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  • Writer's pictureEzra Boley

Graphic Design? Never Heard of it.

In this week's FANTM Microupdate, we're going to explore a distinctly non-engineering challenge for a startup built by a couple of engineers: graphic design. It also provides a great parallel for why a startup is difficult. Most people are experts in one or two fields, but a startup requires you to be good, or at least passable, at a hundred different things. HR, advertising, and accounting? That was last Friday; today it's testing new hardware, writing documentation, and graphic design for that new logo you've been trying to nail down. Creating the media that we have pushed out into the world, whether it be a logo or a picture for the website, is a process that started the same time FANTM did. Fair warning: you're going to be exposed to some bad vector art that didn't make the cut.

An alternative logo of a geometric arm and logo.

Like any job, the right tool goes a long way. When you're a resource constrained startup with a bias for open-source software, a great, free choice is Inkscape. It's incredibly powerful, but equally complex, which leads to a lot of time learning what it can, and cannot, do. Its main function is creating scalable vector graphics (svg's) and vector graphics are the heart of digital graphic design, at least according to this novice. They're magical because they can scale indefinitely with no quality loss thanks to complicated algorithms (basically magic), and this gives an image that never becomes pixelated. You can spot them from their svg file extensions and the sometimes annoying fact that they often open in your web browser when you double click on them. In summary, Inkscape can be used to create and edit svg's that can be converted to png's and sent out to all of your followers on social media and beyond.

A cheesy logo idea

Unfortunately that still leaves the hardest part: you'll need to learn how to do art. Depending on your skill set that might feel like a tall hill to climb, but it's not as bad as it seems. A great way to start learning how to make more complex designs is to find a picture of something interesting online, copy and paste it into Inkscape, and then trace it using the tools provided. Speaking from experience, you'll create a lot of things that will (or should) get immediately deleted but over time you can start to increasingly diverge from the pictures you're tracing and make some neat graphics. That's how we made the first concept art for our eventual FANTM wearable hardware.

Concept art for a future FANTM armband, a series of interconnected hexagons.

That's all for this week's FANTM Microupdate on graphic design! We recommend giving Inkscape a try, because once you get the hang of it it's loads of fun. Please leave us any questions you might have and we always love to engage with people who are as interested in these things as we are. Also feel free to send us any cool art you create, we'd love to see it! Thanks for reading and until next week. 💪🤖

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