storage | design

the hero and the loser 


whenever there’s a headline about achievements of people with disabilities, many would often say how “brave” and “inspirational” they are. It’s implying the notion that having an impairment is somewhat of a burden. A lot of activists try to counteract by turning a disability into a part of one’s identity of which they have to be proud of, yet they criticize anyone who in their mind is reducing a person to that very crucial part of their identity. 

let’s face it, having any kind of impairment is not fun, much less something to be necessary proud of. Whether you like it or not, your life is tough(er), you have limits that you can’t cross and you get reminded of that every single day. The people around you are sometimes overwhelmed, insecure or downright rejecting. Dating can be a bitch and a half, because you’re seen as some kind of asexual being and you’re expected to be grateful to have gotten the leftovers from the bottom of the dating barrel. As for your career prospects, you can pick between a sheltered workshop/welfare or be married to someone who can provide for you. Then you would sit in your armchair watching TV about some fellow cripple who “made it despite all”. As much as you wish them the best, you know too well that you and 99,9% of your kind will barely get out of the woodwork. 

is there anyone to blame for this? The answer is not as simple as one would want to think. It’s so easy to say that it’s all society’s fault but that’s only partly true. Yes, life is hard, and not just for people with disabilities, but for everyone else too. On the other hand, entitlement and too much optimism cause that people are unable realistically determine their own abilities. Having to face the pull from both sides, one keeping you down, the other lifting you up leaves you either depressed or manic, either way having unrealistic expectations about what you can or can’t do. 

your advocates and activists aren’t making it any better, ironically enough, they even willingly or unwillingly enforce either side. Many of them are blinded by their ideology, claiming to know what is the best way make people with disabilities a part of society. There are tons of charities and organizations competing for their good deeds for the day. But in order for them to function, they need to maintain the divide and keep pushing for a victim-mentality among those they deem helpless. The few selected heroes are used as a scapegoat for a misguided media representation, showing a problem that has been already created by those who claim to fight against it in the first place. 

in all of this debate about people with disabilities, one thing is missing: the people themselves. It’s all about them, but rarely with them. Each and every one is different. Each and everyone has different needs and desires. Don’t expect the world to adapt to them, but let them have the agency to adapt to the world instead. 

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how to design accessibly?


insights | design by pxlgirl

there are a lot of organizations out there focusing accessibility. The goal is to make life easier for those who are limited in any shape or form, let it be disability, ageing or disease. When it comes to information technology, web development is already relatively well covered.

as much as organizations and charities try to advocate their cause, they often lack professionally done and well-thought design solutions and communication strategies. Due to the misconception that design cannot be “seen” by their audience, most don’t consider it as important. However, conveying the message in the right way is crucial. People who have low vision or learning difficulties need a clear and easy visual language making sure that the content is understood. This requires conceptional thinking and some out of the box design skills for the web and far beyond. If you’d like to know more, check out my presentation slides on accessible and inclusive design, along with a series of articles on this topic.

the few design/advertising agencies dealing with accessibility try their best to cater, but the lack of proper content creation and often restrictive guidelines make such jobs rather a burden than a pleasure. As a result, the end product is often a rotten compromise, which is anything but benefiting the actual target audience. Not to mention that most designers ignore this matter altogether.

how can this gap be filled? This is where I comes in. Being visually impaired and a designer, I can provide insights and perspective first hand. I can help organizations and charities to (re)brand their identity so that the audience can connect with them. I can also help agencies with accessible solutions for their projects and show them ways how to satisfy the clients’ needs without cutting on design quality. Feel free to contact me.

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the brand, (the) new logo


is a brand just a fancy term for a logo? That’s what many would think but is this true? Of course not, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post. I will spare you the dictionary definition of a logo, but in a nutshell, it’s a visual representation of a company name, it may or may not include a graphic attached to it.

a brand however, is a representation of a company as a whole. What does that mean? You can compare a company to a human. Everyone has a name, but that’s not the only thing that represents them. Every human has values, goals and other personality traits that make up a unique character. This is where a brand kicks in. It does more than just visualize someone’s name, it makes sure that things like appearance and behavior match the personality and values.

applying this to a company, a brand would be the concept as a whole, the logo being one part of it. Take Apple as an example. Their branding strategy involves so much more than a bitten apple logo, it goes all the way from their internal name badges, over advertising to packeging and so much more I won’t list here.

in order to accomplish this, the work process of a designer is a bit more complex. Just like with a person, it takes time to get to know them, just like it takes time to grasp the identity of a company. It is then up to the designer to create a concept and find creative ways to get the right message across. I have prepared another example to illustrate this. On the image below you can see a concept behind a brand I once created. The client was a startup company selling medical devices:

MedView - WIP | design by pxlgirl

You can check out the full project here.

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goodbye Adobe – hello Affinity?


it has been around 15 years for us, me and Adobe that is. The relationship was rocky sometimes, it was the only option around and it got the job done most of the times (unless it decided to crash on me). Things got really sour after Adobe introduced their nasty cloud subscription model. There are many out there, who just happen to be ok with that model , but not having a choice between a stand-alone licence and a subscription is restrictive and limiting in my book. That said, it’s only a matter of time till my stand-alone software will stop running on newer operating systems and I’d be forced to subscribe, knowing that what I pay for can’t even be really “mine”. Well, no thank you and fsck you!

being a bit of a linux geek, like me, they are nowhere near to be considered alternatives for professionals.

then I stumbled upon Affinity. They specifically target professionals and their software runs on Macs only. Currently, the product line consists of Affinity Designer, which resembles Illustrator and Affinity Photo, which… you guessed it, resembles Photoshop. An equivalent for InDesign called Affinity Publisher is to be released soon, so we got some really exciting times ahead of us. Now mind you, it’s not at that level I need it to be just yet, but the development is moving forward rapidly. I was very impressed what they’ve come up with so far, so lets hope they will keep up the good work. It’s about time for new and innovative apps that can finally kick Adobe’s ass real hard. When that happens, you bet I’ll have a shot or two.

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how much is the fish II


many companies and individuals  quite often fail to understand the impact and importance of a good designed brand, which puts the design task at the bottom of the things to invest into. To make matters worse, so called “speculative work” or “crowdsourcing” adds up to the mess, where proclaimed “designers” (mostly from 3rd world countries) create logos for free, in hope to be the chosen from a vast number of competitors by a client and get paid a few bucks for the effort. As a result, the client might be happy to just have spent $5 on their logo, they are not aware how much they harmed all the designers who lost the pitch, but also keep on reading… »

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