Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

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Saturday, March 28th, 2015
Nevada Pistol Academy brochure

Nevada Pistol Academy brochure

 

I’m not a big submachine gun person. But when I was given a brochure from the Nevada Pistol Academy, I had to think twice. I wasn’t torn between wanting a submachine gun or not. I couldn’t decide if the design was wonderful or horrible. It used to be so easy. In the 1950s, graphic design was good if it had Helvetica and a Swiss grid. Then the 1960s Fillmore posters and Herb Lubalin shook that all up. When the Cult of the Ugly thing happened in the 90s it was even more confusing. And now the Default Design Dutch-like work has everyone wondering if something is designed or not designed.

Is the Pistol Academy brochure the height of Default Design and irony? It uses naive system font typography, has white boxes on top of images with Japanese characters, and a Times Roman map. If a designer I respected made this would I love it and think the mix of centered and flush left copy was genius? It’s all quite confusing.

Let’s leave it this way: if you love default Dutchy design, this is a work of art. If you don’t, it’s undesigned and bad. Or you could stay somewhere in the middle and wake up at 3am wondering, “Is that Nevada Pistol Academy brochure delightful or disgusting?”

Default groovy design brochure

Default groovy design brochure

Default groovy design book

Default groovy design book

System fonts, mixed alignments, naive photography, good or bad?

System fonts, mixed alignments, naive photography, good or bad?

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Awkward composition and “real” lighting, yes or no?

 

Nevada Pistol Academy brochure

The typography echoes the horizontal image elements

The hip Times Roman map

The hip Times Roman map

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The Pleasure of Small Problems

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
Sean Adams, Soviet Dialogues poster, 2015

Sean Adams, Soviet Dialogues poster, 2015

Last week, I finished a poster for Dialogues: Poster Art of the Soviet Union. I could do anything I wanted. I chose to stay away from 45 degree angles and Constructivist typography. They just didn’t go well with Khrushchev‘s testicle quote. I had a great time working on it, and hope it is useful for the event. But is it graphic design?

For a long time, the battle cry of design has been “problem solving.” Well, what isn’t? Create an urban signage system to help revitalize mid-Manhattan. Yep, problem solved. Design an information guide and website to help in an environmental disaster, check. Make an identity system and collateral for a homeless shelter, uh huh. But the problem with narrowing the focus of design onto only a tiny aspect is the inherent exclusion of anything that is deemed as not serious problem solving. If there isn’t a multi-page case study, with dense research, clear results, and a sans serif font, then it’s not design.

But where does that leave the work that is, frankly, just amazing without a giant purpose? Using the metric of justifying all design by the density of the issue negates most of the work that moved the profession forward. That Paul Rand Apparel Arts Magazine cover with the propeller, really? That had a deep purpose and widespread effect on the garment industry? No, so it’s out. The same goes for Saul Bass’ beautiful poster for The Music Center, Alexey Brodovitch’s Ballet book, and a long list of work that shaped me as a designer.

I’ll stick with not defining graphic design. It uses words, symbols, and images to communicate. Some of it solves problems that are big, some solve the problem of making me happy for a moment. That’s good for me. Leaving this open allows for work that may be simply ridiculously wonderful.

Paul Rand, Apparel Arts magazine

Paul Rand, Apparel Arts magazine

Saul Bass, The Music Center

Saul Bass, The Music Center

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Alexey Brodovitch, Ballet book

Colin Forbes, Metrics  poster

Colin Forbes, Metrics poster

Paul Rand, Container Corporation of America

Paul Rand, Container Corporation of America

Leo Lionni, AIGA Award

Leo Lionni, AIGA Award

The Settlers Return

Friday, December 19th, 2014

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Hey Hey Crochet

Sunday, December 14th, 2014
Why? In the name of all that is holy, why!?

Why? In the name of all that is holy, why!?

People often ask me to explain how I choose colors on a project. “You’re so good with color,” they say, “What is your process?” My process is to liberally take color palettes from anywhere. Some call it stealing, I consider it appropriation.

I have a collection of crocheted hangars my grandmother made. I don’t use them because I’m too OCD and all the hangars in the house must be the exact same white plastic or wood version. But I do love the crochet hangars. The colors are wonderful. So I made a color palette out of them. It’s not high design. It’s not a careful exploration of values and tones ala Johannes Itten. It’s a palette from 1970s yarn.

I’m impressed at how many of these my grandmother, Oma, made. She was an avid crocheter and made many afghans, hats, and sweaters. I don’t understand the afghans. Since they are made with big crochet holes, they don’t really keep anyone warm. And as much as I admire Oma’s fortitude and talent, I was never a big fan of receiving a crocheted sweater. They aren’t really hip in the 6th grade.

It could have been worse, 1970s crocheted clothing is far worse than any bad gift you will ever receive. The next time you complain because Aunt Bess gave you hideous patterned sweater, be thankful it isn’t a rust and mauve crochet caftan.

Me, my sister with a crochet hat, and my brother with a crochet sweater. Pink, rust, turquoise? uh, ok.

Me, my sister with a crochet hat, and my brother with a crochet sweater. Pink, rust, turquoise? uh, ok.

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Palette
P1020642 P1020661 P1020660 P1020659 P1020658 P1020657 P1020656 P1020655 P1020654 P1020653 P1020652 P1020651 P1020650 P1020649 P1020648 P1020647 P1020646 P1020645 P1020644 P1020643color

Wear a quilt as a dress

Wear a quilt as a dress

1970 vintage fashion man vita su marte crochet 2

Belted sweaters for men are never a good gift concept

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Does that dress look suspiciously like a plant hanger?

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Wow

When More is Not Enough

Friday, December 5th, 2014
Lingscars.com

Lingscars.com

You know how teachers are always saying, “I love teaching, the students teach me as much as I teach them.”? It’s true. Yes, in a high-falutin’ idealistic way, but usually in odd and unexpected knowledge. This week, I learned that raping an old person is called “grape” after “grandparent rape”. I learned that I could turn off that annoying double click isolate feature in Illustrator. And I learned the worse thing a young man can say to a woman is, “Make me a sandwich.” I don’t know why. I’d be happy to make someone a sandwich, it doesn’t seem that egregious.

The absolute most exciting piece of information was lingscars.com.. Nicole Jacek pointed me to this site ages ago, but I lost it. My students in Type Design 5 found it for me. I’m sure I’m behind the curve on this one. Everyone already probably knows about it, but humor a square designer who spends time looking at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs collection. Lingscars.com is the most incredible website ever designed. It has everything from singing people, a Darth Vader mask, a walking chicken, and flight attendants doing a safety demo. If that isn’t enough, the code is genius.

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