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Cryptocurrency isn't typically the most accessible of industries. Those in the know are happy to get involved, but for the general public, the likes of Bitcoin and Etherium still seem futuristic and mysterious. As their popularity continues to skyrocket, more and more companies – including Luno – have started to move into the space.

Last night, Luno scooped the UK local prize at the Tech5 awards in Amsterdam (part of The Next Web conference) for its remarkable growth, and came second overall. We caught up with head of product design Lana Glass to find out how they went about designing an app that appealed to the masses.

In basic terms, what is Luno?

Luno makes it safe and easy for people to buy, store, use and learn about digital currencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. Users download the Luno app or go to the website, create an account, deposit money from their bank account into their Luno Wallet and buy some Bitcoin or Ethereum. Luno also allows you to send and receive digital currencies, monitor the price, set price alerts and place orders on our Exchange. In the long run, our vision is to upgrade the world to a better financial system.

What are your main aims with the design of the product?

In early 2017 we underwent a rebrand from BitX to Luno. Most Bitcoin companies have very technical names and BitX was no different. The price of Bitcoin was increasing, our customer base was growing and changing, and our app and website needed to reflect the changes we made in our brand. 

We wanted to create a friendly, trustworthy, engaging app. One of the first steps was to unify our three platforms – web, Android and iOS – as we needed to make sure that the user experience and offering were the same on each platform. By creating a design system we were able to stay as close to native patterns and elements as possible, while still making each platform look and feel like Luno.

Tell us a bit about your UX aims…

As digital currencies are still so new, and a little scary to most people, our main focus is to convey familiarity and build trust with our customers. As we grow across markets we are focusing on localising our products so that customers have the easiest journey possible into this new financial system. This includes translating our apps into multiple European languages, testing how different demographics and regions respond to the illustrations we use and conducting usability tests with potential customers on the ground. 

Digital currencies are still seen as quite a futuristic, techy thing by the general public. How did you tackle this in your design?

This is definitely a concern for us. There is still a lot of negativity around digital currencies and a lot of speculation and untruths. Our challenge is to separate the facts from the fiction. There are a few things we can do to build trust with our customers, including using familiar UX patterns, our choice of colour palette, and the illustrations we use and where we use them. 

We also understand that we have a social responsibility to educate our customers about this new financial landscape, as well as stakeholders, investors, banks and regulators, and bring this understanding with us when designing product changes or new features.

What web technologies Luno is based on…

Our mobile-first, responsive web platform uses mostly AngularJS, Typescript and some jQuery for coding the web frontend. We use Grunt as a build tool and Sass for our stylesheet, with Git for version control and Lighthouse for performance. 

We also have two native apps. On iOS we prefer not to use external libraries, meaning the base tech is all Apple. We migrated to Swift at the end of 2016 as the rebrand allowed us to review parts of our app that hadn’t had some love in a while. We have a few fans of Material Design in the office and we try to stay as close as possible to the great design system that Google has built for Android, without losing our brand voice. 

We are quite excited about the recent updates to Material Design that were announced at this years I/O and look forward to seeing how Material Theming can help us balance familiarity with personality.

Luno came second in the Tech5 awards, in recognition of how fast the company has grown. Did such rapid growth raise any design problems?

The redesign from BitX to Luno happened in three months from the first announcement to the company to the day the apps went live on the app stores. That includes CI, branding, marketing, website changes and updates to the mobile applications. With such a short turnaround time we were less focused on systems and processes and just wanted to get the best product shipped as soon as possible. 

This means that when we had time to catch our breath, the design team had a bit of work to do to collate libraries, clean up UI elements, make sure that the user experience was consistent and appealing, and create a design system that we can rely on for years to come.

Read more:

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Food was the theme of the latest edition of thread, a series of creative events in Bristol curated by Fiasco Design. Over the course of the evening, in between trips to the pizza van and making tortillas in mini kitchens, there were three talks about food, design, and how they can work together. 

Australian food stylist Peta O'Brien, aka POB, talked of how long it takes to soft-boil an ostrich egg  (47 minutes), Tom Hovey revealed why he always draws in red and blue when illustrating for the Great British Bake Off ("‘cos it makes me feel like I’m a fancy architect and not just someone drawing cakes all day,”) and Sam Bompas from sensory experience curators Bompas and Parr showed the audience how gherkins can make “really rubbish lightbulbs,” before passing round ‘lightning vodka’, which he described – quite accurately – as “horrible.”

But we weren’t just stuffing our faces. What did we learn from the night? Here are our favourite tips from the evening:

01. Don't be afraid of seeming 'weird'

Some of Bompas and Parr’s books on food

When you’re a food stylist, and you have to do things such as demand 300 identical mackerel from your local fishmonger, you can't worry about being different. “Everybody whose anybody is vegan, I’m not, I really like meat,” said O'Brien, as her slides jumped between offal and liver. “This liver is 7.3 kilos in weight,” she said animatedly. “I took it out of its vac packed bag and it was like holding a baby.” O'Brien attributed this passion for flesh to her days as an oral surgeon's assistant. “I love flesh. And I love stitching things back up,” she revealed.

When Bompas was starting out, “food wasn’t cool.” People used to ask him why he didn’t get a ‘real job’, but he pursued a career in using food to make experiences that people will love. This has led to projects such as an ‘architectural jelly banquet’, cooking steak with lightning, and exploding wedding cakes (as bad as it sounds, apparently).

02. Stay focused

Precision and patience are key in food styling, especially when working with models

Hovey has created over 2,000 illustrated bakes for the Great British Bake Off. Perfecting this art has enabled him to move on to his own personal projects. “If you do one thing over and over again you get better and then you can do other stuff,” he said.  

Bompas agreed that focusing on one task or element of design is the answer: “If you really focus on one small thing you can really take it quite far,” he said, before demonstrating his gherkin lightbulb for the crowd (see below).  

In the world of food styling, it’s especially important to be precise, focus on details. and be patient while in bizarre situations. “For this shoot (above), I had to tweezer sweets into the model’s mouth one by one, and tell her not to swallow," said O'Brien. "She held it for so long she had a mouth full of saliva, which is what the photographer wanted because he wanted it to be wet. And just before she drowned…we got it.”

03. Take opportunities

The ‘gherkin lightbulbs’ before they were (dimly) lit

“Within a month of being in London I got my first illustration gig,” says Hovey, who had moved to the capital after spending more and more time there doing street art murals. He soon landed a non-illustrating job on a new TV show called the Great British Bake Off, but the producers realised “it was hard for viewers to visualise what was going on." He was asked to come up with a new way to help viewers see what was going on, and has been the show's illustrator ever since.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” he said, quoting Seneca.  

04. Know when to readjust work-life balance

Just some of the illustrations Tom Hovey has done for GBBO

That luck and opportunity doesn’t stop work being hard or life getting in the way, though. “My girlfriend would wake up pretty often and I’d be face down in biscuits,” said Hovey.  

On going digital he said: “I felt like I’d drawn with pens and pencils for my whole life and by removing them, I was removing part of my soul. But with my daughter being born, I knew that I had to get rid of wasted time.”

He also added that there’s no point stressing too much about your own work: “No one’s really paying as much attention to your work as you are. They’re on screen for like six secs even though they might take three days to draw. Basically, no one cares.”

After 35 years in the industry, O'Brien is also choosing her projects wisely: “I just don't have any sense of fun if I’m doing something ghastly,” she said. “So I don’t do anything ghastly anymore.” 

05. Pursue side projects

Peta O’Brien’s personal project was inspired by a breast biopsy

Hovey admitted he’s become much happier since pursuing his own projects. “Self-initiated work is really important and if you put yourself out there hopefully people will ask you to do more of it, and then you’ll make money, which is the most important thing,” he grinned.

For O'Brien, personal projects have helped her work through personal issues. After having a breast biopsy, she had to create something: “The only way I can process shit like that is to turn it into a project. It really put it to bed for me,” she said.

“Now, I found that I’ve just got this whole creative surge going on. And I’m kind of thinking it’s ‘cos I’m at the end of my career and I want to get out everything out there. I’m doing shitloads of personal projects. So watch this space.”  

For Bompas, bizarre experiments with food and design are part and parcel of his everyday job. “We’re lucky as we live in a time where we’re getting food for pleasure. What we try to create is another form of entertainment,” he said.   

Read more:

  • How to use Instagram as a digital sketchbook
  • How to photograph food: 10 pro tips
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Around a year and a half ago, Reddit embarked on the first major redesign the site had seen in a decade. With a dated and convoluted codebase and a reputation of being overwhelming to new users, the decision seemed unavoidable, but with a 330 million-strong, highly opinionated and vocal user base, the new look was both highly anticipated and a big risk. 

Reddit decided to open up the process, and build the new look based on feedback from moderators, long-term users, and other redditors. 18 months later, the redesign is being rolled out.

At The Next Web, CTO Christopher Stowe spoke to a packed audience (many of them 'Redditors' themselves, an early show of hands revealed) about taking the high-stakes project. We caught up with him afterwards to find out more.

 With such a big userbase with a huge variety of interests, it seems like there is no 'typical' Reddit user. Did this make it difficult to know who to design for? 

It definitely makes it more complicated. Part of the point of the redesign was to start addressing the concerns of users we don't necessarily even have yet. That was where having the dedicated UX team helped a lot. We did user interviews with people who are much more casual users. 'Lookers' – who just read – are actually a very large fraction of the community.

The nice thing is, voting is a core competency of comments. So we generally addressed concerns in order of the number of votes they got, which is a pretty good way of determining who feels passionate about what. In those threads we do dive pretty deep into the deep, dark nether regions at the bottom.

The condensed view

You spent a lot of time getting users' opinions. How did you choose which views to listen to? Was it literally based on the ones that got the votes?

No. It's complicated. We're trying to balance addressing concerns that we can fix quickly and basically trying to assuage everyone else that 'no, we hear you, were working on this, it's a moving target. It's going to take us months to get this straight.'

We've launched this current product and it's mostly done, it's pretty far along. But mostly done is the first 90 per cent and the remaining 10 per cent is everything else that you don't expect. When it comes to things like user requests, there's that old joke that users don't actually know what they want. Well, they do, sometimes! But they don't know what they need. 

Reddit is necessarily quite text-heavy. How do you go about making that volume of text appear welcoming? 

One of the things we wanted to build into the redesign was a card view that actually made sense with our aesthetic. It was one of the first things we launched on our mobile apps: we had not just the text view but a card view. 

For the web, we've found that over the years there's been a drift towards more images and videos, kind of unsurprisingly because there's more of it available. In the last couple of years we've launched our own video hosting and image hosting, which also fits a lot more cleanly with the experience. 

The new Reddit card view

You launched a redesigned mobile app in 2016, which introduced a new look to the website people were used to. Did you have the web redesign in mind when you were working on designing the mobile app? 

It was something we'd talked about a lot, for sure. If anything we knew it was going to be much more of a beast than doing the mobile app. The first thing we did was to launch a mobile app we actually liked and wasn't something we'd just cobbled together. Then we went in and attacked our mobile web experience next.

We rebuilt that stack and it gave us an opportunity to test out new redesigns on the web stack and also to test out new technology. Those two things together gave us enough confidence to say: Okay! Let's do this. Rip the band aid off… over the course of 18 months!

So the mobile app wasn't a strategic way to get users used to a different look?

I think what happens is users break into these relatively clean cohorts. There is a lot of overlap between our core engaged user base and the mobile apps, but we also have a rather large group of people who mostly engage with the web. Still.

Where there's been some tension is in addressing the concerns of that group, who don't care about aesthetics and they don't like the apps. The way I've heard it described is almost like … the most powerful way to use a computer is the terminal. And its also the most user-unfriendly part. But if you know how to use it, you're a super power user. Reddit has a tendency to lean towards that. A very steep learning curve, but if you've made it over the top you're sorted.

You spoke in your talk about 'structured styles' – tell us a bit about that.

Community moderators have permission to create style sheets for their community that users can opt out of using. It gives an opportunity to have a very customised aesthetic for your community, and it also meant that the community independently developed things – like when hero images became a thing, they started plopping them on the top bar.

Structured Styles was a response to that. CSS is still a very tricky tool for a non-expert to use. It's a tricky tool for an expert to use! We found there was basically a set of about 10 distinct, almost like CSS packs that had been generated by the community over the years by a handful of users, and these were just being copy-pasted across the site. 

So we built out a styling system in React where you can make copy edits and styling changes with colour pickers, and see live updates. And that's Structured Styles. We covered what we thought was the majority of features required to make it complete.

But there's no real way to test whether or not we hit everything until we launch it, and find out all the places that it breaks. Or the cases that some intrepid community has gone and made something either really beautiful or terribly horrible. There's some really awful layouts that people actually like. Like R/ooer. They optimise for aesthetically offensive I think. 

It's interesting that you let users change their styling so much. Is having a coherent brand identity important to you? 

We have two main guiding principles. One of them is 'let the humans do the hard part'. So we have moderators, we have people involved in the interaction. The other one is 'Reddit should always feel small'. And that necessitates a certain ability to carve off a chunk and have your community feel like a small piece of the pie. 

We're still going to take the best across the communities and surface it on the front page because the font page to us is a major product surface by itself, and it accounts for a good chunk of our pageviews. And it's where people can start to engage and see the styles of the communities and feel the different flavours that are available.

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The W3C has a comprehensive list of requirements that can be completed to achieve web accessibility, be that at AA or the stricter AAA level. However these are not enforced and, as a result, often overlooked. They're also not exactly up to date, as the last full version of the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) was released nearly a decade ago. 

But don't worry, there are many simple ways to make your sites more accessible, and ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy your content. Here are seven tools that will help you on your way to a website layout and site that works for all…

01. Sim Daltonism

Sim Daltonism

A great Mac/iOS app for live previews

If you’re using a Mac or iOS, this great app by Michael Fortin enables you to overlay a window directly over any web page or application you’re viewing and see a live preview of what it looks like with each form of colour blindness. You can resize it to any size and you aren’t restricted like you are with the web page. It also has an iOS version where you can use the device’s camera.

02. A11Y checklist

The A11Y project work tirelessly on providing clear advice and tips on web accessibility. It contains its own list of resources, an accessible widget and pattern library, and is worth visiting for its blog on new approaches.

03. Contrast Ratio

Want to test a combination of two colours before using them in a design? Lea Verou has made a neat online checker that will show you an example of how it looks, and displays the contrast ratio level and what level it passes.

04. Lighthouse

Google Lighthouse

Is your page up to scratch? Try Google Lighthouse to find out

Lighthouse is a tool that audits the accessibility performance, best practices, and PWA standards of any web page. It’s built into Chrome’s audit panel in the web inspector, is brilliantly detailed, and can be run instantly.

05. HeadingsMap

The HeadingsMap extension generates a tree, based on the headings on a page and highlights any that are out of place in terms of hierarchy, or have been skipped entirely. It’s important for both screen readers and SEO.

06. Validity

A nice and easy Chrome extension to perform inline HTML validation checks on your pages, with the results being outputted to the browser console (yellow for warning, red for error). This extension is also available in Firefox.

07. VoiceOver

The most comprehensive of the screen reading software mentioned, VoiceOver is built into every major Apple operating system and gives you a great insight into your web page’s performance for those with blindness or low vision.

Create typography for all

An image displaying the speakers appearing at Generate London and providing a link to buy tickets.

Generate London 2018 – the conference for web designers

Every day millions and millions of people look at text on the web. We’re reading email, newspapers, magazines, blog posts, reviews, reports, gossip, weather forecasts, bank statements, social network updates, and much more besides. As designers, we should be striving to make those reading experiences as good as possible.

Check out Richard Rutter's workshop on Responsive Web Typography at Generate London 2018. 

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Have you ever wanted to recreate your favourite characters from books, television series, or movies? What about reimagining Chucky the possessed doll as the new spokesperson for off-brand cereals? Or maybe you just want to pay homage to your heroes. 

With all of the fan art out there, how do you compete? How do you come up with something original? Where do you find inspiration? What art techniques and tools will bring your vision to life?

To find out, we contacted a range of artists who create fan art and asked them for their tips for creating original work that looks great. 

01. Learn the basics first

Jamie R. Stone suggests getting the basics down before finding your own style

Jamie R. Stone is a T-shirt artist operating under the handle Punksthetic Art. "It's OK to be inspired by your favourite movies and borrow certain elements to create your own visual style,” she advises. “But start with the basics of making art first."

Once you have the basics down, then you can start to mix and match different concepts to come up with new ideas.

02. Play around

Christopher Pierre draws inspiration from everyday life

Don't overthink your design or get locked into an idea. By doing so, you may be cutting off a potential masterpiece. Christopher Pierre, a digital artist from the Caribbean Islands, likes to keep all of his options open. He says that everything has an impact on the shape and scope of his artwork because he takes a wide-eyed approach to everyday life. 

"One of the best pieces of advice I received was a quote: 'Look at life through the eyes of a child'," says Pierre. "I definitely use that philosophy in sketching, drawing… any and everything."

03. Adapt your tools to your lifestyle

Jody Parmann finds digital art much easier to fit into her day

Time to create is limited these days, and if you're raising little ones like Jody Parmann, time to create can seem non-existent. Parmann was a painter before she had children, but now she does most of her art digitally, using Adobe Draw. 

"Pulling out my paints and spending an afternoon being messy in the studio is a thing of the past,” she says. “The iPad and Apple Pencil is easy to pick up when I have a few spare moments and put way when my children need my attention." 

Her advice to anyone trying a new tool is to be patient. "Have purpose for what you're trying to make, but don't immediately expect to be at the same level as you are with more familiar tools,” she smiles.

04. Build depth with layers

Rebecca Marshall builds up layers to create a 3D look

Flat images can be great, but if it’s a 3D look you’re going for, you need to add some layers of colour. Adding highlights, shadows, and blended colours and tones will help bring things to life.

Rebecca Marshall, a storyteller and graduate of Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, uses multiple layers to create depth in her work – much like a painter might start with an underpainting. "It can be a tedious process," she explains. "It never looks like much at first, but everything comes together with the more layers that you apply."

05. Be true to yourself and your style

John M. Tatulli recommends having confidence in your own style

Being true to your style is key for John M. Tatulli. He firmly believes that when you draw enough, your style will begin to rise to the top; you just need to trust it and allow it to be what it is. 

While it's OK to be inspired by your biggest influences – which for Tatulli are Jake Parker and Will Terry – you don't have to make your work look like theirs. "Trust your style and shine,” he says. “You were designed to be different."

06. Use a lighter touch

Lowering the sensitivity of his Wacom helped transform Oliver Harbour’s work

Don't over-grip your pencil or stylus; if you're using a Wacom or other touch-sensitive tablet, adjust its settings to suit your style – for instance, a reduced sensitivity helped with the airbrushing of these wings.

It may sound trivial, but Oliver Harbour says it can make all the difference. "You don’t realise how much pressure and strain it's putting on your wrists and fingers,” he says, “and how much more control you'd have with a tighter touch."

07. Take your time

Virginia spends time researching before embarking on a piece

When Virginia Kakava sits down to start a piece, preparation is key. The first thing she does is to study the subject and learn more about the character. She uses her initial sketch to figure out the style, clothes, and environment, before getting started on the final artwork.

Kakava's fan art combines photo manipulation and digital painting. "The final rendering is very important," she emphasises. "It’s the last chance to decide the feel you want your artwork to have, either by changing the brightness etc. or by adding filters to make a more unified result."

08. Keep practicing

It's been said that to become a master at anything, all you need to do is work on it for 10,000 hours. For US-based artist, Vincent Turner this advice is spot on. Turner has been experimenting with different techniques for a long time. "The more you do it, the better you get," he smiles. So if you haven’t quite mastered a particular technique or approach, don’t shy away and try and avoid it in your work – work at it, and you’ll improve. 

09. Relax

Brian Allen thinks the best work emerges when you have fun creating it

Brian Allen of Flyland Designs reminds us not to lose sight of the reason we create fan art in the first place. "The best artwork materialises when you're having a lot of fun creating it," he says. So relax, and don't take yourself so seriously!

10. Be original

Adam W Rodriguez originally shied away from fan art

Adam W Rodriguez was first inspired by cartoons and comic books but avoided fan art because he felt it wasn’t "original art". To which his six year-old niece argued, "Then make your fan art original."

The lesson Rodriguez learned was that exploring different genres will only help you grow as a creative. Understanding different types of art can, in turn, help make your own art more unique. "Don't limit yourself by hating certain styles of art; instead challenge yourself and make your contribution to that style,” he says. “So, hate less and explore more."

Read more:

  • How fan art can get you paid
  • Sci-fi and fantasy art painting tips
  • 14 fantasy artists to follow on Instagram

Is anyone else going to scream if another GDPR re-permission campaign email lands in their inbox? If you didn't know (from the hundreds of emails you've already had), today is the day companies have to make sure they're compliant with GDPR.

What is GDPR?

A good question. GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation, and is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for everyone within the European Union. In short, it's a big deal, and so companies want to make sure they're compliant. The repermissioning campaigns filling up your inbox are an attempt by each company to ensure they are up to standard with the law, which is being enforced today. 

So we get it, they're only doing what they have to with these emails. But, jeez, you'd think they could come up with a few ways to make them more interesting. 

That said, we can't knock them all. Some organisations have recognised that GDPR isn't exactly the most exciting subject and used their creative prowess to deliver a campaign that won't immediately make your eyes glaze over. 

Here are the best examples we've seen, and a few of the worst…

01. Glug

Glug newsletter

Click the image to see the Glug opt-in email in all its glory

We'd like to start by thanking the guys at Glug events for giving us a laugh with their opt-in email this morning. It immediately caught our attention with the subject line 'We decided not to', quickly followed by a series of highly appropriate and hilarious GIFs. 

The team go on to report their own stats for amount of GDPR or what they call the *what-shall-not-be-named*-regulation emails they've received, with co-founder Nick Clement joking (we hope) with one million. 

Any email that has an N-Sync GIF in gets our vote. Nicely done, guys. 

02. ASOS

ASOS went for a simple yet effective approach

Fashion brand ASOS stayed true to its demographic, sending out this trendy infographic-style opt-in campaign to its consumers. The subject line was simple and clear: 'The law is changing. Are you set to get your ASOS emails?', followed by a very obvious 'Opt in' call to action and simple graphics detailing exactly what that means. Simple, but very effective. 

03. Cancer research

The team at Cancer Research were way ahead of the game when it comes to GDPR, choosing to go opt-in only back in July 2017. 

The company backed up its move with an engaging 'Just A Tick' campaign, which included this informative yet creative video, which makes it very clear to its supporters how vital consent is in the fight against cancer. 

The video ends with the tagline 'A tick doesn't sound like much, but it has the power to do great things'. Bravo Cancer Reasearch, bravo.

04. Dune

Dune harnessed FOMO in its email

One of the most powerful tools in the marketing arsenal is FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. So we wonder why more GDPR emails haven’t exploited this technique? Fashion brand Dune knows all about this psychological principle, and has put it into full effect with this striking call to action. Be honest: who wouldn’t want to press the yes button in these email, as quickly as possible? (Thanks to Mel‏ @MZ_Creative for passing this on).  

05. NailsInc

NailsInc invites its customers to become VIPs

While Dune’s newsletter (above) wields a scary stick, NailsInc instead offers a juicy carrot. While the easy option is to ignore these emails, or just snarkily click ‘Opt Out’, Nails Inc offers us an incredible inducement to do so. All we have to do is opt in and we become ‘A VIP for free’ which includes ‘Free standard delivery’ and ‘Amazing gifts’. We’re not sure how amazing these gifts will actually be, but the glitzy graphics suggest they’ll be pretty amazing indeed – and all you need to do is click? Well, who wouldn’t?

06. Good Design

A laugh surely equals an ‘opt-in’?

Have you noticed how nice, polite and often fussily formal these GDPR emails have been? Well, here’s a palette refresher from the good people at Good Fucking Design Advice. By cleverly subverting the standard wording with more down-to-earth language, it shows the power of humour to win round even the most recalcitrant newsletter-receiver.

07. Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Who could resist a Lemur’s plea?

Awwwwww. Well, if you don’t respond to this little Lemur baby’s pleas, then you’ve got to have a heart made of stone. Yorkshire Wildlife Park not only found a way to pull on the heart strings with their GDPR campaign, but they made an event of it, cheekily building up expectations on Twitter with the following quote: 

08. Matt Richards Illustration

Clean illustration and honest words may stand out in your inbox

We couldn’t complete this list without hearing from one of our own… With his GDPR email, illustrator Matt Richards  has shown the way: treating the eye with a lovely image and using humour and plain speaking to make you feel like you’re being addressed by an actual human. In fact, just reading the opening sentence (“One day you’re on top of the world, and the next some secretary’s running you over with a GDPR lawnmower”) gives you an immediate sense that you want to click yes to this man.

But as we all know to our cost, not everyone has got it right. Here are some of the worst examples of GDPR emails, as called out by the people of Twitter…

01. Sometimes the humour just doesn't quite land…

02. Layout, hierarchy, wording… what isn't wrong with this? 

03. Someone needs to hire a copywriter

04. Just. Not. Appropriate

05. Worst or best subject line ever?

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Lately, we’ve noticed a lot of designers using geometric patterns, shapes and styles in their logo designs, vector art and more. Using these shapes, the designs become a simple yet wholly striking work of art channelling influences from the design era of art deco.

We've rounded up our favourite examples of geometric patterns and designs featuring geometric shapes. See what you think…

01. Seis x Six

Geometric patterns feature prominently within Morales’ portfolio

Based in Bogotá, Colombia, Silvino González Morales is a photographer, visual artist and graphic designer whose work often features geometric or fractal patterns. Seis x Six is one such project, in which Morales takes simple hexagons as his starting point, and then works them up into complex and beautiful patterns.

02. Luminous Design Group

This geometric identity for E-Jet is inspired by the company’s precision cutting work

Tasked with creating a logo design and corporate identity for E-jet, a company that specialises in cutting, machining and forming materials using high precision machines, Luminous Design Group from Athens looked to the cutting process itself and came up with a geometric design that reflects the complex decorative designs that E-jet carries out. On a second level, the geometric shapes that make up the pattern can be rearranged to make the name of the company.

03. Metaltations

The metallic meditations are available to download as wallpaper

Ari Weinkle is an artist and designer from Boston, MA, whose work breaks apart and reappropriates different forms such as the human figure, organic shapes and typography. This work, entitled Metaltations, is a series of six metal meditations merging blended metals – copper, silver and gold – and repeated geometric shapes, and was made using Photoshop and Cinema 4D.

04. Sub.Division

GMUNK uses intricate geometry to mind-bending effect

GMUNK's Sub.Division is a series of perceptual landscapes where graphic complexity emerges from the structure of simplistic three-dimensional forms; by subdividing basic primitive shapes into various levels of geometric intricacy, GMUNK aims to create perceived movement and patter. The series was created using Maya with the MASH procedural plugin, and rendered with Arnold.

05. Eric Broug

Eric Broug’s art is inspired by Islamic geometric design

Dutch artist and designer Eric Broug discovered Islamic geometric art as a student in Amsterdam, and has been pursuing it ever since. Because the use of figurative images is forbidden in Islamic art, he often uses intricate geometric patterns, created by the repetition, overlapping and interlacing of squares and circles, following mathematical rules. 

Broug taught himself about Islamic geometric art by trying to deconstruct and recreate its patterns with a compass, ruler, pencil and paper, and has created books such as Islamic Geometric Design, which examines Islamic geometric design in terms of its historical and cultural context.

06. Jeremy Booth

This piece demonstrates Jeremy Booth’s geometric approach to illustration

Born and raised in Kentucky, Jeremy Booth is a self-taught designer and illustrator whose style has been described as 'vector noir', with an emphasis on strong angular lines with plenty of bold light and shadow. 

Much of his work features distinctly geometric elements, as can be seen in the illustration above, entitled Curiosity. Head to his site to see more examples of his eye-catching work.

07. City of Melbourne

Geometric designs: City of Melbourne

This cool design is as multi-faceted as the city itself

Bringing a city together through branding is no easy task, especially when the city in question is a diverse as Melbourne, Australia. However that's exactly what branding agency Landor had to achieve with its aesthetic for the City of Melbourne Council.

Thanks to a clever geometric design, the chunky 'M' logo is flexible enough to reflect the different aspects and personalities of the city. Accompanied by a broader branding campaign that spreads across print and online platforms, Landor has successfully tied together the city through angular imagery.

08. Trig

Geometric designs: Olivia King packaging

This dynamic packaging really complements the jewellery

Australian designer, printer and podcaster Olivia King created this beautiful collection of concept packaging, which is suitably called Trig (as in trigonometry). With a focus on angles and a bright visual identity, this design links up physical products with a digital app.

09. Vector animals

Geometric patterns vector animals

This geometric vector series is a marvel of inspiration

This project from designer Hope Little, which began back in 2012, is a marvel of geometric design. These vector animals have proven so popular that Little has even started taking requests for portraits.

"I wanted to steer away from my usual melty, disproportional illustrations and try for something clean and balanced," explains Little. "I started experimenting with shapes, settling on a triangle to keep things clean and simple. I wanted the illustrations to be bright and colourful, so I searched for animals, due to the fact the fur offered a wide variety of patterns and colours."

10. Spray paintings

Geometric patterns paintings

This series of paintings were created by New York artist Adam Daily

This series of beautiful geometric paintings was crafted by New York artist Adam Daily, whose work spans a variety of media and techniques, including painting, photography and collage.

These paintings were imagined through a combination of digital and analogue tools and were eventually created by hand, using acrylic on PVC panels and applying paint with a spray gun.

Next page: 9 more glorious geometric designs

11. Geometric clothes

geometric patterns clothes

Will you really be wearing these geometric patterns in the future?

Icelandic designer Sruli Recht has taken geometric design to a new level with these designs for a range of futuristic fashion. Recht explains the concept thus: "The simplified disastery of polygonal geometry – breaking the body down into a pixelated memory."

The clothes are made from "walnut wood material on a wool base. Once grown, the wood is deconstructed into pieces, and then attached to a textile base, creating a material that is half wood, half textile, and completely fragmentary."

12. Landshape

Geometric patterns: Tame Impala poster

The poster was created for a Tame Impala gig in Rio

Liam Brazier is a freelance illustrator and animator based in London. He creates geometric designs for a range of clients including Cartoon Network, Dazed & Confused, and Glastonbury Festival. This poster design was created for a Tame Impala gig in Rio and is based upon the band's album artwork.

13. Bird Mural

Geometric patterns: bird

Tobias Hall created this mural for Zizzi

Freelance illustrator, letterer, designer and mural artist  Tobias Hall worked closely with UK-based Italian restaurant chain, Zizzi to create a number of bespoke wall paintings. We particularly love this geometric bird design.

14. Pattern Booth

Geometric patterns: Patternbooth

Patternbooth creates a number of geometric pattern designs

The patternbooth is a collection of fresh, abstract and geometric pattern designs created by Cara Holland for interiors, fashion and products. She has a number of inspiring examples on her website, but we particularly enjoyed the colour scheme of this one.

15. Matt W Moore

Geometric patterns: mural

Matt W Moore has been painting geometric pattern designs for over half his life

We love seeing inspirational examples of street art – often brightening up grey and drab architecture with a lick of paint and a load of creativity. Boston-based artist Matt W Moore has been painting on walls for over half his life, and this geometric pattern design is just some one example of his incredible work.

16. Geometric Daily

Geometric patterns: Geometric daily tumblr

An inspiring geometric pattern design is posted up every day on this tumblr

The geometric daily tumblr is dedicated to sharing new, minimal geometric compositions. It's no longer being updated daily, but there's still plenty of geometric eye-candy to explore. Proving to be one of the best tumblr blogs for designers, it's packed full of minimalist inspiration and gorgeous colour schemes. Scroll away!

17. Oh My God

Geometric patterns: Gods

These well-known Gods were created for an exhibition in Barcelona

This brilliant new series of geometric deities comes straight out of Barcelona-based creative agency Hey Studio. They were created for the aptly titled 'Oh My God' show at the Mitte-Barcelona space. The modern vector illustrations make us look at these well known figures from a new perspective.

18. Sakir Gökçebag

Geometric patterns: fruit

Geometric food art that looks good enough to eat

Who needs Photoshop when you're this handy with a knife? Turkish artist Sakir Gökçebag has breathed new life into everyday produce such as apples and watermelons and turned them into something quite beautiful. The geometric shapes created have not been digitally remastered or altered in any way!

19. Mirage animation

This vivid animation 'Mirage' was created by video and sound designer Frederic Kokott. Using abstract and geometric forms, Kokott brings an unnamed city slowly into focus in the four-minute short. Featuring flat colours and simple shapes, the designer used Adobe Illustrator and After Effects to bring all the elements together.

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Back in 2016, Nolan Lawson ignited a bit of web controversy when, during a talk at the Fronteers Conference in Amsterdam, he suggested that it's okay to build a website that doesn't work without JavaScript, and then followed up with a blog post in which he argued that narrow interpretation of progressive enhancement – start with HTML, then add CSS, then add JavaScript – doesn't really make a lot of sense.

So, given that nearly everyone has a JavaScript-enabled browser what with it being 2018 and everything, is it okay to build sites that don't work without it? We asked our panel of experts.

Point of failure

Consultant frontend architect Harry Roberts got straight to the point: "In a word: No. In many words: Full JS apps are fine provided that a) They have their first render on the server, and b) They give me some content if that JS fails to load. It's less about availability of JS, and more about not entrusting flaky network connections with delivering our entire app in one render-blocking package. That's the problem. Don't make JS your app's single point of failure."

(Sarcastically) Yes!

"As long as you're fine with the site completely failing because the browser is too old, or too new, or the user's bandwidth is too constrained, or the server hiccups, or a firewall's security policy blocks it, or a dependency goes sideways, or you accidentally drop a semicolon somewhere, then sure," says consultant and author Eric Meyer, "it's OK. What you build won't be a part of the web continuum, and it will be needlessly fragile, but that's a choice you can make."

Offline-first, first

It's all a matter of priorities, says the man who kicked off the debate in the first place, Nolan Lawson. "The question we should be asking ourselves is not how well our sites work without JS, but how well they work under poor or nonexistent network conditions," he suggests. "These concerns are often conflated, but they're not the same. Every year smartphones represent an increasing share of web traffic, but mobile networks have not caught up. 

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"So offline-first – treating the network as an enhancement with JS tools like Service Worker and IndexedDB – has become the new standard for building fast, resilient websites. It is possible to do both traditional progressive enhancement and offline-first, but it's not easy. We should prioritise offline-first over works-without-JS."

As long as it's done well

For web designer and developer Lea Verou it's probably all right, with reservations. "For web apps (e.g. Google Docs), it's a loud 'Yes'," she says, "since their functionality cannot be replicated without JavaScript. For content-based websites, it gets a bit trickier. Sure, except for a few weirdos nobody disables JS anymore, and it is technically possible to make an accessible, lightweight site that depends on JS. Also, if there is a JS error anywhere, the content breaks, which is a terrible experience (not concatenating all JS files helps alleviate this a bit). So, I guess my answer is, yes if done really well; no otherwise."

Functionality before features

"The core functionality of any service on the web should be available to the widest number of people," says Jeremy Keith. "The best way to ensure this is to use the simplest possible technology for that core functionality. But once you've got that in place, you can go absolutely crazy with JavaScript … including adding more functionality that requires JavaScript to work. I'm reminded of what Mat Marquis said when working on the Boston Globe site: 'Lots of cool features on the site don't work when JavaScript breaks; 'reading the news' is not one of them.'"

Power and responsibility

Developer evangelist Christian Heilmann suggests that the question isn't about JavaScript, it's more about responsibility and power. "You can create a solution delivering the most important use case using HTML and CSS and enhance with JavaScript. This could, however, be very basic and not what people expect nowadays. 

"If you rely on JavaScript you have full control, but also full responsibility over the delivery and the error handling. Problems like flaky connections can't be solved without JavaScript. Our job on the web is to create experiences that are available and great to use. We do this by using all of our tools responsibly."

Does anything really need JavaScript?

"Your project may require client-side JavaScript," says Aaron Gustafson, author of Adaptive Web Design, "I'd argue most don't. Most can benefit from client-side JavaScript to improve the user experience (including by providing a good offline experience), but creating an experience that benefits from client-side JavaScript is not the same as creating one that requires it. It's an important distinction that is often overlooked."

This article originally appeared in net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Subscribe here.

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20 Usability Dos and Don'ts of Web Design

You need a website that works. Here’s how to address some of the most common usability issues.

There’s a big difference between building something that works on a basic operational level versus one that is functional and easy to use. When it comes to websites, a lack of consideration for user experience often causes website owners and designers to build site that look nice, but don’t function. This has disastrous consequences for owner and visitor alike. To avoid them, here are some of our top usability do’s and don’ts.

1. Do: Maintain a consistent interface.

Your color scheme, font choices, and other style decisions should be uniform throughout the site. Your buttons should look the same, images should have a unified look and feel, and content types should display in similar formats. Even when things perform different functions, they should all look like the belong to the same family.

2. Don’t: Radically alter the look and feel of the site from section to section.

It’s tempting to get carried away with things like font styles and color choices. But doing so can confuse users, and make them question if they’ve moved to a different site. Keep it consistent to maintain your brand identity.

3. Do: Follow effective navigation principles.

Navigation that doesn’t navigate is a non-starter. Your menus should be easy to find, contain no more than tier-two navigation, and have self-descriptive labels. Your blog should be called “blog,” not “inspiration.” Your navigation is the table of contents to your site. It’s not a place to fool around.

4. Don’t: Make it hard for users to find what they’re looking for.

Hiding items in a hamburger menu, or having a navigation menu take over the entire screen of your site, or giving menu items fancy but non-descriptive names, are all signs of a poorly-built website.

5. Do: Employ design hierarchy to guide user attention.

Header tags (such as <H1>, <H2>, etc.) help screen readers navigate content, and they help Google understand your site content. They also provide visual hierarchy for your reader, making your content more scannable and easier to read.

6. Don’t: Fill your website with unstructured content.

Long, dense columns of text with no headings and little white space provide a visual strain for readers. Similarly, an overly cluttered site with too many images and CTAs divides user attention. Use structure to direct user focus and drive leads.

7. Do: Use thoughtful, engaging, consistent copy throughout your site.

Simple, clear language will get you a long way. Think about what your visitors need to know, and direct your copy toward speaking to their interests more than your own.

8. Don’t: Stuff your copy full of keywords or use long, jargon-laden terms.

It’s far too easy to start dropping burdensome phrases crammed full of jargon terminology to show off your own knowledge rather than create accessible writing for your users. Don’t do this. Plain English, please.

9. Do: Use your design to engage your users to scroll down the page.

It’s OK to have image or text cut off by the first screen your visitors land on. Users know how to scroll, and they will keep reading your content. Instead of forcing too much into that top screen, use your design to direct users further down the page.

10. Don’t: Trap yourself with “above the fold” thinking.

If you focus too much on the top part of your homepage, you neglect everything that comes below it. Don’t do this. And stop trying to shove more and more content into that top screen. It looks bad and confuses your visitors.

11. Do: Use descriptive labels on clickable buttons.

It should be obvious to your users that they can click on a button. If it isn’t, then they’re likely to make a usability error by missing the button altogether. You also want to have your button say what it does. One trick is to have your button label complete the sentence “I want to…” If it doesn’t, your button is probably making a non-sequitur for visitors.

12. Don’t: Use ambiguous labels or buttons that don’t look like buttons.

Have you ever hesitated to click a button because you don’t know where it will take you? Ambiguous button labels are disconcerting for most web users. If your button says something like “congratulations” or even just “click here,” your users are only acting in their best interests to treat it with suspicion. Similarly, if you button is plain text, or a ghost button, users may not realize they can click on it at all.

13: Do: Create a responsive, mobile-friendly design.

Most web traffic takes place on mobile devices. This means your website must have accessible navigation on smaller devices, readable text, and buttons that are easy to click without accidentally clicking something else.

14: Don’t: Neglect testing your website across multiple interfaces.

You may think your website works, but you won’t know for sure until you try it out. Test your website on different devices and on different browsers to be sure everything displays properly.

15: Do: Have your site behave in an expected manner.

Many competent online adults still struggle with technical proficiency. If your site is hard to use, they will quickly give up in frustration. Be considerate of your visitors. When you aren’t, you not only alienate them, you deprive yourself of their business.

16: Don’t: Hijack scrolling or other functions.

Have you ever landed on a disorienting website where your controls didn’t do what you thought they would do? Hijacked scrolling is the most common example, where the scroll feature starts doing something other than what you expected it would (or at a rate you didn’t expect). Menus that take over the entire screen are another. I don’t stay on these sites. Neither do your visitors.

17: Do: Provide users a trail of breadcrumbs so they know where they are on your site.

Have links turn a different color when users click on them. Show in the navigation the trail of pages your users took to get to where they are. Not only is it important for continued navigation of your site, it’s also comforting to your visitors not to feel lost.

18: Don’t: Strand your users with no navigation.

I recently landed on a site where, after clicking through a few pages, I was stuck at a dead-end page with no means of return. Yeah, I could have hit the “back” button, but that was clumsy and I didn’t want to return to the page I just left, I wanted to go directly to a different page. There are only a few cases where a hard exit page makes sense. In almost every context, you need to give your visitors better options so that they’ll stay on your site.

19: Do: Always put your users first.

Don’t ask your visitors to do a lot of work in order to use your website. Their time and attention should be precious to you. If part of your design will make it harder for your users to access your site, then it’s not good enough.

20: Don’t: Put form before function.

It doesn’t matter how nice it looks if it doesn’t work. Save the avant-garde design experiments for showpiece websites. In the working world, your website should resemble street fashion, not project runway.

The post 20 Usability Dos and Don’ts for Web Design appeared first on build/create studios.

On the upside, being a freelancer means you have an enviable amount of independence. But as Voltaire (or was it Spiderman’s Uncle Ben?) said, "with great power comes great responsibility." You’re in the driving seat of your own career and there’s nothing more exciting and nerve-racking than that.

Whether you’re hunting down commissions, or trying to put aside money for a self-employed pension, there are plenty of trials and tribulations when it comes to working from home and being your own boss. 

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To help freelancers overcome some of the challenges they face, we quizzed some talented creatives who are already going it alone to give you the inside scoop. 

01. Emmeline Pidgen

“Take care of yourself and your work will be better for it,” Emmeline Pidgen advises

Combining both digital and traditional media, award-winning illustrator Emmeline Pidgen works from her studio in the North West of England. Having honed her skills at University College Falmouth, she specialises in narrative illustration and her work spans picture books, comics, advertising and editorial. 

Pidgen was awarded IPSE Freelancer of the Year in 2016 and her editorial illustrations have been featured in a range of publications including The Guardian, Stylist and The Telegraph. 

Take care of yourself and your work will be better for it. You’re allowed time off!

Emmeline Pidgen

"Working from home is tough!," says Pidgen. "Yep, technically you can lie in, wear pyjamas, and take breaks when you want – but for the most part if you want to be successful in your field, it’s a lot of work, and an ongoing battle to keep your motivation, direction and self-confidence up. 

"One of the biggest issues I’ve had is the idea of ‘overwork’, which on the surface fires up images of creative people scrawling away at 2am for a deadline (does happen!), but it’s also that 'I’ll just check my email real quick' whilst you’re on your day off, or scrolling Twitter at midnight in case an opportunity crops up – it doesn’t feel like much, but to avoid burnout you need space away from work. The emails can wait until you’re back in the studio, and there are always more opportunities! Take care of yourself and your work will be better for it. You’re allowed time off!”

02. May van Millingen

May Van Millingen has made a name for herself with her colourful, line-based illustrations

London-based May van Millingen has made a name for herself with her bright, line-based illustrations. From OXO cubes to HP Sauce, van Millingen often recreates items from the world around us in her distinct signature style. Her unique take on the world has caught the attention of clients such as Topshop, Google, Cath Kidston, Saatchi & Saatchi and Toyota.

Here are van Millingen’s top tips for making the most of freelance life – from getting into a good routine to being ready for anything: 

"I always like to start the day with exercise, either a morning run or a yoga class. I always have a good breakfast – usually porridge and some strong coffee. I work all morning then take a break for lunch, I like to get out to a local cafe – I like having a bit of a walk – if it's not raining! – then work the rest of the afternoon.

“I like to mix it up and vary where I work, so I work from home in De Beauvoir a couple of days a week, from a studio a couple of days, then I go in-house at my various clients’ offices too.

“Never stop drawing. Don't compare yourself to others. Take inspiration from things you love. Travel and take inspiration from new places – take advantage of working remotely abroad if you can. Be flexible, sometimes exciting projects come in at the last minute. Be organised.”

03. Meg Hunt

Illustrator Meg Hunt dived straight into freelance life after graduating in 2005

Portland-based illustrator Meg Hunt is known for her colourful character-based illustrations. Inspired by everything from National Geographic to illustrators such as Charley Harper, Mary Blair and the Provensens, whether she’s working on character and narrative or conceptual illustration and products and explorations, Hunt’s quirky and lovable style is always on-point.

Hunt went to University of Connecticut and began freelance life after graduating in 2005. Since then her work has gone from strength to strength, from illustrating Deborah Underwood’s Interstellar Cinderella to creating designs for wine labels for Barrel + Ink. Signed by agent (aka Visual Ambassador) Scott Hull, Hunt received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators in 2015. 

It’s important to cultivate a respectful working relationship with clients; work hard, but be honest and push them to be their best too

Meg Hunt

“As a freelancer you'll pick up a variety of clients, and work can come from many different places. It's important to cultivate a respectful working relationship with clients; work hard, but be honest and push them to be their best too.

“Don't be afraid to reach out to those clients you feel align with your strengths and values who might not know you yet – be proactive and think about what value you can add to the client beyond what you can draw. Clients will come to you not just because you can render something beautifully, but because you've got a mind that solves problems.

“Self-care is really important as a freelancer – it can be enticing to equate success with self-worth, but working yourself to the bone will lead to dull ideas and burnout. Find opportunities to stretch, get outside of your comfort zone, and spend some time exploring all your other interests. They can all feed into future work down the line.”

04. Lucie Sheridan

“Keep drawing, your creative brain is a muscle and needs exercising,” says Sheridan

Bristol-based Lucie Sheridan works in Centrespace studios and gallery. Specialising in screenprinting, her vibrant designs have been commissioned by everyone from Penguin Books to Habitat. 

From smiling ice cream cones (wearing bowler hats) to split-concept Labradoodles, a sense of fun is at the heart of her work. Sheridan is represented by YCN and runs the quirky and speedy project Rubbish Portraits, where she creates portraits in three minutes flat. Her bold illustrations have been seen in the likes of The Telegraph, The Sunday Times and Time Out.

Lucie’s words of wisdom are short and sweet: 

“Keep drawing, your creative brain is a muscle and needs exercising. It’s important to draw the rubbish stuff in order to get to the good stuff.

“Don’t look at what other people are doing too much, get some blinkers and stay healthy.”

05. Jane Foster

Jane Foster operates from her cute yellow-doored studio at the bottom of her garden

Music-teacher-turned-illustrator Jane Foster has been screenprinting since 2007. An illustrator/crafter/screenprinter hybrid, Foster won the Mollie Makes Established Handmade Business Award in 2014.

Known for her bold, cheery prints, Foster is inspired by Dick Bruna, Alain Gree, Marimekko and Lucienne Day – as well as ‘50s and ‘60s era designs. Whether it’s her poster design for IKEA or her range of Templar picture books, Foster’s simple and striking illustrations are sure to make you smile.

With her cute yellow-doored studio at the bottom of her garden, Jane doesn’t have to go far to create her work.

The AOI is a great resource for illustrators and is well worth subscribing to

Jane Foster

From making sure you don’t undersell yourself, to what to listen to as you draw, here are Foster’s top tips: 

“The AOI is a great resource for illustrators and is well worth subscribing to as the team can offer very good advice with regards to pricing commissions, contracts and licensing. They’re available to speak to direct and ensure that illustrators aren’t underselling themselves.”

“I love listening to podcasts when I’m working – I find it so inspiring listening to the background stories of other creatives in the industry, especially those that have arrived via an unconventional route! I especially like listening to Debbie Millman interview guests on her podcast Design Matters and also to Chase Jarvis’s podcast Creative Live, where he also interviews interesting creative people in the industry.”

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