Step Up Your Video Conference Background Game With GotYourBack

Video calls and conferences are fast becoming the new normal, in both our work lives and everyday lives. While you may not mind your colleagues or friends getting a glimpse into your home during a chat, GotYourBack can help you up the cool factor of your video meetings with custom backgrounds contributed by some of the world’s best artists, designers and museums. From the GotYourBack site:

Whether for work or personal use, many of us spent the last weeks in and out of video conference calls.

Far from ideal. But it sparked an idea.

GotYourBack

An ever growing collection of virtual backdrops for use in video call apps. Expressions of optimism and art by the world’s best designers, illustrators, animators, photographers, filmmakers and artists.

Adding some much needed creativity to video conferences whilst also raising awareness for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and promoting artists and their art. Everybody benefits.

The backgrounds include colorful abstracts, whimsical photo manipulations and illustrations, fine art paintings from the Dutch Rijksmuseum and breathtaking photography. There are even several animated backgrounds, if that’s your thing. The site’s FAQ gives instructions for using the backgrounds in Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and they are also perfect for desktop wallapers.

All of the backgrounds on GotYourBack are available to use free of charge, but you can make a voluntary donation to the COVID-19 Response Fund when you download.

Via It’s Nice That.

The Art and Science of Cyanotype

Cyanotype by photography pioneer, Anna Atkins

Looking for a fun, kid-friendly (or maybe just easy-for-adults) art activity to occupy some of your quarantined day? Something that functions as a science lesson, as well? Look no further than cyanotype printing.

Although cyanotype is, technically, a photographic process, special chemicals or a darkroom are not required. In its most basic form, all that is needed is some easily-obtainable, specially-coated paper, some interesting objects (leaves, flowers, glass trinkets, lace) and sunlight.

The basic process is simple and safe enough for even very young children. Simply pick a sunny spot in which to place the paper, arrange the objects on the paper, and expose for a few minutes (around 2-5, depending on the strength of the sunlight). Next, remove the objects and wash the prints in regular tap water to develop the image. You will be left with a light image on a blue background. Kind of like an architectural blueprint, which uses the same basic process.

While cyanotype is very simple in its basic form, you can get more elaborate with it, if you desire. For example, you can print photo negatives on transparency film with your home inkjet printer and use those to print your own photos as cyanotypes.

You can also buy the chemistry needed and coat your own watercolor paper, or even fabric and other objects. This is only slightly more complex than using pre-coated paper, but allows for some very interesting results.

If you would like to learn more about the cyanotype process, alternativephotography.com has a wealth of information, including free downloadable materials. This Instructables article details the entire process, including printing a negative and coating your own paper.

It’s simple, safe and fun – give it a try!

Designing the graphics for the Harry Potter movies

MinaLima (Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima) is the design studio that designs all of the graphics, signs, newspapers, decrees, posters, labels, maps, book covers, and packaging that you see in the Harry Potter movies.

“One of the best things about working on the Harry Potter films was being able to try out so many different styles, from Victorian letterpress to modern design,” says Lima.

They also worked on the Fantastic Beasts movie. You can follow their work on Instagram and purchase prints of their work on their site.

Via kottke.org.

Finding Inspiration on Craigslist

You can find a lot of things on Craigslist – a car, a sofa, a slightly-used copy of of Super Smash Bros. Melee for Nintendo Gamecube, maybe even true love. But did you know that you can also find abundant design inspiration there?

Much has been written about the pros and cons of constantly seeking out inspiration as a designer. Some say that the continual search for creative spark in other’s work will make our own work stale and derivative, simply parroting the prevailing design trends. Others counter that there is truly nothing new under the sun, and everything comes from something else, the trick being to take inspiration from something and make it your own.

I tend to fall into the latter camp, maintaining a sizable Evernote notebook of web clippings that have struck me as particularly interesting. I don’t, however, limit my inspiration mining to the typical places like Dribbble, ffffound, and Designspiration. One of the more unusual places I find things that inspire me is Craigslist. Continue reading