Hillman Curtis: 51 Year Old Web Design Pioneer and Flash Master Dies
Web design pioneer and filmmaker Hillman Curtis passed away in his Brooklyn, NY home at the age of 51. Curtis, who long battled colon cancer, passed away on Wednesday.
He filmed a series of documentaries that profiled leading names in the design industry including Milton Glaser, Paula Scher and Danile Libeskind. Curtis, called himself a serial self-reinventor.
"I originally went to school for creative writing and film," said Curtis. "I then spent 10 years pursuing music, and, after failing at that, I did various random jobs. I got into design out of desperation - I didn't want to wait tables or pound nails."
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In addition to the short films, Curtis was considered a pioneer for the web animation player "Flash." The Flash browser plug-in can quickly and effectively churn out high quality animation images. Curtis first designed the technology in 1996 and did groundbreaking work to expand the design technique.
The techniques helped "jump-start a process of Web democratization that continues today," according to Richard Shupe, a web design instructor at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Curtis influence can now be seen on major sites such as YouTube and Facebook.
Richard Shupe, who teaches Web design at, said Mr. Curtis's Flash Player design was a milestone that "brought Web design to life." His ability to teach other Web designers, he added, helped
Curtis shared his expertise in Flash by publishing the popular book "Flash Web Design," which is currently considered as a necessary read for web designers. There is no doubt that his influence has touched the industry of web design. He was referred to as "the Michael Jordan of Web design"