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Rocky Tilney

San Jose, CA, United States

Designer (Graphic Design)

Member since August 31, 2007

  • Don’t Hire Your Nephew

    Community, Communication Design

    For the last couple weeks I’ve been seeing the the TV commercial from Intuit boasting their new website service called “Intuit Websites”. The first time I saw the commercial it really annoyed me, $4.99 per month for a complete website!? You can check out the commercial here:

    Over the last few weeks I started thinking about this a bit more. What bothered me about the ad was the suggestion that your site should be built and ready instantly. This seems like another example of “I want it now and I want it cheap”. In one portion of the commercial they depict a professional photographer in his studio and he states, “I hired a someone to design my website…5 months ago!” Ouch!

    The message I got from this commercial is this: You don’t have to hire your nephew or a professional and you shouldn’t have to spend more than 5 bucks and 5 minutes for a web site. (I agree about the nephew part.)

    I think this is irresponsible on Intuit’s part. Most of us can agree that a businesses website is a major part of their advertising and marketing, not just something to be hacked together on a whim. For small businesses, it’s even more critical to have a well defined image, including a website.

    On the plus side, the service does give business owners a simple tool to create a quick website. I’m not sure this would be a good long term solution, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I have not even tried the service (they offer a FRE...

  • Private Property, Stay Out!

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design


    Everyone has a right to protect their intellectual property, but I was quite surprised and a bit puzzled when I saw a full-page ad for Little Trees Car-Freshner in the September issue of Graphic Design USA.

    The ad displayed 5 Little Tree designs and contained the following copy:

    “This is privately owned property. So is this, and this, and this, and this [each with an arrow pointing to a tree] matter how you use it.

    The footer copy contained additional legal language explaining why using the images was a bad idea and to ask for permission first.

    I wondered what happened? Why would this company go to such lengths to defend their brand image? After about 15 minutes of research I discovered that some designers were using the famous tree shape in design projects such as invitations, t-shirts, and posters. Okay, so I get why they did the ad—kind of—but why so heavy-handed?

    It seems to me that the Little Trees company blew an amazing opportunity to work with designers and artists, a community that could help build the brand image, by shunning them away with threatening advertisements.

    What the Little Trees company could have done was turn a negative into a positive. Invite these infringers in with an international design competition? Here is my advice to the Little Trees company:

    1. Create an international design competition inviting designers and artists from around the world to submit their ideas to put a new spin on the famous tree icon.

    2. Attach a theme or c...

  • Inputs vs. Outputs

    Community, Communication Design


    Remember the movie Short Circuit from the mid-80’s? An experimental robot (#5) gets electrocuted and becomes “intelligent”. It escapes from the Army base where it was designed and instead of destroying everything in its path, it looks for “inputs”. “Number 5 needs more inpuuuuts!”

    Often times we focus on inputs. We read far more than we write. We watch far more YouTube videos than we upload. And we read more tweets than we post. Most of us probably fall into the 80/20 camp—80% inputs, 20% outputs (or worse!).

    What if we all were to up or outputs by 10%, so 70/30? Or more? If we focused on what we output rather than what we consume, then we are better participants, right? Think about the areas in your life were you can up your participation by 10%. Your blog, your school, your business, your social network, your friends, and your family.

    If you want to make a difference, maybe you can focus more on your outputs while being more selective about your inputs?

  • 3 Simple Steps to Improving your Business Image

    Communication, Communication Design


    In my business, I come across many images that need some work. In other words, they don’t exude confidence or even competence. Sometimes I make this snap judgement when someone passes me a business card or I stumble across a website. I realize that this isn’t a fair way to judge the quality of a business, but I’m sure I share this default technique for many, many others.

    If you think your business is being unfairly judged because its image is inconsistent, consider the following 3 ideas:

    Walk Like a Politician

    No, I don’t mean walking the Appalachian trail (or saying you did but you really went down to South America to spend time with your mistress—alas, I digress). I’m referring to being rigid on the issue of your brand image. This includes print material, web, social media, and in-person/voice. This is probably the one easiest things for your business to take action on if you plan.

    When you are at a networking event or business function, think about the way you talk about your business. Is it consistent with how your website is written? What about the flyer you just passed out and your business cards; do they also “speak” with the same voice?

    Here’s your 10 minute action plan:

    -Review all of your materials (print, web, social media) and make sure they “speak” your core message. If not, make a note to adjust them accordingly. This includes bios on LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, and any other site you may be listed in (there are probably more than you real...

  • Lessons from the Kitchen

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design


    I admit it. I’m a foodie—big time! Today I received the latest issue of Gourmet magazine and it was like Christmas morning—sans the wrapping paper and nagging relatives. I gnawed through the cellophane, reflected on the cover photography for just a moment, then I dove right in. I read it cover to cover, then I dog-eared the recipes that I believe have a glimmer of hope of emerging from my kitchen.

    I’m not totally sure why I get so darned excited about a magazine, but I have a hunch it has to do with the challenge. The challenge of creating something new. The magazine inspires me to create. What else can you immediately take action on no matter what time of day it is?

    With food, the possibilities are endless. You can mix this with that, add a little more this…give it a little taste, add a bit more that. It’s chemistry without a Ph.D or fear of burns on 80% of your body (unless we are talking deep-fried turkey, but that is another topic).

    Unlike graphic design, where you have to constantly be thinking about outcomes, cooking allows you to set your mind on auto-pilot and be 100% creative without fear of failure. Sure, if you don’t pay attention you may have a fallen soufflé on your hands, but that is it. You can start over and learn about what you did wrong (“Ah, it called for 3 egg yolks”!).

    I’m writing this not because you need to know that I love to cook (and I really do!). I’m writing this because some of the lessons of cooking can be applied to every...

  • The Culture of the Bag

    Environment, Environmental Design


    My wife and I have this on-going joke about the baggers in conventional grocery stores and how they get all flustered when you bring in your own reusable bags. This afternoon we brought in two bags from Whole Foods and were anxious to see how the baggers at the conventional grocery store handled this little complication.

    Note: I’ve realized that you really have to make sure you get your reusable bags on the conveyer belt before your groceries. If not, you will pay the price as 80% of your groceries will be already bagged in plastic by the time you finish unloading your cart.

    This time I watched in a little more depth. First off I noticed how the baggers (yes, we had two) had to wait for the groceries to pile up after the scanning. I guess they needed to analyze which items would go in first, last, etc. There seemed to be a bit of dialogue between the two baggers and some confusion as to which items go in which bags. It was obvious that this was not something they were accustomed to.

    Finally, the bagging was complete. We had two Whole Foods bags and about 10 plastic bags (they couldn’t get it all to fit which is fine). We thanked them and left the store.

    Upon our parking lot inspection, we noticed that an entire reusable bag was devoted to a pack of english muffins, a loaf of bread, and a package of sourdough rolls. The other bag was packed much better, but was still under utilized. This is when I began to think about the culture of reusable bags and why Trader Joe’s a...

  • Design Trends – Less is the New Black!

    Communication, Communication Design

    It’s now fashionable to be less.

    Marketers and designers are making sure the message gets out. Minimalism is not a new-age way of thinking and living, it’s quickly becoming an effective style in both marketing and graphic design— welcome to the show don’t tell world.

    As a society, we are too busy to read. Time is short and if your message doesn’t come across in 5 seconds, then I’m moving on. Show me and engage me and I might stick around.

    Apple has known this for a long time. Their web site has one main product on the home page—they show less. Dell and HP now follow suite with websites that have less. Toshiba still doesn’t get this.

    Twitter does one thing and they do it well. It’s fast and effective and forces you to keep it short. It’s less than Facebook but gets truck loads of press.

    Lewis University in Chicago asked us to design their alumni portal in a way that will help individuals connect. We took a minimalist approach and delivered a site with less so people can do more.

    In the upcoming weeks we’ll be revealing Seattle’s new Woodland Park Zoo website. We focused on less so that visitors and members can do more faster and easier. It’s about simplicity and effective communication.

    Less is the new Black!

  • Wir Liben Dich

    Peace, Environmental Design


    Tucked away in the parking lot of a quiet business complex behind 101 and San Antonio Road in Mountain View, California, I stumbled across two sections of the Berlin Wall. They were fixed upright with a small iron gate neatly protecting them. A descriptive plaque also graced the front of the display.

    It partially read:

    <i>"The world must not forget that it was America's resolve and its political and economic ideals that made this bloodless revolution and most significant historical event possible."</I>

    One could only wish this statement still hold true today.

    (The grafitti on the left column, "Wir Liben Dich" is German for "I love you")

Design - Life - Business - Creativity

Contact Rocky Tilney
The Life2 Project

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design