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: illustration

Gratuitous design? Count me in!

While designers love to throw out words like substance, purpose, reduction and sustainability, please remember that all goes down the toilet when a piece of exciting design is laid in front of us (not to mention all that talk is largely bullshit to begin with — but I’ll save that for another post).

Through an extraordinary attention to detail and stunning design, Theory 11 has managed to turn a deck of playing cards into a fetish item for design fans. A stroll around their website displays a quite a range of beautiful packaging: the Collector’s Edition Laser-Etched Wood Box Set, a metallic “Industial Edition, and much more.

A few samples here…

Ahhh… here we go. The thunderous cinematic score. And, of course (of course?), the pyramids and hieroglyphics, because—why not?  Add a somewhat bored-looking magician flipping cards around in what appears to be, perhaps, the fitting area of an upscale bridal salon? Anyway, this accompanying video is… um… I really don’t know what the hell it is…

And actually, now that I think about it, I’ll just stick with these, thank you.

The story behind “Keep Calm and Carry On”

From Barter Books

A short history of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster. After being forgotten for more than half a century, a rare original of the now famous WWII poster was rediscovered in a box of old books bought at auction in one of the largest and most popular secondhand bookshops in Britain – Barter Books.

When the bookshop owners had the poster framed and put up in the shop, customer interest was so great that in 2001 the couple started producing facsimile copies for sale – copies which were soon copied and recopied to make of the Keep Calm poster one of the first truly iconic images of the 21st century.

Keep Calm and Carry On from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

Chris Ware’s Building Stories…. this thing is insane/extraordinary even by Chris Ware standards

I am blown away… yet again. What may appear at first glance to be the output of an entire career (photo below) is in actuality, just the multiple components of Building Stories, the latest project from Chris Ware.

From The Smithsonian:

The first thing you’ll notice about the collected Building Stories is that it’s not a book. It’s a box. It looks more like a board game than anything else. However, inside this box, there isn’t a game board and there aren’t any pieces. Instead, there are the 14 distinct books that compose Building Stories – ranging in style from standard comics to flip books to newspapers to something that looks like a Little Golden Book. Importantly, there are no instructions on how to read them or where to begin. While these books do indeed trace the lives of a small group of people (and a honeybee), the linear narrative is irrelevant –we’re just catching glimpses of their lives– and reading through the encapsulated stories is reminiscent of flipping through a stranger’s old photo albums.

Unboxing Chris Ware’s Building Stories from Digital Cultures Lab on Vimeo.

And (below) Chris Ware talks about Building Stories:

Exciting… beautiful… now please go fix it!

Link to site: Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000

I saw this exhibit a few months back – and it was well worth seeing. It was one of those lucky trips to the museum where, while there, you discover a number of unexpected exhibits that are really very good. I only just now stumbled over this part of the MOMA site where they decided to dedicate some vertuoso design to: Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000.

Actually, the design is beautiful, and would translate handsomely to a catalog or any print format. The actual “vertuoso” part that I was referring to is in the overly slick programming. A classic case pursuing every opportunity to make as many elements as possible flip, bounce, float, or scale at the mere hover of a mouse. I was soon moving the mouse very tentatively while cursing beneath my breath “I never clicked that damn thing – why is it jumping in front!

Naturally, I always want to be cautious and not rush to criticize a project that is clearly ambitious – because I can see the attempt here to make something fresh and new – but frankly this ends up mired in all of the worst excesses of an old-style Flash website. This was unfortunately art directed in a way that was completely sympathetic to the programming.

In an (apparent) attempt to showcase all that the web can be, we just end up with another case study in what happens when you try to shove a “web experience” down your visitors throat.

House Industries: Interview with Ken Barber

via: gestalten

House Industries: Interview with Ken Barber from Gestalten on Vimeo.

House Industries has been producing their premier league retro design and their true love…Fonts! Fonts! Fonts! since 1993. House Industries’ lead letterer Ken Barber recently visited us in Berlin to give a workshop at our Gestalten Space, which explored the creative process of hand-lettering and the application of illustrative letterforms in contemporary graphic design. We took this chance to interview him on Gestalten.tv where he talks about the necessity of specialization and the fine lines between lettering, typography, and font design.

Marketing, circa 1929

Tucking You In With 12 Pullman Fact Booklets 1929-30

by J. J. Sedelmaier

From Imprint (the blog of Print Magazine)….

Before branding and marketing had all the options afforded the advertiser today, there was a substantial period when companies spent their time and money on offering up little giveaway goodies to the public. Without the web, television or even radio, corporations often relied on print to spread the word about their “Made In America” efforts.

Today it’s the small industries and independent firms that use this technique to reach their customers and clients. They’re the ones that realize the intimate benefit of tangible “tokens” like these. (more)

This is what graphic design looks like

Strength, simplicity, clarity of message, and working brilliantly with the materials at hand, as well as lettering (style, size and placement) that’s just about perfect. While everything else appears to be trying too hard, this is the most successful piece of design I’ve seen in a while. Congrats!

Understanding How We See

From Wired.com

What Caricatures Can Teach Us About Facial Recognition

Our brains are incredibly agile machines, and it’s hard to think of anything they do more efficiently than recognize faces. Just hours after birth, the eyes of newborns are drawn to facelike patterns. An adult brain knows it’s seeing a face within 100 milliseconds, and it takes just over a second to realize that two different pictures of a face, even if they’re lit or rotated in very different ways, belong to the same person. Neuroscientists now believe that there may be a specific region of the brain, on the fusiform gyrus of the temporal lobe, dedicated to facial recognition.

Perhaps the most vivid illustration of our gift for recognition is the magic of caricature—the fact that the sparest cartoon of a familiar face, even a single line dashed off in two seconds, can be identified by our brains in an instant. It’s often said that a good caricature looks more like a person than the person himself. As it happens, this notion, counterintuitive though it may sound, is actually supported by research. In the field of vision science, there’s even a term for this seeming paradox—the caricature effect—a phrase that hints at how our brains misperceive faces as much as perceive them. (more)