Archive for June, 2008

Another Tale of Marketing Trickery

June 27th, 2008

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Susan’s latest order from Amazon came yesterday, and among the books was this one, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. Oh course I was excited to take a peek (who doesn’t love a crusty loaf?). The jacket made the book look nice enough (it’s not Martha Stewart but respectable), but the jacket is just smoke and mirrors. I opened the cover, flip to the PREFACE and that’s when I knew we had been duped.

The inners of the book are awful. I mean really really bad. So poorly designed that I don’t want to make crusty loaves or begets galore anymore. NOTE: To any of my readers who do not dream in bright shinny letters or when reading don’t think about the typeface/ font used here’s a lesson that will cue you when something has been designed by someone who A. hasn’t gone to a week of design school or B. is pretending to be a designer. It’s called kerning. Kerning is the spacing between letterforms or as the dictionary puts it “To adjust space between (characters) in typeset text.” Kerning actually originated In the old days when printing was done on a press. The printer or typographer would set each letter to make the words. Today most typefaces or fonts have kerning mapped out pretty good. It’s not near the challenge wood and lead lettering were back in the day. All design programs have tools that allow you adjust the spacing. If the kerning is done right the reader will never notice, but when it is spaced wrong or uneven reading becomes more difficult. Like the photo above “PREFACE” could be read as “PREF” “A” “CE”. This is usually something you learn your first day of school.

This was just the tip of the iceberg for the book though. I flipped through the whole book and can’t remember any of the recipes, because everything was laid out so poorly. The book cost $20-something dollars, but what I can’t figure out is where did the budget for design go? It’s apparent that the publisher got the book printed realized it wouldn’t sale so the dust cover was added to help sell it. I’m not saying everything needs to be printed in color with stunning photos, but design it so it’s at least an easy read.

I’ve Been Think This for Years

June 25th, 2008

I read an article on BUSINESS WEEK this morning titled “The 10 Commandments of Web Design”, and to no surprise there wasn’t anything revealing or that I didn’t already know. Though, number four gave me a chuckle.

4. Thou shalt not overuse glassy reflections.
“Apple often sets the standard for slick and cool—in all forms of design. But some experts say the company’s habit of creating glassy reflections under photos of its products has been far too commonly copied, turning the style element into a cliché.”

I don’t think Apple created the look, but I can remember when Apple started using this. When they introduced the use of it in their latest operating system with “cover flow” I remember thinking, “Oh gosh. Why?”, but I think Jason Dilworth said it best when he described it in a conversation as, “the new drop shadow.”

Apple does use it pretty effectively (drop shadows also have a time and place), but just like the over use of drop shadows the reflection is not a good idea.

Make it Six

June 20th, 2008

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I don’t get it. I just saw another blog post about this type scarf (that makes the total of 5 posts on different sites about the dumb thing), and yet now I feel I must post about it. Make it six.

Self Directed

June 20th, 2008

The world is full of graphic design—a lot of it bad (I admit I’ve contributed my share), a lot of it borrowed or influenced by original ideas (yes, I fall into this category too), and then there are designs that are so new and original that they direct/ influence the previous two categories in one way or another. It’s like in the movie The Devil Wears Prada when Andy (Anne Hathaway) snickers at the color of a belt, but then Miranda (Meryl Streep) humbles Andy by telling her the color of the blue bargain-basement sweater she’s wearing was picked out for her years ago by the top creatives standing in the room. In the world of graphic design there are designers and design agencies who set the trends that eventually trickle their way all the way down to the design bargain-basement too.

It was recently that I read the about page of a blog that I’ve followed for a while now—the blog is ISO50: The Visual Work of Scott Hansen—I consider Scott one of these design vanguards like I mentioned above. As I was reading the thing that really caught my eye (and the idea behind this post) was that he no longer does commercial work. He’s worked for a variety of places (the most prestigious being Adobe), but now he works and designs mostly for himself. He’s stepped over the line of being a Graphic Designer to Artist, and along the way become a leader in the design community.

Reading Scott’s about page has really got me thinking about my own design-standing and how I measure up to other designers (whether I’m a bad designer, a good follower, or a leader). I love designing and somedays I’m just paying the bills or getting by because the design brief isn’t looking for much (or willing to pay much), but I think like Scott I’m happiest when I am my own client or I’m working on a project that’s close to me.

And speaking of self directed projects I should say that the new MARCFOLIO site is almost done. I’m just tweaking a few past projects so they really shine, but end of next week we should be going live (and then I’ll be made an AIGA Legend lol). I also want to give a shout out to one of my college classmates. Luke Larsen of LukeLarsen.com just launch his new AJAXmazing web site. Nice work Luke.