The Robot Show in Calgary

It sure seems like if you’re a designer and like to be active, UPPERCASE would be the first place to visit if you head to Calgary. Aside from the cool poster, the Robot Show looks pretty neat. Below is more info that I received in an e-mail newsletter.

The Robot Show opens this Thursday, from 6 – 10 pm.
Co-curated by Janine Vangool & Mike Kerr
Featuring robots in art, illustration, kinetic sculpture, books, toys and film!

Toby Cougar, Calgary
AJ Dimarucot, Manila
Mark Dulmadge, Calgary
Doug Fraser, Victoria
Ryan Heshka, Vancouver
James Jensen, Calgary
Mike Kerr, Calgary
Aaron Leighton, Toronto
Renata Liwska, Calgary
Patricio Oliver, Buenos Aires
Don Post, Calgary
Rick Sealock, Toronto
Janine Vangool, Calgary

If you go to their site at you can get more info on each contributor.

Paper and getting organized by yourself

If you’re still a fan of paper, D*I*Y Planner is the site for you. I won’t be able to do the site justice describing about all the things you can do to get organized with this site. Their tagline “Paper, productivity & passion” does sum the site up. Here’s how they describe the site “We are a community of people who see the value of paper as a medium for planning, productivity, creative expression, and exploring ideas. We encourage visitors to share advice and inspiration, and we love to see submissions for templates, kit images and story articles.”

Check it out for yourself at

Design has the power

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stealinthedeejay, originally uploaded by DanielleGrace.

“Design has the power and the influence to actually make very large social and behavioral shifts in the world. And design, I think, is a very nice tool, an instrument really to shape human behavior,”

Karim Rashid

via Everyday Art Designers Seek Function And Beauty When Making Consumer Products

Hello, are you there?

One of my email accounts went down over the weekend. How did I know? I stopped getting email. At first I hoped it would have gotten better on it’s own, but after two days of a very quiet email box I got worried. I contacted my isp, and yes there was a problem. Things are almost back to normal, but not quite. So if you had sent me an email over the weekend, or even yesterday and have not heard back, please send it again to me.

With this miscommunication of email it got me to think about all the ways one can get in touch with each other. There’s email, msn, icq, iChat, contact through sites like flickr that have their own email, cell phones, text messaging, blackberry, land line phone, listservs, face to face conversation, snail mail, sign language, smoke signals and probably a couple more ways that you can think of. With all of that, we still could get tripped up with a simple email not getting to the inbox. How does one solve that issue of getting the right communication in a timely fashion? And then how do you manage it?

Welcome to design*notes

It’s true, I’m taking design*notes to a new weblog publisher. The biggest change in the upcoming weeks will be the addition of the categories search being well defined.

UPDATE: It will be a couple weeks before all past blog entries have been logged into the Categories section…

UPDATE 2: It seems that there’s some issues with people commenting. I’ll be looking into the problem…

the Unboxing Ceremony

iPod 60GB, In-Ear Headphones, A/V Cable, with packaging
Originally uploaded by JoshB.

Imagine designing something so well that others feel the need to capture the experience and share it on flickr. There’s a photo pool that does just that:

There’s also a blog dedicated to people talking about they’re experiences at via core77

social groups via photography

Here’s a really interesting project from Rotterdam-based photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek called Exactitudes. Exactitudes: a contraction of exact and attitude. By registering their subjects in an identical framework, with similar poses and a strictly observed dress code, Versluis and Uyttenbroek provide an almost scientific, anthropological record of people’s attempts to distinguish themselves from others by assuming a group identity. The apparent contradiction between individuality and uniformity is, however, taken to such extremes in their arresting objective-looking photographic viewpoint and stylistic analysis that the artistic aspect clearly dominates the purely documentary element.

Aside from just looking at the images, I found some of the categorizations to be insightful. The image above is part of the Young Activists group. Here’s a list of all the groups: 02. Casual Queers, 03. Gabberbitches, 04. Bimbos, 05. Combat Girls, 06. Teenagers, 07. Game Boys, 08. Young Activists, 09. Young Executives, 10. Skaters, 11. Bonita’s, 12. Allah’s Girls, 13. Supporters, 14. Moroccies, 15. Tatto Babes, 16. Manipulators, 17. Smas, 18. Mohawks, 19. Vagabonds, 20. Madam, 21. Leathermen, 22. Butchers, 23. Dreads, 24. Bouncers, 25. Grannies, 26. Preppies, 27. Fans, 28. Massalas, 29. Kils, 30. Roffas, 31. Chillers, 32. Showpieces, 33. Students, 34. Scream, 35. Rockers, 36. Mister Wang, 37. Chairman, 38. Brats, 39. Workers, 40. Chickies, 41. Surfistas, 42. Pitboys, 43. Bundaboys, 44. Gentlemen, 45. The Girls from Ipanema, 46. Musulman, 47. Mothercare, 48. Habibties, 49. Teknohippies, 50. Ecopunks, 51. Sleeves, 52. Skins, 53. Ghoullies, 54. Corpos, 55. Fly Girls , 56. Homeboys , 56. Homeboys , 58. Toppers

via GDC Listserv > Paul Tetrault

Roloson’s Goalie Mask

In the spirit of combining design and hockey today, I present one of the coolest designed masks that I’ve seen in some time. Designed by Myers Mask Design, Dwayne Roloson’s goalie mask sports a gold plated cage and some nice graphics. When Dwayne came to Edmonton he was wearing a blank white mask which concerned me. Was it a visual cue that he wasn’t going to stay too long? Thankfully that wasn’t the case and he’s brought some amazing victories in this playoff run for the Edmonton Oilers.

There’s also a podcast video talking about the mask, to watch it, do a search on iTunes podcast directory and type in “Edmonton Oilers”.

Recognizing a pattern

There’s a couple things that I’ll try to tie into this post. The first is the video you should watch above, the second is this small crit on ad blogs from if, and the third is the pattern blogs I keep linking from.

I first caught the video above at Russell Davies blog a month or two ago. He had a couple different formats available, I could watch it on my browser or download it to my iPod. Now I can pass the video live from my blog. Ironically or not, blogs are being scrutinized the way magazines talked about blogs a short time ago. if suggests “There is little in between. Ad-blogs have the same problem as the ad press – they see the game as advertising and they’ll tend to highlight the newsworthy and miss the strategically sound.” Yes the same could be mentioned of design blogs, maybe I’m guilty too, maybe not. Third point, what does the group of bloggers I continually link from tell me of my interests, and how and will that help me figure out my future career intentions?

Design seizures

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Design seizures, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

When has it ever been a good idea to place a hologram on the cover of a printed piece? How about never? If this is what get’s advertisers excited about mags, we’re way past content issues.

Learning by Design


Debbie Millman, a friend and someone who I admire has posted one of her best blog posts about what she has learned. There’s 10 graceful points that most designers can take something away from her experience, learn and get better. About a year ago Debbie visited Edmonton for a talk titled “Design Stories from New York” for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada Alberta North Chapter. We filmed the talk and you can watch the entire presentation at While Debbie’s 10 points from her blog entry are not mentioned directly in the video as such, a lot of her ideas are talked about in part 3 of the video presentation.

Below are the ten headers of Debbie’s points, to read the whole thing visit here blog HERE.

Things I have learned by making a lot of mistakes

Number One:
Fabulous talent is equivalent to operational excellence

Number Two:
How you lead and what you represent is as important as your ideas

Number Three:
You need to know what you believe in, whether or not it is popular.

Number Four:
Vision is easy, strategy is much harder.

Number Five:
Know what you are talking about

Number Six:
Common vocabulary is not always equate with common behavior

Number Seven:
One day working on a creative brief is worth (minimally) one week of design time.

Number Eight:
Be aware of “artificial harmony”

Number Nine:
Seek out criticism

Number Ten:
Design Matters

Blog reDesign

Every once in awhile I flirt with the idea of redesigning this blog. Though ironically in the first year I did update it three times. I even changed the name. Originally design*notes was known as d*notes. But I decided to change it after swissmiss kept calling my blog “design*notes“. She’s pretty smart so I followed suit.

Generally the need for a redesign of anything follows one of three reasons: a. a merger or acquisition, b. change in leadership or, c. a new direction or philosophy. While thinking I wanted a redesign, the blog never really fell into any of those categories. Today this blog still doesn’t fall into those categories, but a blog mentioned on Coudal today has really inspired me to get a hell of a lot better with the design of design*notes. It’s by Khoi Vinh. I’ve sort of liked the understated design factor of design*notes. I felt a good blog didn’t need to look designed, or have that web 2.0 look – the content should be first and foremost.

I still believe that today, but has set the bar pretty high for being able read the content in such a great way that you can’t stop. That is what I want design*notes version four to be. Stay tuned and thanks for the ongoing support.

Happy World Graphics Day

27 April marks the birth of Icograda (International Council of Graphic Design Associations) in 1963. It is celebrated by graphic designers, communication designers, industrial designers and design associations around the world. Today is the 43rd birthday of Icograda.

Graphic design has become one of the most influential professions in the world. It shapes the daily lives of people everywhere.

World Graphics Day is an opportunity to recognise graphic design, and its role in the world, and to celebrate the birthday of Icograda.

On this occasion, designers reflect and hope that our global network can contribute to greater understanding between people and can help to build bridges where divides and inequities exist.

At the Icograda Secretariat in Montreal, they’ll be marking the day with the launch of the ‘Call for Expressions of Interest’ for the IDA (International Design Alliance) World Design Report pilot project.


Warm greetings,

Sue Colberg, MVA, MGDC
GDC National
Icograda Representative

The Agony and Ecstasy of the Diagram

Ticker Factory is one of those sites that has turned static diagrams and leveraged dynamic data entry into something for “the rest of us”, counting down to that great day you’re thinking about. Ok, I’m being somewhat sarcastic but is there anything really wrong with this type of diagram? Ticker Factory offers a lot of different types of countdowns; Trying To Conceive: Create a menstrual cycle day count, Pregnancy: Count your weeks and days of pregnancy, Due Date count down, Baby and Child Age, Display the age of your baby or child, Weight Loss: Display your progress, Count down to your target weight, Birthday: Count down to a birthday, Anniversary: Count down to your anniversary, Vacation & Travel: Count down to an upcoming vacation or travel, Event: Count down or up to a special event, Exercise & Fitness: Track your progress towards your exercise and fitness goal.

Once you’ve decided on the countdown, you get to pick out a lot of different graphics. There’s timelines, icons, ways to show the negative and positive steps to get to the goal. There’s a lot more to this that I’d like to say, but alas I have to head out for a workout…

Affirmation sticker and smart blog

Affirmation sticker
Originally uploaded by saralynncantor. just came on my radar tonight. It’s a nicely written blog by a retail planner, though I’m not entirely sure what a planner does…

The affirmation sticker post HERE is a good example of what you’re going to get with Sarah Cantor’s posts. I also like the word “Another.” It’s kinda like those ads – “Secret #24: Sometimes I fake an accent at parties” – you feel like there are at least 23 other Secrets. Here, the word “Another” makes you feel like you aren’t alone – there are tons of organized customers, and you are yet another of the already-overflowing pool of organized people in your town.

Bridge Design

Originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

I love walking with Maddie but the one thing I hate doing is crossing bridges with her. My worst nightmare is that she some how breaks her leash and sneaks under the rail posts. Future bridge designers, please make rails less than 4 inches from the ground so dogs can’t crawl underneath the sides.

One Trick Pony

Here’s an interesting evolution of muzak players, the Buddah Machine and Disposable Audio Books. With the unlimited choice of filling up your iPod, the counter approach is to simplify to such a degree that the sound box is so limited that it’s easier to use. Of course if they catch on I’m sure people would find a way to modify it for an entirely different purpose.

You can read about the Buddah Machine at and Disposable Audio Books at MIT Advertising Lab.

The Hockey Playoff Beard

Hockey Playoff Beard
Originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

Playoff Time
Originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

There’s a tradition in Canada known as the hockey playoff beard. When hockey playoffs come around there isn’t a bare face on the team. It’s been two long years since the Oiler’s have been in the playoffs so I figured I could show a little solidarity with the team and start a couple days early.

In the first series against Detroit, the Oilers will probably win the series in five games.

For more official info on the hockey playoff beard, visit wiki.

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