Someone called me a mad scientist the other day.
I answered that it might be the highest compliment I've ever received.
“I love the smell of burnt metal in the morning”
sculpture is virtual relief
Who is Roger belveal?
Roger Belveal is a contemporary sculptor known for inventing techXpressionism which he describes as a collision of digital and real world experiences in holistic catharsis. A human-computer interaction design professional of three decades during the digital transformation of our world has given him insights into the human technology relationship that he expresses through his art.
He has been called:
Artist extraordinaire, the Metaphor man, the Andy Warhol of the digital age, the master of untangling things, the UX guy before it was a thing,
Life in the intersection
Roger has always had a diversity of interests and been particularity fascinated when different fields intersect. This is what brought him to study industrial design in the first place, as ID is by nature a convergence zone of technology art, and human factors. And hey, it”s useful!
Design & Sculpture
While studying industrial design he also studied life sculpture, metal works, casting, and public art. He had many great mentors; Foremost among them, Robert Edward Graves, John Young, and Tadeo Shimizo.
decades of UX expressed in art
After a three decade career in user experience design, he is expressing in his art insights and a point of view derived from hundreds of user interaction studies across a world of circumstances.
WHAT IS TECHXPRESSIONISM?
TechXpressionism is about bringing familiar digital themes out from behind the glass and into the real space where we live. It is about creating audience experiences that traverse the boundaries of virtual and real, blurring those lines in our minds. It is that person you met in a dream greeting you on the street in a fusion of the dreaming and waking experiences.
Career full circle
“My personal journey has taken me from art to technology to business and then back to art, focusing on the human element the entire way“
Where it all began
My Favorite Machine
This idea originally came about while studying sculpture and design at the University of Washington in Seattle. I was obsessed with capturing in a work of art the affection we have for objects of great design or great service.
This sentiment was embodied in “The Truck”, my art installation in the quad, which any UW grad knows is the prime pristine real estate of the UW campus. This was part of my study of public art under professor John Young.
I had been invited into John’s masters sculpture program though I was technically an undergrad studying Industrial Design.
The seed of TechXpressionism
This was the real roots of TechXpressionism.
Besides the fun, the point was the warm sentiment communicated by similar trucks in real life on my uncle’s farm. See Uncle Art’s Museum on the My Favorite Machine page
Fast forward a couple of decades, I found the sentiment not only-still relevant, but desperately needed in the digital age. And here we are. Now you know the roots.
Still this is might be my personal favorite piece of art of all time.
Futurist by contemporary and historical DEFINitions
Futurism: Optimism on tech
Futurism is an enthusiastic view of technology. It builds excitement on technology's imagery, from the industrial revolution to the digital age. See Wikipedia Yet my stance is that optimism is justified only when accompanied by critical pessimism with constructive problem-solving fervently at work to address the risks.
Futurism: Art about Motion
Established by Marcel Duchamp about a hundred years ago, it is a way of depicting movement within a static image. See Futurism. It's a perception and cognition thing. Its also heart thing as it is really about inspiring a feeling.
The digital TRANSFORMATION of Roger belveal
Got Industrial design?
You know, you study one thing expecting to find a job doing that. But then? Roger found industrial design was his thing, making elegant products that solved problems and that people could enjoy using. Guess what. There just wasn’t much happening in ID at that time.
All was going soft
But wait. What was happening was computers and software. He took a job as a technical illustrator with the Boeing Company in Seattle drawing airplanes using a computer.
Interfaces w/o users
Most software at the time was painfully unfriendly, condescending, annoying, totally unforgiving and punishing of the slightest error, even oppressive.
Unusable at any speed
Usability was not even a word even in the dictionary. What was this thing that was missing? How could we fix this? Software was irrational. No wonder most people were intimidated or terrified of computers.
Conversion to UX
The BoGART team gave hope. Here was a group of very smart people making something better, Belveal found his niche there and never stopped. He was converted into a usability designer. He would carry this passion to many great enterprise and industry digital transformations, engineering to ecommerce to banking to mobile and cloud. He has not stopped.
UX before it was a thing
Advocacy for the human in the equation would always be the primary focus.
The jane Goodall years
“I thought I was wasting time, but these were my most valuable years, I was developing my empathy muscle”
“I was the Karate Kid painting the fence, wondering when the real stuff would begin”
user community member
Turns out, the “Jane Goodall years”, living and working among them, were the most important, He had worked so hard getting a design degree and now was not designing anything, just drawing technical illustrations. Meanwhile, he led users groups, created training, and facilitated UI design sessions. He was the Karate Kid sanding the deck wondering when the real stuff would begin, He did not realize this was the most critical work of all, developing those empathy muscles.
the BoGART microcosm
When he was finally recruited to be a member of the elite BoGART development team, he felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to his fellow users, doing everything in his power to make the experience better.
UX before there was UX
He was doing user centered design before it was a thing. Moving from different software apps and websites, he kept that same perspective. Now decades later, empathy remains his greatest design asset. It would be odd if he did not bring this empathy into his art.
“I’m not Banksy”
“Perhaps for this reason as much as any other, my attitude toward my art audience is different from that of some artists. I respect my audience. In fact, I love them. Weirdly that might make me less cool in some people’s view. There are artists who are bent on abusing their audience. Banksy, for example, destroying a work of art moments after someone pays a million dollars for it. See the shredder story.
Thee are people who apparently love to be abused, I’m not sure why. It has never made sense to me. Whether the abuse is genuine or a ruse for attention sake, I find it rude. Sorry. If you want abuse, I’m not your guy. You might get an argument, but Abuse is down the hall. I’m not Banksy. “
Pivotal moments in Digital TRANSFORMATION
Meetings and events that changed everything
IDSA 91 WESTERN CONFERENCE
The Industrial Designers Society of America 1991 Western District Conference, “The new Frontiers of Visual Design” was all about the advent of digital design and the key role played by industrial design in transforming IT into the world we know now. There I met the leaders in the Graphical user interface world; Bill Mogridge, of IDEO, Norm Cox of XEROX PARC / IBM, Sun Microsystems, Kevin Mullet, and HP Motif designer, Shiz Kobara, It was Shiz who told me emphatically, “Man, You gotta go to CHI”.
CHI 92 in MONTERREY
CHI 92 (Computer-Human interaction ) in Monetary was monumental in many ways. Here I met gurus, Don Norman, Jakob Nielsen, Aaron Marcus, Claire Marei Karat, and many other early pioneers in the field. Here i became acquainted with usability testing experts Judith Ramey, Stephanie Rosenbaum. I also happened to be one of about forty people crowded into very small room for a usability birds of a feather meeting led by Janice James (with enthusiastic influence from Jared Spool) that was to become the founding of the he Usability Professionals’ Association (UXPA).
Boeing UX connections
Ironically, the most important thing to happen at CHI 92 was I became acquainted with UX enthusiasts from my own company, Boeing. Among them, Keith Butler, Stephen Poltrok, and Randy Worsech, program manager for the Boeing Common User Interface Services initiative. CUIS was a greenhouse for UX before it was called UX. Randy was guy with the vision who gathered all like-minded people from the four corners of this fortune company to change everything about how software was made.
CUIS usability engineering
I became a co-founder of the first Boeing Usability lab, a collaboration of CUIS and Boeing Research and Technology. The lab was more than a resource. it established a solid systematic methodology for measuring (quantitatively and qualitatively), analyzing and improving usability of all software developed by and for the Boeing company, Then, following the typical path of digital transformation I then led the first team of usability engineering design consultants at in the company. My adventures in UX were taking off.
Boeing usability consulting
Co-founder of the Usability Lab at the Boeing Company in Seattle
Established a usability testing and human factors research practice
Designed the lab technical configuration, network, live audio and video feeds in test cells and observation rooms
Planned and Conducted UX studies across the enterprise
Innovated advanced testing methods involving social dimensions
Led a team of UX consultants providing strategic direction across the company
Consulted on the multiple aspects of the 777 Airplane development, a first in many technological and process advances.
Provided user interface design direction to Dassault Systemmes CATIA CAD and Fly-Thru 3D visualization, Configurator, and other major enterprise systems.
It was a great tour through the Boeing company.
web producer, EXPERIENCE designer,
Belveal is a practicing UX designer and information architect. He does user research, designs websites and defining interactions. He is a blogger and writes most of the copy for his own web site, though often writing it in the third person.
UX design titles and roles
I’ve worn all the UX related titles, systems analyst, human factors analyst, user interface designer, usability engineer, business process engineer, experience designer, user researcher, product designer, design consultant, prototyper, and information architect, with all the prefixes of lead, senior, principal, etc. I’ve lost track of them all.
I like the current title because it contains in it the dichotomy of something abstract such as information with something very physical as architecture. Giving a sense of structure and form to abstract ideas is what i am about. It is the nature my design work and my art as well.
The user centered design research and business process analysis work we did was foundation to Information architecture (IA) and decision support patterns enabling a digital transformation for industry.
Tech in the social context
The core conceits were proven in self-service, customer relationship management, and product configuration and actuary.
continuing in art
Some of the key aha breakthrough moments studying people and technology became the inspiration for my exploration of my art. Really, my art is an extension of it.
agent of change
UX innovator across the industry
An agent for change throughout his career, Belveal has been a mentor to other designers and an advocate for usability and accessibility of virtual and physical spaces.
Now artist to tech culture
Roger has become well known as the artist to the tech design community. His work is a favorite with startups. especially among millennials as it speaks to their life experience.
Getting back to earth
Steel and concrete
Steel and concrete are extremely anti-digital. They are very earthy, basic, utilitarian, Steel from my father’s metal shop. The use of concrete I trace to John Young influence. First I adapted it as a base for my figures. later as anti-digital mateerial in TechXpressionsim.
From working in steel, concrete, and found objects to creating transparent forms and sketches in space.
Born among the tall evergreens and the cool rivers in foothills of the Cascade mountains of Oregon, Belveal grew up in a blue collar sawmill workers and farmers. Learning to weld at the age of nine, he developed a love for metal.
“I love to visit when I can. Some of the old relics still remain. The home where we lived when I was born is under a lake and the acreage where my father had a small herd of cows is now a park. My son and I were at that park and I was telling some fellow about being there as a kid and I pointed where the barn was. My son later told me, ‘That guy thought you were crazy’. Oh well, maybe I am. I love that place.”
Michelangelo & marble
At nineteen while writing a paper for my art history class, I discovered Michelangelo. I learned that when Michelangelo was a child his mother was ill and his Father sent him to be cared for by a woman who’s husband worked in a marble quarry. Hanging around the guys cutting stone, handling the stone, he developed an intimate relationship with the material that would last a lifetime.
Steel & flame
I could relate. I remembered being a toddler sitting on the end of my father’s workbench in Sweet Home, Oregon, often barefooted, smelling that small of burnt metal and watching him weld with that beautiful bright blue flame from that acetylene torch, hearing the whir of the oxygen and combustible
Steel & flame
Cutting, welding, bending that red hot steel like it was a piece of bendy play-dough, making it any shape you want. This was spectacular. It stuck solidly in my brain. I’ve used a lot of tools in my life and career, both physical and digital to be creative. That torch and flame remains my first love among tools
Dark & light
Gases mix brightly in steel melting power in the dim light of that dusty garage. The arc welder was exciting too, but I couldn’t look at it. Everyone knows you have to look away from electric arc welding in progress or you’ll go blind. For Michelangelo it was marble and the chisel. For me it was steel and that awesome flame.
Mentors and influences
Visual Art mentors
Professor Robert E. Graves, art professor; See the Robert Graves Gallery the single most influential belveal art style.
”Bob was amazing. He taught us to see things differently, to look for the gesture in the figure that expressed an attitude. Forget everything else, go after the gestalt. Render it with deliberate unapologetic strokes. Then I wondered what if I did this in three dimensions in steel? “
Humberto (Bob) Gonzales, Art instructor, taught me to see movement
Darrel Dietrich, Art Historian, deep appreciation for art history
Professor John T. Young - sculptor and my mentor in the study of public art. Host of a PBS show about public art
Industrial Design mentors
Professor Tadeo Shimizu, international designer, mentor in elegant minimalist design
Professor James Hennessy, mentor in human factors research and design thinking long before anyone thought of calling it that.
Photography and media production
Barry Gregg, my mentor in Photography, I was Barry’s apprentice on some photo shoots, some award winning!
Chuck Cole, productions innovator, graphic designer, cinematographer
digital Tech mentors
Jim Tallant, taught me UNIX and introduced me to the is thing called the internet, long before the rest of the world would know it exists.
Mike York, Boeing technical fellow, architect for advanced graphics apps, BoGART, FlyThru apps, and Instigator of creative technical brilliance
Usability engineering Mentors
Dr. Keith Butler, Boeing Research and technology fellow, inventor of usability engineering methodology. and chief founder of the Boeing usability lab
Judith Ramey, Professor at UW Dept. of Human Centered Design & Engineering and consultant in establishing Boeing usability practices
Michelangelo, August Rodin, my UW life sculpture professor, Norm Taylor, masters of the human figure
Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso for showing alternative ways of depicting the figure and the life
Edward Tufte, Information visualization guru and sculptor,
Randy Worsech, program manager Boeing Architecture,
Steve W. Allen, Boeing manager of the CUIS team
Billie Johnson, collaborator in business process engineering
Kim Gesch - Product manager and collaborator in creating awesome cloud based data visualization
“belveal = Five Andys?”
He’s been called the Andy Warhol of the Digital age. Roger Belveal’s answer is:
“Really, I’d like to be five Andys
1 - Andy Warhol – He gave us compelling images about contemporary culture
2 - Andy Kaufman – He messed with our minds and our sense of reality just for fun. And we liked it.
3 - Andy Griffith – He was plain spoken, honest, approachable, unassuming, friendly
4 - Andy Rooney – for the ability to poke fun and laugh at just about everything (Wait, who's Andy Rooney?)
5 - Andy the Pixar kid – He reminded us how much we love toys!
But my name is Roger”
Family and community
Roger and his wife Mary, a career RN, reside in Frisco, TX. and have since 2008. They have four grown children
Josiah Belveal, PE, Civil Engineer, project manager
Holly Lambert, digital marketing brand strategist
Noah Belveal, Neuroscience monitoring researcher
Renee Belveal. social media marketing professional