DailyMonster.ink: Your Daily Dose of Monster Creativity

Fresh off his Main Stage presentation at RGD’s Design Thinkers conference, notable designer Stefan Bucher stopped by our booth in the exhibit hall and left as the enthusiastic new owner of both 344.design and DailyMonster.ink.

344.design is now home to the company website for Stefan’s studio, 344 Design, through which he has created designs and illustrations for clients David Hockney, Judd Apatow, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, not to mention album covers for the likes of Sting and Whitney Houston.

So why on Earth would this accomplished designer want a .ink website? And what is Daily Monster?

“It’s always hard to break through when you’re presenting your content online, particularly when so many common sense domain names are already taken. The new domains are a great way to liven things up and grab people’s attention.”

When an idea pops into Stefan Bucher’s head he can’t stop until he somehow makes it real. And so began the Daily Monster project. Each day, he films himself putting a few drops of black ink on a piece of paper, blows it out with compressed air, and creates a new monster character out of the resulting shape. “It’s an exercise in beating procrastination and fear. I’m scared of the white page, and the ink blot makes it so that I’m not starting a drawing, I’m finishing one, which is much more fun!”

Much like the monsters themselves, over its life of 10+ years, Daily Monster has expanded and evolved. The website and it’s videos have spawned a book containing stories about each monster sourced from his fans all over the world, and even an app, the DAILY MONSTER Monster Maker!

In its latest evolution, Stefan re-launched DailyMonster.com as DailyMonster.ink.
“After running DailyMonster as a .com for the first 10 years, having a .ink domain for an ongoing exercise in creating characters from blown ink was just too good of a fit to pass up!” He adds, “It’s always hard to break through when you’re presenting your content online, particularly when so many common sense domain names are already taken. The new domains are a great way to liven things up and grab people’s attention. I love that I now get to use 344.design and dailymonster.ink to show my work!”

More about Stefan’s work here, including the six books he’s authored (so it should come as no surprise, he’s won a D&AD award for book design, too).

Why Porkbun is actually the best deal around

Why choose Porkbun?

In a word: value. Not only do we have some of the lowest prices around, SSL and WHOIS Privacy (essential features for keeping eavesdroppers and spammers away from your domain) are included free with every Porkbun domain.

Plus, at Porkbun, you get free email forwarding, free web hosting through our Weebly-powered site builder, and free top-notch tech support. We think we’re the best deal around, and we hope you’ll agree!

Major .design usage from Facebook, Airbnb, T-Mobile

The benefits of new top-level domains (nTLDs) for companies and individuals that were never able to get a great .com are obvious. Now, they can have unique, short and brandable domain names and, with options like .design, they can add context in a way that .com never could.

Recently, there have been some really exciting developments for .design in particular. While it has already differentiated itself as one of the most successful new TLDs, it now seems to be one of the only extensions that is receiving significant traction with the world’s largest and hottest companies, which are creating sites like facebook.design, airbnb.design, medium.design, and telekom.design (from T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom).

What these sites all have in common is that they create a prominent place for design departments to highlight their work, establish themselves as design leaders and further bolster recruiting efforts. These companies allow their .com sites to focus on their core business and instead facilitate an ancillary discussion: they discuss how design supports and guides their business, who is behind their design, and give back to the wider design community.

Facebook.design has been live for months, but it received its most notable update on Oct. 17 when they released their iOS 10 GUI (Graphic User Interface) available for Photoshop, Sketch and Figma. Facebook was advertising facebook.design in user feeds:

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Simultaneous with the newest release, Facebook Designer Jeff Smith wrote about their goals in “Giving Back to the Design Community.” It’s clear that facebook.design is set to be an entirely new engagement point for the company, offering an opportunity to talk directly to a community as a leader that it never could via its primary .com site. As he says:

“Facebook.design is just getting started. Like most things at Facebook, it will be iterated on frequently. But we hope this becomes a place where designers can find great resources to grow as a designer and develop in their career. Ultimately, we hope we can help push our discipline forward.”

More recently, Facebook contributed further to the design community at large with the launch of origami.design, a prototyping tool used by Facebook’s own design team, now available to all.

We see the same thing looking at other sites; airbnb.design promotes Airbnb’s design events at their SF and NYC offices and as well functions as a general blog featuring a wide range of posts from UI designers to the interior designers of their offices. It also includes content that inspires the team artistically and creatively. It is clearly not their primary goal to get more designers booking rentals via airbnb.com. Instead, it allows them to become a vocal and recognized design destination and a top recruiter for designers.

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The value of thought leadership and community recognition for recruiting is even more clear at telekom.design. There, T-Mobile, a brand that is associated with the comparatively conventional business of telephones, is giving its design department an exciting edge. The beautiful site clearly conveys that they are a design driven company and introduces you to their impressive team. Naturally, the most prominent option on the site is the “Jobs” tab.

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What we see in well-known companies supplementing their .com sites with .design is a powerful statement on how important the collaborative culture of online design is to their success and how it guides their continued growth. The new .design domain allows major companies to cultivate design leadership and inspiring conversations in a way that would have never been possible on their main .com sites.

Smartshape.design: award-winning design

Since its inception in 1989, SmartShape Design has evolved from a one-man industrial design firm into an international organization. During that evolution, they opened up two offices in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as an office in Shenzhen, China, have grown to 20+ employees and produced a scope of work that has increased in both volume and vertical focus over time.

“Over the past decade we’ve expanded into a full-service consultancy that now offers in-house research facilities and full mechanical engineering capabilities along with our core expertise in industrial design. Additionally, SmartShape’s office in China operates as a contract manufacturer for projects of all shapes and sizes,” said Rachel Miller, SmartShape Design Marketing Coordinator.

With their firm now employing business strategists, program managers, engineers with advanced degrees, and experts in tooling and manufacturing, the company is now, more than ever, a one-stop shop for many prospective product producers. “We are a turn-key operation that allows companies to work with us to flesh out their product ideas from start to finish. We can serve clients who need it all, or for others who only need a portion, we’re able to provide services specific to the needs of any product development lifecycle stage.”  

As an industry, industrial design has been heavily affected by technological advancement. Considering that SmartShape has been in the business for close to 27 years, they’ve seen the brunt of it. “Shifts in technology have been one of the biggest changes [in this industry] – seeing technology evolve and making moves internally to adapt and meet the shift has been a fun challenge that we’ve been more than excited to meet head on, always moving to meet new needs.” Rachel told us, “Traditionally, our staff put pen to paper, but it’s all digital now. It will be interesting to see how the industry evolves even more to meet new and emerging design needs, modeling for advanced UX, wearable technology, and the age of the Internet of Things (IoT).”

Given the company’s willingness to adopt early, it should come as no surprise that SmartShape Design was so quick to find value in .design. “One of my colleagues came across a blog or a news story about .design becoming available and we hopped on it right away. We saw that .design was available and within two weeks we were smartshape.design.”

This wasn’t just a domain change, the SmartShape team also opted for smartshape.design email addresses, a company-wide pivot. Why were they prepared to make such a big change? “It is a shorter web address that says what we do and who we are, and conveniently and simply displays as our brand name. It made a lot of sense for us to take that leap,” said Rachel.

SmartShape moved from smartshapedesign.com to smartshape.design to make its domain shorter, more memorable and more “brandable.” These days, all of those qualities are in short supply in the .com namespace. On top of that, company names are almost always taken, illustrated by the fact that smartshape.com is a site for weight loss tools and training.
SmartShape was at the forefront of the .design movement. They got their domain only weeks after it launched on May 12th, 2015. Since then .design has added about 50,000 more registrations and is being used by companies such as Facebook, Medium and Airbnb. Rachel understood the potential from the beginning for a company in SmartShape’s industry, noting,  “In the future, when you’re looking for design, the .design extension instead of a .com extension could become the natural place to look on the web.”

An Interview with Katie Frederick

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Graphic.design is headed to the AIGA Design Conference in New Orleans this week! To celebrate the city’s best designers-in-the-making, we held a contest amongst members of AIGA’s student chapters. The contest was as follows: design three icons that capture what the Crescent City means to you for the chance to win your own .design domain, $250, and an all-access ticket to the conference!

Our winner was Katie Frederick, a junior at Loyola University, New Orleans. Her designs evoked the spirit of New Orleans with an eye towards both tradition and whimsy, past and present. If you’re attending the conference, you will find those icons on our posters, stickers and our booth banner. After she won, we were able to get her on the phone to talk about the icons she designed as well as what got her into the world of graphic design.

 

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Had you heard of .design before this contest? How’d you get the idea for the designs?

I hadn’t. My advisor sent an email to us so I looked you guys up and it seemed like something I’d want to do. I’ve been wanting to work on a project about the architecture of New Orleans, which is amazing. I was going to go around and take pictures of all the houses and start vectorizing and making little illustrations of them. One of my designs in the contest was one of those illustrations so it worked out perfectly.

 

And how did you get the idea for the other two designs?

I asked all of my friends about the first four words they thought of when they thought of New Orleans. Booze and partying was obviously one of the things they said, as well as Mardi Gras. So the tree design came from Mardi Gras and trying not to do a cliched illustration of it. The drink is also iconic. The drinking culture here isn’t about drinking a drink at the bar. You drink it from a to-go cup because you can drink on the street here.

 

Yeah, I think the daiquiri was an office favorite

I’m sure you guys thought that was hilarious.

 

What would your ideal job or work scenario be after college?

I’m not exactly sure anymore. It used to be animation, working at Pixar was something I used to dream about. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what I want now. It’s such a long commitment, years of working on the same scene, the same movie. I don’t think I want that. I’m not really sure what I want right now. I’d love to work for a design firm, maybe in publications and magazines and I’d really love to work abroad. That’s a big goal of mine.

 

If you could choose a place to live and work, where would it be?

Right now I’m trying to go to New Zealand. I’m trying to study abroad next semester and if I could do it in New Zealand, that would be amazing.

 

How long have you been involved with design?

I was really involved in art and the arts side of things for a long time, but I didn’t know too much about design at the time. The question ended up being, how do I be creative and still get paid? which is when I started learning about design. The more I’ve learned about it and done it, the more confident I am that this is where I belong.

 

Do you feel like you’re gravitating towards one area of design or are you still just exploring?

Still exploring. I really am not settled on a particular thing right now.

 

How about stylistically?

I lean towards very simple designs, but, at this point, I try not to do the same thing or get too much of a style. I’m still a student so I might as well try new things now and have them come out poorly than when I’m working professionally.

 

When you won the contest you got a .design domain, what did you end up choosing?

My name, katiefrederick.design

 

Do you know what you’re going to do with that?

it’s going to be a portfolio page. I haven’t set it up yet, but it’s on my business cards so it needs to go up soon!

 

Did you already have a digital place for your portfolio before the .design?

Not so far. I haven’t set it up. I have been trying to get it together and get a portfolio that I’m happy with, but it’s very much a work in progress.

 

How’s that going to impact the job search? Is physical portfolio or digital portfolio going to be more important?

I think the digital portfolio is hugely important. We had an alumna come speak to us, Lizzie Margiotta, she works in LA. When she was looking for a job she just sent a link to her portfolio to a design firm, nothing else, and they hired her. So it’s definitely really important.  

 

Now that you have a .design, is that something you would recommend to your peers or other designers?

Definitely. The idea is that the domain is targeted at designers. I think it’s great to have design after my name because I have to say less, it says it for me. A lot of my peers are in the process of setting up their portfolios right now so it’s a great thing to have.

 

Katie’s site is at www.katiefrederick.design, check it out!