Remembering Hillman Curtis

It’s been a tragic week for indomitable creative forces. First, Levon Helm, a founding member of The Band passed. And today I learned that Hillman Curtis died at an all-too-youthful 51.

Most of you will not know who David Hillman Curtis was. Musician, check. Filmmaker, check. Interactive genius, check check check! Back in 1999, when websites were grumbling to break out of the “brochureware” box, Hillman was creating dazzling motion-filled, interactive sites with a relatively new product called Flash. He designed sites for Yahoo and Adobe to name a few.

His landmark book, “Flash Web Design: The Art of Motion Graphics,” (New Riders, 2000) empowered thousands of website designers and artists to break free the web and create sites that were meant to be fully explored and appreciated on screen, not printed out and stapled.  My copy was dogeared and spine-broken within a year.

In the early 2000s, every time a client panicked, “How many web visitors have this plugin thing called Flash?,” they were unknowingly challenging Curtis’s genius of elevating the web to a whole new level.

Not content to stand still, Hillman Curtis moved on to direct films for the likes of David Byrne and Brian Eno. (In it’s narrowest interpretation, his legacy of Flash design sadly became relegated to countless 3 and 4 star restaurants where you still need Flash to view the menu.)

His belief that ‘good enough is not good enough’ is infused in the HTML5, mobile, app and cloud design cultures of 2012. He will be missed.

Links: | New York Times | Wikipedia

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