Has your well of inspiration run dry? Seeking a new source of the odd, amusing, amazing, and/or astoundingly creative? Try YouTube Swap, a no-frills site through which users can anonymously exchange their top "You've got to watch this!" video picks. It's crowd-based curation: Simply paste in the URL of one of your YouTube favorites, enter a one-line message (the more fortune cookie-ish, the better), and click "Swap Video." You'll instantly be treated to the selection of another swapper, subtitled with his or her brief message. There's no telling what you'll get, but we've been pleasantly surprised by the variety, so go forth and swap.
HumanEyes Technologies, the company that brought 3D lenticular printing to the masses with Snapily.com, is returning to its roots with SnapilyPro, a new online service dedicated to creative professionals. Think of the site as a go-to printer for 3D projects: users can design their own printed projects (animated business cards, anyone?) in one of the supported file formats with 3D and Flip effects, and SnapilyPro will simulate the 3D image in an online preview and then print the final 3D product for rapid shipment and delivery. It works whether you want one copy or 1000, and prices start at $6 per print.
Only you can stamp out hideous evites, embedded MIDI files and all. We suggest cozying up to Cocodot, an online invitation and card company founded by four stylish graphics gurus "for those who love design and take pride in the way they communicate." Choose to pay an annual flat rate (currently $29) or a per-use fee to design aesthetically superior, ad-free invitations and greetings; create an event home page and manage responses; and post invitations, greetings, and comments to social networks. Cards can be customized with uploaded photos or with Cocodot's vast library of snappy images and designs. And for once, minimalists can opt for blank backgrounds. Planning a Labor Day bash? Forgo paper invitations and peruse Cocodot's "Last Days of Summer"-themed offerings.
Healthy fast food with a side of social media. That's the idea behind 4Food, a new restaurant concept that will debut next month in New York City. With plans ranging from iPad-based ordering and in-store composting to the use of wholesome ingredients and printing personalized nutrition facts on receipts, 4Food aims to "de-junk fast food" in more ways than one. As for the food itself, the signature offering is the W(hole)burger—a donut-shaped, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, veggie, salmon, or egg patty that is filled with one of 25 "Veggiescoop" centers. Customers who register for online accounts with 4Food can create and name a burger and then receive 25 cents every time someone else orders it. Co-founders Adam Kidron and Michael Shuman hope to both build a community and stoke Facebook- and Twitter-using customers' appetites for self-promotion.
Don't toss out those old Crayolas! Ship them off to the National Crayon Recycle Program, which has collected more than 55,000 pounds of unwanted crayons from schools, restaurants, and art supply hoarders nationwide. Founded in 1993 by LuAnn Foty, the initiative helps to keep the petroleum-based wax used to make crayons out of landfills and repurposes the colorful castoffs. Your old Burnt Siennas, Cornflowers, and Magentas will be reborn as Crazy Crayons, hand-crafted morsels of color that come in a variety of shapes. Ready to recycle your crayons? Just remember to leave the wrappers on, lest the sorters confuse Black, Midnight Blue, and Violet.
"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."