Design is a process

300+ slides

To say I’m excited that Cincinnati now has a Creative Mornings chapter would be an understatement. I have followed the birth of these inspirational get togethers since Tina Roth Eisenberg started them back in 2008. I was even lucky enough to see a few really awesome talks while visiting New York City.

When our chapter was starting, someone put my name in the hat as a potential speaker and I begged off the prospect. I don’t talk publicly very much—I’d only spoke about photos in a bar up in Dayton a few years back—so the notion was anxiety inducing.

But I was bending elbows with my friend Nick Dewald and he encouraged me to reconsider. Sometimes you just need a little push from someone you admire. (Thank you Nick, I offer a most obliged tip of my hat.)

So there was May 17 circled on the calendar and no idea of what I could share.

I started reading books about public speaking. I scoured past Creative Morning and TED Talks looking for a framework. I sought other examples to spur notions.

The task continued by sifting through each chunk of life, trying to glean one thing, some theme, that would lend summary and meaning. Each period ended with a natural transition I felt important to include. As with photos I post in my album, I like to remove the mystery by including the original photograph. I feel like by sharing this, process is revealed.

The day came and a fella asked me if there was anything I needed as I plugged in my computer and got the microphone in place. “A beer would be good,” I joked at 8:30 in the morning. To my surprise he said that it could be done. Perhaps an IPA? He knew me well. (Thanks Eli!)

The talk went on far too long, and I even left a lot out. (In hindsight, I’d cut any of the stuff that didn’t come from personal experience.) But it is what it is, and I managed to “um” and stagger my way through 300 or so slides. I was nervous as heck, and if you stopped by at the podium afterward, I apologize for my clammy handshake.

But the response was genuine and kind, and I appreciate that more than I can articulate.

In preparation to post this, I finally decided to watch the video. If you’ve ever heard a recording of your own voice, you might understand why I never got past the first few minutes. Once I did slog through this past weekend, I was mortified. The movie with slide transitions I sent over to the Cincinnati team was a mess. Nothing lined up. Entire sections were missing. Videos didn’t display. I could blame this on buggy software, but the fault is all my own for not reviewing it before delivery and finding a better solution.

So I remade a movie of the slides in an appropriate format and the kind folks at Creative Mornings re-uploaded it. If you suffered through those 40 minutes prior, I won’t beg you to watch it again, but know that it’s an entirely different experience. Hopefully it mirrors the intention and message.

 

Which brings me to this last bit of realization…

My premise was that design is a process to solve challenges. Not just graphic design problems, but anything in life. If we simply identify something that needs improved, we can begin the task of finding solutions. I truly believe in this.

I spend a lot of my days solving other folks’ problems for work. It’s something I enjoy immensely, but I’m beginning to see that I’m avoiding this ethic for my own life.

So I’m defining some personal goals and taking note of patterns that have repeated over the years. I’m looking deeper at myself, in hopes to strengthen my physical and emotional being. I want to open myself up to new possibilities with dedicated focus.

I have no idea how this will manifest itself, but I’m hopeful.

And I believe in this process I champion.

Now is my chance to prove it.

Not everything is singing you know. The only important thing these days, is rhythm and melody.

An example of the iterative design process.

Squint!

Squinting. It’s how I learned to draw!

OMG, shoes

This advice about shoes also applies to shirts, pants, underwear, coffee mugs, socks, non-perishable foodstuffs and toiletries.

Yeah, you read that right. Beefy.

Above? My list of the things I want to do. Today I’m going to cook bacon for breakfast, so I feel like I’m on track to reach my goals.

12 things, blah blah blah

Here are 12 things I talked about that really don’t mean much without context. I’m not a fan of such lists, but they hold value as a reminder. The funny thing is, I could totally go through each one of these tiles and argue the opposite. In fact, here’s what that’d look like:

The opposites

So there’s all that. If you made it this far? Well, I tip my hat to you for the honor. Now go check out the  Creative Mornings site. It’s chock full of different ways to explore and contribute. It’s beautiful in how quiet and integrated all the details work together. www.creativemornings.com

sharpening up for Layer Tennis

Quality pencils

Gearing up for another round of Layer Tennis this afternoon.

This time I’m hitting the virtual court with that fine upstanding Draplin fellow.

Calling out the play by play will be none other than Dave Cuzner, the man behind another favorite destination online, Grain Edit.

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Fate to Fatal

Kim and Kelley take a break after printing up 1000 limited edition “Fate to Fatal” EPs.

I’m going down to Shake It Records tonight (8pm) to see these fine ladies play some music in commemoration of their release and Record Store Day.

Things have been so pedal-to-the-metal that I haven’t really taken the time to talk about this record. The cover is the first one I’ve ever designed proper, and it’s a helluva an honor to work with The Breeders. Vaughn Oliver’s work with them is one of the biggest reasons I do what I do these days. The fact I love their music? Gravy. The best gravy ever.

Total honor.

If you’re curious how to get the EP on vinyl, it is out there at independent shops on 4/18, then it will likely show up in more places on and offline soon.

out with the new

this is not about the counter top

Finishing up the orange juice, I realized this fabled carton design won’t be around much longer.

When Tropicana moved away from the big-orange-with-a-straw illustration to this sparse treatment, reaction was strong… folks called it generic, unpleasant, backwards, and a slew of other things.

And from a usability perspective, there was some loss for those that shop by color (Khoi has a nice thoughts and collections of both old and new packages on his site)— though I have to admit, I shop by words because I never know what the colors meant.

Some pulp. I just want some pulp.

Anyway, the old carton is coming back.

I’m not trying to be contrary when I say, I kinda liked the new look. Sure the straw in orange was nice, but I liked the simplicity.

This of course, is coming from a guy who goes to Target specifically to buy boxes of tissues that have no designs whatsoever on the outside, just solid color.

I don’t always shop by words.

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Happy

A poster for the new year, by Alexander Bohn

I think the appropriate graphic design response involves the words: kick ass, and awesome.

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I wonder how long this new Pepsi will last…

More swooshy

A fair amount of pixels have been spilled over the new Pepsi rebranding. The mark has even won Top Dishonor from the Brand New folks, while others like it, for what it’s worth.

The more I thought about how I felt about the new identity, the more ridiculous I felt about having any regard or feelings at all.

It’s soda. Headlines declare a financial meltdown threatens the entire planet and here I am considering the choice of thin san-serif.

But feeling I did, and I determined that this makeover is not very manly. What I haven’t determined is if this lack of testosterone is good, bad, or even valid.

It’s definitely hard to imagine a meaty paw at the end of a thick furry forearm reaching for a bottle of this after a hard day of work. But as the retro typeface starts to fade away, maybe there’s a real winner hidden in this rebranding.

Imagine a can with hardly any words at all, just the smiling mark, required ingredients and nutritional information. What’s manlier than no words at all? Feelings are reduced to guttural sounds, arm waving and head nods.

This totally aligns with Pepsi’s Frank Cooper (his title includes VP, portfolio and brands) as quoted in an Advertising Age article about the new look, “We felt like, as we move out of this traditional mass marketing and mass distribution era into today’s culture, there’s an opportunity to bring humanity back, both in terms of the design but also in the way we engage consumers,” he said. “By making the logo more dynamic and more alive.”

I don’t know about all that mass marketing stuff, but the word that sticks out for me is dynamic! Which means the new Pepsi can work with flannel in the lumberyard or on the red carpet with evening-wear.

In the article they speculate on the cost of the new logo (north of a million), to the cost of rolling it out from everything to trucks and vending machines. This entire process of rebranding could top several hundred million dollars.

That sounds like job stimulus to me, which makes me feel better about the whole thing… even the Obama-like “Refresh Everything” campaign.

This probably isn’t the right time to mention my resolution to drastically reduce soda intake in 2009. This decision is independent of any branding measures and purely based on health and wellness.

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Capri Lanes

Dayton, OH

Driving back from breakfast this morning, Dan spied this sign in the distance. It was worth taking the long way home and pulling into the parking lot for a photo or two.

I suppose it lends some balance to the Governours Square sign I posted earlier this week. Both represent styles of design from their respective periods, and have held up fairly well. I favor the Capri Lanes era (they opened in 1959—right on the edge of the sixties, anti-war and civil rights movements.) The lines are dynamic—very different from my own style—but something I respect and enjoy.

Blah blah blah, you see those clouds up there? Yeah, that’s what it’s like outside right now and I’m spouting off about signs.

I’m going to ride my bike.

Current music: Cyndi Lauper “Echo”

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He-Man and the Masters of the Univers

I collected He-Man figures and look what happened to me

So I had this t-shirt concept (above) that’s been brewing for a long while. (You might have seen He-Man make an appearance in this photo of my desk.)

It’s a humorous take on the font Univers (which makes up the background grid with its family of font weights).

The design seemed too limited in appeal so it never came to be, but I still have a deep love for it.

Turns out this pun has legs in other manifestations. Case in point: Swiss Legacy ‘blog brought Mr September Industry’s Cinematography game to view. Essentially a mashup of fonts and titles of things. Fun stuff.

Maybe I should still keep the dream alive and make the tee.

Current music: Beastie Boys “Just a Test”

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Done cut up

I’m putting the scissors and x-acto down now

Check out the Layer Tennis finale, two simultaneous matches:

MATCH A – AND – MATCH B

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Come again?

An egg on toothpicks stretches

There’s talk of bringing pairs of contenders together for the last two Layer Tennis matches. My heart pounds a little harder at the notion.

Something I never shared from the first match is an interview I did with commentator Rosecrans Baldwin.

He asked a slew of questions to get to know each player.
I put all my answers online, where I talk about my inspiration, beard, personal flaws, and equipment.

Current music: Kelley Deal & Sebastian Bach “T.N.T.”

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