Visualgui 2024: Abstract Arts

The previous design of my blog, Visualgui 2023, was solid. I loved the typographic combination, the grid-based layout, and the focus on simplicity and readability. I wanted to hold on to it, but I also wanted to make a change at least once a year to keep up with the tradition.

For 2024, I wanted the visual to be playful since this is a personal blog. I was thinking along the lines of the contemporary style of Swiss design. While browsing through Adobe Stock to get some inspiration, however, I came across Yang Guoquan’s striking abstract landscape paintings. I loved his use of colors and the beauty of nature in his art. I quickly went in that direction. Since Guoquan has a series of landscape paintings, I selected one for the header, one for the footer, and one for the divider between each blog post.

To complement Guoquan’s paintings of nature, I set the headline for each blog post in Borel, designed by Rosalie Wagner. The way Wagner skillfully connected each letter drew me into Borel. Only a lowercase letter connected to another lowercase letter. An uppercase letter would throw off the connection; therefore, I made all my headlines lowercase.

To complement the handwriting headlines, I set the body text in Kaius, designed by Lisa Fischbach. I licensed Kaius a few months ago because I always had a soft spot for a reading serif face and I knew I would need it for this redesign. Kaius supports the Vietnamese language. If I were consulted, I would make a few minor recommendations, but the diacritics are good.

For huge display words as well as small texts, I selected Neue DIN, designed by Hendrik Weber, Andreas Frohloff, and Olli Meier. I was consulted for Vietnamese diacritics on Neue DIN and I just received the updated font files yesterday. I put it to use today.

For coding examples, I stay with IntelOne Mono, designed by Fred Shallcrass. Because I rarely blog about coding, I wanted to use IntelOne Mono more than just for coding examples. I set the date, which is also the permanent link for each blog post, in IntelOne Mono. I am using four typefaces for this blog. I hope I can make Bethany Heck proud of my type combination.

Unlike WordPress’s Twenty Twenty-Four, which has 119 files, Visualgui 2024 has only 3 files. I am keeping it classic until Matt Mullenweg forces me to move to Gutenberg. I can no longer keep up with the modern theme development for WordPress. I would have to use an existing theme like WordPress’s Twenty Twenty-Four and mess around with its visual editor to modify the design, which doesn’t feel right at all. I still want the ability to design a simple blog theme with just 3 files.

That’s pretty much it for Visualgui 2024. I hope you enjoy the new look. If you are reading this from an RSS feed or another social media site, head over to visualgui.com in your preferred browser.

Beacon of HOV

JAY-Z is a lyrical living legend. Underneath his flamboyant flows, he packed his rhymes with articulated alliterations, meticulous metaphors, and witty wordplays. When listening to his music, I always found something new and intriguing. For over a decade, I wanted to pore through his entire catalog to select rhymes that fascinated me. I kept it on the back-burner because I couldn’t find the time. Furthermore, I would have to sift through his misogynist materials as well as his extravagant lifestyles. I had no interest in either subject.

The more I listened to his music, the more his words got into my head. Once I could get past his misogyny and wealth, I found his hustling mentality to change his life and his relentless audacity to change the world inspiring and motivating. In the last few weeks, I was determined to read through song by song, line by line, and word by word starting with Reasonable Doubt to 4:44 and his guest verses for other rappers.

Beacon of HOV is my passion project in which I would like to shed a light on his rhymes that spoke to me. Furthermore, I would like to translate them into Vietnamese. I am not a translator; therefore, I use Google Translate to help me get started. Then I edited Google’s translations with my own understanding of his words. I enjoyed learning the art of translation.

With my favorite JAY-Z rhymes and my Vietnamese translations, I needed a space to host them and the sample section for “Vietnamese Typography” fit the bill. I wanted the web page to be as simple as possible; therefore, I came up with a random system that would feature a different quote, set in a different font, and display a different background photo each time someone visited the page. For typography, I chose typefaces with condensed width so I could make the quotes bigger.

I had a blast putting the page together. I invite you to refresh the page, read the quotes, and be inspired.

A Sample Page for Trúng Số Độc Đắc

While reading Trúng Số Độc Đắc (Winning the Lottery), a classic novel by the great late Vũ Trọng Phụng, I encountered so many use of Vietnamese proverbs. One of my favorites is “Con giun xéo mãi cũng quằn” (Even a worm will turn). I collected them for my literary leisure and created a sample page. Typeset in Loes, designed by Dương Trần.

Retypesetting My Portfolio Site

Donnytruong.com gets a new set of types. Instead just using one sans-serif typeface, I wanted to combine several typefaces to give my portfolio a bit more flavor. For the large heading, I chose Gimlet Banner. For subheadings and user interface elements, I chose Gimlet Sans. For body copy, I wanted to return to a serif face; therefore, I chose Warbler Text. All three typefaces designed by David Jonathan Ross and they are from his excellent Font of the Month Club.

George Washington School of Business

I republished selected projects I worked on during my time at George Washington School of Business. Good old memories. I am glad that I had kept many of them for posterity.

Some Updates

I launched a tiny website for Global Wealth Management in our WordPress Multisite network. I republished the case study for Le Mekong Cuisine even though I no longer worked on the website. I also republished the case study for I Love Ngọc Lan.

The purpose of a portfolio is to showcase your best work. For me, I want to keep an archive of all the designs I have done. Maybe I’ll trim it down when I need to find a job, but I’m not looking at the moment. I still have a few more projects I would like to republish.

Vassar Designs

In the last few days, I recollected screenshots of designs I had worked on during my time at Vassar (from 2002 to 2008). For posterity, check out homepage banners, homepage redesigns, and site designs. They brought back so much memories.

New Sample: Folk Tales for Children

Reading Vietnamese children folk tales reminds me of my childhood in Việt Nam. My personal favorites included Lưu Bình-Dương Lễ and Sơn Tinh-Thủy Tinh. I was glad to see these stories translated into English. I created this sample page hoping my kids will read these folk tales to learn about their root. I selected Skolar and Skolar Sans, by Rosetta Type, for the reading text. I chose Nickel Gothic for the cover title and Map Roman for the story titles. Both typefaces designed by David Jonathan Ross. Check out Cổ tích nhi đồng.

Some Minor Updates

Over at donnytruong.com, I added a big typographic footer to give people a quick way to contact me. They don’t have to hunt around for me email anymore.

Over at simplexpression, I changed the logo once again. The wordmark is set in all lowercase to give it a simple style. I chose Pomfret, designed by David Jonathan Ross, because of its elegance. I like the simple, elegant, expression.

Because my wife has been so busy, she hasn’t had the time to devote to her passion project. We haven’t sold anything in a while. I want to see if I can use other platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Amazon to make some sales. I need get her inventory together before I kick off the experimentation. I did OK with selling used skis and snowboards on Marketplace. I want to see if I can also sell other things.

Youtube Shorts

I have been playing around with YouTube Shorts and starting to get into the creative process. I love the ability to mashup my videos with my favorite songs. Some of my silly shorts are hitting 2.5k to 3.5k. I want to try to create a short a day for the next 30 days or so to see how it goes. If you are interested in following along, check out my shorts on YouTube.

Beacon of HOV