Welcome to the Artificial archives. Here you will find a selection of our experiments and a collection of our ponderings.
Artificial Travel Guide
Eight cities, eight collections of insider tips for adventure.
A collection of our mixology experiments. Quality may vary.
36 Days of Type
A collaborative collection of illustrated letters and numbers.
Get the icons or contribute to the project.
A collection of tried and tested UX methodologies.
Pixel perfect series of action icons.
Everything else, we wrote about:
Everyone seems to know already — this is our last week. Shannon will continue offering strategic design and creative services as freelance projects. In that way the agency is rebooting rather than ending…
We've now been in our Herengracht office for over 3 years, now! Back in 2015, we were quick to pick furniture and soon had the studio, kitchen, terrace, and conference room in great shape.
This week we discussed an article from THNK School of Creative Leadership on receiving creative feedback. Critique is an important part of any design process, yet it's not something we're formally taught to do…
This week we discussed Amazon's Success despite their lack of overt design. Ariane expressed some surprise at how websites with such little design effort could have so much success. Manjari brought up how many of these websites…
We are undertaking small projects both internal and for clients lately. In times like these, the "overhead" of project management takes a greater fraction of our energy than when we have larger engagements.
This week we discussed design ethics as presented by ind.ie. Conversations around design ethics are hardly new, and best practices abound for how to respectfully engage in design for humans of diverse origin, context, and need.
This week's Monday morning conversation revolved around James Bridle's article Something is wrong on the internet. This article inspired a conversation that was part shock and part reflection.
When I started writing these, I intended to expose the efforts of building and maintaining a studio. But I have found myself too reluctant to share all the struggles and joys. It all feels too personal, which would make this a diary.
This week's Monday morning conversation revolved around Frank Chimero's blog post Plainness and Sweetness. We were one short today, but that didn't stifle the conversation.
This week's Monday morning conversation revolved around Alan Cooper's four-part article: Should Designers Code? This conversation got off to a slower start than others. There was a general agreement with his article…
This week's Monday morning conversation was inspired by our recently published connection flows blogpost. We began by discussing the article itself, and then the reasons why the article was important.
Like many agencies, The Artificial starts every week with a meeting to preview the upcoming week. This meeting covers project status, BD, and important calendar events. It is accompanied by breakfast.
Culture includes tools, so selecting our tools is more than matching feature lists. They need to support our style of work or encourage us to change in ways we appreciate. We must accommodate some bad design, but need to avoid too much frustration or, worse, tainting our environment with anti-inspiration.
An action repeated often enough becomes automatic, like "muscle memory". When one pursues mastery of a craft, there are many foundational behaviors to be automated this way. These practiced actions are known as kata.
A year ago I wrote about our resistance to roles. Since then, half of the team is new but the character of the studio and our work has remained remarkably stable. I've been reflecting on roles again lately.
When I began my career as a designer, I thought about designing stuff. I worried about things like typography, transitions, and usability. Then, through several promotions and starting my own company, I began thinking less about designing stuff and more about designing teams.
We recently received payment for a couple of overdue invoices. Our established clients are invoiced after the work is complete, and this one insists on a due date of at least 2 months out. Because they outsource accounting in a rather haphazard fashion, it's not uncommon for them to pay a bit late.
Since my last notes, we’ve been busy having fun. Shannon wrote about our trip to Belgrade, and last week we had a great Konigsdag (King’s Day). The Artificial rented a nice boat where 18 guests consumed 101 beers, 17 bottled cocktails, 17 bottles of wine, and 4 bottles of Prosecco.
Two major milestones were passed last week. First, we have found someone who is both a culture fit and qualified to be an Artificial studio manager. Hopefully this will free Shannon and me to write more, here and elsewhere.
We passed our 200th week and I didn’t notice. Our 4th anniversary is coming soon, but celebrating that will wait for summer; April is already disrupted by Resonate and King's Day. We have been keeping busy.
Last week, we all went to Lisbon to attend Web Summit. This is essentially the SxSWi of Europe—attendance is large and largely oriented towards the business and marketing side of software businesses. We take the whole team to a conference at least once a year for both cultural and training purposes…
This year marks my tenth year out of university. It’s also my tenth year as a full-time designer. I’ve been around. I’ve worked in-house. I’ve consulted. I’ve worked in advertising and in UX. I’ve designed social networks for cats and music lovers.
The weather has been nice, so we have the office open. (And this office really opens.) Occasionally (and always during Tuesday’s lunchtime), carilloneur Boudewijn Zwart plays an assortment of music on the bells of the neighboring Westerntoren.
Many people who’ve worked with me know that I’m extremely passionate about the quality of internships. When I was studying, I had worked with mentors on all ends of the spectrum — engaging designers who gave me real-world experience…
At this point, calling these "week" notes has become a farce. I continue to use the title ironically. The Artificial is now into our third year! We will celebrate with a summer party shortly, which also feels ironic considering the current weather in Amsterdam.
In Boris van Hoytema's self-written job description he wishes to help his company grow "not faster than it can, not slower than it should." This is the crux of our current outlook.
We’re having a calm period at the moment. There are two projects underway, but one is well ahead of schedule and the other is straightforward support during implementation of a very small product.
When Shannon and I started The Artificial 145 weeks ago, I found the "weeknotes" of existing agencies such as BERG and Go Free Range often helpful for orienting myself.
As a digital product agency, we work very closely with our technology. Our laptops, phones, and devices are used every day, but this week we’re dedicating some time to focus on the robots hiding in our robot room.
Last time I was at OFFF, it was in 2009 in Lisbon. At that time I was overwhelmed with all the projects I saw as well as the amazing presentations. So this year my expectations were high. My first impression was not related to the work itself, but to the way speakers presented it.
Apple's been creeping towards privacy and encryption as a differentiator for some time, but last week's address to EPIC was explicit. Tim Cook accused their neighbors of "lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information" and the digerati have taken note.
During the past year, I’ve learned an incredible amount from working at The Artificial. New processes, terms, and techniques have transformed me into a more user-focused designer, but the pivotal moment in my career was when I learned to embrace existing interactions.
Happy Sinterklaas! As an American in Europe experiencing my first Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas Day, you can imagine how baffled I was before learning the story behind the Dutch Zwarte Pieten.
A big thank you to all who came out to help us celebrate the official launch of to [icon]! For those who haven't seen it yet, we have launched toicon.com with 1170 carefully crafted verb icons, all free for download under the Creative Commons.
We’re excited to announce that to [icon] is now in beta! Our Kickstarter backers now have access to preview and test the site in progress as we continue to refine the site design…
Last week, three of the Netherlands’ finest design institutions handed diplomas to a fresh batch of talent. The newly graduated students of the Sandberg Instituut, The Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and Werkplaats Typografie…
Dear Adobe Illustrator, I am writing this open letter as a close friend. Over the last decade we have spent so much time together that I think I know you better than I know myself.
We've launched our first Kickstarter campaign, to [icon]. Unlike other icon design endeavours, to [icon] will be focusing solely on creating icons that are verbs. Tired of inconsistent icon sets, with strange artefacts, pixel misalignment and archaic metaphors, we decided to take matters into our own hands.