Archive for the ‘Design & Type’ Category

The Design of the Airplot Logo

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

The Airplot logo, which is a hand printed patchwork of letters and rectangle in varying greens, made with cardboard letters and rectangles, creating a patchwork effect like a group of fields seen from above.

Airside, a creative agency, has posted a synopsis of their process for designing the Airplot identity (announcement here). It’s a fantastic example of a typical and successful (in my opinion) design process. They hit the nail right on the head with the following statement:

“On the occasions Airside has presented its process talk ‘I Don’t Like It’, [we] were puzzled by the audience’s surprise at just how many sketches and worksheets contributed to a finished design.

We hope that by presenting the ‘scrappier’ parts of a project that most agencies would seek to hide, a lot of the mystery behind the design process can be swept away and reveal the work that goes into such an undertaking.”

Design, at its best, is an amalgam of very directed, purposeful thinking and editing, combined with creative, brave, and insightful exploration. Their post gives a hint of what that looks like from the inside.

I encourage those in decision-making positions at any organization, the typical clients for designers, to appraise a given designer’s work against examples such as this one. There’s a dash of black magic in any creative process, but graphic design is not a wishy-washy thing whose fruits are determined by whimsy and arbitrary flights of fancy. Your designer should be able to articulate, either in writing or in person, the reason(s) for any given decision. If not, consider rethinking the relationship.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind the less-apparent but crucial lesson of Airside’s post: a bulk of the design process is laying out all of the ideas you don’t use, and deciding which ideas those are. This is one of the many reasons I rarely present more than one logo or layout concept to my clients. It’s my job to determine which ones are worth consideration, and to have the foresight to select those that will best achieve their goals. Logo presentations that contain more than one solution often reflect ambiguity in the project goals or client’s directions, rather than an abundance of ideal solutions.

(This story came to my attention via Brand New.)

Adobe InError

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

At this point, Adobe may as well make this InDesign CS3’s official quit dialogue box.

I can count on my hand the number of times in the last month I didn’t see a warning like this one when shutting down for the night. I gather the response to persistent problems like this one is:

“Well, CS4 is out now. Why not upgrade?”

That is not acceptable.

TypeCon 2008: Buffalo

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Punkt TypeCon 2008

It was good to be back. I missed last year’s TypeCon in Seattle, so I was very happy when I purchased my pass and booked my room for this year’s TypeCon in Buffalo. It was my third, and it was great.



Saturday, July 19th, 2008

An inscription in all caps san serif letters on brushed metal that reads: Lubricate in clock oil. Clean in gasoline weekly.

Unusual maintenance instructions found on a Ludlow caster.

When promising your friends and family that you’ll blog every day about TypeCon, it’s easy to overlook the fact that to do so you’ll need to stop having fun and immersing yourself in type and actually sit down and write the damn thing.

I promise, very soon, stuff on my experience at TypeCon in Buffalo. I was up until about 4am last night, so I predict a bit more sedentary activity for me today.

Mixed Bag

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

One of these days, the powers that be in the entertainment industry will realize how valuable a robust offering online will be to their bottom line and their audience share. Until then, we’ll just need to keep an eye out for the more enticing furtive steps in their slow toddle toward the inevitable. As someone who doesn’t have cable and relies mostly on Netflix for their movies, the web is the obvious choice. And, over the last month or so, Hulu has been my destination of choice for TV and movies.


You Can’t Un-see It

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Logos can be the simplest visual end-products that a designer works on, but they are often also the most complicated projects. A logo is typically a spearhead or a flagship for an organization’s branding, so most people have seen thousands of them. They know what they like and they know what they don’t like. They know what brands are powerful and which aren’t. For this reason, it feels very easy to the average non-designer to critique, poke fun at, and speak about logo design. In many ways, this is great. Sometimes the biggest hurdle in a project is a clammed-up client who is fearful of speaking their mind in front of a design professional. In other ways, it can be the designer’s bane, because most people have a skewed view of logo design.


Build Your Own Fonts

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

A screen capture of the FontStruct front page.

Ever wanted to make a quick font? Well, now you’ve got your chance. FontShop just opened up their modular web-based font building tool, FontStruct.

I got a chance to play around with the closed pre-launch version and I can attest to its robustness. I was skeptical when I got the invite, but it does everything it needs to and exports a functional font file to boot.

My only public “fontstruction”, Faketur, is a work in progress containing what I’d call a first shot at the lowercase letters for a blackletter font. It has big spacing issues and some characters in need of intervention, but I plan to keep on adding and tweaking. I’ll likely post when it’s in better shape.

Check out FontStruct. The team did an impressive job for this handy little free web tool. Congrats, guys.

Beat! Beat! Drums! The Whitman Family has Grown!

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

The word Was, shown in Whitman Italic and Whitman Bold Italic, laid on top of each other using semi-transparent colors to show the differences in weights.

One of my favorite type families, Kent Lew’s Whitman, is just about to make the transition from beautiful specialized book face to full-fledged modern workhorse. This is music to my ears.


The Capitol: A Memorial

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

An old metal plate fastened to worn black metal. The plate reads The Capitol, and displays the serial number and size code.

Back in the beginning of the winter of 2007, we had to replace our old furnace. Before the good people at Petro came in and deconstructed it, I took some photos for posterity.


Just HaPPy to Be Here

Monday, February 25th, 2008

A blurry shot of a sign over a news stall at Reading Terminal, which reads HaPPy. The two capital Ps are clearly from another set of letters.

Seen in the Reading Terminal Station.

This news seller clearly got these letters from other sources for bargain basement prices. It drives me crazy every time I see this sign because I know, I know, I’ve seen these letters in a logotype/logotypes before. Anyone have any guesses where these letters originated from? My brain will thank you.