Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Oi! I'm a Mac

We've all seen the "I'm a Mac" "And I'm a PC" ads. But have you seen the ones from Japan and the UK?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Maker Faire and the Alternative Press Expo (part 1)

Two of the coolest things I went to in the past few months were the Maker Faire and the Alternative Press Expo. Take my advice: Put both of these events on your calendar for next year!

The Maker Faire is a big fair for DIY gadget enthusiasts. There were some great things to see, including a guy who figured out how to made his own Segway and a massive city made entirely of Legos. But I'll let this CNET Crave video do the talking.

At the Alternative Press Expo I bought a big stack of comics, books, graphic novels, and artwork. I missed this event last year and I'm really glad I got to go this year. It was fantastic and very inspiring. One of the best parts is that, unlike the bigger Wondercon at Moscone, most of the tables are manned (personed?) by the artists themselves. So I ended up seeing my old friend Lloyd Dangle of Troubletown fame (a comic you've probably seen in your local alternative newsweekly), and met a bunch of other fantastic artists. Oh, and I also went to the panel featuring Bryan Lee O'Malley, creator of the Scott Pilgrim series that I enjoyed so much last year.

The stuff I got this year

"God Made Dirt, and Dirt Don't Hurt"
A really cool DVD and booklet of awesome artwork by David Lee and the Triplewide Design Collective.

Restitution Press
An awesome silkscreened booklet by the guys at Restitution Press, and a signed print by one of the artists, Ryan Graff.
Their domain seems to have been recently taken over by a newspaper, but their MySpace page (sorry) is still up. You can also see some pictures of their work in this Flickr set.

"Tea Club"
Signed by the artist, Phuong-Mai Bui-Quang (a.k.a. PMBQ). Plus a custom PMBQ illustration of a panda wearing headphones and eating toast (also signed).

"Lava Punch: First Launch"
I bought the zine from Bay Area artist Jillian Ogle, who also did a custom illustration inside it for me.

Scott Pilgrim
I got Bryan Lee O'Malley to sign my copies of "Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life" and "Lost at Sea." Scott Pilgrim was my favorite find in the past couple years. It's hilarious. But I fully expect the series to take forever to wrap up, since the third book was delayed by many months, and I just get a sense from O'Malley that getting things done is, for him, kind of like pulling teeth.

Lloyd Dangle, who I first met around fifteen years ago during my volunteer time with the Graphic Artists Guild's NorCal Chapter, signed copies of his Troubletown books "Told You So" and "Funky Hipster Trash."

Optic Nerve
I got a good deal on Adrian Tomine's "Optic Nerve" issues 1-7 and 9-11 (I have no idea why they didn't have #8).

"Wet Moon 2: Unseen Feet"
I'd bought the first book by Ross Campbell a year ago or so, and the second one just came out recently. A couple freebies came with "Wet Moon": "The Damned" by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, and "Maintenance" by Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez.

Sean Seamus McWhinny
Velma got two comics: "Diary of a Catering Whore" and "Head Trip: by Sean Seamus McWhinny.

I bought a three-book series called "Runoff" from an artist named Tom Manning (signed). I read the first one on my trip to Boston, and it was really good. I'm taking the other two to Missouri next week. Apparently the director of "Pan's Labyrinth" is considering making a movie from the comics.

"The ACME Novelty Library: Volume 17"
I love Chris Ware's work. So I finally bought this.

"Fleet Street Scandal: Volume One"
Artists Kevin Dart and Chris Turnham both signed this book for me, plus a print of Kevin's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" artwork. This book is swaaaank.

Monster Sex
A set of "Monster Sex" cards/prints by the splendid illustrator Jen Wang. I should've gotten her to sign the cool red envelope they come in, but she seemed pretty busy with other customers and I was on a schedule by that point, hurriedly trying to see the entire last aisle quickly because Velma was waiting to leave.

That's all just the stuff I bought. You should see the stack of postcards and samples I have! In the next installment Part 2 below, I'll feature even more cool art.

Part 2: The stuff I saw

Update June 2008: Okay, I've had this list for a year and never set aside enough time to grab some images for it, but today I decided it was finally time. Here are the other artists and things I saw at APE 2007. I'm looking forward to APE 2008, coming this fall.

Daniel M. Davis
An Arizona artist with two books of cute monster illustrations and a website with lots of good tips for other cartoonists and self-publishers.

Pandoras Trunk
A cooperative art boutique and gallery in the Haight. Artist Nome Edonna's work pictured here.

Cartoonists With Attitude
A group of social commentary and political cartoonists. Barry Deutsch is one of the contributors, whose Hereville webcomic is pictured above ("Possibly the best comic about a troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl you'll read all week.").

Masheka Wood
A Brooklyn, NY, comic artist who debuted his first book, "Deep Doodle," at the expo.

A Comic a Day
A blog that reviews a new issue of a different comic book series every day.

Scott Campbell
I like this guy's rough little creatures and the organic look of his art.

Nicolette Davenport
She's got some incredible style range. Be sure to check out her sketch blog.

Christopher Tupa
Another guy with amazing range.

New Year Designs
Cute, simple, announcements and cards.

Kelvin Nguyen
Another artist with a broad range of talent.

Gallery 1988
A gallery featuring emerging artists; there's one in SF and one in LA. Artwork by Wenchin Lee and Nanami Cowdroy pictured above.

Panel Press
A New Mexico indie comic publisher. I mostly just really liked their business card.

Sarah Becan
A graphic designer and artist who also does comics.

Strip Tease
A webcomic I hadn't seen before.

Michael Paulus
Interesting artist who works in myriad media. You may have seen his series of cartoon character skeletons.

Ben Walker
I really like his style, and his site's pretty cool too.

Mikhaela Reid
Female political cartoonist.

Papercutter and Tugboat Press
Portland-based indie publisher.

Some other stuff I saw...

Stumptown Comics Fest
Portland, Oregon's annual comics fair.

Rooftop Comedy
Stand-up comedy clips.

Raised by Squirrels

Kirt Burdick

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday top 5


A little laughter

A reggae tribute to Radiohead's OK Computer.

7-hour catnap, time lapse video
And Velma thinks I'm just joking when I say "Orson just sleeps all day while we're at work."

Robot Chicken does Calvin and Hobbes

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ubuntu designers get "inspired" by button

I was browsing the Ubuntu* site today and I noticed a very familiar-looking green button. I opened up a separate browser window and went over to, and sure enough, whoever designed Ubuntu's website had used the button I created for

Luckily, they'd changed the icon inside the button, since that's a trademark (you'd be amazed at how many software sites use that trademark without authorization, though).

I don't mind this, I don't even consider it stealing. I'm sure every designer has once or twice taken a small element from someplace else and used it, changing the critical parts so there's no major similarity anymore. In this case, if they'd used the icon, it would have been a blatant ripoff (not to mention trademark infringement). If they'd just changed the color, again it'd be a serous ripoff. But when it's just the outer part of a button, a button ferchrissakes, I don't care at all. I mean, it's just a button shape, not a logo or an illustration that I'd spent hours or days on. It probably took me less than ten minutes.

This is similar to the incident I wrote about recently where someone made a WordPress theme that used some of my design elements, but in a way that the result didn't really look like my original design much at all.

* Ubuntu is a free, community-developed, Linux-based operating system that you can run on Macs, PCs, and other Unix-capable computers.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Heading to Atlanta

I'm leaving early tomorrow morning for the HOW Design Conference in Atlanta, GA. I'll be out of town until Thursday.

Labels: ,

Other names for Orson

One night last year, before Velma and I had decided whether to keep the name he'd come with from the SFSPCA, Jenny and I brainstormed names for our all-white vampire cat.

Socrates (pronounced the Bill & Ted way)


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thursday top 5

Man builds a living out of LEGO
Seriously cool sculptural art made out of everyone's favorite little colored blocks. And yes, that's Han Solo in Lego carbonite.

Under Exposed
Photographer's site with a loooong list of indie bands.

The 30-Second Bunnies Theatre Library which a troupe of bunnies parodies a collection of movies.

Fun with stop-frame. Makes me want to have a kid! : P

Milk desk
A desk with a built-in fish tank.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, June 01, 2007

"Sorry, we're not a real Starbucks"

Today was the second time in a month, on two opposite coasts, I have been told by a person in a Starbucks store, wearing a Starbucks apron, that the Starbucks I was standing in was "not a real Starbucks."

In Boston, the location was not able to honor my Starbucks gift card. In San Francisco, the location was not even able to accept a simple gift certificate for a measly half-pound of Starbucks coffee.

Not a "real" Starbucks?
Let me be clear: There is absolutely no outward difference between these Starbucks locations and any other "real" Starbucks location. They look exactly the same. They have tables, they have the same decor, the have Starbucks logos everywhere. It doesn't say "Joe's Coffee Shop, proudly serving Starbucks Coffee" on the sign. It's just another Starbucks to everyone walking by.

The logo is the brand, stupid
These two Starbucks locations I was in were probably some sort of lesser tier in Starbucks' franchise system. But the customer doesn't know this, or care, and should never even have to care that this is some lesser franchise that doesn't hook into the Starbucks gift card system or whatever ridiculous excuse they have for claiming to not be a "real" Starbucks.

If that customer can't get the normal level of service they've come to expect from any other Starbucks, that experience is lessened. That brand image is tainted, damaged.

Let me be blunt. Starbucks will fail as a company if they do not fix this problem.

Not because I won't be able to use my gift card for my mocha. That's not even the real issue. It's because their own employees don't even consider themselves to be part of Starbucks the brand.

(And because people like me will go back to their computers and write long rants about the raw, bleeding sore this is on Starbucks' brand strategy, instead of just walking the three blocks to another location to redeem their coupon.)

Your employees are your brand ambassadors
And don't give me "But they're not real Starbucks employees." They are in the eyes of every single customer who walks into that franchise.

If you have a Starbucks logo on your hat or apron, you serve Starbucks coffee, and the store looks identical to every other Starbucks, then you are a real fucking Starbucks.

However, if Starbucks doesn't consider those people wearing their logo to be the company's brand ambassadors (I don't care if their paychecks come from Seattle or from Joe's Coffee Shop), then Starbucks is going to fail. Because they're going to lose the battle for brand loyalty.

People selling Starbucks coffee need to feel they are Starbucks employees, no matter who their boss is who happens to own the franchise. And Starbucks needs to consider those people their employees and, more importantly, their brand ambassadors.

Starbucks is one of Fortune magazine's 100 Best Places to Work. How can that be if a large portion people who wear your brand every day don't even associate themselves with your brand? They alienate your customers because they emit an attitude of "Meh, whatever. We're not a real Starbucks and I have nothing invested in trying to satisfy you as a customer, so I'm not even going to try."

Here's what says: "Our success depends on your success. Our ability to accomplish what we set out to do is based primarily on the people we hire - we call each other 'partners.' We are always focused on our people. We provide opportunities to develop your skills, further your career, and achieve your goals. At Starbucks, you’ll find a commitment to excellence among our partners; an emphasis on respect in how we treat our customers and each other; and a dedication to social responsibility..."

What bullshit. Starbucks, you need to fix this, or you will rot from the ankles up.

Labels: , ,