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This document is scheduled to be revised in -3371 days.

A brief history on Randall Bruder—Lessons Learned

It's January 23rd of 1994 and my family is visiting my elementary school. On the window of my first grade classroom are taped a collection of single sheet forms, each filled out by a different student. The form was generic; “What is your name?” “What is your age?” The final question, however, asks each student to explain their special talent, what sets them apart. I had written, as my family likes to remind me still, the succinct answer: “I smart.”

I am destined to make stupid mistakes. I have solved complicated calculus problems only to arrive at the incorrect solution from a simple arithmetic error. I have been caught for things I could have gotten away with had I not made a simple mistake. I've spent hours looking at broken code to be resolved by a simple misplaced semicolon. I've learned there are two appropriate responses to these kinds of mistakes: own them to be able to laugh at them, and then hopefully avoid them in the future.

It's now September 12th of 1996 and I'm on vacation with my family in Germany. Before we left, I was given a disposable camera, and was given a new power; the power to choose my own memories, to choose what gets preserved and what becomes forgotten. I had to be frugal; we would be in Germany for two weeks and I could only choose 24 moments to preserve. I conservatively snapped away, eventually filling my roll of film. After receiving the developed photos, I discovered I had 24 pictures of various German road signs.[1]

I am more interested in the details than the full picture, or at least I should be. I wasn't aware of design’s omnipresence until I was in a foreign country where, while the road signs served the same function, they were visually different. In a different context, the details became pronounced. I have applied this to my design work, but not enough.

It's June 18th of 2000 and I'm helping someone edit a picture of a fish.[2] In order to separate the foreground (image of the fish) from the background, I opened the image in Microsoft Paint and started to paint out the background, pixel by pixel. After three hours, I came to the realization that MS Paint was not the most effective tool to be using. I decide to learn how to use Photoshop. It's now a year later, and I am exploring interactivity on the web. I am making a website with animation using the GIF format, as I have before. But this time the animation is more ambitious, and the resulting GIF file is over 8 MB, too large to be effective on the web. I decide to learn how to use Macromedia Flash.[3]

I make attempts to learn new processes and software, including 3D modeling with Maya or Cinema 4D, color correcting with Apple Color, and scripting with Python. But—I had a concept a project to required a MySQL database and PHP code, so I successfully learned those in a few weeks. I wanted to write this Manifesto in a mutable format, so I learned how to implement a Wiki. Learning is a process of necessity.

It's last year and I am recommended for an internship. Previously in my life I had designed and coded a slew of identities and portfolio websites, none of which I actively used or liked. But now I need to respond to an internship opportunity, create an identity, and design and code a website in less than a week.

The role of the designer is interpreted in many ways; as a translator, a story–teller, but most important is the role of problem solver. It’s our responsibility as a designer to listen to the client and understand their problems, and more often than not, we need to understand their needs better than they do. The research, experimentation, and play that ensues in search of a solution is informed by the initial need. The problem itself must also be informed; informed from talks with the client, research of the context, and community involvement. We talk to people, and more importantly, we listen.

But we start by saying hello.[4]

It's last summer and I have landed an internship with the digital agency Organic.[5] I had previsouly toured the place, been to the office for an interview, and was now working there a week when I discover the agency is an advertising agency—so now a lifelong vow to “Never end up working for an advertising agency“ is immediately broken with the first real graphic design job. In all fairness, Organic has a fantastic graphic design studio culture, to the point that some of the other designers jokingly told me they also didn't realise it was an advertising agency.

I've made many generic assertions about my life to adhere to religiously. They're all bull****,[6] whether or not I've realised it yet.

It's last month and I'm working in group projects more, but I'm also living downtown and working on homework around other students more. As a function of this circumstance, ideas are quickly passed around and shared out loud. Even in a personal project, collaboration on ideas is immensely beneficial.

I tend to keep an idea to myself, not discussing homework. Stop doing that. Keep ideas in a shared space, not protected.

It's right now and I am writing a Manifesto.

Shortly before deciding on this format, I realized that I commonly convey information through telling stories, by putting the relevant information in context. For any idea, I can add on to it with related ideas, and no matter what it is, I know something related to it that will be helpful.


  3. This is back when Flash wasn't owned by Adobe yet, and was still relevant.
  6. “Bullshit” is that word.