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.