Greg Skiano

{about}

The youngest of four brothers and the son of two wonderful parents, I was born in Virginia and grew up in San Diego until I left for New York to study Art and Design at The Cooper Union. Since graduating I have worked as a graphic designer at Hoefler & Frere-Jones and a web developer at The Wall Street Journal. I love design, code, printmaking, photography, juggling, and many other things. I am always looking for interesting new things to be a part of.

Voronoi Daydreams

While learning to plot map data for a client using D3.js, I became fascinated with D3’s support for voronoi layouts. While I have made many generated images using lines and points, my limited experience with geometry makes it difficult to produce code that creates sophisticated relationships between polygons. Because voronoi layouts use a set of points as an input and produce polygons as an output, they seemed like a good stepping-stone.

While most uses of these layouts are either data-centric or for special effect, my goal is to use the voronoi layout as a drawing tool.

I am working on a set of node modules that use streams to produce the input points for voronoi layouts. These streams fall into four types so far: emitters, transformers, clipping masks and punches. By combining the streams in various ways the resulting images can take on a range of characters and compositions.

1211 {about}

I took these photos in the offices of The Wall Street Journal.

The spaces, though not entirely stunning, obviously have a substantial amount of money invested in them. Special chairs are assigned their own special rooms, and the walls are draped with expensive frames filled with a variety of artwork. Yet the artwork itself has been put on ice, a cryogenic experiment until it can be thawed out when the environment is more to its liking.

The Wall Street Journal: Streaming Stories

Working with a team of six, I helped rapidly prototype and deploy a realtime news web application for The Wall Street Journal.

We decided to begin by focusing more directly on the content management system than user facing features. Our hypothesis was that giving WSJ editors the ability to curate content earlier in the development process would inspire us to later build features that enhanced what they were actually trying to accomplish. Seeing how our tools were used while designing and developing allowed us to discern better which ideas to abandon and which ideas to develop further.

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To this end, we created a content management ‘layer’ inside the app that editors could use to seamlessly affect the content of the stream. This layer allowed editors to create feeds of WSJ content, post quick manual updates, and combine feeds from social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Storify.

My responsibilities included leading the visual design direction, as well as the development of an angular.js application for both the user facing experience and the editorial CMS.

The project was used successfully for coverage of The Sochi Winter Olympics, New York Fashion Week, and SXSW.

It’s Greener After All {about}

I started machine quilting and was pleasantly surprised that the activity corresponds to many of my current interests, including learning new techniques, two-dimensionality, and visual patterns. Most surprisingly, quilting solves a major problem that I tend to have with my work: how do I make abstraction relatable to the viewer? A quilt blends a high degree of abstraction with a sense of warmth and humanity that I find missing in a lot of other systematic visual work.

The Winternet

In 2012, online magazine and digital art space Megazine decided to throw a party for the last day on earth, which also happened to be the first day of winter. Joe Kendall, Co-Founder of the magazine, approached me about collaborating on the invitation.

Together, we designed and implemented a digital invitation composed of animated HTML form elements, recombined and transformed into decorative compositions of winter wonder.

Too Many Doorknobs {about}

These studies of HTML form elements served as precursors to The Winternet invitations.

Without Cooper

In collaboration with Rocco Cetera, Xenia Diente, and Karina Tipton, I developed the concept, identity, and invitation materials for The Cooper Union’s annual Founder’s Day.

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Inspired loosely by Frank Capra’s Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, I proposed that the event ask alumni to consider how the world would be different without Cooper.

About the past, the question took on a celebratory tone as alumni considered all the amazing contributions Cooper has made to the world. But as a question about the future, ‘Without Cooper’ acknowledged that many of the school’s alumni are legitimately concerned that the Cooper Union they cherish is being destroyed by poor management.

The hope was that the messaging would remind us, and hopefully others, that the conflict in the Cooper community exists precisely because many people believe passionately that The Cooper Union’s mission has changed the world in wonderful ways. If we did not share this belief, then the dilution of that mission would not be so profoundly distressing. Founder’s Day can serve as a celebration of why Peter Cooper’s vision is worth protecting.

A Blank Canvas {about}

I recently started working on a series of images produced with photoshop using no external inputs. Starting from this blank canvas has helped me consider all the amazing tools inside photoshop and how they can be used for image generation. In particular, I enjoy manipulations that use scaling, sharpening, and masking tools.

Dot Biz

After taking on a few small freelance jobs for people, I saw that money had a complicated effect on my working relationships, and like many of my peers I was struggling with how to estimate the value of my work in dollars and cents.

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I turned to various sources for answers, including teachers, the AIGA, and the Graphic Arts Guild. They offered excellent and practical advice, but I still felt impelled to spend time and energy considering the monetary value of my work.

I began with the intention of developing web-based tools that would help me track and evaluate my labor so that I could charge people more fairly. However, as I worked through increasingly complex situations, I wondered if “fairness” is contrary to any system. Like most systems, for every rule there seemed to be an exception.

Instead of expecting one system to handle all situations, I realized that self-awareness and a strong value system provide a superior foundation for equitable professional relationships.

Realizing this, my focus shifted from planning particular tools to exploring a personal visual identity, which helped solidify some of my core values.

The Prince of Peace {about}

During a visit to The Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside California, the Abbot informed me that Benedictine monks are actually bound to a specific monastery. Without great cause, they will never leave their specific community and home. In fact, when they die, the monks are laid to rest on the Abbey grounds. I thought to myself: ‘If I had to install a faucet in a room I would use until the day I die, I would probably do a good job.’ The stewardship for the physical surroundings displayed by The Abbot and the brothers was astounding.

The experience left me wondering: what makes a space worth photographing.? Why should I take a photo of one space and not another, and what can I get out of looking at such photos?

The Prince of Peace Abbey is a space I want to remember, so the following year I arranged another visit and brought along my camera.

The Peter Cooper Block Party

With Founder’s Day approaching again, the Cooper Union Alumni Association came up with the idea of taking the event, usually associated with expensive tickets and cocktail attire, and turning it into a block party that was free and open to the public.

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I got involved to help with design of publicity material for the event. I collaborated with Kyle Richardson on the design of various material, including: a website, a presentation for the awards ceremony, a poster/invitation, and a t-shirt to be screen-printed at the event.

We were inspired by the Alumni Association’s bold decision to transform the event. It reminded us that the voice of the alumni can and should impact the future of The Cooper Union. So Kyle and I decided to create visuals that followed in their footsteps. We took the colors and shapes from the new school branding and repurposed them in a decidedly ‘off-brand’ manner, also taking the opportunity to use the face of Peter Cooper who is, after all, the truest icon of the Cooper Union.

Cross Streets {about}

After a long winter the afternoon light of spring makes the city look shamelessly extravagant. There is a specific time of day when the sun is almost straight up and the light rakes down between the buildings in my neighborhood. At that exact time the city seems perfect, and even though I still notice the disheartening details—like how even the ornamentation has ulterior motives, designed for beauty and keeping out the dogs and homeless—I am filled with joy and thankfulness.

A Different Kind of Order

The design studio mgmt. asked me to help generate concepts for the exhibition design of A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial. The exhibition focused on contemporary photography that reflects “the growing importance of new paradigms associated with digital image making and network culture.” MGMT requested that I explore how the order of the Artists’ names could be used in meaningful ways.

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At first I played with various ways to arrange the artists using biographical or personal information such as gender, age, number of google results etc. However, I became much less interested in these arbitrary data mash-ups and started looking for more formal ways to arrange the names that relied on programming to achieve their complexity. Because programming’s ability to achieve complexity and abstraction is so related to the emergence of the so-called ‘network culture,’ this trajectory seemed more appropriate to me.

Of these more formal approaches, my favorite was a python script that orders the artists’ names such that the create a perfect block of mono-spaced type. In this block every line is exactly the same number of characters and no artist’s name breaks across a line. The resulting arrangement would be next to impossible to find by hand, but with the help of python’s itertools, finding a solution was completely reasonable. In fact, once I found one, creating many more was trivial — so many more that the total might as well be infinite. The power of technology can achieve what feels like a miracle, but at the same time technology has a way of making the miraculous mundane.

Third from the Sun {about}

After living in New York for almost six years, when I visit my hometown of San Diego I notice how the plant-life, the architecture, and air that were once so familiar are now suddenly so mysterious. The place I called home turns out not to be Earth at all, but rather some far-off alien planet with surprisingly suburban sensibilities.

The Cable 2012

Named in honor of Peter Cooper’s role in laying the Transatlantic Cable, The Cooper Union yearbook was first published in 1922 and has been produced nearly every year since.

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In 2012 the task was given to myself and Shane Kennedy (photographer). We decided to divide the book in two main sections. The first is a collection of portraits of graduating seniors. The second is a catalog of spaces at The Cooper Union. Together these two components reflect the unique quality of The Cooper Union, which depends on the interaction between the physical environment and the specific individuals of each year’s community.

The book concludes with The Costs of 2012, a chart documenting the prices of various items in 2012. The chart serves both as a compact time capsule and as an indirect reminder that during our final years of school, The Cooper Union was considering charging tuition for the first time in over a century.

Misc. Portraits {about}

Though I enjoy taking portraits, I tend to avoid having a camera during social events. Every once in a while I make it a point to arrange time for taking photos of the people in my life.

Man Mystic Machine

During my time at Cooper, I focused primarily on graphic design, printmaking, and (to a lesser extent) photography. Man Mystic Machine was my senior exhibition, marking the culmination of my time at The Cooper Union.

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With representation, there is essentially a subject and a point of view. I want to consider what effect the choice of means has on my point of view. The work in this show explored the relationship between the subjects I choose and the way I use technology to represent them.

The results are enigmatic and hopefully compelling narratives acted out by technology and unfolding across two-dimensional surfaces.

Mystic Process {about}

These are a few images from when I was working on Man Mystic Machine.

Carrier Pigeon II.IV

Carrier Pigeon is a journal of fine art and illustrated fiction. Each issue includes one or more limited edition prints. In this case, an original etching and sound sculpture were included.

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Along with the artists and writers, every issue features a different graphic designer who is given almost total freedom to redesign the magazine from front to back. For this issue, I had the pleasure of being featured as the graphic designer.

My primary goal was to find an energetic visual system that related the artwork selected for the end pages (colorful mono-prints) to the artwork that accompanied the inserted sound sculpture (digitally generated color noise). After that my main concern was that my system could be subdued during the stories and artist portfolios so that the various illustration styles and the featured artwork could stand out more prominently.

2nd Avenue {about}

Living on 2nd Avenue the last few years has provided a strange view of the 2nd Avenue subway construction.

Every day I get to enjoy a shifting landscape of temporary buildings, cement barriers, equipment enclosures, and temporary pedestrian walkways. This is the work it takes to make work possible.

The Best Things in Life are Free

I am creating a set of postcards that combine truisms with free fonts. I hope they will become a joyful celebration of the odd world of free fonts.

Role Play {about}

These are the preliminary results of a project on hold. Essentially, I am interested in mashing together the ‘structure’ and ‘content’ from various images.

The source images are from the wonderful website Immediate Entourage.

RichPlease.info

Not many things are more fun than collaborating with friends, and this was no exception. Kyle Richardson and I created this simple website to showcase her graphic design work.

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I really enjoy Kyle’s work and had a lot of fun blending our tastes and skills together while still providing a complimentary context for viewing her work. The site features an absurd map-like navigation that springs into existence on top of the content so that the user can quickly jump between projects.

You can check it out at richplease.info

Misc. Prints {about}

These are prints that do not necessarily fit into any specific ‘project’, but at the same time fit into the developing set of ideas that interest me.

War!

A database plays the card game War against itself. One card is played every ten minutes. When a game ends, it begins again. A cryptic website visualizes the history of every game.

Red represents the right team. Blue represents the left team, and yellow represents cards on the table.

I ended the war after 35,298 skirmishes.

Monoprint {about}

One of my first serious attempts to generate images with code, the following images were produced using PHP, html, and svg. My goal was to capture the spirit of mono-printing: a combination of chaos, control and surprise. They have a way of suggesting new compositional ideas that I would not likely find on my own.