Dropmarked: Hard Work & Wingdings

Here’s our of favorite gems this week from around the web:

  • Hard Work & Patience - Gary Vaynerchuk gives some straightforward advice for success in this short film (watch above).

  • Why Wingdings exists - Vox takes a look at the history of this ubiquitous dingbat font.

  • Real Life Video Game - Realm Pictures surprise strangers on Chatroulette with a live choose-your-own adventure video game, complete with zombies.

  • Making a Hit - New York Times interview musicians Diplo, Skrillex, and Justin Bieber for a behind-the-scenes look at making a hit song (worth watching for the visuals alone).

  • Books Received - BLBGBLOG compiles a list of 27 new or recent books, from true crime to media theory, for your back-to-school or end-of-summer reading pleasure.

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How Kelli Anderson gets things done

Kelli Anderson

Known for her inventive paper gadgets and experiments, Brooklyn-based designer Kelli Anderson blurs the line between art and science.

Kelli was recently selected for Adobe’s new Creative Residency program, which gives talented creatives the opportunity to focus on personal projects for an entire year. Her upcoming book, This Book is a Planetarium, further explores the relationship of art and science with a series of pop-up paper tools that defy expectations, including a real working planetarium, a musical instrument complete with strings, and a speaker that amplifies sound.

We caught up with her to find out more about her process and inspiration.

What inspires you?

I think that questions inspire me most. Especially the ones that seem testable. I get excited when I have some kind of inkling about the world that I can wonder about in action by trying it out. The questions I tend to have range from “would seafoam-green go well with that?” to “is paper strong enough to hold strings taut enough to make a musical instrument?”

My favorite projects have begun with hunches like these. Completing them usually entails some meandering process of testing, asking more questions, and looking for signs of an answer. And repeat.

Video: Adobe profiles Kelli Anderson, recipient of their Creative Residency program

“…questions inspire me most. Especially the ones that seem testable.”

Your work appears to be constantly evolving. How do you define what you do?

Yeah, my work is all over the place! Just this past week, I was struggling with code, glueing-together paper sculpture illustrations, writing an essay, and designing a book cover. So I use a lot of different materials, but my favorite things all tend to do the same thing at least. So it all makes sense… right?

The work I like best, my own and others’, finds possibility hiding in plain view. I like working with materials that we take for granted: easy-to-overlook, non-exotic stuff like paper or Google Image search results. There are ways we can manipulate little pieces of everyday life, to make them behave differently. The effect can be quite surreal and transformative in a very humble way.

Is there a particular project you’re most excited about right now?

I’m in the middle of a creative residency with Adobe, so I get to work on 100% self-initiated projects this year. That sounds magical — and is! — but it also prevents me from going on autopilot. I can’t blame bad work on unfortunate client decisions or out-of-touch art directors.

Powers of Ten by Kelli Anderson Powers of Ten, a flip book about scale

“There are ways we can manipulate little pieces of everyday life, to make them behave differently. The effect can be quite surreal and transformative in a very humble way.”

One thing I’ve made with this new creative responsibility-to-myself: I’m really excited about this flipbook I just completed. It recreates part of the Eames' Powers of Ten using only found images from the Internet. I was wondering if the Internet was big enough yet to give us any animation frame we’d ever need. The answer is yes! With a caveat, which you can read about in nerdy detail. I made a digital version of the flipbook where your mouse acts like a thumb here. I think the digital version may be even more fun than the paper version — the first time that has ever happened, ever?

I’m also about to release my first mass-published, gonna-be-everywhere-on-earth-sans-Antarctica book. It is an experimental pop-up book of devices that you can actually use!

This Book is a Planetarium by Kelli Anderson This Book is a Planetarium, published by Chronicle Books

A few years ago, I made a paper record player wedding invitation for my awesome music-obsessed friends, Mike + Karen. We all thought it was REALLY COOL but couldn’t really say why it was so magical. The truth of the matter is: a lot of everyday phenomena, like sound, works in a manner that is at odds with our firsthand experience of them. When you’re just tapping play to hear a song, it’s easy to forget that sound is touch at a distance. That sound is what happens when air molecules are disturbed in a wave and that wave travels into your inner ear, hits a flap of skin, and then you hear “The Cure!!!!” The paper record player is a device for connecting this truth of how-things-really-work to firsthand experience because it lets users feel out the physicality of the vibrations of a song while they hear it.

I’ve taken that unexpected talent of lo-fi, of reducing tools to their barest paper minimums, and made a whole book of things that demonstrate invisible forces at play in the world. Well, 6 things. It is a 5-page book that has 6 legit magical things and it has taken me 2 years. They all work in this charmingly barely functional way. The book is called This Book is a Planetarium and the first spread is, indeed, an accurate pop-up planetarium you can use with an iPhone or flashlight.

A real working planetarium from This Book is a Planetarium A real working planetarium from This Book is a Planetarium

And excitingly: the creative residency is allowing me to make even more stuff. I have a pop-up large format camera in the works that I’m really excited about! It makes these highly atmospheric pinhole images. And then you can close it, like a book, and it fits under your arm. I wish everything could be collapsible and fit in a book!

What does your process look like as a designer?

Depends on the project — client work, editorial work, and personal projects all tend to go down really differently.

One quirky process-thing I do — which may be useful to others, who knows? — I have to see things in context or I don’t feel like I can make decisions. If I’m designing a menu for a restaurant, for example, I really don’t feel comfortable unless I can photograph the actual paper stock on an actual table in the actual light. I then take a photo of that actual actuality into Photoshop and start designing on top of it.

That may sound okay and normal, but I also do this with images I’m making for Instagram. I mock up the image surrounded by Instagraminess. Cuz all of that white and gray affects things, dammit!

Video: Talking While Female, a stop-motion animation created for NPR

How does Dropmark fit into your workflow?

I collect inspiration using Dropmark. I’ll email work idea notes to my #design Dropmark, i.e. Yoko-esque instructions like “experiment with making typography from Neverwet”. I also photograph materials in the wild and also screenshot the cool work I see online. I squirrel this stuff away for a rainy, artists-blocky kind of day.

For clients where we are collaborating on a long term project, I’ve found it immensely helpful to dump all of the work we’ve done together into a Dropmark. Because sometimes the solution for a wallpaper design solution lies in an earlier discarded tote bag comp. Having everything together in one big visual waterfall helps make connections easier and reaching solutions more obvious. Sometimes clients see solutions through these juxtapositions that hadn’t occurred to me! It really does help everyone involved in a project feel more proactive and more organized. That keeps us from having conversations like “Remember that t-shirt you did? It was kind of blue…” which lead to hours of inbox-searching.

I have very little organizational insight. Dropmark is one of my few stay-organized superpowers.

Kelli uses Dropmark to catalog design resources, including what's on her bookshelf Kelli uses Dropmark to catalog design resources, including what’s on her bookshelf

“I have very little organizational insight. Dropmark is one of my few stay-organized superpowers.”

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve Dropmarked recently?

I tend to be an out-of-sign-out-of-mind person, so figuring out how to bring inspiration into visibility — while keeping my apartment uncluttered — is an ongoing challenge. Lately, I’ve been leafing through books on my shelf and photographing the stuff I want closer at hand. When I’m trying to figure out how to fold paper for a pattern, I want to remember that Folding Patterns for Designers is a really good resource. I’m using Dropmark as a visual aid to remember that this book is on my shelf. I’m doing this with all of my favorite design books.

For more on Kelli Anderson visit and follow @kellianderson on Twitter.

Dropmarked: Light & Symmetry

Here’s what our team found interesting this week:

  • Everbright - Hero Design creates a huge digital Lite-Brite, 42 times as large as the original (watch above).

  • How Symmetry Shapes Nature’s Laws - learn why symmetry is at the heart of physics in a 3 minute video from Dr. David Kaplan from John Hopkins University.

  • Explore Mars - NASA launches a pair of web apps allowing you to drive a rover around Mars and explore a 3D visualization of the planet.

  • Mirrored Ziggurat - artist Shirin Abedinirad installs a mirrored pyramid sculpture in Sydney, Australia, resulting in unusual optical illusions.

  • Bob Ross by numbers - FiveThirtyEight creates a statistical analysis of the work of artist Bob Ross, known for his “happy trees” and “fluffy clouds”.

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Dropmarked: Calligraphy & Math

Here’s what our team is Dropmarking this week:

  • Jake Weidmann - Uproxx profiles calligrapher and artist Jake Weidmann, the youngest person to be named Master Penman (watch above).

  • New mathematical tile - The first new pentagon tile in 30 years is discovered — “In the world of mathematical tiling, news doesn’t come bigger than this”.

  • Oldest multicolor book - Too fragile to open, the world’s oldest multicolor printed book is digitized by the Cambridge University Library.

  • Arctic atlas - National Geographic discuss how changes in the Arctic ice sheet influence their atlas, including a GIF showing the evolution from 1999 to 2014.

  • Terra Flamma - Los Angeles-based photographer Stuart Palley shoots long exposures of California wildfires at night in a stunning series.

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Dropmarked: Collaborate & Experiment

Here’s what we’ve been watching, learning, and playing with this week:

  • Steal This Talk - Wilson Miner speaks at Creative Mornings in San Francisco about collaboration and it’s crossover with appropriation (watch above).

  • Sennep Seeds - Digital agency Sennep launches a fun collection of experiments that explore coded-motion, interactivity and visual expression.

  • The Slinky Machine - Woodgears shows you how to create your own Slinky treadmill for an infinite staircase (more info).

  • Disney Research - Leading up to the Siggraph conference, Disney Research releases a series of experiments from real-time face capture to 3D video processing.

  • Comma Queen - New Yorker’s Mary Norris demystifies grammar in this video series — her latest explains differences between hyphens (-), en (–), and em (—) dashes.

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Dropmarked: Sea Plastic & Net Art

Here’s what our team is Dropmarking this week:

  • Gyrecraft - Studio Swine embarks on a 1000 nautical mile journey, collecting sea plastic along the way to create art objects (watch above).

  • The Original Net Artists - Motherboard takes it back to the 80s to uncover early computer art created using Telidon, a precursor to the web.

  • From Vrrrramp to Snikt - Hopes & Fears explores sci-fi’s most iconic movie sound effects.

  • Voyager’s Golden Record - Originally carried aboard the Voyager spacecrafts in 1977, NASA uploads audio recorded on 12-inch gold records to SoundCloud.

  • Neighborhood in color - Mexico’s government collaborates with local street artists to paint a 20,000 square meter mural across 209 homes in Pachuca, Mexico.

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How Heath Ceramics gets things done

heath-ceramics-design-team-photo-by-mariko-reed Heath Ceramics design team, photo by Mariko Reed

Founded in 1948, California-based Heath Ceramics is a design-focused, family-owned business known for their handcrafted ceramic tableware and architectural tiles.

Throughout its near 70 year history, Heath Ceramics has grown organically with a commitment to local manufacturing and environmental responsibility, still making dinnerware today in its original factory in Sausalito, California. The company was recently recognized with the 2015 National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement awarded by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

We caught up with Megan Sanguinetti, who works in Heath’s design team, to learn more about the California-based company’s focus on design, and how they use Dropmark to get things done as a team.

First, congratulations on your National Design Award. Your submission was titled “Business by Design”, can you tell me more about your design-focused approach to business?

Thank you! It means so much to be recognized for our macro use of design. Whether you call it working in-house, or think of it as working at a vertically integrated company, the freedom to be the client and designer gives us an incredible amount of insight and opportunity. We design the product, of course, but it goes so far beyond that. We design and define the process, the environment, the experience. The job is never done, in the best way possible. The submission can be seen here, or even better, stop by one of our factories and showrooms for a tour.

heath-ceramics-la-showroom Heath Ceramics showroom in Los Angeles

“We design and define the process, the environment, the experience. The job is never done, in the best way possible.”

What inspires your team?

Getting outside and seeing things differently. The inspiration that comes from the built and natural environments is unbeatable, and the great thing about inspiration is that it feeds itself — once you see one thing in a new light it creates new connections and you start thinking about everything in new ways. Cathy just came back from 3 weeks in Spain and Portugal; Rosalie from a weekend in Colorado; Ada was in Philadelphia earlier this month and Tung and I spent a week in LA. It’s hard to put yourself in a new context and not feel that jolt of creative energy.

heath-ceramics-seasonal-dinnerware-photo-by-jeffery-cross Seasonal dinnerware by Heath Ceramics, photo by Jeffery Cross

You make a lot of beautiful products, can you tell me about your team’s creative process?

The creative process extends very organically from the inspiring people and work we surround ourselves with (to name drop a few: Brendan Monroe, Stan Bitters, Matt Dick of Small Trade Co, Julia Turner and so many more). We’re lucky to not feel beholden to product cycles, so when inspiration hits, we follow it. Often, it meanders and ends in an unexpected place (like our recently created tile collection, Mural, which was originally slated to be a custom commercial installation). Leaving room for serendipity and exploration enables our team to change course quickly and be creatively satisfied with a huge variety of work.

“Leaving room for serendipity and exploration enables our team to change course quickly and be creatively satisfied with a huge variety of work.”

Who do you use Dropmark with?

We use Dropmark within our design team for reviewing web mock ups and with our fantastic e-commerce director (hi Joseph!) to collect web inspiration. We’ve recently begun exploring what the future of the Heath site is, and Dropmark is such a great tool for collaborative “notes to self.” Personally, I also use it to capture all sorts of bits of inspiration.

heath-ceramics-mural-tile-and-clay-studio-photo-by-mariko-reed Mural tile and clay studio, photo by Mariko Reed

How does Dropmark fit into your team’s workflow?

We use Dropmark in a few ways: for collecting inspiration of course, but also to review web comps. I love using Dropmark to organize different iterations of web updates and track progress. I can add notes and annotations for myself and others, it’s easy to present in the browser and navigating between multiple iterations is a breeze.

Lastly, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve Dropmarked recently?

We’re all enamored with companies that own and shape the experience from beginning to end, and create their own visual language. This website from Maharam has such a simple and beautiful top navigation — distilled to only 3 items!

For more Heath Ceramics visit and follow @heathceramics on Twitter.

Dropmarked: History & Housing

Here are our team’s favorite picks this week:

Housing Through the Centuries - The Atlantic takes us on an animated journey of housing from 25,000 BC caves to a 2015 3D-printed mansion (watch above).

A million minutes of history - The Associated Press makes 550,000 videos available on YouTube with historical footage dating from 1895 to the present day.

Tree of 40 Fruit - Artist Sam Van Aken uses grafting to create amazing trees that bear 40 different varieties of stone fruits like peaches, plums, apricots, and almonds.

Daily Overview - Benjamin Grant scours Google Earth collecting breathtaking patterns found in satellite imagery (start with the Top 10).

The Evolution of an Artist - Every Frame a Painting takes a look at Chuck Jones of Looney Tunes-fame, and the evolution of his sensibilities as an artist.

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Search with #tags


Since launching the new Dashboard, tags have quickly become a popular way to categorize and group items in Dropmark. If you’re like our team, your dashboard is now bursting with wonderful tags like #design, #inspiration, or the inevitable #todo.

Now tags are getting even more powerful with the addition of Tag Search. Simply include a #hashtag in any search query, and your results will be filtered accordingly. As always, your most popular tags are accessible with one click from the sidebar menu.

Search individual collections or globally, and — here’s where it gets fun — try filtering with #multiple #tags to discover interesting intersections among your items.

#space and #fashion? Yes please.

search-tags Tags are available on all Pro and Team accounts, try it out free for 14 days.

Dropmarked: Threads & Space

From around the web, here’s what caught our eyes this week:

Embroidered Zoetrope - Digital artist Elliot Schultz embroiders animation sequences on 10" discs to create a turntable-powered zoetrope (see it in action above).

KnitYak - Hand-knitter and mathematician Fabienne Serrière is developing algorithmically-generated knit scarves on Kickstarter.

Views of Pluto Through the Years - From its discovery in 1930 to its recent close-up, NASA combines decades of Pluto observations into an animated GIF (of course). - Scroll through space and hear virtual radio broadcasts as they travel from Earth at the speed of light.

Most Recognizable Voice in New York - The New Yorker meets the man behind the New York City subway announcements.

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