Ham & Turkey Dinner

Roadside handlettering on the way to work

I’ve mentioned my typography teacher back at Ohio State once or twice.

She used to get migraines whenever she walked down the street and encountered bad letter-spacing.

I think the sign above might very well give her a full blown aneurysm.

Me? I like it when all the rules are broken. I particularly like the margins employed. [ VIEW WHOLE SIGN ]

Current music: Radiohead “Nude”

Categorized as Design

43 Folders

and a bunch of index cards

The first words Merlin Mann said to me were, “I don’t want to keep sucking your cock,” and for a brief second I thought there was no reason to continue our breakfast meeting…

“But I love everything you do.” he continued, after pregnant pause.

This man has genius comic timing.

Backstory: Merlin and I met years ago when we were teenage girls on LiveJournal. He caught glimpses of his hometown through my photos and I lapped up every stream of content he poured online. He’s since opened the floodgates and it’s hard to keep up with the fella.

We finally met-for-reals-yo at a greasy spoon when I was in San Francisco a while back. I would link to a vacation gallery but sorting through 10 days of photos is a lot more involved than sorting through 36 hours of photos.

Spent the meal chatting it up about lenses and gadgets, notecards and notebooks, binderclips and people, our personal process and the general whoa over this technology that is hookin us up.

Once the bill was paid, Merlin had some time to kill between meetings so we walked around The City (which I should mention, I like to pronounce with Thurston Howell III clenched teeth – MP3).

We talked a bit about 43 Folders. For those that don’t know, Time Magazine has called this one of the top 10 websites in the universe, or something to that effect. In their words, the site “offers tips for organizing both your digital life and your analog one.”

One thing led to another, and when I got home I worked up some visual concepts. Some evolutions and a team of ninjas from RoopleTheme deftly translated the sketches into real, working stuff with Drupal. Without their help the whole process would not have been near as fast or as painless.

Refinement continues, but that’s just part of the neat thing about what Merlin does; he keeps adding, subtracting, experimenting, and most importantly, sharing.

It’s good stuff, and I’m super happy to lend a hand.

No idea where to start? Inbox Zero is a trove of info if you wrestle with managing email. And I’m not just saying that because Merlin’s wearing a Tii-shirt in the video.

Postnote: Thanks to M’s colorful language, I’m fully prepared to be banned from Panera WiFi.

Current music: Western State Hurricanes “Unsalted Butter”

Categorized as Design

CBS, 2007

Branding the CSI Network

If I am to believe the wikipedia, and I usually do, William Golden was inspired by Shaker design when he crafted the CBS eye symbol back in 1951.

It’s nice to see how well this ol Eyemark has held up over the years.

Of mild interest is to see the call letters becoming more important. With web addresses and the tiny real estate of onscreen menus, this makes fine sense.

Also interesting is how the treatment reflects the design style (or software) of any given period. If that’s any indicator, it appears we’re getting back to the excess of the 80’s. Gnarly.

Me? I’ll be happy when this treatment is filed away and replaced by something with a less heinous “S.”

Current music: Tegan & Sara “Are You Ten Years Ago”

Categorized as Design


The Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit

Screening of the Helvetica flick down in Cincinnati tonight—made all the more special with an introduction by DAAP grad Michael Bierut (wiki, Design Observer, a snapshot from the night).

The movie? Most excellent. Just the right amount of history, real world examples, well chosen music, and a slew of design luminaries that describe their experiences with the ubiquitous font—pro and con.

Got me to thinking about my relationship with type. I’ve no real allegiance, though I’ve a fond spot in my heart for Univers. I fall in that category where I don’t like to fret too much about fonts—there are always other things to worry about (like content for instance.) Then the web throws in that wrench of what’s installed on machines.

A dozen fonts you’d always found installed on my computer? (in no order)

Univers, Thesis (serif and sans), Trade Gothic (Naz inspired this addition), Helvetica (the whole family), Lubalin Graph (or some such slab serif), Futura, Interstate, Avenir, Bookman (complete, love the swash, seldom use it), Silkscreen, and sometimes but not-so-much – VAG rounded.

Man, I’m boring. I need to branch out.

Current music: Say Hi To Your Mom “Poor Pete Is A Bit Self Conscious”

Categorized as Design

Nice package

with fake plastic tree

I keep buying shampoos and liquid soap thinking that some magic will happen and my hair will shine and my skin will become awesome, yet manly. I’m also waiting for magic SPF that I can apply in the shower with body wash.

None of that happens, but that hasn’t stopped me from creating stockpiles of this stuff. Somehow the shampoo or soap runs out and I have to fill the bottles with water to make it last until I get around to buying more—yet I have like 5 full things of conditioner always on hand.

Anyway, I saw this Every Man Jack stuff at Target and was taken aback by the design of the bottle. I’d go so far as to say it’s the most masculine bottle of perfumed body wash I have ever seen.

It’s too pricey, much like that Choxie brand of chocolates. The bottle is awkward, stingy, and hard to use. The signature fragrance needs more punch or tingle — maybe some caffeine. But man that faux wood plastic cap and clean type treatment is nice.

Current music: Earlimart “Color Bars”

Categorized as Design

Swamp Holly Orange

a snapshot from California

I posted a better(ish) photo of a Yellow (transportation) truck back in 2005, and it was then I learned from my friend Jason that:

Yellow commissioned DuPont to determine what color was most visible from the greatest distance for the fleet. After careful research, DuPont presented a color, dubbed “Swamp Holly Orange.” And so the company named Yellow had an official color—orange—the safest color on the road.

I noticed a change in their identity recently. It’s kinda less orange and more web 2.0.

I felt compelled to share this now because if I try and whip out the camera on the freeway one more time to try and catch one of these trucks, I’m going to wreck.

Current music: not Coldplay

Categorized as Design

Meijer logorot

hypermarket shuffle

I figured I’d document Meijer’s almost-a-rainbow old logo, before they bring around the new extra patriotic one:

I’ve no insight as to the specifics behind the identity change (the Brand New blog does a good job with that sort of thing), I can regurgitate marketing speak from the new logo guidelines:

The Meijer identity is a foundational component of our brand. It has been designed to represent the energy of our company.

That first sentence makes no sense, and I’m not sure the new wordmark evokes energy. I do think it’s hilarious they call the dots over the i and j “joy dots” in the style manual. (PDF)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see circles in PMS 286C, I get happy.

Current music: Beastie Boys “Dramastically Different”

Categorized as Design

Making Happy

Replacement graphic for NYC subway signage

The above graphic is not my idea. I merely recreated it.

Like when I was a kid tracing the Sunday funnies—I always thought if I practiced enough, the magic would sink in and I could do it on my own.

Post note: The art was made by TRUE. Here is more information about this work. (hat tip @jth)

Right after posting in the wee hours of the morning, I consumed my smorgasbord of daily feeds hoping to wind down and get some sleep.

I came across a link to Stefan Sagmeister’s presentation at TED more than once—and it lingered in a back tab of my browser waiting to be fired up. Usually this means I’ll get overwhelmed and just close everything down, but it took two reputable reads (Swiss Miss and Greg Storey) to force me to carve out the 15 minutes to watch it.

Here is the video: TED Talks – Stefan Sagmeister: Yes, design can make you happy
[ also note, I think the TED site design is the cat’s whiskers ]

If I collected all the funny YouTube I go through in any given period of time and channel it in to something else, I could actually, probably, learn something and enrich my life. Kill your television. Yada yada yada. That’s not the point here.

The point is, I really enjoyed Stefan’s talk and I’m glad this material is available online.

If you don’t have the time to watch it, here’s a list from Sagemeister’s diary:

Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.
Being not truthful works against me.
Helping other people helps me.
Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
Everything I do always comes back to me.
Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
Over time I get used to everything and start taking if for granted.
Money does not make me happy.
Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
Assuming is stifling.
Keeping a diary supports my personal development.
Trying to look good limits my life.
Worrying solves nothing.
Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
Having guts always works out for me.

Good stuff.

Categorized as Design

wonderful album art

[ +zoom ]

It’s not often I linger long on ‘album’ art these days, with pixels and all scrolling about, but this is a fine exception crammed into 4 and three quarters squared.

The CD is “Friend or Foe” by Menomena (sample MP3 track “Wet and Rusting“) and the awesome cover in regard was illustrated by Craig Thompson.

The disc isn’t pictured, but it provides another sublime layer through the die cuts when in place.

I’ll reserve judgement on the music until I can give it a few spins. I’m currently hearing some whistling, so it’s promising. And this is why I do not write music reviews.

Current music: Menomena “Boyscout’n”

Categorized as Design

Adobe’s new icons

For the photographers out there and pushers of pixels, you likely heard that Adobe released a beta of Photoshop right before the new year.

Its biggest feature is that it runs natively on Intel Macs. The other major change is that it sports a new application icon. It’s part of a much bigger scheme to play across the entire Adobe family—every app gets two letters and a color code. This is a big shift for Adobe which traditionally associated applications with abstract representations like eyeballs, feathers, and shells.

As I write this, I realize how completely uninteresting this topic may seem.

My knee-jerk reaction after installing the beta? Ew, that temporary icon must go. Then I added this new system of icons to the old Macromedia programs I currently use daily to make the picture more complete.

And what did I find out after using this icon language for several weeks? They work great.

Yup, they perform just as I would imagine. Clicking on an icon opens the program, dragging a file over the generous hit area works too. I’m not colorblind so finding the right application is a breeze. It’s uncanny.

And yet, I still don’t like them. (Well, Adobe Reader I like all around, but that’s not the issue).

So I’m left to toil using something that works perfectly fine, but feels empty. I’d create an analogy to GM cars, but I loved my Geo Metro.

Bonus current music video link: Patti LaBelle “New Attitude” on YouTube

Categorized as Design