Aug 27

Print Design

The nuance of the magazine cover »

I love to read someone who knows what they're talking about, talking about what they know. And you have only to read the first line of Robert Newman's credits to know you're going to learn something every time you read one of his reviews of contemporary magazine covers. He is currently a creative director and media consultant and formally, the design director of Real Simple, Fortune, Vibe, New York, Details, Reader's Digest, and Entertainment Weekly. (So what does he do in his spare time.)

These pieces are well worth your time.

Robert Newman magazine cover reviews

An example of one of his cover reviews for Folio.com the magazine about magazines (print and digital)...

More, deeper, better, from Newman's own website...

In case you don't know Folio, here's the home page...

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Aug 25

Illustration

Meet illustrator Peter Donnelly »

I saw this wonderfully different cover by Peter Donnelly for Organic Gardening magazine and I tracked him down. Here is the cover and some other examples of his work.

peter donnelly

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Peter Donnelly's Website...

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Aug 22

Print Design

Mucca Design: A food-oriented design house »

Food isn't all they do, but Mucca Design does some lovely, food-oriented work—menus, signage, websites, packaging, table elements, and so on.

mucca design

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

The Mucca Design Website...

FYI: Need an E-commerce website? I have used and highly recommend Big Commerce...

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Aug 20

Illustration

Best Dish app: Something to eat versus somewhere to eat »

My son Rob Green, Johnny Hugel, and their firm Mobelux have launched an interesting new app that helps you find something to eat versus somewhere to eat.

Best Dish is a perpetual, user-judged competition that allows folks to vote for the best dishes in a particular community/city. So, for example, everyone votes for the best pizza in Richmond, Virginia and those who check-in can look up "Pizza" in "Richmond, Virginia" and easily see the dishes that currently hold the top spots.

I like it. Best Dish is fun to use and has none of the complexity of an UrbanSpoon or Yelp (though I like and use those too). I can see how Best Dish could become a go-to forum for those who are more interested in finding a new favorite dish than searching out the best-rated places to eat (clearly a more time consuming task).

best dish

Here's the online version of BestDish.co. They're just getting started, but you can see how it works and admire Rob's illustrations (you don't have to be his Dad to love those)...

They've got some buzz going: A story from the Richmond Times Dispatch...

Lynda.com is a learning machine—one of, if not THE best way to learn about using the tools of the design trade. Click here and try it out free for a week.

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Aug 18

Copywriting

Is "native advertising" a marketing strategy or a grand deception? »

I'd begin the discussion with a definition of "native advertising" but it seems its definition is one thing everyone is having a difficult time agreeing on.

Suffice it to say, the concept has to do with the practice of mixing paid-for content with informational and editorial content. And, to my way of thinking, it's a pivotal issue graphic designers need to know about and understand.

Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine.com said, "Today, under many ruses and many names -- sponsored content, native advertising, brand voice, thought leadership, content marketing, even brand journalism -- advertisers are conspiring with desperate publishers to erase the black lines identifying ads."

In case you're new to the controversy, here's an orientation.

Thanks to Jim Green for pointing us to it.

native advertising

From BuzzMachine.com: In the End Was the Word and the Word Was the Sponsor's...

From the Interactive Advertising Bureau: IAB Native Advertising Playbook (1.2MB PDF)...

From Guardian News: Changing Media Summit 2014 panel: Native Advertising...

From the Federal Trade Commission: Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content? - An FTC Workshop on Native Advertising...

While you're in the neighborhood: Have you subscribed to my Design Briefing? The Briefing gathers a couple of weeks of these posts one place and delivers them to you via email twice a month...

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Aug 15

Web Design

A tool for experimenting with web typography, layouts, and prototypes »

Among other things, Typecast lets you layout, size, and combine fonts from Typekit, Fontdeck, Fonts.com, Webtype, MyFonts, and Google Web Fonts. It is free for use with Google Fonts and has a charge for including the other type providers. (You can test drive it free for two weeks--without using a credit card.)

typecast

Typecast in action...

A video demonstration...

Use the front door to get an overview and to sign up for a 14-day free trial (no credit card required)...

The free Google fonts portal...

The Typecast Blog...

Lynda.com is a learning machine—one of, if not THE best way to learn about using the tools of the design trade. Click here and try it out free for a week.

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Aug 13

Print Design

For lovers of advertising ephemera »

I was in a shop recently, that specializes in paper ephemera, and I found an early advertisement (1910s) for an interesting contraption—a centrifugal cream separator. What does this have to do with graphic design? I think it's a pretty sophisticated example of a classic mail order ad. Note the letter within the layout, the "30 Days' FREE TRIAL," the "Double Guarantee," the mail-in coupon, and all of the wonderful copy.

I thought it was interesting enough that I would frame and hang it. In case you'd like a printout, the link is to an 11 x 17 inch version that I scanned in high resolution.

tags

The Sharples Genuine Tabular "A" Cream Separator (8.29 MB PDF)...

Some history of the Sharples Cream Separator from West Chester University...

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Aug 11

Print Design

The original design is not necessarily the best design »

Jeff Fisher points us to an article addressing the recent redesign of the packaging for the United States Postal Service.

I agree with the many others who prefer the revised versions. The originals certainly set the direction (and that designer should be credited for the theme), but the revised versions are, to me, more sophisticated, cleaner, and the typography is a step tighter.

Also, let's be realistic, there was never a chance the USPS was going to use those ominous-looking eagles. The designs are either a bit contrived or surprisingly naive in that sense. There are some brands that require a certain amount of restraint because of the scope of their use and the USPS would seemingly be the preeminent case.

tags

From Fast Company: The Badass Postal Service Branding That Could Have Been...

From the designers, GrandArmy...

From Dieline: Before & After: USPS Priority Mail...

The USPS Priority Mail page...

In the unlikely event you are unfamiliar with designer Jeff Fisher, here is LogoMotives...

In case you're interested, I buy most of my fonts from MyFonts.com. A little tip: Look among these listings and you'll find that many of the typeface families include one or two weights or widths for free...

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Aug 8

Illustration

Using cartoons in marketing »

Tom Fishburne specializes in using cartoons to market products, services, and ideas. An interesting strategy to keep in mind.

tom fishburne marketoon studios

His work...

How the idea (and Tom) evolved: Be careful what you wish for...

His website...

His Marketoon Studios website...

Sean D'Souza is another marketing expert (and cartoonist) who advocates the use of cartoons and uses them to illustrate some of his own articles...

While you're in the neighborhood: Have you subscribed to my Design Briefing? The Briefing gathers a couple of weeks of these posts one place and delivers them to you via email twice a month...

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Aug 6

Marketing PR

How to price graphic design »

Pricing, methods of pricing, the philosophy behind pricing, and so on, is a great controversy and quandary in the field of graphic design. Here are just a few views on pricing—an indication of just how little experts agree about how to do it.

tags

The Dark Art of Pricing by Jessica Hische...

The Art & Science of Pricing by Ilise Benun for HOW Magazine...

Selling Your Value Instead of Your Hours by Tim Williams for Communication Arts Magazine...

Pricing Models by Shel Perkins for the AIGA...

Why You Don't Publish Pricing by David C. Baker...

AIGA Survey of Design Salaries 2014...

By the way: I have used Build A Sign a couple of times in recent months (to create banners for a client). The quality of the product is is quite good and the prices, to me, seem almost unbelievable...

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Aug 4

Web Design

Show and tell: The Venables Bell & Partners website »

I came across a website I wanted to share with you and I thought I'd try something new: a quick show and tell. It's a simple-looking design but it has a lot of visual interest. And thats what its all about isn't it?

venables bell and partners

Show and tell: The Venables Bell & Partners...

The website...

Webtype.com...

FYI: Need an E-commerce website? I have used and highly recommend Big Commerce...

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Aug 1

Illustration

A few eyeopening interactive data maps »

My friend Wendy Kalman knows that I love maps and thought I might find this first project interesting, thanks Wendy, I do.

It is an excellent example of how visualizing data can bring data to life and effect us in significant ways. If you were to see this 2010 census data on the geographic dispersal of individuals people by race, as a chart, you'd interpret the information in a one way—see it mapped out, city by city, is something else entirely. (I can't help but hope, when I see the distinct racial divides in some areas of the country, that they will blur over time.)

That got me looking and I have included some other interesting, interactive data maps below.

eyeopening interactive data maps

Dustin Cable's Racial Dot Map...

An article from Wired about the maps...

The Census Explorer...

National Geographic MapMaker Interactive...

1940s New York...

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Need an E-commerce website? I have used and highly recommend Big Commerce...

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Jul 30

Graphics Tech

Virtual reality is coming (very) soon, and it could be a big part of marketing »

This is a heads up for graphic designers and marketers. If you're not paying attention to the field to virtual reality, we need to.

If you look at the current lineup of stories involving virtual reality, you'll see that many of them are dated in the last year or so. That's because, in part, there's been some breakthroughs in the technology. The big story is about Palmer Luckey and Oculus...

tags

From Popular Mechanics: Palmer Luckey and the Virtual Reality Resurrection...

From Advertising Age: Virtual Reality: Advertising's Next Big Thing?...

The Oculus VR website...

Jaunt has developed an "integrated suite of hardware and software tools to produce the highest quality immersive content"...

Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University...

How to virtually "possess" another person's body using Oculus Rift and Kinect...

BTW: Lynda.com is a learning machine—one of, if not THE best way to learn about using the tools of the design trade. Click here and try it out for a week free.

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Jul 28

Illustration

Meet illustrator Roz Chast »

I'm betting, even if you don't recognize the name Roz Chast, you know her work. Her cartoons look a little like they were drawn by a right-handed person with their left hand—to me, it gives them a, "I'm definite about being unsure," feel. And that's what I love about them and Chast's wonderful sense of knowing.

I typically don't point to illustrators who don't do commercial work (I don't see any in her portfolio), so this is the rare exception.

Roz Chast

Maria Popova's thoughtful review of Roz Chast's latest book Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir...

Interested? Here's the book...

An interview with Roz Chast from NPR...

Chast's website...

In the unlikely case you are unfamiliar with Maria Popova's website, Brain Pickings (one of my all-time favorite web places)...

BTW: I have used Build A Sign a couple of times in recent months (to create banners for a client). The quality of the product is is quite good and the prices, to me, seem almost unbelievable...

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Jul 25

Photography

More on the legal side of photography »

Last month we discussed the logistics and etiquette of taking photographs and I heard from a few folks who shared their experience. I though you'd appreciate, this fascinating story from Ed Lain at Lazer Grafix"

"For anyone interested in history, here's a brief article about a Philadelphia photographer turned Sci-fi writer who took a picture of the Liberty Bell...

Also, somewhat related, do a search of YouTube for "recording police" or "photographing police" and you'll see that the laws are different from state to state and that not everyone even knows what the laws are."

lazer graphix liberty bell

The Liberty Bell story and how Ed's granddad fits in...

This is interesting: Carlos Miller's The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook...

Haha... The shirt...

From the ACLU: Know Your Rights: Photographers...

From the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP): Frequently Asked Questions About Privacy And Libel...

ASMP: Frequently Asked Questions About Releases...

ASMP: Property And Model Releases...

The two recent posts that got the conversation started, one: What you can and can't photograph for commercial purposes...

and two: What you can and can't photograph for commercial purposes...

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BuildASign.com

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Jul 23

Illustration

Illustration trends for 2014 »

Here's a new-to-me feature of iStock, a look at trends in illustration. From "paper effects" to "vintage print techniques," some of the recent trends they are following.

illustration trends

iStock Illustration Trends 2014...

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Jul 21

Typography

More Frere-Jones, less Hoefler »

Typeface designer Tobias Frere-Jones, formally of Hoefler & Frere-Jones, is now blogging.

Tobias Frere-Jones

Tobias Frere-Jones' blog...

While we're at it, his Twitter account...

The BIG design world lawsuit...

Three gorgeous typefaces designed by Tobias Frere-Jones: Griffith Gothic...

Interstate...

Niagara...

An interview from the current issue of Surface Magazine (925KB PDF)...

All about Frere-Jones...

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Jul 18

Illustration

Meet illustrator Harry Anderson »

They call this old school. Harry Anderson, a member of the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, had that loose, realistic illustration style that became so prevalent in the first half of the twentieth century. But he was special. His light and shade, his idyllic-looking characters, and the story quality of his illustrations put him in the master class.

tags

This tribute website was set up by another illustrator, Jim Pinkoski...

Another collection can be found on the Leif Peng Flickr feed...

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

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myfonts top 50 typefaces

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Jul 16

Learning

The Google Cultural Institute is growing »

Familiar with the Google Cultural Institute? I wasn't.

It is an initiative, begun in 2011 to, "...Allow the cultural sector to display more of its diverse heritage online...digital exhibitions that tell the stories behind the archives of cultural institutions across the globe."

Wikipedia says, "As of June 2013, the Cultural Institute included over 6 million items—photos, videos, and documents."

What strikes me (yet again), is how little I know.

Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute...

The "Collections" view...

On YouTube...

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big commerce store

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Jul 14

Print Design

The graphic art of making globes »

When so many things are digital, it's nice to see people marrying digital content with craft.

Peter Bellerby The Globemaker

The Globemaker...

The Bellerby website...

Their blog...

On Pinterest...

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Jul 11

Print Design

A curated collection of imagery and story in the public domain »

There are many repositories of photographs, illustrations, film, audio, and writing the feature work that has fallen out of copyright. Material that is free to use without restriction or with some provisos but without cost.

Public Domain Review says, "Our aim is to help our readers explore this rich terrain - like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond."

It definitely belongs on your list of resources.

public-domain-review

The Public Domain Review website...

Example 1: Picturing Pyrotechnics...

Example 2: Princess Nicotine (1909)...

Example 3: Rhapsody In Blue - Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin (Original 1924 recording)...

About The Public Domain Review...

The Public Domain Review on Facebook...

Rights labeling...

A previous post: THE big list of public domain image sources
...

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Jul 9

Web Design

How do we translate old ways of doing things to new ways of doing things? »

I like the idea Eye Magazine has here. They translate the practice of leafing through a magazine off a magazine rack into the online world simply by shooting a video of someone leafing through the pages. It certainly gives you enough information to decide whether or not you're interested. Without giving away the content.

In case you're new to Eye, it is a graphic design journal, that offers, "...Informed writing about design and visual culture."

Eye before you buy

Eye before you buy, Issue 85...

The Eye Magazine website...

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Jul 7

Copywriting

"Utilize" is a junk word »

Thinking on the word, "utilize" led me to Ken Smith's article discussing his book, Junk English. As he admits himself (add me to the list), "I make plenty of Junk English mistakes myself." But that doesn't mean we shouldn't continually remind ourselves of what he labels...

"Fatass Phrases"
"Artificial Vocabulary"
"Cheapened Words"
"Re-Verbs"
"Abominations"
"Threadbare Phrases"
"Invisible Diminishers"
"Warfare English"

Read on fearless writer...

junk english

Junk English by Ken Smith...

You can purchase the book here: Junk English 2...

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Jul 4

Basic design

OK Go and the proliferation of graphic design »

Good news: graphic design is becoming more and more prominent as each day passes—it is as an increasingly important way of differentiating one organization, product, service, idea, and so on, from the next.

It shows up everywhere. I was particularly struck by the most recent music video created by OK Go and the richness of its design elements (no surprise that Damian Kulash, OK Go's lead singer is a graphic designer).

tags

The Writing's On the Wall...

The OK Go website...

The OK Go YouTube Channel...

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Jul 2

Ideas 101

Commercial graphic design is not self-expression »

A friend who teaches a college-level design course bought a walls-worth of small frames and invited fifty designers to contribute a piece of work. The idea being, to provide future students with nuggets of motivation and inspiration. This phrase, an opinion near and dear to my heart, is one I would like every young designer to hear. (I wish someone had told me early on.)

To that end, I have created a 8.5 by 11-inch sheet that includes the phrase and a few tips on keeping your solutions new and fresh.

Agree? Print it out and hang it up. Disagree? Print it out, hang it up, and throw stuff at it.

tags

Commercial graphic design is NOT self-expression (45KB PDF)...

Lots of folks have commented on the article here...

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Jun 30

Photography

What you can and can't photograph for commercial purposes »

While we're on the subject of legality and photographic rights (Friday's post). Let's visit a few resources that will help you figure out whether or not you can photograph a specific product, person, building, and so on, for a particular purpose.

What you can and can't photograph

For general rules check out the Legal Requirements section of the iStock—Stock Photography Training Manual...

For specific cases, see the Getty Images Intellectual Property Wiki...

An interesting look at intellectual property...

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Jun 27

Photography

The etiquette and the law of taking photographs in public »

Cosmic Christian Kevin Kelly posted some photographs he shot in Tibet recently, some of which appeared to be candid shots of people he encountered while moving through the countryside. That got me curious, and I asked him. "When/how do you ask permission to photograph a subject?"

His reply was, "I generally shoot first and ask permission later. This trip I tried handing out Fuji Instant prints to win permission; seemed to work."

That got me thinking about the law and the etiquette regarding the taking of photographs in 2014—here are a few ideas and angles...

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From EverydayAperture.com: Street Photography and The Law...

The Photographer's Right, Your Rights and Remedies When Stopped or Confronted for Photography by Bert Krages...

From AndrewKantor.com: Legal Rights of Photographers by Andrew Kantor (344KB PDF)...

That collection of photographs by Kevin Kelly...

Kelly's multi-faceted domain...

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Jun 25

Marketing PR

Logo trends, logo insights, logo design, logo comedy »

I LOVE logo design, always have (a few of my own designs are pictured below). This post features a few odds and ends on the subject that have crossed my path lately.

logo design 2014

Bill Gardner's always interesting summary of the year's trends in logo design for LogoLounge.com...

More from Gardner at Lynda.com...

An interesting take on logo design from a printer's angle...

More about branding than logo design: The Psychology And Philosophy Of Branding, Marketing, Needs, And Actions by Susan Gunelius...

When you're starved for some logo insight, you can always stop by Brand New for the latest opinion on corporate and brand identity work...

Michael Bierut suggests that pop icon will.i.am, lost a bet and "was forced to make a preposterous video about logo design."

The Step-by-step logo article has long been one of the most popular on ideabook.com...

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Jun 23

Print Design

The origins of menu design »

Henry Voigt collects menus and tracks down the stories behind them on his blog, The American Menu.

As he explains it, "Menus aid our cultural memory. They provide unwitting historical evidence--not only of what people were eating, but what they were doing and with whom they were doing it; who they were trying to be; and what they valued. Deciphering the particular story behind each menu requires great sleuth-work."

As any designer will tell you, menu design in 2014 is a sophisticated marketing and design process. The collections of Voight and the Culinary Institute of America give us a look at the broad field from which modern day menus originated.

origins of menu design

The menu collection of the Culinary Institute of America...

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Henry Voigt's fascinating blog, The American Menu...

My earlier post, What graphic designers need to know about restaurant menu design--some preliminary research...

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Jun 20

Copywriting

Wow, "normal" copywriters (as if there were such a thing). »

I've been looking for a link like this for a long time. For a site that features "normal" copywriters (as if there were such a thing), versus those who write "killer direct mail" and whose every page ends with an "Add to cart" button.

Modern Copywriter is the home of Jason Siciliano, an ad agency copywriter and creative director who explains, "I started Modern Copywriter as a way to keep track of all the fabulous copywriters out there and, possibly, as a way for us to connect. That's really all there is to it."

Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's gold.

modern copywriter

Modern Copywriter...

I especially appreciate the idea of posting links to portfolios of new creative entering the workforce...

Modern Copywriter on Twitter...

About Jason Siciliano and his portfolio...

This is a hoot: What you see when you click the "Awards" link on his website...

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Jun 18

Books

What do you learn about design in a design school? »

I'm always curious about what we are currently teaching about marketing and design at the university level. Why? Because I think it's useful to understand that perspective. I don't know about you but I've been at this for a while so I find it useful to pull in other perspectives to ensure that my approach to things takes current, conventional thinking into account. (Not to imply that I necessarily knew all of this to begin with.)

To that end, here, from the publisher's website are two chapters from Integrated Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Communications, by Kenneth E. Clow and Donald Baack.

pageplane-design-school-curricula

Advertising Design: Message Strategies and
Executional Frameworks (287KB PDF)...

Promotions Opportunity Analysis (1.5MB PDF)...

If you were so inclined, you could purchase the book here: Integrated Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Communications (6th Edition)...

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Jun 16

Photography

Photographs are the air we breathe »

Transparent film and film processing were not available to the public until the late 1880s, so I think it's safe to say it was around that time that photography first became a part of human consciousness.

Today, photographs are the air we breath. In 2013 one source estimated Facebook users alone were uploading an average of 350 million photographs PER DAY.

How has that, how will that change our consciousness and impact our orientation to the visual and design.

Boulevard du Temple by Daguerre

The earliest surviving photograph showing a person...

The first permanent photograph was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce...

How many photos have ever been taken?...

Milestones in early photography (Kodak)...

The statistics about Facebook photography uploads comes from a white paper about Internet.org, "A global effort to make affordable Internet access available to the next five billion people." (972KB PDF)...
)
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Jun 13

Books

If you don't find punctuation scintillating, look no further »

If primes, ampersands, and solidi don't float your boat, move on —this post is not for you. If, however, you find such minutia interesting and useful, you have a great treat in store. Meet Keith Houston, enjoy his wonderful blog, order your copy of his book, Shady Characters—The secret life of punctuation.

Thanks to Jim Green for pointing us to it.

shady characters

The blog...

Where else will you find a three-part article on the pilcrow?...

About Keith Houston and Shady Characters...

A review of the book by Kory Stamper, a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster (the plot thickens)...

My tutorial on the 256 characters found in most fonts, The language of type...

You can purchase the book here: Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks...

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Jun 11

Photography

Graphic design inspiration abounds in nature »

Nikon's Small World website identifies itself as, "the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope."

Here's a challenge. Next time you're stuck for a stylistic direction, choose an image from Small World and use it as inspiration for the shapes, textures, and/or color palette of the project.

pageplane nikon small world

Small World...

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

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Jun 9

Marketing PR

How agencies talk with clients. A MAJOR lesson. »

It's very difficult to know what's going on between Apple and its ad agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day, but it's safe to say all things are not well between the two.

Why should we care? Because there's something to learn here. To read some of the back and forth between a mega-client and the folks it is relying on to move its message.

Apple's response to what it views as a lack of fresh work has been to bring more of its work in-house and that, to me, is an interesting idea. Does a powerhouse like Apple really need an outside business to create its advertising?

I've always thought that the justification for using people outside the organization to build the message was that they bring the insight of the outsider. But, at some point, if all you do is work on a particular account through an agency or studio, are you really an outsider?

So, for Apple, the question becomes: If you can afford to acquire all the creativity, marketing expertise, and vision money can buy, can you also buy the insight necessary to keep an independent perspective?

apple TBWA Chiat Day

The Wall Street Journal article that got the party started...

Some of the emails exchanged between Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, and James Vincent, then President of TBWA/Media Arts Lab...

The result? Apple pulls more work in-house...

Other Apple insights revealed in court documents...

A court document revealed Apple's concerns about other smartphones (632KB PDF)...

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Jun 6

Reference

Paper weights demystified »

Here's a helpful chart that shows common paper weights and their equivalents in various terms. Not necessarily earth shattering, but a welcome and useful addition to my toolbox.

tags

Paper weights demystified (448KB PDF)...

thepapermillstore.com...

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Jun 4

Web Design

Web designers: A few, somewhat esoteric, things you should include in your website design »

Here's an excellent post by Amit Agarwal regarding some, somewhat esoteric, components you should include in your website design.

Amit Agarwal web design

The list...

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Jun 2

Photography

Your photograph stinks. And you're ugly too. »

Just kidding. Through his podcasts, photographer David duChemin offers, among other insights, assessments of the creative concepts and technical prowess his readers employ to compose and capture photographs. The line above is not meant as a dig, it's a compliment. I learn far more from criticism than I do praise.

As an aside, as I was watching Episode 12, it occurred to me that photographs of exotic places and unusual or adverse conditions have a kind of built-in advantage. It seems to me that the photographer's (and for that matter, the designer's) roughest challenge is to show their audience how to see something familiar differently. By that I mean, revealing life in a distant world is certainly a challenge—but if you really want to stretch, a greater feat is to produce a compelling photograph in familiar surroundings.

It's akin to design—crafting something memorable for a small business on a shoestring is tougher than building on a successful brand with a big budget.

Thanks to Chris Miller for introducing us to David duChemin and Craftandvision.com

craft-and-vision

A representative episode of About The Image...

duChemin's portfolio...

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May 30

Illustration

Meet illustrator Sebastien Feraut, aka Niark1 »

Sebastien Feraut also known as Niark1 is one of those "skull" guys. (There are lots of illustrators that love skulls for some reason—honestly, I don't get it.)

But this guy is the best skull guy I've seen. And a damn fine illustrator otherwise. He seems as comfortable using a computer to produce his work as he is painting it.

tags

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Feraut's website...

His blog provides some insight into his process...

The Flickr albums are a retrospective..

An interview from ApeOnTheMoon.com...

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May 28

Typography

"Truth is not typeface dependent, but a typeface can subtly influence us to believe that a sentence is true." »

That's a provocative idea laid out (in detail) by Errol Morris in his article from the New York Times. I've posted the article and some related links.

Thanks to Lee Garvey for pointing us to it.

tags

Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth (Part 1) by Errol Morris...

Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth (Part 2) by Errol Morris...

An early Baskerville specimen...

Web Design 101: How Typography Affects Conversions by Ankit Oberoi...

The Secret Lives Of Fonts by Phil Renaud...

Want to try Baskerville? You've got lots of cuts to choose from...

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May 26

Photography

Visual storytelling at its best »

Montreal photographer Vladimir Antaki calls subjects of The Guardians series "guardians of urban temples." It is visual storytelling at its best.

guardians

The Guardians...

You can find more of Antaki's work here...

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May 23

Copywriting

The seven characteristics of commercial storytelling »

I like Tom Albrighton's thinking on what makes a good story. He makes the case that, "most effective commercial stories share seven closely related characteristics: drama, familiarity, simplicity, immersion, relatability, agency and trust in the teller."

what-makes-a-good-story

What really makes a good story by Tom Albrighton...

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May 21

Illustration

Meet illustrator and designer Matthew Allen »

Matthew Allen's work has a sense of craft to it—I picture a studio filled with pens, brushes, inks, paper, squeegees, gouges, and so on.

tags

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Matthew Allen's website...

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May 19

Marketing PR

This leaked internal New York Times document reveals the marketing challenges of the institutional organization »

Last week someone leaked an internal New York Times report regarding its challenges in the digital age (dated March 24, 2014), that included this declaration: "Of all the tasks we discuss in this report, the challenge of connecting with an engaging readers -- which extends from online comments to conferences -- has been the most difficult."

Clearly, the entire report is worth reading as it relates to technology, design, and marketing. But what struck me, from what I've read thus far, is the particularly difficult issue of personalizing (socializing) a large organization. It is the element of the equation that has made it possible for tiny little startups to big-bang their way into the marketplace—and in doing so, challenging the standing of institutional organizations like the Times.

How, as it applies to reader interaction, do you transform a big organization into a small one? And, after the dust settles, is it even possible?

New-York-Times-Innovation

From the New York Times: Innovation, March 24, 2014...

BuzzFeed broke the story...

The Nieman Journalism Lab posted an assessment...

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May 16

Marketing PR

From creative excellence to content excellence »

If you had unlimited resources to determine the direction of advertising and marketing, what would you conclude? Coca-Cola, a company that spends more on advertising in a day (10 million) than I will make in a lifetime, decided a few years back that it's all about content marketing.

First is Coca-Cola's strategy followed by a recent article that questions whether the strategy is working.

creative excellence to content excellence

Coca-Cola Content 2020 Initiative Strategy Video...

Should Coca-Cola quit its content marketing journey?...

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May 14

Print Design

If you have a grand idea, these companies have the technology to bring it to life »

To create the best design, you've got to understand the scope of what is possible. I must admit I have not kept up with the changes in what is called, "grand format" printers. "Grand format" or "super-wide" printers are defined as those that print on substrates over 100 inches. One printer, the "Infinitus" built by Big Image Systems, is in fact, capable of printing a 40 by 150 FOOT seamless backdrop.

So, in the event you need a solution for printing very large images, here are some examples and resources to get you started. (Do not miss the Big Image Systems Flickr Photostream—it is certain to kick you into creative mode.)

grand-format-printing

A building wrap from Britten Studios...

The world's largest poster from Macro Art...

An example of a grand format printer...

The Flickr Photostream for Big Image Systems provides an array of large format printing examples that will knock your socks off...

Haha... while we're on the subject of re-thinking the bounds of imagery...

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May 12

Photography

The science (and art) of determining what is in the public domain »

If you read my blog regularly (optimism), you know I'm interested in copyright law. Not only because I want to be sure I establish and maintain the intellectual property rights of my work, but because I occasionally like to find and re-use photographs, illustrations, and other types of ephemera in the public domain.

If you think determining what is and is not in the public domain is easy, you haven't dug deep enough. This link points to an excellent article by the Senior Policy Advisor to the Cornell University Library on such topics, Peter Hirtle.

He explains some of the complexities of what he calls the science and the art of determining what is in the public domain and what is not.

tags

When Is 1923 Going to Arrive and Other Complications of the U.S. Public Domain by Peter B. Hirtle, Senior Policy Advisor, Cornell University Library...

The 2014 version of Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States...

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May 9

Copywriting

An old school copywriter: smart, certain, hardened, and a wee bit cynical »

I've always gotten along better with copywriters than art directors. Copywriters, to me, have the real power in the art director/copywriter relationship. That's because, logically, most projects are born from ideas and words verus designs and illustrations. Yes, yes, I understand that designs are ideas, but the words used to express them fall to the copywriter.

Dave Trott reminds me to some of the old school copywriters and agency principals I have worked with. They are (generally speaking) smart, certain, hardened, and a wee bit cynical.

tags

Dave Trott: Predatory Thinking For Copywriters...

Trott points to Bill Bernbach as the man who "invented good advertising"...

An interview with Trott from CreativeBrief.com...

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May 7

Color

Can technology best creative feeling? »

A couple of folks have pointed me to a recent post from The Colossal regarding a 700-plus-page, handwritten and illustrated, "peek into the workshop of 17th-century painters and illustrators."

In Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l'eau, Dutch artist and author A. Boogert, "describes how to make watercolour paints." As you will see, it would seem to be the predecessor of modern color matching systems such as the Pantone Guide.

I think what make it so interesting is the exactness and subtlety of the artist's color shade interpretations. I don't know if we can say, anyone alive today "knows" color any better than this artist who lived almost 300 years ago—or whether technology will ever replace such feeling.

treaty-of-watercolors

Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l'eau...

Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel helped bring the book to our attention..

The Colossal post...

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May 5

Graphics Tech

Here comes CENTR: an interactive 360-degree panoramic video camera for $300 »

A few ex-Apple engineers are working on the next big thing in cameras—a $300 360-degree panoramic video camera.

centr-interactive-panoramic-video

The idea...

The Kickstarter proposal...

The CentrCamera website...

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May 2

Reference

For your toolbox: A database of ad agencies and their clients »

Yes, this is a boring link. However, free information about the subject is not all that easy to find and, when you want to know which agency currently services which clients (or vice-versa), it can come in pretty handy.

Agency ComPile is, "the most current, comprehensive and powerful directory of North American marketing communications agencies."

tags

AgencyCompile.com...

Pile and Company, a company that specializes in agency search, performance evaluation, compensation, and so on, maintain it...

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Apr 30

Web Design

Good design is the sum of many subtle, strategic decisions »

Here's a good example of how many small design decisions contribute to a subtle, but effective style. For example...

The navigation controls at the top right.

The "HERE TODAY" "GONE TODAY" text icons to the left and right.

The GIF animations.

The diversity of thumbnail accent images.

Nice.


tyler-deeb

Designer and illustrator Tyler Deeb's website...

And his product store...

About Deeb's Kickstarter project...

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Apr 28

Marketing PR

"If direct mail is dying, it's sure taking its time about it" »

That's what Lois Geller said in the article she wrote for Forbes on catalog mailing during the 2013 holidays.

Now, the Direct Marketing Association's 2014 Statistical Fact Book has been published and it seem to point to a marked increase in direct mail overall.

direct mail is not dead

From Forbes magazine: If direct mail is dying, it's sure taking its time about it by Lois Geller...

From Laurie Beasley, president of Beasley Direct Marketing, a Silicon Valley direct marketing agency, some initial stats from the DMA 2014 Statistical Fact Book...

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Apr 25

Illustration

Meet illustrator Rod Hunt »

Rod Hunt's fascinating isometric drawings seem to make sense of a seemingly cacophonous world.

rod hunt

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

For those interested in illustration as a career path: An in depth interview with Hunt...

Ron Hunt's Blog...

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Apr 24

Ideas 101

The magic of the retail store brand »

To restate the obvious, retails store brands are, in part, about gathering together a collection of products and the associated services and serving them up to a defined audience. The magic happens when the folks in charge fund the design and development of products that fill a gap in the mix that others have not.
Hand-Eye Supply, the retail arm of the popular industrial design website Core77 is doing this with verve. Its mix of products, its substantial list of items I have not seen elsewhere, and the brand that wraps it into a philosophical/stylistic package demonstrates the core ideas of branding.

Plus, these stuff is pretty cool.

hand-eye-supply

The Adjustable Clampersand...

Sonnenleder Simmel Pencil Case...

X Man vs. Ink X Mary Kate McDevitt Bandana...

Ben Davis Long Sleeve Hickory Stripe Shirt...

Hand-Eye Supply is the retail operation of Core77...

Core77 is the very popular industrial design website...

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Apr 21

Ideas 101

Is brainstorming a waste of creative energy? »

Broadly speaking, I believe, yes. Certainly, there are certain situations in which, I am sure, brainstorming has produced a product that was superior to that the individuals were able to produce on their own. But, to me, it has always been a rather tortuous process.

My mind works by associating one thought with the next and brainstorming does nothing more than form a roadblock to my moving to the next logical conclusion. No, not because my idea is always the best idea, but because I don't think like a group—I think as an individual.

In any case, another piece of research is just now surfacing that seems to take another few steps toward proving that brainstorming is not the creative outlet so many think it is.

tags

From the Daily Mail: Brainstorming is POINTLESS: New study finds you're better off focussing on a single good idea...

The paper: Brainstorming versus creative design reasoning (420KB PDF)...

The roots of brainstorming...

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Apr 18

Typography

Jim Parkinson calls himself a "typographic artist." »

He is best known for his iconic Rolling Stone nameplate but that, as far as I am concerned, is a mere footnote to his real contribution—typefaces including Modesto, Roswell, Poster Black, and so many others.

He's the real deal, a hand lettering artist whose work has the added dimension that comes with knowledge of the physical craft of typography—the composition of characters with pencils, pens, and ink.

tags

Jim Parkinson interview, part 1 of 2...

Jim Parkinson interview, part 2 of 2...

The Parkinson Typo Design website...

Parkinson's typefaces...

Another biography...

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Apr 16

Marketing PR

Movie, game, or advertising? »

It's difficult to say exactly what this work most reminds me of—it looks like a movie, it has the feel of a game, but I know it's an advertisement.

Legendary Biru and Sapporo

Legendary Biru...

Details about the spot...

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Apr 14

Learning

Architects talk too much »

That is the reason Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham give for creating a presentation format dubbed "PechaKucha 20x20." It is explained on the Pechakucha website like this: "Give a microphone and some images to an architect—or most creative people for that matter—and they'll go on forever... PechaKucha 20x20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images."

On PechaKucha Nights, worldwide, creative people from all walk so life, gather to share their ideas in the PechaKucha 20x20 format.

Thanks to Jim Green for pointing us to it.

PechaKucha 20x20

Example 1: I Became an Artist and So Can You by Luis Mendo...

Example 2: Myst Opportunities by Chuck Carter...

Example 3: Design and Technology by Diana Arrambide...

The PechaKucha website...

See if there's a PechaKucha event near you...

The website of PechaKucha founders Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham...

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Apr 11

Marketing PR

There are more ways to a client's heart than through a portfolio »

Travel and lifestyle photographer Jens Lennartsson understands the magic of putting a physical reminder of your work in the hands of your prospects.

jens-lennartsson-action-figure

A look at the project...

Unwrapping the finished piece...

From My Modern Met: Photographer Self-Promotes by Mailing Out 400 Action Figures of Himself...

Details about the process from Jens Lennartsson's website...

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Apr 9

Photography

Photographer Vivian Maier and her secret life are back on the radar »

What I love most about Vivian Maier's photographs is that they were discovered after her death. Not that I, in any way, am glad she did not gain notoriety for them, but that such a large body of work, was kept a secret from the world. That, you could say, is the true definition of artistry—that its creator was so wrapped up in it, that they didn't seem to have the need or desire to share it with others.

Vivian Maier first appeared on my radar in 2011. Recently a film about her work premiered—and I can't wait to see it.

finding-vivian-maier

Finding Vivian Maier trailer...

The film's website...

The Vivian Maier website includes a wonderful gallery of her work...

From the New York Times Lens column: New Street Photography, 60 Years Old...

Maier first appeared on my radar in 2011...

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Apr 7

Design Briefing 178: Sound off... »

Have thoughts about Design Briefing 178? Here's the place to share—just preface your comment with the subject of the post.

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Apr 7

Design Briefing 177: Sound off... »

Have thoughts about Design Briefing 177? Here's the place to share—just preface your comment with the subject of the post.

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Apr 7

Marketing PR

Graphic designers: What do you know about marketing? »

My answer to that question is, "Not enough."

If you want to keep up on trends in marketing one excellent source is The CMO Survey, a report compiled by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business with the support of the The American Marketing Association (AMA) and McKinsey & Company.

As Duke defines it, "The CMO Survey collects and disseminates the opinions of top marketers in order to predict the future online casino of markets, track marketing excellence, and improve the value of marketing in firms and in society."

The latest results reports were released in February.

While we're at it, a couple of useful definitions (approved by the American Marketing Association Board of Directors):

Marketing: "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."

Marketing Research: "Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information—information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications."

the CMO Survey

The current report...

The CMO Survey home page...

The latest results page...

The CMO Survey Blog...

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Apr 4

Illustration

Meet illustrator (plus) Kate Bingaman-Burt »

Kate Bingaman-Burt makes drawing look easy. Perhaps it is. It is her intensity of purpose that makes her work so out-of-the-ordinary. Here, you'll soon see what I mean.

kate-bingaman-burt

Kate Bingaman-Burt's website and bio...

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

From The Great Discontent: An in-depth profile...

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Apr 2

Basic design

A movie for the art director in you »

I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel over the weekend and it is a feat of design. As the world becomes more and more design-centric, it is this type of film that will satiate our hunger for rich visual style and substance.

If you love ephemera and visual energy, put it at the top of your list.

grand budapest hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel website (with numerous clips)...

From The Credits: The Grand Budapest Hotel Production Designer Adam Stockhausen goes handmade...

From The Dissolve: Art director Adam Stockhausen on creating the world of The Grand Budapest Hotel...

From Creative Review: An interview with the lead graphic designer Annie Atkins...

The movie centers around a painting titled "Boy with Apple"...

From the Art Directors Guild: The role of Production Designers and Art Directors...

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Mar 31

Print Design

The provocative headline from the CNN story reads: "Teen to government: Change your typeface, save millions." »

It points to a story, reported last week, about 14-year-old student Suvir Mirchandani who published an article that the United States Government could save over $136 million per year by changing the typefaces it uses to Garamond. What surprised me was, when I mentioned the same on Facebook last week and it reached more people than any other post I've ever written.

What the on-air story failed to mention was, while it is a good idea on the student's part and a good reminder, that it was, by no means, a revelation. Having dug a little deeper, I found a large number of initiatives in and outside of government that address this very issue.

But what really piqued my interest was, how easily restating your case in a different context can so dramatically revive interest in a topic. It got me thinking about other issues and ideas that I could help clients recast in different terms.

Here is the original story followed some examples of what anyone can do to save money on paper and ink.

Thanks to Matt Hanna for pointing us to it.

change typeface save money

The CNN report about student Suvir Mirchandani's article...

The article: A Simple Printing Solution to Aid Deficit Reduction by Suvir Mirchandani and Peter Pinko...

This report from the EPA demonstrates how to reduce the use of ink AND paper using a combination of reduced margins and line spacing, changes in fonts used and their size, using "shrink to fit," deleting advertisements from web articles, and so on.

From the Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC) (revised in 2012): Reducing Paper and Printer Ink Usage (383KB PDF)...

The differences between legibility and readability by Allan Haley at Monotype Imaging...

There's even a font designed to address ink usage —:"Ecofont" (I have not tried it)...

From 2009: Measuring Type...

PrintWise is a government-wide awareness campaign designed to help federal employees print less and make cost-cutting print decisions across the U.S. government through simple behavior changes...

The other side of the coin, from June of 2013: Consumer Reports points to the most efficient printers under the title, The high cost of wasted printer ink...

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Mar 28

Web Design

Newspapers are searching for ways to reinvent journalism »

Newspapers have been upping the ante the last couple of years by publishing in depth, illustrated features that include stills, video, audio, animation, maps, and so on—a form of interactive journalism. It seems to be catching on.

interactive journalism

From The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Six:01...

From the Washington Post: The Prophets of Oak Ridge...

From the New York Times: Snow Fall...

From The Guardian: Firestorm...

From The Wall Street Journal: Trials...

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Mar 26

Web Design

A few particularly interesting examples of parallax scrolling »

There's plenty of controversy about whether parallax scrolling has replaced the drop shadow for the most overused web effect, but (to me) these examples were worth seeing.

parallax scrolling

Example 1...

Example 2 (click the numbers on the left side of the screen for the full effect)...

Example 3...

BTW, the piece I pointed you to last week, Ken Burns On Story, includes some of the signature parallax scrolling he has used in so many of his documentaries. So much so, in editing circles it is known as the Ken Burns Effect...

The Ken Burns effect...

The Ken Burns effect explained...

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Mar 24

Photography

If you use a few royalty-free images each month »

A new royalty-free image collection has sprouted up that is offering, what looks like, a very attractive deal—it's called the Dollar Photo Club.

Membership, they explain, is simple: "...just $10 a month gives you unlimited access to our images, all royalty-free and available for any project or document with absolutely no limits on time, region, or print runs."

The collection is from Fotolia.com and includes access to over 25 million images. So far, I'm impressed by both the selection and the quality.

Thanks to Lee Garvey for pointing us to it.

dollar-photo-club

The Dollar Photo Club...

The license details...

Fotolia.com...

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Mar 21

Copywriting

All story is manipulation »

In this wonderful short piece by Sarah Klein and Tom Mason, Ken Burns talks about the craft of storytelling.

Ken Burns on the craft of storytelling

Who is he really trying to wake up?...

From The Atlantic: An interview with the filmmakers...

The Ken Burns America website...

Another piece from Redglass Pictures discussing Burns' new iPad app: Ken Burns: Past Is Present...

The Redglass Pictures website...

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Mar 19

Typography

When a type foundry was a foundry »

In the late 1800s, the new technology of the day, factory manufactured metal type, required hot metal, heavy machinery, and massive people power.

The Lanston Monotype Machine Company was founded in 1887 and was played a key role in the development of metal type--which, in turn, changed the very nature of the dissemination of information. The books, newspapers, and other collateral that factory-produced movable type made possible shifted the course of communication in ways so profound that we (in my never to be humble opinion) can no longer clearly gauge what the world would have looked like without them.

Here's an introduction to Monotype and an exhibit on it's history titled, Pencil to Pixel.

Lanston Monotype Machine Company

A 1950s aerial photo of the Monotype Works in Salfords, Surrey, England...

Pencil to Pixel...

Interview with typeface designer Robin Nicholas, a 50-year veteran of Monotype...

The Monotype website has a labyrinth of articles and information regarding typeface history and design...

The London exhibition...

The New York exhibition...

Monotype today...

Eye Magazine dedicated its No. 84 issue to Monotypes—a photograph from that issue...

Nice idea: They let you browse the issue before you purchase it...

An interesting, inside baseball discussion about the Monotype name...

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Mar 17

Marketing PR

The Olive Garden and logo hate-speak »

I'm the odd man out on this one. I like the new Olive Garden logo. To me, it is somewhat "Jessica Hische-ish," though she would probably want me to make clear that she was not the designer.

That said, the overall response to it seems to rank right up there with the response to the new Coke.

olive garden logo

The image from The Dieline...

From The Dieline: Before & After: Olive Garden's New Logo...

From BrandNew: An Olive Branch No One Wants...

From AdWeek: Is Olive Garden's New Logo as Wretched as Everyone Says?...

From Fast Company Design: Olive Garden's New Logo Is The Pits...

The action plan published by Darden the parent of Olive Garden (2.8MB PDF)...

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» 3 Comments

Mar 14

Shopping

Check out this wildly original catalog of design objects... »

How often do you see truly unusual objects? If you spend WAY too much time exploring online, not terribly often. I found the collection of items featured on the website of this unconventional Italian company to be wildly original.

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Example 1: The Trip Pixel...

Example 2: Hybrid China...

Example 3: Fixin the World...

The full Seletti catalog...

The Seletti website...

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Mar 12

Learning

Is your work a creative epiphany or a remix? »

I must have been in the principal's office the day Kirby Ferguson introduced his Everything is a Remix series—somehow I missed it.

Since 2010 he has published a four-part video series making the case that we have lost sight of the original copyright laws from which the concept of intellectual property grew.

Ferguson says, "The belief in intellectual property has grown so dominant it's pushed the original intent of copyrights and patents out of the public consciousness. But that original purpose is still right there in plain sight. The copyright act of 1790 is entitled 'an Act for the encouragement of learning.' The Patent Act is 'to promote the progress of useful Arts.'"

"Nobody starts out original." He explains, "We need copying to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding. And after that... things can get interesting."

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You can watch the series here...

Embracing the Remix: Kirby Ferguson's TED Talk...

We discussed a very similar topic here last month: Is your design worth stealing?...

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Mar 10

Illustration

"The search for that thread, the experience that we all feel rooted in, is what we do---that's the best thing we can do," Milton Glaser, Graphic Designer »

Matthew Weiner, the creator of the advertising epic "Mad Men," chose graphic designer Milton Glaser to imagine the show's signature image for its final season.

Fitting.

mad men poster milton glaser

The poster...

Milton Glaser...

From the New York Times: The Trippy '60s, Courtesy of a Master...

Glaser's website...

Glaser's office entrance proclaims, "Art is Work"...

An earlier post: Creativity is not a stage of life, it is a mindset...

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Mar 5

Basic design

One of the world's largest, most prestigious photographic and illustrations libraries is now free to use--in certain situations »

This is the most interesting graphic design, illustration, photography, and intellectual property news I've read in the last five years: Today, Getty Images announced a new policy that allows users to embed millions of its images for non-commercial use.

I believe this has the potential of changing the whole face of image use.

Thanks to Lee Garvey for pointing us to it.

free getty images

Roll over an image (many, but not all) and you'll see the "Embed this image" button "< / >" at the far right...

Here are the terms..

From The Atlantic: Why Getty going free is such a big deal, explained in Getty Images--The company just made tens of millions of its photos free for noncommercial use....

From The Verge: The world's largest photo service just made its pictures free to use--Getty Images is betting its business on embeddable photos...

From The British Journal of Photography: Getty Images makes 35 million images free in fight against copyright infringement...

Jonathan Klein, a co-founder of Getty Images talked about photography through this TED University address...

I suppose the fact that Getty has a dedicated page for addressing the unauthorized it's images speaks to the scope of the problem...

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Mar 3

Typography

Bobby Haiqalsyah's type illustrations look as if they grew from magic ground »

To me, what identifies a truly talented type designer is their ability to create organic-looking shapes and curves. Australian designer Bobby Haiqalsyah has a particular gift for creating compositions of letters and filigree that look as if they grew from magic ground.

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Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Example 4...

Bobby Haiqalsyah's Website...

Haiqalsyah also maintains a wonderful Pinterest page called "Vintage Type"...

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Feb 28

Design Briefing 176: Sound off... »

Have thoughts about Design Briefing 176? Here's the place to share.

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Feb 26

Typography

Mike Parker, American typographer, Director of Typographic Development at Mergenthaler Linotype, co-founder of Bitstream, dies at 85 »

Knowing who our decedents are, where they came from, what they contributed, and what their lives were like, to a degree, helps us put our own lives in perspective. The same holds true about understanding your craft—knowing some history about graphic design and some of the players has, to me, always seemed a worthwhile pursuit. When, for example, I look back at a particularly handsome nameplate for a magazine, knowing how it evolved potentially helps me identify the steps that might reveal ways of producing a similarly impressive outcome.

To that end, here is a piece of typographic news that is worth knowing, noting, and appreciating: Mike Parker died Sunday. If you have not heard the name, I hope the following parts and pieces will begin to help you appreciate the gravity of his life—and his influence on ours.

Thanks to my friends Jessica Mills Jones and David Frenkel for alerting me to the news. They have many good remembrances of their friend Mike's passion for the art and science of typography.

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A remembrance from Cyrus Highsmith in the Font Bureau website...

Mike Parker, the Font God: A brief biography composed by Sibyl Masquelier...

An interview with Mike Parker from the Type Directors Club...

Mike Parker prepared this Starling series for Font Bureau...

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Feb 24

Illustration

Meet Disney storyboarder Mark Kennedy »

We've discussed storyboarding before—a storyboard is a kind of visual script for a TV-spot or motion picture.

Today I want to point you to a wonderful source of insight on the subject from a talented and experienced animation storyboard artist, Mark Kennedy.

Through his blog, Temple of the Seven Golden Camels (named as an homage to Carl Barks, the author and illustrator of Donald and Scrooge McDuck comics), Kennedy discusses drawing and filmmaking from the perspective of a storyboard artist.

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What Makes A Good Story Portfolio/Story Artist?...

An interview with Mark Kennedy from AnimationInsider.com...

Want to pursue a career in animation? Here's the Walt Disney Animation Studios...

Wondering how many people it takes to create a full length animated feature?

At the upper end, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists well over 600 people as participating in the production of Pixar's Ratatouille!...

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Feb 21

Ideas 101

The complexity of simplicity »

I was struck by this post about famous landmarks under construction. It reminds me of how much of design is about simplifying the appearance and function of the subject--and how often good design masks its real complexity.

The sleek, gentle curves of the Eiffel Tower, for example, are deceptively elegant and simple. I did not fully appreciate the complexity of its structure until I began looking at the original plans.

I think graphic design works the same way. Our job is to take a complex mix of facts, opinions, and imagery and translate them into a seamless, easy-to-understand action.

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Famous landmarks under construction...

But the actual plans tell the real story...

A rare, early film of the Eiffel Tower...

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Feb 19

Illustration

Meet illustrators Zim And Zou »

Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann of Zim&Zou create, among other things, three-dimensional paper sculptures. Their clients include Hermès, IBM, Le Monde, Washington Post, and others.

As physically crafted illustrations and installations become less common, I feel as if I value them more.

Zim And Zou

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

The process...

Zim And Zou's website...

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Feb 17

Web Design

Let's make icons »

Michael Flarup designs app icons and is kind enough let the rest of share in his workflow. His "templates" for presenting icons are more than a shape and shadow. His Photoshop resource files allows you to add your basic design and automatically generate all the various sizes required on iOS and Android. The PSD also includes a collection of built in textures and colors.

Thanks Michael.

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Here's where you download one of the templates...

And here's a brief video that describes how you use it...

Michael Flarup's portfolio...

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Feb 15

Design Briefing 175: Sound off... »

Have a comment about one of the ideas from Design Briefing 175? Here's the place to comment.

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Feb 14

Learning

The original artist's correspondence course »

In the late 1940s illustrator Albert Dorne invited a group of fellow members of the New York Society of Illustrators to create a correspondence course which came to be known as the Famous Artists School.

Albert Dorne

An early ad for the Famous Artist School...

There were a dozen original members, among them, Norman Rockwell...

An article from Norman Rockwell Museum: Uncovering the Treasures of the Famous Artists School Archives...

What follows is an example of each illustrator's work. Some showing the type of material they contributed to the effort.

Albert Dorne...

Al Parker...

Austin Briggs...

Fred Ludekens...

Harold Von Schmidt...

Peter Helck...

Norman Rockwell...

Jon Whitcomb...

Ben Stahl...

Robert Fawcett...

George Giusti...

Stevan Dohanos...

About the school's annual report...

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Feb 12

Web Design

An example of state-of-the-web design work »

An impressive, media-rich website created by ad agency Mullen.

smithsonian lincoln

National Georgraphic's Killing Lincoln...

The site's case study via Jon Reil, Mullen's creative director...

Mullen's portfolio...

BTW, the big, bold typeface Alfa Slab is available here...

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Feb 10

Web Design

They call it "automated micromarketing" »

This is very smart design. "Automated micromarketing" provider Nimblefish creates a series of video snippets that address specific, individual issues. It then produces multiple variations of its client's presentations—each to address a specific set of choices the user provides.

For example, if the user selects A, B, and C, they are shown presentation 1. And if the user selects A, C, and F, they are shown presentation 3.

You don't need a hybrid system to do the same thing. You simple ask questions and produce a version of the video for each set of answers.

Thanks to Karla Humphrey for pointing us to it.

nimblefish

I suggest taking a look at the Sears Case Study under "Advisor"...

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Feb 7

Marketing PR

10 most popular coffee shops in America and their brands »

To me, branding coffee is a lot like branding wine. There are lots of wine and coffee connoisseurs but there are also many of us who, all other things being equal, look for style and packaging.

So when a recent article from Roast Magazine listed the 10 most popular coffee shops in America, my eyes perked up. It's interesting to see how differently each company (the REALLY successful ones) markets its product.

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1. Café Du Monde, New Orleans, Lousiana...

2. La Colombe Torrefaction, New York, New York...

3. Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Coffee Shop and Café, New York, New York...

4. Sightglass Coffee, San Francisco, California...

5. Four Barrel Coffee, San Francisco, California...

6. Blue Bottle Coffee, San Francisco, California...

7. Starbucks, Seattle, Washington...

8. Birch Coffee Coffee Shop, New York, New York...

9. 85°C Bakery Cafe, Irvine, California...

10. Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, Illinois...

The Roast Magazine article..

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Feb 5

Print Design

How ink is made »

It's easy to forget all of what it takes to produce print materials. Here's an interesting look at how ink is made featuring Peter Welfare, the head inkmaker at the Printing Ink Company, one of the manufacturers licensed to produce Pantone inks....

how ink is made

How ink is made...

The Printing Ink Company...

Some stats on the enormity of the print industry from Keen...

About the Pantone Plus Series...

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Feb 3

Illustration

The Road to Success--literally »

This is a favorite illustration: The Road to Success. I believe the original was published in 1913 in a music magazine titled, The Etude.

The Road to Success

The Road to Success...

A discussion of the poster...

The Etude Magazine website...

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Jan 31

Marketing PR

Who is viewing your marketing message and how much do they really know and care? »

I was commenting that I wasn't "feelin" the graphics from the new H&R Block ad campaign. It is a rather plain-looking border (everything is "flat" these days) with a clown-like bow tie symbol. I not only didn't understand the style, I didn't understand the bow tie reference.

When others began to speculate what the bow tie might mean, my interest was piqued and I dug a little deeper. I discovered that, if you look close, that the spokesperson for the ads, H&R Block preparer Richard Gartland, is wearing a brightly-colored green bow tie in the four spots that make up the campaign.

And that reminds me of how important it is to avoid getting stuck in the account cocoon. Where you see the whole of what you're doing but others don't. Where you, because of your daily involvement, see nuance that the average viewer (who sees a single spot on one occasion) does not.

I forget where I heard this but it has always stuck with me: When creatives present full page newspaper ads to a group, they typically hang or project them on a wall. The problem with that is that standing six feet away from an ad and holding a newspaper in your hands 12 inches away is a very different experience.

My point is, we've got to continually remind ourselves of who we are trying to reach—who they are, where they are, what we can realistically expect they understand about our subject, and how involved they will actually, realistically, become in it.

hr block bow tie

The campaign...

Details about the campaign from Adweek...

The agency is Fallon...

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Jan 29

Photography

Photoshopping today into yesterday »

This is a powerful idea. Chino Otsuka has taken a series of childhood photographs and Photoshopped her current self into them. It is done so subtly, you'd think they were mother and daughter.

tags

Chino Otsuka...

Chino Otsuka discusses her motivations for creating the images...

Otsuka's website...

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Jan 27

Illustration

Genís Carreras creates brilliant, simple designs using shapes, colors, and theories »

Genís Carreras counts among his clients, Sony Music and Fast Company. A while back he gained attention by creating a collection of posters, each of which explains a philosophic idea—he calls them "Philographics."

Philographics

Philographics...

The book...

Genís Carreras' website...

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Jan 24

Print Design

Daniel Gordon glues printouts of pictures of stuff to the stuff itself--why is it so interesting? »

I point you to this because it I love the idea of seeing real life through a paper veneer. To me, it's a metaphor for graphic design.

daniel gordon

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

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Jan 22

Ideas 101

Is your design worth stealing? »

What follows is a fascinating example of how one group of artist's pulled parts and pieces of the work that preceded them and recast it as their own. It is not about relative unknown, in this case it is a side-by-side, shot-by-shot comparison (by StooTV) of George Lucas and Steven Speilberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and 30 other adventure films produced between 1919-1973.

My point is, questions of intellectual property are complex. When does borrowing become stealing? When is imitation, transformation? What is the difference between the idea and the expression of it?

sharing ideas

StooTV's Raiders of the Lost Archives...

In a TEDTalk based on his book, Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon says, "There is no longer good art and bad art, there's just art worth stealing and art that isn't."
...

An aside, two more interesting, related links...

Some behind-the-scenes footage from a Japanese television production (NHK), The Pioneers of the Visual Revolution...

A massive collection of Steven Spielberg-related materials...

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Jan 20

Typography

A BIG design world lawsuit »

The creative world is not without its controversies. Design is opinion and those who have strong opinions often disagree.

But I was surprised to learn of the lawsuit type designer Tobias Frere-Jones has filed against Jonathan Hoefler for, "not less than $20 million."

The name of (arguably) the world's most prestigious type foundry is, "Hoefler & Frere-Jones." Though the name would lead one to believe it was a partnership between its principals, it evidently is not. And that, as it turns out, is the rub.

I am certain of one thing: on the face of it, Jonathan Hoefler looks very bad...

Google Search (01/18/2014): "Jonathan Hoefler" about 28,100 results; "Tobias Frere-Jones" about 39,200 results

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The Complaint...

Hoefler's attorney responds...

Tobias Frere-Jones on Wikipedia...

Jonathan Hoefler on Wikipedia...

The New York Times: Typography Partners Part Ways in Money Fight...

My most recent post about the firm...

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Jan 15

Web Design

Do you use Facebook to promote your organization? Read this important post about using images, links, and text... »

I have been wondering why the posts I create using images, links, and text on my Ideabookfb Facebook page seem to "reach" significantly fewer readers than those without images and links.

So I tried an experiment prompted by an article by Shelly Palmer, a Tech Expert for WNYW-TV in New York. He posed that Facebook posts created using text, images, and links reach far fewer of your potential readers than those without images. And, if you read through Palmer's article, it appears the folks at Facebook agree (with the expected provisos).

In any case, I did a simple (albeit unscientific) test of my own and what he says certainly seems to be the case. If you've made the same mistake as I have (using images with my text and links) I think you'll find this quite interesting.

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Palmer's article, Facebook Reach Data: Do The Numbers Lie?

To be fair, I don't believe the numbers "lie" but I do think, if you are not aware of this issue, the way it works is counter-intuitive and something I wish had been made more clear.

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Jan 15

Marketing PR

"Junk mail," forced sharing, and the filter bubble »

I received an email recently from a PR firm asking me to look at a product that requires a Facebook login as criteria for participation in the use of its service.

I wrote them back to say, "I've got to admit that I have a problem with services that use a Facebook login as criteria for participation in the use of a service. That makes me a bad candidate for an positive outcome."

Do others feel this way? Honestly, I simply don't want anyone looking over my shoulder any more than they already do, feeding me what they think I want to hear.

It recalls an article which appeared in a local newspaper a couple of weeks ago. It discussed what they labeled "junk mail" and featured a reader who had collected a years worth of mail and done an analysis of how little of it addressed any of their real, personal needs. The article went on to ask, "...when is enough, enough?"

To me, these are two stories about the same issue. An important one.

When is enough, enough? My hope is never. Slow or shut down direct mail? To the contrary, I believe it's critical, at this particular place in time, to defend, even encourage, the sharing of products, services, and ideas through advertising (direct mail, newspapers, magazines, television). It not only provides opportunities to buy, sell, and win others to our way of thinking, it is fundamental to the creation of commerce and jobs.

Why so critical now? Because the universe of many Web users is fast becoming, what internet activist Eli Pariser has dubbed, a "filter bubble."

I've mentioned this before. He is referring to the fact that many online services now operate using algorithms that determine, because a particular user has shown interest in "A," that they will, necessarily, be interested in "B." And that, based on the accumulation of that data, the services begin to feed the user more and more of what they have determined to be the user's interests to the exclusion of other, perfectly valid and useful information. Ultimately, the known exceeds the unknown, and the user is isolated in a commercial, cultural, or ideological bubble.

That's why I told the PR firm I didn't like services that require a Facebook login (for example) as criteria for participation in the use of a service. And why we should hold dear what many demonize as "junk mail" and other forms of non-invasive media that provide us opportunities to see, read, and hear offers and ideas. Yes, these forms of communication require you to exert the energy to accept or decline such invitations, but that seems like a small price to pay for the good that free, unfettered commerce and sharing provides.

tags

More about the "filter bubble"...

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Jan 13

Typography

"A few hundred years of type and typography have established rules that only a fool would ignore." »

Matthew Butterick, the author of Typography For Lawyers, Essential Tools For Polished & Persuasive Documents, has published a second book for a wider audience titled, Butterick's Practical Typography.

In its Forward, type designer Erik Spiekermann explains, "A few hundred years of type and typography have established rules that only a fool would ignore. (Or a graphic designer keen to impress his peers.) For all those who need to communicate clearly and even add a modicum of aesthetic value to their messages, this publication provides everything you always wanted to ask but didn't know how to."

I point you to it because I think it is a solid, straightforward text for learning the fundamentals of type composition and a useful introduction to Butterick's particular, workman-like approach to design and usage.

It would be particularly useful to anyone who has an interest in typography but not a lot of experience with it. And to those who write, edit, and compose pages for publication online or in print who want to learn some of the basics do's and don'ts.

Though the book is free to access, the author asks for a donation (yes I did).

Thanks to Russ Mitchell and Cool Tools for pointing us to it.

buttericks practical typography

Butterick's Practical Typography...

We would all do well to point those who don't know anything about typography to this chapter: Typography in ten minutes...

An earlier post about Matthew Butterick...

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Jan 10

Photography

Microsoft rolls out the next generation of Photosynth technology »

This new generation of Photosynth is used to stitch together high resolution images shot with D-SLR or a point-and-shoot camera. It, "combines the tactile smoothness of a stitched panorama with the kind of motion through space that you see in video from a moving platform."

The synth of Mount Everest, was created from a series of high-resolution photographs shot from a helicopter. As you will see, you can pause at any point and zoom in on parts of the particular photograph you paused within.

Thanks to Jeff Green for pointing us to it.

photosynth 2014

A synth of Mount Everest...

A discussion about what Photosynth is and what it is used for...

A collection of synths...

Scroll down the page to see the types of synths that can be created...

The Photosynth 2014 Technical Preview Shooting Guide (468KB PDF)...

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Jan 8

Illustration

Meet illustrator Frank Soltesz »

Frank Soltesz represents the old school, storytelling illustrators whose advertising and editorial work graced the pages of magazines great and small throughout the twentieth century.

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Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

A Flickr set of Soltesz's work curated by Leif Peng...

A website dedicated to Frank Soltesz written by his son Ken...

Leif Peng is a talented illustrator as well...

Leif Peng is the curator of Today's Inspiration...

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Jan 6

Print Design

The near-perfect sign »

Promotional/retail signs are a real design challenge. When you're charged with attracting the attention of folks driving by a business on a very busy road, you've got to strip away all the pretense.

This article by Robert Wilson for Psychology Today points to the simplicity of the concept necessary to produce a effective sign.

(To be precise, I realize billboards and signs can be different animals, but often, the content and visibility basics are similar.)

effective good signs

The Perfect Ad...

SignsNow.com offers a good overview of signage basics including...

Letter height/visibility calculations...

Color and contrast guidelines...

The United States Sign Council offers the Sign Legibility Rules of Thumb (875KB PDF)...

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Jan 3

Web Design

See the newest capabilities of the modern web »

Once a week Adobe and FWA award The Cutting Edge Award to "the project that best highlights the newest capabilities of the modern web."

adobe project of the week

The Cutting Edge Award...

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Jan 1

Learning

Looking at art and design in the context of society and science »

Rama Hoetzlein is a Media Artist. I stumbled on his timeline of 20th century art and new media recently and I thought it was particularly interesting. He shows us various movements in the arts and media against the backdrop of time, technology, event, population, and so on.

I point you to it for both the information and his technique of presenting it.

media theory timeline

Art in the 20th century...

Timeline of 20th century art and new media...

Subjective Media: A Historic Context for New Media in Art by Rama C. Hoetzlein, (452KB PDF)...

Another interesting idea: A portfolio of his work as a timeline..

What is new media art?...

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Bob Bly

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Dec 30

Books

About small business branding »

There are countless paths to mastering the arts of marketing and graphic design—I know of at least three: via the classroom, through a mentor, and on-the-job.

In the classroom, a teacher uses their knowledge of the subject, a curriculum, and supporting materials to lead you through theories and explain practices. Ultimately, you find a job and use what you are taught as a foundation for figuring what works and what doesn't and building your own mix of practices.

You learn from a mentor by going to work for a design studio, an advertising agency, or some other entity. The individual or the group that leads it, presumably, has already built a repertoire of practices that you ultimately amend and adopt as your own.

Perhaps the most challenging way to learn about marketing and design is on-the-job (to work on the engine while it's running). In this case, you are thrust into real marketing situations and invent solutions in response to the problems you are presented with. Ultimately, through trial and error, you cobble together what works for you and your clients. It's a tough, long-way-around learning process, but the fact that your ideas are proven by experience gives you the confidence that comes with that type of certainty.

Today I want to point you to a book and website produced by a designer who learned his craft that last way, on-the-job. His name is Dan Antonelli and the name of his book is Building a Big Small Business Brand. I point you to it for two reasons. First, because it offers a thoughtful look at small business branding, and second, because he provides an excellent model for promoting and selling marketing and design services.

First, the book.

As I said, Antonelli learned his craft on-the-job and Building a Big Small Business Brand is a blueprint for what, he found, works for real clients in the real world. His primary message is this: In small business branding, the logo is the hub around which all marketing revolves. The book presents a smart, clearly explained approach to branding that should be required reading for anyone planning to open a small business (or turn around a failing one).

"Most businesses make a critical error," he explains. "They never really consider a brand or logo for their business, they don't understand how important it is, so they opt for the expensive way to move forward. They've exhausted most of their funding on equipment, rent, furniture, etc. Ironically, they've spent all their money on getting into business, and they have little left to actually market their business."

The book lays out broad, foundational ideas, discusses specific approaches to naming, logo design, and branding, cites real-world marketing case studies, and explains how and where to get help.

Secondly, and what I think other graphic designers and marketers will find particularly interesting, is how Antonelli's uses the book and his website to promote his studio's design and marketing services.

The book presents the studio's philosophies, reveals its process, and shows examples of its work—and the web site fills in the details (displaying the book prominently throughout). I'm not suggesting that every designer or marketer need write a book, but when you view it as a package, you'll see the value of how the book and the website are used together to establish credibility and attract new business.

Dan Antonelli Building a Big Small Business Brand

A free preview of the book...

The Graphic D-Signs website...

You can purchase the book here: Building a Big Small Business Brand...

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Dec 27

Learning

THE new art »

This article attributes the introduction of Art Nouveau to the Exposition Universelle 1900 (the Paris World's Fair. (Dr. Perry [my art history professor in college] would give me a well-deserved tongue lashing if she knew how little art history I can recount.)

For those of us who are art challenged, a reintroduction to the "new art" of the late 19th and early 20th century.

art nouveau world's fair 1900

How the Paris World's Fair brought Art Nouveau to the Masses in 1900...

1900 Palace of Electricity...

Paris Exposition lantern slides from the Brooklyn Museum...

From the BBC: The Allure of Art Nouveau...

Art Nouveau architecture: Doorway at place Etienne Pernet, 24 (via Wikipedia)...

Art Nouveau painting: Zodiac by Alphonse Mucha (via Wikipedia)...

The Grand Palais with its magnificent ironwork...

Dr. Regenia Perry, my art history professor in college (a fine one), gave me a tongue lashing for all my other errant behavior, why not this?

While the images are fresh in your memory, I'd like to visit the colorization issue again (I hear you, "Enough already!"). You undoubtably noticed that many of the images of the 1900 fair are hand-painted (with a very heavy hand). That, seemingly, was the practice.

Here, in an homage to the beauty and clarity of black and white is my before and after, UN-colorizing of the Grand Palais...

Before...

After...

Images: Brooklyn Museum Archives. Goodyear Archival Collection.

More about lantern slides...

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Dec 23

Color

What is the ideal RAW to TIF or JPG printing workflow? »

I had last week with a photographer friend who wanted to know if I knew how much of a difference there was between saving a RAW file (out of Photoshop) as a JPG or a TIFF file. As I researched it, I realized it was more complicated than I thought.

In short, there are lots of "buts" and "ifs." I can tell you this: A RAW, a JPG, and a TIF can all be saved as either 8-bit or 16-bit files. This workflow seems to make the most sense: adjust the image in RAW and save it as 16-bit RGB file, edit it in Photoshop, and then convert it to CMYK and save it as and 8-bit TIFF or (some say) JPG file. The point being, if you knock a 16-bit file down to 8-bit before you edit it, you will likely remove necessary information from the original that could result in a less than optimal reproduction.

As with most color workflows, you're best off asking the commercial printer that will reproduce the finished project, the workflow they are most qualified to tell you exactly what type of files will work best within their workflow and how to configure the associated settings.

Thoughts?

16-bit-raw

A good overview: The Benefits Of Working With 16-Bit Images In Photoshop by Steve Patterson...

A short blurb about color settings for RAW conversion from Tim Grey and Lynda.com...

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Dec 20

Graphics Tech

Amit Agarwal offers a unique, interesting mix of how-to insight »

Amit Agarwal writes how-to guides about web apps, software, and gadgets. I think you'll find his site, Digital Inspiration, offers a very unique mix of useful and interesting information.

Digital Inspiration

Digital Inspiration Amit Agarwal...

Example 1: The Most Useful Email Addresses That You Should Save in your Address Book...

Example 2: Awesome Things You Can Do With Google Scripts...

Example 3: How I Make Software Demos using Animated GIFs...

About Amit Agarwal from Wikipedia...

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Dec 18

Illustration

Meet illustrator David Plunkert »

David Plunkert is a guy who likes to mix it up. Unlike most illustrators, I'd be hard-pressed to guess that one illustrator created all three of the examples I'll point you to. Yet he seems to have perfected each medium.

tags

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Plunkert's website home page...

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Dec 16

Learning

A bright room: The controversy over the use of optics by early painters »

Chris Miller recently sent me an email to tell me there was a new "camera lucida" device, a NeoLucida, available from Amazon.com (they had previously sold out when they were initially offered through Kickstarter.com). The name was familiar, I used a Lucigraph for years to size and trace various elements of illustrations—the same basic idea. But I had not heard of the NeoLucida.

As I looked into it, what caught my ear was mention of the controversy created by the book Secret Knowledge written by British artist David Hockney. His thesis is that, beginning in the early 1400s there was a rather dramatic rise in the quality of realism in paintings. He poses that a number of artists came onto the scene whose work was almost photographic in nature. They were reproducing patterns, reflections, the folds in fabric, focal length and so on, in ways previously unknown or rarely seen.

It's a very interesting, understandably controversial story.

tags

The thesis...

A BBC program that addresses the issue indepth: David Hockney's Secret Knowledge, Part 1...

David Hockney's Secret Knowledge, Part 2...

About the Camera Lucida...

The NeoLucida website...

You can buy the rudimentary NeoLucida, a 21st century camera ludida here...

Another version for sale..

More about the thesis (via Wikipedia)...

Refuting the theory...

About David Hockney...

As I said, I owned and used a Goodkin Lucigraph for many years. You would place the subject (typically a Polaroid or other reference photograph) on the plate below the bellows and a sheet of tracing paper on the glass above. The cranks on the left and right were used to focus the image being projected on the paper.
Goodkin Lucigraph...

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Dec 13

Color

Perfecting the photographer to commercial printer workflow »

I had a discussion this week with a photographer friend of mine. He wanted to know if I knew how much of a difference there was between saving a RAW file (out of Photoshop) as a JPEG file or as TIFF file. As I researched it, I quickly realized it is a fairly complicated question and was reminded that there is virtually nothing easy about color workflows.

To fast-forward, I can tell you that there is no one good answer. You are always best off going to the commercial printer who will print the final piece and asking them what workflow they recommend for a specific project being reproduced using the specific process/equipment they use. They are most qualified to tell you exactly what type of files will be best and how to configure the settings.

There is, however, a good rule of thumb: RAW, JPEG, and TIFF files can all be saved at different bit depths. And one, common sense workflow would be to adjust the original image in RAW, save it as 16-bit RGB file, edit it in Photoshop, convert it to CMYK, and save it as an 8-bit TIFF or (some say) JPEG file. Why? Because if you knock a 16-bit file down to 8-bit before you edit it, you will likely remove critical, necessary information from the original.

16-bit-raw

A good overview: The Benefits Of Working With 16-Bit Images In Photoshop by Steve Patterson...

A short blurb about color settings for RAW conversion from Tim Grey and Lynda.com...

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Dec 11

Copywriting

Some useful style and proofreading resources »

I met another designer online today and immediately pointed to a typo on his website. Yes, I know it's obnoxious, but as I've always said, I'd rather find out sooner than later. Fortunately, I believe he felt the same way.

It reminded me of a campaign that ran a bunch of years ago for a large state economic development agency. They ran a series of ads in business publications, I believe multiple times, before someone noticed that, in the headline of the ad, the name of the state had been misspelled.

What was so extraordinary was the no one seemed to notice. Perhaps an indication of the quality of the ad's impact. Perhaps one of those quirky typos that your brain fixes automatically. In either case, I doubt the account executive enjoyed making that call to the client.

Someone mentioned recently, the technique of reading text backwards for proofreading purposes which prompted me to search out a more comprehensive list of tips. Here are few useful style and proofreading resources I found.

proofreading

A good list of proofreading tips from Philip Corbett, the editor in charge of The New York Times style manual...

Proofreader's marks from The Chicago Manual of Style...

Guidelines for proofreading from Purdue Online Writing Lab...

Some definitions of proofreading from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (UK)...

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Dec 6

Marketing PR

What are the top ad agencies? »

Forbes magazine and its Contributor Avi Dan asked 1,850 CMOs and other marketing executives to rank the top advertising agencies. And they voted those below as the top ten.

Why list them here? I think it's important to keep track of the most visible work and these big agencies clearly have tremendous influence on our business.

Though I worked as a freelancer for The Martin Agency and others earlier in my career, when I started my own company, I did not pursue big clients. I became, instead, a small business designer—and, over the years, I've come to think of it as an almost entirely different business.

Thanks to Diane CookTench pointing us to the article.

top ten ad agencies

The article...

The list...

1. Wieden + Kennedy...

2. Droga5...

3. Grey Group...

4. BBDO Worldwide...

5. Ogilvy & Mather...

6. The Martin Agency...

7. Leo Burnett Company...

8. CP+B (Crispin Porter & Bogusky)...

9. Goodby Silverstein & Partner...

10. Publicis Worldwide...

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Dec 4

Marketing PR

Do systems and rules stifle creativity and innovation? »

Why do we establish and impose systems and rules? Primarily to regulate behavior and to set performance standards, right? But, before we design and implement them, we need to consider the degree to which systems and rules can stifle creativity and innovation.

systems and rules stifle creativity and innovation

More...

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Dec 2

Copywriting

One of my all-time favorite advertising campaigns: The Power of the Printed Word »

Back in the 1980s, International Paper ran what remains one of my favorite advertising campaigns of all time: The Power of the Printed Word. It was, at once, informative, interesting, and featured input by celebrity-status experts at the top of their game.

You'll not only find it interesting reading (the copywriting is exquisite), you'll doubtlessly find some excellent ideas for structuring and presenting your own information.

The Power of the Printed Word series:

How to make a speech by George Plimpton
How to write a resume by Jerrold G. Simpson, Ed.D.
How to spell by John Irving
How to enjoy poetry by James Dickey
How to read an annual report by Jane Bryant Quinn
How to enjoy the classics by Steve Allen
How to use a library by James A. Michener
How to write with style by Kurt Vonnegut
How to write clearly by Edward T. Thompson
How to improve your vocabulary by Tony Randall
How to write a business letter by Malcolm Forbes
How to read faster by Bill Cosby

tags

The entire series in PDF form (4.2MB PDF)...

When Doubleday published the campaign in book form, the New York Times, in this article detailing its creation (1985), pointed to the fact that the campaign had generated requests for 27 million copies of the ads...

PaperSpecs.com provided the PDF...

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Nov 29

Print Design

If you're interested in print... »

Here's the beginning of an excellent collection of print finishing and special effects resources compiled by the Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) at FinisherFinder.com.

It includes sources for...

Aqueous Coating
Automatic Folding/Gluing
Bindery
Cast and Cure UV
Creative Services
Film Laminating
Foil Stamping (Leather)
Foil Stamping (Plastics)
Foil Stamping/Embossing/Diecutting (Sheet Fed)
Glitter UV Coating
Holograms
Label Printing/Foil Stamping
Laser Cutting
Mounting/Laminating
Plastic Coil & Wire-O
Printing Services
Rotary Foil Stamping/Embossing
Screen Printing
Stationery Engraving
Thermography
UV Coating
Window Patching

print finishing and special effects resources

FinisherFinder.com...

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Nov 28

Basic design

Support Pageplane.com »

I am an affiliate of several services. If you use these links to make purchases, I get a small commission. Thanks in advance for your support.


big commerce store


myfonts top 50 typefaces



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Nov 28

Illustration

Meet illustrator Pierluigi Longo »

Typically I'd describe an illustrator's work by comparing it to something I've seen before or a feeling it provokes. Though I definitely like Longo's work, I'm having a hard time identifying either.

What do you think?

tags

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Pierluigi Longo's website...

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Nov 25

Web Design

Giving back to its community through an intriguing web experience »

Nature Valley is the brand name of a granola product line first introduced by General Mills in 1973. It's nice to see company's get creative about giving back.

nature valley trail view

Nature Valley's Trail View...

Details about the project...

The Nature Valley website...

General Mills has a long, storied history and was recognized in 2012 by Forbes magazine as the country's most reputable company...

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Nov 22

Photography

Why use black and white when you can use color? »

We've debated the ethics of the colorizing of black and white photographs recently—so I was interested when my friend Martin Bounds pointed to the fact that the New York Times chose to use a black and white photograph on its November 22nd cover commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

Both color and black and white film was in wide use by November of 1963 (obviously) but very few newspapers had the presses for or inclination to print color. In fact, you might be surprised to recall that the New York Times didn't print a color image on its frontpage until 1997.

All this got me wondering how other newspapers handled their coverage of the anniversary and whether they chose to use color or black and white. Here's a sampling and some further discussion.

tags

The New York Times chose black and white...

Though, there were certainly many color versions of the same scene taken...

From 1993: Newspapers' Adoption of Color Nearly Complete...

Other newspapers chose color images...

This one chose to create a sepia tone...

And this one used black and white to represent the past and color to represent the present...

A rather dramatic collage...

Many of the newspaper cover pages for the anniversary are archived here by the Newseum...

And on a lighter note, John McWade alerted me to this other issue of colorization...

And horror of horrors: A color image by Walker Evans...

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Nov 20

Shopping

Your chance to own some real movie design history »

Design is everywhere. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes not. Clearly, one of the places that regularly develops, fosters, and establishes all manner of design is the motion picture industry. From the storyboards, to the posters, to the props, to the costumes, and beyond—the industry has long been a harbinger of design change.

So it is with wide-eyes and a touch of envy that I share an opportunity some will have next week to own some truly iconic motion picture design pieces by way to an auction curated by Turner Classic Movies.

Unfortunately and fortunately, it is all clearly out of my league.

tags

What Dreams Are Made Of, November 25, 2013....

The auction catalog (9.5MB PDF)...

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Nov 18

Print Design

This elegant, clean design is a model of simplicity »

Herman Miller has been issuing a yearly report (since 2006) that addresses its efforts on the fronts of environmental performance, inclusiveness and diversity, health and
well-being, and community service. It is titled, "A Better World Around You."

I point you to it because it struck me as a particularly elegant solution. It features a series of bold, iconic illustrations created by Brent Couchman.

 Herman Miller Better World Report

The web page...

Herman Miller's A Better World Report (3MB PDF)...

The illustrator is Brent Couchman...

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Nov 15

Web Design

Where website design is headed »

As website designs and apps get simpler looking (the trend), it's more difficult to make your work visually distinctive. Very subtle stuff that requires a very delicate touch.

One way of distinguishing your design from others is how it functions—subtleties like how menus open and text appears. While that certainly isn't a revelation, the tutorials, articles, and the playground at Codrops is.

As they explain it, "Codrops is a web design and development blog that publishes articles and tutorials about the latest web trends, techniques and new possibilities. The team of Codrops is dedicated to provide useful, inspiring and innovative content that is free of charge."

And they're doing it. This is exciting stuff.

Thanks to Chris Miller for pointing us to it.

state-of-the-art-website-design

Example 1: Medium-style page transition...

Example 2: Animated opening type...

Example 3: The slit slider...

The Codrops home page...

About Mary Lou (Manoela Ilic) and Pedro Botelho, the folks behind Codrops...

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Nov 13

Web Design

In pursuit of "making the web awesome" »

At the risk of hurting your brain (this kind of stuff sometimes hurts mine), I point you to Adobe Web Platform team's blog.

As they explain it, "The Adobe Web Platform team is committed to providing better features for the web by working with the community to develop new standards and make them possible by contributing to Open Source projects such as WebKit and Chromium. We're just one of the several teams working on some amazing Open Web technologies at Adobe."

adobe-web-platform-team

Adobe explores the future of responsive digital layout with National Geographic content...

An overview of Adobe's involvement in the web...

And Adobe & HTML...

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Nov 11

Photography

A photographer's unique point of view »

I found this collection of photographs very interesting. It's titled 19 Days In Japan and it's a travelog created by photographer and teacher Lena (Akane Kinomoto) and photographer and design engineer Filipe Varela.

What struck me is that, rather than showing us lots of idyllic sights (there are some), they treat us to a kind of behind-the-scenes look at everyday Japanese life — the passengers on a train, the shelves of a grocery store, a cat laying on a porch — the type of subjects that give you a sense of a place.

It's a good example of how talented photographers offers a very specific, unusual point of view. Here's how they describe it:

"We come from a long line of travelers and adventurers and we can not deny our origins: we like to travel, we like to eat and we like to capture moments. 19 Days in Japan is not intended to simply be a website or a blog, but our voice, an expression of our adventures and struggles in a place so far away from home."

Nice.

future travel

19 Days in Japan...

Lena's website...

Filipe Varela's website...

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Nov 8

Web Design

One of the most used web platforms is one of the least discussed »

Something over 20 percent of all websites use WordPress as their content management system (W3Techs)—roughly six times that of the next runner up, Joomla. Yet, until now, I did not know the story behind its development or the names of the people who developed then and contribute to it today.

history of wordpress

Lorelle VanFossen's recent The History of WordPress...

The WordPress.org version...

And a timeline...

And the WordPress page on Wikipedia...

WordPress.com is run by Automattic...

And lots of interesting people work there...

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Nov 6

Web Design

Some excellent thinking on website carousel design »

Nielsen Norman Group, the firm made famous by Jakob Nielsen (the usability expert), offers this thoughtful piece on website carousel design. It's my favorite type of design insight: an examination of the details that make a real difference.

Designing Effective Carousels

An example of a website tour with signposts: Second banner down under, "Explore your Nest"...

The article: Designing Effective Carousels by Kara Pernice...

Kara Pernice's Twitter feed...

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Nov 4

Typography

You'll love this tightly structured, old-school lettering »

To me, though he looks like a fairly young guy, Matthew Tapia is an old-school lettering artist. The best way I can think of describing it is, though it has a feeling of being free-form, when you look at it closely, his work is methodically organized.

tags

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Tapia's Tumblr page...

And his Dribbble page...

A few photos of Tapia at work...

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Nov 1

Some of the most interesting, unusual, useful tools (and ideas) in the world »

I've been a big fan of and contributor to Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools since the early 2000s. To my delight (and perhaps to your's), he has announced the upcoming release of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities—a best of Cool Tools in book form.

Already commanding a rank of 1300 in books on Amazon (pretty good for a title that won't released until December), the book is being billed by reviewers as a modern day Whole Earth Catalog.

If you're not as old as X-Acto knives and pasteup, the Whole Earth Catalog was a book that took the publishing world by storm in 1968. Its function was defined in these words:

"The WHOLE EARTH CATALOG functions as an evaluation and access device. With it, the user should know better what is worth getting and where and how to do the getting.

An item is listed in the CATALOG if it is deemed:

1) Useful as a tool,
2) Relevant to independent education,
3) High quality or low cost,
4) Not already common knowledge,
5) Easily available by mail."

If Cool Tools is even remotely like the Whole Earth Catalog, it's the type of book that redefines the category by introducing you to some of the most interesting, unusual, useful tools (and ideas) in the world. I'm thrilled to have at least one of my articles included.

Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities kevin kelly

Browse the book here...

Kevin Kelly explains the idea...

More about Kelly who, to me, is one of the more interesting people on the planet...

A digital version of the original Whole Earth Catalog...

You can pre-order Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities here...

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Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities

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Oct 30

Ideas 101

A web resource that could become one of a designer's top ten »

It's called Niice and it is a search engine for creative inspiration. I've played with it for a while now and am impressed by the quality of what it finds.

As the designers of Niice explain it, "The internet is full of inspiration, but since Google doesn't have a 'Good Taste' filter, finding it means jumping back and forth between blogs and gallery sites. Niice is an inspiration search engine, letting you search across multiple hand-picked sources (Behance, Illustration age, Designspiration, SiteInspire & Fonts In Use for now, but we're working to add more)."

By the way, I very much like the idea that the sponsor of the site is given top billing at the top left, just below the search window.

niice creative search

Example: Here are the results for a search of the word "cheese"...

Niice: The creative inspiration search engine...

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Oct 28

Learning

"Slaves of the Internet, Unite!" »

Essayist and cartoonist Tim Krieder struck a blow for creatives Sunday in the New York Times. As he explains it, "People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn't be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing."

As of noon Sunday there were already over 400 comments, including this gem from Max Alexander: "With every new book I write, the publicist of the moment earnestly advises me that the best way to get publicity is to do lots of free blogging and tweeting. Then she sends me a bill."

Thanks to Jessica Mills-Jones for pointing us to it.

tags

Slaves of the Internet, Unite!...

Tim Kreider's website...

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Oct 25

Illustration

Meet illustrator Ariane Spanier »

Out of Berlin, Ariane Spanier produces unusual and interesting everythings.

ariane spanier design

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

The Ariane Spanier Design website...

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Oct 23

Web Design

A design so simple it could fool you into thinking it was easy to design »

And we know that rarely happens. But I l-o-v-e the new interface and design of Square Cash. It is a new service offered by Square Inc.—the folks who make Square Register, the device and app you've seen being used for completing credit cards transactions using an iPhone.

Square Cash allows you to transfer money from your debit account to another person's debit account—for free. Yes, for free.

Square's Creative Director is Robert Andersen, formerly a product designer at Apple. I must say, I admire his ability to oversee a project of this magnitude and arrive at such a simple-looking solution. Stand by, I've asked who should be credited with the design and I'll share it with you when (and if) they share it.

In the meantime...

tags

Square Cash...

A measured assessment of the service by Walt Mossberg, the Personal Technology columnist at the Wall Street Journal...

Square Inc...

Andersen's Dribbble page...

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Oct 21

Illustration

Meet illustrator Laura Plansker »

I love good, different—Laura Plansker is all about good, different.

laura plansker

Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Laura Plansker's...

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Oct 18

Illustration

Can you figure out how was this photograph produced? »

Before you read further, click on this photograph and see if you can figure out how it was produced. Then come back and read on...

tags

How was this photograph was produced?

I never would have guessed that what I was looking at was a model set in front of a real background.

Here are the models and the board...

It is a fascinating technique used by designer, illustrator, and model maker Michael Paul Smith. I point to it because I think it's such a smart idea to blend fiction and fact together.

The high resolution version of the photograph...

An interview with Michael Paul Smith (note that he does not use Photoshop)...

Smith's Flickr page...

An article about Smith and his creations from the New York Times...

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Oct 16

Typography

Are these the best webfonts ever? »

Hoefler & Frere-Jones, by any measure, one of the world's premiere type foundries has introduced Cloud.typography, a new, impressive webfont solution.

Thanks to Rob Green for pointing us to it.

tags

An introduction...

How it works...

How much it costs...

The service is delivered by Akamai, a giant distributed-computing platform...

H&FJ makes some gorgeous typefaces...

About typeface designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones...

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Oct 14

Marketing PR

An interesting, gutsy way to introduce (and motivate) your employees through your website »

As you know, I'm always looking for interesting ways to approach design and marketing problems.

AmericasPrinter.com is doing something I haven't seen before. Each of their sales managers has produced a video and its website offers them up as a way to choose who you would like to be your rep. I'm curious to know how many people make the choice and whether there are a few people who have gotten the most conversions because of their presentation.

If you've got a few minutes, tell me what you think about the process and who you would choose.

In any case, its easy to think of lots of ways to use a similar appeal.

tags

Choose a sales manager...

The AmericasPrinter website...

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Oct 11

Photography

An example of brilliant photographic storytelling »

This is brilliant. Photographer Gabriele Galimberti traveled the world capturing images of grandmothers and the dishes they prepare using their best recipes.

Brilliant on two levels. First, from a design standpoint, I love how he produced something that, in separate parts, might be considered unremarkable: a photograph of a person, a photograph of a plate of food, and a brief text explaining the experience and the recipe.

Yet, as a whole, it is storytelling at its best. Imagine the personal and professional skills it took to just to pull it off: to find the subjects, to assemble the ingredients and prepare the food, and to make the grandmothers involved comfortable enough to exude such pride and energy. It is that set of difficult to define skills and talents on the part of the creative, that differentiates great designers and photographers from average designers and photographers.

Please, do not miss the stories behind each photograph and its recipe (click "Info" under the image). My favorite line from the text I read is from Regina Lifumbo's Finkubala: "After about 10 minutes, add the maggots to the sauce and a spoon of salt."

The second level on which this work is brilliant is that Galimberti discovered a way to justify traveling the world eating free, grandmother-quality food, using photography as a cover.

Thanks to George Fincke for pointing us to it.

Gabriele Galimberti

Delicatessen with love by Gabriele Galimberti...

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Oct 10

Marketing PR

I'm sad tonight to hear of the passing of the father of Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson »

I met Jay when we both served on the Microsoft Small Business Council back in the 1990s and he was among the most genuine, lovely people I've ever met.

In those days he was at the top of his game, an author selling hundreds of thousands of books and enjoying enormous success. Yet he had time for everyone.

I remember, in particular, one occasion before a meeting, sitting with him and showing him some designs I had prepared and how interested and engaged he was.

It was that selflessness that, I believe, made him such a special person. He was, after all, the only person I've ever known who worked his way out of the upper echelon of big advertising--into the complex, individualized world of small business marketing.

And he did enormous good. His benchmark collection of practical, accessible insights helped countless organizations to see the logic in, and reap the benefits of, producing great products and services, treating people fairly, and improving the world around them.

Godspeed Jay.

jay conrad levinson

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Oct 9

Illustration

Interesting idea for graphic designers, photographers, and illustrators: Illustrated photographs »

Here's an interesting idea to add to your illustrative repertoire.

As part of its campaign for Brandermill Woods (a retirement community), Five19 Creative created a series of illustrations that feature real faces amongst illustrated backgrounds.

I can think of lots of ways to employ that technique. Cool idea.

illustrated photograph five19creative

The illustrated photograph..

A closeup view...

The design firm that created the campaign is Five19 Creative...

The illustrator is Chris Visions...

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Oct 8

Photography

Now even the prestigious Smithsonian Institute seems to be condoning the digital colorization of historical photographs »

As I have said before, I believe a photograph is a creative work that should be protected from this type of defacement—ethically, if not legally.

I can't image anyone having the temerity to colorize Ansel Adams' The Tetons--Snake River. Or Pablo Picasso's Guernica. And I doubt most would look favorably on a budding writer who decided to add a chapter or two to Joyce's Ulysses and republish it.

Is this any different?

smithsonian colorization

Is this any different?

What concerns me is not just the practice of editing/colorizing, but society's willingness to tacitly accept the appropriation of a creative work by a person other than its author and the assumption that their unrelated information/opinions/vision are attached in a way that implies a level of unearned credibility.

This retoucher, I'm guessing, has the best of intentions. But our acceptance of the practice leaves it open to anyone with the digital tools to likewise alter the images. That is why, across the world, so many fight to maintain the integrity of intellectual property.

The new, improved version of Dorthea Lange's "Migrant Mother"...

And the black and white original...

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With the permission of all involved, I have transcribed the comments folks made via the Facebook post that got this started. If you'd like to add your voice to the conversation, please add your comment below.

Martin Bounds...

Yes it is. You have to ask yourself if Matthew Brady had been able to take color photographs in the Civil War would he have? Of course he would. Photos like Ansel Adams' Tetons and Full Moon Over Half Dome were purposely taken in B&W. They are studies in contrast and part of their allure are the clean, well-defined lines in the photos.He was not trying to bring out colors but shapes As far as Picasso, I'm pretty sure he used every color he wanted to painting Guernica.

To that point, art archivists restore old paintings all the time in order to bring them back to their original color palette. I've seen these colorized civil war era photos referenced in the article. They are a far step ahead of the kind of block color typical of the first 30's and 40's film conversions that appeared about 20 years ago. To my eye they get the color and lighting almost perfectly. There is a further benefit to seeing this done in that it helps the viewer to better see these historic figures as people they might recognize today it helps to deromantisize our view of the past. I think they are fantastic and I think Matthew Brady rather than being enraged at the bastardization of his work would be enormously grateful that viewers are able to see more exactly what he saw 150 years ago.

Jim Salvas...

This has been argued to tedium in photo forums I frequent, with about equal numbers fervently on both sides. Martin, your distinction that colorizing a photo done before the widespread availability of color film but not afterward seems a good compromise. There are some I hate to see colorized into mere prettiness, such as a colorized version of Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" which I thought was an abomination of a great image.

Chuck Green...

Martin, unless you talked to Matthew Brady (which would be a whole different conversation), you simply don't know if he would have used color.

In the "skeptics" section of an article on "color photography," a Wikipedia author points out that Harold Baquet, "a photographer known best for documenting New Orleans civil rights--was not keen on color. He preferred, to take pictures mainly using black-and-white film. When asked about his reasoning for this preference during an interview, he replied 'The less is more thing. Sometimes the color distracts from the essential subject.'"

Jim (above) mentions Dorothea Lange's iconic "Migrant Mother." Her photographs, which are typically characterized as documentary in nature, were shot (in large part) for a government agency, the Farm Security Administration (FSA)--yet she used black and white. And, I believe, "Migrant Mother" was photographed in 1936 a year after Eastman Kodak introduced Kodachrome.

Martin Bounds...

Well, Matt and me go way back but.... I get that many photographers will use B&W because it fits the subject. Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Gordon Parks are well known for their B&W photos of depression era and Southern poverty. No coincidence that Parks was the cinematographer for Woody Allen's B&W "Manhattan" But the operative thing here is that Lange, Evans and Parks "chose" to use B&W even though color was available.

Maybe Matthew Brady would have preferred to use black and white but given the subject matter, especially armies encamped and in drills where flags and dress were so much a part of the spectacle I think not. I just don't think, in this case, it's a violation of his art to add color when you can do it so well and to such dramatic effect. In my opinion it more closely achieves what he wanted to do which was to bring the spectacle of the Civil War which in scale and violence surpassed any war prior to it, to a public far away from the battlefield. When you know the original work was purposely done in B&W that's a different case which is why I hope never to see a colorized version of "Raging Bull" or Walker Evans "colorful" view of the South.

Von Glitschka...

I've seen it done really well, and not so well. These fall into the latter.

Chuck Green...

Whaddaya think Von? http://www.shorpy.com/node/6597?size=_original

Silvia Brandmeier...

I don't see why we shouldn't have both. Those past time photos are not only to be seen under an artistically aspect. For people interested in history or the biographies of the depicted person it is surprisingly different how one relates to the story in that picture. In my opinion b&w photos often look "far away, long ago". And that creates a feeling of distance and detachedness from real live. It also puts them on a pedestal where you can look at it from a safe distance and forget about the content the photograph wanted to show.

From an artists viewpoint I can understand why for example "Migrant Mother" shouldn't be colorized. But under the aspect of making the hardship and sorrow of this mother and her kids come alive not only in front of the eye of the beholder but making it almost painfully palpable within him - that is for much more people possible through the colored photo that lifts it out of being an icon of art. You immediately understand that you can walk out of your door and find people that are in a similar situation right now in front of you. NOW - poverty and sorrow have not left us since 1937.

I realized the power of colorized photos when I first saw colorized historic films from the Nazi regime / WW II in my country. Being german I have seen b&w photos all of the time since my childhood in school, newspapers, TV. But seeing for the first time those same films and pictures in color... you can't imagine how different that was for me. All of a sudden those historic people became "neighbours and fellows" so to say instead of historic figures. And seeing those rows and rows of marching soldiers raising their arms to greet Hitler as everyday life so to say makes them much more painful - it has much more impact seeing those situations "as real life".

Linda Barger Bonneau...

B&W excellent media for showing time, emotions better than color which tends to soften those edges.

Martin Bounds...

@Silvia If I could triple like your post I would

Chuck Green...

@Silva You've made my point. The colorization changed your perceptions about the subject. Changed them not with a truth, but by mimicking a truth.

This colorization may be somewhat accurate, we'll never know. What we do know is that the image is now misquoted and, because we sanction the misquotation, it will compete with, or perhaps even usurp, the credibility of the original going forward.

It may sound on the surface as "harping," but I believe it is one of those small things that has large consequences. Not because of this distinct case but because of our acceptance of the practice over time--by anyone with the tools, for any whim or objective.

It is clearly going to happen, but, to come full circle to my original point, now even the prestigious Smithsonian Institute seems to be condoning the practice--and that, I honestly believe, is a significant occurrence worth discussing.

Silvia Brandmeier...

Chuck, I disagree. Putting the same picture on a pedestal of being an artistic original, in case of the Migrant Mother even an iconic artistic original, is also mimicking the truth. It covers the fact we do only have our perception of "the truth", be it in b&w or color, historic picture or contemporary.

Yes, the color changed my perception of the subject. But the b&w photo of Migrant Mother is also "only" an interpretation of reality and delivers it's own truth - and there is no chance of having an exact scientific decision of what the true truth is. So we do now have two perceptions of the same thing (and even more are possible) - which one is more valid?
One can argue the b&w picture is historically more valid because the photograph delivered the image that way. But that is it...

Silvia Brandmeier...

Some months ago I saw a report about the photos published in mass media after the twin towers crashed. The pictures of those people jumping off the skyscrapers. And the report put the text comments and interpretations side by side not only with the one picture they were originally printed with but with the whole series where you could see the situation develop over seconds or even minutes. It was hard stuff, really hard to take. It was a lesson in how our reality is created. Everything published is mimicking a truth, more or less visible. Unbiased truth is not delivered in photography, not in news reports, not in science. Where humans deliver something there is always a human factor and never unbiased truth.

Martin Bounds...

Chuck, glad you did not let this sleeping dog lie, I wanted to add one other thought to this issue and you have sort of addressed with your post here. If there was as standing prohibition against altering existing imagery I think that would act to unnecessarily to suppress creativity and would leave us a bit poorer for it. The copyright laws protecting intellectual property exist in part to protect aesthetic value but also to protect their commercial value as well. The basic idea is that the original artist (creator) is given enough time to benefit from their original work; the same concept that protects drug formulas. That used to be 35 years, now thanks to Disney's need to protect their cannon, it's 70.

But, many of these images that you have been referring to are iconic. Meaning that they have become fixed in our imaginations and most importantly they define how we think about, process and feel about the subjects they address. Altering them does more than simply offer another version of the image in many cases it challenges the accepted concept of the issue that these images have done so much to shape.

I think Silvia's comment is a perfect example of that. B&W accents the context of the image, color accents the people in it. Viewing lines of marching Nazi youth in B&W has an historical feel to it, seeing it in color helps you to better identify with the people involved in it, helps you to transfer that experience to current time. The reason I had such a strong like for Silvia's comment was I had a similar reaction looking at the colorized portrait of Lee (one which I have seen innumerable times in its original composition) it made me think a bit differently about it than I have before.

A good example of the effect of a overall ban would have might be to think about Warhol's Campbell's soup can painting. What if Warhol had been afraid of doing that for fear of being sued? (they actually did sue him later) Warhol's point in painting that was to make a statement about the ubiquity of commercial imagery in the modern environment verses say religious painting. He was using an icon to make a point. The prevention of that kind of work (and the response exemplified by Silvia's comment is why I think your blanket prohibition is not a good idea.

Chuck Green...

Let's not get hung up on legal protection--I am absolutely clear there is no legal argument here--I never claimed there was. I'm pointing out that as we sanction this type of "anything goes" editing, the "truth" of the original photograph gets more and more blurry. Yes Silva, there is truth in expression. The original author established it.

Martin Bounds...

Okay. Good hashing this out even though we don't agree.

Silvia Brandmeier...

Chuck, sorry, I really don't want to look smart or keep the last word. But how can there be a truth in expression when there can't be a truth in perception? A picture is nothing except someone looks at it. And when someone looks at it there is no truth without the beholders... imagination, personality, experience, expectations, interpretation... This and more forms what the beholder is seeing.

It is a bit like with Heisenberg indeterminacy principle. You can't separate the object of observation from being observed. Similarly you could only establish a truth of expression as long as no human is watching the picture. The moment a human is looking at the picture the truth of expression is "spoiled" by the beholder.

And if there would be a truth in expression established by the original author, let's assume it for a moment, then it is right that he would have been established it for the original picture. And the one colorizing the old photo establishes the truth for the new colored version.

I can understand that a photographer has a certain notion about what it is that he publishes. Otherwise he would not be an artist-photographer. But I believe there is a reality - or let's call it truth - that is attached to the content of what is shown and that lies not exactly within the form of the piece of art nor in the interpretation/expression of the artist.

Chuck Green...

Haha Silva, I'm no match for a metaphysician.

"Call me Chuck. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my wallet, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world."

Zoe Heimdal...

As an aside -- I think the examples of the colorizing in this Smithsonian article are so badly done that it almost makes the argument against itself by its own execution. As a person who could be open-minded about a dialog re: the pros/cons of colorizing old photos -- seeing the amateur (harsh/non-realistic) way that these were done makes me want to say hell no.

John McWade...

I like the colorizing. I agree with Martin and Silvia and Von. No, this person didn't do a great job, but hey. This is photojournalism, right? Nothing precious about it. If color were as easy then as it is today, money says these pix would have been shot in color. And NOT POSED, which is merely a necessity of slow shutter speeds.

How many black & white portraits were hand-colored BACK THEN? It was a whole profession. People choose color. It's what life looks like. Virtually all photography today is in color; only "art" is deliberately shot black & white.

Ansel Adams is a special case; coloring his pix would remove the drama and make them ordinary. Colorizing Civil War pix makes the past real. As for the migrant woman, early color photography was a pain in the darkroom and on the press; black & white was for decades more convenient for documentary, not to mention cheaper.

And besides all that, the colorized version does not destroy the black & white original, so the purists can stay happy.

Chuck Green...

OMG... Someone must have hacked John McWade's FB account!

Syen Sofian...

I think there are certain things about the past that should be left alone... and one of it is the originality of how it was then. It is fine to have some fun and put some colours, but it should just stay that way.. for some fun, but if it has seep into places that should protect the past as it was, then it is time to draw the line.

Fred Showker...

wow ... what a a thread ... quotable for sure . . . and note how many colorization experts are represented. LMAO easy to criticize -- but I like John McWade's base sentiment : "Colorizing Civil War pix makes the past real." I agree -- strengthens the message for the intended audience -- the challenge for all designers. . .(And John's hidden message - ie: it's all about the money! )

Fred Showker...

compare to the colorization above . two different messages -- two different results. BOTH are valid. Except somehow the BW says "a photograph of a condition" and the color says "sad condition" ??? Hmmmmmm high res of original http://upload.wikimedia.org/.../54/Lange-MigrantMother02.jpg


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Fred Showker...

Another view... Fact and Fiction - Some Questions on Documentary Photography

As discussed earlier in (Re)Defining Documentary Photography - Then and Now, the very nature of photography is subject to manipulation and thus, questions are raised regarding our concept of "fact" and "fiction."

http://bit.ly/18XJSmS

Zoe Heimdal...

Another aside... I remember hearing Joan Crawford talk about how dress (etc) colors were sometimes chosen for black-and-white movies based on the shade of grey that they would reproduce as on film, and not because they were good colors for people to wear in general or whether they matched the couch, or other such stylistic decisions.

By coloring images to make more contemporary, there is much license-taking by the digital artist, and I can imagine those images going forward through time and the Internet to take on a life of their own, and future assumptions being made that those colors were accurate to the time/situation... when in fact, they would have been just random preferences/guesses. That bothers me. But I've also colored my share of old photos -- so I'm not saying that there isn't a time and a place for doing so. I just think that digital artists should be mindful of the big (historic) picture.

Chuck Groth...

I have to side with the "don't f with someone else's work" faction. it's a horrible disgrace, and to justify it by saying that the original creator 'would have wanted it that way' is absurd. the original photos ARE real. colorizing them doesn't make them more real, it makes them less so, because they are not genuine. they may as well be reenactment photos in color if color is what will 'bring the past to life.' and after working half of my life in journalism, i take PARTICULAR OFFENSE to anyone who would say, "This is photojournalism, right? Nothing precious about it."

Fred Showker...

Zoe Heimdal... that puzzled me... how did the hand colorist know the lady's dress color or the kids hair, or other detail. See how deep the density is of the left side kid's neck, and background. The hand colorist has to predict all that. In this side-by-side comparison, it looked for the densities in the original and how they were matched up in the color version. I had to lower the overall histogram to get closer to the densities of the black and white. I think the lady's shirt was RED tablecloth plaid NOT blue. Blue "feels" better to the colorist, but would not have photographed as dark as the plaid in the original. Once you really start comparing, it gets really interesting. Right-click and open the link in a new window, then right click again to view the largest version.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202338191516144&set=p.10202338191516144&type=1

Chuck Green...

I'll side with Woody Allen, Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and many others who have spoken against the process of colorization.

With director John Huston, who argued, regarding the colorization of "The Maltese Falcon," "I shot it in black and white the same way a sculptor chooses between clay, bronze or marble."

And Frank Capra, who said, regarding the colorization of "It's a Wonderful Life," "They ruined it--splashed Easter egg colors all over and ruined it."

Can't happen here? Have a look at this lovely rendition of an Ansel Adams Classic.

http://1kayin1.fortunecity.ws/ansel.html

Further reading...

http://www.caslon.com.au/mrcasesnote2.htm#colourisation

http://www.nytimes.com

http://articles.latimes.com/.../mn-5589_1_film-commission

http://1kayin1.fortunecity.ws/ansel.html

Linda Barger Bonneau...

Total dislike Ansel pic colorized. I did a paper on him in my art class in college and can't imagine changing a thing about his amazing work.

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Oct 7

Mind Vacations

Weird: Lou Brooks' vampire lamp from Lamp-In-A-Box »

Illustrator extraordinaire and curator of the The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, Lou Brooks is promoting his custom designed lampshades.

It led me to Lamp-In-A-Box, a fun website that allows you to purchase lamps with shades designed using every imaginable type of imagery.

tags

Lou Brooks' Vampire lamp from Lamp In A Box...

You can also design your own lamp...

Lou's portfolio...

The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies...

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Oct 4

Learning

One of the biggest, baddest sheetfed printing presses on the planet »

Printing is an art, but it's also a science. Here's an inside look at the installation of one of the biggest, baddest sheetfed presses I've ever seen: the Heidelberg VLF (Very Large Format) Speedmaster XL 145.

I had no idea the installation of one of these big presses was this involved (I've always shown up in the plant after the fact). It gives me a new appreciation for something most designers (me included) take for granted--the technology, equipment, and people it takes to transform that file into a tangible product.

heidelberg speedmaster printing press

The big, bad Speedmaster XL 145...

More about the press from Heidelberg...

Ready to pick one up for the office?...

More Heidelberg products and services...

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myfonts top 50 typefaces

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Oct 2

Print Design

Graphic designer, promote thyself »

Want to stay busy, feel wanted, turn heads, make a difference? Think differently.

What distinguishes an identity from a brand is one's desire, ability, and stick-to-itiveness to do remarkable things.

Steve Bland, a talented retoucher, enlisted Interbrand Australia to recast him as "The Great Blandini."

how to promote yourself

A look at the project by Mike Rigby, Creative Director of Interbrand Australia...

The Great Blandini's website...

Seth Godin defines remarkable...

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Sep 30

Learning

When you need to know what works »

Look at history. The Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in Duke's Special Collection Library, "Acquires and preserves printed material and collections of textual and multimedia resources and makes them available to researchers around the world."

Here's an introduction:

Duke Ad Access: An image database of over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955.

duke hartman center advertising marketing

Ad Access...

They have an extensive collection of the personal papers of a growing number of advertising luminaries.

For example...

Ad Views: Thousands of television commercials created or collected by the D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B) advertising agency, dated 1950s-1980s.

Ad Views...

Emergence of Advertising in America: A database of over 9,000 advertising items and publications dated 1850-1920, illustrating the rise of consumer culture, and the birth of a professionalized advertising industry.

Emergence of Advertising in America...

Medicine and Madison Avenue: A database of over 600 health-related advertisements printed between 1911 and 1958, as well as 35 selected historical documents relating to health-related advertising.

Medicine and Madison Avenue...

ROAD: Resource of Outdoor Advertising Descriptions: A database of over 50,000 descriptions of images of outdoor advertising dating from the 1920s through the 1990s, pulled from four outdoor advertising collections including the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA).

ROAD: Resource of Outdoor Advertising Descriptions...

Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library, 1891-1994: More than 11,000 images of outdoor advertisements and slide presentations from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, the primary professional organization in the field.

Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library...

There's plenty more. For example this Russian Posters Collection: A collection of 20th-century Russian posters spans almost the entire history of the Soviet Union (1917-1991).

Russian Posters Collection...

The home page of the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History...

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Sep 27

Graphics Tech

Introducing "Television" »

Just seventy-some years ago, Television was just being introduced to the public. This wonderful short from RCA is a must see for anyone who doesn't appreciate the science fiction world of 2013.

introducing television

An RCA Presentation: Television (1939)...

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Sep 25

Graphics Tech

"The less qualified we are, the more excited we are to take something on." »

Moonbot Studios is about trying to do things that we've never done before. In one piece I watched, William Joyce, its co-founder says, "The less qualified we are the more excited we are to take something on."

Moonbot Studios bills itself as a multi-platform storytelling studio specializing in feature-quality animation, traditional publishing and mobile app development.

moonbot studios

A quick tour of the Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana...

The Moonbot Studios website...

Fast Company's take on the studio...

About The IMAG·N·O·TRON App...

About Mr. Morris Lessmore...

BTW, Moonbot Studios produced Chipotle's Scarecrow piece we discussed last time...

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Sep 23

Marketing PR

More of restaurant chain Chipotle's unique brand of marketing »

Here's another out-of-the-ordinary brand-builder from the restaurant chain Chipotle. It is uses a beautifully crafted digital animation piece to tout the release of a game for the iPhone and iPad.

You can look at it as a strike against factory farming or, as Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post so glibly puts it, "This ad is like asking you to eat the cast of 'Toy Story.'"

tags

The new TV-spot...

The Chipotle website...

Haha... build them up and there's alway a snarky someone to tear them down—Alexandra Petri...

A previous post about another groundbreaking Chipotle spot...

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Sep 20

Illustration

REAL information graphics illustrate fairly unremarkable data in a way that makes it remarkable »

So much of what is labeled as "information graphics" isn't. To me, most of it is simple charts, graphs, and lists with colorful headlines and pictures.

These two examples from waitbutwhy.com illustrate fairly unremarkable data in a way that makes it remarkable—they reveal ideas and help you see the data in a light you did not anticipate.

Thanks to Clarke Green of scoutmastercg.com for pointing us to it.

information graphics

Putting time and history in perspective...

Putting world population in perspective...

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