Posts tagged “alan dye”

Debbie Millman and Alan Dye

Alan Dye, originally uploaded by debbie millman.

Originally uploaded by debbie millman.

Last night I went to the AIGA’sDesign Matters Live featuring Alan Dye interviewed by Debbie Millman (who I did a fun podcast with a few months ago).

I was fairly out of my element; the first presenter gave a tutorial on how to use Illustrator and Photoshop (and InDesign) to do things like Layer Comps. He explained it very well, but there were moments when a nifty way of doing something would evoke yelps of delight from the audience, many of whom who were using the same applications to solve some of the same problems. I’m definitely not one of those people, however.

I didn’t know anything about Alan Dye, either. He’s a creative director at Apple; I’m not entirely sure what that job title refers to. He’s worked at Kate Spade, I would think they make purses, but that’s probably all I knew.

But what Debbie does is get great people in, and have great conversations with them. She and Alan had a great dialog as they walked through his career, with lots of anecdotes that provided insight into one person’s creative process, layered against different work processes and company cultures. This was not any sort of ethnography, but the frisson from hearing someone share their stories was similar.

Two particularly cool points in the interview:

  • The Adobe demo used a bunch of Alan’s files (designs for a book cover, and a magazine cover) and when Alan came on stage he expressed some distress over the fact that “all the type was defaulting.” He was referring (I think) to the fact that the his machine and the demo machine were configured differently and the fonts in the demo were not the fonts that he was using in his designs, and so were not appearing correctly. I mostly just liked the phrase; such an insider’s way of putting it.
  • Alan related a story about a focus group gone typically wrong, when they showed some Molson labels to some 20-year old guys in Philadelphia. One participant cast himself as the alpha male and declared that it looked like a “gay beer” and of course, no one else in the group was willing to say “Well, I kinda like it…” Alan described his preference to really talk with people and observe them. That comment isn’t so radical, but the fact that it comes from a leader in the graphic design community (not historically the most user-centered of design practices) is awesome.

You can check out archived Design Matters broadcasts here (and these feature one of the best parts: Debbie’s articulate state-of-the-world rants that lead off each episode). No link to Alan’s site because he doesn’t have one (yet, as he told me afterwards).

Update: a short film based on this event has just been posted


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