Why is Wilco getting so much play?

It seems Wilco is getting quoted every couple weeks on that interweb. Ya their tunes are great, and I’m still listening to their albums on a regular basis (almost as much as R.E.M.). But it seems that they’re turning into this weird symbol for technology/music. If they were electronica I could possibly by the argument. Ironically though, they sound as great acoustically as they do with power – maybe that’s the point.

The latest blog blessing comes from World Changing

The original blessing that caught my attention a couple weeks ago came from kottke The excerpt was from “Who Own’s Culture”. What struck me was a potential word swaps written below.

Original Quote: Tweedy: “Music is finished in the audience”. He credited the audience with 50% ownership in the creation of a musical piece…the creator is not much until someone listens to the music they’ve created.

Swap Quote #1: “Advertising is finished in the audience”. He credited the audience with 50% ownership in the creation of a message…the advertiser is not much until someone acts on to the message they’ve created.

Swap Quote #2: “Real design is understood the audience”. He credited the audience with 100% ownership in the comprehension of a message…the designer is not much until someone acts on the the directions they’ve understood.

Money versus modernism in the Edmonton landscape

An interesting thing is happening in Edmonton, design and architecture are starting to find a new found respect in the media. Last month, Avenue magazine dedicated a whole issue to design while the current issue of the Edmontonians has featured architecture. Rant: typically design in the media is really about industrial design, more work has to be done to get graphic design on the radar. Is it because graphic design is not about consumption like industrial design?

One article not to miss is from the Edmontonians is Steven Smyth’s: Less is More, Money versus modernism in the Edmonton landscape. You can read it HERE

Gerry Leonidas Lecture Review

The study of typography design is one of passion and respect for history. For it is that understanding of the past that the opportunity to take advantage of today’s technology is founded. Gerry Leonidas spoke of those ideals eloquently at the University of Alberta tonight. Gerry teaches typography and typeface design in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, England. The University of Reading is one of the most respected schools for those passionate about type.

Gerry discussed what it means to be a student at the University of Reading. How often is it that students can view one of only two hand crafted maps of the London Underground, and then have the opportunity to discuss it with the owner of the map? That is but one reward for understanding the value of what you have in front of you.

The core of the talk was a broad review of how technology is shaping the output of typography. Between Unicode and open type, he showed examples of what is being done today. As with technology that is interest to typographers – Microsoft, Adobe and even Apple were mentioned.

It quickly became apparent that the design of typography is more than just designing display faces. It is that year round dedication at the University of Reading that students make something of value. It seems that technology has the chance to right a lot of wrongs that designers disregard in terms of typographic tradition. It is that learning and respect for the history of typography that allows those special few to continue the craft.

Gerry Leonidas Lectures in Edmonton

University of Alberta
Department of Art and Design

Gerry Leonidas
Thursday, May 12, 5:00 pm,
Room 2-20 Fine Arts Building

‘Once more, with feeling!’

The usual questions: who needs another typeface? And who will buy it? What happened to typeface design in the last ten years or so (and why is this important?) How has making, and using typefaces changed, and what can we expect in the next few years? Why should anyone pay to be taught it? And the big one: how can you make a good living off typeface design?


Thursday, May 19, 5:00 pm,
Room 2-20 Fine Arts Building

‘”The designers are off snowboarding” — re-defining design practice around explicit processes’

So you call yourself a designer. What was it that you do exactly? Was this what you set out to do in the first place? And do your clients share your perception? Professionals in this field we bundle under “communication design” already missed one opportunity to get the word out. It’s high time the discussion migrated permanently from the lecture halls to client meetings and “About us” pages. Here’s a shortlist of things to take into account.

Stand Tall

If only every member of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) could attend one National AGM. If they did, I think they would become members for life. The number of new friends I met in Winnipeg that share the same passion is very tough to put into words. Hmm, next National GDC AGM is in Edmonton, coincidence I think not – stay tuned for info on an event worthy of celebrating 50 years.

2005 GDC National AGM

Where did a year go? It doesn’t seem that long ago that the last AGM in Victoria was held. The next GDC National Annual General Meeting is May 6th and 7th in Winnipeg at the Fort Garry Hotel.

Last year was my first year attending, and as President of the Alberta North Chapter I had to present our chapters report. This year I’ll be doing that along with presenting a plan for succession planning. 2004 was a great year to be a GDC member in Alberta North. There were great speakers, development seesions and an enthusastic executive. 2005 has already started with a bang and the rest of the year is going to be pretty interesting.

Below are my notes on succession planning. If you find yourself reading this and have any suggestions on how to improve it, please e-mail me at michael [at] michaelsurtees.com

Succession Planning
(Develop tools/ training/ incentives)


·assumes role of lead represen-tative for the Chapter and the profession locally, provincially and nationally
·works with and oversees all executives and committee directors to ensure consistent, appropriate activity and progress is achieved and goals are met
·chairs monthly executive meetings with Secretary
·represents the Chapter on the National Council and submits full chapter report at the National AGM
·liaises with other Chapters and National Council and relays news and information to membership through appropriate channels
·maintains communication (with Association Liaison) to other design associations and to federal and provincial government officials
·responds to media enquires and/or directs them to appropriate executives or committee director
·makes him/ herself available to members to address their issues, concerns or questions
·promotes the key roles of design
·leads the executive in developing its vision and strategy and in successful implementation of programmes, working with key partners in business, education and government.
·works with the executives to decide how the GDC works towards its strategic objectives, as well as representing the organization in public
·works to promote the exchange of information, views, and research
·contribute to design education – theory, practice and research
·coordinate matters of professional practice and conduct

·acts as an advisor and mentor to all executives and committee directors
·acts as an advisor and mentor to all executives and committee directors
·is the principal source of continuity in procedures & programs, contributing to the medium and long term goals, ties with relevant organizations and contact with the government
·chairs executive meetings in the absence of the President

President Elect (Vice-Chair)
The intention of the Vice Chair is to take on the position of President after the President has stepped down. The Vice-Chair may continue with other VP positions before becoming President. The Vice Chair learns the roles of the president and commits to follow and help the President.

·minimum of two years on board as a VP or other suitable experience
·preferably MGDC or FGDC status in good standing
·a recommendation for discussion: LGDC members in good standing can be nominated for president

·one executive member and 2 or 3 non exec members (to recruit potential candidates and communicate requirements)
·possible criteria guidelines: the nature of their practice, their previous contributions to the GDC & design community and the priorities the board has adopted for new initiatives
·of those qualified candidates who were nominated and willing to serve and would be equally qualified, the chosen candidates should meet the criteria and fit best with the immediate priorities facing the organization
·provide ballots to have an opportunity to recommend candidates for next year1s nominating committee.

·national executive members , business peers, books and minutes for advice, reference, mentoring
·Robert1s Rules
·Editorial publications like Applied Arts, Print, Communication Arts, Graphis, ID, How among others
·other design and advertising clubs and organizations,
·IABC and paper companies for their help in co-hosting and planning events
·The AIGA, the British Design Council and Australian Graphic Design Association
·Feedback the from the general membership

4. Staggered Succession
Elections for president should be held every two years. This allows chapters new presidents to be elected on years when National does not have an election.

·provision to supply tools and records to successors
·each board rep or committee chair should maintain a binder that includes all correspondence and other records related to what occurred during their term, meeting minutes too, and most importantly procedures for specific tasks that will be repeated by others, or used as a model
·a time line: this should outline a year and the things that must be done and when as part of the job. Their binder would also have a list of contacts and contact records, notes on what each target is likely to respond to, negotiation tactics, etc.

·Peggy Cady and Gwen Hetherington
·Brock Piper, Catherine Garden, Craig Medwyduk, David Coates, Dean Kulbida, Dean McNeill, Evan Kuz, Karen Brown, Laurie Darrah, Matt Warburton, Matthew Allen, Paul Nishikawa, Randy Hergott, Rebecca Gerein, Robert L. Peters, Sylvia Rigakis and Walter Jungkind

P O S T E R S, P o s t e r s, posters

Jason A. Tselentis over at Speak Up has started a movie posters post that has some nice visuals. Along with the post, there’s a lot of images uploaded from people commenting. Some of the additional links include Corey Holms stuff, a blog on movie posters, another collection of vintage movie posters, The Art of The Poster, another gallery by year and a personal collection.

Yes, it’s Hilton Inc.

As much as this pains me to post, NYT has an interesting article on Hilton Inc. It frames her business context in a manner that does make sense. Maybe everything isn’t a coincidence – but the skeptical would have already figured that out a while ago.

“If you want to make fun of yourself and play into the whole stereotype, then why not? I have a hit show,” she said. “Obviously I know what I’m doing.”

The Living Lexicon

Sure, you can use google as a way to figure out if you spelled a word correctly. There’s Wikipedia, a living encylopedia that people can contribute and edit. It also just happens to be bigger then the Encyclopædia Britannica. BUT there’s only one source that makes all this info interesting. Words and ideas that you couldn’t even imagine. You can find all this and more at UrbanDictionary.com Use the random button to find gems like this:

An exclamation of extreme displeasure, comperable to damnit. Can be combined with other words to emphasize distress.

Derived from episodes 12 and 13 of “Clone High”, in which John Stamos steals prom king from the principal.

“Stealth field, sucks to be you!”

“That city will never close.”

Source: Baity, Nov 5, 2004

People are encouraged to add a definition, add an image or add sound. The idea seems pretty interesting and is a good companion to the book Word Craft.

Today, 27 April, is World Graphics Day

This special day is being celebrated around the world by design associations and individuals (events such as tree plantings, gatherings of peers, etc.) It was on this day in 1963 that Icograda was formed in London. The Friends of Icograda Listserv has been buzzing today with exchanges between designers in Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. http://www.friends.icograda.net


27 April is also a day of special significance in South Africa – I thought I’d share with you a message I just received from Icograda’s president elect, Jacques Lange, from Pretoria:

South African designers are lucky enough to have a public holiday to celebrate, because not only is it World Graphics Day but also Freedom Day. It is on this day in 1994 that 44 million citizens had the first opportunity cast a vote in a democratic government election. Freedom and graphic design – what a wonderfully significant symbolic combination!

We designers (and Icogradians in particular) have a responsibility to spread the word of freedom in a peaceful manner to our professional compatriots and fellow world citizens. While we celebrate Icograda’s birthday, may we also spare some thoughts for, and take action to assist in the plight of those who do not have what we have. May the words of Nelson Mandela inspire us all: “I cannot rest until I am certain that the global response is sufficient to turn the tide.”


And from ‘Idaho Stu’ Alden in Denver:

I sit at my desk this morning pondering many things. And often wonder who I
would be if I weren’t a graphic designer and photographer. I think we all
have amazing lives because of this thing we call design. And for all of us
it is something slightly different. Which is part of it’s joy – and perhaps
at times the frustration. But because we all love it so much we keeping
working at it and making it better. Defining it for new generations to take
and evolve.

via Robert L. Peters


Ortho-type is a very intriguing concept for typeface design. I think it takes the idea of multiple master and perhaps open typeface to a new practical level. It’s described as “An experiment in dimensional typography” at processing.org which it is, but it offers some very interesting tangibles if it were released today. Most typefaces when manually stretched and compressed look awful. However with ortho-type, the distortion always seems in proportion. Ortho-type could work really well as a display and information typeface where space could be limited. As a three dimension space, it would be put to best use on a monitor. The only question would be on how it translates to smaller sizes like unibody 8.

Re: How do you stay creative?

The GDC listserv is a great place for design conversation, whether you’re a GDC member or not. Among the contributers, there’s Gabino Travassos who is currently residing in Calgary. One of his on going projects is Mote Magazine which is a must visit if music is something you’re into.

Recently on the GDC listerv the question of creativity arose. One of the best responses came from Gabino. Below is his comment replicated with permission.

Being somewhat distracted by grandiose ideas that never quite reach fruition (which is great when you’re coming up with concepts for a client, but bad when you actually have to execute them) I had to create some guidelines for myself:

– dream super-big. If the client has a $3000 budget, pitch a $15,000 idea and then scale it back. It’s more fun to work on the crazy projects anyway.

– imagine you’ve just won $1,000,000 and write a list of things you want to do with that money. Then work backwards from there without the money.

– once you have the giant idea, like illustrating a children’s book, make a list of all the things required to make that happen. Divide the list into creative and administrative tasks. If you’re feeling creative, work on the characters. If you’re feeling uncreative, research the industry or think about paper size or go shopping for pencils.

Understand your peak creative times. If that’s 10am with a coffee at Starbucks with lots of noisy people around you, then do that. If it’s 1 am with a beer in the bathtub, then make sure that happens often enough to keep the project moving forward.

For me I get some good ideas sitting at Burger King in the afternoon with a coffee while my 5-year-old runs around their playground. We all win.

Also know when your productive production times are. If you need 5 hours in front of the computer from 7am to noon… work around that. In addition to the creative bursts, you need structured time to get all the work done. You might need to get away from your computer, your e-mail, your phone. Work unplugged on a picnic table overlooking a river.

And turn down the boring projects if you can. I turned down a $50,000 project that would have required hiring a couple people for a short term to work on an online business community, but I imagined what the next couple months of my life would be like and said, no, I’d rather miss a mortgage payment and have my cable shut off… and that’s exactly what happened.

And turn down work if you’re too busy. I know other people have said you should accept all the work that comes and try to balance the load, but you’ll just burn out, and do poor rushed work. And by too busy I mean working 7 days a week 10+ hours a day. If you’re only working 40 hours a week, you can do more. Or you can make it fit.

Diversify. Teach, train for a marathon, build a kite, read lots of books, get inspirational design books from the public library, attack your tasks from different angles. Design your site in clay, make a brochure out of lego.

And don’t forget to invoice upon commencement of a project. That first cheque will elevate your mood and bank balance and sometimes that is correlated to creativity. I know financial desperation is inversely correlated.

The shower is a creative time. All those ions being stripped from water molecules, floating around your body in an energizing aura. Bring your problems to the bathroom and think about them during a long shower.

Write long personal e-mails to people you’ve never met. On mailing lists for a membership of which you aren’t even part of.

And end with a smiley face. 🙂

photo district news

Talking with John Gaucher (who happens to be a pretty good photographer) a while back, I asked him what he was looking at in terms of photo magazines as I’m always interested in what others are reading. I tend to avoid the photo section of the magazine shop as a lot of them tend to be cheesy, classless or a combination of the two. One magazine he assured me of being worth the read is pdn. After picking it up the next day (March 2005), I was appreciative of the suggestion.

There’s a nice balance between showing great images, background on technique and stories that are just interesting that any creative can can learn from. The cover story suggests 30 emerging photographers to watch. Canadian’s include Farah Nosh and one of my favs Mark Zibert. Other articles include pitching stories and a review of why the best print advertising is coming from Dutch Ad agencies — it’s funny how they’re suggesting that this is a new phenomenon. I think it’s been like that for more years then I’ve been alive…

pdn also has a strong online presence too. www.pdnonline.com expands digitally how you would want it to. Without the constraints attributed to print — there’s more images to view and articles to read.

the art and science of brand resource allocation

strategy + business’s Resilience Report this month makes the argument for shifting oversight to the center from the edge of individual brands. “Consolidation and diffusion of power through scores, even hundreds, of brand organizations have made it impossible for them to win.” While not exactly a new idea or unobvious, the article also notes how one private equity firm marketed Pabst Blue Ribbon beer successfully. It also reviews how Walmart has made it difficult for consumer packaging companies to market themselves.


Where to begin with Placement? It would be too easy to say it’s great, that you should check it out – to just take my word for it. Finally there’s something to read online that makes you forget that it’s on a monitor. To have the sensation of being able to just read and think is great indeed. Placement has only been going for a month week and a half but it seems extremely promising. Mr. E. Tage Larsen leads an ambitious group of contributors that will bring a refreshing dialogue to those that are curious at heart. It’s all about choice.

Designing without designing

Domus talks to six creatives about how ordinary objects have been used outside their context to create something that Achille Castiglioni would approve of. Analogies abound in this four hour talk – material, morphological appearance and playful symbolism among many other ideas are thrown around. The beauty question is asked: what must it contain? Curiosity, amusement and congeniality perhaps…
(free registration required)


No one gets hurt by bad design — wrong, in the case of medication if it is used incorrectly people can cause themselves series harm. Deborah Adler has looked at some of the issues (inconsistent labeling, confusing numbers, poor colour combinations, curved shape is hard to read and tiny type) and redesigned the label. Her prototype included a change to colour coding, intelligent expiration, shaping the bottle, having the info attached, closer type and intake schedule. The commercial solution that Target will be using includes easy identification which includes a new information hierarchy, new bottle designed by Klaus Rosburg, colour coding of neck, new info card, language change and clear warnings. Now that a designer has made taking medication more understandable – will people trust that they should go to Target to get their medication?

via unbeige

READ the Deborah Adler interview HERE

Privatizing a public memorial

IT HAS BEEN reported that a memorial where thousands of former dictator Pol Pot’s political enemies were killed is going to be privatized. The Japanese company who owns the thirty year contract must plant trees and flowers at the site. While probably not an entirely new concept to privatize a public space, the emotional and physical space that is the memorial should be handled with caution.
‘Killing Fields’ gravesite privatized in Cambodia

Programme Number Two

Camden Man from London has completed his 2nd radio programme. While I didn’t get the chance to listen to the first, I’m eagerly awaiting his third. It’s got a nice flow of artists like The Ruts, Bobbie Gentry, Kaiser Chiefs, The Specials, Blur etc. There’s something very compelling when the dj has an accent from over the pond – it sounds so real.
2nd radio programme

And since we’re talking muzak formats…
The NYT writes about the influence of satellite radio altering radio formats. We can’t get satellite radio in Canada yet, but when it does come I wouldn’t be surprised if people are willing to subscribe to both XM and Sirius – I know I will.

Let’s Make a Deal

Let's Make a Deal

I’ve got a pair of those white ipod headphones that I need to give away. After my 30GB ipod had an untimely meltdown I decided to simplify things. After seeing a friend with a shuffle I knew what was going to come next. I now have a shuffle and I hate those white headphones. Apparently there is a small minority that feel this way according to wired. I threw my first pair away, but figured I might as well be more creative with how I get rid of the second set. If you’re looking to get some ipod swag and want to trade me for something in exchange, send me an e-mail. Just for kicks I’ll throw in an ipod shuffle lanyard.

In the shuffle, no particular order
The Streets: A Grand Don’t Come For Free
Beck: Guero
The Long Winters: When I Pretend To Fall
Massive Attack: Mezzanine
LCD Soundsystem: Disc One & Two
R.E.M.: Around the Sun
OUT HUD: Let Us Never Speak of It Again
The Go! Team: Thunder, Lightning, Strike
Yo La Tengo Summer Sun
The Postal Service: Give Up
The Wrens: The Meadowlands
Interpol: Antics
Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism
Modest Mouse: Good News For People Who Love Bad News
Wilco: Aghostisborn
Kings Of Leon: Youth & Young Manhood

Blog Widget by LinkWithin