Jan 30

January 2012

Lyrical lettering for a serious subject »

I love these stamp designs created for the Royal Mail by Hat-Trick Design and letterer Marion Deuchars. There's just something about black, white, and red that makes a subject a bit more profound.

This is the rare case when lettering that might normally be construed as having a light or lyrical tone is successfully paired with a serious subject. Why is that?

shakespeare stamps Marion Deuchars and Hat-Trick Design

Hamlet...

The Tempest...

Henry VI...

King Lear...

A Midsummer Night's Dream...

Romeo and Juliet...

Marion Deuchars...

Hat-Trick Design...

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Jan 27

January 2012

Is it possible to successfully rebrand one of world's largest, most un-cool retail institutions? »

What were you thinking Ron Johnson? Why would you go from Target to Apple just when the Target brand had caught fire and Apple was at $25 per share (January of 2000)? Then from Apple, the world's most successful brand, to JCPenny a conventional, old-school department store? The answer may surprise you -- it surprised me.

On February 1st JCPenny, America's 25th largest national advertiser ($1.32 billion ) and its new CEO Ron Johnson (November 2011), is going to attempt to redefine retailing.

I'm not going to even attempt to explain the strategy, just understand that, as designers and marketers, we need to track how this experiment unfolds (I call it an experiment, but as Johnson describes it, it's a sure thing).

It's ALL about remaking a brand, revolutionizing the retail marketing model, and infusing everything with a new look and feel. I encourage you to watch at least the first 20 minutes of the hour-long launch video, I guarantee you won't regret it.

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The launch...

The press release with details...

The new JCP logo...

The new TV spot: it sure got my attention...

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Jan 25

January 2012

Meet illustrator Mitch Blunt »

Mitch Blunt offers an example of how an illustrator's style can evolve throughout their career. Between the last example and the first three, he found a whole new way of expressing his ideas. And with it, a list of clients such as Wired, Google, and The Atlantic.

Thanks to my son Rob Green for pointing us to it.

mitch blunt

Example 1 from 2011...

Example 2 from 2011...

Example 3 from 2011 ...

Example 4 from 2009...

Blunt's Tumblr page...

An interview with Mitch Blunt...

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Jan 23

January 2012

How to "build" a story illustration one point at a time »

Two reasons to watch this video. First and foremost, I really like the way it tells the story of its subject. The juxtaposition of a person with type and illustrations is effective and the scene us use to build the story drew me in and made me want to sick around for the outcome.

The second reason to watch the video is to learn about Hyper Island, a school of sorts for students and a continuing education source for working creatives.

It sounds as if, one important aspect of the experience is to get you up to speed on the digital world -- as one attendee, Kathy Hepinstall a former Creative Director at Martin Agency, put it: "It used to be charming for a creative in advertising to be a technophobe. Not so anymore so climb out of the tar pit, Dino".

I don't know enough about it to know just how relevant it all is, but the testimonials by attendees reads like a who's who of advertising agencies so there must be something cooking.

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Hyper Island On a Wall...

About Hyper Island...

Programs...

Master classes...

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Jan 20

January 2012

Read the research on global mobile use -- from all angles »

You don't need to read the research to know that many workflows and types of communication are shifting from desktops and laptops to mobile devices. One stat says there are already 1.2 BILLION mobile Web users worldwide. That's WEB users. Another asserts that 87 percent of the world population or 5.9 people are already mobile subscribers. Wow, I realized we were in another big technological shift, but (I must admit) I didn't fully appreciate the scope of it.

How will all this effect you and your business? I encourage you to read some of the research. That's what I've been doing. As my clients get more deeply involved with mobile, I do too. And if you need an orientation on the subject, mobiThinking's Global mobile statistics for 2012 is a good place to start.

The link below will take you to the full listing plus I have chosen a few other reports and linked you to them, just to give you a sense of the depth of research available.

global mobile use

mobiThinking's Global mobile statistics for 2012...

From On Device Research: Mobile Media and TV...

From Gartner: iPad and Beyond: What the Future of Computing Holds...

From comScore: 14 Million Americans Scanned QR Codes on their Mobile Phones in June 2011...

From Adobe: What Users Want from Media, Finance, Travel & Shopping...

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Jan 18

January 2012

Meet illustrator/artist Ahn Min Jeong »

Here, by way of Will Schofield's 50 Watts blog is the work of Ahn Min Jeong, an artist from Seoul, South Korea. These works are analogous to the kind of fine engraving you'd find in the design of currency. In some cases you see graphic design mimicking art, in this case (to me) it is art mimicking graphic design. (Her website presents her name as Ahn Min Jeong, but is looks as though others refer to her as Minjeong An — apologies for the discrepancy.)

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Example 1...

Example 2...

Example 3...

Website...

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Jan 16

January 2012

The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies relaunches »

I almost never repeat a link here but after a long hiatus Lou Brooks, Doctor of Art Supplies, has re-opened the doors of the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies. A better, newer, collection of recent commercial art history.

The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies

The front door...

The collection...

Lou Brooks, of course, is a fabulously talented designer and illustrator. This is his website...

Haha... I had a Luci (Lucigraph) for many years, this exact model...

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Jan 13

January 2012

The emotional brand »

Graphic designer and farmer's son Peter Buchanan-Smith understands branding and the storytelling that transforms a product into an experience people want to be a part of.

He started the Best Made Company to sell high-quality, sturdily-packaged, American felling axes. Yes, it does sound a bit strange, but once you hear the story and see the products you'll understand what he's about.

As they tell it, "A Best Made axe is a tool for survival and productivity and at its heart it's a symbol of many admirable virtues." Paola Antonelli, the senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art describes the axes as "the ultimate antidote to life on the high-broadband lane."

best made company

One of the axes...

Peter tells the story...

A story about the "Urban Ax" from the NYT...

Best Made Company is in the process of expanding its list of products, among the additions are these badges...

The home page...

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Jan 11

January 2012

An elastic website »

In a world of websites that look, increasingly, as if they were pickled in the same jar, Justin Lerner's JLern.com stands out. I like the elasticity of it, the color palette, and the fact that it all fits on a single page.

justin lerner

Justin Lerner...

Here's the mobile redirect version — it also works well...

The page above is a new design that replaces this now archived version...

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Jan 10

January 2012

Two questions for creatives »

Will you do me a favor? I'd like to use the occasion of the new year to ask you two questions about your walk as a creative. First...

How are you doing?

Are you busy, motivated, optimistic, learning new things? In other words, what is your state of mind about the state of your craft (graphic design, marketing, illustration, photography, writing — whichever part of the creative field you represent)?

What is the most challenging part of your job at this point in your career?

Maybe it's something that has always been a challenge or maybe it's a distinct change in the landscape. Tell us where the roadblock is, or if you've already found the path around it, what the solution was.

Why these questions? Because it will be interesting to know if there are any common threads that run among us. And it might be encouraging to others to hear about the issues colleagues are dealing with — positive and negative.

There are no rules — just share what moves you and we'll see what happens. If you would prefer not to share your answers publicly, address them to me at chuckgreen@ideabook.com and I will report on them in general. Thanks in advance.

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Jan 9

January 2012

Why cartography is a feat of graphic design »

How do you make a better map? Ask cartographer David Imus. Mapmaking is not only about measurements and data, a great map is a feat of graphic design.

David Imus recently won the Cartography and Geographic Information Society's (CaGIS) annual Map Design Competition, Best of Show designation for his acclaimed new map: The Essential Geography of the United States of America.

Seth Stevenson takes a look the making of the map and explains what makes it significant in a piece he wrote for Slate.com.

Many thanks to Wendy Hersh for pointing us to it.

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The Essential Geography of the United States of America...

An insightful piece about the map by Seth Stevenson for Slate.com...

The Imus Geographics website...

The Cartography and Geographic Information Society's (CaGIS) website...

About David Imus...

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Jan 6

January 2012

Would you support a rating system that reveals how much a particular image was digitally altered? »

This paper, mentioned widely in recent days, addresses the digital alteration of photographs. Eric Kee and Hany Farid are the authors of A perceptual metric for photo retouching, published by the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.

I found this passage and much that follows to be most interesting, "We propose that the interests of advertisers, publishers, and consumers may be protected by providing a perceptually meaningful rating of the amount by which a person's appearance has been digitally altered. When published alongside a photo, such a rating can inform consumers of how much a photo has strayed from reality, and can also inform photo editors of exaggerated and perhaps unintended alterations to a person's appearance."

You can image the ramifications of such a rating could be both good and bad. Thought the authors devote much of their focus to "...highly idealized and unobtainable body images," I can image particularly practical uses of the technology such as detecting the amount of retouching used in creating that mouth-watering photograph of a hamburger.

Interesting, the acknowledgements tell us, "This work was supported by a gift from Adobe Systems, Inc., a gift from Microsoft, Inc. and a grant from the National Science Foundation...".

photo retouching rating system

Describe pic link...

A perceptual metric for photo retouching (2.6MB PDF)...

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Jan 4

January 2012

For the graphic designer who wants to create their own products »

Let's make stuff! Take, for example, something as simple as this one gallon can of "Immortality" from Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company — if you wanted to make a similar product, where would you get the can to apply the label to? Easy: from a place like The Cary Company.

Below, just to get you thinking, is a list of companies/websites that provide supplies for making things — packaging, raw materials, fasteners, and so on. I can't vouch for these specific companies but the list will give you an inkling of the possibilities.

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Inventables.com for raw materials, tools, fasteners, and electrical components...

TheCaryCompany.com for containers...

DiskMakers.com for CD and DVD duplication and packaging...

Gaylord.com for library and archival supplies...

Sciplus.com for products with a science or educational tilt...

SpecialtyBottle.com for bottles, jars and tin containers....

WorldClassMedals.com for high-quality medals...

My post about Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company...

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Jan 2

January 2012

Design as action »

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York have co-organized an international exhibition titled Graphic Design: Now in Production — what is being called, "an ambitious look at the broad-ranging field of graphic design".

As the exhibit's website describes it, the exhibit "explores how graphic design has broadened its reach dramatically over the past decade, expanding from a specialized profession to a widely deployed tool." The work featured, "explores design-driven magazines, newspapers, books, and posters as well as branding programs for corporations, subcultures, and nations".

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Whether or not you are able to visit the exhibit, I encourage you to order a copy of the exhibit catalogue, a 225-page book that includes hundreds of examples plus twenty-some opinion pieces on the recent history and current state of graphic design by the exhibit's curatorial team and others.

The irony is graphic design, as Ellen Lupton puts it, is "about doing something in the world" or pragmatics — and the very nature of such an exhibit is to look at the work and describe it (for the most part) outside the context for which it takes action. It will fascinating to see how well the exhibit is able to bridge that divide.

I'm anxious to see it — here are the venues:

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis through January 22, 2012

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York, May 16, 2012

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California, September 30, 2012

Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas, July 19, 2013

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC, Oct 24, 2013

A quick overview...

The exhibit web page...

About the exhibit catalogue...

Purchase the exhibit catalogue...

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Jan 2

January 2012

To everyone who ever conducts job interviews... »

I have run into a couple of colleagues lately who, after they were interviewed for a position, did not hear back from the potential employer (no less hear back from them in a timely manner). I believe the folks who told me, but I find such treatment unimaginable.

If you're guilty of this offense, give me a moment (I can tell you the truth because I'm not in the market).

What I want to say is this: No matter who you interview, if someone has gone to the trouble of coming to shake your hand and tell you about themselves with the understanding that you might hire them, you are REQUIRED by any measurement of human decency to contact them in a timely manner and to give them a status of the process.

Maybe you're still considering them, maybe you've decided not to hire anyone, maybe you hired someone else, or maybe you haven't made a decision in the days since you spoke with them — the point is you OWE that person a thank you and an update — in writing or by phone. Period.

It doesn't matter if you're the CEO of a publicly traded corporation or the manager of a small business, you need to build a timely, meaningful response into your hiring process. If you delegate the responsibility to others and you're not clear if and how they follow up, you are equally at fault if it's not getting done. (It is not surprising that many of the most powerful people I've dealt in my career are also some of the most cognizant of other people's feelings — that's one reason they got to where they are.)

Disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I just hate to think that anyone who has the wherewithal to hire someone else needs to be reminded to "do as you would be done by".

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