February 05, 2014
“Ask Me About The Pen Tool”
Before joining Adobe I was a unicorn covering a broad span of disciplines related to design, code and animation. For years I weaved my way in and out of various design tools on a daily basis, and I’ve always had a strong affinity for Adobe design tools; I’m that person that has mnemonic throwpillows and slaps Photoshop stickers all over everything. Creating vector art with Illustrator has always been a meditative experience — I’m by no means an award-winning designer, but I’ve always felt in my element when creating digital art.
It was an interesting shift joining Adobe in that I’m no longer the designer. I’m the person helping influence tools people like me use every day. On the one hand, my job is AWESOME and I love it, though on the other I felt myself quickly disconnecting from my graphic design roots. This kinda bummed me out. I decided I wanted to brand myself as a reminder to keep in touch with my inner artist during the times I get caught up in the product development world.
Designing the tattoo was a quick process. When I thought of a symbol that represents design, the Fibonacci spiral was the first visual that came to mind — it captures both logic and beauty in a single picture. I also wanted to visualize the love I have for vector art as it’s consumed a significant part of my life. The curves of the spiral naturally lent themselves well to anchor points and bezier handles (which I meticulously designed to match the appropriate math of the curve) and topped it off with an 8-bit style pen tool. I couldn’t be happier with the result!
This reminds me of one of my first encounters with Adobe.
In 1999 I was an alpha tester for LiveMotion. PM Michael Ninness wrote me to say, “Hey, do you use the pen tool in Flash? If you think it’s important to have in LM, you might want to chime in on the prerelease forum.” I spoke up, and with surprising speed, a bunch of other testers immediately piped up as well. Little did I know that this was a big battle within the team, and that Michael had written to all of us individually, putting his finger ever so slightly on the scales of user feedback. He got his way, and when the team implemented the pen tool, he got them these commemorative shirts:
[Big hat tip to LiveMotion Jedi Joe Bowden for still having the shirt after all these years!]