Four Fifths Design

Inspiration for the Creative Mind

Nintendo’s Annual Report

Designer: Sebastian Napoli

Sebastian Napoli is an artist and designer who currently focuses on creative solutions for the studio Burgopak, located in Chicago, United States. With a portfolio spanning from HBO to LG, and many in between, Sebastian has quickly become an accomplished individual who seems to have everything going right. I happened to stumble upon his work via Daniel Mall who advertised to the social world his liking for one piece in particular: Nintendo’s Annual Report. Being a video game fanatic myself, I instantly fell in love with it as well. I enjoy most the fact that it is not over the top in production. It’s make up is fairly standard, and its graphic elements are specific – drawn straight from the Mario franchise. Being that Mario, and related franchises are known for overly vibrant worlds and color characters, it’s a beautiful thing to see a printed piece mesh such an explosive entity with the boldness of white space and visual simplicity of seemingly grid-like layouts. Now if only I could grab a copy…


Starting Up

Recently I’ve taken the little free time I’ve had to begin working on a couple personal projects. One might call them “start ups” but I’d argue they’re simply explorations. In doing some research, and sifting through a plethora of resources, I came across the Foundation series. This video series profiles some of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs by investigating the creative mindsets that have led to some of the most well-known ventures of recent time. Kevin Rose, a serial entrepreneur and technology investor is the host, and is better known by some as the founder of Digg.

I began listening to these interviews and absorbing the advice and suggestions given by Jack Dorsey, Tony Conrad, Elon Musk, and many others. I was in search of inspiration outside of the creative fields specifically – design, development, media, etc. I’m in search of escapes from my constant routine of web design, and traditional print projects. It’s not that I dislike the projects I’m working on day in and day out, but it’s always good to keep the mind fresh and indulge in some artistry away from the computer. Perhaps this is why I’m heavily involving myself in these personal projects (I’ll discuss at a later date). But it’s human reassurance that I find myself searching for. I want to know what inspires others. I want to know other peoples’ stories and how they came to be. I am interested in third party takes on existence, communication, science, politics, etc. I want to step away from the constant critical, repetitive conversation between the designer, like myself, and the client. I found that these videos are quite remarkable.

There are patterns and trends that I began to notice from each person Kevin interviewed. Many suggestions are positive and inspiring. These brilliant minds are willing to share ideas, processes, and reflections, many of which are relatable even to those without the entrepreneur spirit. But I especially found two common themes interesting. Just about every individual that Kevin interviewed touched on the following:

First, the reality is people are not simply successful and forever made of gold. Just about every individual who’s become successful in one way or another has in fact experienced downfall and failure, often times early in their careers. I always found the “rags to riches” story to be cliche, relating them to celebrities and athletes. But when you hear from the inventor of a world wide service that they spent much of their creative time in tough and rough circumstances, life is put into perspective. You quickly get the feeling that these success stories are in fact human, and that no one is ever super human for long periods of time. What’s more intriguing is that these individuals pay tribute to the tough times, regards them as periods in their lives that molded them and drove them to their successes. I find that this eases the fear of failure and further ignites the fire inside to want to take action, regardless if the outcome is successful or not. I appreciate and embrace that.

Secondly, almost every individual, in one way or another, suggests to spend time in creative environments outside of average work spaces. More importantly, step away from the routine and simply reach out to people, particularly those who you feel you’d never have a chance to talk to. Going out on a limb is one of the most positive things a creative mind can do. People are willing to talk, they’re willing have a coffee, they’re willing to grab lunch, they’re willing to spend 10 minutes of their time listening. People enjoy and appreciate honest dialogue, so why not involve yourself in just that? Opening up to others and pursuing those who you gravitate towards, whether it be due to portfolio, experience, or confidence, is simply beneficial. It’s up to you to surround yourself with, and interact with those who share your values. As you’ll find out if you watch the videos, it’s actually not that hard to do.

Turn To Nature

Photographer: Jürgen Heckel

Over the past two months I’ve been spending my nights working on a personal project that I’m very excited about. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a couple years now, while I’m still young. Though I’m not going to officially announce what it is just yet, I will tell you that it has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve faced since being a student. It has forced me to address various mediums I’m unfamiliar with; research multiple facets of design that I’ve never dealt with; trust in, and fight against, myself and my thoughts on a daily basis.

Just recently, I was working on a piece that is going to be one of the final designs for a specific milestone in the project. However, after breezing through the previous designs and necessary projects related to this specific milestone, I found myself at a halt. I had seemingly hit a large brick wall for no apparent reason – stopped dead in my tracks. I just could not find a way to create something that was satisfactory. I was struggling with forms. I was hesitant about color combinations. I was lacking balance. I was feeling defeated. I was simply not able to connect my thoughts in a way that would allow me to engineer a design with a natural, comfortable feeling result.

That is, until I turned to nature.

I cleared my mind and read a magazine – something I hadn’t done in weeks. I watched a movie at home – something I hadn’t done in months. I skated on my longboard – something I had barely done all summer. I did my best to reconnect to habits I lost due to my obsession for this project. I went to the ocean and felt it. I tasted things I hadn’t tasted in a year. I did nothing for the first time in a long time. Once I returned I found myself slightly refreshed.

Then I turned to the one habit I have regardless of whether I’m designing or not – electronic dance music. I put the headphones on and thought about the universe in whatever way my mind felt like wandering. I do this often when listening to EDM. I went from colors, to silence, to darkness, to chaos, to the ticking of a clock, among many other random avenues in my imagination.

I do the best I can to remind myself that we are not in the universe, but that the universe is in us. We’re a piece of nature. And nature is the greatest designer. With that thought I stumbled upon the following series. This sequence of ideas and events might seem unorganized, erratic, or perhaps boring. But it led me to these photographs. And it’s these photographs that reignited the fire.


The Power of Light and Dark

Designer: Jürgen Heckel & Matthias Heiderich

I’ve always been a proponent of negative space when it comes to design in general. I feel it allows for clarity, question, and a sense of meaning. The elimination of elements, obstacles, distractions, focal points, etc. hones the mind into believing it might be missing something – “not getting it.” It’s when the viewer or user is at this point that he or she begins to question why? What is it that someone else sees and I cannot? This feeling of isolation, lonesomeness, perhaps unintelligence is what drives the viewer or user to then attempt to look deeper in hopes of finding something that makes sense, has an impact, or conjures up a reaction of any sort that is relevant to the experiences or senses the viewer or user is most familiar with.

I believe black and white are at the forefront of the beginning of such emotional processes. I feel they blatantly ask the viewer or user to take a risk. It’s almost as if the absence of color as well as the combination of the whole spectrum are the two sole forces that alone dare our eyes to make decisions we are almost always hesitant to make.

In celebration of this little bit of thought, I’ve collected two separate series. One that incorporates a shift towards light. One that incorporates and overwhelming sense of dark. And both include elements that are elemental, simplistic in their display, and only accentuate the need for asking the almighty question: why?

InstaCRT – Just a Bit More Genuine Than Instagram

Designer: Harald Martin, Ruben Broman, Erik Wahlstrom

So. This is quite the venture. A group of individuals set out to create an app that achieves a visceral quality in photos… something that Instagram can’t always achieve perfectly (not to say this is a perfect solution either). Rather than recreating a retro effect with software, InstaCRT actually uses the aging titular tech to achieve its goals.

The concept is simple. You take a photo on your iPhone using the InstaCRT app. You upload that photo to a developer. This developer displays your image on a 1 inch CRT in a defined space (office or otherwise). A picture of the photo is then taken with a DSLR, and sent back to your iPhone.

The results are really nice. The scanlines are genuine, the distortion doesn’t follow any equation, and the look and feel are pretty spot on. It results in a standard that many other apps are striving for.

However, it has to be equally as inefficient. The more people begin to use the app, the more time is needed to deliver a result. So what if this app soars? Would it take days, maybe weeks to get an image sent back to you? Is there a better way to streamline this process? There are plenty of possibilities, as well as many conflicts begging to be solved. But nevertheless, the idea is nice, and the effort is present. The results could potentially be fantastic.

You can currently buy InstaCRT in the app store for $1.99.


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