I was at the launch of It's Nice That 4 last night.
Alex and Will did a sort of 'live magazine' where contributors explained their stuff fomr the magazine in short presentations. It worked very well, interesting evening. You should buy a copy.
But I want to talk about colours.
The colours they photograph these magazines on are fantastic. Sure, it's a pretty simple concept, yellow on green. But THAT yellow with THAT green. Awesome.
THAT pink, THAT green, THAT yellow, THAT blue. Really sharp colours that ping out. Every single time. Picking the exact colour, that's a reall skill. A simple thing that makes the world of difference.
Completely unofficial but made with the Guardian's Open Platform it shows all the articles from today’s issue of the Guardian one 'page' at a time, like the physical newspaper. It does nothing else, just that. As Phil says, "Hopefully it’s as easy to browse through today’s newspaper as it would be with the print edition." (Read more about it here.)
I thought it would be interesting to compare a day's newspaper with Phil's site. Purely a visual comparison. And a glanceable visual comparison at that. What does it feel like to flick through both things? Let's have a look.
What do we learn from that?
The thing that strikes me the most are the ads. You really see what a large portion of the newspaper they are. I miss them on Phil's site. I miss the big splashes of colour. That's an odd thing to say. Phil's site does carry ads served by The Guardian, but they are banner ads and the like. And obviously I am advertising-friendly, but they seem to give the paper a sort of rhythm that's missing from the site. Which reminds me of a time a few years ago when a newspaper designer told me it was sometimes easier to design a page with ads on as it gave you somewhere to begin. It took away the blank canvas fear of an empty page.
I doubt if anyone else misses them though.
I have been meaning to review this since Christmas but have only just got round to it. David Airey is probably familiar to most of you, he gets some stick in some parts of the design blog world but he's written a good book that I'd recommend. He deserves credit for it.
Let's start with the "gets some stick" part. If you look hard enough you'll always be able to find someone who doesn't like a thing. In the far corners of the blogosphere you'll find people who look down their noses at bloggers like David Airey. I'm guessing this is because they don't fit into the London-centric design clique. But also a little bit because their work isn't award winning, world famous stuff. I hate that sort of attitude. The design industry is fairly large and only 5% of it consists of the people you read about in Design Week. The rest of it is made up of people doing work up and down the country, designing new identities for new businesses in Newark. Some of this work is good, some of it not so good. But there's also a lot of award winning, world famous agencies doing a lot of bad work.
David Airey is a good designer and in my humble opinion has got better over the last few years since we've come to know him via his blog. He's also a good blogger and a decent chap. So put your preconceptions to one side and let's have a look at this book.
First thing to note, the text is huge. That's a good thing. A design book where you can actually read the text, brilliant. Second thing to note, it's actually quite short. A design book that won't take the whole summer to read. Brilliant!
This book is a comprehensive look at logo design. It's fairly basic and better for that. It's straight forward and easy to understand. As David does on his blog, he backs up his points with lots of photographs and roughs of different stages of logo design. This works really well. Designers talk about how they designed a logo and you get to see the sketches along with their thoughts. That's a rare thing in a design book. And very beneficial to someone wanting to learn about logo design.
The book features work by Lindon Leader, SomeOne and Bunch among other. Here are some logos I liked.
The new version of the French Property Exhibition.
David also talks about his own work, as he does on his blog.
I feel the book will be most useful to someone starting out in logo design, maybe in the first years of a degree course. Or someone who has a basic understanding of logo design and wants to know more but is put off by the big glossy design tomes.
It's full of useful advice that might seem obvious, but isn't. Like this.
There are lots of big famous agencies that don't take that advice.
This is a well put together, well written, comprehensive, manageable introduction to identity design. The design world is better off for this book. If you're in the market for that kind of thing you can buy it here.
"It wasn’t long before I emailed him a PDF containing a large chunk of my book, saying that if Tom was able read it and offer a quote, that I’d need his words by the end of the week. That only gave Tom a few days, so needless to say, I wasn’t hopeful.
Friday passed, and I thought to myself that the book wasn’t something Tom would want to put his name on. That’s fair enough. I’d be equally critical of endorsing someone I knew nothing about on the back of an emailed PDF.
Then on Tuesday Chris got back to me saying, “Tom loved your work and gave what I think, as a book author myself, is a perfect blurb."
Good enough for Geismar, good enough for me.
Another envelope from Stack dropped on the mat today. I love Stack and I love it because it exposes me to things I would never look at any other way. In fact, it's things that I would probably say I hated if you asked me.
I don't hate them of course, it's hard to hate a magazine you've never read before, it's just that I think I'll hate them. Or rather that they're just outside of my normal set of reference, and while that isn't exactly uncomfortable, during our day to day lives we're too lazy to risk doing that.
Stack forces us to do that in an easy, simple, low risk, rewarding way. It's an easy way of doing exactly what you should be doing anyway. It's brilliant. And it's not about me discovering new magazines I like. I don't always like them, but that's not the point. The point is that for 20 mins each month I'm taken somewhere I wouldn't have gone to any other way than via Stack. And for a creative professional that's invaluable.
I know millions of people have written about Stack before but I felt this needed saying again. For those of you who don't Stack is a service that sends you different, random, magazines every month for as little as £24. The one in the pictures is called VNA.
There must be other media they could do this with. Albums would probably be an easy one. TV programmes? Films might be too much investment. Books? I bet James could make Stack for books. Clothes? I'd sign up to a clothes version of Stack. Food?
Michael Bierut has written a brilliant article over on azuremagazine.com called The Lazy Designer’s Guide to Success.
Brilliant because it's funny, true and correct. And because it reinforces what I've thought for a long time and what Dietar Rams said once, "Good design is as little design as possible".
I'd like to reproduce the article in full to ensure you read it. But that's probably wrong. So instead I'll list the headings and ask you all to FOLLOW THIS LINK and read the article.
1. Keep it simple.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel [Part 1].
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel [Part 2]: Rotate the tires instead.
4. Do as you’re told.
6. Once you come up with something, never let it go.
7. Make other people do the work.
All this from the man who last month gave us “Seven Dead Brands of Sleepy Hollow".
Interesting mash up created this afternoon by a bit of haphazard tidying.
It's Nice That and Where's Wally?
We've just spent a very enjoyable hour listening to The Boss and playing with Jeremy's new project We Make Stories.
It's the latest in the excellent We <verb> Stories series and follows on from the multi award winning We Tell Stories. It's a story making thing for 6 - 11 year olds. My kids are younger but they still enjoyed it.
You can build comic books, treasure maps and even a pop up book which you can print out and make pop up! It's really simple to use, a 6 year old could do it alone, and it looks great.
The interactions are nice. Playful, cute and well done.
If you have kids and you're permantly attached to the computer, you should combine those skills and make some stories this weekend. After you've been outside playing with the organic carrots etc etc.
Jeremy found 3 of the designers used in the project via Noisy Decent Graphics. ico who made remixit, comic creator, and Telling Tales. Studio Tonne who made Pop! and Willow Tyrer who made Tom Mouthy.
Further proof that reading this blog can seriously help your career.
I've just had an email from James Pardey who sent me a link to his wonderful website. The Art of Penguin Science Fiction.
Rather than me witter on for ages, let us hand the microphone to James who will witter on for a bit about this fab project.
A few weeks ago I was honoured to be asked by Blogs.com to write a Top 10 for their popular site. I chose to write Top 10 Blogs Important To Designers (That Aren't Necessarily About Design).
Take a look, you might be on the list.
Ages ago I saw a brilliant interview with Mr Chicken. A designer who has created 90% of the Fried Chicken logos in London. Ninety fucking percent.
That interview was over on the CR Blog and is an exert from Siâron Hughes' excellent new book 'Chicken: Low Art, High Calorie'. You should read the interview and then you should buy the book. The blurb says it's an "Honest and charming look at fast food establishments from a design perspective – eatery aesthetic, logos, signage, menus, etc" You don't get that every day.
I'm sorry that the best title I could thinking up was Chicken Graphics. Surely you can do better?
Seriously. There's a little thing on page 5 of the Let's Get Creative supplement that you might like.
UPDATE: The full article is online here.
Posted on Feb 23, 2009 at 10:49 in How To Start Up A Graphic Design Consultancy (Sort Of), Stuff I'm Reading | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
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There's a post in my drafts folder called 'The difference between an advertising business and a design business'. It's been there for over a year. Look there it is.
It's about the differences in the businesses, not the industries. The things an advertising business is good at and the things a design business is good at. It will be a great post. I may never finish it.
But I was reminded of one thing an advertising business is good at the other day. Something design businesses don't ever do properly. (Well, packaging companies sort of do it, but it's different.) Strategy, trends, consumer research, call it what you want. It's looking outside of your field at the wider world and, most importantly, real people. Those last sentences sound very clumsy but you know what I mean.
Luckily for all you designers Piers from PSFK is putting on a brilliant thing called Good Ideas Salon London. You should go. Here's some people from the speaker list.
Jeremy Ettinghausen \ Director of Digital \\ Penguin
Kate Moross \\ Designer
Eva Rucki \ Founding Partner \\ Troika Design
Paul Graham \ Partner \\ Anomaly UK
Kevin Anderson \ Blogs Editor \\ The Guardian
...and 20 or so others. I'd like to hear what all that lot have to say. Wouldn't you?
Lots of agencies are freezing pay but increasing training at the moment. You could do worse than to book a ticket for this and write training on your expenses form. You can buy tickets here.
Whilst we're on the subject. Here's another thing you should do.
Ruby Pseudo is speaking at the above event (that's reason to go in itself).
But you should definitely subscribe to the Ruby Pseudo Chat Chat blog. Ruby Pseudo is essentially a youth consultancy. And a brilliant one. They have a network of over 250 kids and they offer genuine, unfiltered, raw research. "If you want it told like it is, with some very real and useable strategy recommendations, then you have found the right person..." Simon Pestridge said that and he's Marketing Director of Nike UK. So he probably knows what he's on about.
I've just worked with them on a project and it the stuff they provided was superb. And I definitely probably knows what I'm on about.
If you still think the kids wear chambray shirts, dance to Deacon Blue at discos and say "wicked" (like I do) then you should start reading that blog. This post, for example, rounds up 23 brilliant, talented teenage photographers on Flickr . Not two, or five. But twenty three.
Again, as designers we don't really get exposed to this kind of stuff very often. Nowhere near as often as we should, and it's a revelation when we do.
So. Subscribe to Ruby and go to Ideas Salon London.
A while ago Julian very kindly sent me this lovely, wonderful book. For free. As a gift. What a nice man.
It's from 1971, it's a handy Management Guide to Corporate Identity and it's bloody brilliant. Lots of bonkers charts.
Loads of gorgeous stuff in there including Crown, Smiths, Peter Dominic and the British Transport Docks Board. Wonderful. Thanks Julian.
Thankfully they thought of a better title.
I've written an article for a new magazine in the Design Week / Centaur stable. It's called Interiors and it's available in all good bookshops now. Helpfully the article is also available online and you can read it here.
Wednesday saw the release of the first 'real' James Bond book in years. The first as in the first official book, written in the style of Ian Flemming. Officially sanctioned by the International Committee of Flemmings. Trust me, it's exciting news.
I bought a copy. And it occurred to me that it's the first time for a while that I've opted for the thing as opposed to the digital version. You know, audio book, dvd, iTunes etc. So let's take a look at the graphic design of said object.
First up the cover, or more accurately the dust jacket. I don't like it at all. The type is OK. I like the full cap DEVIL MAY CARE. I can't (quickly at any rate) work out what font it is. It's Gill Sans esque, but it's not Gill. The foil embossing works well and it's a decent tight little unit.
The woman / flower graphic is an OK idea, very Bond, but it's badly executed. The two different styles, one for the woman and one for the flower, clash horribly. It's not a seamless segueway. The shapes are nice but they don't seem to work together.
The dust jacket itself is glossy and shiny and doesn't really feel special. Nothing like those little special editions Penguin were doing a few years ago. I don't feel like I'm being rewarded for buying the actual thing. In fact, I binned the cover straight away, much to the chagrin* of my colleagues. I always bin the dust jackets. These days they look shit and they just get in the way. They're cumbersome and besides, the books look so much better without. Don't ya think?
Much better. There's that nice little 007 Penguin logo. I like that. Do you?
There are end papers too, which is a nice change. They're OK.
But, you know what, everything is OK and OK just isn't good enough. Especially when I've gone and bought the actual thing. You'd think that designing the cover for the first official Bond book in years was a dream brief for many a young designer, wouldn't you? And it's for Penguin too! Not good enough.
There are some special editions kicking around and they look pretty decent. This is probably the best one.
That's more like it. I know they can't make special editions for everyone, but they could have copied some of the graphic style.
What do you think?
* Devil May Care joke.