Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Together With Design

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by Tom Dombrosky

Whatever your opinion is, whether you oppose it or support it, you can’t help but take notice of the Occupy movement. As an aspiring graphic designer, I’ve been observing much of the signage that’s being used by the occupiers of both Wall Street and those here in Occupy Lancaster. Many other graphic designers have done the same, with some many playing a direct role in it. For example, Shepard Fairey who designed Barack Obama’s “Hope” posters, has designed an invitation for the Occupy Wall Street.

The slogan-driven signage of the Occupiers varies greatly from handwritten type to printouts of digital work. Some professionally made while many others by those who have no experience in designing a poster. Regardless, the occupiers have a way of getting straight to the point and making a statement.

The movement even has a website dedicated to designers willing to help create signage for the movement. One can submit their Illustrator .ai files for occupiers to use during their ongoing movement to Occupy Together With Design.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Taking Risks

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by Meagan Kelso

I work in retail so I see a lot of credit cards. All of them mostly look the same. Horizontal layout on the front and back, the same signature strip, and the names on the front or back bottom left corner. Design hasn’t changed much for credit cards for years. The same layout with different background pictures gets redundant and boring, although I understand the fact that people don’t really care what their credit cards look like, they just pull them out for two seconds to swipe, and then back in the wallet they go. So when someone handed me their credit card, and their name wasn’t in the bottom left corner, I snapped out of that sub-conscious action and actually looked twice at their card. I turned the card around and looked it over and then really thought about something I had never thought about before.

The card was a Chase Slate credit card. And the layout was different from any other credit card I’ve ever seen. It was a vertical layout instead of horizontal. And I stared at it for moment longer thinking, “wow, this is different. I like it”. And as I handed the person their card back the image stayed in my head. I kept thinking about the card even after I got off work.

Seeing something that hasn’t changed in years all of a sudden have a fresh new layout is encouraging. It’s inspiring to know there are designers out there who are so intelligent and are risk takers to bring these small smiles and thoughts to everyday life. The new design is a reminder to break out of the norm, try something risky although other may tell you it will never work. I give props to whoever created that design because unlike other cards it made me stop and look, and think about something I otherwise never would have thought twice about.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

He said: The Design Process

by Nick Belcher

I was pretty psyched to hear Mr. B’s idea to do this “he said/she said” blog idea. Knowing that Lisa’s and my own ideas and processes would be different, I thought it’d be a great insight into the minds of a couple design students. Lisa did a great job diving into what should be expected in the design process, so I’ll try not to go jump into all that as much with mine for the sake of redundancy.

As someone who has been interested in design for a long while, before high school even, I was also one of those kids who was very interested in the way things work. I used to tear stuff apart and put it back together, I took engineering and machining classes in school…If I didn’t go into graphic design, my second choice was to go into drafting and machining. And music has always played a HUGE part in my life. With that stuff said, in my self-branding process, I wanted a logo to kind of portray these important traits about me. I started sketching some stuff related to music (headphones, guitar/amp related things). I also (attempted) sketched to come up with a logo idea incorporating a suit and tattoos. To me, there’s nothing more B.A. (and no, I’m not talking about British Airways) than a guy walking down the street in a suit and tie and has his tattoos showing above the neckline or on the hands. To me, that’d be someone I hired to do my design (but that’s my personal opinion, and I’d be happy to dive into that if anyone is wondering why). I also started thinking about a logo in a biomechanical way. To me, a biomechanical design encompasses this organic, yet very exact and drafted way, and I felt that would represent me and my design company well (Google "Guy Aitchison" for a ridiculous look into biomech design, for those of you who are unfamiliar). Oh yeah, and I sketched a bunch of other stuff too. Don’t we all?

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So after going over the sketches and picking stuff apart and making decisions, it came the time to get them on the computer and actually make something out of them. I had a lot of fun with this step, and I personally love seeing designs come to life on the screen. We narrowed it down to five strong ideas…

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After going over the goods and bads of all five ideas, we (Mr. B, the class, and I) narrowed it down even further to 3, then 2, then finally one idea. We all decided the biomechanical idea would be the strongest. It had the most balanced composition as a logo, we all felt like it represented me well, and it was the one that could be most universally accepted (versus a tattoo oriented or guitar oriented logo). After tweaking the design a little, it was sent into color-comps. I toyed with a lot of ideas here and none really hit me. I then decided to kind of contrast the mechanical aspect of the design and give the logo some earth tones.

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So after all is said and done with the self-logo design, it’s on to designing stationary and other collateral to keep the self-branding, -promotion, and self-identity rolling. Too bad none of this is completely legit, right? Cuz I’m totally digging how my stationary is coming out! This whole process is why I got into design. I love it, and can’t wait to get into some more in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

She said: The Design Process

by Lisa DeAngelo

When Mr. B gave Nick and I the word that it was our week to write blog entries, he suggested the two of us do a “he said/she said” series on our own design processes. Immediately, “that's what she said” jokes popped into my head. All kidding aside, the design process is a serious topic and it's something all graphic designers should be very familiar with. For the most part, we all go through the same basic steps but each of us has our own unique ways of getting there. In this case, “there” would be the finalized versions of our self promotional branding.

It all starts with a sketch. And then another sketch. And another... I find that this stage of the process is when my mind is all over the place in a good way. I try to to record as many ideas as I can, even if I know it most likely won't be the one that's chosen in the end. Most of the time, I find it easy to produce multiple sketches and concepts. For this project in particular, I filled 4 pages in my sketch book. As you can see, I did made an attempt at numbering thumbnails, but stopped. If you're really curious, you can count but try not to get lost in the organized chaos like I did!

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The next step is, of course, narrowing down your selection. A plethora of sketches normally boils down to five, three and finally one in the end. Depending on the project, it can be hard to “kill your babies” (a fun little phrase for rejecting ideas Pam Barby taught me). However, take comfort in knowing that your sketches will always have a special place in your sketch book. Many teachers have told me that some sketches may even come in handy for future projects. At the very least, I always like looking back at old sketches just for the hell of it.

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Then comes the refining process, which can be tedious at times. Seeing a polished, vectorized (or rasterized depending on what it is) manifestation of your idea is pretty awesome, though. When I'm at this stage, I get excited because it means I'm getting closer to the final version... and one of my favorite parts: exploring COLOR! Because this project was done for myself, I just had to feature my favorite color (lime green) in at least a couple color comps.

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So when everything seems to be said, done, printed and mounted, there's still more: the critique. Personally, this part of the process isn't always the most enjoyable but I think it's very important. We're communication arts majors, which means we need to know how to communicate. Talking about your art with confidence shows someone that you take pride in your work and you know what you're doing. No matter what, don't say anything negative about your own work. A very smart person once told me “never apologize for your art”. I sometimes struggle with this, but in general it's a terrible idea to diss your own stuff when presenting. The critique is when you “sell” your art to others and no salesperson with a brain would ever say something bad about their product. And for the people on the other side of things, please keep comments to constructive criticism only. It's not always guaranteed that a client will be this friendly, but for sheer respect of my fellow students, I always say constructive and helpful comments if I choose to say something.

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At the end of this project, I couldn't help but laugh at myself. Here I was, coming up with a billion sketches of varying detail, and one of the simplest solutions was my final product. Two circles with some text. Yes, really. Although circles are one of the most frequently used motifs in logo design, I felt they fit my personality well. I would describe myself as having a “bubbly” personality, and what better to represent that then with circles? Circles can also symbolize qualities such as focus, unity and wholeness. These qualities are ones I strive to have as a designer. I tried to make the shapes my own by knocking out some of it, creating an overall interesting shape. I go wild when I see the colors of my logo, too! The lime green pairs very well with the dark and light blue. To me, the scheme says “bold” and “fresh”, wouldn't you agree? That's what she said!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two Visual Thoughts

by Sally Yacovelly

NYC Broken Thoughts

I sit sipping my tea, resting my feet and bones after a long day
I stare out the window at 6th & 27th, as fresh whiffs of coffee float past my nose
And jazz playing in the background as the umbrellas abound the city streets
Reds, purples, spotted, broken and torn.

I gaze at the people, many professionals dressed impeccably in their starched shirts with perfect hair. While others, now homeward bound, skirt the surface in baseball caps and sneakers.

Mesmerized by the sights, the figures cross the pavement to the sound as the music seems to play louder. It’s similar to watching TV with the sound turned off. Banners, awnings and neon paint the facades as I glance up the Avenue. The multi-cultural life of the city dot the streets along with the old brick and towering glass.

I find all this exhilarating and inspiring. I am very wet, but thankful for this day of mental rejuvenation.

An Autumn View at PCAD

A gentle breeze rustles across my face as I sit outside for the first time in weeks. Summer has closed its doors and I can detect hints of winter’s approach as autumn kisses my very existence. The continuance of rain has forced most of us into hibernation many days over the last month. All this makes today more aesthetically pleasing like that of a butterfly who emerges from its confined stagnant cocoon to spread its wings to the surrounding blue skies. I see the colors more vibrantly and can almost touch the details with my eyes. The trees have taken a turn toward amber and the days bring darkness prematurely.

The cars pass and their images reflect in the windows across the street causing an ever-changing canvas of shape and color. The flowers burst from their high perch and cascade downward in lush hues of pinks and reds.

Open your eyes as it all elapses before us; taking in all the shapes, color and form. An instructor once told me that “life is art and art is life.” It all progresses onward and we only age if we allow our minds to cease seeing. We are blessed with a creative eye, if kept open, it will allow for continued growth.

A memorable thought: A goal is a dream with a deadline.

The Importance of Good Typography

by Christa Zinner

I think if you want to make it as a designer, you to have live beyond fads and styles in the design world. There will always be a younger generation who will know how to look up a tutorial and just copy what’s popular in current trends. Knowing design that is classically and fundamentally sound design will get you far in the design world. This goes hand-in-hand for all elements of design, and more specifically good typography.

The beauty of typography is that it's not something you can just physically read, but the letter forms themselves are extremely expressive and should be reflective of the message you're trying to convey. A font should be engaging and compliment or add to your design, not distract from it. You should always keep in mind that fonts and typography have the same capacity for expression as colors and images do. Type should never be overlooked or used as a last-minute addition to a design. The most important thing you should remember is that type gives subliminal messages to the viewer, which is why creating (or choosing if you don't have time to create your own) an expressive, appropriate font is so critical to good design. Working with a font inappropriate for your design can completely ruin and take away from an otherwise well thought out and beautifully executed design.

An excellent example of how important unique, appropriate type is in designs can be found in a mini compendium put together by Adam Ladd on his personal website,

Adam Ladd,

A great resource (if you don't like my favorite way of doing it: pencil and grid paper) to get your feet wet in the world of creating your own typography is a neat new webapp called fontstruct, created by the people who own and maintain fontshop. While fontstruct has its own problems, mostly from working in brick forms, it can be an excellent tool to help get the process of creating your own type going.

Where else would we be without one of my favorite places for inspiration? After all of the basic principles of type are learned, one should go hog-wild and delve head-first into the world of expressive type. Some of the best typography is stand-alone, with very little imagery, or itself is an illustration. Typography Served does just this and more, delivering inspirational and sometimes down-right amazing applications of type in design.

Yulia Broadskaya,

Never again should we see typography as a flat-expressionless mode for conveying additional information in our design. Instead, we should see type as its own element which possesses character, form and emotion.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Animated Cinema: The Illusionist

by Mindy Tang

When I watched this movie, it blew my mind! It's practically a silent movie with very little dialog, beautiful character concepts, and a perfect mood movie for a relaxing night. The story is about a magician in the late 50s in Paris who traveled with a young girl and they begin to form a father and daughter-like relationship. When you watch the movie, you won't expect any of the tiniest part of the animation will be moving. They also did a great job with the typography, especially the billboards, theatre, and store signs that perfectly represent the era. Please watch it when you have a night to spare for a 80 minute movie.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brands As Patterns

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Think branding isn't exciting?
Think branding can't get the creative juices flowing?
Think again!

Tap into award-winning designer, writer, creative director, and strategist Marc Shillum's take on shaping branding through pattern. Simply click on the images (Control+Click > Open Link In New Tab) for the complete story.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Much Imitated, But Never Matched

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by Gene Testa

While I may not be the most adventurous person or even that easily inspired. What I am, however, is a bit of a type snob. (Yes, yes yuck it up guys.) When I first started at PCAD I had a general idea of what I was good at, that being seeing things in imagery and text and how they flowed together to make something great. What I also saw was that my skill was lacking tremendously and that I was laying things out (as most novice designers do) in blocks and with no real flow or feel for type as a whole. It was a frustrating thing to see all this realy good design work hanging in the hallways at the school and wonder, “How did they do that?”. Maddening was the thought that I had no idea how and that I wouldn't learn how to for at least another two semesters.

So I muddled. I tried and I applied myself, never mistake a poor quality fine arts piece for yours truly to not have been attempted with honest conviction, and fell down a lot. Then late in my Freshmen or as the school has dubbed it “Foundation” year while sitting bored off my rocker in Mr. Scullin's class. (Yes, exactly how can you get bored in Scullin's class?) I forget the exact project but Scullin and I had been speaking on and off through out the morning session of the class and nearly immediately after lunch he yoinked me from the class and whisked me down to the library.

Now if any of you have not had the pleasure to be taken on an adventure to the library with Mr. Scullin then you have truly truly missed out. It went as any trip to the grocery store goes while having resistant young children can go. Someone gets dragged down and isle and things get thrown at them. Save I wasn't resisting. By the time Scullin had finished I had like four tons of books in my arms. Needless to say he had roughly the same in his. Teetering desperately trying not to lose control of this massive stack of books I headed for the table in the center-ish of the room.

There he began once more to tear through the books and by the time he had sifted through everything I had what roughly three weeks worth of reading in my hands. He didn't tell me to read so much as look at them. He told me to ignore the words on the page and just look at how they are placed and how the colors work with them. So I returned to class with this mass of books in tow. In that stack I had yet to really dig into was a book on graffiti (I'll never understand why we have that book) and a book by the man David Carson.

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Now if you know absolutely nothing about him or what he does I'll be brief. The man has no degree in design. He has one, of that I can assure you, but it's in sociology. So what leaves him qualified to design let alone teach? It's his lack of fear. The mans fearless and nothing about design seems to phase him. Yes he see's it. Yes he does it. But aside from that where does his genius come from? If you look at the images any type snob, myself included, would rage at first glance at the type layout. But! BUT! If you take a step back and look at it. Turn off that nearly OCD drive to want to fix it. You see his genius.

Using different font sizes, different fonts, colors, and paragraph styles he gives a sense of hierarchy. What must be read first and what can be left for later. When he talks he doesn't seem super intelligent. But if there is one thing I've come to notice throughout all his talks or articles written through interview with him. His key message is to just try. He may not come out and say it directly. He may not even say it at all. But the man encourages us all to be the fearless designer and just throw our ideas out there. So What say the rest of you? Shall we be fearless? Should we not be afraid to fail? Should we just try and have an adventure with our designs? I think we should.

To enjoy the "David Carson on Design + Discovery" TED talk, go here.