Link Drop (8·07·09)

link drop themes

It’s been a bit of an up and down week over here at DesignNotes. I’ve been under the weather of most of the week which is highly unusual, and on the flip side the weather outside has been actually pretty decent. In more relatable Link Drop news, I found that the sites I spent time with has a lot of personal expressing in them. There’s a bunch of interviews, process and visualization. Intermixed with all that are the normal tech., Apple and Twitter issues.

President Barack Obama for BusinessWeek « Damn Ugly Photography_1249599117406

President Barack Obama for BusinessWeek
Brad has to be my favourite photographer that I like to share my doom and gloom predictions about the print industry with. He’s also old school but in a good way. Recently he visited the White House for BusinessWeek to shoot a cover story on Barack Obama. This is his post about the experience, something that more photographers should do once their images are published.

Advertising's revenge of the nerds - Aug. 4, 2009_1249599147652

Advertising’s revenge of the nerds
This was by far the most popular of the sites I passed along this week via Twitter. It’s hard to say if this really is a new concept or one that’s being reported on. Non creatives will always be more attentive to stats that show graphs going up. Designer’s just need to understand that and use it to their advantage.

Why Does the Best Design of 2009 Still Look Like 2000

Why Does the Best Design of 2009 Still Look Like 2000?
This was probably one of the more important articles that could warrant some more in depth consideration. Comparing some of the best in industrial design today to the past, there hasn’t been a huge leap in the design. Minor tweaks aside there isn’t much new. I think this also could be a bigger issue of business culture in general. Look at what others have done and replicate.

blog - natalia ilyin_1249599420489

On the inequities of design competitions
I really like this quote so I’m copy + pasting it here “…Designers who win awards for edgy design they did for a friend’s business– with a print run of one hundred or something like that? They’ve got no art director, no creative director, no client’s representative, no agency person. Where’s the obstacle to good design there? But take something like a cheese. When I see a really good package for a cheese– I know what that designer went through to get there. It makes me want to fall on my knees and kiss that designer’s feet, that cheese. —Ernesto Aparicio”

There’s a lot of takeaways from this practical statement. Can design that is collaborative, ie working closely with those that are not as passionate about doing something new be celebrated as much as the artist that does design on the side? This example also illustrates why I don’t show a lot of images from designers web sites. For me to truly appreciate a design I need to see it in the real world. Design magazines don’t barely reflect the real world that real design flows into. If I’m going to suggest a poster is pretty good, I better be able to see it against a real wall with other posters surrounding it.

 Andy Rutledge - On Inspiration_1249599181898

On Inspiration
This tries to end the mysticism of art trying to be design. Good design takes time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be having an outer body experience to do appropriate work.

Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » JK Wedding Entrance Dance_1249599188576

JK Wedding Entrance Dance
This post pretty much sums up how media, design and marketing need to be. It’s amazing how distinct the age gap between those in online that are old that treat sites like print material, and those online today who understand it’s an ongoing conversation that can’t be predicted six months in advance. With that said I do have some doubts that the JK Wedding dance wasn’t an elaborate pr stunt by Chris Brown’s handler’s, but maybe that’s just me…

Co-opting Viral Hits to Sell More Music - PSFK_1249599200598

Co-opting Viral Hits to Sell More Music
PSFK reflects on the practical nature of having a copyrighted song in a YouTube video being in a video, and how that can be profitable.

Heating Up the Charts - Grids - SPD.ORG - Grids_1249599207579

Heating Up the Charts
There’s some unusual candor about the process of selecting and working with a design firm for the redesign of Billboard’s site. Interesting pov’s and observations.

 random acts of traction_1249599214256

how blogging really works: random acts of traction
This isn’t the only reason I blog, but it’s true that a publisher will never know what ideas take off. For me, if I post five or six random design ideas a week, over a period of months some of them will evolve into something really special. If I hadn’t started where would those ideas come from?

 Can We Please Kill This Meme Now_1249599220855

Can We Please Kill This Meme Now
This is why I collect stuff for this Link Drop. There’s so much good stuff out there that I need a place to filter it after seven days.

Q & A with Ingsu Liu, W.W. Norton | The Casual Optimist_1249599226661

Q & A with Ingsu Liu, W.W. Norton
I like talking about the demise of print, but I don’t have any allusions that digital can be as conceptual as a well designed book cover. The above interview is with the current V.P. art director at W.W. Norton, the talk is about their process.

Building an Army of Hyper-Local, Mobile-Connected Advocates « MobileBehavior_1249599239966

Building an Army of Hyper-Local, Mobile-Connected Advocates
There’s a couple interesting angles for me on this story. I first read this story from Advertising Age, but since they wall their content after a week I thought it made more sense to pass it along to the original source. A lot of people use foursquare, I can’t argue that point as I see them all talking on Twitter. I’ve never tried it for personal reasons. In any case this article does a good job a breaking down the mobile app.

Digitized Stalking Is the New World Order | Threat Level | Wired.com_1249599814963

Digitized Stalking Is the New World Order

Just when you thought it was safe to be online.

Urban Omnibus » Designers and Citizens as Critical Media Artists_1249599245670

Designers and Citizens as Critical Media Artists
As a concept I thought yellow arrow was a pretty cool idea. The designer’s of that and other cool things talk about it.

Monster-Munch Easy Meat Cheat Sheet_1249599251113

Easy Meat Cheat Sheet
What can I say, I’m a sucker for meat charts. There’s something freakishly interesting about them.

 Retail Cuts of Art from GG_1249642741195

Retail Cuts of Art from GG

A second meat like chart I came across…

Geek Chic » Blog Archive » The App Store and Apple’s Recent Behavior_1249599257976

The App Store and Apple’s Recent Behavior
Apple has always been a corporation though sometimes people forget this. With the iPhone and the partnership with ATT, a lot of their business strategies are being questioned.

Is Apple More Evil Than Microsoft

Is Apple More Evil Than Microsoft?
Could an article like this have been written three years ago?

 MITCH COPE_1249599269645

Detroit Book : MITCH COPE
These are images worth taking a look at. They speak volumes to those that think that what ever industry they are in is not susceptible to change.

Op-Ed Guest Columnist - Twittergraphy - NYTimes.com_1249599278910

The meaning’s behind the short phrases are great.


what brands can learn from mission street food
A different type of look at my fav. SF food place.

 Why young American designers are ganging up - Core77_1249599404386

Design Club: Why young American designers are ganging up
Interesting concept but it’s not new like is suggested. MADE in Edmonton is doing something similar and has been going strong for over ten years.

 idsgn (a design blog)_1249599427461

Making sense of health care
I nice big chart about health care…

 Delightful error pages_1249599802759

Delightful error pages
The start of a collection of error pages.

Titanium - Five steps to a better design brief_1249599809260

Five steps to a better design brief

Here’s a couple steps that any designer can take heed to.

“GOOD” Design — The Bygone Bureau_1249599820028

“GOOD” Design
Good background info about how Good magazine does it’s thing.

Robert L. Peters » Never again…_1249599825534

Never again…
Friend of DesignNotes, Rob Peters looks back at Hiroshima.

Link Drops by DesignNotes | better taste than sorry._1249599832064

Link Drops by DesignNotes
It was interesting for me to read through the eyes of someone else about my Link Drop.

Link Drop (4·10·09)

 Tina Fey on Amy Poehler on branding now_1239321979344clear_001Tomorrow Museum » Archive » Video is Justice_1239322009317clear_001Video reveals G20 police assault on Ian Tomlinson moments before he died | UK news | The Guardian_1239322032552clear_001Switch to Energy Saving Bulbs with FF Dingbats 2.0 | The FontFeed_1239322069878clear_001Too much (poorly designed) Information
Automatic Legends for Proportional Symbol Maps (Jenny) « Kelso’s Corner_1239322096537clear_001 Kode9's "Black Sun" single came out today! You know it's the techn-00's when I'm waiting impatiently for almost trip hop._1239322109319clear_001 The Fedrigoni Mountains_1239322120918clear_001s p a c i n g_1239322126769clear_001 toilet roll origami_1239322137526
Porno Circles | Design You Trust. World's Most Famous Social Inspiration._1239322200812clear_001 Circle_1239322212524clear_001ZURB – Why a 24-hour Design Marathon Works_1239322225794clear_001Can design save the newspaperclear_001 Peace Revolution poster (Monoscope)_1239322253411
J Schatz Egg Bird Houses_1239322265484clear_001 Mid-Century Modern Furniture Poster by J Provost_1239322280259clear_001i am the weather » » traces of an imaginary affair_1239322296169clear_001Veuve Clicquot_1239322351796clear_001onedotzero_adventures in motion_1239322363075
Coffee Top Caddie - Blog - Etre_1239322375975clear_001 credit card cutlery._1239322388734clear_001Effective CRM you won’t read about in Adweek « BBH Labs_1239322417950clear_001 the barbarian group_1239322432969clear_001KinoSport | Consciousness Raising in the Dairy Section_1239322442818

link drop themes

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Last week I mentioned how I’m starting to post about the same themes week after week. Well this week for the Link Drop I’ve tried mixing it up a bit. There’s lots about eggs and circles. I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but when things flow whom I’m I to stop it from happening—maybe I was hungry as I was going though the sites…


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 Tina Fey on Amy Poehler on branding now_1239321979344

Tina Fey on Amy Poehler on branding now
I think this quote is great: “Amy is funny because she doesn’t care what you think, but she does want to make you laugh. It’s a complicated and important combination.” If only we could all have the same attitude…

Tomorrow Museum » Archive » Video is Justice_1239322009317

Video is Justice
Lots to consider with this post—just proves that what’s released into the wild isn’t always what a person can expect.

Video reveals G20 police assault on Ian Tomlinson moments before he died | UK news | The Guardian_1239322032552

Video reveals G20 police assault on man who died
This is crazy, and it should be noted that the Guardian is doing some interesting stuff. Last week I posted about them using twitter; The Guardian @ G20 summit and protests in London

Switch to Energy Saving Bulbs with FF Dingbats 2.0 | The FontFeed_1239322069878

Switch to Energy Saving Bulbs with FF Dingbats 2.0
Cool idea to get colour into dingbats, plus the images are nice.

Too much (poorly designed) Information

Too much (poorly designed) Information?
Good breakdown of info design overthought. Maybe they should have stopped while they’re ahead? Good candidate for agile design?

Automatic Legends for Proportional Symbol Maps (Jenny) « Kelso’s Corner_1239322096537

Automatic Legends for Proportional Symbol Maps (Jenny)
Cool tool, I wonder if there’s some sort of magical/golden rule to these type of proportions.

 Kode9's "Black Sun" single came out today! You know it's the techn-00's when I'm waiting impatiently for almost trip hop._1239322109319

Kode9’s “Black Sun” single came out today! You know it’s the techn-00’s when I’m waiting impatiently for almost trip hop.
It’s been a while since I showed one of these diagrams—the colour spectrum is quite telling.

 The Fedrigoni Mountains_1239322120918

The Fedrigoni Mountains
I wish this was some sort of three dimensional diagram because it would rawk if it was.

s p a c i n g_1239322126769

Subway Station Buttons
The MTA should steal this idea and sell buttons for $2.50 a piece. That way New Yorkers using the subway wouldn’t be overcharged…

 toilet roll origami_1239322137526

toilet roll origami
Crazy idea—how does one come up with something like this? It would be cool to do some designs around this stuff.

Porno Circles | Design You Trust. World's Most Famous Social Inspiration._1239322200812

Porno Circles
This is hilarious, I wonder how many design students are going to try the same thing—and what will the reaction be from the design teacher? Shock in horror or utter disbelief in the geniusness of it…


More info on the circle, good followup after the porno circles.

ZURB – Why a 24-hour Design Marathon Works_1239322225794

Why a 24-hour Design Marathon Works
Not too sure about the 24hr thing, but the Nine Tricks of the Designer’s Trade are pretty good to remember.

Can design save the newspaper

Can design save the newspaper?
This is a pretty good response to the TED video of the same name. It doesn’t really surprise me that a lot of designers think this, but seriously get an idea of the economics and understand the experience that people are interacting with to get their news. Showing a portfolio of pretty pictures for five minutes isn’t going to help and it just brings down the design profession.

 Peace Revolution poster (Monoscope)_1239322253411

Mattias Mackler: Peace Revolution poster
Love the execution of this poster.

J Schatz Egg Bird Houses_1239322265484

If I had a backyard I’d get the yellow one. They should really limit the colours to white and yellow—much stronger concept left like that.

 Mid-Century Modern Furniture Poster by J Provost_1239322280259

Mid-Century Modern Furniture Poster by J Provost
This would be nice to hang somewhere.

i am the weather » » traces of an imaginary affair_1239322296169

“traces of an imaginary affair”
Another “how did this person come up with this idea”, but it’s kind of funny if you’re into that kind of thing. The picture is perfect, ha.

Veuve Clicquot_1239322351796

Veuve Clicquot
Interesting design exercise with tying illustration into the package design.

onedotzero_adventures in motion_1239322363075

onedotzero submissions
If you’re a motion designer, you might be interested in checking this out.

Coffee Top Caddie - Blog - Etre_1239322375975

Coffee Top Caddie
I like this low–fi design solution.

 credit card cutlery._1239322388734

credit card cutlery.
This seemed to fit with the above low–fi design concept above.

Effective CRM you won’t read about in Adweek « BBH Labs_1239322417950

Effective CRM you won’t read about in Adweek
This is the stuff no one talks about (except for now), interesting observations to be read…

 the barbarian group_1239322432969

Happy 5th Birthday, Subservient Chicken
Great breakdown, wish more work that’s good would be written up in a format like this. Shows how the process evolved, people that worked on it and the final product.

KinoSport | Consciousness Raising in the Dairy Section_1239322442818

Consciousness Raising in the Dairy Section
Fitting post to end with—lots of info on eggs that I never really thought about before.

A conversation with Chef Ferran Adrià & Chef Jose Andres on Charlie Rose

Chef Ferran Adrià & Chef Jose Andres quotes

I don’t know if I’m getting old or what, but on Friday nights I’m starting to like resetting by going through all the stuff I missed during the week. Typically this includes going through a weeks worth of Charlie Rose. I’m not going to watch five or six interviews, but as a skim through them I’ll find a gem or two. Those interviews usually have me pulling out my muji notebook to jot down some ideas or quotes. The conversation with Chef Ferran Adrià & Chef Jose Andres on Mar 30, 2009 was especially noteworthy. I’ve attributed the quotes (and text mash–ups) above to both Ferran Adrià & Jose Andres because one was speaking in Spanish while the other translated to english. I have no idea how things were interpreted so it makes sense to me to include them both.

Design is like a present

Alissia Melka-Teichroew quote, Something else entirely I think—it’s like buying presents. You usually buy something for someone else that somewhere you also enjoy because it is more fun that way—it’s more genuine if you do it that way.

Over the weekend I had a lengthy interview with one of my new favourite designers, Alissia Melka-Teichroew. I was introduced to her work recently after she started following me on twitter. As I was going through her designs there were a couple things I came across that I recognized. It had been a while since my last interview so I thought she would be perfect person to hear about her design philosophy. Above is one quote that I pulled from our talk on Saturday. You can expect the full interview here in a couple weeks after the editing is complete.

Quotes from Shepard Fairey at Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy

Shepard Fairey said I’ve never had an original thought in my life... and there’s tons of people on the internet happy to tell me just that...

Shepard Fairey said I do believe in intellectual property. They said they wanted damages, I said what damages? Your image is worth more...

Shepard Fairey said Remixing with new voices is creative practice...

Shepard Fairey said Why is non commercial public expression considered criminal?

Shepard Fairey said If being original means having to throw paint in front of a jet turbine to hit a canvas 50 ft away then lets not be original

Shepard Fairey said [remix] is absolutely a case by case basis... I error on the side of letting people use my materials

Shepard Fairey said AP sent out a ripple of fear to young artists

Shepard Fairey said Every spoof gives more power to the original

A couple nights ago I went to hear Shepard Fairey, Lawrence Lessig and Steven Johnson speak at Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. I had pretty high hopes for the event that couldn’t possibly delivered on. Lessig spoke for about 30 minutes to put the case against AP in context. You can see the slides and hear it There’s a decent synopsis of the entire talk at PSFK. I’ve pulled some of the notable quotes from Fairey above. What disappointed me was that in one sense I’ve heard most of what Fairey has said before. Possibly because I’ve heard a lot of his interviews already and due to the nature of what he can say due to the lawsuit. I’m glad I went to see the talk in person, but I would have preferred to have had at least one person from an opposing pov there to cause a real debate.

on Football and Chess (and design)

on Football and Chess

A couple days ago I came across a great twitter comment from Geoff Manaugh of bldgblog in which he mentions “Football as a series of contradictory landscape strategies: analytic geometry. Competing ways of using a nd filling space.” I’m a fan of both North American football and soccer which I thought was apt for both sports. Then yesterday I came across another analogy, this time it was about chess and Bobby Fischer’s eulogy via Jason Kottke. Michael Paterniti wrote “This was the beauty of Bobby Fischer’s mind, even then. The boy made very clean, simple lines out of very complex problems, and when the trap was sprung, his style of chess became so transparent you could instantly recognize its brilliance: efficient, organic, wildly responsive and creative.”

I like combining stuff to see what I get, especially with quotes like above. Both of those excerpts are relatable to not only their respective sports but to the bigger picture of design from my pov. If you can follow me for a sec I’ll explain why. In Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies) by Bill Buxton, he describes trigonometry (something that is fundamental to navigation) “more often than not they recast the problem in a different representation that simply side-steps the need for the task to be done”. In football it’s about moving ideas from point A to B by dealing with challenges, while in chess as Fischer illustrated, turning a complex process into something that was simple in it’s brilliance. Isn’t that what design is about?

At the end of the day

The difference between a successful chef and an unsuccessful chef is the passion and is the drive still asking questions to this very day. Why are we doing it like this, why can’t we do it some way else? Why don’t we try it that way? If you cannot go to the end of the day when you’re lying down to sleep and haven’t learned at least one new thing, then you did something wrong – you just blew twenty four hours.

Guy Rubino

Massimo Vignelli Talk

Massimo Vignelli Talk

Finally, a design talk where I can say that I left afterwards with a smile. If anyone is wondering who they should invite for their next big talk – put Massimo on the top of the list after you’ve considered swissmiss. By far Vignelli has been the best individual that I’ve seen talk in NYC. The talk was way longer than the average 55 minute lecture I’m used to seeing. I didn’t end up leaving F.I.T. until after nine. And I would have stayed another hour if there were the questions to keep him on stage.

It would be too difficult for me to do a play by play review of every slide he showed, but I did my best to shoot a bunch and post them on flickr at I came to the talk thinking that I knew a bit about the designer, but it was apparent that I really didn’t have a clue. The number of products that he had designed was quite exhausting outside of the graphic design stuff. I just had no idea that he was so into dishes and environments.

In the past when I think of modernism, I attached it with serious business. Strong lines and very systematic without a sense of humour. But after hearing Vignelli and others that believe in the philosophy – I have reconsidered. While every point made sense, the delivery had a punch line that everyone in the audience couldn’t help but chuckle. I’m learning that Modern people have a great sense of joy.

As much as I left smiling, it wasn’t all b/c of the jokes. I truly felt I became a better designer for listening to him share his thoughts. Some of these notes are not much different from what you’ve come across in your own travels, while others might strike a new note.

· ask yourself what the rules are, what does it mean?
· design w/ intensity and passion
· nothing comes easy
· 72 points is big!
· I only design when I need something
· let the emptiness sign
· this is me in 1972, do you like my pants!?!
· five different levels of hierarchy
· if you can’t find it, design it

Back in the day with the GDC

Back in the day with the GDC

Last night I stepped down from my National VP of Communication role with the GDC (Society of Graphic Designers of Canada). I don’t want to make a big deal of things as there are a lot of potential designers in Canada that still have a role to shape the Society for the better. However I was elected to the national board four years too early. Each local chapter in Canada has such a strong roster of leadership that I would have loved the chance to work with them once they move on to National. However like I mentioned my chance came too soon. The GDC is at a critical time for sustainability and I felt that I couldn’t accomplish what I wanted to see for that to happen. It is so sad that that the older generation is happy to leave things as they are and hope that things “just” get better.

Through a private e-mail I was asked this deceptively simple question. “What has your experience with GDC been like?” My response “As for my experience with the GDC, it’s not an easy answer. I’ve been involved since I was a student. First as a student rep, Chapter VP of Education, Chapter President and for a short period National VP of Communications. If I hadn’t been involved I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten this far, so how could that be a bad thing? However there were a lot of hard times with putting up with stuff that I probably wouldn’t have time for now. But I had goals of things that I wanted to accomplish which made the road a lot easier. I also met so many amazing people and had the chance to learn from them that I could never turn my back on a shared value system.”

However I do feel at the current time that the National GDC has a serious technological, strategic and philosophical disconnect with the potential of design. Or maybe it’s just me. Anyways, like I said the National board in four years will be stacked with the current leaders at the local chapters that will bring the GDC the legacy it deserves. As for my next steps, it’s not like I can quite being a part of a design community. I’m starting with the AIGA mentorship program where I’ll get the chance to befriend someone that has a lot ahead of them. Aside from that maybe it’s time to start something new with likeminded people.

National Design Awards Winners Panel Notes

National Design Awards Winners Panel

Taking advantage of the fact that I finally live in NYC, I went to the National Design Awards Winners Panel. I really enjoyed the talk, though at times I wondered if the entire audience did. They filmed the whole event and the online video should show up soon. But until it goes live, here’s some of my notes.

· Design for somebody you already know

· Design is a political act

· Nature to culture

· What is the difference between style and vision

· I don’t get called up by accident

· A project is what you make of it

· Art is not above life – it was a fuck you piece (art)

· Approachability

· Form follows finance

· The problem needs to be addressed

· Democracy: lowest common dominator or the best…

Why Design?

Every once is a while I’ll go over why I design, and how I work to accomplish that. Last night I asked my self what e x a c t l y is my process for design and this is what made sense to me…

The reason why I have a passion for design is that it gives me the chance to create better interactions through thinking and execution. My process is a mix of rational steps and practical applications. Looking at what needs to be accomplished I’ll ask what the end goal is and why and work backwards. Through a lot of questions a number of options open up. Through visualization of those answers from the questions, ideas and testing – a solution materializes. There’s more testing, putting it up to see what sticks and moving on to tweak it and see it live. The beauty and curse of the web is that nothing ever ends, but just grows and evolves over time, so it’s important to get feedback on what’s working and why some things aren’t so they can be changed when appropriate.

Something to think about today

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s/women’s blood and probably will themselves not be realized.”
Daniel Burnham, the great visionary architect of Chicago

I found that quote from the 37signals Newsletter talking about a minority private equity investment in 37signals. The quote seems fiting for today and every other day that you’re about to have.

What is garbage?


This was a response to a post from a couple days ago. J’s response deserves as much space as the original. Thanks J.

“You know, Karim Rashid is a total wanker. The words are his but the idea isn’t and I wonder if he really actually Gets It.

The Garbo trash can Rashid designed in 1995 was his first big contribution to making our lives better. If Rashid were a rock star, the Garbo would have gone platinum. Rashid says somewhere between four and six million trash cans were sold.

It boils my blood when someone like Rashid makes these grand sweeping statements (vaguely implying a sense of ethics or morality) about the industry they contribute to when they have such a wasteful claim to fame. And for a writer to say that the Garbo trash can is a contribution to “making our lives better” is a total farce.

Imagine shaping human behaviour so that rather than buying between four and six million trash cans, essentially for the purpose of filling with garbage, we were inspired to recycle four to six million garbo trash cans worth of plastic instead.”

Love/Hate About Graphic Designers

5. What’s better, working with a good timeline with people you hate, or a tough deadline with people you believe in?

4. Is a graphics designer really that much different from a graphic designer?

3. Sometimes you have to break the idea that if “I learned it that way in design school”, that you can’t look the other way and break that rule sometimes.

2. Yes, Apple is as much a multinational as Nike. Get over it.

1. Are we really early adopters? How many people are still using Quark and are asking what the point of blogs are?

Design has the power

.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }
.flickr-yourcomment { }
.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }
.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }

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

What is Graphic Design

On May 5th, the following defintion was approved at the National GDC AGM. Researched and written by Walter Jungkind and Yves Rousell, the folowing definition improves on the previous wording by the GDC “Graphic designers are visual problem solvers. They enjoy the challenge of working with clients and resource people to produce effective visual communication.” I suspect that there may be amendments next year to the definitions, perhaps even a name change. While it is a good start I do take issue with the last line “clients usually determine project aims” below. If designers are to be seen more than for the pure visual, the designer needs to be part of the brief and work with the client to determine the scope of the project.

Graphic Design
involves effective visualization of communication concepts, primarily in print and electronic media (including interface design), in the context of business and technology, socio-political, cultural and educational environments, in transmitting government and institutional aims and services, and in visually explaining and exploring medical and scientific data and processes. Clients usually determine project aims.

Graphic designers
help to achieve communication goals by analyzing, structuring, planning and creating images and text to enhance visual communication for specific purposes. They often act as consultants.

Alternative version to the above

Graphic designers
help to achieve communication goals via analysis and interpretation of client needs. They plan, structure and communicate information and ideas, appeal to emotions or facilitate orientation, by creating or combining images and test for distribution to specific publics. Efficiency and high esthetic standards are hallmarks of work by professional designers, who frequently act as consultants on design strategy. Consideration of the public good is a bonus.

Plastique Life

In July, there was the beginning of a frank, raw and enlightening discussion on the GDC listserv about depression, medication and feelings that everyday people go through in light of the actions of Rick Tharp. Through the listserv, Jennifer Romita shared insights and mentioned a gallery show titled Plastique that she held in Halifax. They’re well thought out images that continue the discussion about individuals, and how they deal with their cultural environment. After viewing the images on her web site, I asked her if she would be interested in sharing some of her thoughts about the show. She agreed, below is the e-mail discussion that followed.

Michael Surtees: When you had your show, what type of reaction did you receive from viewers? What were they saying to you afterwards?

Jennifer Romita: Some of the people who attended were impressed by the technical accuracy of the imagery and said that regardless of the surreal subject matter, the people looked convincing. Others were disturbed by the show and found it difficult to look at the work. A lot of the people who’ve see these images try to assign their own interpretation to it and I think that’s great because it says to me that it’s struck a chord with them. I’ve been contacted by everyone from anti-capitalist activists to mannequin fetishists, all with their own unique view of what the work represents to them. Fortunately, there are very few people who have been unmoved by it.

MS: How have things changed since you started this project? For instance, have you eliminated any conveniences?

JR: I wouldn’t say I’ve eliminated anything extra because my husband and I are what I would call functional minimalists. We try to leave a smaller than average Eco-footprint, we minimize the amount of “stuff” we buy and try to live clutter free but of course it’s sometimes difficult. I live by a few guidelines like if I bring something into my home, I part with something. I ask myself if I really need the purchase in the first place or if I can go without. Similarly if I haven’t used an object or even seen it in over 6 months, I give it to someone who can use it. Dave and I alternate between working in offices and working from home so we have an internet connection and our computers but neither of us has owned a television in over 5 years. We prefer to cook most of our food in an oven or on the stove rather than microwave it. No, we don’t have a microwave either.

MS: You mention “the potential of connection all around us” in your artist’s statement, could you elaborate? What type of connections are you suggesting? Are there patterns out there that people are missing?

JR: This is such a huge question and I’m not sure I can answer other than from my point of view. I believe there are patterns in the way people communicate with one another that allow us to easily create connections with one another. Empathy is one of the most important tools we have that can teach us to see these patterns, signs or signifiers when it comes to dealing with people but it has to happen both ways. Messages have to have senders as well as receivers or the message becomes lost. These connections become difficult to establish or maintain however when people live in their own bubble and aren’t open to possibilities. There is also something to be said for recognising good chemistry and having a healthy sense of when to move on.

Similar patterns (in my experience for what it’s worth) exist in every layer of our lives and function to give us a sense of place within what is real for us. I can’t describe what that means for each person nor would I try to.

MS: When does striving for perfection turn unhealthy?

JR: When a person starts purging the food they eat or starving themselves to achieve a body only airbrushing can offer. When a person over-eats or drinks and abuses their body as a substitute for affection or self respect that may be missing from their lives. When a person relentlessly shops for things they’ll never use while chasing after the temporary feeling of elation that consuming brings them. When our behaviour or beliefs alter our brain chemistry to the point where some of us get sick and others self-destruct. When a person decides to abuse another in an effort to hide their own flaws rather than facing and dealing with them. When a person marries, buys a house and has kids because someone else expected them to not because it was something they wanted. When a person racks up debt they can never hope to pay off to get another degree so they can amaze people they probably don’t even like. There are varying degrees of unhealthy happening here and this is a hand-full of the more common examples.

I think that most of us fail to realise that there is nothing wrong with having imperfections. With six billion people on our planet it’s impossible for all of us to adhere to someone else’s idea of what each of us should be without making some unhealthy compromises. I believe it’s important that we each have a reasonable idea of who and what we want to be.

MS: Can products have soul?

JR: No. This is one of the reasons we have branding. Some people believe they identify more with their favorite brands than with their own families or friends. I think people try to attribute soul-like qualities to products so they’ll stand out in a saturated marketplace but in the end they are just products regardless of how the branding makes one feel. All I want is a product that does what it’s supposed to when I need it.

I consider myself lucky to be trained in the area of visual communication because it’s instinctive for me to pick apart everything in front of me on a store shelf. Of course my design training is a double-edged sword because I am sometimes charged with an advertising campaign to promote such things but since I primarily freelance I have considerable influence in the ethical direction of my work. In the end, I don’t think branding is all bad but it is changing the landscape of our value systems and priorities in very big ways.

MS: What does being human and healthy mean to you?

JR: To me, being human means building communities of people who can celebrate and share the pleasure and pain of living. The saying goes, “No man is an island” and it’s true; humans are social creatures and we all need family, whether they’re blood relatives or people we choose. We need support systems to cope with the negative just as much as we need people close to us to nurture the positives. Isolation is unhealthy and is counted among the more serious of symptoms in sufferers of Clinical Depression. Sometimes isolation is the cause of Depression, other times it’s the result of it. Either way it’s important to be self-aware, aware of those around us, of how we interact with one another and who we bring into our personal sphere.

MS: Has religion played a role in your motivations for this project?

JR: Religion no, spirituality yes. When I think of religion, I think of the organized religions of the world and that’s not directly a part of my work. I think that a search for spirituality through human contact and connection is a more universal theme here. Throughout history organized religion has served as a unifying force to bring people together in the spirit of a common vision. With our cultures becoming less religious and more secular, people are searching for a different sense of community and grasping at those options more readily available in contemporary times.

MS: What are you working on next?

JR: I have a few projects in development. One of them is an exploration of the relationship and person, how both change through the passing of time and how they can be altered depending on their personal histories. I’ve also recently established a collaborative relationship with a photographer, Steve Richard, to strengthen the photographic element of my efforts. We both focus on people and social interaction so I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes us.

Beyond that I’m not sure. Each series or individual piece tends to feel from the one previous to it so time will answer that question.

MS: Thanks, I think we’ll have to continue this conversation at a later date.

DesignMaven Revea!ed (Part Two)

This is the conclusion of the interview with the DesignMaven. Read part one HERE

MS: Who influences you?
DM: Outside of my Family Saul Bass and Paul Rand were instrumental, there were others.

I was born and bread on the Westport School. That was my vision and dream of what a successful Artist, Illustrator and Designer should be. The Westport School was a movement of Artist and Illustrators whom lived and worked in Westport Connecticut. They dominated the Illustration Style and Thinking of their era. Norman Rockwell, Austin Briggs, Albert Dorne, Steven Dohanos, Al Parker, Robert Fawcett, Jon Whitcomb, Doris Lee, Fred Ludekins, Peter Helck, Dong Kingman, Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak, They wrote the Famous Artist Course, A Home Study Course. I never enrolled in the course. Nevertheless, all were very successful Artist and Illustrators.

The only Designer among them was a gentleman named George Guisti. Actually, the very first Designer I latched onto because he used the Airbrush. He was quite successful. Receiving the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award.

When I saw, Graphis 59, a collector’s edition, you can find it on eBay selling for over $100.00 dollars. There’s a portfolio of George Guisti’s work. Then there’s a portfolio of work by this young and promising Designer, named Saul Bass, no comparison. “I said George who”. The range of Saul Bass’ Design at that time was Magnificent in all it’s Glory. The range was unbelievable, Identity Design, Packaging, Film, Movie Advertising, Exhibits, Product Design. George Giusti whom I loved as child, range of work was not in the same league as Saul Bass. Mr. Giusti was a Designer that Illustrated he worked mainly for publications. Designing covers and posters. His son Robert Giusti became a successful Illustrator achieving fame. I don’t think Robert became as famous as his father did. Both, Bass and Giusti gave me what I needed.

I was already heavily into Saul Bass by this time. That issue of Graphis Magazine further solidified Saul Bass’ Genius.

Other influences were Designers, Illustrators, and Fine Artist such as, Alberto Vargas. George Petty, Adolphe Mouron Cassandra, Jean Carlu, Abram Games, Joseph Binder, Otis Shepard, German Designer Tony Zepf. The list also includes Painter, Ernst Haas. The list included Super Realist, Chuck Close, Audrey Flack, Don Eddy, John Salt, and Richard Estes. Illustrators, Charles White III, Dave Williardson, Hajime Sorayama, Doug Johnson, Phillip Castle, Thomas Blackshear, Alan Aldridge, and Robert Grossman, Fantasy Illustrators, HR Geiger, Syd Mead, Frank Frazetta (others). I never got into Fantasy Art. All of these Luminaries incorporated Airbrush into their work. Most used airbrush 100% of the time. I was heavily into airbrush. I’d been using airbrush since I was fourteen. I was introduced to airbrush by my teacher Mr. Carleton T. Washburn.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention African Americans, Georg Olden, Reynold Ruffins, and Archie Boston. Georg Olden was the First African American Director of Graphic Arts CBS Television, 1943. As well, Georg was Designer of the CBS Eye Identity with his boss William Golden. Reynold Ruffins is founder of Push Pin with Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast. Archie Boston is an Advertising Phenomenon and Luminary. He created a lot of ground breaking work.

Perhaps the most important and influential person that has had a profound effect on my work and me is George Lewis aka Roif A Love. He was a senior at Chamberlain Vocational High. Without question the most gifted Artist, Illustrator and Designer I’ve ever encountered in my life. George was so gifted, our teacher Mr. Washburn let he do whatever he wanted. George never did any jobs out of the assignment book. Each week he worked on a different painting he was commissioned. At eighteen, his technical facility was on a level he could block in a painting with a paintbrush and no pencil outline. Make the painting or portrait look as if it were breathing or coming to life. George at eighteen was as gifted as Vermeer, Rubens, Close, and Estes. Its funny, he was a realist, I wanted to be a realist. We saw each other periodically. And I was instrumental in bringing him to the University I attended. Later on the advice of my sculpture instructor Bill Taylor he enrolled at Corcoran School of Art in D.C. We hadn’t seen each other in about three or four years maybe longer. When we talked. He had changed his style. And was influenced by the Bauhaus, Kandinsky and Klee. It was surreal, because I was telling him. I was heavily into the Bauhaus, Herbert Bayer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Xanti Schwinshy. We just fell out crying laughing at how much in tune to one another we were in reference to our career influences. As well, the natural progression and evolution. We had known each other since High School. Few years later I learned that George Lewis passed. Dying of Cancer. Survived by his wife and son. My life hasn’t been the same. I carry the torch for both George Lewis and my teacher Mr. Washburn.

The movement, which had the most profound impact on my life, was the BAUHAUS. The Bauhaus gave me a new vision sense of purpose and direction. Responsible for opening Conceptual Doors. I didn’t know this was possible. The merging of Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Art, and Architecture with Business and Technology. Without boundaries. It wasn’t being practiced in the United States. Maybe it was, but wasn’t old enough to see what was happening. I have my typography instructor Mr. Ramkisoon, bka Ram and my painting instructor Yvonne P. Carter to thank for introducing me to the Bauhaus. That movement changed my life forever. The Bauhaus led me to other movements, Dada, Russian Constructivism, DeStijl, and Swiss Design. And most important, these movements led me to American Modern.

The rest is History.

MS: What type of education do you believe designer needs, and how did your education open the design world to you?
DM: That’s a loaded question. The best education for a Designer is Hands on Experience meaning, an Apprenticeship with a Designer, Firm or Consultancy. That’s the Best Training and Experience anyone involved in the Creative Arts can get.

Not to Blast Formal Training I’ll get to that later in the interview. Apprenticeships allow you to get Practical Real World Experience. There’s no better exposure for the Designer, Artist or Illustrator. Art & Design Schools try to simulate that experience in the classroom. It’s not the same.

The drawback of the classroom, if your instructor doesn’t have any practical experience in the real world. Then you’re studying with a professional student. That has only advanced them with a Degree. The flip side, the problems or assignments are not real in the classroom. They may be practical on some level. You don’t get the tug of war, feedback, and resistance you get with real clients. In the classroom, you don’t write a proposal for the project.

You don’t give a presentation, and you don’t do any market research. Nor do you deal with outside venders, such as printers, sample departments, paper suppliers, etc. You don’t multi task. These are all things you encounter on the job in real world situations. Rarely, if at all in school, is your contributions part of team effort or collaboration. In order to be successful on the job, you have to learn to play nice in the Sandbox with others.

At the same time, four (4) years of Design School Education is equivalent to 2 Days on the job.

Most important, Design & Art Schools have their advantages. Nothing can beat the Creative Atmosphere and everyone feeding off each other. The open competitiveness, the camaraderie, friendships and associations can last a lifetime. With Design School the unwritten rule is each one teach one. That’s what makes school so great. The instructor can only set up guidelines and parameters. It is the healthy exchange among peers that facilitate personal growth and development. As well, harvesting and fostering a sense of purpose, direction, community and culture you cannot get this on a job. You have to already be there at a mental state in you life.

I talk to students all the time that are seniors ready to graduate and have not been placed in an Internship Program. It should be mandatory. If you don’t get that practical experience you have nothing to offer a prospect employer. Design is an occupation upon entering; you must HIT THE GROUND RUNNING.
General Graphic Design Education must be coupled with Business Classes and Public Speaking Classes. In this new Millennium Designers will become more Independent and less reliant on staff positions. Designers must have a clear sense of Business Acumen. Simple task such as Organization and Time Management Skills cannot be learned in Design Class. The Designer must be able to sell him/herself. There’s nothing like Public Speaking or Drama Classes to knock down those barriers. The only way to learn it is taking business classes or being in that arena.

The extra year or two spent in school will be in the capacity of on the job training. Internship offers the prospect Designer employment opportunity in various venues. Design Education may have to be extended to five or six years. With those credits going toward the Masters Degree.

The Education of a Corporate Identity Designer is demanding. Long story short. Corporate Identity is a Grand Father Profession. Meaning the positions are inherited through lineage or generations of Designers. Corporate Identity is the Pinnacle of Visual Communication. Yet, there is not a Degree Granted for Identity Designers or Identity Consultants. Why? Salary wise, the average Identity Designer or Identity Consultant earns well over $ 100.000.00 dollars per year.

There should be a curriculum leading to a Degree.

Identity Designers and Consultants need a curriculum that address Design, Marketing, Communications and Trademark Law. This curriculum should be supplemented with Business Management Classes, and Public Speaking. Most important, Semiotics, the language of symbols and signs should be included in the curriculum. This will possibly be a five to six year program as well leading to a Masters and PHD. Because of the Scientific Nature of Corporate Identity on the Marketing side more time will be needed for research and analysis. Perhaps a Bar will be necessary or exam similar to the CPA Exam. This will insure Corporate Leaders Identity Consultants are qualified. Time spent in post secondary education will equal time spent by Medical Practitioner’s. Education accomplishment for Identity Designers and Consultants will justify their salary.

In reference to my Design Education, I’m very largely self taught. Yes, I have a Degree in Design. The school I graduated cannot take credit for my Accomplishment, Knowledge and Design Acumen. I’ll explain.
My mother enrolled me in a Professional Advertising Art Program at Chamberlain Vocational High School in Washington D.C.

At age fourteen, (14) I studied under Mr. Carleton T. Washburn, renowned Fine Artist, Illustrator, and Advertising Artist a protégé of Norman Rockwell. Mr. Washburn taught Advertising Art at Chamberlain Vocational School for thirty-eight (38) years. The program was highly regarded. With a 99.9% success rate of graduates entering the Profession of Design, Advertising, and lllustration straight out of High School. Going to Chamberlain Vocational School and studying under Mr. Washburn was akin to going to the Allegemeine Gewerbueschule aka (Basle School of Design). Acknowledge as the Worlds Best. Education wise the American Equivalent would be Art Center, Rhode Island School of Design, Cranbrook, and School of Visual Arts or Cooper Union. I site Cooper Union because they don’t offer a Graduate Degree in Graphic Design. Once you graduate from Cooper Union with an undergraduate Degree. You’re ready for the world. Graduating from Mr. Washburn’s Advertising Art Program you did not need College Training. College or University training was an option if you needed to further your career academically.

Mr. Washburn was renowned and acknowledged by Professionals, Industry Leaders, Institutions, and All Creative Job Market sectors across the United States. Mr. Washburn was renowned for getting students jobs. Working Professionals and Students made a Pilgrimage to his classroom. At least Mr. Washburn taught 89% of the Decision-Makers and Art Directors in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Upon entering his class, there was a big chart with jobs he got students straight out of High School at Advertising Agencies, Production Houses, Art Studios, Design Firms, Design Consultancies, Walt Disney, Local Television Stations, Warner Bros., Department Stores, Publishing Houses, Fortune 500 Corporations. The list was endless, growing and intimidating. Nothing was fabricated. Students would come back to visit him and ask his advice. Request a portfolio review.

Drop in to say hello. After teaching from 7:30 am – 3:00 pm Mr. Washburn for thirty-eight (38) years taught an adult education class in advertising art, five days a week. Which began at four in the afternoon and ended at 8:00 pm. His adult education class was reserved for working professionals. It was standing room only.

The only program that comes close to Mr. Washburn’s Advertising Art Program is Leon Friend Program at Lincoln High in New York. Both, I’ve been informed were more advanced than most college programs, at that time.

If you’re not familiar with the History of Lincoln High in New York and Leon Friend. Seymour Chwast, Gene Federico, Bill Taubin, Alex Steinweiss, Irving Penn, Jay Maisel and many other luminaries were all taught by Leon Friend at Lincoln High.

The 1970 Chamberlain Yearbook state, The course in Advertising Art is designed to equip the student to meet the exacting demands of the modern world. They are trained in perspective, lettering, and the basic principles of layout, type anatomy, graphic arts, color and its significance in advertising. Students learn the many different techniques such as airbrush, pen and ink, watercolor, tempera, and scratchboard. Students must be thoroughly familiar with the use of overlays and various types of color separation as well as a working knowledge of reproduction and printing techniques. The student must know the many different kinds of advertising media such as direct mail, poster, newspaper, magazine, and visual aids. They must understand how to work with photographs, cropping, and retouching them for advertising purposes.

Mr. Washburn Developed an Advertising Art Program based on his Professional Experience. It consisted of one hundred jobs (as we called them) or assignments to be completed over a course of three years. If you completed the course of 100 jobs you received $ 100.00 dollars worth of Art Supplies. Only one person completed all 100 jobs in thirty-eight (38) years. It was an astronomical amount of work. The way the program was set up. School began at 7:30 am, which included tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders. Since I was in the 10th grade, our advertising art class began at 7:30 after roll call and pledge of allegiance. And ended at 12:00 pm with an hour for lunch. After lunch we went to Math, English, Science, Physical Education. It was mandatory that you participated in the Military Cadet Program. The only way you did not was to have a medical excuse. We came back to Mr. Washburn for Theory, Critique and Figure Drawing. On more than one occasion we were told how lucky we were to get North Light. When he designed the Program 38 years ago. He was adamant Artist and Illustrators needed North Light. Which is why Artist, Illustrators and Designers build their studios in their homes. North Light is reserved for the studio. The defining characteristic of North Light is its quality. It’s big, soft, and diffused. Since it’s coming from the north, it catches the direct sunlight and bounces it off the sky. Mr. Washburn explained how the florescent lighting, design of windows in the classroom. And trees destroyed North Light.

The program was Designed so that we spent at least five and one half (5 1/2) hours a day in Advertising Art with the rest of the time divided between the other classes on alternate days of the week. Critique, everyone participated on all levels. Mr. Washburn made it clear that what he was doing was revolutionary. Even at the college level. The teacher critiqued Work and students did not participate in critiques. They just paid attention and listened. He was absolutely correct. Talking to other Designers and Illustrators informed at that time only the instructor-critiqued work on the college level. Nice to be apart of something ground breaking because we critiqued each other’s work. This was back in 1970 at the High School level. We worked from a job book to begin conceptualizing and generating ideas you went to the Morgue. A term that still frightens me until this day for those not familiar with the term. The Morgue, is traditionally an Artist or Illustrators term for Dead Picture File. We had hundreds of thousands of photographs, illustrations, magazines, packaging and designs to assist in facilitating our conceptual process.

The job book was simply a notebook full of briefs. It read like this, Advertisement for Tire Manufacturer. Ad should depict the tire manufacturer is selling. Your choice of Illustration technique to make ad interesting. Headline copy should be 14pt type. Headline copy should read. Goodyear Tires Always Dependable. Body copy should be 9pt only indicate. Tire can be rendered in India ink, lamp black wash, or airbrush, your choice. Rendered on 15 x 20 Illustration Board, hot pressed. The assignment gave you the amount of time expected of you to complete the project. As jobs progressed they became more difficult. Skills overlapped to increase your knowledge and understanding as well proficiency with tools of the trade.

Other assignments were similar in scope, except the illustration called for the use of all the instruments we were taught to use.

Ruling Pen, Crow Quill Pen, Speedball lettering pens, Tempera Paint, Gouache, Watercolor, Sable Brushes, Zip-a-tone for effect. We did everything by hand. We were not allowed to use neither press type nor a projector. All lettering was commenced by hand. We chose a type specimen book selected a typeface and drew it by hand. And filled in the outlines with ink using a crow quill pen, ruling pen, sable brush or cut frisket and filled in with airbrush. Frisket in those days was masking tape. We were not allowed to use Rapidiograph pens. The juniors and seniors were allowed to use rapidiographs. We did everything with a Triangle, T square, and French curves. We sat at our drawing tables with drawing boards and Newsprint for tracing paper to transfer our drawings to Illustration Board. The upper class would joke with us because they could use Blue Pencil for layout and drawing. At the time, that was the rage of the industry. We all said to one another next year we would be using Blue Pencil for Illustration and Layout. It was something to look forward. They also informed us the industry was no longer drawing type by hand and were using press type for headlines or lettering machines. It was like telling a child there was no Santa Claus. We rebelled among ourselves. Calling the program outdated and outmoded. We didn’t know any better. It was all about Discipline and Perfecting Craft. That was the Best time of my life there were many, many gifted and talented people in that class. It was simply the Best training I ever had in my life. Nothing will ever come close to that experience. The Coupe d’etat, I learned three (3) years of course room instruction in one year. I sat at the third desk on the right of the classroom. Near the middle, there was not anyone behind me, except an empty desk. The two front desks were the areas Mr. Washburn used for theory class. Theory dealt with principles and rules of procedure in advertising and graphic arts. All aspects of the printing business, and graphic arts were explained. When the juniors had theory, I stopped what I was working on and listened intently. Same with seniors learning theory it was like I was an upperclassman because I was sitting among them.

Learning as they learned. Technically, I knew as much about the business as the seniors. Whenever theory class being taught I was sitting with the upper-classmen learning as they learned. Some would come to me and ask if I remembered some aspect of the lecture. I did and imparted the information. That’s when I began to absorb information and become obsessed with knowledge.

Later that year, Mr. Washburn wife passed. He retired from teaching at Chamberlain Vocational School at the end of the year.

I was the last student to see him. I helped him pack and move his belongings. We talked and in my own metaphysical way. I told him I would stay the course. And keep his name alive as one of the students he nurtured and benefited from his teachings. The next year I transferred enrolled in public school. At that time, I was so advanced with Mr. Washburn’s teaching. My High School teacher Rose Auld did not know what to do with me. She was extremely beautiful and a gifted artist. She had just graduated from college. Rose came from a lineage of artist and musicians her mother was Georgia Mills Jessup, a renowned African American Artists. Ms. Auld tried to simulate what Mr. Washburn did. It wasn’t the same. Because, I was in Art Class for one hour three days out of the week. At Chamberlain, I was in Advertising Art for five and one half (5 1/2) hours a day no comparison. Nevertheless, Rose had high hopes for my dreams and aspirations of becoming a Professional Designer.

At the college level I wasn’t challenged enough in my Advertising Design Program. I longed for those days with Mr. Washburn. One of my advertising instructors asked me about my prior education coming to college. I informed him I studied with Mr. Carleton T. Washburn Chamberlain Vocational School. Walter Lattimore informed me he knew Mr. Washburn, and taught some of his students. Explained how problematic the students were. Because they would correct him in the classroom and inform him “that wasn’t the way Mr. Washburn taught us”. Mr. Lattimore, said he finally went to Chamberlain to meet this Mr. Washburn. He was amazed and overwhelmed and in disbelief at the level of proficiency of the program. As well the level of achievement of his students he looked me in the eye and said, “if you studied with Mr. Washburn I image you’re pretty much bored here’. ‘I said you’re correct’.

Yvonne Carter, my painting instructor informed; if I wanted to be a Better Designer I should study Sculpture. Didn’t understand it then, I absolutely understand it now. Sculpture or 3 Dimensional Design gave me a better understanding of form and the principles and elements of Design. I almost majored in Sculpture. Until my Sculpture Instructor Bill Taylor informed me if I took the Senior Class for my Degree, he would have to fail me. I brought that up to him recently when we embraced at a restaurant. He iterated, “boy you haven’t changed, you still telling everybody that same lie”. I couldn’t do anything but laugh. We exchanged pleasantries had dinner and talked about old times.

On so many different levels, I carry the flame for Mr. Washburn. His professionalism, drive, determination, dedication, spirit, selflessness, business acumen, superior skill and capability lives within me as if it were an internal flame, that will never die. Certainly his archives of Design Ephemera influenced me at an early age to collect.

Only two of us continued down the righteous path of Creativity Mr. Washburn laid out for us James Ridley and myself. Last I heard James was in living in California and quite successful practicing Design. We both grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same junior high.

My long-winded sermon in reference to my education is to pay homage to the only REAL instruction I had in Applied Arts.

I owe it all the Mr. Washburn, my junior high school art teacher Ms. Bodie, encouraging my mother to place me in the program. Most important, my mother for having the foresight to facilitate my aspirations and dreams.

Down side, I didn’t benefit from Mr. Washburn’s connection in the job market. Not to worry, I’m not doing to shabby as an Independent Identity Consultant. It’s certainly a Badge of Honor for me to have known, been in the presence and educated by such a Great and Giving Man. His teaching will live within me for as long as I’m alive.

MS: Did you have a mentor? What did you gain from the experience?
DM: In the traditional sense of having a mentor, no.

There are two types of mentors. The first, being someone on the job taking interest in you. Facilitating you by guiding your career and showing you the ropes of the profession. Assisting with employment situations by giving advice and referrals. As well, introducing you to his/her inner circle of friends.

The second is in Professional Organizations or Educational Environments where you foster friendships, and camaraderie. Which lead to networking forming alliances, exchange of information. Cultivating advice, referrals and instant gratification due to the inner circle of Professional Organizations or Educational Environment.

Within Education usually your instructor is responsible for opening doors and knocking down barriers. Depending how connected he or she is.

As an Adult, I’ve met a few people I bounce things off. Namely, Mr. Robert W. Taylor my good friend, former Saul Bass Associate and Mr. Thomas Ruzicka, former Design Manager of Bell Telephone System and AT&T 1968 -1984. I feel I can talk to them about anything. I’ve never asked them for anything. Maybe I have, I’m always begging for more Bass, artifacts for my archives. What I get from them money cannot buy. What I get from them is a sense of brotherhood and mutual respect. Robert W. Taylor being in his sixties and Mr. Ruzicka being in his eighties.

Their combined ages exceed a century. Without question a wealth of knowledge.

They’ve seen it all, and they’ve done it all. It’s good to have that repartee.

Others are Mr. John Harrod founder and Executive Director of Market Five Gallery in D.C. Mr. Harrod has been a benefactor in more ways than one George Lewis, aka Roif A Love, now deceased, personal friend. Senior Classmate in Mr. Washburn’s Class.

The most gifted Designer, Artist, Illustrator; I’ve encountered on earth in this lifetime. Bar None.

Come to think of it. Yeah, I’ve had some Mentors in more ways than one. The aforementioned friends were always in my corner. Available whenever I needed them.

What magazines do you read?
DM: Are you Serious?

Read Design Magazines. I look at the pictures. The purpose of becoming a Designer or Artist is that you can go four (4) years through College or Design and Art School and never have to pick up a book. That’s the reason for embarking a Design Degree. Design and Art Classes are the only curriculum on earth where you don’t have to read a book to earn a Degree. That my change with my revelation. On many levels very true.

I peruse Magazines today. I’m endeared to Idea Magazine Japan. It’s simply unmatched by any current publication or in History. Idea Magazine has been number one over forty (40) years. Equal to Idea was Design Quarterly published by the Walker Art Center and Industrial Design Magazine.

When in bookstores, I peruse the usual suspects, ID, Graphis, Print, Communication Arts, Eye, Step, How (others).

Depending on Content and Feature Articles, likely to purchase any one of them.

I’m saddened and disappointed, Rudy Vanderlans is no longer continuing Émigré.

Baseline Magazine is Great. I always look for it quarterly a great European Typographic Magazine. Simply the best and unmatched by any Typographic Magazine ever. (Bar None)

Occasionally, I’ll purchase Gebrauchsgraphik on eBay. The oldest Design Publication continues to circulate. Sold under the name Novum.

Being a man of fifty (50) with considerable KNOWLEDGE WEALTH and TASTE I am more refined and inclined to read Design Publications from MIT PRESS I’ve amassed and impressive number of Prominent Historical Significant Design Periodical Collections throughout the years. Now need another storage facility for the collections I have amassed.

The only magazines I have a subscription to are Graphic Design USA and Brand Packaging and Package Design. These are complimentary because I’m in the Design Profession.

MS: What’s on your ipod?
DM: Surf Music, Dick Dale and the Dell Tones, The Ventures, The Sufaris, The Lively Ones. I can listen to Surf Rider and Miserlo all day and night.

Nelson Riddle, Route 66, and various other discographphy’s.

Astrud Gilberto, The Girl from Ipanema, various other discography’s.

Common, The Corner, and various other discography’s.

Kanye West, Jesus Walks; Diamonds are Forever, various other discography’s.

Mobb Deep Shook Ones, various other discography’s.

Francis Albert, Strangers in the Night, My Way. Luck be a lady tonight, My kind of town, It was a very good year,

The Flamingos, I only have eyes for you, various other discography’s.

Pookie Hudson & the Spaniels, Goodnight Sweetheart, various other discography’s.

Latest Projects?
DM: A couple of packaging projects can’t say much about them because of confidentially.

At least three Retail Identity Projects two within the Washington Metropolitan Area.

The other is out of town. Scope of each Project is from concept to rollout to include, Identity, Interiors, Packaging, and Evironments.

If time allows, self-publishing. Of course the subject matter will be Corporate Identity.

MS: Any Famous Last Words or a Personal Credo?
DM: “I must Create a System of my Own
Or be Enslaved by another Man’s
I will not Reason and Compare
My Business is to Create”

William Blake


Read part one HERE

DesignMaven Revea!ed (Part One)

There are very few that can claim such a distinctive online writing style and knowledge base as DesignMaven. I’ve always been a fan of what he has to say, whether on Speak Up or Design Observer. There’s a serious passion when he posts. I’ve been fortunate to share e-mail conversations with him over the last couple of years and have admired his energy. As I take time to reflect on my own design drive, I thought I could learn a thing or two from the man himself. That is why I was honored when he accepted my invitation for an interview. I hope you get as much from reading this as I did from talking with him.

Part two of the interview can be read HERE

Michael Surtees: Who is DesignMaven, how did he come to be?

DesignMaven: DesignMaven is the alter ego of Frank Briggs. He’s a mythological character he’s the Anti Hero. He takes on many guises.

Such as, The Marksman, Dorian Gray, The Alpha Male. When I write Design Commentary I represent all these personalities. Most notably, The Marksman for his astute acumen in Identity Design Commentary. I’ve never made an online appearance as the Marksman.

The Marksman. Is generally, used for my e-mail correspondence. Marksman can be misinterpreted and over some peoples head. I chose a Universally understood Moniker.

In literature and film an anti-hero is a central or supporting character that has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains but nonetheless also have enough heroic qualities or intentions to gain the sympathy of readers or viewers. However, through the course of events, as we get to know the character, they grow and change and may actually become popular. A well-known example of this Clint Eastwood in his early film work. Films such as A Fistful of Dollars, The Good Bad and The Ugly, For a Few Dollars More.

How did I come to be?
DesignMaven, is a descendant of the Sacred Mountain, Olympus. Summoned to Earth by his Father Zeus, GOD of Corporate Identity, Branding, Film, Titles, 3 Dimensional Design, Product Design, Retail Identity and Environmental Design. To be the Guardian of Identity Design and Design History. To provide mere mortals with Wisdom and Encouragement. However, he cannot participate nor alter and change the course of Identity Design and Design History on Earth with his Capability and Knowledge. Most important, DesignMaven is unemployable by First Tier Consultancies and Corporations. His participation in Identity Design and Design History on Earth is in the capacity of Good Will Ambassador. To personally participate will alter the course of History.

MS: Do you remember a time when you weren’t passionate about design? Was there a single event that changed your outlook to be so interested in design.

DM: Not really, I’ve encountered Design Burnout. I’ve been drawing and painting from a child. Since I was five (5) years old. I’ve always wanted to be an Illustrator. By the time I was actually able to practice Illustration and support myself. The industry changed. Do to stock Illustration.

And publications using more photography. Illustrators were suffering in the 1980s. I evolved into Design. Which I think is a natural progression. Quite comfortable doing both.

MS:Having had “design burnout”, how did you get past it?

DM: There was about a four (4) year period I did not work in Design. Do to technological advances in the field. Coupled with lack of interest. Although, I worked on the early Macintosh Computers. I was an Independent Designer. A friend, Emory Diggs was the manager at a local copy center and gave me Carte Blanche on their equipment and color xerox machines for about five years. He’s the only person that can get anything he need from me in reference to Design other than my immediate family, without paying my fee. I’m indebted to him. True Friend. How can you not be loyal to someone like that? During this era employers were demanding that you acquired the knowledge and skill of the digital era. I fought it as long as I could. Actually, thought some segment of the Design Industry would be the lone voice of tradition and reason.

It didn’t happen. Many Designers embraced the new technology. While others did not. I was, The Last of the Mohicans to embrace the new technology. Eventually bought a computer. Once I bought a computer, I never looked back. It’s totally different owning your own computer, opposed to using someone else. Although, I was not working as a Designer. I still had my hand in it.

People were always asking me to Design. I would say, “I don’t own a computer. If I create by hand, it’s going to cost more. If I give the job to someone that has a computer, it’s going to cost just as much. And their work will not be up to up to my standards”. Three things led me to purchasing a computer. Access to typography. Control over the Development and Ideation of my Design, and Production Control. Albeit, a former classmate who moved up the ranks to become a Design Manager in Government. Informed me he no longer worked in Design. He was transferred to Photography. Wanted to get back into Design after several years and could not. Because he did not own a computer and did not understood how to use software. A Lifetime friend, Gregory Scott, Designer, Artist, Image Consultant to Luther Vandross, (now deceased) and Patti Labelle, others encouraged me to purchase a computer. Listening to Tony Brown of Tony Brown’s Journal iterating on every show. Every home should have a computer. After six months of listening to Tony Brown and reflecting on other experiences Prudence and Better Judgment Won the Battle.
I love tradition. There’s no way, I can live without my computer!!!!!!!!!

MS: What’s your design archive like? What’s in there, is there one single piece that you prize above all others?

DM: My Design Archives is an Infinite Knowledge Base and more profound than the Internet. Allowing me to expound on any topic of Visual Communication. If that sounds evasive Michael, it’s meant to be.

I’ll expound; there’s some information the Internet cannot provide. If you ask the Internet to provide you with Corporate Identities from the 1970s it doesn’t have that capability.

If there was a discussion about 1970s Identities I have that information in my archives. If you ask the Internet to show you Corporate Identity Consultancy Capability Brochures from First Tier Identity Consultancies it doesn’t have that capability. That information is within my Design Archives, as well. If you did a search on the Internet for work produced by Legendary Identity Designer G. Dean Smith. It cannot provide you with information or samples of G. Dean Smith’s work. I have that information within my archives.

I possess a few trinkets. My archives would’ve been astronomical if Herb Yager Saul Bass’ Partner sold me his Saul Bass Archives. There were only certain items that I could afford. Herb savvy business man that he is. Really didn’t want to break up his archives and sell pieces of it. Thus, Herb felt for the betterment of mankind. His Saul Bass Archives should be remanded to the custody of a Museum and not a private collector. Herb’s got the Rock of Gibraltar in reference to his archives.

Things I’m most proud of are the complete set of Saul Bass and Associates, Bell Telephone System, Identity Manuals. Other than the Bass Family, I’m the only person on earth that has them. Thanks, to my mentor and Good Friends Robert W. Taylor, former Design Associate of Saul Bass, & Associates whom brokered the deal with Mr. Thomas Ruzicka former Design Manager of Bell System and AT&T. Of course Herb Yager gave me his blessing allowing me to posses them.

Personal artifacts given to me by Paul Rand. Now, I wish I possessed a Paul Rand Identity Manual. I’m working on it.
Walter Landor, in 1993 when he was ill sent me one of two copies Landor had in existence of his book Walter Landor Associates, Idea Special Issue, 1977. I’m quite sure, I’m the only person from my generation with this publication. It is rare and a collectors item.

There are others, I don’t want to bore you with my trinkets.

MS: How has design changed from when you started to the present period?

DM: I began in 1970 as an apprentice to an Illustrator, when I was fourteen (14) years old.

Everything was done by hand. Except camera production. At the time there were many specialist in Design. In my day, there was specialist. Beginning with production people layout artist, comp artist, airbrush artist, illustrators, photographers, typographers, and art directors.

You did not become a Designer until you graduated to layout artist or art director. Often times, that did not happen. Depending where you worked. Typographers were first and foremost considered Designers. In some circles you were not considered a Designer unless you were a Designer of books or periodicals.

Today, the Designer is the END ALL IS ALL. Because of the computer, he/she has many responsibilities and is responsible for every aspect of conceptualization to finish art. Often times act as typographer, production designer, photographer, illustrator, etc. Today in-house departments have been remarkably reduced in size.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the computer revolution in the early 1980s changed the game forever. Those that didn’t adapt fell by the wayside. The personal computer ended a lot of careers that were not susceptible to change and a new way of working. Once the Design Industry embraced the change. It was essentially adapt or die. If there was a period that I was dismayed with the profession, it was this era. I didn’t purchase or own a computer until 1999. I’m sure, I’m one of the last Designers from my generation to embrace the change.

MS: What’s your definition of design?

DM: Design is an Intellectual Activity with a craft aspect to it’.

“Design” = Development, A Plan, Purpose, or Intent initiated via Ideation, Orchestration, Delegation and Collaboration for Compensation.

“Craft” = Execution + Rendering = Production.
Designers almost always need others to bring their Ideas to Fruition. Because of time constraints Designers need not be involved in the Craft aspect of their business.

That being said, Design is a Lifestyle. And all encompassing of our daily lives. As humans we could not survive without Design. Design is as important to our survival as Food and Nourishment for our bodies.

How do you define a successful design? First and foremost Design must Communicate and satisfy the client needs. Successful Design has to understand the role it plays in its market, target audience, core values, consumer base and need. At the same time, reward the receiver by making them feel something. Touching and/or tapping into the Visceral and Cerebral sub-consciousness. There are many ways to accomplish this. It can be brought into fruition with typography, imagery, color, and semiotics. With the Internet and television all the aforementioned to include movement, animation, and music.
A combination of those elements is imperative for visual impact.

MS: Outside of design you seem extremely knowledgeable in PUNK and NEW WAVE, (read Dare I ask if you have a jazz collection? What makes something interesting to you?

DM:I listen to many forms of music. Appreciate all genres. Began listening to Jimi Hendrix when I was eleven years old.
I was raised in Church and grew up on Gospel music. Rhythm and Blues was always being played in my neighborhood if not in my home. Coming from that religious up bringing I almost straddle the fence of not being able to listen to secular music. The first music I owned was Ray Charles. My mother gave my brother and me two albums to share by Ray Charles. That was my introduction to owning records. The first album I ever purchased was Jimi Hendrix, ‘Are you Experienced’. Proceeded by Led Zeppelin, ‘Houses of the Holly’ and Pink Floyd, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.

I bought both of those together. I was approximately, fourteen or fifteen years old.

Growing up there was an assortment of music being played and I was introduced. Examples, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Curtis Mayfield, Billy Stewart, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Joe Tex, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Five Stair Steps, The Delfonics, Otis Redding, Sam Cook. On the flip side, you had the British Invasion, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Hollies, The Zombies, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Lulu, The Merseybeats, Peter Noone, Eric Burdon, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, (Others).

Before the aforementioned genres were Blues, Classical, Country, Doo Whoop, (Street Corner Symphony).

I listened to all those genres of music some more than others. Jazz was a natural progression. Beginning with Eubie Blake, Alberta Hunter, Pops Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Mel Torme, Billie Holliday, Abby Lincoln, Philly Joe Jones, Sun Ra, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Francis Albert. (Many others) Names to numerous to mention.

MS: Is it important to have design heroes, and if so, why?

DM: Most important, I think is a need to be aware of Design History. Meaning the events and practitioners whom shaped and advanced our Profession. What you take away from that experience and exposure to enhance your life to benefit your career can be most rewarding.

Certain Illustrators and Designers I identify with are family members to me. I lived with them all my life. Their work was in my home.

Example, my mother collected Top Value Stamps. On each issue of Top Value Stamp Magazine was a commissioned painting by Norman Rockwell. As a young child, I lived with that imagery. And as an aspiring young Illustrator, how could I not identify with Norman Rockwell’s skill and draftsmanship. Also in my home was a poster of the second N.Y. Film Festival, Philharmonic Hall Lincoln Center Designed by Saul Bass. As an avid reader of magazines, should I say, at my young age, perused magazines.
There were the Westinghouse Advertisements by Paul Rand in Look Magazine. The Saturday Evening Post, and Colliers, with Illustrations by Austin Briggs, my all time Favorite Illustrator, (many others).

Designers that I Glorify are as much a part of my family as biological family members. I’ve lived with them all my life. They had a profound effect on my life at an early age. I really had no Idea they were Rich, Famous, and Successful, until I became an adult.
When, I became an adult. The Designers that I like and worshiped were used as a measuring stick for my personal growth and development. During my pre-teen and young adult years, Norman Rockwell and Austin Briggs were important because I was trying to achieve their skill level and technical facility. Not emulate their style. Trying to achieve their level of proficiency in composition and rendering skill.

That level of achievement is impossible to achieve at an early age. With Saul Bass and Paul Rand they were used as role models because of their extraordinary range and capability. From them I learned Design has neither boundaries nor limitations. The process of discovery and problem solving are the same for all disciplines of Design. Only the production or craft aspect changes.

I got as much of their work as I could acquire. Used their work as a measuring stick for my own personal growth and development. Again, not to emulate their styles. Began investigating what made their work Great and Acknowledged by the Industry and their Peers.

As I got older my interest shift to Identity Design. I was reading symbols and in love with symbols from a tiny tot. My favorites were the Chevrolet Cross, Texaco, Seaboard Coastline, John Deere, Dixie, Bell System, Hunt Wesson, Westinghouse, IBM, abc, CBS, ESSO, Sinclair Oil. Armstrong Floors, The Man from Uncle, The Saint, James Bond, (others).

Semiotics, has always been an important aspect of my growth and development as a Designer, from a child. Again, Saul Bass and Paul Rand’s work were in my home. Either we possessed Design Ephemera or the work appeared in publications. Its not like I went to school and everybody was into Saul Bass or Paul Rand. We had Art History Classes and the instructor discussed the merit of the Artist contribution to Fine Art. There were no Design History Classes when I was in school. Dare I say, any of my college instructors were aware of Design Luminaries? If they were, they didn’t talk about them. It’s not like I read an article on the aforementioned luminaries and became infatuated with their success or work. I’m not that shallow. Meaning, I don’t gravitate to people because of success or fame. Which I think is a bigger sin, to be infatuated with someone one year and when they fall out of fashion move onto the next Design Flash in the Pan Cult Figure. Suffice to say a lot of these people are being forced fed via certain vehicles such as publications and conferences. Many of these people never live up to their press or Cult Hero Status. I’ve yet to be impressed with any of these Cult Hero, so called Celebrity Designers this younger generation of Designers find so impressive. It’s definitely hard for me to buy into their cult like status. Because people love them when they’re hot and move onto the next American Idol or Poster Boy when they fall from grace.

I’ve always enjoyed self-discovery. I vehemently don’t like being FORCED FED something that I know via personal research and self-development is not true. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. I pick my own Heroes. I don’t allow other people or any publishing vehicles to tell me whom I should like. Who’s hot and who’s not. Genuine success in any industry comes from Longevity. The Designers that are hot today, will they be relevant twenty years from now? I think not. The Designers that I admire and glorify stood the test of time for fifty (50) years or more. Today is just as important maybe more when they were alive. Look at the shamble Corporate Identity is in!

I’ve had the same favorite basketball, football, and baseball teams since I was a teenager. I continue to love them and support them until this day, win or loose. My point of contention, I’m not a fair weather fan or bandwagon jumper. Referencing people who support teams because they win. Or become infatuated with Designers because they become popular or cult figures. All the Designers that I enjoy and embrace except Michael Bierut and Paula Scher are from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Designers after those eras, I generally don’t have an interest Exceptions are made for personal friends and Female Designers who I enjoy and respect their work. Such as, Elinor Selame, the First Lady of Corporate Identity in America, Rose Marie Tissi, the Greatest Female Designer Practicing today. (Bar None) Margaret Youngblood has created more Identity Design than any man has in the 21 Century thus far. Margaret is no longer employed at Landor. Connie Birdsal, with Lippincott & Margulies has been in the forefront of Identity Practice over twenty years. Anne Reeves; partners with her husband Mamoru Shimokochi. There are other females Designers of note to numerous to mention.

I’m endeared to Identity Designers first and foremost male or female. Identity Design is my expertise. Heroes are exceptionally beneficial for personal growth and development. Design Heroes are no different than Heroes for other professions such as Athletics, Music, Business, etc. The kid or young adult that dreams of becoming the next Dr. J, or Michael Jordan, Yo Yo Ma, Al Dimeola. Bill Gates, Bob Johnson, Hillary Clinton, or Barbara Walters can fulfill their dream healthily with someone to pattern themselves.
Essentially, inspiration, aspiration, determination and dedication should be the core values governing ones personal vision. Design Heroes can’t hurt you. Heroes can become catalysts to achieve your dream. What’s the lesser of two evils an imaginary friend or Design Hero? I’ve never had an imaginary friend.

My Heroes, I lived with them all my life.

End of Part One
Part two of the interview can be read HERE