Masks off — who is Trixie's dad?

A lot of people have asked to know a little bit more about me and my design background. There are little pieces of information scattered throughout the site, but in the spirit of de-masking after Halloween here’s a consolidated version.

I went to the College of Design at North Carolina State University and graduated with a Bachelors of Environmental Design (BED). A BED is a general design degree that spans everything from painting to animation. However, the name proved so confusing to those outside the school that the department and degree were eventually changed. Current graduates are now lucky to claim title to a Bachelors of Art and Design. This is a great school. Interested in Art or Design? Be sure to check it out.

I then received a Masters in Fine Art from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SIAC). The best part about SIAC is the city of Chicago. The city itself had a greater influence on me than the school. I’m pretty lukewarm on SIAC. Plus I’m still paying off student loans from there.

We next lived in the Bronx for 4 years where I worked as a designer for a number of companies in NYC. I generally worked on print pieces and web sites. I learned to program and design websites the way most kids do, by picking apart other websites to see how they work. I still think this is the best way to get started.

Many readers have mentioned Edward Tufte in various comments throughout the site. His approach to design is attractive because it deals with presenting information in the clearest, most useful way possible. This isn’t the best approach to every design problem, but it works for us here at the Trixie Update.

I hope this is helpful for those looking for some background information. And also thank you for your comments. I’m humbled when people point to our site as an example of good design. thank you!

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7 Responses to Masks off — who is Trixie's dad?

  1. Dave says:

    Ben, I know you said one of your current projects is creating a commercial version of the Trixie Telemetry and over 6 months ago you provided some basic details and a way to sign up for future information. Is the project still progressing?

    Love the site, every day…

  2. benmac says:

    Boy – that was a short six months. Time is passing waay too fast.

    I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the current status of Trixie Tracker and I’ve been meaning to address it. I’ll post an update by tonight.

  3. Nina says:

    ahhhhh, I feel better now. Thanks for the entry. I didn’t pull the grades in highschool to go to a 4 year art school so what I did instead was go to vocational career and technical school while in highschool where I learned graphic design and printing. I got my first job as an assistant printer which stunk! All my clothes were ruined with ink and my hands were constantly different colors. After I graduated highschool with a diploma and a certificate in Graphic Design I went to community college where I was getting an Assoc. degree in fine art. I took a break from the two year study, I still have a few boring english classes left then I get the degree. I did something stupid tho, I went to a one year visual communications program that Im finishing now where I get another certificate, I absolutley hate this school and it has made me want to quit the whole design career. I got a job at a print shop doing typesetting, layouts, desktop publishing that sort of thing. I am not doing that anymore. I guess I got burnt out. I know how to do a little html coding and I can use dreamweaver and director, dreamweaver for web pages, director can also be used for web pages but more for interative stuff. And I love Flash for animation. But like I said I’m getting burnt out on the design stuff. Your site inspires me to keep at it, at least as a hobby. My job now is photographing portraits. Its great becauase I get to deal with cuties like Trixie. I love photographing children. Sorry this is so long but after your entry I kinda felt like telling you and anyone else interested about myself. Hmm, I guess I’m lonely and reaching out for friends… sad…. but thats it. If Trixie lived here in new england I’d welcome you into the studio and hook you up with some free shots. Even tho I know you totally don’t need them cuz your a great photographer yourself.

    ok I’ll stop now and leave room for other comments.



  4. DavidNYC says:

    His approach to design is attractive because it deals with presenting information in the clearest, more useful way possible. This isn’t the best approach to every design problem, but it works for us here at the Trixie Update.

    As a layperson very interested in design AND the clear presentation of information, can you give us some examples of occasions where Tufte’s approach would not be desirable?

  5. benmac says:

    For example, there’s plenty of graphic design out there that is conceptual and experimental, or stylized to create a certain experience. A phone book (the white pages) is a good example of straightforward, information-driven design. At the other end of the spectrum might be something like

  6. DavidNYC says:

    Hmm, so basically you are saying, if you want to get information presented clearly, go with Tufte. If you want to create “art,” or try to make people feel a certain way or experience a certain thing, that’s when you leave him behind.

  7. nina says:

    cool site, the vector park thing you mentioned above I mean. I am too tired to check it out but I have saved it to faves cuz it looks really interesting.