This interview appeared on the Kuvva Blog. Many thanks to team and their support for what we are trying to build with Wander.
This week we’re celebrating creativity with Wander! They’ve provided Kuvva with the wonderful and inspiring wallpapers. We did a quick Q&A with no other than the Creative Director of Wander, Keenan Cummings, to ask him about Wander as well as about his background. If you’ve been enticed by this week’s wallpapers, you might want to know that there’s much more to it!
Hi Keenan! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Wander
Keenan Justin Daniel Cummings (yup, two middle names!); Age 28; born and raised in Los Angles; last three years in New York; obsessed with finding new obsessions (music then language learning then code then my scooter then architecture then food then Friday Night Lights and on and on and on).
A quick Google search on you shows us that you have a background in designing. What made you decide to pursue a career in design?
I didn’t grow up as an art kid. To fill my art requirement in high school I took an electrical engineering course (not much of an art form the way they taught it in public school) and joined the school choir for year (don’t ask). But I was always drawing to keep myself busy in class, and that lead into several small ventures.
Bonus points if you: have designed and built something awesome; have worked in a Rails, Mongo, and/or MVC framework environment; regularly publish your thoughts about the future of the internet; have lived outside the continental US, have an embarrassing playlist on RDIO you will share proudly and publicly.
We are a funded, early stage company in the current class of TechStars NYC. We are weeks away from launch and have been building the Wander community through the Wander Postcard Project, the Wandeer T-Shirts, and the Wander Weeks countdown.
That time in *Yosemite Park* when we spent the whole summer at the river. Share a memory from a place you’ve been.
This week we launched Wander Weeks, a four week countdown/orientation to Wander. Each week we’ll ask a question about a place and give you an opportunity to share your answer with the world. Wander debuts after week four.
Already the site is getting an amazing range of beautiful, hilarious, sentimental, poetic and absurd expressions about places people dream of.
Week One starts now. Come, tell us where you’d rather be.
Design everything on the assumption that people are not heartless or stupid but marvelously capable, given the chance.
—The Internet and Everyone, John Chris Jones
This interview was done back in November ‘11 for Proxart Magazine. A few details have been updated.
Much buzz has surrounded Wander, a site which currently boasts a mysterious edge to what the full-site/network will actually be. Some have predicted that it is an inspiration or curation network where one represents themselves through places rather than material goods. Others signed up because they saw their favorite designers do the same. Only time will tell, however, what the site will be when it actually launches. For now, all we can do is imagine.
The creative director and co-founder of the operation is Keenan Cummings, an NYC-based product/UX/UI designer, illustrator, and aspiring front-end developer1.
Initially stumbling upon his then-anonymous blog entitled Log/Transition, he mapped out his thoughts about leaving his traditional design agency job for the exciting and fresh startup world. With pieces of writing that enthralled many with his outlook of present-day digital culture, he continues to write on his blog and actively teaches classes on Skillshare.
Upon revealing his identity, he simultaneously revealed a tip of the iceberg which is his project Wander. Cummings was merely an eager and interested student of the start-up world, and now is an active participant within the culture — there’s no doubt that he is quickly rising in the ranks of the prominent New York City design scene.
This is big news for our team. Work hard, work fast, good things come, and back to it. I’m going to go for a walk and enjoy this a bit. Thanks for all the love.
Really enjoyed sharing some thoughts with the community at last night’s Design + Tech event. Eric Jacobsen and I soap-boxed for twenty or so minutes about working as a designer/developer team. Most of our slides are represented above, but I thought I’d pull in some of the main points that resonated with the audience based on their tweets from the night.
“Empathy is the most important thing a designer can learn:”
This is something I believe designers often mistakenly refer to as ‘taste’. Being able to synthesize the personal tastes of a large group of people and express that is an act of empathy. Example: Detecting a shaky sense of American identity amidst a growing global culture, mashing that up with a renewed American entrepreneurialism and self-made-man ethic due to a struggling and unsure economy, and expressing that in the form of a bespoke leather wallet or hand-crafted all-American axe has much more to due with empathy than an Urban-Outfittrian mystical sense of taste. Good taste is personal; empathy is universal.
“Sci Fiction = Better design (if you want to work with developers, read sci-fi)”
In all seriousness, it is a baseline for every developer I know. Sci-fi writing is probably the first creative industry to successfully combine real imaginative creative work with rigorous engineering and logic. A lot to learn from that process alone. And the stuff is just plain cool. If you want to build things for the web, become obsessed with the near future you are building toward.
“You have to decide what to unlearn and what to focus on. You only have so much brain space”
The language I use is “cull” and “edit”, pulled from and excellent article in issue 1 of The Manual. Asses what you are filling your mind with and make a conscious decision to perma-delete the knowledge that doesn’t absolutely drive you to create (Pantone? paper weights and textures? print techniques? Flash?). Replace it with the ancillary skills that will allow you to execute (code? info architecture? UX? UI? anthropology?).
“It’s really about doing stuff”
Self explanatory. At the end of the day, just produce tons of work, and make sure some of it is interesting. Put your side project at the front of your portfolio. That work says more about you than anything else.
Respect every part of your work and the work of the people you work with. We put time into the details because they matter to us and to the people you collaborate with. Give props, show respect, 4 lif.
“Love + Hatred = Passion”
People who have an unnatural hatred of things they view as ‘wrong’, and clear and intense love of what they view as ‘right’ — those are passionate people that you want to work with. Avoid fence-sitters.
“Stop Talking Start Making”
In the Spirit of General Assembly’s recent campaign, stop talking, start making. Again, it’s about doing stuff. Nothing matters more than execution.
Thanks to Google + Photoshop for several of the above images. We couldn’t have done it without you.
“To the first brave adventurers on Wander, welcome. To those still waiting to embark, we’re nearly there.”
In anticipation of Wander’s impending launch we wanted to inspire wanderlust in our followers. We asked some of our favorite illustrators and designers to create postcards that become a visual traveler’s canon. The Wander Postcard Project is now live with new postcards coming in daily. Check out the site to download retina-ready ipad and iphone wallpapers, or reblog and pin liberally.
A huge thanks to our amazing contributors. If you’d like to contribute to the project, shoot me an email.
“Are you a designer or developer (student or professional) looking for a partner in crime? Are you looking for a collaborator to help turn your ideas for client work, a personal project, or a new venture into a reality? Join us at General Assembly for the opportunity to hear from an inspiring line-up of design and tech teams as they share both work and process stories from their creative endeavors.”
I’ll be presenting along with Eric Jacobson (currently leading front-end efforts for Wander and formerly the co-creator of Svpply, Lookwork, and countless other amazing things) on Wednesday, April 11 at 7pm. We will presenting along with the Robert Lenne and Craig Spaeth of Art.sy, and Renda Morton and Andy Pressman of Rumors. Humbled to a part of this group.
The event is designed to be a place for designers and developers to meet up and potentially team up to make great things for the web. It’s shaping up to be a promising night.
I owe a lot of my career progress to my dad. He is a self made man in every sense, and since there was no chance that I could follow in his footsteps or inherit a family business, the best guidance he could give was how to use my own talents and make my own way just as he had.
My dad is a voice actor. He was born with the raw materials of a great voice, and developed it since childhood into a very successful voice-over career. You know those old-timey stories of walking miles in snow to school uphill both ways? Pitiful sob stories next to my dad’s upbringing. His father broke his back bench pressing railroad ties as a young teen, and was sick the rest of his life because of it. That meant my dad was working the night shift as a DJ at the local radio station when he was 16 to help out. He would put a record on and doze off, training himself to wake up just in time to switch tracks and catch a few more precious minutes during each song. That job led him to a DJ gig in Nashville, working under the pseudonym Brian Taylor. He followed opportunities out to LA and has been there since. He’s built a career and reputation as one of the best in the business. And his example of cheerful and unrelenting hard work has finally started to take hold on me in recent years.
This project means a lot to me. Personally, it is a minor milestone in my own professional development. The entire brand and site was conceived, designed, and coded in a week. It’s been a powerful feeling to get my skills to the point of being able to deliver a project like this, start to finish (with some extra help from Samantha John on some of the finer details of the code and contribution on the copy from my sister Beth).
But it means much more to me to be able to return in small part the gift my father has so graciously given me over the course of my life. It is an unequal exchange, but it is the most fulfilling kind of work I can apply myself to.
Check out the site, and follow my dad on Twitter and Tumblr for a continuous stream of vocal awesomeness. Remeber Dr. Mindbender from GI Joe? Papa Q. Bear from Berenstain Bears? Doofus Duck, the chubby glasses-wearing cousin from Ducktales? He is that voice you’ve heard a million times and now you know where it is coming from. And if you find yourself in need of a great voice, give him a shout.
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “awww!
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road (via The Great Discontent)