“I love the smell of burnt metal in the morning”
“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“
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.
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.
The art / Tech collision
What began as personal therapy for feeling over-digitized and sensory deprived became a genre
3D art is great relief to cravings for Touch
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 in both contemporary and art historical sense
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.
His own digital transformation
You know, you study one thing expecting to find a job doing that. 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.
ugly, Icky, AWFUL
Most software at the time was painfully unfriendly, condescending, annoying, totally unforgiving and punishing of the slightest error, actually 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 part of the user community of the app I would be redesigning.”
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. He was the Karate Kid sanding the deck wondering when the real would begin, not realizing this was the critical working of the empathy muscles.
Who remembers BoGART
When 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 UX was a thing
Roger Belveal kept that perspective, even when he moved to totally different audiences and different software apps, or websites. Empathy has been his greatest asset in design. It would be odd if he did not bring this empathy into his art.
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.
All in all, a great tour though the Boeing company.
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.
“I’m not Banksy”
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.
People apparently love to be bused, 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.
I respect my audience. In fact, I love them. Weirdly that might make me less cool. 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 and adventures
Digital TRANSFORMATION from
IDSA to CHI
IDSA 91 - Industrial Designers Society of America Western conference
There I met Bill Mogridge, Barry Wingate, Kevin Mullet, Shiz Kobara and other leaderss in the Graphical user interface world
Randy Worsech, program manager Boeing Architecture
Randy and I actually met at a CHI 92. This happened to be the conference where the Usability Professionals’ Association (UXPA) was born. It started as a Birds of a feather meeting about usability, where myself, Jared Spool, Don Norman, Janice James, and about 40 others were crowded inside a very small room. This was to be the CHI conference where connections were made. Its where I met Judith Ramey, Stephanie Rosenbaum, Aaron Marcus, Claire Marei Karat, and many other early pioneers in the field. There, I became connected to the UX enthusiasts at my own company, Boeing. Among them, Randy Worsech. Randy was the ringleader. This led to my becoming part of the team that launched usability engineering within the Boeing company. Randy was guy with the vision for the CUIS group (Common User Interface Services), a greenhouse for UX professionals before it was called UX.
Human Factors and Design
Roger Belveal has a Bachelor of Fine Art in Industrial Design from the University of Washington with an emphasis on human factors.
There he also studied life sculpture, fire arts, metal working, and public art. He had many great mentors, foremost among them, Robert Graves, John Young, and Tadeo Shimizo.
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.
agent of change
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.
His art being generally touchable, some has achieved notoriety as an art experience for the blind. Roger has become well known as the artist to the tech design community in the DFW area. His work is a favorite among startups, especially among millennials as it speaks to their life experience.
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 and 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 and 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 and 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
gas 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.
Of all my influences and mentors, Bob Graves was the single most influential on me developing my art style. Bob was amazing. He taught us to see things differently. He taught us to look for the gesture in the figure and then focus on just that. Forget everything else, go after the gestalt. You must see it first, then capture it. And when you see it, and begin to render it, render it with deliberate unapologetic strokes. In doing so deliberately, the audience will see it too. Those words and that passion of his have remained with me for decades since. I tried hard to learn what Bob was teaching us. Then I wondered what it would look like in three dimensions, in steel? I had learned to weld metal when I was a kid and thought metal sculpture would be cool. Bob Graves gave me a concept I wanted to explore.
early Art influences
Professor Robert E. Graves, Inspiration for my figures based on the gestural sketch
Professor John T. Young - sculptor and my mentor in the study of public art. Host of a PBS show about public art
Humberto (Bob) Gonzales, Art instructor, taught me to see movement
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
Darrel Dietrich, Art Historian, deep appreciation for art history
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
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.
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,
Brian has been a friend, a work colleague in design and usability studies, and a promoter in opening the door for my art with the big Design conference.
Steve W. Allen, Boeing manager of the CUIS team
Billie Johnson, collaborator in business process engineeering
Kim Gesch - Product manager - My Collaborator and support on some awesome cloud based data visualization
“I would like to be Five Andys”
Here’s something I would like to do. This is me.
I have been called the Andy Warhol of the Digital age.
Actually, I aspire to be like five Andy’s
1 - Andy Warhol – He gave us compelling images about contemporary culture
2 - Andy Griffith – He was plain spoken, honest, approachable, unassuming, friendly
3 - Andy Kaufman – He messed with our minds and our sense of reality just for fun. And we liked it.
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