustration included in a project with Draplin, CSA Design, Adobe, and French Paper. Queue the stunned silence.

Interior view of CSA designed packaging of Draplin post cards

Erik Johnson, the guy who was getting everything pulled together over at CSA Design, said they really had to work hard to find me. He knew somebody in Fort Wayne who remembered I was involved with DDC vs. FTW, and tracked down an old email of mine. After I sent him the artwork, it started to sink in about what I had been asked to be a part of. These were my idols. I collected their stuff. Now I would have a tiny contribution to all that great work! This is not the sort of thing that happens to guys like me.

Draplin post card designed by Chad Gordon

Now I have the finished piece in my hands and I cannot believe what I am looking at. I feel like I crashed the cool kids party. Anytime now they are going to kick me out of the treehouse! So many talented and well-known artists have contributed to this project. Even though we all drew Aaron’s face, most of us from the same reference photo, the variety of approaches and styles is just incredible. If you’re a fan of Draplin, and his talks, you’ll pick out little references here and there in each piece.

Josh Tuck's card amungst all the post cards.

On the back, in true Draplin style, Aaron wrote a story about the artist, or his thoughts on the piece. That’s the thing that amazes me about Draplin. He remembers the smallest details of everyone he meets, and he meets thousands of people every year.

Two French Paper, CSA Design, Aaron Draplin post card sets in a mail package.

Anyway, enough with the trips down memory lane and gushing. I’ll wrap this up with another thank-you to Adobe, CSA Design, French Paper, and Aaron Draplin. This is a big deal for a guy like me, and I really appreciate being included. I can’t believe the impact of this one project I did so many years ago. It makes me wonder why I never took illustration more seriously.

An alternative to getting the f*** out.

“A design leader finds where poor design is costing the organization money and pain. […] When the boss comes to ask, the design leader will be ready with answers for them.” — Jared Spool

Another excellent read from Jared Spool. How do you make yourself valuable as a designer to your boss? Stop assuming they will instinctively see the ROI. Show them how good design saves them money.

They don’t teach you this deeper level of design leadership in art school. If I had known this fifteen years ago, I probably wouldn’t have thrown in the towel and changed jobs as often as I had. Those of us who understand good design need to take it upon ourselves to explain it to the people who are buried in the day-to-day slog of running the business.

Read the article: Yes, Alan, There Is An ROI For UX Design

Tim Berners-Lee’s regret and hope for the web.

“You don’t have to have any coding skills. You just have to have a heart to decide enough is enough. Get out your Magic Marker and your signboard and your broomstick. And go out on the streets.” — Tim Berners-Lee A great interview of Tim Berners-Lee on Vanity Fair. I’ve had an on-again/off-again relationship with the open web. This article makes me want to get more serious about it. I had a general understanding of level at which the big tech companies were collecting data. Now I can see that it’s much worse than I realized. We deserve a better web, a decentralized web were we are in control of our data and not beholding to large corporations.

To Berners-Lee’s quote, one of the things any of us can do is to educate those who use the web casually (e.g., our aunts & uncles, moms & dads, and spouses) about what is being stolen from them and how it’s being used. When the general population of the web begins to more completely understand the issue, that’s when the change will really begin to happen.

Read the article: “I Was Devastated”

Principles of Good Web Design

This past week I was asked to write down what makes a good website. In other words, what makes the sites I build better than the ones a non-professional could make on their own with an online service like Wix, SquareSpace, or WordPress.com. I’ve had this list of ideas in my head forever, but until now I’ve never written them down. Doing so has given them even more importance in the work I do. They guide the decisions I make. Coming up with metaphors to make some complex, and seemingly unnecessary, parts of web design more accessible has given me more confidence to explain why they are important to clients in language they can understand.

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Debbie Millman Cuts the Crap

You make the time to do what you want to do. That gets back to the other thing that I say all the time, which is busy is a decision. If you say, “I’m to busy to make self-generated work, or to make work that I feel is different, or attempts to be original in some way,” then it’s just not a priority. It’s just not something you really, really, really want to do. Because, we somehow find the time to watch Game of Thrones, or House of Cards, or Homeland, or whatever it is. If we have time to binge watch a TV show, or spend three hours last night watching the Grammys, you have time to make work.

I recently listened to that Overtime Podcast interview with Debbie Millman. In it, she had that great quote up there that I absolutely love because she basically described me and my work habits to a “T”. The only thing that would have put this quote closer to the bullseye would be to replace Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland with Seinfeld, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Bob’s Burgers.

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The Recap: The Business of Expertise

My boss gave me this book to read. I don’t normally read business books because so few of them explain anything in a way that you can actually put to use. Usually it’s all theoretical and the authors never address their natural gifts… or luck… or massive fortunes. The Business of Expertise is different though. Not only does David C. Baker explain the importance of expertise, he tells you how to define your expertise and become an expert in your field. Its plain spoken, logical, and objective. Most importantly, with just a little bit of focus and hard work the goals are achievable. No jargon. No bullshit. No “advice” that requires a pantload of money; living in New York City; or, being profoundly lucky.

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The Event Apart 2017 – Day 3

An Event Apart: Day 3

I had every intention of getting my Day 3 take-aways up on the day of, but after a great talk with two other awesome AEA attendees after the show; a four hour drive home (featuring a minor fender bender—not my fault); I was too burned up to even start it. I still want to give a summary though. It helps me cement what I learned, and I apparently have a reader or two now. Neat!

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