Monday, July 02, 2007

107. The New Graphicology

Hello friends. After lots of planning and weeks of trying to manipulate CSS (not to mention paying $1500 for the url) - I have managed to switch the graphicology blog to a new location: This change also comes with big plans for new proprietary content, a small group of content authors of like minded designers, art directors and film pros from around the country (currently being assembled) in addition to a more professional approach to covering all things design. The transition will take some time and I ask for not only your patience, but also your constructive criticism. Please check out the new site where you can still find all the now 'old' posts as well as a few holes that will soon be populated with new articles, opinions, forums and editorials. Go ahead and tell your friends and remember to bookmark the new site or RSS feed. I (soon to be We) hope that the new graphicology will be one of your favorite links to stay current and inspired. Thank you for your continued support and feedback.

(If you know of anyone whom you believe would add a little something special to our team of authors - please tell them to contact me via the new site.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

106. A Courageous Post from Armin.

Go to this post by Armin Vit of SpeakUp. It's one of the most courageous and introspective posts by a designer I've read in a long time. In it, he breaks down his recent logo designs (not selected by the client) and objectively categorizes and evaluates them in order to explore or discover his own design perferences. Quite thoughtful and interesting to say the least. I love it and want to try it on myself.

Monday, June 11, 2007

105. AICP's The American Commercial.

The Association of Independent Commercial Producers, or AICP have published the winners from their annual show of the best spots produced in the US, in a collection called The Art & Technique of the American Commercial. Browsing each year's category winner is a good resource for beginners (and veterans) to see the potential of great storytelling. The surprise spot I liked – and hadn't seen before – was for Sears and called Arboretum... it's great. Check it out. Link via Rm 116.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

104. Wieden & Kennedy Website.

As some of you know, Wieden and Kennedy has taken a beating lately on their lack (perceived) of interactive ability/integration. Read this article about their long time client Nike and you'll begin to understand how the agency's 'new media' reputation is affecting their business. I think it's silly really - an agency like W&K hires smart, creative people that regardless of the medium, will produce ground-breaking work. I think they have led the industry in interactive applications of creativity too, but somehow they are not getting credit for it - at least from CMO's and the like. Eventually, they'll be fine, but I recently noticed that they changed their website from their long-time, understated, uber-negative space, black and white, spartan website in favor of a new, flashy, time-line oriented, modern, whiz-bang interactive experience of their work. I bet they did this to counter the heat they've been taking lately – and it will probably help; but I wonder if it will have the longevity of their previous version? Ånd I wonder if internally, they feel like this reflects their culture or if it was just a big middle finger to all the critics? (FYI: their London branch's blog is a great peak into what I consider one of the best pound-for-pound agencies around.)

103. London 2012.

There's a great discussion going on about the identity for London's Olympic bid in 2012, on Speak Up. Check it out. Personally, I think it's ugly - although it does generate an entire system of graphic communication as well as stand out from the normal crowd... sometimes two out of three aint bad. Compare it to Chicago's recent Olympic bid, which is really beautiful. (Done by VSA Partners as pro bono.)

UPDATE: Check out what Coudal Partners has to say here. They make great points.

UPDATE 2: Yet one more thing to considering when designing.

Friday, May 25, 2007

102. Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design.

Michael Bierut's new book, 79 Short Essays on Design, was released today on Amazon. (A lot of the content has already been released as essays on Design Observer – where he discusses why he was compelled to compile this material into a book.) But I think it'll still be well worth the Jackson. I've already purchased mine and will update this post with highlights.

Friday, May 11, 2007

101. BMW Art Cars.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the BMW manufacturing plant's Zantrum (that's German for museum;) in South Carolina and saw an exhibit of art cars designed by such greats as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Matazo Kayama, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol - of whom I'm not a big fan just so you know. Apparently every year from 1975 and 1999, BMW commissioned one artist to paint one car. The cars provided a great medium for which to show off their unique styles and I hope that they restart this tradition soon. Check them out here, and here. (And for diecast versions - click here.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

100. Cross-Country Design.

Over the past week, I had the privilege of driving cross-country from San Francisco to Greenville, SC. This country is amazingly beautiful, but when I wasn't admiring the scenic views or stopping for a bag of these - I had time to think about two almost-design-related items. First, I believe that Tennessee has the best (standard) license plate of the states. It's pleasing, a lot of the state looks just like the image, and as a bonus - the numbers are quite legible too. Also, as I passed all of those U-haul trucks I wondered which state had the best mural (U-Haul calls them supergraphics by the way.) You've seen them on the sides of their trucks. Though none are well-designed per se, I have to give the nod to Louisiana, with the worst design by far going to Arizona. I have to admit that they are a guilty pleasure for me, I was forced to look at each one as I passed. (I have always liked what Budget does with their trucks too. But where's the D in this one?) I promise to get back to serious design matters within a few days.

Friday, April 27, 2007

99. Miami Ad School, Thank You.

For the past few quarters I have had the privilege of teaching at the Miami Ad School here in San Francisco. I met some fantastic people and worked on some very interesting projects all the while enjoying myself tremendously. The cliche is right, when you teach you end up learning more than anyone in your class. Thanks to all, especially Denise and Sachie for giving me the opportunity. (Kaan, Jake, Denise #2, Bryan, Dave, Matt, Amy, Charles, James, Addy, Roberto, Jess, Niklas, Josh, Andrew, and Sam – Good luck and remember to use your talents for good.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

98. Campaign Logo Designs.

Some applications of design seem more void of creativity, craft, and inspiration than others. Cereal boxes. Grocery store inserts. Local car dealer spots. All usually terrible and mostly unbearable. The set of presidential candidate logos for 2008 provide another such example. One would think that given the visibility of the campaigns and the sophistication of the people working behind the scenes (not to mention the budgets,) the identity work for their efforts would be more professional and meaningful. Take a look at this blog which compares and contrasts the campaign designs of the major Republican and Democratic candidates. I wouldn't pay too much attention to the written critiques found on the site - but it does serve as one-stop window shopping to form your own opinions. I find Obama's to be the most crafted, though still quite amateur when compared to the best corporate design. At least there's some sort of expandable graphic mark. I also think McCain's decision to use black in lieu of good ole red, white, and blue is daring - and in the right hands, potentially powerful - though in this execution it only exemplifies the Senator's reputation of being somewhat out of touch. (One website reviewer recently wrote that he must have 'joined the Oakland Raiders.' Ha. Though more color has since been added to the homepage.) Seems to me if you are a great designer and politically motivated, your services could be put to good use backing a candidate of your choice. (Does anyone else miss Perot's charts by the way?)

Politics being what it is, this is all that I can find about who did what.: Sol Sender of Sender LLC and five others in his firm created the logo the Illinois senator is using for his 2008 presidential bid. (source: Chicago Business.)

Anyone know anything about the others?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

97. I Love Pinstriping.

Pinstriping combines some of my favorite things: applied design, attention to detail, craftsmanship and an interesting medium. Even if you are not a car person per se - you can easily appreciate how talented some of these artists are and how intricate and amazing some of this eye-candy can be. I particularly like this skull design (shown above.) Take a look at this wiki page, this video (which I posted long ago,) this video, Herb Martinez – one of the more web-recognized artists, a flickr group on the subject, a couple books, as well as some helpful how-to articles to get you started by a fellow named Rocky Jr. I'm thorough if nothing else. Enjoy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

96. Type Specimens.

On a fairly mundane afternoon I decided to search Flickr using the words 'type specimen.' Below are some of the best surprises.

1. Artistic Hebrew Type, 2. 1923 ATF Specimen, 3. 1971 Photolettering, 4. Type Con 2006, 5. Fellow Typophile, 6. Design Things, 7. More Type Specimens, 8. I love Merga, 9. Type and Lettering, 10. More Type Goodness, 11. Signs and Type, 12. Any Type, 13. More Typography, 14. Matt Desmond, 15.Typographic Findings, 16. Typographie, 17. Typostammtisch, 18. Lots of Cool Specimens

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

95. Type Directors Club Annual Winners.

The Type Directors Club just released the 2007 annual winners with images from many of the designers and scans of the entries from others. Of course, low-density scans cannot do complete justice to the high quality of the printed material. No rankings are assigned in the TDC competitions; listings are categorically alphabetical. Olga, Subtil, and Nassim are my favorites. I think they would prove to be a useful addition to any type library. Enjoy. (Olga is the specimen featured above.)

Monday, April 09, 2007

94. Dynamic Identity.

Recently, I was sent this article written by Alice Rawsthorn at the International Herald Tribune (which has a great style and design section by the way.) In this article she discusses the trend for companies to have dynamic, seemingly ever-changing identity systems instead of one static logo. She uses Sak's Fifth Avenue new identity (we blogged about it here,) MTV, Google's versatile logotype and others to demonstrate this newer design trend and concisely discusses the pros and cons. I offer up Snickers (see this and this) and Perrier (download this pdf) as two recent examples of not just versatile identities but dynamic logos that are actually the advertising message in themselves. The article is food for thought for anyone designing an identity system, though I think it's pretty easy to decide when this makes sense and when it doesn't. Ask youself: does the added versatility serve a longterm purpose?

Monday, April 02, 2007

93. Viktor Koen's Toyphabet.

Another reason to subscribe to Baseline, the latest issue (#50) highlights artist Viktor Koen and his toyphabet. This alphabet is an amazing collection of somber letterforms comprised of toys, machines, spare parts and other mechanized junk. His 2005 cover of the New York Times Book Review (here) showcases this peculiar take on typography and is awesome(!!!) Be sure to visit his website and peruse his artwork – it's definitely worth the time.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

92. Ad of the Week. I think.

I have walked past this board everyday for the past three weeks. And because I'm an ad/design nerd, I've asked myself several questions: Do I like it only because it features a skull? Do I not like it because the designer didn't use the Economist font (a proprietary, Erik Spiekermann designed font family, I believe. Originally called Ecotype but now something like "The official Economist, you only wish you could buy it Font Family?") I think the Economist font would look more spine-like, though I recognize that it's easier to set a monospaced font vertically. Back to my questions: do I like it because it continues the economist tradition of very clean, quick (and red) communication? Do I not like it because it betrays that witty copy-driven tradition by going all vector-art on us? (Though they've gone visual many times before. View what is possibly my favorite ad of all time here.) Do I like it because of the clever way of using the magazine's masthead as the logo? Do I not like it because this also bucks their usual logotype sign-off? Do I like the headline or do I think it's a cliche? (The economist ads always walk a fine line between pun and clever word-play; most often on the good side.) Do I like it because it's almost impossible to ignore due to it's size and location? Do I not like it because someone felt the need to over-explain what they do with 'Insights on the world, weekly' which is only vaguely related to the 'having an opinion' thing? Ultimately, after three weeks, I think I have decided that I don't really like it – mainly because it could easily have been better. That's always frustrating to see. Or maybe I like it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

91. The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

Here are two new logo design examples that contrast good design with bad. Dairy Queen's logo was probably in need of a little 'freshening, sure. But the new version can be summed up in one word: ugh. To balance things out in the design universe, however, the redesign of Portland State's identity system (by Sockeye Creative in Portland) is elegant and beautifully executed.

I haven't been posting too many new logo designs mainly because Armin Vit's Brand New (a spinoff of Speak Up,) does such a great job. Be sure to read his thorough reviews of both of these examples as well as future identity projects.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

90. Kerning Online.

Today, a former production artist that I worked with asked about a site that I had sent to him over a year ago. On this site – by the University of Delaware's Department of Visual Communications – you can test and train your kerning eye against the experts using various typefaces. This little exercise demonstrates the importance of kerning and is a great tool for aspiring designers. (Login using guest.) Though, I'm not too sure about the professional recommendation for BEAD, most examples are dead-on.

Monday, March 12, 2007

89. Picasso Exhibit.

This weekend I went to an exhibit at the SF Museum of Modern Art focusing on Picasso and his influence on American Artists. (I all to easily forget how powerful it is to be so close to such great works of art, especially by an artist I would consider a favorite.) I left better understanding the large shadow Picasso's talent and prolific output of masterpieces cast on other artists. If you are in town - check it out - it runs until late May.

Friday, March 09, 2007

88. Ad of the Week.

So, I'm walking near the Ferry Building here in San Francisco and came across these mobile billboards. ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ) They are most certainly attention-getting and very, very well done. The image retouching is grade-A hollywood type stuff and quite powerful, especially when you walk past these buildings everyday. I just don't like using fear as a motivational tool. Maybe it's a powerful and effective device; but I don't leave these boards thinking what a great job the Red Cross does during unimaginable circumstances (which is true) - I just walk away thinking they don't have much taste. Maybe the copy could be stronger to make that point - what do you think? Despite this error in strategy, they are still a great cause to support. (Images by Jason DeFillippo as posted on flickr, here.)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

87. Nike's Fitted Uniforms.

Nike recently debuted a radical uniform design for four NCAA men's basketball teams. The design features a fitted jersey top, larger/longer shorts, and long-sleeve fitted under shirts – ala Under Armour. The materials and construction of the uniforms seem too extreme for me (especially the long sleeves,) but what I do like are all the little design details. For instance, the dark Florida jerseys feature a subtle alligator pattern, the Syracuse version incorporates a logo used on their very first uniforms, and some of the tights feature the names of alunmi players.

Team uniforms are a great place to watch design trends and are always controversial. If like me, you are into such things, visit Paul Lukas' UniWatch.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

86. Letterpress Guide.

This is great. Design Sponge recently posted a letterpress guide - a growing list and short review of the best studios around. Perhaps the most useful feature is the ability to search by location for a local letterpress shop. Or if you're like me, you can just peruse the sample photos. Check it out here.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

85. The Pentagram Papers

If you've followed graphicology for awhile, you know that I admire the work of Pentagram. Recently, they published a compendium of 36 papers containing, in their words, "curious, entertaining, stimulating, provocative and occasionally controversial points of view." These papers were released over the last 30 years and were written or collected by the partners. Crop Circles. Pop architecture of New Jersey. Mao Buttons. And rural Australian mailboxes are just a few of the papers included. Visit Chronicle Books to order The Pentagram Papers.

84. Red on Roundball.

I recently discovered that has a series of old basketball training videos by the late, great Red Auerbach - Red on Roundball. Short-shorts and grainy footage aside, there really isn't a lot to be garnered from a design standpoint, but if you can get past the pixelized footage they are certainly fun to watch. Topics include shooting, dunking, defense, fundamentals and my favorites: intimidation (with Bill Russel) and Rick Barry's granny-style free-throw shooting. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

83. Garamond vs. Garamond.

A delicious rundown off the most popular versions of my favorite typefaces: Garamond. Even though in French, you can still get the gist based on the comparison graphics. This is just fantastic.

82. Send the Poolboys to the Mansion.

I know three young gentlemen that have a dream. They are currently trying to get people to write letters of recommendations for their future aquatic employment at the, um, Playboy Mansion. That's right, they aspire to be Poolboys at the Mansion. Their dream is organized and gaining momentum. Visit this link and show your support by writing a letter of recommendation. (Otherwise, they'll have to try to get real jobs.) OH and one more thing, after writing your letter, call in (1-877-205-9796) on Sirius Playboy Channel (198) at 6am PST on March 19th to say nice things and learn more. Crazy kids - this might just work.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

81. The Bottom Rung – Chapter 1.

It's about time - I know - but I finally finished the first chapter in The Bottom Rung series. Chapter 1 (again, in no particular order) focuses on taking pride in the little projects that new creatives often are assigned. In the future I will be getting content, viewpoints and examples from higher profile talent from around the country. But for this chapter, you're stuck with a few of my own. I hope this series will be of help to those starting out in this crazy industry of ours.

Here's the introduction that was posted awhile back to get you up to speed. Soon, I'll add each chapter somewhere on the right panel for easier access. Also, I would gladly accept user submissions for future chapters as well as more examples of work that fit each subject. So drop a line. Thanks and good luck.

Monday, February 19, 2007

80. Designing Type by Karen Cheng.

So, I've been working on a personal typography project - a hearty, sans serif face for personal use - and discovered Designing Type by Karen Cheng. This book is a great reference for such an undertaking, going through an alphabet character by character while focusing on balancing the optical issues of shape, form and consistency within a typeface. Here are a few preview pics (1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5) via youworkforthem.

Friday, February 16, 2007

79. Title Sequence Design.

I've been traveling this week (from here to Denver and back) and haven't had a chance to post some of the bigger things in the works. (An online design resource guide and the first real content for The Bottom Rung series for two examples.) But I do want to share this link to a website called, Forget the Film, Watch the Titles. You can view some of the better title sequence designs out there, which often are far more entertaining and creative than the films themselves. (Thanks for sharing, Matt.) Though just getting started, they do have a personal favorite from the film, Thank You for Smoking, which I blogged about a while back.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

78. The Art of Presenting - Nigel Holmes.

I'm quite happy and humbled to announce Nigel Holmes' contribution to our presentation series. Breaking with our advertising focus, this is an opportunity to get a graphic designer's perspective on the subject, and not just any designer either. Nigel is a legend. He worked as Graphics Director at TIME Magazine before becoming a freelance designer, lecturer and the author of many brilliant books on information and explanatory graphics. (One of them, Wordless Diagrams is on our mandatory reading list.) His perspective on presenting covers the creative presentation of his designs to clients as well as presentations in front of a larger audience. I always say this, but it's no less true this time: We are lucky to have his insight on the subject.

You can see more of Nigel's work on his website and on the UnderStAnding site (my favorite.) You can also listen to a related interview with him via NPR or just enter his name on your favorite search engine and you'll find a ton of his work.

Monday, February 05, 2007

77. Adult Swim Guerilla Campaign.

I'm sure you've heard about this adult swim 'campaign' by now, but our intrepid intern here at Grant, Scott & Hurley acquired one of these puppies a few days before all the hoopla hit the fan and I thought I would share. These pics (main. back. detail. lit.) might show how ridiculous the scare was – or how ridiculous advertising can be, depending on your perspective. (Personally, I wasn't sure if this little guy was giving me the finger or threatening me with a syringe.)

Also, check out these pics (one. two. three.) I took of the Queen Mary 2 as she sits in Pier 27 during my ferry ride to work. (Apologies for the low-quality shots.) Here's a professional photo taken by a SF Chronicle photographer that better shows the size of the ship.

Monday, January 29, 2007

76. The Illustrative Designer.

Just a quick link to a great podcast that Von Glitschka has started called The Illustrative Designer. The most recent episode is an interview with Paul Howalt, who I worked with on a project last fall. Both are very talented fellas. I would say that the two of them and Joey Mason are my three favorite illustrators out there right now, so check them out.

NOTE: Proving that he isn't just talented, but also a nice guy – Von Glitschka graciously sent me his keyboard characters just for mentioning his site(s) in a post a few months ago. (I have yet to take them out of the package.)

Monday, January 22, 2007

75. The Art of Presenting – Bart Cleveland.

One of my favorite things about this blog has been interviewing the subjects of the presenting series. I have found their insight rewarding, helpful and occasionally surprising. No matter how experienced (or inexperienced) one may be with presenting – there is always room for improvement. For the sixth edition, I dropped the questions and simply asked Bart Cleveland to share his thoughts.

Bart is the Creative Director at McKee Wallwork Cleveland in Albuquerque, NM. His leadership experience at big agencies and his countless creative awards speak volumes, but it was his perspective shared on Advertising Age's Small Agency Diary that prompted me to ask him to participate. Enjoy - you won't be disappointed. (Thanks, Bart.)