The Beginning of the End (Literally)

August 29, 2007 at 7:56 pm · Filed under Interactive / Web

Sisyphus painting by Titian

Sisyphus by Titian / 1549

Well, it’s finally happened: I have laid the groundwork to become yet another online asshole. Yes, now that I have joined the burgeoning ranks of the blogosphere, I, too, can make my opinion known to anyone in the world-wide-web with frightening ease and frequency.

Ironically, I used to publish opinion pieces about various personal and professional matters on my very first web site (then—almost 10 years ago. However, at some point, I decided that my online presence should just be a relatively objective record of my graphic design work—basically, an online portfolio. I think this happened when I started becoming more concerned with seeming “professional” or something.

The pure portfolio sites (there have been several iterations) served me well, I suppose. In the late ’90s, the dot-com boom was deafening (especially in Seattle), and I knew that even my basic knowledge of digital media would give me an edge on my otherwise-more-qualified competition for design jobs, and I used it to good effect. Indeed, it was almost schtick: I wouldn’t bring anything to interviews—not even a resume; when they asked me if I had anything to show, I would casually mention “Oh, it’s all online,” as if anyone who had anything other than a web site for their portfolio was terribly passé. Keep in mind that hardly any of these jobs actually involved any digital media design. Nevertheless, my plan worked, for a while…

one of my early portfolio sites / 2001 – sadly, my earliest sites seem to be lost

After the inevitable dot-com “bust,” I was smart and fortunate enough to make my way back to school, so that I might actually become a decent enough designer not to have to rely on such novelty. However, even as the roaring ’90s may have come crashing down, and the internet blamed for the ensuing economic silence, it was clear that this medium was not going away. Indeed, though the novelty had certainly worn off, the Internet was becoming an ever-more essential part of American (and, fittingly, worldwide) culture.

So, I never gave up interest in the web, or on my own site therein. I knew that I was still one of the few designers of my ilk who embraced digital interactive media, and I wanted my site to reflect that (albeit somewhat passively—I never wanted to be pigeon-holed as a “web designer”). In any case, I am still amazed at the percentage of designers (many of them quite good) who even now refuse to involve themselves in the web at all.

As of my university graduation, I was all set to impress the big-shots of the design world, and I had designed what I had considered to be a pretty awesome portfolio site to help me do so. Actually, I designed two: one “public” that only had a few projects on it (a teaser, if you will, to pique interest for possible interviews), and another in a hidden directory with about 15 projects that I planned to disclose only to those with whom I had already interviewed. Both were divided by categories of “identity,” “print,” “interactive,” and “editorial” (or some variations thereof). As I settled into working life, I eventually just merged these sites into the latter, more complete portfolio, and tweaked it a few more times, making it more and more simple. / 2004

my portfolio site just after school / 2004
scrolling down revealed that the big cropped V was actually just the first letter in “Visual Communication Design” / 2007

my last portfolio site / 2007

Now, I have decided to come full-circle in a sense. I’m pretty secure in my “professional” stature at this point in my career (I have been getting paid to be a designer for quite some time now, after all), so I’m not afraid of seeming like an actual person. I still want to have portfolio work on this site, but my life is about more than just graphic design, and my design is informed by several aspects of my life. So, I hope that I will be able to provide interesting content in addition to my design projects. Even keeping on the topic of design, there are many other facets worthy of highlight – the work of friends or other design firms, or that by unknown creators, and the impact thereof. I’m not exactly sure about which other realms of content I’d like to delve into here, but I feel like the potential is wide open. I might say a thing or two about bicycle racing (an occasional passion of mine), or other favorite pastimes: music, film, food, people, ephemera, etc.

But even if I never touched any content other than just my portfolio work, I think the blog format presents interesting opportunities for contextual presentation. For one thing, blogs are intrinsically sequential: The oldest posts are at the bottom, and the newest are at the top (this first post, therefore, will soon be last). I think it would be interesting, then, if I posted my work in the order in which it was completed. That means I want to dig up the oldest work I can find and go up from there. At some point, I would probably catch up with myself.

Another facet of the blog format that I find interesting in terms of presentation of content is the “tagging” method of categorization. Rarely do my design projects actually fit neatly into just one of four categories. For example, many “identity” projects actually involve print, interactive, and editorial aspects. Obviously, any other bits of life I may want to post probably wouldn’t fit neatly into those four categories, either, so I can file them appropriately in this context.

But what has really attracted me to land in the blogosphere is that it represents the next step in the evolution of the web: human-to-human interactivity (as opposed to human-to-button interactivity). This format enables you (whoever you are) to comment on anything I put here (including my work), and I can comment on that, thus furthering interaction. But it’s still my site, so if I don’t like what you say, I can just delete it!

I love this place.


  1. Devon DeLapp said,

    September 10, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Hear, hear! Welcome (back) to the blogosphere, Dan. We can always use another reasoned and perceptive voice. Looking forward to seeing some good work on here!

  2. Daniel P. Johnston said,

    September 18, 2007 at 2:45 am

    Thanks, Devon.
    If this turns out to be half as entertaining as, I will be content.

  3. Tselentis said,

    September 22, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    You are not an asshole. Honest. BTW, nice site.

  4. Daniel P. Johnston said,

    September 23, 2007 at 1:02 am

    Aw shucks. Thanks Jason (Tselentis). Long time – no see… good to hear from you. Teach your children well.

  5. jen said,

    September 23, 2007 at 4:37 am

    now I can point and laugh with a point and click. so easy.

  6. Daniel P. Johnston said,

    September 23, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Hey Jen,
    That’s the spirit! I’m looking forward to more pointed comments from you.

  7. Jesse said,

    September 24, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Kick Ass Dan!

  8. Daniel P. Johnston said,

    September 25, 2007 at 3:03 am

    Thanks Jesse. Sorry I forgot to loop you in before.

  9. esmat said,

    September 27, 2007 at 7:28 am

    hi Dan. nice site and i love the content……..very descriptive and didnt bore me one bit. good luck.

  10. Daniel P. Johnston said,

    September 30, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    Thanks esmat. I’ll need it.

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