Eightface

by Dave Kellam

You are a real artist

For all my creative friends who’ve struggled at times trying to achieve their dreams, an artice from Sara Benincasa, Real Artists Have Day Jobs.

Have you ever dreamt of being a real artist?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to call yourself a real painter, or a real writer, or a real actress, or a real musician?

Have you ever described yourself as someone who does something amazing and magical and wonderful and life-affirming and then added “on the side”?

Well, you might not like what I have to say.

Because I have come here today to deliver the unfortunate truth that you are lying to yourself.

You are not going to become a real artist one day.

You are a real artist right now.

Go read the rest.

April 5, 2014 ·

Flipboard and automating layout

Flipboard Duplo candidates

Charles Ying wrote an article for TechCrunch detailing Flipboard’s automated approach to layout with their new Duplo engine.

Ultimately, what we’ve done with Pages and Duplo is take the elements of magazine layout design — a powerful tool in framing a story and its impact on the reader — and created a way to automate the process, while still capturing the essence and art of a human designer’s craft.

There’s some pretty cool stuff going on under the hood, including adding a degree of randomness to the layouts, so you don’t get the same layouts over and over again.

March 31, 2014 ·

Educate don’t humiliate

From Dan Edwards in response to overly harsh design critics dickheads, Educate don’t humiliate:

As a general rule we should try better to understand why the designer has made the decisions they’ve made and think about their experience and how we can help, not just humiliate them. Take the time to provide newbies with the resources and answers that they need. That’s education.

Especially pointed given how easy it is to offer a knee-jerk reaction on the internet. Of course, I’ve never done anything like that.

The same notes could be applied to developers too. It’s easy to become dismissive of someone’s work because they did it in an unfashionable language, or a different coding style, or used some sort of kludgy hack. There was likely a reason behind the decision, which may be worth examining before picking up the pitchfork.

Updated: Upon further reflection, they should not be called design critics (we’ll go with Dan’s original intent). Also, forgot to link to actual article.

November 22, 2013 ·

History of the Star Wars logo

Anatomy of a Logo: Star Wars takes a look at the evolution of the iconic logo.

“I’d been reading a book the night before the meeting with George Lucas,” she says, “a book about German type design and the historical origins of some of the popular typefaces used today—how they developed into what we see and use in the present.” After Lucas described the kind of visual element he was seeking, “I returned to the office and used what I reckoned to be the most ‘fascist’ typeface I could think of: Helvetica Black.”

Inspired by the typeface, Rice developed a hand-drawn logo that translated well to the poster campaign, and ultimately to the movie itself. “I did have the screen in mind when I drew the logo originally,” explains Rice, who “stacked and squared” the words to better fit the brochure cover. It was an aesthetic choice that has lasted nearly three decades.

Vignelli on the AA logo redesign

American Airlines recently reworked their classic logo. Massimo Vignelli, designer of the original, commented on the the original intention of the design.

Legibility, which is a very important element of an airplane. So we used Helvetica, which was brand new at the time. And we wanted to make one word of American Airlines, half red and half blue. What could be more American than that? And there were no other logos then that were two colors of the same word. We took the space away, made one word, and split it again by color. It looked great. The typeface was great. We proceeded by logic, not emotion. Not trends and fashions.

March 7, 2013 ·

The accidental designer and persuasion

Frances Berriman’s post about being an accidental designer struck a chord with me, particularly the consideration of design as a soft-science:

I unfairly (despite being very much into, and doing, art throughout my life) considered “design” to be a soft subject – engineering being the one with the greater level of difficulty. Wrong assumption, I realise, but easily encouraged during my time with computer scientists during my degree years where the concept of service design for the human-being end of software was treated as a “nice extra” and usually quite glossed over.

My attitude was similar until I had the opportunity to study book design. Web development is a surprisingly similar field to book design; think large quantities of data, tons of images, typography, how the user/reader is interacting with what you made. That experience also made me acutely aware that websites are living things, another point that she touches on:

Those of us building websites then, early adopters of proper web-standards and sites that worked for lots of different kinds of users, tried desperately to make them understand that this isn’t print and it is a flexible, changing, growing, responsive, versatile, medium. They didn’t get it.

I’ve seen the other side of the fence, and like she says, it’s not so much that they don’t get it, more that they have been given the chance to do so. That leads me to a post by Jeff Atwood, But You Did Not Persuade Me. Definitely a skill I need to work on.

July 23, 2012 ·

Designers writing custom code

From Designing Programs by Casey Reas and Chandler McWilliams.

Writing software is something that’s not typically associated with the work of a visual designer, but there’s a growing number of designers who write custom software as a component of their work. Over the last decade, through personal experience, we’ve learned many of the benefits and pitfalls of writing code as a component of a visual arts practice, but our experience doesn’t cover the full spectrum. Custom software is changing typography, photography, and composition and is the foundation for new categories of design practice that includes design for networked media (web browsers, mobile phones, tablets) and interactive installations. Most importantly, designers writing software are pushing design thinking into new areas.

The asked a number of designers the impetus for writing their own software, and how it has impacted their work.

March 27, 2012 ·

Associated Press rebrand

Objective Subject's AP logo evolution

AP has a new look for the first time in thirty years. The creative system for the rebrand was developed by Brooklyn design firm Objective Subject.

Our iterative process generated an option with a red underscore, which we dubbed ‘the prompt,’ that evokes AP’s emphasis on editorial rigor and precise and accurate approach. Setting the letterforms in black on a white backdrop proved to further highlight these values, while improving contrast and legibility. Using a consistently white backdrop further improved the strength of e mark in the variety of environments it needs to live in.

We retained the original logo’s stencil lettering, which embody the gutsy and adventurous personality of an international news organization. Redrawing the letters upright speaks to AP’s integrity, while lending a more contemporary feel to the mark.

Be sure to check out the process video to get a feel for the brand mark’s development.

The AP has more information in the form of a dry press release (imagine this is the look they’re trying to avoid). They also have a placeholder up for their new website, with a link to a PDF of the brand introduction, which features the following image detailing the evolution of the logo.

AP logo evolution

Congratulations to my friends at Objective Subject on a great job. Look forward to seeing the new system in the wild.