Paul Henry Smith
Product Designer

Visual Design

I love visual design, but …

Everybody and their brother thinks they can whip up a logo, a poster, or a layout and make it “look nice.” I'm no exception, but I also know that my chops are nothing compared to what truly great designers can do.

But here's the thing: There is no bright line separating UX, UI, and visual design. They all share core design principles. A visual designer can simplify a complex layout in a way that you might call “UI design.” And a UI designer who understands how we group elements visually—the nature of balance and hierarchy—can use that “visual design” understanding to affect the clarity, energy, and emotion of the experience.

Great visual designers know how elements resonate in certain contexts, their cultural history and meaning. They know that all experience of design is temporal—even musical, you could say—and so it involves pacing, rhythm, and the ebb and flow of energy. They know how to wrangle color, position, hierarchy, tone, and emotion to make things that seem like magic.

I had the great fortune to learn about visual design by working with excellent designers like Paula Scher at Pentagram and Margot Perman at Real Design Associates. So, while I can hit all the right notes with a well designed solution, nothing beats actually working elbow-to-elbow with masterful visual designers.

Posters

For Cadenza app. Design, copy, production.
Placed in music school student lounges.
36"x 24"

Apps

CadenzaiOS, 2014 - 2016

Cadenza

iOS, 2014 - 2016

One-touch audio mixing of two channels.

One-touch audio mixing of two channels.

Colors and their roles

A guide for UI developers.

Motion design: ‘Millennium Trumpet’ app

This app presents a unique way to display music and advance it forward while the user plays the trumpet. It took the mundane experience of reading sheet music and transformed into a Star Wars immersion.

My role:
Graphic design, layout, UI, motion, interaction

‘Millennium Trumpet’ iPad app

‘Millennium Trumpet’ iPad app

You’re about to play “Imperial March” from Star Wars.

Tap the title and then pick up your trumpet.

Visual Design

The music crawls, just like all the Star Wars movie openings.

The crawl starts when the app hears your first note. And since the AI engine listens to you play, and knows where you are, it calculates the rate of the crawl to match your tempo. You never feel like it's going to outpace you, freeing you to just have fun.

The notes you need to see are always at the bottom, where they’re easiest to read.

Notes that have already passed are never on the bottom line. Only the notes you need to play next.

See it in action.

Music motion design, driven by trumpet-playing.

Print advertisements

Product: Cadenza app. Boston Symphony Orchestra concert program book.

My roles:
Art direction, layout, design, copy, production.