I want to take this opportunity to let you all know that not only do I hate tennis (as I do golf, but for different reasons, I’ll get to much later) but I’m not a fan of layering. In fact, as an early Photoshop beta-tester at the beta-tester workshop at Adobe in Palo Alto (eighteen years ago), I was the only one to suggest that they not release the product. “It’ll never fly,” said I.
Further full disclosure, in the early eighties I fought a long failed battle to outlaw photography in the United States (in a dream, Norman Rockwell told me to do it). In any case, I find myself in the color commentator's chair during this battle of Layer Tennis matching of wits - skills and talents - of Aaron Draplin versus David Nakamoto. And I'm anxious to get started (if only to get it over with - no, just kidding). I mean, truly and sincerely, I really can't wait to see what skills and talents will be brought to this match, and how one seemingly civilized designer will attempt to foil, defeat, and humiliate another. Or maybe, just maybe what we will see is a return to gentlemanly (and gentlewomanly) sportspersonship that has characterized this sport of kings (and queens) since kings (and queens) took to the sport (was tennis the sport of kings?).
So let's begin at the beginning.
In this corner (to my right), weighing it at 300 pixels is Aaron Draplin, of Draplin Design Co., North America (wherever that is). His clients include Coal Headwear, Union Binding Co., Grenade Gloves (guaranteed to explode on your hands), and a slew of snowboard companies with names like Ride, Forum, and Gnu. (So, what's Gnu? I dunno, what's Gnu with you?).
In this other corner is David Nakamoto, weighing it a 2 MB, he's no lightweight, but he is nimble. Raised in Reno, Nevada, David's company Multifresh, which suggests a multitude of freshness (not unlike the fine produce at Whole Foods or Piggly Wiggly) in fact is up to the minute cool for music clients like The Great Society, Funkstorung, Nudge, Solenoid, and more more more, is on the cutting edge of layering. Incidentally, while he also runs a record label in his spare time called Audraglint, he is an avid fly fisher, which will serve him well today.
Before the match I communicated with each player as they prepped for their respective feats of excellence. Draplin, who has long pondered the idea that one's first idea is always the best (a dubious concept I fear), notes that for this match "I'm gonna put my instinctual reaction to the test. My first idea is the one I have to trust and will be my visual volley back over the net. I am giving myself 30 seconds to come up with my direction and the rest of the time to make it get it out the door." An admirable goal and sublime sentiment. Let's see whether he lives up to the promise. Whereas Nakamoto appears to be more pragmatic when he reveals that all he wants to accomplish is "having the votes of our peers to establish once and for all that in the ongoing Nakamoto vs Draplin battle for excellence, Draplin is #2." And well put this is.
Anyhoo. As the contestants massage their mice and joy-sticks and breathe the last few deep breathes of pure oxygen, provided to them by Coudal's partners, from little poppers. Let us pray for a fight well fought and a battle best won. Volley on!!!
Steven Heller is co-chair (with Lita Talarico) of the MFA Designer As Author program at the School of Visual Arts and makes a habit of writing, co-writing, editing and co-editing books on design and popular culture. His forthcoming opus is Iron Fists: Branding the Totalitarian State (Phaidon Press, May 2008). He is also the current recipient of the SVA Masters Series exhibition.
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Congratulations to Mig Reyes, Layer Tennis Season 3 Champion.
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