Review – MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer

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For many people, new media design is a foreign concept. For the rest of us, it’s something that we hold dear to our hearts. Hillman Curtis gives this new realm a voice in his book, MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer.

The book itself, a stunning piece of artwork, communicates to everyone from Web designers and movie directors, to publishers and project managers. No matter who you are or what title you hold, if you’re involved in new media, you will benefit from this book.

Hillman Curtis is a pioneer of new media design. If haven’t heard of him, you can rest assured, you will if new media is where you’re headed. Designers are captivated by his stunning motion graphics, others value his work ethics, and some mold their Websites to reflect a Hillman-esque feel. As former art director at Macromedia, Hillman understood the power of Flash in conveying an idea, message, or even an experience over the Internet, or in motion graphic design. Presently, he is the head of his own successful new media business, Hillmancurtis Inc. If you are lucky, you might find him giving a speech at a Web design conference somewhere between London and Los Angeles.

Hillman Curtis breaks this book into three sections, each of which serves a separate function. He starts by explaining a process that helps designers quickly conceive consistent and focused ideas and designs for new media. Following this is a discussion of inspiration that will help anyone get over their creative block. And finally, the book explores the different issues new media designers may encounter in their every day work.


The process of taking on a new client and approaching the new project is the first issue that Hillman tackles. His process consists of seven steps: listen, unite, theme, concept, eat the audience, filter and justify. Each section in the chapter addresses one of these seven steps, which, in fact form the process that Hillman and his team developed to approach their own clients’ projects. Through real-life anecdotes, Hillman is able to explain in detail precisely what each step means, and how they relate to one another. But unlike other overly-wordy texts MTIV uses storyboards and design examples to show — rather than tell — us exactly what he means. The book uses many illustrations, from the first concept that’s drawn on a dirty sheet of white paper, to the final product that’s currently on his client’s Website. Your approach for taking on clients will never be the same after reading MTIV.


The second issue that’s considered is inspiration. Here, Hillman showcases his own inspirations for past projects through beautiful personal stories. The book’s utilisation of imagery allows Hillman to let us in so we are able to witness exactly what fuels his creative drive. He shares with us this own process for acquiring inspiration through the work of his contemporaries: taking their artwork, films, or writings, and drawing his own ideas from these pieces. As such, your own creative blocks will no longer exist after this chapter! Once you’ve read this book, anything and everything will motivate you to pursue your next project, whether it be a Website, print ad, or short film.


Lastly, Hillman looks at the practice of new media design. With the help of his friends, he discussed a number of pertinent issues in new media design: you’ll find chapters on everything from Web layout and typography, to streaming video and usability. Information on design fundamentals and current technologies will help any new designer in this young and fresh field. Hillman’s trusted and admired pees contribute their own knowledge in brief but informative vignettes, and these short reviews will only make you want to look more closely — as these are the tools, issues, and ideas that pertain to the daily practice of new media design.

Hillman also reveals several quotations that have helped remove his own creative blocks in the past — all of which relate to certain chapters or examples throughout the book. Quotes from Picasso to Hemingway have found there way to Hillman’s pages to not only strengthen his message, his passion, and his love for new media, but to also spark that drive in his readers.

The Wrap Up

Hillman Curtis does not write about new media design, he speaks to you about it as if you were old friends. Whether you use it as a reference book to answer your questions, an entertaining read while flying to your next Web conference, or a tool to refresh your brain on the topics of client/designer relationships, MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer, should be on every designer’s bookshelf.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Title: MTIV:Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer
Author: Hillman Curtis
Price: US$45.00 – Buy it at Amazon

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