The Design of Comfort

Several years ago, the organizers at TypeCon asked me to do a presentation on the typography of Disneyland. I assumed that the research would lead to a collection of novelty typefaces. What I found, however, was an incredibly dense design solution beyond typography with intentional choices to create a specific experience. The typography, color, scale, point of view, sounds, and smells worked as a whole communicating energy, invention, American ingenuity, mid-western values, and reassurance.

Main Street, USA, is the entry point at Disneyland, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and other Disney parks globally. It is a representation of small-town America at the turn of the twentieth century. Main Street is not a perfect recreation of a town in 1890. There are no garbage filled doorways, telephone poles, muddy streets, and rather unpleasant drunk people carrying guns. Main Street is a representation of the idea of a mythical small town.

Disneyland’s original designers came from a film background. They designed every element to work cohesively to convey a narrative. Main Street is not a cute and saccharine mini-mall of false fronts. It is a well-considered and detailed construction.

The park’s guests are not spectators in the environment. They are actors on a stage. The designers created the experience of entering the park to simulate the beginning of a motion picture theater experience. The guest passes through a dark tunnel below the railroad tracks in the same way that theater lights dim as a film starts. 

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Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Acting Chair of the Graphic Design Graduate Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for lynda.com/Linked In. He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Return of A Tale of Two Cities

Epcot Center, calling the creepy robot on a land line, 1987

 

I've been cleaning out books lately. There are many duplicates and books I'll never read. I tried donating them to Goodwill, but they don't accept books. I considered making a pile of books on the driveway, setting them on fire, and yelling "burn, hateful Catcher in the Rye Satan book," But my neighbors already are wary of me so I didn't.

One of the books hidden behind another book was Walt Disney World and Epcot Center, 1987. I'll forgive the Cooper Black on the cover because the interior is so happy. The Epcot Center section is filled with images of people enjoying a creepy robot, watching belly-dancers, shopping for caftans, and watching marching Minute Men. I like the star filter, wide angle lens photos of the China Pavilion and American Adventure. I wish my iPhone had that filter.

 

In comparison, my photographs of Epcot (below) seem to be of another place. Mine are typically empty of people, details of signs, and vacant walkways. If the book had my images rather than the happy photos, people would expect either wonderful solitude or suicide. 

The depressing version

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Acting Chair of the Graphic Design Graduate Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for lynda.com/Linked In. He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Mary Blair: The Grand Canyon Concourse Mural

The Grand Canyon Concourse Mural, The Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World

The Grand Canyon Concourse Mural, The Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World

We usually think of super-graphics as large letterforms on a wall, or broad multicolored stripes that run along a hallway. These are often designed to overcome bland spaces, as if somehow, magically, a giant “A” can transform a boring office into a wondrous experience. But there are other types of super-graphics that do more than just fill space. Mary Blair’s Grand Canyon Concourse mural in the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World is a super-graphic that transforms the architecture.

Designed by Welton Becket and opened in 1971, the Contemporary was a demonstration of new construction methods and technologies. The steel frame was constructed and individual rooms were “plugged” into the slots, like drawers in a dresser. The monorail track runs through the central cavernous space. 

Read more at Design Observer

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Acting Chair of the Graphic Design Graduate Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for lynda.com/Linked In. He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

The Stress of Decisions

People feel stress when they are pressed to make a decision. "Do I go that way, or the other way?" One of the tricks at Disneyland and Walt Disney World is the use of the hub. That's the area in front of the castle. Everything radiates out from here, so at any point the guest knows they can simply return to the hub. This takes away the stress of decision making with no information. I can go left toward the Mark Twain Riverboat or right to the Rocket Jets. Neither is scary.

The Hub

In addition, the parks are chock full of maps. Not giant directories that become jammed with people trying to find J. Crew, but personal maps that fit in your hand.

Its' time to revisit the world  Disneyland and Walt Disney World maps. I love that there are so many different types. Some rely on an illustration to give a simplified overview, while others detail every building. The ones that fail are, no pun intended, goofy. They treat the audience as if they were all three-year olds needing to add funny characters and cute rounded cartoon structures.

The most successful are works of art. They show clear and recognizable buildings, but never pander to the lowest common denominator. Don't pander.

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Acting Chair of the Graphic Design Graduate Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for lynda.com/Linked In. He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Flowers for Algernon

Walt Disney World Preview Center 1971

This week, Jessica Helfand and Michael Bierut were in town for the Design Observer Taste conference. I had dinner with Jessica and she kindly came to school to discuss her new book. If you don't know Jessica personally, you need to understand that she is fast, smart, and hilarious. She also is humble, sweet, and filled with energy. The downside is that I need to stay on my toes. I can't skirt by with funny comments and swearing. This is the big leagues of smart.

On that note, I felt that a post today should engage the reader and focus attention on issues such as the state of the profession, the intersection of fine art, architecture, business, and design, or how stupid the term "design thinking" is. But I was sidetracked by these two brochures from Walt Disney World.

One is from a magazine after the park opened. The other was handed out at the WDW Preview Center before the 1971 opening. These may not challenge the epicenter of design or critical thinking, but the colors are nice. And I'm a sucker for a fancy layout, ochre and purple buildings, and random closeups.

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Acting Chair of the Graphic Design Graduate Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for lynda.com/Linked In. He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

A Tale of Two Cities

Epcot Center, calling the creepy robot on a land line, 1987

I've been cleaning out books lately. There are many duplicates and books I'll never read. I tried donating them to Goodwill, but they don't accept books. I considered making a pile of books on the driveway, setting them on fire, and yelling "burn, hateful Catcher in the Rye Satan book," But my neighbors already are wary of me so I didn't.

One of the books hidden behind another book was Walt Disney World and Epcot Center, 1987. I'll forgive the Cooper Black on the cover because the interior is so happy. The Epcot Center section is filled with images of people enjoying a creepy robot, watching belly-dancers, shopping for caftans, and watching marching Minute Men. I like the star filter, wide angle lens photos of the China Pavilion and American Adventure. I wish my iPhone had that filter.

In comparison, my photographs of Epcot (below) seem to be of another place. Mine are typically empty of people, details of signs, and vacant walkways. If the book had my images rather than the happy photos, people would expect either wonderful solitude or suicide. 

The depressing version

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Acting Chair of the Graphic Design Graduate Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for lynda.com/Linked In. He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Magic Journeys

 

I'm a sucker for a nice map. A couple of years ago, I posted about Walt Disney World and Disneyland maps. As a nice by-product, we were then hired to design a new souvenir map for Disneyland. I can't show this to anyone due to the contract, but believe me, it's good. A kind follower of burningsettlerscabin recently sent me this remarkable map of Walt Disney World by Arthur de Wolf. Holy cheese and crackers, I am blown away. This is one of those times I find myself saying, "I wish I'd done that." It's reminiscent of Massimo's 1972 New York Subway map. Fortunately it isn't like the most confusing map I've ever used for the Tokyo Subway system. Try to figure that one out. Now I know why I see photos of passengers being shoved into trains in Tokyo. They obviously are all lost and endlessly changing trains to find the way home.

 

Great Expectations and Bleak House

I’m one of those odd people who loved high school. I recall sitting in the cafeteria at Seaside High School my senior year thinking, “This is the best time of my life.” Sad, you probably say. Middle school was another story. But, then, does anyone think middle school was the highlight of his or her life?

Being thirteen was hard. I had just returned from grammar school in Australia and had an accent that seemed “snobby” to the other students at Archie Clayton Middle School. My mother was between husbands and we were living at my grandmother’s house. I kept my clothes in a box and slept on a cot in my great-aunt’s room. Good times. In addition, I now realize I had awful taste in shirts.

I had a couple of tricks that helped my daily attitude. As corny as this seems, I tried to recall all the good things that happened each day before I went to sleep. I also was constantly in a planning state for a trip to Walt Disney World. I know, the whole story is sounding Dickensian. I had an issue of World magazine and the fact sheet Questions. Looking at the Questions piece now, I’m not amazed by the low prices, but by the incredibly tight leading of justified Avant Garde Light. How could I read this? I also spent hours trying to decipher the images in World magazine (remember no internet, and 3 television channels). There is one couple that seems to be everywhere. Who were they? How could they be so carefree? Then there is that yellow creature. WTF? I don't know what that is.

One of my favorite blogs is Passport to Dreams Old and New. Cracker Jack writing and incredible images makes this a daily stop for me. One post points directly to this question. The Beard Dude and his Farrah Fawcett-esque girlfriend show up often. Today, I spend a large amount of energy trying to drive clients away from posed and artificial images toward a more authentic journalistic approach. Now, I see how wrong I have been. At 13, I bought the message that this couple had all problems solved and this vacation was the highlight of their existence. From now on, I’m going to request photography of posed couples, men with beards, women with Farrah Fawcett hair, and an unbridled enthusiasm in the most mundane activities.

I make fun of these artifacts now. But these pieces of paper made the difference for me between intense focus and planning of a vacation, or selling dope and robbing 7-11 stores.

The View from Here

I gave a talk about the narrative design of Disneyland at the Cusp conference a couple of years ago. I covered the idea of a cinematic experience and viewer participation. The visual landscape of both Disneyland and Walt Disney World is carefully planned to create an experience like a film. For example, the tunnels on either side of the Main Street train station act like the darkening of a theater, then the guest passes onto Main Street and the “film” begins. But, the viewpoint is not straight down Main Street toward the castle. It’s to the right or left, then as the guest moves into the park, the view is revealed. The castle acts as a draw, or in Disney terms, a “weenie” and the guest is pulled toward the center of the park.

Each vista is planned to serve as a setting, information delivery vehicle, navigation device, and entertainment. At the same time, the overall sense of security and familiarity is created. Think of the experience this way: there are long shots of a Panavision nature, medium shots of singular buildings, close-ups of pedestrian level windows and doors, and detail shots of individual elements such as a birdcage on a porch or old apothecary bottles in a window.

While others are taking photos of their friends or family members in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, I’m shooting the long shots and details. I’ve found shooting panoramas by standing in one spot and rotating 360 degrees, or moving down the street and taking a picture every twenty feet to work well. Of course it looks crazy, but so what?

As a side note, once again, bring your subject close and let the castle be a background. Unless you need to shoot their entire outfit with shoes, we don’t need to see their entire body. There is no need to be upset when people walk between you and the subject 50 feet away. If I see you do this I will purposely walk between you and the subject and stand there.

Walt Disney World Main Street east

The Other Side

You can’t tell if something is dark without also seeing something light. In the same way, it’s hard to know when something is bad, when it’s all you’ve known. When I was growing up, we moved constantly, as if my parents were on the run from the law. When I left home at 18, we’d moved 22 times on three continents. I didn’t realize this was bad until I was able to stay in one place for more than 18 months.

I had another realization like this last week. I was at Walt Disney World and saw someone wearing a completely groovy t-shirt with the original Walt Disney World 1971 logo. I assumed it was an old shirt until I found it in a store. Richard Terpstra designed the shirt this year. On a side note, Terpstra is a genius at creating new products that have a sense of history and never seem forced or bad replications. Then, I found more t-shirts that I loved. Yes, they all nod to the past and fall into a post-modern pastiche concept. Yes, they are ironic and something someone would wear at a coffee house in Brooklyn or spice store in Silverlake. But, I could wear them too. That’s a real accomplishment to create a product that can run the gamut from hard-core hipster to Fred MacMurray.

Now, why was this a realization? Because I’m not used to seeing something this well designed on my side of the country at Disneyland. I’m a huge fan of Kevin Kidney items, and own an amount of them others find “eccentric”. The other merchandise at Disneyland is, well, cheesy. I hear about the issue of annual passport holders not buying merchandise at Disneyland often. I’ve had an annual passport since 1984 and don’t buy t-shirts. But I’ve only seen the overwrought glittery hyper-cute Disneyland t-shirts.

The cat’s out of the bag for me. I’ve seen what is possible. Someone in Florida at Disney Park merchandising is doing something wonderful and exciting. They’re taking risks and designing for an audience other than the Housewives of Anaheim. Bravo (no pun intended).

You'll Never Walk Alone

“How many photos of the same ochre door in Liberty Square at Walt Disney World do I need?” Obviously, the answer is “never too many.” Organizing my iPhoto library this weekend, I found the same image photographed almost in the exact same location over the course of ten years. Clearly, each time I see this door, I think, “oh, that would make a nice photograph.” But clearly, my mind is a sieve.

The other surprising discovery was the large amount of Walt Disney World photos sans people. I’m not talking here about the lack of photos of family members. I mean no people, as in Life After People. This tells me something about my psychological makeup, but I can’t focus long enough to know what. I don’t know how I manage to take so many images at a place with millions of people that are devoid of human activity. And there are quite a few images that may have a couple of guests, but are of empty areas of concrete or sand.

I have a secret dream of retiring and creating a job at Disneyland helping people with their photos, and offering guidance to the guests looking lost. “Excuse me,” I would say, “Are you looking for Space Mountain?” Or, “May I help you with a photo tip? Bring your child forward, and let the castle be in the background.” I could wear a white shirt and black bow tie, and be the “Answer Man.” The trick would be to not direct people to shoot scenes without any human presence. “Now wait, ask your child to get out of the shot. Okay, there are no people in the frame, shoot it now.”

A Magic Kingdom

In recent years, I’ve been concerned I was out of touch. Well, that goes without saying. A common house-cat has more hip-ness than me. But I thought the new generation only cared about working collaboratively, denying the artifact, and deriding more seasoned designers. When I was in my twenties I loved going to a conference and meeting a hero like Milton Glaser. I was thrilled when I received a letter informing me that a book was selected for the AIGA 50 Book show. Over the last two years I’ve come to realize that young designers still care about these things. They want community, recognition, individual vision, and love the beauty of artifacts. I cannot express how happy this makes me. All the hogwash research that painted the next generation as mindless automatons blindly walking down a road of Borg assimilation is wrong.

Which segues, as usual for this blog, into a crazed left turn. This preview book for Walt Disney World is one of my cherished artifacts. I don’t love it because it is about the design of meetings or strategy or collaborative teamwork. I love it because it is wonderful. When can you combine teal, ochre, and baby blue? When people discuss the great American experiment, this is it. The freedom to design a booklet with completely wrong colors and make them work. For me, the WDW preview book is design in a nutshell. It serves a purpose, it creates excitement and joy, it promotes an idea and product, it does this is unexpected ways. It talks to me personally.

So this is my call to action. When you are told that individual vision is irrelevant, or recognition of individual is wrong, or the world no longer needs beauty or heroes, just say no. These are not true. Design can create wonder and joy. Individuals do this, not committees of fifty people.

The Grand Canyon Sweet

And now, an old classic revisited. When I visit Walt Disney World, I'm often trailed by security. Well, that actually happens most places. This is because I'm the odd person photographing the Exit sign very closely. The same is true when I visit the Contemporary Resort to shoot Mary Blair's incredible Grand Canyon Concourse tile work. It moves me to tears that people will be sitting under it, and not notice it until I'm photographing it. "Whoa, well I'll be, what the hell is that thar thingamajig? It sure is big." I want to yell at them, "Look you nitwit. It's right above you, it's giant, it's impossible to miss!" But I don't because security is watching.

Hot Times in the Big City

 

My great grandfather, George “Goggy”, was born in Caliente, Nevada. My grandmother and father were born there, too. My grandparents met and were married there. I have an idea to drive there and see it someday. But it’s an eight-hour drive, and it’s only one block big. So it would be rather anti-climactic. I’ve come to realize that Caliente and Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are related. My grandmother talked about being a girl and having picnics at Cathedral Gorge. Oddly, it looks exactly like Big Thunder. Caliente experiences a desert flash flood. And, yes, so does the Walt Disney World Big Thunder. Caliente looks like it was a happening place in the nineteenth century, so does the little town at Big Thunder. And finally, Caliente exists as a railroad town. The Caliente station is the big attraction in town as one of the last Mission style stations built. Big Thunder is a railroad! You be the judge.

 

Paradise Lost

When I was 12, I thought the coolest building in the world was the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World. It was futuristic and a monorail drove through it. When you are a 12 year-old boy, these are the criteria points used for architectural criticism. Today, I still think the Contemporary Resort is cool, but now for the Mary Blair mural in the Grand Canyon Concourse. The Contemporary has a sleek boutique W Hotel feel. That’s great if you like that, but I spend enough time in W Hotel rooms, so I’ve moved on to the Yacht Club. My clothing choices fit in better there also.

When I see images of the Contemporary when it first opened in 1971 it looks like the most magnificent vacation spot ever. It’s so groovy and chic. The color palette of avocado, burnt orange, brown, and butter yellow is magnificent. There was a happening supper club, the Top of the World, with live entertainment in the style of Lawrence Welk. The disco had a nifty Logan’s Run vibe. I imagine happy men dressed in their finest maroon suits and women in their floor length chiffon dresses dancing to KC and the Sunshine Band, but a more mellow version. I want to go to a conference where the dining room is all orange. But most importantly, there are giant acrylic trees in the lobby. I say to all the tasteful boutique hotels out there, “dump the beige ultra-suede. Put in autumn toned acrylic trees and psychedelic colored Navajo patterned carpet.”

Small Treasures

I spend most of my Mondays at Art Center directing students to designers or artifacts that might be inspirational. Last week, Ladislav Sutnar was the designer du jour. The week before, I relentlessly shoved Josef Müller Brockmann down everyone’s throats. This is great to help someone see another way of making or seeing.

But, I treasure the artifacts that are rarely designed by a historically recognized designer. For example, I love my father’s Class of 1963 Directory for Wesleyan University, and an old hangover remedy pack from Harold’s Club. I love this Story of Walt Disney World book. The design is clumsy and has a remarkably odd composition, but it’s optimistic. I love the vignettes and detail images.

This Commemorative Edition booklet was created soon after Walt Disney World opened in 1971. I love the map. There is an attraction in Frontierland, Thunder Mesa and Western River Expedition, meant to take the place of Pirates of the Caribbean. Since the actual Caribbean was so close, there was a concern that Pirates would seem redundant in Florida. In the end, Pirates was added to WDW, and Thunder Mesa was replaced with Big Thunder Mountain.

I’ve owned this booklet for fifteen years, only yesterday, did I notice it made the shape of the “D” in the old Walt Disney World logo. Oh yeah, I’m observant.

The Variation of Animals Under Domestication

The first year Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened, we made a family trek to Florida to see it. The weather was remarkably authentic to equatorial Africa. Florida in July is, strangely, rather hot. This forced the animals to sleep in the shade or hide. Leaving, we all agreed it was incredible looking, but perhaps, the Vegetable Kingdom would be more appropriate. A couple of years later, we returned when it was not high noon and 115 degrees. This time, the animals were out wandering.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Animal Kingdom. It is visually sublime. The attention to detail is amazing, and it highlights man’s struggle at taming nature beautifully. But the attractions scare me. I like the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, but after going on safari in Africa, it was nice, but not really the same thing. The rest of the time, I wander around terrified I will be forced to go on the scary attractions. It’s hot, and I don’t want to have a fainting spell on the Expedition Everest roller coaster, or the dizzy and spinning Primeval Whirl. That’s embarrassing when grandmothers with canes happily ride these with no fear. I am extremely terrified of the extremely terrifying Dinosaur attraction. The first and only time I went on this, I put my hands over my ears, closed my eyes, and basically curved up into a fetal position. The snapshot taken automatically at the end of the ride captured a car of happy people, and someone who looked like he was having a seizure.

The Right Way, Part 1

I like arrows. They are strong and commanding. They make no apologies. They seem to say, “Go there! Now!” But if you rely on the arrows supplied by Zapf Dingbats or as stock arrows in Adobe Illustrator, or InDesign, well, the results can be rather dull. So I spend too much time looking for good arrows. Let’s face it, they all look fairly similar. After all, how much can one do with a triangle and attached rectangle? Over the years, I’ve collected many arrows, and in the spirit of sharing, please see attached. Of course, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are a treasure chest of arrows. Guests need to find their way around the parks. And, yes, I am that odd person photographing the arrow on the sidewalk.

Phototype

Typically, people go on vacation and take nice photographs of their family. I forget to do this. I am that odd person taking a photo of the color of a wall, or that wonderful doorknob. Being a designer, type is a favorite subject. Ed Fella has a wonderful book, Edward Fella: Letters on America, of his Polaroids of vernacular typography. I, unfortunately, am not as sophisticated as Ed is. He finds fantastic signs in out of the way neighborhoods, and is like a big game hunter on safari, seeking that wonderful painted type. I am dull. Growing under a constant high level of fear has left me with PTSD and an unwillingness to do anything risky. Hence my enjoyment of Walt Disney World, or Disneyland. I know where the bathrooms are. I know where I can find food. And I know I will have an endless source of great vernacular (can you call it that if artifice is involved?) typography.

In my defense, I did go on real safari with real animals in Africa. And I recently agreed to try a new place for lunch.