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Flash Goddess
August, 2003
Rita Paráda

Online art and design gallery

Double Acute
A short interactive flash presentation of myself and samples of my work. Distributed on CDs.

An interactive presentation of my current living environment and my Vancouver loft.
Personal project, distributed on CDs.

Collage Jazz
A collection of my collages in an interactive flash presentation.
Distributed on CDs.

Rita Paráda

A Short Personal History

I was born and raised in Hungary, behind the "iron curtain". As a child, I was always interested in art and making things. I played with thumb-sized dolls but not in the usual way. I used to build homes for them from paper and small boxes using all kinds of found pieces of objects as construction materials. Everything was very detailed in these little maquettes. I'd spend months on projects like these. My first attempts at graphic design were the first cards I made for my parents for all kinds of occasions. I loved cut outs and it stayed with me until this day. I still enjoy making collages. As I was growing up I studied drawing, as well as art history and loved visiting museums and art galleries in Hungary. There is an abundance of artworks to find there: classical, historical and contemporary.

I was also interested in studying languages. Hungarian is my mother tongue and I studied German and Russian when I was growing up.

In my adolescent years I started traveling a lot which had a major influence on me. I gain a lot of my inspirations from traveling and finding out about different cultures. Especially interesting to me is discovering these differences in relation to my own culture.

My other interests beside art and designing include yoga, films and movies, digital video, photography, poetry, music, books on anthropology, writing, the actual act of writing letterforms, and cooking.

Long Road Towards Enlightenment

In 1990 I came to Canada for a visit and decided to stay for a while. I came here alone, without knowing anyone or speaking any French or English. Since I lived in Montreal, I started learning English and French at the same time which was quite a task for me. Most people say my move to Canada was brave. I know it was, yet sometimes when I think about it I am not sure if it was braveness or just not anticipating the initial shock, the contrasts of the cultures and the difficulties in trying to fit in.

In Canada, I have spent over 7 years obtaining formal education in design and art. This learning process will continue informally, most likely, for the rest of my life. I continually take part in design seminars and workshops, read about current design related issues and try to keep in the loop as much as I can.
I started my design education at Concordia University in Montreal. After a year and a half of studying, I received a Certificate in Graphic Design. This was a great introduction for me to design; however, I realized that as much as I love paper, writing, and books, graphic design might not fully satisfy my hunger.

I went on, applied and got accepted to the Undergraduate program at Concordia. There, I studied Fine Art for three years, majoring in Design Art. This was a very experimental program that allowed me to have a taste of all aspects of design. From industrial and fashion as well as graphic and digital. I even got some experience welding and torching, working with wood and plexiglass. I experimented with claymation on film, black and white photography, developed
and designed shelter for the body, and even dropped raw eggs from a third floor window of Cafe-X to test my packaging design skills.
While at Concordia, I became very interested in digital design by using HyperCard for a school project. From then on I knew interactivity was the way to go for me. At that point I was accepted into the Electronic Communication Design program at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver. Once again, I moved, this time to the Canadian West Coast where I am currently living.

Studying at ECIAD provided me with yet another kind of experience. As for practicalities, I learned hard work and perseverance, project and time management. These skills were extremely important for me to develop because of my situation. I had to take as many credits as I could as well as keep part time jobs, more than one at a time. Sometimes, it was unbelievably difficult to manage it all. As for developing design skills, the education I have received at ECIAD was oriented towards applied design, filled with lots of theory. After three years of studying design we finished with a graduation project, an invaluable and in the same time, nerve-wracking experience. I graduated with a Degree in Design, Major in Communication Design in 1999.

Formal design and art education was important to me because it allowed me to test myself and discover what I am truly passionate about. It deepened my understanding of art and design theory and history and their relevance in contemporary society. It also opened my eyes to important ethical issues revolving around art and design. Most importantly, I have had the opportunity to explore the design process through exciting projects and to gain a thorough understanding of the crucial role of design in communications.

Keep on Going

I have worked on various freelance design projects since 1997. After graduation, I started out by working professionally for a software developer, where I worked for over 3 years on multimedia communications and interface design. Currently, I work independently as the Principal and Creative Director of my studio, Double Acute Communication Design. My present contract work is working with a great team for a large Communication firm as a designer on the interactive development of a Science and Technology Center that will be opened in Saudi Arabia.

Flashing Thoughts

I started using flash in 1998 for a school project very briefly. In 1999 I got a job at a large software developer and immediately started using flash in a professional setting. I am mostly self-taught when it comes to applications. In most Art and Design schools the focus is never on the applications but on the theory. Looking at a design work the question is not so much "how did they do it?" but more it is "why did they do it?” I apply this approach when I start on any project.

I am not a programming genius when it comes to action scripting in Flash; however, I understand the basics and that helps me to be able to figure out most things on my own. Online resources, like the Flashgoddess forums are absolutely invaluable during my researches.

I do a lot of work in Flash. However, most of the work I have been creating is not on the web. It is usually part of larger projects. They are used mostly as interactive presentations, educational aides, digital kiosks, or part of desktop applications. Currently I am developing my own site, however it is difficult to find enough time with my contract work.

In professional, as well as personal works, I am an advocate of Flash. Flash provides me with the ability to integrate motion and typography, adding sound and interactivity, being able to produce completely interactive audio-visual experiences. Another appealing aspect of Flash is that when creating for the web, it allows more control over the design without having to deal with most of the browser or cross platform issues.

I am glad to see that the initial issues around Flash and Flash design are being eliminated. One of these issues was the difficulty in using regular fonts with small type sizes because they become illegible in flash movies. Since the appearance of pixel fonts, these problems have been reduced. Recently, I have written a research article about the use of pixel fonts and this article is published on afterchaos.

I personally love working with Flash. I think it is an excellent tool and it can be and will be developed even further.

Hardware and Other Fetishes

When it comes to computers I am a total Mac addict. After learning so much about Macs from a friend of mine, I started using them in school and I got my first Performa in 1996 and I have been a devoted Mac fan ever since. Right now I work with a G4 tower and also dream about a titanium laptop. I believe the testing is essential on both platforms, pc and Mac, especially when it comes to designing for online communication. However, I feel most comfortable working on the Mac if it is at all possible.

Other fetishes include nicely shaped, thin, fine pointed, gel filled pens, brushes, handmade paper, and books... A perverted amount of books... And shoes.

Labour of Love

I am the founder, curator and designer of FlowGaleria.org, a quarterly online showcase for artists and designers from all across the globe.

FlowGaléria started out of a personal need in 2001. The name is a fusion of an English and a Hungarian word. Flow is the state of mind during the creative process. It is the concentration, rhythm, and emotional involvement. Galéria is the word in Hungarian for gallery.

This is a non-commercial project offering a creative outlet, a forum for people to freely create, express and share their works online. The FlowGaléria has been a portal of expression for many types of artists that want to share freely with their online communities. Works can be submitted in any medium, all in digitized format. The gallery pays homage to Flash, print, writing, poetry, graphic arts, paintings, animation, video, sound or any other form of creative expression. This free online gallery is about the flow of art, information, and expanding one's space. It fosters a non-competitive, creative and supportive environment. The objectives of the FlowGaléria first and foremost are to provide creative stimulus and a creative space for artists/designers, an opportunity to challenge themselves, encourage experimentation and showcase the differences in personal explorations and interpretations.

There is a topic assigned for each exhibit and artists and designers are being asked to create a work with their own personal interpretation of the given topic. By selecting the theme, the gallery provides the challenge, one of the key elements that are necessary to experience the state of flow while creating. With the topic each exhibit showcases individual interpretations, expressions in a collaborative presentation. A new exhibit is launched regularly in every 3 months.

The ways artists and designers can benefit from submitting their works are:
- the personal challenge and the enjoyment of the creation of the work,
- the opportunity to get to know others artists and designers internationally,
- exposure, as their name, contact information, and work is posted on the FlowGaléria's web site.

Visitors need not pay in order to view the exhibited works. Moreover, the gallery exhibits works from all disciplines of art and design, from emerging artists and designers to already established artists and designers, from local to international participants. Artists and designers receive no payments from the FlowGaléria in return for submitting their works nor do they need to pay in order to have their work displayed on the site. It is a non-profit project and it runs entirely on volunteer contribution.

The gallery is going to be two years old in December 2003. This far, there were 6 successful exhibits. I have been receiving a larger number of submissions each time a new show is prepared. The growing interest in the FlowGaléria requires me to dedicate a substantial amount of time to update the exhibits, maintain the site and implement more features on the site to make it a great resource, an artist community, as well as a frequently visited showcase. It is almost getting to be too difficult to handle it all on my own, but it is lots of fun. The works are starting to receive more and more recognition and I am hoping to find enough time to do more publicity in the future to gain more exposure for the exhibiting artists.

Currently, I am looking for sponsors and supporters for the gallery as well as looking for options for some form of collaboration. There are many ways to support the FlowGaléria, with financial contribution, publicity or other means. However, the best form of support is the contribution of the art works, as many of the Flashgoddesses have done so in the past.

Initially, the whole site was created in flash. However, as the exhibits started to grow and for better accessibility for a wider audience the framework now is in html and the exhibits are always presented in a flash movie. Many of the submissions are done in flash as well.

At the present time, there are some new features that I am developing for the site. As an example, the store section has not yet been fully implemented. This will be done in the very near future and hopefully will provide me with the modest opportunity to generate some funds to cover the monthly fees associated with the upkeep of the site.

There is a feature on the site "The Best in Flow" in which visitors can place their vote for the best work of art presented in any particular exhibit. The artist of the work that receives the most votes is featured in a longer profile on the site.
I am also working on another section for the site that is going to be called "Flow Process". This is a section where artists and designers can document their creative process for some of their artworks they have submitted to our exhibits. There will be information about the artists themselves, about the process of their artistic works, and about their techniques used.

For the Final Note

In closing, I must say a big thanks to Ann-Marie for creating such a supportive online community with the FlashGoddess site and thanks to all the Flashgoddesses out there who knowingly and unknowingly give me so much inspiration and who are so generous in sharing their skills and knowledge.

"And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.
The Goddess awakens in our hearts before she awakens
in the world."
-from Marianne Williamson