What is Tools not rules?

I want to help people become better at making things. Heck, I want to get better at making things. And by improving how we make things we end up making better things. Do I know everything? Not by a long shot, but I'm always willing to learn something new.

Tools Not Rules came about because I noticed a pattern: immensely talented artists and designers, fresh graduates and seasoned professionals, who lacked essential professional skills such as talking about their work, interviewing clients to understand their goals, time management and prioritization. I began taking notes and testing strategies for improving the creative process with my art team. My goal: I wanted each artist working under me to function independently with minimal oversight. I wanted to make myself redundant so I could spend more time making things and less time managing people.

What I'm sharing is not the only way to get things done. It's how I've learned to get things done. The creative process can be deeply personal and I know plenty of makers who are incredible, geniuses in their respective fields, who do things differently than I'm suggesting here. I hope you find your own path and your own solutions but if you ever get stuck or want another perspective I hope Tools Not Rules can help.

Who am I?

Brad MacDonald is a visual designer, artist, author and musician who is interested in identifying and developing design practices that apply across media, platforms and domains. 

I'm an Adjunct Professor in the MFA Design and Technology program at Parsons School of Design in New York City, UI/UX consultant, concept artist, and in the 14 years I was with Large Animal Games I was the Lead Artist or Art Director for over 100 mobile, online, social and PC downloadable games. Four of which, AlphaQUEUE, Rocketbowl, Saints & Sinners Bowling, and Snapshot Adventures have been IGF Finalists. 

Since 1989 I've been fortunate to work with a range of clients, from the smallest indie shops to some of the world's biggest brands. I've worked as a professional political cartoonist, comic book illustrator, animator, product designer, web developer, game designer, video blogger and author. Past clients have included MTV Networks, Sci-Fi Channel, Tommy Hilfiger, NFL, Nascar, The Gap, Sony Records, RCA Records, Epitaph Records, CNBC, The Ethiopian Commentator, MaMaMedia, The LA Galaxy, the nu-metal band Disturbed, and Nickelodeon.


“Brad is a wonderfully creative, multi-talented designer who understands the subtle yet powerful effect that branding has on generations X and Y. He is a terrific thought-partner in exploring the desired connotations of your product or brand - and can play high culture, pop culture, or a clever mix of the two.”
- Greg Spotts, Los Angeles Director of Transportation Project Delivery