chopeh

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Podio and me

Posted on 13.04.12 2 Comments

So the last time I actually used this blog was well over a year ago with me anouncing my new position at Hoist.

A lot has changed since then.

Over the last 1.5 years I’ve experienced what can only be described as a rollercoaster ride with the then Hoist, now Podio, team. As of Wednesday, I’m now part of Citrix.

I’d like to take a moment to express my thoughts and my thanks to the entire Podio team. 1.5 years ago I took a gamble, I left my friends and family in the UK to move to Copenhagen with my wonderful Danish girlfriend, Rikke. It was a scary time, there were lot of choices I had to make and a lot of things I could have said “no” to. After numerous inverviews around Copenhagen I came to a beautiful, albeit entirely empty, building in Vesterbro. 5 minutes later, I had my eyes opened.

I had a tough decision to make, turn down some jobs at sucessful design agencies here in Denmark, or work with some crazy Danish guys in their echoing office on a little product called Hoist. Looking back, I could have played it safe – taken the agency job, stop my mum worrying about my job future. Had I had done that, I would be full of bitter regret right now.

What I’ve experienced is a shockingly dedicated, passionate and highly dedicated band of misfits working together to create a product that the world *really* needs.

I feel the future is going to be a bright one. Rest assured that my unrivalled focus is still delivering the best Podio you could possibly experience, it’s just now I’ve got a lot more support in doing it. I’m just as excited about the future now as I ever have been.

So right now, I’d like to behave like I’m in a rock band and do a list of thanks.

Thanks to Tommy Ahlers for giving me that call 1.5 years ago, and being a true leader. Jon Froda for being the original rock star. Anders Pollas for being an inspiring designer (although he wouldn’t care to admit it). Kasper Hulthin for quite possibly being the friendliest guy on Earth. Thomas Madsen-Mygdal for asking the right questions. Phil Chambers for his excellent brews. Kenneth Auchenberg, Daniel Pouzemski, Casper Fabricius, Florian Munz, Christian Holm, George Sakkis, Andreas Haugstrup for their bleeding edge development (and their patience with my pixel-pushing bug raising). Sebastian Rehnby for his iOS expertise. Joy Leelawat for designs that make me feel jealous. Michael Dean for taking on every challenge. Gustav Jonsson, Helene Hagnere, Britt Van Slyck and Christian Blomberg for awesome user experiences that I could never deliver in a browser. Adrian Y Roessler, Vo Walle, Ryan Nichols and Julia Judge for getting us the clicks. Lilly Hanscom for her bizaarly awesome copywriting. Jonas Anderson or he’ll kick me in the face. Denise Tham for being a ruthless tester. Also thanks to anyone else I forgot or who has passed through Podio’s doors and has helped shape us into what we are.

Thanks to anyone that ever complimented or criticised my design work, my family, my friends, our users, and a final thanks to Rikke – for putting up with my obsession and supporting me through my moments of self-doubt.

My key takeaway – You’ll regret the things you don’t say “yes” to the most.

Pete.

For those of you who have been following my plight to find a job in Copenhagen over the last few weeks, I’ve got a success story.

I’ve recently accepted a position at Podio, Copenhagen.

Podio is online organisation and collaboration software for professionals and organisations. It’s the Facebook equivalent for the workplace, and it has enough functionality to compete with the best guys out there in the current market with its out of the box tools. But not only that, it has an in-built platform to simply create your own online ‘apps’ that cater to your individual business needs. It’s beautifully powerful stuff, and is already changing the way I work.

Podio recently won the MIT Global Best Startup award, and if you spend a few minutes playing around with the tool it’s easy to see why. At the moment it’s only for cool kids so it’s invite only, but that doesn’t mean you can’t request to take a look (just hit the ‘Sign up here’ link on the page).

What’s my role going to be with Podio? Well, most of my time is going to be spent designing fresh new interfaces and slick interactions; ensuring the customer experience of the site is as efficient and easy as possible. It’s going to be a tough task as the functionality and flexibility of the Podio platform is mind blowing, condensing it down into manageable easy-to-learn chunks isn’t going to be a walk in the park. But I’m ready for it, I’m so ready for it.

Oh, and I managed to get this position thanks to you guys tweeting my copenhagen.chopeh.com site. I’m trying to track down the specific tweet that lead to the job, but a massive thank you to all who shared the link. I was really blown away by the amount of support I got. Simply put  -  I love you guys.

See you in Copenhagen. I need some local friends now so invite me out for beers and wild parties!

Pete.

Big News

Posted on 22.06.10 3 Comments

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts. I’ve been working pretty damn hard recently so that has taken priority over the last few months.

Secondly, I’ve made some big life changing decisions recently:

At the beginning of last week I decided to resign from my current full time job and relocate with my girlfriend to Copenhagen, Denmark.

The next few months are going to be terrifying, exciting and stressful – but I know the end result is going to be awesome. I just love Copenhagen, so the thought of living there really makes my heart pump.

The main issue I’m facing is finding employment over there, “Not a problem!” I hear you scream. Unfortunately, my Danish is as good as my singing skills – terrible. I’m looking for an agency that doesn’t mind taking on an English guy, which is proving the main difficulty. Whilst I’m planning to learn Danish, it’s not something thats going to happen in a few weeks. Also there are limited job postings I can find without bugging my girlfriend every 5 minutes to translate, so I’m looking for a kind of ‘word of mouth’ approach.

Thats why I’ve setup a little mini-site called copenhagen.chopeh.com. The aim of the site is to raise a little awareness of myself and to get people to share the site around a bit. It seems to be working, so if you feel like helping out please check it out and share it.

Visit my Copenhagen site

I recently created a new identity for my client DANZK. This article is all about walking through the process it took me to create the logo and give you some insight into the way I use my own steps to create a logotype from scratch. Hopefully you’ll learn something new, see something you already know, and see the work the goes on behind my designs.

DANZK is a soon to launch lifestyle blog focusing on culture, food, art & design from Denmark. The aim of the blog is to gain exposure for the Danish way of life for Danes and non-Danes interested in the country, and to recommend and review Danish products such as food, design and music. I’m currently in the process of designing the website for DANZK; once it’s launched I will be writing a similar blog post to this about the process from the beginning to end of the website design.

The Brief

The brief was relatively simple. Create a stylish and modern identity that had a relationship to Danish design, but one that didn’t use cliché elements. It was a bit of a shame about the use of cliché elements as I was really looking forward to creating a really ‘Danish’ design; with Viking helmets, Danish flags, Lego, Bacon and Pastry.

Probably not the look DANZK was going for.

Inspiration

I wanted to make sure there was a subtle connection to Denmark, so I delved a little into Danish design.

“Danish Design is a term often used to describe a style of functionalistic design and architecture that was developed in mid-20th century. Influenced by the German Bauhaus school, many Danish designers used the new industrial technologies, combined with ideas of simplicity and functionalism to design buildings, furniture and household objects, many of which have become iconic and are still in use and production. Prominent examples are the egg chair, PH lamp and the Sydney Opera House.”

Some great simple and functional Danish furniture design helped inspire the logo.

Sketches & Ideas

Armed with the two keywords of simplicity and functionalism, I set about designing a logotype that would break the word DANZK down into its most functional and simple parts. My sketching process generally starts with me sketching down ideas in my sketchbook as they come to me. They aren’t refined or really useful for anyone but me; They’re essentially catching something thats in my head before I forget it. Hence most of these ideas come out on the train journey on my commute to work. I then refer to these later and can usually recall what I was thinking in my head when I drew them.

Ideas drawn as early as possible.

The next step after I feel I’m heading in the right direction with the sketches is to move on to more finalized drawings of one idea . In most cases I’ll use a gridded note pad. This is a longer process as it usually requires so much refinement to get the idea close to what I want to acheive digitally.

More refined drawing in a grid note book.

I created the simplistic characters separate from each other initially to make sure I was happy with each of their forms, and then worked on bringing the characters together to form the logotype. At this point it should become clear of any issues with the typeface, I wasn’t particularly happy with the right-hand cap of the N and the left-hand cap of the Z sitting so close together. Technically they were correct, but I didn’t like the repetition. I set about working on a way to bring the N & Z together neatly.

Some more intricate work on the N & Z

Going Digital

I was pretty happy with the results, and felt I took my sketching as far as possible so it was time to go digital. I set about recreating my logotype in Illustrator. During this process there is a lot of tweaking, stepping away from the computer for a while and really analyzing the flow of the logo.

Creating the logo digitally in Illustrator.

During this stage I find it helpful to look at the semi-final logo on different media. I print it off, look at it at the standard ‘web’ size logo and I even send it to my iPhone. This way I get to look at the logo at different sizes, light conditions and distances. It really helps you get a feel for the logo, to make sure that the rhythmn is right. It’s also worth at this stage to get some critque from other professionals. I uploaded the early version of my logo to Logopond for some feedback. I got some helpful feedback regarding the D of my logo, as it currently was it didn’t seem as wide as the other characters. A few tweaks later and I was a lot happier with the results.

More small adjustments, and I’m happy to say I was done with the logo.

The final logo on dark and light backgrounds

What DANZK Thinks

When I received Pete’s initial proposal I knew he was spot-on; he took my guidelines and understood immediately where I was going and took the project to a whole other dimension. He has not only provided me with a perfect logo, but has added his own ideas and suggestions along the way.
The unpretentious work process fulfils my needs and requirements completely, and working with Pete has been a pleasure I look forward to repeat. I would strongly recommend him, for anyone looking for a professional but inspiring partner in the design process.

What to take from this?

The most important thing to learn is how to setup your own process. My approach isn’t too different to most designers approaches, and most identity development work can be broken down into a few phases

  1. The Brief
    A good brief is essential. At minimum you want the target audience and the message. The more information you get the better.
  2. The Research
    Do some research focusing on the industry, its history, and its competitors. Make a note of anything you find of interest. Look for obvious shortcomings and over-used themes.
  3. The Inspiration
    Google is your friend here. Research the words associated with the product/service, see what kind of results you get. Hopefully in your brief you’ll get a selection of keywords on how you client want the identity to feel. ‘Elegant’ ‘Fun’ ‘Modern’.etc – Research into the correct style of design and find common traits. Adapt and improve these traits into you design, or use their underlying theory.
  4. The Ideas
    Put that mouse down! The idea process should be on paper. Many designers miss this part as they claim they “can’t draw”. You’re not sketching lifelike portraits here, just squiggles that represent the logo in your head. You’ll find it allows your mind to flow and you can quickly move between ideas.
  5. The Creation
    I think its best to use Illustrator for this part, but use whatever you’re comfortable with (even if it is Photoshop…). Either scan in some of your sketches or re-create them by hand. The important thing here is to learn to take breaks! Stepping away from your design for a while can help you see the faults when you come back to it.
  6. The Polish
    This is when you add those finishing touches to your design. You’ve got your logo in its primitive form, but nows the time to choose colour schemes, lighting effects or anything else you want to do with it.
  7. The Aftermath
    You’re done! Sit back with a beer (Carlsberg in this case.. it’s Danish) and bask in the glory of your finished work. Hopefully you’ll get some nice compliments from other professionals, get a few critiques, maybe even get an award.

I hope I’ve shed a bit of a light on the process, and that you can perhaps take some of these ideas away and work them into your own process. If you have a different way of doing things, or any recommendations please leave a comment; I’m sure your own insights will help me and others reading.

In the mean time, don’t forget to head over to www.danzk.net and signup to get notified when the site launches, or follow DANZK on twitter. Also, since you’re doing that, follow me as well.

chopeh.

Simple Contact

Posted on 03.02.10 7 Comments

Internet. I’m angry.

After reading the List of Web Design Mistakes You Should Avoid on netjelly. I came across point 34:

“Don’t place your email address on your website – Email addresses on your website or blog are no secret to spam robots. It’s always a good idea for you and even better for your visitors if you provide a feedback form so they can easily get in contact with you. Another solution is to remove the text version of your email address and add an image of it instead.”

I couldn’t disagree with that previous statement more.

It’s pretty common for me to see a designer following this advice. An email address either displayed as a graphic, typed in a cryptic manner like hello[at]chopeh[dot]com, or having no visible email address at all. Now I understand the reasoning behind this, “It’s to stop me getting spam!” I hear people cry. But as a visitor to your site; why do I care that you’re trying to prevent spam?

The whole point of most websites is to get some kind of contact, a conversion. This needs to be done as easy as possible. Having a contact form is fine but you’d be suprised at how many people don’t like using them (me included). I like to send things from my email client where I can look up the time I sent the message, what I wrote… And have a spell checker to keep an eye on me.

It annoyed me that this kind of info is still being spread, it’s 2010!

The spam I receive is my problem and I deal with it using spam filters. I don’t want a visitor mis-typing my email into their client, copying and pasting, or filling out awkward CAPTCHA on forms.

Don’t agree? Email me hello@chopeh.com.

Simple.

Is it too late to still be saying ‘”Happy New Year”? I think so.

I’ll admit it, I haven’t been up to much work over the Christmas period. I did have a long list of things to get done but achieved exactly 0% of it. Unfortunately that’s what happens when you get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Guitar Hero 5 as gifts.

Thankfully, I got an array of interesting books recently that really have inspired me to put down the joy-pad and the plastic guitar and pickup a pencil, keyboard and mouse again. Some of them include E Pluribus Venom1, New Typographic Design2, The Fundamentals of Creative Advertising3 and Thinking With Type4.

I’ve got a project on the go at the moment which will lead to a mammoth blog post. Essentially it’ll be a beginning to end article of the design and branding of a new website, complete with a few tips and an insights into the way I work – It may not be the best way, but it’s the way that has proven to work for me.

Whilst I haven’t been busy, some others certainly have been. Creating some great and inspiring content online, here’s some stuff that has caught my eye over the last month:

Despite kicking back and drinking too much. My logo got listed as “one of the best from 2009″ on LogoGala, and this very website won ‘Site of the Day’ at The CSS Awards. That’s not too shabby.

Until that massive blog post, you can keep on top of my day to day doings by following me on Twitter.

Over.

Christmas

Posted on 16.12.09 1 Comment

I’m gradually slowing things down for Christmas now. I’ve got a couple of personal projects on the go at the moment including a nice typography based print, and something a little stranger. In the new year they should be finished and added to the site.

Recently I’ve had my Merry Christmas wallpaper featured on Smashing Magazine, it also got a mention on Lifehacker. So why not go grab a copy?

Short post eh? Have a great holiday guys, expect a lot more stuff in 2010.

Movember

Posted on 27.11.09 Comment

For most people it’s approaching the end of November, but for me its approaching the end of Movember.

For those not in the know:

“Movember is an annual, month-long celebration of the moustache, highlighting men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer. Mo Bros start Movember (November 1st) clean shaven and then have the remainder of the month to grow and groom their moustache. During Movember, each Mo Bro effectively becomes a walking billboard for men’s health and, via their Mo, raises essential funds and awareness for Movember’s men’s health partner – The Prostate Cancer Charity.”

Now I’ve had to walk around looking a little bit silly for a month (which has felt like the longest month on earth). It wouldn’t have been so bad if I drove to work – then I could hide in my car and hide in the office. Unfortunately, I take the train to work so that means for 2 hours everyday I’m in the public eye, with this ‘slug’ on my top lip (as my girlfriend lovingly calls it).

Furthermore, this month has also been a month of bumping into people I haven’t seen in a while, and making new acquaintances – all with this thing on my face. It’s pretty tough fitting in “I don’t usually have a moustache” early on in the conversation.

So the least you people could do is sponsor me, no matter how little you can give. I’ve raised £105 so far, which is pretty good, but I want more!

No offence if you rock a Mo normally, it just doesn’t suit my face.

Website Launch

Posted on 23.11.09 3 Comments

Hello! After a few months of tinkering chopeh.com is now up and running.

chopeh is me, Pete Lacey. I’ve been creating great things for nearly 10 years (and some not-so-great things before that). My main forté is graphic design, but it has been known for me to dabble in illustration, photography, video editing, motion-graphics, web development, art direction and even audio recording. If I’m interested in it, I’ve tried it.

In the future this page will be updated with:

  • Current projects being worked on
  • Informative articles on various design topics
  • General musings and witterings from yours truly
  • Links and interesting bits I find on the web

I freely encourage interaction, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment, drop me an email, or even tweet me.