This 2D Retrospective
chronicles a timeline of the evolution of digital art and
how I experienced it, participated in the history, and in
some cases even helped advance it. This is my work in historic
context with a smidgen of pop culture mixed in for fun.
Since 1991 I've been a professional digital artist. In that
time I traveled from to desk-top publishing, to multi-media,
to the internet. I've seen booms and bust, some inspired
work, nuts and bolts stuff to pay the bills, and everything
in-between. If you want to take a trip back in time with
me, just scroll down...
I've always been interested in history and how
it connects to us as we travel through it. How do
we experience the events that shaped our times as
we live them? Sometimes you see patterns. Take the
history of art for example, it evolves along a strange
elliptical path. The earliest cave paintings where
drawn with fingers. Then artist's moved to clay sculpture,
then drawing and painting tools paper tablets, then
sketch pads. If we fast-forward to the mouse it became
our drawing tool. Then drawing and painting software
arrived. Eventually Wacom tablets appeared, then 3D
model sculpture in virtual words. Now we have iPads
to draw with our fingers again just like cave men...
I'd been in development long enough to realize that
e-evolution isn't a linear path either, it's cyclic
and so are the problems. You'd be surprised how many
times a tech trick from the 90s plugged a hole in
the 2000s. Basic trouble shooting skills and nimble
thinking are the key to quick adaptation in the constantly
shifting e-scape. In a realm of learn-as-you-go the
balance between anticipating the potential of what's
coming with and remembering what was leaned in the
past still informs invention.
It's been 20 years since the first web server and
the internet has grown into an Encyclopedia Galactica.
It's become a repository of the culmination of man's
knowledge and we are a part of the conduit. Having
access to everything, anywhere, anytime felt a little
like touching e-mnipotence. The convergence we'd been
racing toward is finally here.
- eBook Covers & ePublishing
So far 2013 has had its share
of triumphs and tragedies. In the world of tablets
and mobile devices eBooks are booming and I've
been busy creating eCovers and ePublishing.
So far I've racked up three awards for my work.
Check back in December for the full year-in-review
- FMT Website
Carlie Ray teased her number,
One Direction chased girls with low self-esteem,
and Gotye sang of the formerly known. The world's
first 1Gig offshore wind farm when online. HTML
turned 5. Obama won a second term and Trayvon
was killed by a shot heard round the US. The
Avengers tore up the box office and NYC while
Hurricane Sandy sunk the East Coast. Mayan predictions
of the end of the world were greatly exaggerated.
There were cries of austerity as the nations
economic turmoil continued to churn. American
manufactures tried to hold their ground against
competition overseas and struggled to bring
jobs back to the US while keep access to the
global marketplace via the web.
A new world of web-on-the-go continued to grow
and a generation late adopters emerged from
their comfort zones. We helped them adjust by
creating minimalist interface solution for cross
- Thumbtraps for iPads and Website
A silent movie set 1920s won
best picture. eBooks bankrupted Borders. A tsunami
drowned Japan and the Macs lost their father.
MMORPGs kept growing. Angry birds were flung
while Zuccotti Park was occupied. Adele arose
as Amy Whinehouse ODed. Rihanna found love in
a hopeless place and Maroon 5 moved like Jagger.
It was a Green Day on broadway and 80's music
made a comeback.
There were over 2 billion users online. A new
e-fronteer arrived with the iPad. It was an
inspired device that didn't come with a manual
but everyone could figure out how to use it.
It was a tv, cinema, magazine, newspaper, notebook,
radio, drawing pad, photo album, gaming platform,
book, comic book, video phone, alarm clock dictaphone
and tri-corder. For anything it wasn't, there
was an App for that. From the iPad, new forms
of publishing bloomed so we accommodated with
- WCRichards Website
Ke$ha Tik Tok-ed and the club
couldn't handle Flo Rida. Theaters Incepted
a dream state and cable cast bootleggers as
heroes. While the US slogged through the Great
Recession, Dubai built the largest building
in the world. In Egypt an Arab Spring bloomed.
1,971,000,000 millions users were on the web.
The Internet surpassed newspapers as a primary
source of news for whether Americans absorbed
stories that were planted or wiki-leaked they
seemed fully acclimated to life online.
Smart phones got smarter. Compatibility and
performance issues faded. Computers were ten
thousand times faster than in the 90s. We'd
gone from CRT to LED, and NTSC to widescreen.
Investments in ISPs and wireless paid off. The
bandwidth bottleneck was nearly extinct and
even the most remotes areas had high speed internet
access. Web designers incorporated larger photos
bold imagery into more magazine style layouts
that offered impact on large and small screens.
Oh and there was one more thing... Something
new called an iPad.
- Bluesky Tree Guy Website
Black Eyed Peas Boom Boom Pow-ed,
Lady Gaga Pa Pa Pa Poker Faced. A club of Gleeks
sampled songs across generations while the King
of Pop faded away. Twitter broke the story of
geese that forced Captain Sully's bird into
the Hudson while others Planked.
1,802,000,000 users were on the web. Facebook
toppled MySpace with more than 200 million subscribers.
In the early days of the web many were convinced
the internet would turn humanity into isolated
loners, but the opposite happened. It became
hard to opt-out of the growing social network.
Members connected in ways never before imagined.
They uploaded their lives and lived in public
eye. For real reality tv, we turned to youtube
where average people become viral stars. Our
private lives became content as data that churned
the sophisticated marketing engine the web had
become. Privacy vanished with new laws and every
- Maskmasters Splash Page
Katy Perry ran hot and cold.
Coldplay lamented ruling the world while M.I.A.
shot down paper planes. Vampires appeared at
Twilight, and an Ironman and a WALL*E robot
worked to save the world as the global economy
1,574,000,000 users were on the web. In America
52% were chatting about hope-and- change while
others theorized a new world order. Many closed
accounts and stuffed cash into mattresses. 3
million homes fell into foreclosure, 400 banks
that weren't bailed out went into receivership
by 2012. "Derivatives" entered public
consciousness and derived a political awakening.
Slackivism became activism and a Tea Party and
Occupy movement were set in motion.
Miles of new fiber-optic cable
opened up bandwidth exponentially. Sites like
Hulu and Failblog popped up next to youtube.
They offered viral videos to forget about our
problems for awhile. One of them was a laughing
Tom Cruise leaked by a group tagged Anonymous.
- MaxTrad Web Application (front end)
Plain White T's sweet talked
Delilah. Fergie added 'alicious' and Scouting
for Girls thought she was so Lovely. Mad Men
kept up with the Kardashians and Juno had a
baby in school.
1,319,000,000 users were on the web. MySpace
was the top Social Network. Netflix delivered
it's 1 billionth DVD and Black Berries hypnosis
lead texters into the streets without looking
both ways first. People weren't as afraid as
of communications technology as they once were.
CTOs purchased expensive CMSs and EAs plopped
in content. Non-technical decision makers crept
into development meetings and everyone seemed
to be a 'web expert'. It was design by committee
with a mandate to "just pack everything
in there. So we made the surface as clean as
possible and crossed our fingers and hoped for
Elsewhere Apple though different.
They recreated the mac from the ground up. Oh
and there was one more thing... the iPhone.
- E-Learning Tools
Justin Timberlake brought SexyBack.
The Black Eyed Peas Pumped it and Cold Play's
Speed of Sound was the 1 billionth song purchased
on iTunes.We said Wii to Nintendo and NASA evicted
Pluto from the planetary club.
Over 3 million students were currently enrolled
in at least 1 online course. The most cautious
business sectors advanced their e-migration
and web applications were flooded with tech-support
More training was required and clients were
ready to explore cost effect solutions. Whether
you called it "distance", "remote",
or "online training", it was e-learning
time. We created an army of how-tos, lessons,
tests, product walk-throughs, procedures, and
animated diagrams that could be plugged into
applications, massive LMSs like the eGain Knowledge
Base or smaller HATS like RoboHelp. Clients
cautioned us to "keep it simple enough
for a child to use" so we made click-able
fisher price toys for grown ups.
- Customizer Sales Presentation
Katrina drowned New Orleans.
Green Day haunted a broken boulevard while the
Killers searched for a Brightside. A 40 Year
Old Virgin drifted at sea level and modern day
cowboys broke backs in the mountains.
There were 1 billion internet users and a new
rush of domain registrations. Investors were
cured of dot-phobia and returned to the internet
for a second shot. Huffingtonpost, TMZ Rapidshare
were launched. Facebook was matriculating and
something called Youtube began collecting videos
Laptops purchases closed in on desktops and
expanding sales forces toted them into the field.
The motto was " If you couldn't get the
customer to your site, take your site to them."
They wanted portable, predictable demos. By
now enough salespeople experienced embarrassing
presentation bloopers to preventing them trusting
remote internet connectivity or new-fangled
wireless networks. Some feared airborne computer
- ABN AMRO Product Workflow Diagram
Napoleon danced for Pedro.
Kelis lured boys with milkshakes and Britney
became toxic. The Notebook broke hearts and
a Tsunami dowsed the fire sparked by Fahrenheit
While the economy staggered back it's feet,
the internet pulsed a 2nd wave of users. Years
of meticulously plotted information architecture
intertwined with a cornucopia of code and cables
had come to bare. You didn't need to be hackers
to get online anyone could do it. Personal websites
were renamed blogs. They were plug-and-play
and scrolled forever.
There were 817 million people
on the web and most of Generation-Net had opinions
they needed to post early and often. At the
same time Apple debuted a new forum with Podcasting.
Companies were crowdsourcing content.
The results lived somewhere between the truth
and trolling, and plenty of players got "pwned".
- Xieng Ming Storyboards
The US was headed to Iraq.
Sean Paul wanted to get busy, and the Dixie
Chicks got caught in a landslide. Bill Murray
was Lost in Translation while Nemo was found.
Silicon valley was racing toward the convergence
of Web and TV. And although Real Player was
around, streaming video needed time to grow.
YouTube was still concept. Movies were still
best served on cable or Netflix.
There were 719 millions users on the web and
64 million DVD players in their homes. DVDs
continued to sell like silver tinted hotcakes.
So some artists strung digital skills together
and moved into the rapidly growing medium of
They ported story-boarding, CD-ROM experience,
and interface design to the emerging medium.
One example was a prototype for a form of interactive
Edu-tainment to help Asian children learn English.
- Illinois Main Street Mini Site
DJ Sammy was in Heaven, Lincoln
Park was in the end. The rest of us were stuck
in the middle while Jimmy Ate World. K-Mart
went bankrupt and Anna Nicole got a show. There
was a SARS outbreak, the Department of Homeland
Security was formed and Spider-Man swung onto
the scene as we shifted through the rubble of
587 millions users were online but they didn't
seemed to be buying. Webshops disappeared one-by-
one. Integrated Marketing was the buzz.
Clients sought solutions in the form of e-novelties,
e-gimmicks, e-gadgets, e-chachkies, e-swag,
e-blasts and over-the-top tradeshow installations;
anything to grab customers attention. Everyone
seemed to want a fully Flash website in 2002,
except for Friendster who quietly fired the
first shot heard in a social networking revolution.
- Zero Drag Website Concept
An Office import arrived from
the UK. Missy Elliot got her freak on, 3 Doors
Down played with Kryponite and Sugar Ray knew
it was over. Napster was busted and mp3 pirates
steered toward iTunes with a new music vessel
called an iPod. Creatures of Middle-Earth, Giant
Rabbit Darkos, and a company of Monsters who
thrived on screams were unleashed from the theaters.
And Enron revealed their true face.
513 millions users were on the internet but
websites were vanishing by the 1,000s. The dot-com
bubble was deflating. Many dot-bombs ceased
trading after burning through capital. The collapse
caused the stock market to stagger. Tech demand
dissipated, Web-demand dissapated and spending
retracted. Then it got worse...
The DOW fell with the World Trade Center. The
world was different place and we were trapped
in a zero-sum nightmare.
- Discover Card promotional e-Card
Although Eiffel 65 was blue,
Slim Shady stood up, and Destinies Children
went Jumpin' Jumpin'. It was a year of CastAways,
Gladiators and Survivors. And everyone was e-trading
End-of-the-worlders hunkered down in basements
and bunkers stuffed with canned goods and armed
loved-ones. They held their breath as the clock
struck midnight of Y2K. Surprisingly, machines
didn't rise against man, and the Earth didn't
spin into the sun.
361 million people were online and Ecommerce
had grown into a 20 billion dollar a year industry.
Venture Capitalists threw money at start-ups
and there were plenty of jobs. It was the year
2000 and it felt like living in the future.
The First Draft of Human Genome handed over
to society. Astronauts and Cosmonauts joined
for a stay on the international space station.
The Odyssey was headed to Mars. We even had
- Britannica Internet Guide for Kids Website (front end)
Everyone wanted a Game Boy
Color. Blink 182 sang of small things. Britney
Spears strutted highschool hallways in a plaid
skirt and pigtails while Ricky Martin was Dancin'
La Vida Loca. New Jersey was infiltrated by
Sopranos as the Martix unfolded around us.
The internet was getting unwieldy. It's user-base
swelled 1100% in 5 short years. It grew to 3
billion web pages and it was hard to sort through
the clutter, spam, pop-ups, piracy and porn.
The DMCA and COPA we now law. Groups like NetWatch,
SafeSurf, CYBERsitter, and Net-Nanny were patrolling
and protecting America from the webs naughty-bits
while congress impeached the President.
"Portals" were in a scrum. Yahoo!,
Infoseek, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves Excite, Lycos,
DogPile, HotBot, Alexa, Netcenter. Go, MSN and
Britannica each wanted to have the "most
trusted search" but a simple little upstart
called Google seemed to know something the others
- Apartments.com Moving Center Website
It was Armageddon in the theaters.
The Verve offered a Bitter Sweet Symphony, Chumba-wamba
thumped tubs and Dr Drew offered advice while
Adam Corolla berated confused teens who risked
a call to the LoveLine.
147 millions users waded into the unknown world
of the web. They clicked softly while typing
long and cryptic URLs like defusing a timebomb.
Some worried if they hit the wrong button, they'd
crash the internet.
"Experts" wrote speculative articles
and noobs were reading them. We heard terms
like, "the 3 click rule", "backward
compatibility" and "user friendly"
(which no one could agree on). We were all in
a www-dot-lab making sites for the lowest common
denominator, web ready surfers with a14.4k modem,
640x460 screen, and an array of fractional browser
releases too many to list. We pushed graphics
as far as we could using the 216 web-safe pallet
and tried to create something that stood out.
- A Bunch of Icons
Buffy the Vampire Slayer arrived
in Sunnydale and the tale of the doomed Titanic
broke box office records. Freak Nasty rapped
about the Da Dip while Hanson chanted MMMbop.
Both seemed to speak secret languages.
70 million people were on the web and they
all seemed to be chatting into the wee hours
on AOLs new instant messenger service. Everyone
else wanted in. Many businesses weren't sure
what to do with the web but they wanted to play
too. They clamored for everything "e",
web-pages, banner ads and icons. Email addresses
were appearing on more business cards. New WYSIWYG
HTML editors were making it much easier for
digital artists to establish themselves as web
designers. Many found themselves cast as mediators
between marketing people trying to understand
the shifting e-landscape and programmers who
were shaping it.
- Perestroika Comic Book Cover
Alanis Morissette thought we
Oughta Know, No Doubt didn't want us to speak
and the Spice Girls told us who they Wannabe.
Jerry Maguire wanted to show the money while
Karl from Sling Blade was happy with nothing,
um-humm. The O'Reilly factor explains how the
world is falling part and the Daily Show explains
how the world is falling apart, but funnier.
Ross Perot joins the presidential fray.
Web users grew to 36 million users. Motorola
unveiled the Startec Cell phone. Palms appeared,
Steve Jobs was rehired to Apple for a $1 a year
and IBM's Big Blue defeated Chess Champion Gary
Imagination was outpacing computers and there
was a lot of time wasted staring at status bars.
Spinning icons hypnotized designers as massive
graphic files maxed-out RAM, packed limited
disk space, or spooled files to printers. A
lot of money was spent FedEx-ing Syquest drives
all over the US at the last minute.
- Virtual Valerie CD-Rom Cover
Weezer has sweater trouble while Sheryl Crow
ponders strength. Coolio cruised a Gansta's
Paradise as TLC bathed in waterfalls. Pixar
releases the first fully computer generated
a Toy Story as Se7en takes and unsettling look
at the human condition. Johnny Mnemonic offers
a view of things to come while a Federal Building
is Bombed in Oklahoma City.
The early 1990s marked a time when Multimedia
was taking shape. Tools like Hyper-Card then
Macromedia Director authored a CD-ROM revolution
that introduced a new style of game like Manhole,
Spaceship Warlock, Total Distortion, Hell Cab,
Journey Man Project, Myst and Virtual Valerie.
They were so popular that Apple partnered Bandai
to create a CD-ROM game counsel called Pippin.
The CD-ROM craze seemed to end as quickly as
It was the beginning of the dot com boom.
- Technical Drawings for the Green Hornet Black Beauty Special
Ace of Base saw the sign, Tag
Team Whoomped, where it was and the Cranberries
Lingered. Mentally challenged box office stars,
Forest Gump and Dumb & Dumber bumbled through
life. Tonya Harding tried to beat Nancy Kerrigan
for the gold and everyone was talking about
2.2 million people accessed the Information
Superhighway in 1994 using dial-up services
like AOL. The first consumer VR helmet immersed
PC gamers in Cyberspace where they fought in
the high action/low resolution world of DOOM.
At that time connectivity was slow and unreliable.
Sky Dayton founded Earthlink after a week of
frustration while trying to configure his personal
computer for internet access. Photoshop 3.0
introduced artists to an incredible new feature...Layers.
Now we could more easily take line drawings
into a different levels and dimensions.
- Typefaces and Fonts
Apple introduced the newton,
one of the first PDAs. The Proclaimers promised
to walk 500 miles, while Soul Asylum rolls away
on a runaway train. The computer generated giants
of Jurassic Park fill the big screen while Mosaic
the first consumer web browser makes a quiet
entrance on CRTs.
Web traffic continues to increase in although
no formal way to monitor the activity existed
yet, by the end of the year global population
reached 5.5 and approximately 500,000 of them
Catalogues, newsletters and magazines designed
on Page Maker and Quark XPress were all beginning
to look the same. New fonts were in demand.
People were trading and stashing and crashing
disks full of type until products Adobe ATM
and Suitcase arrived on the scene.
- Twilight Zone Comic Book
Sir Mix A-lot explained the
benefits of "back" as Spike Lee brought
us the life of Malcom X. After the purchase
of Hanna Barbera Studios a year earlier, Ted
Turner launches the Cartoon Network.
The Internet Society formed to help organize
and support the rapidly growing groups involved
in the operation and use of the widening web.
Membership was voluntary and offered education,
technical support and a forum to discuss best
practices. They shared code to grow a stable
Stat Cameras were abandoned for a new generation
of Macs as the print industry accelerated it's
digital conversion. The worlds first 100% computer
comic book was delivered digitally. It's created
by John Picha using only Adobe Illustrator 3.2,
a Mac SE and Mac II ci.
- Hyundai Ad-Slicks
Pop culture offered an eclectic
mix of debuts. In music, Nirvana smelled teen
spirit while R.E.M. lost their religion. The
release of Nevermind marked the start of Grunge
music and what was known as college rock was
reclassified alternative and went mainstream.
Jerry Springer introduced us to a new type of
talk-show and MTV brought us liquid television
where Aeon Flux and Ren and Stimpy were born.
The backbone of the web was growing with services
like Prodigy, Compuserve and the newly founded
Copy shops like Kinkos seemed to be popping
up on every corner which supported the burgeoning
field of desk-top publishing. The new breed
of Digital artists had access to expensive laser
printers and copiers as long as they put their
files on floppies.
- www Year One
Though the internet's history can be traced all the way
back to the cold war era of the 1950s, it had a significant
birth announcement in 1990. Berners-Lee cracked opened a
door labeled the "Hypertext Project" which the
whole-wide-world would rush through in less than a decade.
In 1990 he turned a NeXT computer into the very first web
server. By Christmas he had built all the tools for the
working world-wide-web including the first browser. The
first browser wasn't very user friendly. It was only accessed
by small groups of people connected via computer labs who
communicated via hypertext news groups. But soon the web
would make a big bang which would deliver career opportunities
to many people who couldn't have imagined what was coming...including