News Blog - The Real Art news blog delivers everything you ever wanted to know about our projects and people. Plus up-to-the-minute announcements, accolades and anything fun that’s worth a mention.

News Blog - The Real Art news blog delivers everything you ever wanted to know about our projects and people. Plus up-to-the-minute announcements, accolades and anything fun that’s worth a mention.


What can fly fishing teach us about art and design?

fly_cast1Fly fishing, the most literary sport, holds deep lessons on art and design.

If you’re not familiar with fly fishing, then a simple explanation will be helpful. Fly fishing is fishing with a fly. Any fool can deduce that I suppose, but more importantly, in fly fishing the propulsive weight that sends your offering into the distant water for the fish to eat is contained within the line and not in the fly or lure at the end of the line. This distinction makes it possible to attract fish with weightless offerings and, sometimes for some of us, a more delicate presentation. However, in this day and age with modern bearings and highly engineered spin and bait casting reels, fly fishing is no longer a requirement.

Fly fishing, like carburetors and letterpresses, is an anachronism. But in fly fishing, like carburetors and letterpresses, there is mystical art. In a fly cast, we call the shape the line takes as it passes through the air, the loop. A well formed loop is a thing of beauty. Its two parallel lines fly through the air in metronomic motion.

When properly executed, the fly cast feels as if it ties the caster to the fundamental propagating waveforms of the universe and inserts them into a perfect rhythmic moment. As the weight of the line pulls the rod bends and loads itself with energy. That energy is then passed along to the fly line and disperses itself down the line through the fly and out onto the water.

Watching an accomplished caster properly cast a line, is similar to watching an olympic gymnast or professional ballet dancer; there is every bit as much grace in casting a fly line. Not surprisingly women tend to be better casters right out of the gate. But it’s not something you just walk into a shop and buy.

Like design skill, a tight loop is something formed over decades of practice and is dependent on so many variables we can’t even list them all here. Sometimes it seems as though every variable changes every time you pick up your fly rod. What makes the loop special today is that it isn’t a requirement to fish anymore, yet many of us still are compelled to learn its inner workings and dedicate large portions of our lives to pursuing it’s perfection.

In this way, fly fishing is an elective way to make things more difficult and bring some art to the otherwise pedestrian activity of hooking fish. When we approach the water with a fly rod we elect to take the more difficult, road less traveled, because many of us enjoy the art of the cast and presentation as much, if not more, than we do the actual outcome of landing a fish. It’s a subtle trade off and one that may ultimately limit our take in the field but will produce a more enjoyable moment. Moment after moment, cast after cast, fly fishing captures art again and again.

Design is the same way. Design isn’t a requirement. We don’t NEED to have beautiful logotypes or hand drawn icons. We don’t need perfect kerning. We don’t need the subtle styling of bespoke typefaces or stunning patterns and embellishments. We proved all of this with the brutality of 60s modernist aesthetic. As a response to the ornamentation of prior periods the modernists were out to prove that everything could be stripped of art and distilled down to it’s essence. Black and White. Sans-serif. Cold hard corners, simple geometry. It worked. It proved that we don’t NEED design but in the end I think we as humans WANT it.

The last few years we’ve witnessed an interesting resurgence of the art of design. We’ve seen a renewed interest in all things crafted and hand built. None of which we actually need, but all of which we as humans are drawn to out of a simple desire to surround ourselves with beauty. Design also creates desire. Design creates passion. Design can make good products great. Design separates those who are going through the motions and those who are passionate about feeling something deeper and more provocative, something subtle and more elusive. With good design, simple pedestrian items and products can build passionate fan bases by simply surrounding itself with beauty and passion.

Sometimes in the business world there’s a ledger that says your budget might not allow for the frivolity of design. But be reminded that humans seek beauty, sometimes for irrational reasons. And companies seek humans to buy and use their products. So business should use the lure of beauty and design if for no other reason than to take the road less traveled, challenge itself, live each moment a little more fully, and appeal to people they’d like to reel-in.

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Big Data Meets Emotion Data

On October 17, Affectiva co-founder (and company friend) Rana El Kaliouby spoke at the 2014 Strata Conference about using the tools of big data to analyze emotional response. From analysis of the emotional reactions to a political debate, to measuring mood and wellness based on geographic location, Affectiva unobtrusively brings our inner lives to life.

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Real Art Welcomes Helen Weselcouch

Helen and a Fence

Real Art welcomes Helen Weselcouch as the newest addition to our team. She is a Designer/Producer Hybrid working out of Real Art’s New York City office where she hopes her range of professional experience will help her excel in this challenging role.

Torn between the creative and the logical, Helen moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a dual degree in Design and Business Management from Parsons the New School for Design. She has since worked in graphic design, planning, business development, and project management across multiple industries.

Helen enjoys working in fast-paced environments where she can combine all aspects of her background into finding solutions. Sitting directly between “right” and “left” brained, she looks at problems from multiple angles and is always looking for a new approach.

In 2008 Helen was honored with the Outstanding Arts Award by the Connecticut Association of Schools. Most recently, one of her essays was selected for publication in “Conversations on Art,” a collaborative textbook due to print in 2015.

Originally from Fairfield, CT, Helen has figure skated since age four and can often be found singing from behind a piano. She is especially passionate about art, literature, crossword puzzles, and cheese.

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Creative Works


A couple of weekends ago, two Real Arters ventured to Memphis to attend the Creative Works Conference, a three-day exploration into the roles and challenges of the creative community. The lineup included presentations and events featuring a range of designers, illustrators, storytellers, and other creative professionals. Here are the top takeaways that Reka Juhasz brought back to Real Art HQ.

Josh Horton (from Hieroglyph) can put on an amazing conference. Yea sure, it was his baby, and he planned this inaugural even for 10 years, but man—it was awesome. Even weeks after, I still think of some of the things that were said. Sara has already elaborated on a few people but I think 3 more presentations are worth mentioning.

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[kuh-lab-uh-rey-shuh n]


On October 17, when the doors to the Victoria Theater opened at 9:00 a.m., a group of teen-aged musicians played upbeat jazz on the left side of the stage while another group of high-schoolers feverishly painted as their huge canvas slowly unrolled upward.

I quickly found a seat up front and began watching the students from Stivers School for the Arts perform. As always, I was amazed at the talent of these young artists. But what really struck me was the way the group of at least a dozen painters was working in and around each other in what seemed like a choreographed manner. Just as the individual musicians in the band had to work together to create beautiful music, the artists worked as one to paint their ever-growing mural.

As I reflect back, this was a fitting opening to TEDxDayton 2014. While the official theme was “Explore • Exchange • Excite,” the one central idea that resonated with me through most of the day’s talks was “collaboration.”

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