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Welcome to the new school, same as the old school. Ornament Jun 19th, 2006

I’ve gotten a few emails over the last year asking me why Design by Fire fell by the wayside. The answer to that question is fairly simple, even though I’d rather not admit it.

First, I got fed up wrestling with layouts and designs that looked or behaved differently across the various browsers. To put it bluntly, I have better things to do with my time than sit around and wonder why the fuck the Microsoft engineers left out “position: fixed;” while supporting “position: absolute;” Or wonder why the Firefox team decided to implement what easily constitutes the ugliest set of form controls to ever grace any graphical user interface in the history of computing, requiring a detail lover like myself to waste countless hours trying to make them look respectable.

Second, I grew weary of the blog format and blog content. I’ve always wanted to be more of an essayist, like a George Will on the back page of Newsweek or something, but my old approach to Design by Fire pigeonholed me into a blog mentality. Instead of writing about topics at length that I feel passionate about, I felt compelled to comment about each and every asinine thing in the blogosphere, regardless of how relevant it might be to the larger picture. Why? Because apparently that’s what you do with a blog.

Third, I’ve always been an avid gamer. I’ve found more joy in pummeling virtual monsters in World of Warcraft in my off time lately than sitting at my computer trying to design or say anything that I felt made a difference. (My third level 60 toon is well on his way to being epic’ed out. You can find me on Gurubashi if you’re ever in the neighborhood.)

The solution? You’re looking at it right now.

This design gets back to basics and returns to what I love most: typography, color and composition. I’d always been jealous of John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, Khoi Vinh’s Subtraction and Greg Storey’s Airbag. Their designs are clean and timeless, allowing you to focus on the content and communication, which is at the core of what the whole blog thing was really all about. Rather than constantly failing to measure up to my own personal critique on how I needed to find a way to design the latest, greatest blog thingamajig, I have finally given in to what I should have eons ago.

While I had a few hiccups getting Internet Explorer to work with this approach, out of all the attempts I have made over the past year, this has been the one that made me feel like I could jump back on the wagon again. The solution to my Internet Explorer woes, for those who may wish to know such things, was solved by using Dean Edward’s /IE7/ as a means to change a few core CSS properties on the divs for IE 6 or lower; this is the only solution I’m going to bother with before Microsoft finally fixes their damn browser. [Note: I am aware of some of the screen flicker issues in IE. I’m currently trying to resolve them via various Apache settings.]

In solving the aesthetic approach for the new Design by Fire, I also solved my blogging content problem. This format effectively turns my site into more of an essay site. I can now focus on what I want to say and be less concerned with how the entirety of my site operates or functions. What you see here is what you get; articles based on my unique experience in the design of high-technology products along with the occasional f-bomb rant.

As for Warcraft? Well, I’ll still play often. That problem will not be going away any time soon I imagine.

So here’s what you can expect with Design by Fire:

There will be no comments to articles from now on. I simply have no desire to find automated methods to block the mountain of spam that comes from comments. Nor do I want to look at a comment and dread the potential decision to ban the writer or delete the comment outright. In short, I’d rather not look at you and say, “You’re an idiot and I have no idea why you’d think I’d even want to discuss such an irrelevant point on my site.” So in order to escape that predicament, I’m practicing avoidance behavior. I encourage every blog author on the internet to do the same.

More focused content on just a few subjects. I’ll be mixing up the topics between design and politics with the occasional random article about nothing important. (Emphasis here on occasional.) For those of you who hate people who bring political banter to the dinner table, I’m going to suggest you remove me from your bookmarks right now. The only topic I find more important than why Google’s design is the epitome of rank amateurism is why people are willing to be so adamantly gung ho about a war but refuse to interrupt their lives to enlist and fight it themselves.

Longer times between essays. I have every intention of spending more time collecting my thoughts, therefore, times in between posts will be much longer.

So there you have it. I’ve converted the most popular articles over from the old Design by Fire. You can find them in the Design section. I’ve also redirected old article links to the new versions. I have removed everything I found not worthy of the effort of preserving.

Finally for Jason and Greg, please stop guilt tripping me about what a lazy ass I am with regard to DxF. I’m back and I can’t wait to start ripping — err, commenting civilly — about the truly horrendous faddish design aesthetic that is being passed off as the “Web 2.0” thing these days, whatever the fuck “Web 2.0” means.

Look! An Ajaxalope!

I think I might just have to call in a favor and have the damned rounded rectangle tool removed from Photoshop.



Standards rant

Repeat after me Separator Standards do not block, impede or otherwise hinder innovation. Businessmen, engineers or product managers who only care about how they want to implement technology or only care about their own bottom line are the ones doing the real damage in the larger economic picture.

Design by Fire strives to be as standards compliant as humanly possible in spite of the fact that those in charge of developing the technology, the browsers and the operating systems can't seem to to code to the W3C specification with 100% compliance.

However, even though I'm a firm believer in standards, I'm beyond sick and tired of trying to figure out what works and what does not work according to the W3C specification. So while I make every attempt to do the right thing, occasionally I'll just do what I have to get the thing working. In other words, if you run any Design by Fire URI through a code validator and find invalid markup or css, please don't bother sending me an email.

With that little rant out of the way, here are some good articles about the benefits of web standards.

And of course, there's Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, which is easily one of the best reads from both a practical and technical point of view on the subject.

All of these sources discuss simplification of code, rapid development, smaller file sizes, faster download times, better accessibility for a larger set of users, easier code maintenance and platform scalability - all benefits of standards at a technological level. There's also some ROI discussion on using standards.

Really Simple Syndication is still a pain in the ass

Here's the RSS feed.

RSS Feed
Design by Fire RSS Feed

You should know the drill by now.

Andrei Michael Herasimchuk

Updated 2010 Separator The quick and dirty summary is that I am largely considered one of the first official interface designers hired by Adobe Systems. That is, the first one hired to do nothing but interface design across the professional product line. I worked personally on the interfaces for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign.


One of these days, I'll convince Adobe's legal eagles to let me write a book about all that I have been through while working on those products. I just doubt they'll agree to it in my lifetime. Until, then you'll have to be satisfied with the History of Photoshop, an article written by a long-time friend of mine, Jeff Schewe.


Director, Design Team bullet Twitter
March 2011 - Present

Sr. Director of Product Design
Applications bullet Yahoo!
September 2009 - March 2011

Chief Design Officer, Co-Founder bullet Involution Studios
July 2004 - September 2009

Project Lead, Adobe Lightroom bullet Adobe Systems
December 2002 - June 2004

Director, User Interface bullet ePeople
April 2001 - December 2002

Director, User Interface bullet Impresse
January 2000 - April 2001

Director, User Interface bullet Mambo.com
August 1999 - January 2000

Senior User Interface Designer bullet Adobe Systems
August 1995 - July 1999

Co-Founding Member, Director bullet Specular Int'l
June 1990 - August 1995


Having the opportunity to work on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom has given me a chance to explore photography in way I would not have had access to otherwise. You can find samples of all my personal work on this web site, and unless otherwise noted, everything here is photographed by me.

For a short period of time, I was exploring a screenwriting career. I had a script optioned by Hyde Park Entertainment (a division of MGM), a studio that has since gone under. I even had an agent in Beverly Hills for a short period of time.

I enjoy playing poker on the side and find the game infinitely fascinating. I have made the final table in a few bigger tournaments. One at The Hall of Fame Poker Classic and the other at the Bay 101 Open, but no World Series of Poker bracelet for me yet. I have had the opportunity to play against some world-class poker professionals and have gotten crushed by them.

In my off time I play bass guitar and far too many video games.

Publications and Awards

Industry Awards bullet 1995-2000
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have won far too many awards than is possible to list here.

The History of Photoshop bullet February 2000
An article written by Jeff Schewe for Photo Electronic Imaging Magazine. This covers the history and development of Photoshop. A copy of this article can be found here in PDF format. You can also find another copy on Jeff's web site, Schewe Photography.

Design Graphics, Cover Story bullet June 1999, Issue 46
This article covered the work I did on the redesign of the professional product line while at Adobe.

Collage with Photoshop bullet 1994
This book features 14 digital artists using Photoshop and Specular Collage. I'm only mentioned in the prologue, but the book was created to promote Collage and what digital artists were doing with it at the time. I'm still fairly proud about the book and the work produced inside of it.


Amherst College bullet 1989 to 1990
Left Amherst College to start Specular Int'l

The Hill School bullet 1984 to 1988
College preperatory school.


andrei@designbyfire.com bullet To avoid getting tagged by my spam filter, be sure to create a meaningful subject line.

Colophon and other details

Design by Fire v4.0 Separator A quick overview of the design and implementation of DxF for those who care about such details.

Browser Support

If you are viewing Design by Fire in either Firefox or Safari, congratulations! You are experiencing Design by Fire in the manner it was intended. If you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 or less, you have my sympathies as you are getting a version slightly less dynamic. The reason for that is due to Microsoft's lack of support for the CSS property "position: fixed;" plus a few other things.

Get Firefox

Bottom line, Internet Explorer promises to fix these things in version 7, so in the meantime you can either download the beta for IE7 or switch to Firefox.


If you have purchased the Adobe Creative Suite, you should have Helvetica Neue installed in your font library. If so, then you are reading Design by Fire as it was intended to be read. For everyone else, you are either seeing Lucida Grande or Arial.


Clearly, Helvetica Neue is far superior.

As for the logotype of Design by Fire, it's set using the classic Bodoni typeface, complete with ligature for that extra flourish.

Content Management System

This version of Design by Fire is managed using WordPress. So long MovableType.

Copyright Information

Design by Fire is ©copyright by Andrei Michael Herasimchuk. All rights reserved.

You may not use any material, articles, logos, essays, technical illustrations, photos or any content from this site without expressed written permission.

Design articles

This page intentionally left blank Bullet Oct 31st, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses Bullet Aug 16th, 2007

Introducing Spivot Bullet Mar 5th, 2007

The unfortunate death of Helvetica Bullet Oct 23rd, 2006

An Open letter to John Warnock Bullet Aug 28th, 2006

Convenient Lessons from An Inconvenient Truth Bullet Aug 2nd, 2006

The kids aren’t alright Bullet Jul 17th, 2006

The Culture of Fugly Bullet Jun 25th, 2006

Please make me think! Are high-tech usability priorities backwards? Bullet Oct 10th, 2004

Rebranding the World Wide Web Consortium Bullet Sep 30th, 2004

You say toe – may – toe, I say [expletive] that Bullet Aug 17th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 2 Bullet Jun 20th, 2004

Design Eye for the Usability Guy Bullet May 18th, 2004

Et tu, Brute? Bullet May 6th, 2004

I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR Bullet Apr 30th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 1 Bullet Apr 9th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Redesigning Google’s search results page Bullet Jan 25th, 2004

Lifestyle articles

Welcome to the new school, same as the old school. Bullet Jun 19th, 2006

Bubble Boy at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Bullet Mar 1st, 2004

Beginner’s Tips for Poker Bullet Jan 31st, 2004

Crucial mistakes against Scotty Nguyen Bullet Dec 10th, 2003

Photography articles

Santorini in black and white Bullet Jun 17th, 2004

Santorini in red Bullet Jun 9th, 2004

Santorini in blue Bullet Jun 8th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Party like it’s 1999 Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

An Oakland Rave Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Random favorites from the shoebox Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Portraits of Donna and Alexa Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Politics archive

How terrorism works Bullet Sep 10th, 2004