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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (9)

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This is a true story. Descriptions of companies, clients, schools, projects, and designers may be altered and anonymized to protect the innocent.

Editor: This True I.D. Story comes to us anonymously, from an up-and-coming designer ready to hit the trade shows. All he needed was a little manufacturing help...


I'd been working on this one [tabletop item] design for a while, I think Core77 even covered it. After a long development time, I finally got it to a point where it was time to industrialize it, get somebody else making it. Before that point I'd just been cranking out prototypes myself, with my little shitty little Craftsman router table—in other words, I was not set up to do any kind of real production.

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So I'm looking around for someone who can get the job done and I hear about this one older dude, I'll call him OPG for Old Production Guy. He's a friend of a friend of a friend, within an hour's drive of my shop, and is by reputation a fantastic woodworker. He came highly recommended with years of experience in the furniture industry. The word was that he'd eventually moved on into a tangential field related to woodworking machines, but was now reportedly itching to make stuff again. With all of his experience, he sounded like a good fit, and having worked in the industry, he presumably knew all about the importance of deadlines.

So I pay him a visit, and this dude has a gigantic warehouse with access to like every woodworking machine under the sun. Table saws, bandsaws, router tables, shapers, planers, joiners, and all of these crazy contraptions for performing multiple operations at once. He grabbed some scrap wood and demonstrated the tolerances of some of the machines for me and they were pretty impressive. You could tell by the way he handled the wood and the machines that he'd been doing this his entire life.

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I figured with a warehouse full of equipment like that I might be too small-potatoes for him—I just needed a small run of these [objects] that I could bring to a trade show—but after I pulled out my drawings to show him, he seemed excited by my design and eager to make it, and my low numbers didn't faze him. I got the vibe that he just wanted to make sawdust again.

So he asked me to bring out two prototypes, as I had designed both a smaller and larger version and he wanted to see them both. I brought them out there and we had lunch and talked about it while he looked the prototypes over. At the end of the meeting he goes "Okay, why don't I try to make a couple of these and we'll see how it goes? And then we'll go from there."

I was like "Wait, don't you need like a deposit? Or to like, give me a quote?"

"Nah, don't worry about it, we'll just test it out," he says. And I'm like "Oh, sweet!"

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So this was my first misstep.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Using sheets of acetate, some markers and his phone's built-in camera, the artist known as Hombre_Mcsteez creates brilliant animations that overlay his drawings onto the environment. Mcsteez, a.k.a. Marty Cooper, refers to the clips as "Aug(De)Mented Reality," and a more accurate description isn't possible to create:

Cooper regularly updates his Instagram page with both still shots and mini-videos, like this update on the classic videogame Frogger:

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Posted by Coroflot  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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How often during a year, or perhaps a month, do you find yourself frustrated or underwhelmed by a tool, system or product you use regularly? Better yet, how often during those moments do you think to yourself, "If only it worked this way instead..." If you've ever dismissed the viability of these ideas because they would be too difficult/costly/complicated/inconvenient to manifest, then the third installment of the RKS Sessions is for you.

On August 5, RKS Sessions presents The Transformation of an Idea into Mass Success, featuring Craig Hickman, creator of the easy-to-use paint program Kid Pix. Hickman saw how frustrated his own son would get trying to use early computer drawing programs and turned his own "why doesn't this work better..." moment into the iconic easy-to-use paint program that encourages children to use computers.

Sign up today to attend this presentation on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM in Santa Monica, CA, where you'll learn how Hickman incubated his idea into mass commercial success.

Posted by erika rae  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We've written about Morpholio's powerful app-based design tools in the past (here and here), but you might not know that they also foster design students through an annual competition called Pinup. This year, I had the privilege of sitting on the jury team—along with a solid lineup of fellow design editors and writers from Fast Company, ArchDaily, Interior Design Magazine, Design Milk, Design*Sponge and more—and I want to share a few of the many impressive submissions that were honored in this year's competition. From a curvaceous 3D-printed mask to a safer ladder, the submissions hailed from across a broad range of design typologies and disciplines

Entrants had a choice of three categories: Emerging Talent (young professional designers), Future Voice (student designers) and Shapes Future (annual themed category, this year featuring 3D printing), but the entry guidelines are intentionally left vague, which added a nice element of surprise to the judging process.

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Perhaps my favorite entry came from San Francisco-based designer Jasmine Kwak. Her submission took on the idea of living within a community and how each separate "nuclei" of family units could be brought closer together—physically in day-to-day movements and activities—with her entry "Communal Living." "Traditional colonial housing models are designed for a single nuclear family. Hence, the houses are introverted, meaning all the activities, whether communal or private, happen within the four walls of a house," Kwak explains. "This project proposes that these existing houses to become extroverted by opening up the existing circulation and communal spaces. These spaces now become a semi-open and public space, encouraging any communal activities in a house to happen within the community scale."

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With the "Ephemeral Beauty" headpiece, Jiang Yuan has achieved a rare level of grace and refinement for a 3D-printed design.

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Posted by core jr  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

OscarZhaoYvesBehar.jpgOscar Zhao & Yves Béhar: "You had me at nihao."

Late yesterday afternoon, we learned that Beijing's BlueFocus Communication Group will be taking a majority stake in fuseproject, Yves Béhar's design firm. This marks the growing agency's first foray into the States; it first dipped its toes into Western waters in April of last year, with a 20% stake in Huntsworth PR group, followed by taking a majority stake in We Are Social (both based in the UK). Now, the Financial Times reports that "BlueFocus will pay $46.7m in cash for 75 per cent of Fuseproject, to be paid out over several years depending on performance." (Figures on the agency's net worth and remarkable ascendancy are available here.)

Where fuseproject is a household name in the design world, we (like most of you) hadn't heard of BlueFocus prior to yesterday's announcement. Make no mistake, they are by all accounts a juggernaut, not just among native Chinese companies but on the world stage as well. Founded by Oscar Zhao in 1996, BlueFocus currently employs some 2,800 people—it is reportedly the biggest PR agency in the world—and Béhar's 75-person team, will join the ranks of the ~700 others at companies in which BlueFocus has a majority stake. fuseproject will continue to operate independently; while its multidisciplinary portfolio and services (i.e. rebranding Paypal) may well complement and align with BlueFocus's long-term goals, the San Francisco-based company is ostensibly the first industrial design consultancy in the Chinese company's highly diversified holdings.

BlueFocus.jpgContrary to alarming AQI reports, BlueFocus invites blue-sky thinking at their Beijing headquarters (via Baidu maps)

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Posted by Coroflot  |  24 Jul 2014

Work for Skip Hop!

Are you passionate about designing functional, fashion-forward bags that improve the lives of those who own them?
Are you a quick-thinking, creatively driven, multi-tasking team player who loves tackling many projects at once?
Do you have product design experience that spans a wide variety of products?

The dedicated but easy-going creative team at Skip Hop wants you to help designing and developing the most innovative functional bags to help make parenting easier. This Bag/Product Designer role in Brooklyn, NY requires a specific combination of skills - product design experience plus fashion forward know-how. One without the other won't cut it here, but if you possess both, please don't hesitate to check out the rest of the job description and Apply Now!

Posted by erika rae  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (3)

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If you could combine a cooler with another product, what would it be? A built-in ice crushing blender, a USB charging station, a waterproof bluetooth speaker, or a hidden cutting board? How about all of the above? These are only a few features of the portable icebox that raised close to six million dollars in the first week of its crowdfunding campaign. Now, I don't have a problem with the classic cooler, as inferior as it may seem next to the 'Coolest' cooler—I have many fond memories of get-togethers on the deck of my childhood house sprinkled with a rainbow of coolers filled with frozen treats for the kids and beer for the adults. But you would have to be a little out of your mind to argue that this isn't a significant upgrade to the original design (which dates back to 1954, history buffs).

Check out the video for more information on the frippery and flounce that the Coolest has to offer:

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Posted by Christie Nicholson  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (7)

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In 2007, a student at the University of Tokyo brought a lump of a grey, sparkly mineral to his professor Tsutomu Miyasaka, with the hope that this material might have potential to make cheap and efficient solar cells. But it only converted 4 percent of the sun energy to electricity. Not that remarkable.

Now, however, things have changed. Seven years later the unremarkable lump of rock called perovskite is beating out most solar cells on the market, getting 20 percent efficiency. The progress has sped up because researchers around the world saw the potential in this mineral.

While the sun is pretty much a limitless source of energy for all of us, the cost to capture it remains the challenge. The typical residential solar roof might get about 15 percent efficiency in sunlight and provides electricity at 50 cents/watt. This is twice the cost of coal.

So it's got to get cheaper in order to pull ahead as our number one energy source. Right now the top-performing cells, made of gallium arsenide get a maximum efficiency of about 30 percent but are prohibitively expensive.

The cheaper options like copper indium gallium selenide (a flexible material) or cadmium telluride (as cheap as silicon) get only about 20 percent efficiency.

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Posted by erika rae  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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You've gotta love a house that comes with instructions. The newest project from Iranian design group nextoffice scales up the the space-saving technique behind the Murphy bed and enhances it with a bit of Hogwarts-like whimsy. Their work on the three-floor Sharifi-Ha house in Tehran incorporates a series of semi-mobile rooms, which can be oriented to allow for extra space and sunlight.

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As any city dweller knows, you don't have a lot of square footage to work with in urban hotspots. This design addresses this issue a stack of three rectangular rooms that can either be aligned flush against the façade of the home or rotated perpendicular to the outer wall—creating weather-friendly options for both a winter and summer living space.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Every once in a while, a star shows up on Jimmy Kimmel Live and you find that their mother is sitting in the audience. On the show last night something similar happened, albeit with an unusual guest—a bipedal 14-foot monster named "Bodock." Watching proudly from the crowd was Stratasys manager Leslie Frost, tweeting pics and updates.

That's because key parts of the creature, like the chest armor, shoulders, arms and fingers, were enormous ABS parts that came out of a Stratasys 3D printer. "Everything about the giant creature project was ambitious, including size, weight, delivery schedule and performance requirements," says designer Matt Winston. Without large-scale 3D printing and specifically, access to a Fortus 900mc, which has an insane build envelope of 36”×24”×36”, "none of it would have been possible."

Designed by FX house the Stan Winston School and engineered by technical firm Legacy Effects, "Bodock" was created for San Diego Comic-Con, which opens tomorrow. (Kimmel watchers were given a sneak peek a two days early, as the host gleefully revealed to a crowd of unsuspecting kids that Bodock contains the internal plumbing to spray liquid sneezes.) Leading up to the launch, Wired's been tagging along and shooting the development process:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Regardless of whether you're in the Invasion of Mypace camp, or the Well That's How Business Works camp, Facebook has been playing games with your heart. As we all now ought to know, Facebook has admitted to experimentally filtering feed results to test emotional response and behavior in users. While it's hard to consider experimentation without informed consent to be anything less than blatantly shady, it's also well within their legal rights. Ethical it ain't, but then again deskchair epidemiology has never had the luxury of such self-selecting scale.

But the biggest bummer—other than seeing an upswing in pictures of your exes and their stupid beautiful lives—is that we didn't get to see the results! Not so any longer. Artist Lauren McCarthy created the Mood Manipulator, a browser extension that allows you the gratification of choosing your own digitally devised mood swings.

Now you can choose your own emotional filtering rather than passively interacting with a pre-adjusted feed filtered by unseen researchers without enough scruple to feel weird studying emotional effects in people who have not been notified. These tasteful opt-in controls give you four tonal "channels" with three positions each: Positive, Emotional, Aggressive and Open (in other news four-metric psych news, the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless). Just download the extension and toggle your way to psycho-social harmony.

MoodManip2.jpgAlways with the babies

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I hate to write this, but "You'll never believe what happens next!"

Speaking of anamorphosis, check out French artist Bernard Pras' nutty room-sized sculpture below. Pras practices the cylinder-free variant of anamorphosis, and the results have to be seen to be believed:

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Posted by Coroflot  |  23 Jul 2014

Work for Native Shoes!

If you haven't heard of Native Shoes yet, these kicks are made from foam-injection molded-EVA, and combine the best of evolving technology and great design. Along with a unique, low-emission manufacturing process, Native shoes are animal bi-product free, waterproof and odor-resistant. How would you like to join their team as Junior Level Footwear Designer in Vancouver, Canada?

The right person for this role will be responsible for executing the development of all seasonal products, while working closely with the Product Line Manager and Creative Director to ensure that Native product design is innovative and brand appropriate. Core functions include footwear design and development, sourcing, tech pack creation, adhering to key calendar dates, and driving communication from design to commercialization. If this sounds like your ideal job, Apply Now.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Charles Edward Stuart, colloquially referred to as Bonnie Prince Charlie, fomented the Jacobite uprising of 1745 in an effort to seize the British throne. Charlie's Scottish troops were defeated in battle a year later and he fled to France. In the brutal English crackdown that ensued, Scottish households found to contain a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie were in for trouble, so former supporters interested in surviving got rid of them.

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But not all of them. One artist used a clever technique to secretly hide a portrait of BPC in plain sight. A seemingly abstract circular pattern was painted on a tray...

0anamorphiccylinders-003.jpgImage by Kate Furr-Danner]

...and once a mirrored cylinder was placed in the center, boom, you had Bonnie Prince Charlie staring back at you.

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Posted by erika rae  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The fact that Soug Wen uses that adorable little shrugging smiley in her tagline for Gothscreenshots might be my favorite thing of the month—the actual apparel collection coming in as a close second. What's so special about this series of graphic tees and accessories? Well, their patterns are based solely on those hated icons we unfortunately see way too often on our computers. In fact, I think I've seen at least three of them in the time it's taken me to write this post.

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For those of you who don't scour the Internet for tech-y humor blogs on a daily basis (guilty), Gothscreenshots was originally a Tumblog focused on capturing the frustrating—and notably depressing—nature of our digital error screens. They've just recently expanded into the world of punny fashion with their line of totes, tees, swimsuits and shift dresses. Insofar as graphic garb comes and goes, GSS captures the way we live now by immortalizing (or at least sartorializing) the blood-pressure-raising iconography of our times. No longer bound to a screen, Gothscreenshots' apparel conjures these digital touchstones when you're flipping through your closet, doing your laundry, or doffing your jacket at the bar.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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One of the first things you learn in the ID shop at design school: Wood glue is for joining wood, welding is great for joining metal, acetone is the thing for fusing plastics together. But when you need to attach one of these materials to another, you've got to switch over to hard fasteners or something more clever, since wood glue won't stick to plastics, et cetera.

While that's occasionally a hassle for building multimaterial objects, record lovers have figured out that wood glue not sticking to plastic provides a huge benefit: You can use wood glue to clean LPs. Because Titebond won't stick to vinyl, but will stick to all the microscopic specks of dust hanging out in the grooves, a layer of wood glue will become like a Biore strip for records. Observe, and be sure to listen to the before and after—the amount of snaps, crackles and pops the glue removes from the audio is astonishing:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (6)

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I love seeing this kind of nuts-and-bolts industrial design. Seattle-based designer Eric Brunt observed that what makes snowshoes work is their increased surface area, which enables the wearer to "float" atop the surface. But that increased surface area also means that the wearer has to walk like s/he's in a Monty Python sketch.

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What if, Brunt reasoned, the footprint could shrink when lifted, enabling a more natural gait, then grow again when placed back onto the surface?

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Brunt mocked up a bunch of "kinematic folding mechanisms" in cardboard to see what was possible:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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A backgrounder for those of you who don't live in Berkeley: Spirulina is a superfood. A superfood, for those who aren't obsessed with nutritional fads, is a food that is off-the-charts rich in vitamins, minerals and other stuff that is obviously yet mysteriously Good For You. Despite their grandiose title, it is a great idea to eat these uncommon comestibles; however, spirulina in particular can be a bit of work to get your hands on. It's traditionally grown in small ponds—historically in a lake system in Chad of all places—and it looks, to those without deep enthusiasm for biology, like pond scum. This is not a sexy or garden-variety foodstuff, but once harvested and dried it's easily added to other foods or taken as a supplement... at a pretty high cost. But what if it wasn't hard to harvest?

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Tom Vered of Grow Spirulina has adapted (and sells) a method of home growing spirulina, and he's upped his own ante with a new standalone design, ostensibly to be sold online soon. This 10-liter machine would combine the precise biochemical and mechanical needs of a growing zone with the user-friendliness of an at-home yogurt maker. Besides the thrill of owning a unique appliance, you'd get the added benefits of taking your spirulina fresh and getting way more oomph per scoop. The literature varies on the specific difference, but even as a superfood, spirulina loses a lot of nutritional value when dried.

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Posted by core jr  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Published at the beginning of the summer—just in time for freshly minted design grads to take note but relevant for just about any designer these days—Breaking In: Product Design (Tuk Tuk Press, 2014) by Amina Horozic offers dozens of insights into today's highly competitive job market. Featuring interviews with over 100 designers from across the industry and around the globe, the book is a valuable resource for anyone looking to get their foot in the door at design-led companies big and small (see the full list of interviewees and companies here). We turned the tables on Horozic, who revealed a bit of her own background and process in a Q&A

Core77: This the second book in the 'Breaking In' series; how did it come about? Were you familiar with the first book in the series Breaking In: Advertising by William Burks Spencer, or had you been working on this project independently?

No, I was not familiar with the first book at all. I had just wrapped up my MBA in Design Strategy at California College of the Arts, and was working as an industrial designer at frog when my colleague Catherine Sun sent me an e-mail, saying, "You'd be perfect for this." Essentially, she forwarded me the publisher's e-mail asking if anyone knew of any industrial designers interested in writing a similar book about how to break into the field. Recalling firsthand the amount of time it took me to craft a portfolio and cater it to appropriate employer and industry—I'm a classically trained car designer who "jumped ship" into consulting world—I jumped at the chance to discover what everyone is looking for.

The rest is history. I simply couldn't pass on the opportunity to try and talk to all of these industrial design gurus; a lot of them were my personal heroes.

How did you find the interviewees? What was the criteria for them? Did you know some of them before you took on the book? I imagine the project picked up its own momentum through word of mouth as well...

The only criteria from the publisher was that they had to be management level or up, essentially designers who are making hiring decisions—which eliminated about 90% of my personal network at the time as we were all in our mid-to-late 20s, and still in the trenches. For context, I started this book back in 2011, so my background as it stands today was not that wide or rich. And I had to interview a minimum of 100 designers.

Of course, I leveraged people I had known at Chrysler and at frog, alongside Career Services at my alma mater College for Creative Studies—but honestly, a lot of it was my own legwork. I wrote down all of the car companies, all of the consulting agencies, all of the revered products that came out—essentially, people and places one would want to work for or with—and then I searched for the contacts online and through my network. I was actually quite surprised by how many replied back with interest, they loved the idea of the book!

Basically, I was determined to cover all of the branches of our field: automotive design, product design, furniture design, soft goods, consultancies and solo practices. As Kickstarter was getting traction, I made sure to include at least one success story from there. I also wanted to include some young guns, who started their own firms straight out of college. I wanted to show aspiring designers that there are many ways to "break in." I was also adamant to have a global representation, to show that opportunities abound everywhere. The book literally has a designer from each continent, aside from Antarctica. I also included educators to get an academic perspective for comparison. Finally, as a woman, I was adamant to include women in industrial design leadership positions, as well—something that was sadly notoriously difficult to find.

Somehow the big question is always: so what "big names" are in the book? The thing is, for every Yves and Ralph and Jony, there are tons of design leaders (and designers) out there whose work has revolutionized our everyday lives, but who remain relatively anonymous. I truly hope that with this book—and the accompanying Breaking In blog where we feature their work and bios—the design community learns more about who is behind the products we use, and admire, every day.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If design school served you well, the sketches you were cranking out senior year should've been a damn sight better than your freshman scribbles. As your skills continue to develop, is there anything more painful for a creative than to look back at your early work? Do you save your lame renderings from 2004 for posterity, or junk them because they're no longer representative of your current skillset?

Dutch artist Telmo Pieper saved his drawings from childhood—and, amusingly, updated them using the modern-day digital painting skills he presumably did not possess at four years of age. The resultant works are called his "kiddie arts series" and they're pretty awesome.

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