"Spec This" only sounds like a slur to hurl at exploitative types who try to shake you down for gratis design work. In fact, it's an online tool that allows designers to quickly and easily estimate printing costs. When you next find yourself with a print project, head to Spec This and fill out the form with the pertinent details, including stock, inks, coatings, finishing, and fulfillment. As soon as you click "submit," the site will send your project specs to any printer(s) you specify, and before you can say CMYK, you'll be comparing quotes—and saving time and money. Think of it as Priceline for printing.
"If we can imagine it, we can make it. If we can make it, we will." That's the motto of Rado, the Swiss watchmaker that prides itself on testing the bounds of technology. Three individuals that exemplify the same visionary spirit will be honored in September with the Rado Unlimited Spirit Award, and the company is crowdsourcing the award statuette with a design contest. Entries "should be innovative in terms of material, aesthetic and visionary in terms of shape" but not unwieldy: think smallish, easily toted sculpture made of metal, wood, rubber, or glass. You've got until July 11 to submit your sketch, rendering, technical drawing, and a brief description of your spirited design. The clock is ticking.
Want to say Happy Father's Day with a card that features your dad's name spelled out in skywriting, in chrome along the fender of a classic car, or on the wings of a butterfly? Forget Photoshop and download PixyMe, an iPhone app that artistically melds your choice of text with photos to create whimsical personalized cards. Developed by Tukaiz Products, the app offers hundreds of images to choose from as well as the option to upload your own. Not into e-cards? Take advantage of PixyMe's analog option: The company will print your card, affix a stamp, and send it via snail mail.
Join us in counting down to the imminent launch of UCODO, a site that will soon allow users to view, customize, and (of course) buy a variety of products -- all in a 3D environment. An initiative of U.K.-based design company Digital Forming, UCODO is an acronym of "User Co-Designed Objects" and among the objects on offer will be sunglasses, jewelry, pens, and lamps, all of which users will be able to modify (stretch, twist, emboss, assemble) with the move of a mouse. How much to tweak an object's form, color, and material is all up to the user. Designs can be saved in an online library or purchased on the spot for prices not usually associated with rapid prototyping technology. (We hear they'll start at around $25.) Creations will ship within two weeks. Join UCODO's mailing list to get first crack at this innovative design on demand platform.
If your Memorial Day festivities will involve youngsters, convince them to join you for a flash art session during which you both draw the same comic book or cartoon character. That's the idea behind "Five-Minute Marvels" (as in Marvel Comics), a site that encourages adults and kids to try their hand at illustration and then submit the resulting collaborative artwork for online publication. The concept—"One hero. One kid. One adult. Five minutes."—is that of self-proclaimed "Marvel Smartass" Tim Miner, a father of two young girls who began the drawing sessions as a creative alternative to bedtime stories. Why five minutes? According to Miner, it's "just enough to have fun, but not enough to beat yourself up about your drawing."
Pingg wants you. The online invitation site is planning to expand its popular Designer Series into a self-service platform and market for artists, designers, brands, and charities to upload their creative content, translate it into a collection of online invitations and announcements, and connect with Pingg users worldwide. The first step is an open call for design submissions. What's in it for you? A dedicated profile page to showcase your work and link back to your personal website. Meanwhile, stay tuned for DStudio, a soon-to-launch program that will allow artists and designers to upload and monetize their work through the power of Pingg.
Shaky stock market got you down? Feeling creatively blocked? Whipsawed by Grecian lawlessness and Icelandic volcanoes? Spend some quality time with the Motivator, a simple online application from Big Huge Labs that allows users to create customized motivational posters. Beginning with a Successories-style template, you select the orientation and colors, supply a photo, and craft up to three lines of "motivational text" that will appear underneath the title of your choosing. The resulting images can make for chuckleworthy alternatives to standard evites, office decor, and, for those in need of a bit of anti-procrastination motivation, Mother's Day cards.
Will comic books survive the media maelstrom? Can graphic novels pack the same visual punch on screen? A new player in publishing is working to ease the transition. Launched to the public this week, Graphic.ly is looking to build a niche as both an online community and digital content delivery platform for comic books and graphic novels. Publishers including Top Cow, BOOM!, and Arcana have signed on to make their content available via Graphic.ly. The first applications out of beta allow users to download, read, and chat from their computer desktops, but stay tuned for iPhone, iPad, and other versions. According to CEO and co-founder Micah Baldwin, "Graphic.ly is the online version of hanging out at the comic book store, finding new friends, new comics to read, and new interests and genres."
Looking for that perfect Earth Day gift? Try a twenty-first century take on the family tree from My Tree and Me, a new online company that specializes in modern geneology charts that double as inspiring wall art. Opt for a customized version of vibrant designs that range from minimalist to mod or order a DIY chart to fill in on your own (practice on the included black and white copy first). Just add family! The site offers a list of links to help you research your family history and fill in the blanks.
Ever wonder what would have happened if Saul Bass had applied his graphic design talents to the small screen? Albert Exergian seems to have a pretty good idea. The Austrian designer combined his love for posters, modernism, and television to create Iconic TV, a series of mod posters that boils down popular TV shows to bold icons. The Sopranos is represented by an circular swatch of red-checked tablecloth, and Two a Half Men is a jazzy take on piano keys (two and a half of them), while lollipop-loving Kojak is symbolized by a simple ball and stick sucker. Some posters appear to have required more thinking than others. The X Files poster? A large "X." Archival prints of any of Exergian's 47 TV posters are available for purchase from online gallery Blanka. Just click through the swatches on the left to find your favorite.