David Hillman Curtis (February 24, 1961 – April 18, 2012) was an American new media designer, author, musician and filmmaker. Curtis was the Principal and Chief Creative Officer of hillmancurtis.com, inc., a digital design and film production firm in New York City. Curtis was successful in several creative disciplines; he started as a rock musician, became a pioneer in Web Design and interactive design with Flash and finally made short films and advertising commercials.
Early life and education
Curtis was born in La Jolla, San Diego, California, where he grew up with his two sisters and his mother Susan and stepfather, Paul Zimmerman, both of whom were high school teachers. After schooling he studied creative writing and film theory at San Francisco State University.
Subsequently, while studying at the San Francisco State University, he formed a rock group, which was later called 'the Green Things'. In the coming decade, the band toured and even recorded an album with MCA Records, before disbanding. Curtis first came to prominence as one of the principal songwriters and bassists for the new wave group "Mrs. Green", which was formed while Curtis was attending San Francisco State University. The group recorded one album and toured the U.K. They toured briefly with the New Zealand band The Chills, and member of a beatles revival cover band. Curtis later split off from the band and, forming a new group called The Greenthings. Although The Greenthings signed a recording contract with [MCA Records] an album was never released.
Curtis started studying art to design posters and fliers for his band. After the band broke up, Curtis now in his 30s started taking night classes on Photoshop. This led to a few part-time designing jobs, and eventually an entry level job at Macromedia. Gradually, he went on to become a design director at Macromedia. While there in 1996 he designed the first web site using new technology, a browser plug-in Flash Player, which became a milestone in web signing.
In 1997, Curtis founded hillmancurtis, Inc, a design firm based in New York city which focused on web design and later film production. Then in 2000, he published a how to guide, Flash Web Design, which sold over 100,000 copies and remains a standard text for online design. In all, he published four books on new media design which have sold over 150 thousand copies and been translated into 14 languages.
Curtis was listed by the Internet Professional Publisher Association in its DesignerONE awards for 2001-2002 as one of the top ten web designers. He designed sites for Yahoo, Adobe Systems, Metropolitan Opera and others .. Canoë magazine called him le pape du Flash (the Pope of Flash) in 2000. Glide magazine labels him the "Michael Jordan of web design".
Hillman was nominated for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in 2009.
He received acclaim for his online "Artist Series", a series of short documentaries on designers and artists, Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, David Carson, Lawrence Weiner, Stefan Sagmeister, James Victore, Pentagram Design Group, and the filmmaker Mark Romanek. He also has made short dramatic films as well as national commercials for IBM and BlackBerry, as well as web content for brands like Sprint, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, SVA, and Rolling Stone.
In 2008, Curtis made a short documentary for the David Byrne and Brian Eno album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today and later directed the feature-length documentary Ride, Rise, Roar which chronicled the Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno Tour.
- Soldiers (2008)
- Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far: Stefan Sagmeister (2008)
- Lawrence Weiner (2008)
- Embrace (2008)
- Bridge (2008)
- Ride, Rise, Roar (2010)
- Powerhouse Books (2011)
- Hillman Curtis on Creating Short Films for the Web, (New Riders Publishing: August 2005)
- MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer, (New Riders Publishing: May 2002)
- Flash Web Design: The V5 Remix, (New Riders Publishing: March 2001)
- Flash Web Design: The Art of Motion Graphics, (New Riders Publishing: March 2000)
- "Hillman Curtis". Creative Review. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- "Hillman Curtis, a Pioneer in Web Design, Dies at 51". New York Times. April 20, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- Oliver Lindberg (April 20, 2012). "RIP Hillman Curtis". .net (magazine).
- Patrick Mitchell (04.19.12). "Hillman Curtis, 1961-2012". Society of Publication Designers, SPD. Check date values in:
- Hillman Curtis at the Internet Movie Database
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- Official website
- Review of Making the Invisible Visible: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer
- Interview from SitePoint.com
- Another Interview from FAIRspot.com
- PBS interview with Curtis about Ride, Rise, Roar
- Last interview with Overdigital.com