Archive for the ‘Graphic Design’ Category

Posted on Veer yesterday, a fantastic student project hypothesizing what the Star Wars titles would have looked like if the fabulous Saul Bass had done them. Complete with jazzy soundtrack and spot-on for the distinctive Bass style. There’s also a link in the video responses where someone took the titles and “remastered” them á la the “improved” version of the original classic movie. Absolutely fantastic, and an especial pleasure for those film/design geeks out there.

Also on Veer, an intriguing series of art pieces has been created by distilling the pages of certain magazines down to specific elements (advertising logos or headlines, for example) and then combining them on a single black and white page. It’s a fascinating look at the style of certain magazines, either quite restrained and clean (National Geographic) or in-your-face advertising hurricane (Vogue). They are also very pretty, from a stark graphic point of view.


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Found on Veer today, a blog called Future Trash on which a large number of intricate illustrations are posted, inviting the curious to sit and stare at the bizarre details for way too long. There’s an alphabet neighborhood in which each house is built inside of a letter, each with its own quirks and eccentricities. Also featured is “crash/canal,” a twisted labyrinth of roads filled with all manner of happenings. Oddly, both of these mini-verses seem to be entirely devoid of people, making me wonder if these are visions of a place or time when something went horribly wrong, a la the creepy-looking movie coming out on Friday the 13th in June about the world’s flora poisoning all those bad humans. In any case, these intriguing drawings remind me of exploring Richard Scarry books as a kid or doodling elaborate stick-figure worlds in my Geography notebooks in high school. Fun stuff.

Also, continuing the excellent trend of creating end titles that keep viewers rooted to their seats long after a movie ends, Communication Arts recognizes the gorgeous titles from Enchanted by Yuco. Featuring hand-illustrated imagery composited with 2-D and 3-D elements and lush typography that grows into each scene, the work is entertaining as a stand-alone piece of artwork and joins other such end-title gems as the titles for Lemony Snicket. Good luck navigating the Yuco website, however – the branching lines effect can really get irritating when you’re trying to find something specific.

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In a fresh re-imagining of the “please don’t talk during the movie” spot that plays just before the titles come up, Martin Scorsese barges in on a sweet phone call between a little boy and his daddy. It’s clever, hysterical, and WAY better than the annoying “sound effects” one that we usually get, complete with wailing baby that sounds just a tad too real.

Friday Juicy Site Bonus: A blog all about package design. Some of it I’ve seen, some is new, all is gorgeous. The author seems attracted to the crisp, clean graphic design that is cutting through the clutter lately. Bravo! I’ll be adding this blog to my rotation, so expect to see reviews on some of this stuff in the future.

Found on Veer 

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I read an interesting article this morning that sparked a great discussion between a variety of designers offering their opinions and personal experiences on a polarizing topic in the design world: team or solo? This is something I’ve grappled with since design school, sitting through four years of critiques where the personalities in the room may be more interested in shredding any possibility of personal style rather than offering constructive observations on one’s work. Trying to convince myself that I shouldn’t take the criticism personally proved to be an almost impossible task when I felt that my best work came when I poured my heart into it. Discovering that for the most part my style didn’t fit the mold of what was considered “high design,” or what I called “design for designers,” to some degree I was able to distance myself from the critique process, take what I felt helped my design and push on with what I felt was right – after all, the world doesn’t need a bunch of designers making the same thing, right?

Then at my first agency job, I discovered a whole new edge to the critique process. A job comes in the door, and the team of 6 designers all take a creative brief and make comps. Then in some of the most painful, grueling meetings I can remember, we’d gather at the conference table and review the comps with the creative director, choose the best ones to show the client, and trash the rest. Then the client had the opportunity to “cut & paste” the resulting group of designs into an often bizarre montage of styles, and the project would get tossed to one of the designers for completion, regardless of how much input they had on the original design. As a result, a tense and often nasty competitiveness existed within the group, and everyone knew that their brainchild would likely be modified to the point of oblivion by the end anyway.

Since then I’ve worked for other agencies and now I work for myself, with no peer critiques and only myself to answer to. I find that the freedom to develop my style has improved the quality of my work, and the responsibility is refreshing. But at the same time, I miss having a creative professional sitting feet away that I can bounce ideas off of, take an idea to the next step, or work through a block with.

For the most part I think agencies tend to drift toward the negative kind of group design, but they don’t have to. In the design world often “agency” becomes a bad word for designers who have had these kinds of negative experiences, myself included. But it doesn’t have to be that way. An agency can be a creative think tank, a group of like-minded but unique creative professionals working individually and together to produce a wide range of great work. A client may not look at the portfolio and say that it all looks like it comes from the same agency, but they know that they are going to receive a unique approach to any challenge they bring in the door. And of course, the designer coming to join the team knows that they will be given the freedom to improve and develop a unique style and craft, while being nurtured in an environment of trust and positive feedback.

In a perfect world.

 Found on Veer

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Sometimes I see something in an ad that catches my attention, and I turn my focus to it and watch it and look it over and think, “Wow. What a beautiful ad. But I just don’t get it.”

It’s a bit hard to admit, because I’m one of those people that likes to puzzle through things – but sometimes advertising can be just too hard to figure out to make it worth it. Case in point – today on Creativity, a new spot for Samaritans featuring a ringing phone, relaxing music and some incredibly gorgeous visuals. But what the heck does it mean? Obviously the point is to get people to sign up to answer phones at their support centers. But this can be worked out by looking at the very last frame – the rest of the ad is rather bizarre.

When flipping through a magazine, I am always impressed by the ads that can reach out and snatch at my attention, causing me to pause to figure them out, letting me participate in the advertising process. However, this goes a step too far when the message is lost in all the cleverness and I am left wondering, what the heck was that about? Cleverness in advertising is great – but make sure you’re still able to make your point.

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LabelOne of the frustrating things about being a trained graphic designer is that the eye is forever opened to all the really bad design out there. All the rules that are beaten into college design students are broken on a regular basis by “hobby designers” or people who just don’t know any better, or worse, by people who were supposedly trained in the correct way of doing things but are too lazy to do it right. As a result, a drive down the street can be a painful experience, bombarded by billboards, signs and store windows in which some of the worst advertising and typography can be found. A flip through a magazine can be a harrowing experience as cliché typefaces leap off the pages and garish photo effects cause one’s hair to stand on end.

LabelDon’t get me wrong – I understand that everyone makes mistakes. All designers have had that teeth-grating moment when a finished product comes back from the printer and a painfully obvious mistake – a missed inch mark where a quote mark should be, a typo, a lonely widow at the end of a long paragraph, a mysteriously shifted graphic in a montage – comes back to haunt. But the really frustrating stuff is the kind that crops up from all those people who just know they can design it themselves, no need to hire a designer, how hard can it be… and we end up with newspaper ads designed in Microsoft Word, complete with clip art.

LabelSo today I offer a delicious solution from the Design Police. 5 pages of label templates, created just for you. Go out and educate, vindicate, whatever. While some of these labels sound like a lot of the comments I used to get from typography teachers (Craft your type! Use a grid! Watch your rivers!), many of them are totally hilarious because they’re true.

LabelOf course, as the teeny tiny disclaimer at the bottom reads, use these labels responsibly. Whatever that may mean to you. 

Found on Veer.

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One of the frustrations of trying to create a unique brand identity is the sheer volume of already-done-thats out there. Just when you think you’ve come up with something that’s really unusual and striking, someone does a Google image search and turns up ten other brands with a similar look.

I think it’s important to know what the current logo trends are, so that they can be either embraced as helpful inspiration or avoided at all costs, depending on the current needs. Found on Veer today is a great article by Bill Gardner outlining 2007 logo trends, with examples and short breakdowns of each set. Many have been around forever, but a few, like double-helixes, eco-friendly “green” logos and pseudo crests, are ones I’ve noticed cropping up more recently. The “flora” category is one that I’ve noticed quite a bit even outside of the branding arena – elaborate twisting vines, flowers and leaves twisting together with everything from birds to bugs to geometric shapes. It’s being used in tv spots, print ads, websites, movies, you name it – it’s definitely a trend that’s got a distinct beauty but also one that’s easily imitated and I’m afraid will be quickly stuck in the “retro” department as it gets overused.

Also, an extra Friday goodie – in the news this week was a mom who is using advertising to punish/embarrass her wayward son. Having found alcohol in his new car, she posts an ad in the paper to sell it, and the wording of the ad is priceless. I have a feeling this real-life story will be borrowed by advertisers in the not-too-far future.

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