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The Original Plan.

In my final year of undergraduate studies, I and a few of my friends developed a computer game called “Meltdown 2018.”  The concept was based around a return to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant more than three decades after it’s unfortunate demise.

My work on the computer graphics portion of the game triggered a lengthy pursuit that would consume my life for the next ten years.  My goal was not necessarily to develop computer games, but rather to become immersed in computer graphics at its core; I wanted to understand graphics and mathematical concepts well enough to develop software applications based upon these ideas.

Fortunately, I was able to achieve several successes during this period:

  • I developed a modeling plug-in for a popular 3D modeling and rendering application.
  • I developed a NOAA weather satellite image interpreter.
  • I obtained an in-depth understanding of how wavelets are used for image compression (e.g. JPEG).
  • I developed a basic rendering application based on radiosity principles.

For numerous reasons, I eventually abandoned this technical pursuit and focused my energies on the creative-side (e.g. Maya, Gnomon Workshop, ZBrush).  While I have some regrets, I’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge and experience since that time.  However, for someone who loves playing in both areas, it’s hard not to return to this original path – at least for a short while!

Mental struggles aside, I thought it fitting to include a video of a software developer (Eric Soulvie) who continued the journey and developed a powerful physics plug-in for Modo (based upon the open source Bullet Physics engine).  It’s called Recoil.

It’s something that I am excited to play around with as I can already envision finding uses for such a tool in a design context.


Eyes Wide Open II.

Several years ago, I designed a sugar dispenser for an industrial design class.  I decided on this particular challenge after seeing just how quickly sugar poured out of a similar dispenser at a local restaurant.  Through the design process, I discovered that it was my various interests that played a key role in the final product.

Here are a few examples:

Model Railroading: Once I had a general idea for what the dispenser would look like along with the relative dimensions, I created “sketch models” which are basically rough prototypes made from various materials.  Thinking back to my model railroading days, I chose styrene plastic for later prototypes along with the final model.  Styrene is typically used for the construction of miniature buildings used on a model railroad, and I decided that the material would work well for this project.

Architecture (Core): I wanted the dispenser to be very modern looking and sleek; ultimately something much different from those you would normally see in a restaurant.  I ultimately decided to model the dispenser similar in structure to a modern skyscraper, and I chose a variation of styrene to match the building’s fascade (narrow vertical lines without horizontal equivalents).

Architecture (Supplemental): While I liked the skyscraper concept, I felt that another design element was needed.  In one of my visits to the Los Angeles area I noticed a building that had a protruding metal “screen” with large-scale letters inset within (negative space).  I decided that I would do the reverse and project letters outward (positive space).  But what letters?

Chemistry & Flight Training: Here I combined my original undergraduate goal (chemical engineering) with my flight training experience to come up with the “surface layer” that would rest on one of the dispenser “walls.”  The chemical formula for sugar contains the elements Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen.  Similarly, the airport code relative where I was living is CHO (Charlottesville-Albemarle).  Clearly, the gods had spoken.

The process of designing an object, vehicle, experience, etc. that has value in the real world takes not only solid design skills, it requires the ability to pull from multiple disciplines and incorporate those findings into something powerful.

Until perhaps now, I have always believed that my desire for knowledge was simply leading me astray from a specialization of some sort.  My experiences over the past several years have altered this belief; I now believe my innate curiosity enables versatility and a strong design sense, two things that I highly value.

While I believe that specialization in a given field and/or domain is in my future (that was my original goal all along), I envision staying “plugged in” to just about everything and anything that interests me.  It’s these interests that will continue to play a key role in my technical and creative development – the combination of which will continue to grow beyond what I’ve accomplished to date.


New Beginning.

Territories is my new blog from which most all other creative endeavors will originate.  Territories will be a continuation of the journey described in Incubator, but the subject matter will focus less on healing / introspection and more on pure exploration – both from a concept and design perspective, as well as physical locations across the United States and around the world.

Below are some of the themes that you’ll see over the next year:

THEMES: electronic music . industrial design . graphic design . product management . emotional intelligence . advanced concept design . going beyond . HD . instructional . personal . travel . environments . deep-thinking . socialization . advancement . education . next generation . ideation . radical thinking . evolution . inspiration . post digital


The Visual Journey

As you may already be aware, this blog is one of several projects that I have been working on over the past several years.  The underlying goal has centered around building a foundation onto which I can layer in new creative projects and pursuits.  This is why I’ve branded my main web site and bundled these projects within a title I call “Supercharged Creative Exploration.”

The original home page design launched earlier this year showcased the three original projects – Incubator, Microcosms and Pixeldust.  Since that time, I’ve also included a few other projects to the list – including Ink.

Not surprisingly, one of my goals has involved designing a new home page that provides visitors with a complete inventory of these projects along with a modular format that is easy to update.

With this goal in mind, I’ve formulated a few graphic designs that do just this.  While the current design solves the current objective and is easy to update, I consider it an early version and will eventually be replaced.  Over the next several months, I plan on eventually migrating to one of the site designs show below: (or some derivation thereof)

If you visit the new site, you’ll also notice a new link – something that I call “The Visual Journey.”  This is a design that encapsulates who I am, what I am interested in, and some more information about the history of my professional career and my interests.  I think it will help people understand what motivates me and what I am passionate about.

Due to the nature of the design and purpose, I’ve left it in a PDF format.  It’s best read using the official Adobe Acrobat reader but aside from a few minor graphic inconsistencies on the title page, the Preview application available in Mac OS X should also work well.

The combination of this new design along with the Visual Journey supplement symbolizes the next chapter in my creative and intellectual journey – it’s a chapter I call “Immersion.”

BG | Creating the Strategic Vision – Part I

In my last post, I focused on the importance of having a personal vision for the future.  In the business world, defining what the future entails is typically found within a strategic vision statement.  In this post, I’ll share a five concepts that are helping me define a strategic vision for my design firm.

Concept #1: Strengths

The first step is to start with your strengths.  In the workplace:

… people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general. – Tom Rath, Strengths Finder 2.0

As most people spend a considerable part of their life working, doing what you can to align opportunities with your strengths can significantly increase your quality of life.

As an example, here are my top five strengths as identified in the text Strengths Finder 2.0:

1. Strategic – “.. enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route.”
2. Learner – “.. you will always be drawn to the process of learning.”
3. Individualization – “.. leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person.”
4. Relator – “.. a relationship has value only if it is genuine.”
5. Input – “.. the world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity.”

If I want my business to succeed over the long-term, I need to make sure these strengths represents at key part of its foundation.

Concept #2: Personality

Another major part that plays a key role in a successful business is one’s personality type.  Understanding key facets of one’s personality allows for continuous refinement and increased understanding of one’s behavior and motivators.  The key is to take full advantage of those personality traits that will give direct benefit to the business, and place less emphasis on those that may not.

The core of my personality type (INFP) is sometimes called “The Idealist”.  Thus, coming up with scenarios of possibilities and detailed descriptions of “what could be” comes naturally.  As we’ll see, this aspect of my personality will play a key role in my company’s strategic vision statement.

Concept #3: Interests

Your interests represent another piece of the puzzle.  While it may be obvious what interests you, there are methods that you can use to explore your interests in a more formal way.  One such method is via a deck of “talent” cards made by a company known as Mastery Works.

The core interest areas that I discovered through this method include both “Ideas” and “People”.  More specifically, I was able to narrow down my detailed interests down to ten: (in no particular order, and from a total of 52)

  1. problem solving
  2. questioning
  3. writing
  4. explaining
  5. innovating
  6. developing
  7. strategizing
  8. collaborating
  9. leading
  10. teaching

If you are doing what you are interested in, your skills in these areas will continuously improve, and this will further expand your ability to help your clients and their customers.

Concept #4: Personal Vision Statement

Being able to describe one’s personal vision for the future is a recommended exercise prior to describing a business equal.  Given the time investment required, you want to ensure that there is alignment between the two.  You can read more about this concept in my earlier post.

Concept #5: The 10-Second Summary

The “10-second summary” is perhaps the seed from which the company begins; it’s the first statement you’ll make when introducing yourself to future clients.  After all, what good is a strategic vision if you are not interacting with potential clients?

Based upon the guidance conveyed in Get Clients Now!, the statement should be short and simple enough that a 12-year old can understand.

Here is an example:

My name is Adrian Daniels.  I help business owners and organizations get noticed.  I am a designer focusing in creative strategy and graphic design.  My company name is Big Generator.

This particular statement can be altered to reflect the audience with whom I am speaking.  However, it’s always best to start with the basics and then elaborate.  Your initial goal is to gain understanding and peak interest.

These five concepts represent the key starting points to develop a strategic vision statement.  In my next post I’ll begin exploring several ways of visualizing strategy with the intent of formulating a strategic vision statement that can be used to guide my business development path.

[Note: Posts that begin with the letters “BG” focus on business-development concepts that tie directly to my design firm,  Big Generator.]