012024: The long hard stupid way

Image of piled-up cobble stones

Coordinates: I am typing this—again!—on a train, as this seems to be the only place for me to unplug from the world and jot down some words. As night falls, one very orange strip of light just disappeared behind the horizon, somewhere between Germany and Austria. Here we are.

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Recently I’ve been thinking about the value in my work, and the current times I work in. In my day job I make websites; tons of buttons and rounded corners and modules and typographic pairings and responsive grid layouts. A significant other part of my job is writing proposals and documentation for these websites, and communicating with the people they are made for—clients, and luckily also the viewers and users of these sites.

What is it that adds value to these websites? Why are they worth making, viewing, using? I recently came back to a lecture from Frank Chimero from 2012, where he talked about doing things “the long hard, stupid way”. Ultimately, the talk was about making an effort, and about gift-giving.

So, what makes a good gift? It is personal. Its value is subjective; maybe it sparks joy, or adds ease to the recipient’s daily life. It is made with care and thought, and the less care and thought go into it, the less personal it becomes. I liked Frank’s idea of seeing the digital tools we make as gifts for others. Inefficiency—or doing things the long hard stupid way—can become an advantage, even a feature, if you think of it as a gift. A thing someone—you or I—cared for makes the world (the internet!) a more precious place. And isn’t that what we all need right now?

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The year has moved into April already, and I hope this email finds you well. Here are some work updates:

Village One + Freelance

In July, Village One—our small design + tech cooperative—celebrates its 2nd birthday. It’s been a great and wild ride so far! From April on, however, I split my time between juggling projects for Village One and doing more freelance work for myself again. I want to write and draw more, and longed for a less repetitive day-to-day-life. Let‘s see how that goes!

The Village One team standing in front of a building, everyone staring at their phones

Writing = Design Workshop

Just like in recent years, Sonja and I will host another Writing = Design workshop at University of the Arts this summer. From July 22—26, we will explore writing as a design tool. You can learn more and sign up here; would love to see you there!

Team photo of a previous Writing class; people holding their manuscripts in front of their faces

Illustrations for Krautreporter

My friend Gabriel Yoran writes a great column for Krautreporter about the “enshittification” of the world: Why do products get worse and worse, whilst everything was promised to get better?! I am illustrating the series, have a look here (German).

Illustrations for Krautreporter

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As the train approaches my destination, it emptied out almost completely. I love these quiet evenings on a softly rumbling train carriage, so peaceful and focussed. I hope you had a good start into the year so far. Daylight has been saved, spring is here, we made it!

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