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lately I’ve been encountering a lot of what I’d call creative elitism in the design community both online and around town. I know there’s always been the stereotype of the guy in the black sweater with his goatee and retro glasses ( I like my retro style glasses thank you very much.) But I’m a bit concerned about how some designers feel like they are a cut above everyone else. Don’t you remember those groups in school that looked down on everyone because they were the self appointed cool kids well surprise it apparently has continued on into adulthood just new titles. The idea that a designer is somehow entitled to look down on other people or to look down at their clients or that they have the only answer and won’t listen to others is ridiculous. That’s throwing up walled fences around their little now gated community and the only way to make things better is everyone working together not some sort of trickle down economics of creativity. Putting yourself in a creative elitists class isolates and chips away at that passion of what you loved about design to begin with. Your client or that guy you met working the coffee shop is most likely just as creative as you but in totally different areas of interest just because they can’t pick pantones or fonts doesn’t make them any less of a person that you. We only have a short time on this planet and God gave you a gift to use your brain creatively for visual design or illustration so don’t get arrogant because as soon as you do you’ve stopped growing as a designer and worst of all as a human being.

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deck stools

1. DeckStools

made from recycled skatedboards with it’s own weathered look that comes natural from the wear and tear it the pieces went through ($150)

Gig Posters

2. Gig Poster Book

Chronicles many great piece of rock show art from the 21st century. I think some of the most creative and unique artwork is being done on the rock promotion scene these days. Also features easy pull out pages so you can hang them on the wall. ($50)

3.Marqueee Alphabet Lights

Ever want a giant letter over your office desk? Well here’s your chance to make it a big show. Might be a bit expensive to spell out your whole name though so pick your favorite letter carefully. ($178)

4. Zoku Quick Pop Maker

Now you can create your own customized frozen pops, including cream-filled varieties, in as few as seven minutes. The nonstick cast-aluminum molds have a proprietary solution sealed inside their bases to enable rapid, uniform freezing – no electricity required. ($50)

blik-decals

5. Bilk Threadless Wall Graphics

Get some of those sweet Threadless t-shirt designs on your walk with Bilk Wall Graphics. These are giant stickers so peel carefully:)

typeselector

6. Type Selector

If you’re familiar with the Pantone color guide and can’t imagine working without it at your desk and in presentations and meetings, have you ever wondered why there’s not an equivalent tool for fonts and typefaces? ($35)

7. Photoshop magnets

your fridge is now your biggest workspace screen ever with these unique photoshop interface magnets. ($18.75)

House Book

8. House Ten Year Book

Retro is in baby! House Industries is one of my favorite font foundries who also do some unique merchandise using their font products. Yeah I know they say this book is sold out but get on the list to get one and check out the other books and fonts and goodies they have. (unavailable pricing)

coaster

9. Type Coasters

Stylish and hip for that typography lover in your family. serif fonts sans coffee drink. ($45)

500 color pencils

10. 500 color pencils

get 25 new color pencils every month in the mail until you get the full 500 collection with this fun subscription service. Good luck finding a place to put them all but what an amazing collection to have. Seems like they covered the whole pantone collection on these. ($30 a month for 20 months)

with all this corn...he needs more brand.

With all that corn...he's gonna need some more brand in his diet.

 

You know as a web designer nothing is more disheartening then working on a website that has a truly horrible logo and accompanying outdated marketing materials. Usually it’s a bad hand drawn of artwork or something that looks like it was rushed out by a highschool kid with his first PC. It’s not just that it makes designing so much more difficult to work around that sore spot but you get so frustrated because you know that small business or organization is doing some great things and their visual identity quite frankly says the opposite. Often the client is like “well we’ve had that logo for 30 years, it’s what people know us for, but we want a website that really shows us as leaders” Do you see the disconnect? They want a great website that really reflects their amazing organization but they never looked at a root problem, their brand and more specifically the anchor that is their visual identity. They almost feel personally attached to it and it’s human nature to oppose change even for the better.

Listen, it’s time to let that 70’s disco inspired abstract symbol with the courier font to go to pasture. It’s not what your company is…it may have been what your company was when everyone in your office was in leisure suits smoking cigarettes and drove without seat belts but this isn’t who you are any more nor how you want to be portrayed. Your competition is utilizing social media, is taking fresh approaches in how they market themselves and you continue to trudge along in the trenches not realizing your getting passed by everyone else. It’s time to set yourself apart and take your branding to the next level.

Your brand needs to have a strong visual identity that not only can reach out to your existing customers and potential new customers but your own employees as well. It solidifies your direction and connects the points in the intangibles ways about  describing your business, it’s energy, it’s advantages. It helps create brand loyalty among your customers. Just remember you need a great business/product or the logo is just lying. the new brand has to be truthful and open just like your business has to be.

Since I’ve been doing logo design in tangent with developing an online presence, I’ve seen clients renewed and energized about their business again. They love being involved with the creative process of creating a logo and more importantly clearly laying out what their business is about and how it should be represented. My job as a designer is just to focus that and make it easily communicated visually. I’m not saying every business needs a logo redesign but I think a lot of companies could use a brand makeover. It might not be redesigning their logo but sometimes an evaluation of a business goals and direction can unmask some unforeseen problems in their visual identity that can be tweaked. Even if its font usage, colors or simple thematics around it which can better support their logo both in their print materials and the web. In the end a company or business that is excited about what they’re doing makes the world a little better in my opinion. I’m glad I can try to help in that.

 

I love Threadless. I hope to someday submit a few of my own designs to their site, but in the meantime I’ll just pretend I designed these ones instead.

zoom

bike

foxplanedonateshotgunowned1747-minizoombadguyszombydonkey

Is this the potential of pure design function over aesthetics

Is this the potential future of pure design function over aesthetics sensibilities

Apple is leading the pack when it comes to the industrial design but I’m wondering where they can really take the design direction next? The ipod has become a super thin piece of aluminium…very sleek, powerful and caters to absolute usability but how can you change the design now? They’ve continuously stripped away elements down to the core aesthetics and I don’t see how they can improve on it aesthetics-wise. Johnathan Ives must be sitting around twittering his thumbs. I’ve seen this is design approach across multiple markets. Furniture design like that from IKEA emphasises minimal aesthetics and pure functional form but doesn’t it just seem a little sterile? Minimal font usage on simple stark backgrounds, commercials with just a white background? So is good design merely a result of great useability or do we run the risk of creating boring sterile environments and products akin to living in the land of THX 1138 as seen above? When I visit antique stores and look at the old advertising and wood crafted furniture there’s a totally different type of care and craftsmanship that went into these products. hand drawn, painted intricate designs that obviously took tremendous amount of time and care. This level of detail and intricacy in design we just don’t see anymore today when you can just use a computer and crank out something. While I definitely appreciate the pure design forms and simple usability focus at the same time miss a time when craftsmanship and artistic expression was more in focus. It could just be the artist in me.

portabletoaster01

Sure it’s just a prototype but this goes to show someone taking something we are completely familiar with and creating an innovative new approach. Love that it has a graphical representation on the back showing how well toasted it is. Taking the ordinary and making it unique, that’s creative genius.

There’s practicality issues though for this in real world use. One is how you do you toast both sides evenly and not burn your hand. This would definitely not be useful for kids as they’d probably set the house on fire along with the dog. Also people like doing less work with fewer steps so that while this offers the ability to see the toasting occur most people would prefer to just stick it in metal slot and walk away then come back. no moving their hands across a bread surface. Maybe if it dispensed butter at the same time that you’re saving people that big hassle of actually taking out a knife and spreading butter? Wow our society has gotten lazy.

book

Great design is the best means of building an indirect relationship with your customers and giving them value with your service. It encompasses everything about your business and how it interacts with the client not simply the aesethtic treatments and it should be honest and authentic and demonstrate a company’s core values. Remember that your employees are  just important as your customers. How do they perceive themselves as contributing to the customer and to bettering their own life experience as part of your organization? 

This approach has to be engrained with everyone in the company from the top down as a primary strategic approach of your business. It’s the responsibility of everyone not just the designer to creates an enriching customer experience. It doesn’t happen overnight and you continue to have to fight for the quality of design across the board. Listen to your designers because they are the people who best can help you understand the human element in your market and how to connect to your customers needs in unarticulated ways on emotional levels.

Just look at how your clients respond to designs. This is an emotional connection. Design can uncover  new markets or client needs you weren’t even aware of. Give your designers the time and ability to experiment and even fail as long as they’re moving forward. If we look to learn rather than just being right than we’re already succeeding. It’s not something you can quantify in a spreadsheet  but it can truly transform your business into a leading powerhouse of creative ingenuity and a successful design culture.

 

concentrated creativity

concentrated creativity?

I get asked this questions a lot  “Where do you come up with all your design ideas?” It’s almost as if they expect I put on a medical patch like a nicatine addict that allows me to be creative for just 8 hrs on a time release dosage. If it were that easy, I’d certainly put a patent on it and would be living off it’s royalties by now. No it’s not that simple, creativity at it’s core is an influence of everything around us, our culture, our experiences, what we see in media, nature and most importantly the influence of other people. 

I think some designers look for this pure creative aspiration in some sort of isolation bubble hoping the solution will suddenly appear on their screen like magic. In realty the design idea might come to when you’re out at the dentist while your getting your teeth cleaned. It might come to you right before you fall asleep (always good idea to have a notepad next to the bed for such occasions) or you might not think of anything for a couple of days and then it just suddenly hits you when you’re out at lunch. You may gain a whole new perspective from talking again to the client or to your co-workers. It’s not quantative process that will suddenly give you an amazing result each time. It’s more iterative process where you look to improve upon your smaller creative concepts.

Look at other great designs and artwork, don’t copy them but gain inspiration from them. Try to figure out what their though process was in why they did certain things and what it tried to accomplish. Why did they choose this particular font? Why did they layout the text in a certain way? Also see what others have done wrong and figure out how you might do it better. Learn from their history, those are some of the greatest moments of innovation that may cause your own creative chain reaction. Remember you’re not just an artist, you’re a problem solver whose weapon of choice is graphic design so do your research. Learn about the business, learn about your client, and learn about the world around you. You’ll have more to draw from and will be a less frustrated designer from doing so.

 

graphic designerd

graphic designerd