108 Koans Art

Midpoint thoughts on 108 Koans Retrospective

I am now over half-way through recording the 108 Koans Five Year Retrospective. It feels good to be regularly putting stuff out there, even if no one is watching. I’m not even sure I want anybody to watch them. But that’s the perfectionist in me talking.

The Retrospective is really all about the act of making something, exposing my thoughts to the world, becoming comfortable with that, and getting in the mindset to keep doing it. I think posting the commentary online has helped me overcome some hang ups.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but rejoining social media within the last year might be having a very positive effect on my life.

I have been somewhat afraid of voicing anything online for a while. I was totally absent from social media for about five years. I think I had this idea that if I were to become well known someday, my social media accounts would become this archive of me and all the stupid stuff I ever posted. I didn’t want anything I posted on social media to become the canonical thing that I had said on a certain subject. But that led to me being afraid to put anything out into the public. Or, if not afraid, at least not in the habit of doing so.

With zero votes, the results are in. I am neither on nor not on Twitter.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but rejoining social media within the last year might be having a very positive effect on my life. I made my accounts totally public, and gradually became accustomed to publishing things for the whole world to see (not that many people actually see it, but the potential is there). Now that I’m recording the Retrospective, I can’t wait until I’m done with it so I can move on to making and sharing new art.

The Retrospective is also about devoting attention to your own work and recognizing it as important enough to think about, enjoy, and celebrate, even if no one else does. In a way, 108 Koans was about getting people comfortable with creating their own art as part of their everyday activity—art that is just for them. 108 Koans Retrospective, then, is about appreciating and celebrating that art at the same level as you would someone else’s (or maybe more, because it’s yours).

Instant gramification.

Part of the reason certain artists became well known is because they were writing about themselves and their friends. It’s easy to just want and hope that someone else will see your work, recognize its brilliance, and start writing about it. But that’s never going to happen until you have the confidence to promote yourself and recognize your own work as having significance.

So … forty-nine koans left to go. There are some good ones coming up. I might even get a bit nostalgic and sentimental toward the end. About my fear of saying something online that becomes canonical … I don’t want anything I’ve said in the commentary to become the canonical interpretation of a koan. But I also know I have no control over that. If, at some point in the future I become well known enough that some art historian looks back at all these hours of commentary, surely what I’ve recorded will become the default, definitive statement about each koan.

The difference between me now and me a year ago is … I’m okay with that. It’s not my intention, but that’s not going to stop me anymore from just creating, and sharing my creations. The more there is of myself out there, the more complete the picture is, and the more nuanced peoples’ understanding of me becomes. If only people payed attention to nuance.

It’s pretty hard to contextualize ten koans in 140 characters. Notice the number of likes.

You can view 108 Koans and all of the video commentary at

108 Koans Art

108 Koans Retrospective – Koans 50–59

This week: Koans 50–59, in which I make a koan, jump up and down both fast and slowly, walk around on crutches, and try to explain something with a diagram.

View the Koans at

108 Koans Art

108 Koans Retrospective – Koans 40–49

This week: Koans 40–49, in which I imitate Bruce Nauman, pay homage to Jasper Johns, steal a title from Hollis Frampton & Marion Faller, and Argus plays the Man Ray to my William Wegman.

View the Koans at

108 Koans Art

108 Koans Retrospective – Koans 30–39

This week: Koans 30–39, in which my camera glitches out, my car glitches out, I talk to a stranger, and I put a vacuum cleaner in the bath tub.

View the Koans at

Interaction Design UX Design Virtual Reality

Free persona template (and examples)

Personas are an important and incredibly useful interaction design tool. (And I love making them.) While preparing my new Interaction Design class, I was looking for a persona template for my students to use. I couldn’t find many free templates that don’t require you to sign up for something. So I made one. I’m posting the template here for anyone to download and use for free. It’s available as AI, SVG, and PDF.

You’ll need a vector graphics editor to modify these. If you are looking for a free one, try Inkscape. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.



I am licensing these template designs under a CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication, which means you can use and modify these templates for any purpose without asking permission or giving me attribution. The Raleway typeface has its own license.

Persona Examples

Here are three personas I created for a VR game I am working on.

108 Koans Art

108 Koans Retrospective – Koans 20–29

This week: Koans 20–29, in which I run down the street, kiss a cactus, and get philosophical about candy.

View the Koans at

Game Design Virtual Reality

Virtual reality maze

Last month I wrote about how I’m working on Udacity’s Virtual Reality Developer nanodegree. My most recent project is a virtual reality maze that you can navigate to find and collect seven coins and a key.


Top-down view of the maze.
Top-down view of the maze.
A hand-drawn sketch of the maze.
Initial sketch.

Once you have collected the key, you can unlock the door to the temple, winning the game. The project required the use of C# scripting to track the state of the key and door, and to create the effect of collecting objects (animation, sound, and destroying & creating objects).

A 3D rendered coin.
A coin. Don’t you just wanna compulsively collect these?
Stereoscopic view of a 3D rendered pedestal with a key on top of it.
Spoiler alert: The key is on top of a pedestal behind the temple.

Udacity provided the starter project files, which included prefab maze walls, temple, coins, key, etc. I had to design the maze and place the walls, coins, and key in the scene to make a playable game. I also wrote scripts to create the interactions in the game, such as the sound effects and animation upon collecting coins, tracking whether or not the key has been collected, and animating the door opening. You can read all the requirements on the project rubric.

Workin’ in Unity.
More wireframes.

Gameplay video

Planned improvements

At some point I plan to come back to this project to make improvements, such as

  • Create a UI to track and display the number of coins collected.
  • Make the key collectable only after finding all seven coins.
  • Create “floating” animation for coins and key.
  • Make sound effect for trying to open the door without a key.
  • Tweak the placement of the waypoints.
  • Improve placement and symmetry of objects.
  • Add more objects of interest to the maze.


108 Koans Art

108 Koans Retrospective – Koans 10–19

This week: Koans 10–19, in which things glitch, break, and get thrown away.

View the Koans at

Game Design

‘Teaching Game Design’ panel @ PixelPop

I’ll be moderating a panel on Teaching Game Design this weekend at the PixelPop Festival.  The panel is Sunday 8/6 at 10:00am. Come check it out if you are in St. Louis!

Panel description:

“Have you ever thought about teaching a game design class? What and how would you want to teach the next generation of game makers? Many of us in the game design industry are self-taught, but what place does game design have in higher education? Join four designers who have taught game design courses at local universities as we discuss some of the unique challenges and joys of teaching game design, and things we’ve learned from the process. If you’ve been considered teaching on the side, this is a great chance to learn more about it.”


108 Koans Art

108 Koans Retrospective – Koans 1–9

It’s the first batch of commentaries!

View the Koans at