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... Weird huh?

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.

2013 - 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 blurb...


2012 - 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 device accessibility.

2011 - 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 new content.

2010 - 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.

2009 - 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 personal post.

2008 - 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 melted down.

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.

2007 - 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 the best.

Elsewhere Apple though different. They recreated the mac from the ground up. Oh and there was one more thing... the iPhone.

2006 - 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 calls.

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.

2005 - 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 in private.

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 viruses. ;)

2004 - 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 9/11.

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".

2003 - 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 DVD Authoring.

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.

2002 - 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 2001.

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.

2001 - 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.

2000 - 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 sci-fi channel...

1999 - 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 didn't.

1998 - 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.

1997 - 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.

1996 - 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 Kasparov.

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.

1995 - 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 began.

It was the beginning of the dot com boom.

1994 - 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 the X-Files.

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.

1993 - 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 were pinged.

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.

1992 - 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 internet.

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.

1991 - 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 AOL.

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.

1990 - 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 artists.