Mud Bowl '93 - Children | Personal | Paul Carroll

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It was a gloomy August afternoon and a seven year old me could not wait to go outside. As it began to rain, my brother and I gave up and slouched into our extra large white couch from the 90s. The day seemed to drag as we both waited for our Dad to get home. As a side note, my Dad is awesome. Throughout the late 80s and early 90s he was the "sports guy" for KARE 11, and practically pioneered what that guy Perk does with Perk at Play.

My back yard was always cut and chalked into some sort of sports field. My backyard was the greatest wiffle ball field on the block for two reasons: 1) It always had the crazy alternating grass stripes that real baseball fields had and 2) My elderly neighbors did not put up much competition. Come fall, Carroll stadium became a scaled down Metrodome - complete with end zone markers and painted pipe goal posts. Eventually, my Dad returned from work that night and suggested we go out and play some football in the rain.

Mud Bowl '93 was not so much an ultimate sporting event as it was an excuse to enjoy the subpar weather. The three of us played football for a couple of hours, eventually covering each other (and our kid sized Vikings equipment) with mud. And as many of you know, getting completely covered in mud is not exactly something Mom's are enthusiastic about. Unfortunately though, this blog post is not about mud. This is about the importance of details, and how much they contribute to our experiences.

Would the experience of Mud Bowl be any different if there weren't yard lines mowed and chalked in my back yard? Probably not, no. But the fact that those insignificant details were in place made it that much more memorable. Both print and web design allow for an innumerable amount of details. One example of almost overwhelming detail is the product page for Transmit 4. The beautifully modeled truck at the top of the page is actually just the icon for the application. I emailed them about it and they said they even modeled the undercarriage of the truck, which no one will ever see. That, is detail.

We are in the business of details. Design is all about putting in the effort to work in details people didn't know they needed. We are the people in charge of chalking the metaphorical backyard wiffle ball field. As a result, my Dad's meticulous attention to detail has been something that has stuck with me and continues to be a huge influence on my own design work.

Nice detail work in your writing, as well. Very nicely put together.

Really well written. The story is awesome by the way. My dad also used to do that two. When we moved to our now old house, my dad actually cemented in a basketball court into our backyard. Although I was terrible at basketball, I take a look back and I think about the details my dad put into that court and it reminds me of your story and relation to detail. It is so important to the memory, because you never know what detail that person will remember. Even within the story you wrote each person takes a something that they really remember the story by, and it is the same in design. After looking at the truck renderings I could give you two details that made it memorable to me, and thats definitely a great skill to have in design.

Ha! This is awesome. I still play in an adult wiffle ball league every summer and we chalk in the diamond and envision the stands and all of that, too, because it makes it so much more fun to actually feel like you are taking part in something authentic.
Perhaps, however, we should also analyze the danger of being too obsessed with details. Similar to the Transmit 4 icon, I've found myself modeling things in 3D so that I can take shots from a specific angle for a certain effect. Sometimes, after many hours of working on a joint, or corner, or detailed area, I'll back the image out to the intended size and realize that what I had modeled in great detail is too small to even be seen! It's always a bummer.
I find that many times I stress out about details that end up being nominal or completely invisible in the final product and I know that my efforts could have been better spent elsewhere. Maybe this is just a personal problem, but I would bet that other designers have had this problem as well. Anybody have any personal thoughts/experience with this?

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This page contains a single entry by Paul Carroll published on April 29, 2010 10:31 PM.

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