News & Comment
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Issue 4   |   October 1999 


Swiss Design Quiz... Barcelona... AIGA / NASAD briefing paper... Response to Upgrade Junkies, Pt. 1
(Sept. 1999)

Upgrade junkies,
Part 1.

(Aug. 1999)

Report from International Design Conference at Aspen
(July 1999)

"Interactive Design" or "New Media?"
(July 1999)


If no author name is show, article is written by Al Wasco, author of this website.

Join in the conversation! Please send your comments on any article and/or suggestions for future articles by clicking on the [Email] link on any page.


Graffiti, better critiques, Photoshop 5.5...

Last month I shared a few thoughts about graffiti after seeing examples in Switzerland. A week later, in one of those moments of syncronicity (when related things just seem to happen) I walked into a lecture hall at Cleveland State where a group of graffiti "writers" were showing slides and talking about the days when they risked arrest and injury to paint trains in the NYC subway yards.

What attracted me then and now is the excitement, vigor and color of the work. I have concerns about the defacing of public and/or private property, as many of you do, but see graffiti as more than that. In an era when much art resembles fashion, and professional designers fill the world with potent images that glorify sheer consumerism, I appreciate this form of public art. It says "Hey, I'm here!" not "Hey, buy me and you will be happy!" Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

The event I wandered into at CSU was Hip-Hop, A Cultural Expression conference presented by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.and the CSU Black Studies Department. It was a real trip to hear a group of African-American and Hispanic men with names like Case 2, Daze, Mare 139 and Vulcan debating whether the computer can be an artistic tool or not. You've had that same discussion too, right? About how "the computer does it" as if no skill or art is involved? Well, take graffiti artists don't get no respect, either.

To see graffiti from around the world, visit the Art Crimes website [], which gets about 8000 hits a day despite being based in the unlikely-sounding town of Ardsley-on-Hudson, NY.

Sorry, Macromedia, you'll just need to try harder

When I was putting together the previous issue of Interactive Design Forum I used Macromedia's Fireworks software to create GIFs and JPEGs. I was happy as a clam with how it lets you see four sample images so you can try out different compression settings to get the best image at the smallest size...much faster than using Photoshop and saving different versions one at a time. So I was going to recommend that all web designers run out and buy Fireworks.

And then the copy of Adobe Photoshop 5.5 I'd ordered arrived. Hmmm... new addition to the File menu: Save for Web. Let's see what it does...
What Photoshop 5.5's Save for Web feature does is similar to what I've described above for Fireworks, only better. Much better. This, plus other improvements in Photoshop, means that you don't need Fireworks anymore. Read the complete review in this month's [RESOURCES] section.

Critiquing your critiques

If you study or teach design/art/photography, you've sat through your share of boring, dull, painful critiques. They are so important to the learning process, how can we make them interesting, useful, maybe even enjoyable?

For starters, read about a small-group approach to critiques as described by Bruce Cline, PhD. He's figured out a way to get 90% of the students involved, not the 60% who participate in traditional critiques. In this month's [EDUCATION].


Some great new listings in this month's [BEST OF] section... more web resources, a great interactive storytelling site, and more. Be sure to send in your recommendations, along with any compliments or complaints about Interactive Design Forum. What can we do to make it one of your favorite sites?

- Al Wasco 10/6/99


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