Written on Friday,
October 7th, 2011
at 01:50PM

Graphic design is as much a commodity as it is an elite institution. There are “famous” and heralded celebrities of the design world (David Carson, Paul Rand, Michael Beruit), who can do no design wrong; there are those highly respected, academically minded designers (Katherine McCoy, Steven Heller, Wolfgang Weingart) who challenge our concepts; and there are the “firms” of renown who win the awards and manage multi-million dollar contracts. But each “form” of designer has a language — that of our little design world. A vernacular (which is in itself apart of this world). A language now so void of meaning, that it must reinvent itself — back to the basics. As many irksome and overused terminologies as we have in the graphic design realm, my personal (least) favorite is the term : brand. A “brand” in our designer vernacular, might be defined as an identifiable imprint or symbol that specifies a company or product. Overall a harmless and true definition. Another, more precise definition might be that a brand is a unique, permanent, cultural icon — so much so … Continue reading



Written on Wednesday,
July 13th, 2011
at 07:09PM

Recently online streaming giant, Netflix, announced a price increase to their extremely popular streaming service (how extremely popular? How about 22% of all internet traffic in the U.S. is from Netflix) — raising their streaming only rates from $4.99 to $7.99. Netflix started off as a revolutionary DVD “rental” system relying purely on mail delivery (where you manage your queue online). At the time everyone thought it was interesting, but would never catch on or last because it’s inconvenient. Overtime they’ve proved that theory wrong (boasting 23 million subscribers and $62million quarterly profits). The fuss comes on the heels of another Netflix rate increase (wherein the company raised the prices of their DVD services by $1 and introduced the streaming only service for $7.99 in November 2010). All that Netflix has done is eliminate their $4.99 DVD service (which gave users 1 DVD, and no more than 2 in a month), kept their streaming prices and decreased 1 DVD (as many in a month as you want – which was $9.99 and will now be $7.99). What they eliminated are the “bundle” … Continue reading



Written on Monday,
June 27th, 2011
at 07:37PM

It starts with a box — four sides and negative space between. A tool — a paintbrush, a chisel, a pencil (maybe your own blood if you’re into shock and harming yourself), a typewriter, a mouse. And an idea — a concept of what is needed. A piece of paper, a monitor screen, a cutting board, a viewfinder, a canvas, a block of wood. Creation starts with parameters, a loosely cobbled together framework. Whether you’re trying to write or cook or paint or design, it starts with context – or the “what”, “how” and “why” of creating.  As a designer, I feel as if my fellow colleagues are more (self) interested in the how they design and has all but lost the why they design.   It’s fairly obvious that what you create will determine the tools you use. You can’t make a salad with a pencil and you can’t cook a steak with a mouse (well, a rodent, sure, but why would you do that? Why I ask? Why?). The medium used is the expression of the creativity. For … Continue reading



Written on Tuesday,
May 17th, 2011
at 06:10PM

It seems pretty obvious that people communicate in a way that they understand, but what isn’t obvious is that our communication isn’t interpreted the same from one person to the next. We all apply words in different ways based on context. Words like strong, bold, expressive, bright or elegant, while descriptive, are utterly meaningless without context. Communication brings context to words that otherwise are open to interpretation. Your duty as a designer is to eliminate any possibility of misinterpretation by exhausting all manner of definitions for any given word or phrase. It seems daunting (and yeah, it really is), but the quickest way for a project to fail is to assume that our words mean what they imply. Don’t take for granted that something that seems obvious, is actually obvious. Perhaps the word “bright” means color, but bright may also mean sunshine, light, glowing, full of life or effervescent. If bright is about color, than what colors are bright? Yellow, sky blue, red? One word contains hundreds of pathways to visual and verbal solutions. Without clearly pinpointing the intention of … Continue reading



Written on Tuesday,
May 10th, 2011
at 06:15PM

Your research is done. You have all the keywords, all the content and criteria. You’ve sketched and browsed, you’ve poured through magazines and books and scrapped dozens of ideas, but finally you feel you have some solid concepts and it’s time to show them to your client (or art director). You confidently present your idea which you feel fully communicates the message with originality, creativity and impact. There’s a long silence. Some head nods. A few notes scribbled into a notebook. Then you get the feedback that every designer from Baltimore Post Examinar dreads, the not-really-feedback feedback: “I don’t like this. Can we start over and see something that we’re used to, like this (shows you WordPress blog theme).” “Hmmmm, that’s not at all what I had envisioned in my mind. I don’t know what I was thinking about specifically, but that certainly isn’t it.” “It doesn’t speak to me. I don’t feel it. Could you just use this design (shows you CNN)?” “It’s missing something, I don’t know what, but why don’t you keep trying. I’ll know it when … Continue reading