Whoa… you damn well can’t do that anymore!
This is what graphic design looks like
Dyslexie, A Different Kind of Beauty
Well, if it isn't the old typeface bait-and-switch
Seeking a full-time position in hurricane logo design
Today I am a Red Sox fan (did I just say that?!)

Category Archives: history

Errol Morris on How Typography Shapes Our Perception Of Truth

The acclaimed filmmaker of The Thin Blue Line and The Fog Of War reveals why he now types all his manuscripts in Baskerville.

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From Fast Company

In 2013, acclaimed filmmaker and author Errol Morris ran a bold experiment. With the collusion of the New York Times, he asked 45,000 readers to take an online test. The test allegedly measured whether or not readers were optimists or pessimists. But in reality, Morris was trying to find out if the typeface a statement was written in had any impact on a reader’s willingness to agree with that statement. Simply put, are some typefaces more believable than others?

The answer is yes… (continue reading at fastcodesign.com)

The Golden Ratio: Design’s Biggest Myth

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From Fast Company

Keith Devlin, professor of mathematics at Stanford University says it’s simple. “We’re creatures who are genetically programmed to see patterns and to seek meaning,” he says. It’s not in our DNA to be comfortable with arbitrary things like aesthetics, so we try to back them up with our often limited grasp of math. But most people don’t really understand math, or how even a simple formula like the golden ratio applies to complex system, so we can’t error-check ourselves. “People think they see the golden ratio around them, in the natural world and the objects they love, but they can’t actually substantiate it,” Devlin tells me. “They are victims to their natural desire to find meaning in the pattern of the universe, without the math skills to tell them that the patterns they think they see are illusory.” If you see the golden ratio in your favorite designs, you’re probably seeing things.

See the full article at fastcodesign.com

Everything really has already been done before

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Via: This Is Colossal

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book

In 1692 an artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.

Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who translated part of the introduction, the color book was intended as an educational guide. The irony being there was only a single copy that was probably seen by very few eyes.

It’s hard not to compare the hundreds of pages of color to its contemporary equivalent, the Pantone Color Guide, which wouldn’t be published for the first time until 1963.

The entire book is viewable in high resolution here, and you can read a description of it here (it appears E-Corpus might have crashed for the moment). The book is currently kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France. (via Erik Kwakkel)

Century: 100 Years of Type in Design

Via: aiga.org:

Interest in type, typefaces, typography and fonts has grown far beyond the graphic design community, yet few truly understand how and why these vital components of design are created and applied. This exhibition, organized by Monotype and designed by AIGA Medalist and Pentagram partner Abbott Miller for the AIGA National Design Center, celebrates 100 years of type as a constant influence in the world around us.

Gathering rare and unique works from premier archives in the United States and London, “Century” will serve as the hub of a series of presentations, workshops and events held at the AIGA gallery as well as the Type Directors Club and the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at Cooper Union in New York City. The “Century” exhibition features a range of artifacts representing the evolution from typeface conception to fonts in use. Typeface production drawings by the preeminent designers of the last 100 years, proofs, type posters and announcement broadsides are supplemented by publications, advertising, ephemera and packaging

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s surprising baseball card collection

Via: ESPN:

Quick quiz: Where can you find the largest publicly available collection of baseball cards? If you said the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re right!

But here’s a trickier one: Where can you find the second-largest collection of baseball cards?

The answer, surprisingly enough, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Yes, really!

Here’s the back story: Long before the existence of baseball card conventions, memorabilia shops, eBay or chalky pink bubblegum, there was a guy named Jefferson Burdick. Burdick, who was born in 1900, was an electrician by trade. On the side, he was the most obsessive collector geek of his day, assembling history’s greatest collection of early American printed ephemera, including more than 30,000 baseball cards, some of them dating back to the 1880s. In those days, of course, baseball cards were mostly giveaways with tobacco products, and they didn’t yet have stats and other data on the back.

Anyway, as Burdick was moving into middle age, he began thinking about where he wanted his collection to end up. Baseball cards weren’t yet hot collectibles, so the idea that his cards might have commercial value never occurred to him. Instead, he proposed giving his collection to the Metropolitan Museum, which basically told him, “Sure, we’ll take it — as long as you catalog it and organize it first.” So Burdick spent years making daily trips to the Met, where he painstakingly put all his cards into albums. (continue to full article)

And much more about Jefferson Burdick here.

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Meet the 621 parts of a 1964 Smith Corona typewriter

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We are currently knee-deep in a trend of highly contrived (though admittedly, often visually attractive) “infographics”. And then here comes an idea so bold, so clear, so simple, and (dare I say) so obvious, that I feel like this may finally expose the absurdity of those over-designed monstrosities we currently categorize as informational graphic design.

Statement from Todd McLellan:

Things Come Apart is an expansion of the original Disassembly Series. This new set of images explores retro to modern daily items that have, are, or will be in our everyday lives. The book “Things Come Apart” published by Thames & Hudson will be available May.

And from Thames & Hudson:

Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living

Welcome to Todd McLellan’s unique photographic vision of the material world: fifty design classics—arranged first by size and then by intricacy—are beautifully displayed, piece by piece, exploding in midair and dissected in real-time, frame-by-frame video stills.

This book makes visible the inner workings of some of the world’s most iconic designs. From SLR camera to mantel clock to espresso machine, from iPad to bicycle to grand piano, every single component of each object is revealed. These disassembled objects show that even the most intricate of modern technologies can be broken down and understood, while beautifully illustrating the quality and elegance of older designs. Stunning photography is interspersed with essays by notable figures from the worlds of restoration, DIY, and design innovation who discuss historical examples of teardowns, disassembly, and reverse-engineering.

Each photograph is itself a work of art and offers a reinterpretation of our familiar world. They connect people with the child-like joy of taking something apart to see how it works and will appeal to anyone with a curiosity about the material world.

Things Come Apart from Todd McLellan Motion/Stills Inc. on Vimeo.

The lesson is: Don’t be lazy – when you can be “creatively” lazy

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Via PetaPixel:

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but laziness is definitely its father. Case in point, here’s an interesting tidbit of imaging history: the first webcam ever was actually invented by lazy students at Cambridge University who didn’t want to waste a trip to the nearby coffee pot if it was going to be empty when they got there.

This coffee machine that was the inspiration for the world’s first webcam was located in a corridor just outside The Trojan Room in the old computer lab at Cambridge University. In 1991, too many trips to an empty coffee pot led Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky to invent the world’s first webcam to help late night studiers and programmers keep an eye on coffee levels.

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Once switched on, the camera would display a 129×129 pixel grayscale picture of the coffee pot at 1 frame per second on the user’s desktop. Ironically, the “webcam” actually predates the “web” by a couple of years, but as soon as the World Wide Web went up, the service was connected to the internet.

The camera was actually switched off in August of 2001, and all that’s left if you try and pull the feed is a link to the last ever picture the webcam took. The coffee machine itself was auctioned off on eBay for over $5,000 to German magazine Der Spiegel, where it was refurbished and put back to work by Krups.

Who Made That Pantone Chip?

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Via: The New York Times:

In the early 1960s, as Lawrence Herbert drove to work in a blue Cadillac with cherry red seats, he mulled over a problem: How to create a “universal language” of color. Herbert, the owner of the Pantone printing company, had just produced a retail display card that helped shoppers choose pantyhose. He had to hand-mix the subtle beiges of each swatch, because it was so difficult to buy the exact shade he wanted from an ink manufacturer. Each company defined colors differently, and when you ordered “wheat” or “taupe” or “cream,” you couldn’t predict what you’d get.

The solution, he realized, was to create a unified color system in which each shade was expressed as a number. “If somebody in New York wanted something printed in Tokyo, they would simply open up the book and say, ‘Give me Pantone 123,’ ” Herbert says; 123 (a daffodil yellow) would look exactly the same the world over….

[click through for full piece at nytimes.com]

360° Color: A Peek Inside Pantone from Base on Vimeo.