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Week 5 - An Iconic Print

April 28, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Click here for over 100 chances to WIN one of TEN amazing prizes, including this iconic print by Susan Kare, an iPad Air or a Pebble Steel Smart Watch.

When I reflect on my start as an interface designer, I can't help but recall all those years hunched over a Mac Plus pushing pixels in MacPaint. The Macintosh was a simple GUI, the pixels were either black or white, on or off. But being able to manipulate those pixels provided such an incredible sense of creative freedom that it set in motion a life passion and a career path.

It really started with the game Crystal Quest. As a teen I discovered I could edit the sprites and effectively re-skin the entire game. I spent countless hours perfecting every pixel, and soon transformed the game into one about baseball, skateboards and punk rock.

Then I began to wonder if I could re-skin the Macintosh UI itself.

This is the world where Susan Kare lived. In 1983 she pushed thousands of pixels as a designer of the original Macintosh OS. The icon smiling at you while you wait for the Macintosh to startup, Susan Kare. The watch ticking while you wait for an application to complete a task, Susan Kare. The bomb icon telling you you just lost your unsaved changes and the application has crashed, Susan Kare. The trash can icon, the Finder icon, the disk icon. Susan Kare even designed the typography of the OS, including the System default font "Chicago".

The original Macintosh OS truly is a thing of beauty. As an aside, thanks to this fantastic Pebble watchface, you too can enjoy the 1bit wonder that is the Macintosh OS on your Pebble Smart Watch, as I am here.

These simple icons, fonts and pixels were thoroughly inspiring and I wanted to see what I would come up with if Steve Jobs approached me with the task. And so I did. I created menus, desktop icons, windows, pallets, modal dialogs. All from scratch. All in 1bit pixels. I honestly wish I still had this artwork, as it included some interface concepts that are quite commonplace today, including a rudimentary "Dock" for launching the most important applications.

What better way to celebrate the humble origins of a design career, than to thank one of the designers who inspired it all. Thanks Susan! Give her a follow on Twitter, and if you don't win one of her prints, you'll want to head over to her store and purchase one for your office or inspiration room.