Archive for February, 2010

That Sanitarium is Very Expensive!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

A couple of years ago, Debbie Millman and I were staying at the Parker in Palm Springs. No, we weren’t there together for a romantic getaway. There were 13 other designers there also. Debbie began reading a copy of Jacqueline Susann’s  Valley of the Dolls that was in her room. When we left, she mentioned that she’d like to own a first edition. I immediately began looking for one, but before I could track one down, Debbie had bought her own. If you don’t have time to read, or prefer to look at books with pictures only, I suggest watching the movie. Forget reading Machiavelli for tips on politics and business. Valley of the Dolls will give you all the information you need when you want to get your way. Throwing tantrums, overdosing, blackmail, seduction, and back-stabbing are all covered thoroughly.

Here are some examples of some of the dialogue that can be used for almost any situation:

When you don’t feel like getting up from the sofa and want some soda: “I can’t feel my legs!”

This can be said at any design conference if someone looks at you funny: “I don’t need ANYBODY. I got talent, BIG talent.”

I like to say this when I tell everyone that they need to work over the weekend while I plan on reading by the pool: “Having FUN kiddies?”

If someone suggests an independent film that sounds dull: “Art films? Nudies! That’s all they are. Nudies.”

This is good to say loudly on your cell phone in any public setting: “You told me Gramp’s been sick, Mother, and I know about the oil burner. Okay, I’ll pawn the mink. He’ll give me a couple hundred for it. Mother, I know I don’t have any talent, and I know I all I have is a body, and I am doing my bust exercises. Goodbye, Mother. I’ll wire you the money first thing in the morning. Goodbye.”

Scary Monsters and Super Imitation Leather

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The Nauga Monster

Each time I begin working on an identity project, I think, “Wait, let’s not make a logo, let’s make a mascot.” Most of the time, common sense weighs in, but I’ve actually made it as far as the first presentation. Mr. M. TV, and Sunny Sundance didn’t get any further, but Verbenia Via for Mohawk, and Mr. Cecil for Mr. Cecil’s Ribs became real. The Nauga Monster for Naugahyde is a mascot and a toy. In the 1960s, George Lois proposed the mythical Nauga as part of the advertising campaign to distinguish Naugahyde from its competitors. At the last minute before the launch, the legal department became concerned that people would be confused and think the Nauga was a real animal. Fortunately, people are smarter than house cats (who would frankly also know it was fake).

Verbenia Via for Mohawk

Mr. Cecil of Mr. Cecil's Ribs

Avocado Green Nauga Monster

Nauga Monster, naugahyde ad, George Lois

Pink Nauga

brown Nauga Monster

Black Nauga Monster

The Bucket List

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, 1960s

Right now, my Trans-media class at Art Center is working on a rebranding of Kentucky Fried Chicken. You may say, “That’s dumb.” It’s actually a complicated issue. First, there is the name issue. It used to be Kentucky Fried Chicken, then the “Fried” thing was scary, so it became KFC. Unfortunately, an untrue rumor was spread that claimed it was called KFC because they couldn’t legally say “Chicken” due to the extreme genetic engineering. So the brand sits in a nebulous territory. There’s also an ethical issue that students need to face regarding fast food’s production, distribution, and nutrition.

The complex issues aside, I’ve decided that a chicken bucket is a wonderful thing. I’d eat fried chicken every day for the rest of my life if it wouldn’t kill me, or turn me into someone that needed to be fed in bed and turned over with an oar. The old chicken buckets don’t shy away from information. The new buckets scream, “Brand, brand, brand.” I like information. It makes sense to do the giant “brand” design on something like a shopping bag. People carry it around and it becomes a billboard. This isn’t the case with fried chicken. I don’t see many people walking around malls with red fried chicken buckets.

Little Red Hen bucket, 1960s

Kentucky Fried Chicken Christmas bucket

Dinah's Fried Chicken bucket

Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, 1980s

Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, 2000s

Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, 2000s

The Golden Years

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Meryl Streep, 82nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon

One of the perks of being a designer is seeing your work in action. Over the years, like most designers, I’ve launched many identity programs. Some have worked flawlessly, meeting guidelines, but maintaining a sense of play and creativity. Other programs have been like slowly tearing off a scab. Everything is approved and ready to launch, but other designers refuse to adopt it. But, as I paraphrase, resistance is futile. I’ve documented these logos and systems with nice photos of stationery systems, signage, collateral, and websites. For the most part I’ve always been pleased with the result.

About a week and a half ago, the Academy held the 82nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon.  No, I was not invited, because I’m not a nominee. Soon thereafter, photos of the event started arriving. This made it clear that a logo looks much better when it is behind Meryl Streep. I was thrilled that the mark was there, and even more excited that it was handled well. It wasn’t squeezed to fit in the space. Doyald Young’s beautiful script “The” was intact. Even the correct gold was in place. Now I learned that logos look much better when you put well-dressed movie stars near them.

Colin Firth, 82nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon

Sandra Bullock, 82nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon

Maggie Gyllenhaal, 82nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon

James Cameron, 82nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon

I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, 1966

When we started AdamsMorioka in the mid 1990s, the design world seemed endlessly enthralled by the discordant, weird, and complex. Unfortunately, we’re none of those things, so we were forced to fall back on our own values and personalities. I recall talking with Noreen at Hamburger Hamlet about this. “Let’s face it,” I said, “We’re just not that groovy.” She agreed, and made a wonderful analogy that the designers doing work that was complex and avante garde were like Portishead or The Smashing Pumpkins, we were like The Beach Boys. This was confirmed years later at a dinner with Ellen Lupton. After dinner, she turned to me and said, “You know, you’re actually smart. I thought you were just a beach surf guy.” I’m taking this as a compliment.

Actually, I liked being more like The Beach Boys than The Boo Radleys. First, Pet Sounds is one of my favorite records. Second, I think they were adventurous and did some amazing things with unexpected instruments and tone. The Beatles gave them credit for being a major influence on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And finally, Wouldn’t it Be Nice? is a remarkable piece of music that I could listen to endlessly. And, I do at work. It’s like torture, but it’s the price you pay if you work with us.