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The Pixel Painter

If you are of a certain generation, you remember MS Paint with a mix of nostalgia, fondness, and serious frustration. Like much of the software released in the late 1980s, the tools are so basic and awkward that it is difficult to create anything in MS Paint that even approaches decent.

Amazingly, MS Paint is the preferred medium of 97-year-old artist Hal Lasko. Working exclusively within MS Paint, Lasko creates incredibly intricate and masterfully done “paint-ings.” To say his artwork requires a high level of patience is an understatement. Watch his story in this touching film directed by Josh Bogdan and Ryan Lasko. You can find more of Hal Lasko’s work on his website: hallasko.com.

Portable Doctor

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Scanadu, a company based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, is soon to launch a device which acts, essentially, as your own personal doctor. Scout™, as the product is called, is able to monitor and track your vital signs, temperature, heart rate, oximetry, ECG, and other heart measurements—all by holding it up to your forehead for 10 seconds. The device sends the readings to your smartphone, where it is entered into a greater map of your health. This ability to monitor daily for any adjustment in your body could have an enormous impact not only on an individual’s long term health, but health care as a whole. read on

Big Boxes Filled with Smaller Boxes

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The work of Brooklyn-based artist Aakash Nihalani proves the rule that less is more. Working with mainly colored tape, and occasionally some poster board, Nihalani creates 2D art with a lot of dimension and perspective play. His inspiration comes from the very place he displays his work—the urban landscape, or in his words, “big boxes filled with smaller boxes.” Because his work is often propped up against public buildings, or taped onto street signs, it is typically taken down within weeks, days, or even hours. But he’s not discouraged by it, as he recently told DesignMilk: “I became frustrated making work in studios, then packing it up and hiding it in storage until I could find a way to exhibit it. Working outdoors allows me to close the gap between creation and exhibition, which, for me, brings the process back to life.”

While he’s a self-described minimalist artist, he doesn’t deny that much of what draws people to his work is simply the fun of it.

If you aren’t lucky enough to stumble upon his work walking around NYC, you can check out his blog Eye Scream Sunday.

We Can Do Amazing Things with Your Briefs

In order to get noticed, design agencies are constantly trying to come up with something that will really stand out from the crowd, which can be a real challenge in a field where each of your competitors is a creative professional. The challenge can involve some trial-and-error, some risk-taking, and sometimes a bit of shamelessness (recall: Sagmeister’s famous naked self-promotional postcards). TBWAHuntLascaris, a creative agency in Johannesburg, South Africa, decided to take this challenge. They intercepted client briefs from within their firm and created beautiful, 3D paper sculptures out of them. Once they sent the briefs back to the clients, they got noticed. New work in the agency grew by 450%. Watch the video above about their process and check out some of the final artwork here.

Flights of Fancy

The recent animated short Paperman has been getting a lot of attention since its theatrical release. The short first premiered at the Annecy International Film Festival in June of 2012, but it really took off after its appearance before the full-length animated film Wreck-It Ralph back in November. Paperman is a charming boy-meets-girl love story—short and sweet, and set in 1940s New York City.

Fans nostalgic for old-fashioned, hand-animated cartoons should take notice. Produced by Disney and directed by John Kahrs, it was animated with a unique blend of hand-drawn animation and CG—a technique referred to as “final line advection”—which gives the short its soft, fluid movement. Paperman has been nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards this year.

Disney is releasing it first as an HD digital download and an HD digital download 3D Wreck-It Ralph and Paperman combo on February 12, so you can get your copy right in time for Valentine’s Day! You can pick up the DVD and Blu-ray versions on March 5th.

Breaking the Surface

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The California-based technology company, Tactus has developed a new product that will quickly place our current touchscreen devices among the likes of floppy discs, pagers and flip phones. Using microfluid technology, Tactus has developed a touch-screen surface with the ability to pop up real, physical buttons. When, for instance, your phone pulls up the on-screen keyboard, a physical keyboard instantly bubbles up from the surface. Just as quickly, when the phone moves out of keyboard mode, the buttons melt right back into the screen. It’s something you may need to see to believe. Check out the video after the break to see it in action. read on

Elevated Clarity

Every once in a while among the hodgepodge of electronic advertisements, one ad really grabs your attention. LG set up a little experiment that sought out to do just that. They wanted to prove that people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between looking into their new IPS monitors, or seeing the real thing. While perhaps not the kindest way to prove their claim, it certainly looks effective!

The Color of Skin

What color is “skin color”? Humanae is an ongoing project by photographer Angelica Dass, which uses Pantone® colors to catalogue and categorize skin tone. The incredible breadth of color of skin that has been captured starts to create a perfect gradient, reaching across all human skin color. In this way, Dass has created a new way to visualize the idea that race does not exist.

Her mission, while trekking across the world, is to capture every human skin tone in existence. Check out the collection so far.

A Call to Action for Execs

How deep does Apple’s devotion to design run? The embedded video on the iPad homepage currently features Design Observer—one of the most popular blogs within the design community.

Designers, of course, will be the first to tell you about the value of great design—whether it’s for a company’s brands, products, or store fronts. And in the last couple of years, consumers have adopted a refreshing mindset—expect great design. (Thank you, Apple…thank you, IKEA…thank you…the internet.) So companies need to react and deliver.* Looking through Forbes this week, I was delighted to see Adam Swann’s call to action for executives preaching the value of design right to the business community itself: “…recognize this new era and make the effort to transform even a mundane product or service into something more rewarding and more memorable…see design not just as a marketing thing but as a genuine source of competitive advantage, customer and employee satisfaction and, lastly, a route to higher profits.”

Read the full article in Forbes here.

* Even Microsoft recently caved and hired acclaimed (and somewhat worshipped) design firm Pentagram to update their logo.

Playing with LEGOs

LEGO has launched a new ad campaign/poster series entitled “Imagine.” Each poster displays a group or duo of famously recognized cartoon characters using only the simplest LEGO pieces. The campaign was created by the German design agency Jung Von Matt. Check out the whole ad series here. read on

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