Monster Maker

Almost five years ago, Stefan Bucher started his Daily Monster project. It was a simple beginning — every day he’d post a video in which he would create a monster based on an ink splot. Since then he’s built a mini-empire out of it (in addition to all the amazing stuff he does). His most recent creation is an iPad and iPhone app that lets users create their own monsters.

Stefan started his design career as a print designer, so I thought it’d be interesting to find out what it was like for him to create an interactive piece…

Stefan: Working on the interface of the app was a completely different challenge from what I normally do. It was both fascinating and frustrating to see people struggle with designs that I thought were crystal clear. But I learned a ton from the process.

Luckily I had the help of my intrepid developer Dominik Wei-Fieg of Ars Subtilior. To say that he went above and beyond is an understatement. I’ve had issues working with developers before where we just never quite got on the same wave length, be it on the technical or aesthetic level, or simply on matters of business etiquette. In fact, that’s what stalled the initial web version of the Monster Maker, and the first app alpha. I’m not an easy client, but Dominik has been amazing throughout. His ideas and ingenuity of execution made this app so much better and so much more fun than I ever thought it could be.

Development sketches.

Q: A stalled version?

The project started as a web app that never even saw a beta, because of a flaky developer. It lingered for easily two years. It took my getting an iPhone to think, “Hang on! This is MUCH better for playing this game than the web.” The prototype had a lot of the basic ideas in place, and quite a few of the elements survived, but boy, am I glad it didn’t launch then.

The stalled web-based version.

Q: What makes this app different from your traditional way of creating monsters?

I love just being able to move things around, and change my mind a dozen times. Can’t do that on paper. That said, my favorite part of the app is that you can actually pose for a photo with the Monsters. I didn’t expect it to be as ridiculously fun as it is. And it takes the experience to a whole other level.

The thing that’s most interesting to me is just to create an experience that’s as close to drawing your own Monsters as possible, and that’s really fun and personal.

I remember, a couple years ago at the launch party for his monster book, he let guests customize a giant monster and pose with it. It’s great to see Stefan continue to evolve his monster world.

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