Posts tagged graphic design

The news that Apple is trademarking the leaf in its logo has finally led me to acknowledging the ever so subtle hair line crack thats been forming in my undying love for Apple products. My trust in them always was based on thinking “they know best”, and for the most part they did. Even when I initially was unhappy with something they did (although I am still adamantly opposed to the glossy displays). I’m starting to wonder if by “they” I really meant Jobs all along. It seemed like upon his death and release of his biography a little more than a year ago, designers and the like were tripping over each other in quoting him. Any one of his quote could easily be a mantra for designer for at least a week or two until the next trend pops up.
All that said we have the latest OS which eliminated RSS feeds from Mail (annoying) merged all of my Chats into an annoying jumble, the smaller iPad which is a direct reaction to competitors (something Apple never worried about) the whole iPhone 5 Maps issue which now is capable of apparently killing people (see Australia)… and now they want to trade mark the leaf on their logo?
Its one more thing that makes me wonder: would Jobs have done this? Maybe he would have. He did a lot of weird things back in the day. Made some weird mistakes. But this past year has been such a drastic contrast in how Apple is operating I can’t help but wonder…
Back to the leaf. A every so slightly asymmetrical oval with pointed ends hanging on a diagonal. The trademark is for the obvious industries but also for footwear and jewelry. Ironically when I see the leaf by itself it instantly make me think of Adidas. Well, All Day I Dream About Apple taking care of its culture and continuing to make industry defining products and not worry about someone using a diagonal oval on a jewelry box. 

The news that Apple is trademarking the leaf in its logo has finally led me to acknowledging the ever so subtle hair line crack thats been forming in my undying love for Apple products. My trust in them always was based on thinking “they know best”, and for the most part they did. Even when I initially was unhappy with something they did (although I am still adamantly opposed to the glossy displays). I’m starting to wonder if by “they” I really meant Jobs all along. It seemed like upon his death and release of his biography a little more than a year ago, designers and the like were tripping over each other in quoting him. Any one of his quote could easily be a mantra for designer for at least a week or two until the next trend pops up.

All that said we have the latest OS which eliminated RSS feeds from Mail (annoying) merged all of my Chats into an annoying jumble, the smaller iPad which is a direct reaction to competitors (something Apple never worried about) the whole iPhone 5 Maps issue which now is capable of apparently killing people (see Australia)… and now they want to trade mark the leaf on their logo?

Its one more thing that makes me wonder: would Jobs have done this? Maybe he would have. He did a lot of weird things back in the day. Made some weird mistakes. But this past year has been such a drastic contrast in how Apple is operating I can’t help but wonder…

Back to the leaf. A every so slightly asymmetrical oval with pointed ends hanging on a diagonal. The trademark is for the obvious industries but also for footwear and jewelry. Ironically when I see the leaf by itself it instantly make me think of Adidas. Well, All Day I Dream About Apple taking care of its culture and continuing to make industry defining products and not worry about someone using a diagonal oval on a jewelry box. 

The Presenting One Design Theory. Been thinking a lot about this lately… I’m wondering if the very nice rebrand of USA Today by Wolf Olins isn’t an example of a “one design solution” presentation. The new circle logo and its ever expanding graphic language is perfect in its execution and theory. So much so that I could not imagine what the other “solutions” might have been. My guess is you show up with this design and say “your welcome”. Inspiring. 

The Sky Cowboys: Great photo essay/video of the iron workers building the Freedom Tower by Damon Winter. via NYTimes

This past weekend the Iowa State Cyclones matched up against the Iowa Hawkeyes in their annual rivalry game dating back to 1894. I don’t watch a lot of college football but what caught my eye while getting my quick daily dose of Sports Center was the hilarious (in my opinion) story about the Cy-Hawk Trophy. I instantly made a connection to the story of this trophy to something I deal with daily in my graphic design business. Lets start with the trophy…

The original Cy-Hawk trophy was designed in 1977. It depicts a football and a running back in the cliche/classic stiff arm pose. Its nothing special by any means. At best, it has equity built over time to go along with the built in rivalry. In 2010 they retired this trophy and designed a new one. The new trophy depicts a farmer kneeling over a bushel of corn along with a woman and two children. The farmer is handing an ear of corn to the family. It was commissioned by the Iowa Corn Growers Association which I suppose makes sense given the final execution. Dean Taylor, president of the Association said the trophy is, “a work of art that represents Iowans and their hard work.” Thats a really nice sentiment except neither his trophy or what it represents have anything to do with football.

Both teams rejected it and it suffered major ridicule in the local media. Iowa coach Hayden Fry summed it best by saying, “The farmer, family and corn is all wonderful, but I don’t really get the relationship to a football game.” In the end the trophy was scrapped due to negative public opinion. An interim trophy was quickly designed and in a classic bit of irony was accidentally destroyed (pulled together a little too quickly?) by the winning team during the celebration. The new plan is to design a new permanent trophy that will involve public input.

My point is not to share this story, although I enjoyed it, but to point out how some clients often make these same mistakes when working with a designer. It seems to me that the Iowa Corn Growers Association created a design for themselves rather than the client. When you read this story its easy to think how foolish of them to not see this but often times clients will base their direction or feedback on what THEY want and not make any considerations for what the consumer might want. The reasons for this vary: ego, arrogance, ignorance, self-glorification or simply bad taste, which we know there is no accounting for. With any brand we’re trying to design that “trophy” that people, the customer, want to be a part of and own for themselves. That means we all must remember who the client is and have a good idea of what they’re going to want, not just what we might want.

This is where designer/client trust comes in. A designers job is to take the vision of the client and craft a unique brand experience, a worthy “trophy”, that reaches out to a target market and stays true to original client vision. For clients it can be really hard to relinquish some of that control. They feel that no one knows their brand better than they do and therefore they would rather art direct the project rather than collaborate. If this is what you want I would advise hiring a production artist and not getting upset if no one likes the finishes piece other than you. What prospective clients may not realize is that as a designer we know how to take an idea and expand it, add to it, so it becomes an enhanced client vision with a pure intensity defined to communicate effectively to a targeted audience. Thats where trust in a designer’s ability comes in, and its what we’re being paid to do. 

Lets be clear, the design cannot bend fully to make only the consumers happy either. The real tragedy to the Cy-Hawk trophy is that they are now swinging the other way on the pendulum and are going to bring in public opinion to help design the new trophy. This is just as bad as designing something solely for yourself. This approach is an attempt to craft a design that pleases everyone. Usually this leads to a watered down, at best tepid result. If no one really hates it, it’s considered a success. These kinds of clients are just as tricky to work with as the other. They usually have a lot of self-doubt, no confidence, indecisive, and of course no taste. They dread that one bad review. Apple (I know, everyone uses them as an example to make a point these days) is famous for not user testing any of their design decisions. They simply trust their vision and their designers to create something the they think is cool and therefore we get to benefit from purpose driven designs that are advancing technology in leaps and bounds. Does the iPhone look like a design that took into account the opinions of 100 people of varying age, gender and education levels?

In the case of the Cy-Hawk Trophy, after its all over, they will have spent time and money on developing three versions. The first based on pleasing their own tastes. One thrown together really quick simply because they needed something for this year and was subsequently destroyed (designing something with very little time to serve as a band-aid is another story for another time) and the one to be revealed next year which will be the product of many opinions forced into one trophy. Suddenly that cliche running back is looking real good. And, a designer asking “what’s wrong with what you have now” is not a bad starting point in the process of a redesign.

The best end results are the ones were the collaboration between designer and client is open and trusting. I believe getting there is knowing that part of your investment in hiring a designer is buying into their expertise of effective communication. A designer needs to know that their client knows their industry, product, and company best and learns all there is to know from that client. Once there is trust between designer and client they will create a trophy worth winning… or at least paying for. 

I hope for the sake of the Iowa football teams they get something worth winning cause thats what we all really want at the end of the day.

I had little interest in seeing Contagion but this poster for the movie is pretty intense. Type with some pop!

Hobo Nickels: So apparently you can actually carve nickels and people do this? I love this! There’s even an entire society dedicated to it. I don’t know about you all, but I do hope I happen upon one of these one day. More info and via This Colossal

I Like You, But You’re Crazy / Picking Clients: A famous designer once said: “Doing good work with good people will lead to more good work with more good people. Doing bad work with bad people will only lead to more bad work with more bad people” Another famous designer also said, “There are no bad projects.”
Its often hard to decide when to take and when to pass on a project. In a tough economy passing on any job could be a substantial loss of income which is necessary to keeping your business  going. What do you base your decision on? The project itself? The people involved? How much you will be paid?
Each factor is very important. And, given the particular circumstances one may trump the other one time and vice versa the next. I recently accepted a project where the pay was good, the project was good but the people ended up being not so good. When it comes to people there’s no real way of knowing a good relationship from a bad one right away. But in a business where relationships are often times the most important thing its key to develop a quick sixth sense on potential future clients. In this particular instance the client made unreasonable demands that did not respect my own creative process, assumed too many creative decisions on their own and on top of that weren’t afraid to be slightly insulting at times. 
For most people these red flags might scream instantly to “get out”. However, we need to also be realistic in knowing that we’re not always going to enjoy every person we meet. There will be clients who drive us crazy and those who are a true pleasure. So, what it comes down to is, will this project, and this relationship yield a good finished piece. Will they help me promote my business and grow or will I be stagnate on the hours, days and weeks I work to finish this project? Getting a sense of these questions will help determine if the project is right and worth your time. 
I’ve had the good fortune of working with some amazing clients and collaborators. People who are really passionate about what they do and how its created. That foundation has allowed me to see the contrast when I encounter someone who is something less than the qualities you’re hoping for. Often times its quite subtle but when you’re used to a great working relationship your gut will hopefully signal a warning bell, even if its very faint. Listen to it and tread with caution. So far its worked for me and I’ve avoided a disaster or two because of it.
The most rewarding aspect of graphic design for me is creating something for a client that captures their passion for what they do in a visual way. I find that is at its easiest when the client and you are like minded. I’d sooner start redesigning my logo, business card or website in the hopes of finding more of those rewarding experiences than getting paid by someone who will keep that feeling away from me. But maybe thats just me…

I Like You, But You’re Crazy / Picking Clients: A famous designer once said: “Doing good work with good people will lead to more good work with more good people. Doing bad work with bad people will only lead to more bad work with more bad people” Another famous designer also said, “There are no bad projects.”

Its often hard to decide when to take and when to pass on a project. In a tough economy passing on any job could be a substantial loss of income which is necessary to keeping your business  going. What do you base your decision on? The project itself? The people involved? How much you will be paid?

Each factor is very important. And, given the particular circumstances one may trump the other one time and vice versa the next. I recently accepted a project where the pay was good, the project was good but the people ended up being not so good. When it comes to people there’s no real way of knowing a good relationship from a bad one right away. But in a business where relationships are often times the most important thing its key to develop a quick sixth sense on potential future clients. In this particular instance the client made unreasonable demands that did not respect my own creative process, assumed too many creative decisions on their own and on top of that weren’t afraid to be slightly insulting at times. 

For most people these red flags might scream instantly to “get out”. However, we need to also be realistic in knowing that we’re not always going to enjoy every person we meet. There will be clients who drive us crazy and those who are a true pleasure. So, what it comes down to is, will this project, and this relationship yield a good finished piece. Will they help me promote my business and grow or will I be stagnate on the hours, days and weeks I work to finish this project? Getting a sense of these questions will help determine if the project is right and worth your time. 

I’ve had the good fortune of working with some amazing clients and collaborators. People who are really passionate about what they do and how its created. That foundation has allowed me to see the contrast when I encounter someone who is something less than the qualities you’re hoping for. Often times its quite subtle but when you’re used to a great working relationship your gut will hopefully signal a warning bell, even if its very faint. Listen to it and tread with caution. So far its worked for me and I’ve avoided a disaster or two because of it.

The most rewarding aspect of graphic design for me is creating something for a client that captures their passion for what they do in a visual way. I find that is at its easiest when the client and you are like minded. I’d sooner start redesigning my logo, business card or website in the hopes of finding more of those rewarding experiences than getting paid by someone who will keep that feeling away from me. But maybe thats just me…

Country of the week is India: Visiting my site the most this week is the South Asian country of India. In honor of their visits I want to give a shout to @pardonmyhindi. Pardon My Hindi is a western brand exploring and reinterpreting Indian culture through various mediums. 
Their blog is rich with information, sounds and visuals that draw both obvious and unexpected connections between Western pop-culture and the influence of Indian culture. It will not disappoint anyone looking to have their eyes opened just a bit. 
Be sure to check out their store, lots of fun stuff there.

Country of the week is India: Visiting my site the most this week is the South Asian country of India. In honor of their visits I want to give a shout to @pardonmyhindi. Pardon My Hindi is a western brand exploring and reinterpreting Indian culture through various mediums. 

Their blog is rich with information, sounds and visuals that draw both obvious and unexpected connections between Western pop-culture and the influence of Indian culture. It will not disappoint anyone looking to have their eyes opened just a bit. 

Be sure to check out their store, lots of fun stuff there.

I always say “Oh-h…thanks!” when I get handed a LifeSaver.

I always say “Oh-h…thanks!” when I get handed a LifeSaver.

Life Savers circa 1945. What exactly is going on here? Via Buzzfeed

Life Savers circa 1945. What exactly is going on here? Via Buzzfeed