Dan Woodward

I’m a designer/developer of mostly digital things and operator of the design studio EFWA. I studied printmaking and illustration and currently don’t draw enough. I live in Brooklyn Minneapolis with my wife, our 2 children, a cat, and some plants. Feel free to get in touch.


2020 Updates

Forgoing a more formal post I thought I would just dump some items in here and then see what catches my interest to further develop.

  • I took some time to migrate this site to a new build process. Using the same setup I made for the EFWA website. Jekyll -> Github Actions -> s3 -> CloudFront
  • I launched a store over the winter, right before the Holidays, that sells artwork and stuff.
  • Exactly Factory, Inc. is now a Minnesota company; Re-incorporated from a New York company.

I’ll continue to update this post as I think of more things

Juniper's First Sunset

Juniper's first sunset.

Juniper's first sunset.

Summer Evenings

Late evening fishing on Sylvan Lake in northern Minnesota

Late evening fishing on Sylvan Lake in northern Minnesota

Experiential Purchases

A few choice quotes from the awesome paper written by Dunn, Gilbert, and Wilson: If Money Doesn't Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren't Spending It Right

…thinking of our purchases in experiential terms; if we view a new car not as something we have, but as something that expands what we can do, then discovering that a shinier, faster, less expensive model has just come out may be a little less frustrating.

But as long as money is limited by its failure to grow on trees, we may be better off devoting our finite financial resources to purchasing frequent doses of lovely things rather than infrequent doses of lovelier things. - Dunn, Gilbert, and Wilson If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right

Howling Storms

I watched 20,000 Days On Earth the other night. Nick Cave has a superb quote towards the end about ideas. It reminded me of a quote by David Lynch on the same subject.

Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure.They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful. - David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

All of our days are numbered, we cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all. Because the worth of an idea never becomes apparent until you do it. Sometimes this idea can be the smallest thing in the world, a little flame that you hunch over and cup with your hand and pray that it will not be extinguished by all the storm that howls about. If you could hold onto that flame, great things can be constructed around it. They are massive, and powerful and world changing. All held up by the tiniest of ideas. - Nick Cave, 20,000 Days On Earth

2015 Change Log

“How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?” - Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

My wife and I read that book, All the Light we Cannot See, on a road trip to Michigan this winter. It was and audio book, is that still the same as reading it? Can you still say, “Hey I read that too” when a friend talks about a book…

Ok, on to the the change log part of this.

blog.danwoodward.com used to be hosted on tumblr. I haven’t posted there in many many months because I fell into a re-blog and quoting cycle. I wanted to write more and have less consuming of content. I spent about 2 hours researching and about 8 months deciding what would be the right thing; I looked into ghost, svbtle, wordpress, jekyll, and something else I can’t remember the name of.

Jekyll was my choice, but I don’t have and grand sweeping extolled description of static websites. I just liked it, I’ve used it before on some client work and found it easy to navigate and manage. Without writing a curios tale of my thought process, I’ll just list what was done.

  • migrate choice posts from Tumblr. on going
  • Setup Jekyll
  • Setup Heather theme as a base. no less or sass…yet
  • Added support for post featured images.
  • Make new rake task to create new post with default front matter and date formatted filename. I based this on an octopress task that I remembered using a few years ago
  • Added support for block quote attribution. used for this post
  • s3 Setup: Setup bucket for static hosting. Added bucket policy for public hosting.
  • Setup git repo in Beanstalk and setup deployment to s3 bucket. I set this up to auto deploy on git push for now

Referencing Thomas Edison

I just had some ideas about how we are tought to persevere and most of the time its good, but its easy to get caught up in persevering just for the sake of persevering.

So good ol’ Thomas Edison persevered through over 3000 iterations of a light bulb filament. This is what we teach kids. This is what we think to ourselves when the going gets tough. Just stick it out a little longer. Like the motivational poster of the cat hanging from a tree: “Hang In There”.

Persevering can be bad. If you’re persevering purely because you have persevered for a long period of time its counter productive. I think we latch on to an idea and just keep pushing at it. Then after a year of labor, you’re still pushing. And you think, “I’ve already spent a year on this, If I give up now than that entire year is wasted”. Your motivation has just shifted from the idea to your wasted time. You’re now working on debt, which has zero connection to the idea. It’s dumb.

Now you’re chipping away at this massive amount of time debt that you’ve falsely created for yourself. You start to fall into a hole of indecision, every little decision now has false power to make or break your idea, you think every detail has the potential to relieve your debt. This is when you really start to suck. You start to fill this void of indecision by working nights, weekends, you start to ignore your your friend’s calls, your wife leaves you, you think about suicide, you’re eating out of dumpsters, you wake up with you clothes on, you find cereal boxes in the fridge. You now suck at life.

But in your mind you have a fantastical sense of accomplishment, you feel the project moving forward, I mean, you did just spend all that time working nights and weekends, things have to be going well.

This scenario is true with both money or time. In either case, we feel the need to persevere to substantiate the investment, which has nothing to do with the actual success of the idea.

Yes, Thomas Edison iterated thousands of times. But he felt strongly that the lightbulb, once perfected, would lead to the mass adoption of electricity in homes and businesses. Regardless of the details, he was not working on debt, his idea was amazing. The low barrier of entry in this flat world makes it too easy for the aforementioned scenario to manifest. Keep your wits about you and don’t work on dumb ideas for too long.

Design Delicious Websites

Designing websites is more like the culinary arts than the visual. Thinking about your designs for the web as these permanent artifacts that will be discovered and referenced in the future is probably not a realistic venture.

I think it better to think of our designs as a piece that we toil over then hand to the user to experience and enjoy. And when they’re done, figuratively, that’s it. As the designer you then create that dish again for a new client or product.

Printed works on archival paper, crafted prints and paintings in frames displayed on walls. These are how we experience tactile visuals. Even the discipline of print design has a reprise where the design can be experienced outside it’s given context. For example, hanging adverts from the 50s on your wall as art. This will never happen with design on the web. We have yet to look back at web designs from yesteryear and appreciate them in that same vain. I don’t think this will ever happen.