Cheesecake eaten in Belfast by Nicholas Felton: 1.
So last Thursday we were very privileged to have Nicholas Felton in town for his first UK appearance and an evening of fun and figures at Ulster University, and beyond. The official talk was fascinating: Nicholas took us back to his early days at Rhode Island School of Design and his search for content that he could convert into something interesting. Joseph Heller's Catch-22 came to the rescue with Nicholas cataloguing a whole pile of details and developing systems by which it could be displayed.
Copyright issues came to bear and self-authored gathered-info was needed to further develop the technique. Early experiments included a vintage postcard powered, imaginary road trip across the US manifesting itself as an online map (Playcation) and a Logo Taxonomy in which Nicholas determined that there aren't any logos that use the sea slug as a motif.
2004 saw a Feltron Report forerunner and in 2006 Nicholas produced the inspired Valentine Index Worksheet. But of course, it was the Reports (and beyond) we were most interested in so we were shown the early version. The first print version was just given away and NF expressed his surprise at the interest it got. So for the next version production values were increased and small price tag added. Sales went well and that brought us up to the last edition. Then it was on to commissioned info graphics for Metropolis, Print and New York Magazine's Intelligencer and of course Daytum, which seemed to me to be a natural progression from NF's increasing obsessions.
One of the most interesting and exciting aspects of the journey (his early search for material, the discovery of data and the subsequent conversion of that data into beautiful graphics) was how all that highly personal work has led Nicholas to real-life, paying commissions and I for one found that very encouraging; unlike many designers who choose a path of self-expression NF has developed something that is unquestionably useful, very cool, extremely beautiful and not just a graphic style.
Questions afterwards centred around the manipulation and privacy of data, and of editorial control. And then after all that, we got boozed up and had dinner.
It was a great night and it was only made possible thanks to a few very committed parties. So special thanks have to go to Rita and the Creative Entrepreneurs Club for funding the event, to the other Nicklas (ehem, that's Nicklas from Web Standardistas) for taking Nicholas on the Belfast Tour, to UU for the use of the room and to everyone else who helped with sticking up posters, taking the money on the door and for doing the posters in the first place (thank you me...don't mention it).
Oh, and of course, again, big thanks to the star of the show for coming all that way! I hope I got all this right, if I didn't, do let me know.