Jesse Cravens

Building Modern Web Applications and Teams that Deliver

The State of Web Design, the 80's, Basquiat, Deciphering Influences, and the 2006 New Orleans Jazz Festival

Totally 80’s The renewed interest in the 80’s has me thinking Basquiat…the personification of the 80’s art scene, with its merging of youth culture, money, hype, excess, and self-destruction.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not too fond of the 80s. Looking at pictures from those times is just painful. Not just pictures of me, but anyone from that time…including the attractive…one can’t help but wonder how much better Debbie Gibson would look without the awful hairstyle and guady garb.

But I am fond of Basquiat. Basquiat’s work was my first coherent introduction to mutlicultural, ‘’melting pot’ fusions of styles and influence.Basquiat Of course, as Americans we are surrounded by so many multi-cultural representations that it might seem silly to even acknowledge the existence of various influences on one artistic representation…I mean for me, I have been eating Tex-Mex since I was born, but the point is I didn’t realize what I was eating until much later. So somewhere along the lines, I began to find it extremely interesting to engage in the deciphering of influences- whether it be cuisine, music, art, and now web design.

Deciphering Influences

So I’ll try to decipher my influences. In the larger scheme of things, I’m a newbie to designing for the web.

All this talk of web 2.0 design is beginning to wear on me. In lieu of rounded corners, pastels, and large fonts, I have been exploring some revolutionary alternatives. Yes, it is rather ambitious, but nothing worthwhile was ever unambitious, well I think. Shoot…what the heck do I know? I’m just searching for something different without going backwards.

I’m into simplicity…as is everyone nowadays. Well, not everyone.. There is something to be said for usabilty’s sake by stripping décor and busy-ness from an app’s design. Yes, more is less. We all know this.

But I am beginning to miss something: representation of the natural world. This whole web thing is becoming too simple, too zen minimalist, too pastey pastelly, too lacking of décor and naturalness.

This whole train of thought is taking me back to my time in the Rice Art department, and a project I began at that time: Multi Sensual Color Explosions. Sounds like an acid trip, but on the contrary it was indicative of a much more natural experience. It was more of an exploration of all of life’s treasures captured in artifacts such as food, music, sculpture, and paint. My mindscape hasn’t changed much since then except for one major transition: the acceptance, if not infatuation with digital artifacts and the world wide web. Those that I shunned previously, I now embrace. So, basically I’m into man and machine coexisting and the multi sensual representation of this existence captured in digital representations.

Instead of the large carved totem bear holding humanity upside down, nuevo-Southwestern roasted chipolte crab cakes, and funky bluegrass tunes about environmental terrorism, I now find solace in envisioning a community of do-gooders gaining grassroots, guerilla-type strength by embracing the phenomenon of the world wide web – and having that all look really aesthetically pleasing – including the code at work behind the scenes. As I have said before, that inspiration to me is truly bliss.

Kandinsky Kandinsky

I have always been into Kandinsky, particularly the work he did from 1934-1944. The history books call this period The Great Synthesis…and so does wikipedia:

Biomorphic forms with supple and non-geometric outlines appear in his paintings; forms which suggest externally microscopic organisms but which always express the artist’s inner life. He used original colour compositions which evoke Slavonic popular art, and which look like precious watermark works. He also used sand mixed with colour to give a granular texture to his paintings.


Lichtenstein’s House also really gets my attention….color, geometry: structure – and a little natural world on the side. Tasty.

Oh and by the way, I’ll be Deciphering Influences this weekend at the mecca of Music-Food-Art Celebrations: the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

See ya this weekend!