Category Archives: Typography

Reflections of the 2013 AIGA Design Conference

I have never been to a design-only conference. Before this AIGA 2013 Design Conference I’ve always had a good excuse. Not enough time. Not enough money. It’s too far. After attending the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) in Minneapolis, hand on heart, I will never make those excuses again.

More than 1,800 professionals and students came from all across the country to the Minneapolis Convention Center, one of the largest in their 100-year history. Being surrounded by a lot of talented people reminds me why being a designer is the best job on the planet.

Designers were here

How can you tell you’re in a room with designers? Many empty coffee cups. And this was at 4pm.

Before I arrived, I set out some goals for myself before attending more than 16 sessions and listening to 50 different speakers. First and foremost, to recharge.

Being a designer requires a lot of self-care and nurturing. Reading blogs, thumbing through industry and design magazines and even walking to work provide a tremendous amount of stimulation. But nothing compares to being in a room with 1,800 designers. I tell you, it’s a great way to focus.

Parts of this year’s sessions were specifically designed for educators. And although I am not a teacher, my second goal was to boost my abilities as a mentor, one of the most components of being an Associate Creative Director. I wanted to be a better mentor not only to fellow designers but also my peers.

Finally, a design conference isn’t complete without some speeches from true legends. Their words of wisdom and their presentation style have always helped me be a well-rounded designer and leader. And I was blown away: Eric Baker, George Lois, Kurt Andersen, Danny Yount and Aaron Draplin to name but a few. These legends are key individuals from diverse worlds: corporate, design, motion graphics, and sustainability.

In honor of the conference theme I have nugget from each of the 50 speakers I heard from and placed them into the three words representing this year’s theme.

Excited beyond belief

HAND

Suzanne Powney of Mississippi State University and Roselynn Newton of Texas State University have incorporated letterpresses in their coursework. Because so many people are visual learners, the interactivity helps the content sink in. This really got me thinking about the role of computers in our work. I am an avid sketcher and for it I feel more connected to my product. As we move more toward digital, I am reminded not to forget my roots. (It also reminds me to start saving money for a letterpress.)

My very first letterpress

I made this myself! (Just added that magenta 0, really.)

HEAD

Jennifer Kinon and Bobby Martin Jr of Original Champions of Design (OCD) based in New York also reinforced something we do every day at the CBD: “Strategy and design are inseparable.” At OCD, there are no dedicated account managers, strategists or production managers. They do it all are from start to finish. I find that it’s a wonderful way to stay engaged. Using the two halves of the brain give you effective communications that really do make a difference.

OCD

HEART

Eve Claxton of StoryCorps presented “Stories and the Art of Persuasion”. A writer presenting to designers? Absolutely. Designers are storytellers and gave me some great insight into telling a good story. She showed us this scene from Mad Men,

then dissected it into these five tips:

  1. Make it personal
  2. Keep it short
  3. Tell the story in a sequence
  4. Include rich details, but avoid jargon and clichés
  5. Stay focused

If you couldn’t be there, take a look at my key takeaways in this SlideShare presentation:

Taking still images to video

One of my co-workers asked for our help in coming up with some examples of how to take still images to video. So my coworker Kim and I came up with a quick list. Thought it’d be nice to share with everyone looking to do the same thing.

“Ken Burns Effect Demonstration”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNTiyRDhlRY[/youtube]

“Moving Pictures”

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/2362167[/vimeo]

“Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY[/youtube]

“Dark Knight Kinetic Typography”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RL2IIpNkSKs[/youtube]

“Photo Effects for Video 10″

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/13920529[/vimeo]

“Make Any Photo Look 3D”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brgJHkqkdcY&feature=related[/youtube]

“Italian Deli After Effects Photo Animation”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfYQ-Cp7atw[/youtube]

United + Continental = :(

I am not thrilled about the UAL and Continental merger. For one I have a deep love for Continental because of extensive reading and a true sense of what they’re about. So I was struck with mixed emotions at the corporate merger. But we shall see what happens next.

However their new logo leaves me NO mixed emotions: it’s garbage. The literal combining of the two logos and opting to keep the decidedly-older looking Continental over United’s recent update is just pure laziness and uncalled for in this age.

I have a feeling this was branding by committee to make everyone feel that it’s a merger. But it seems like two mobile homes tacked together with duct tape, plywood and leftover drywall nails. Instead they should’ve created an all-new logo, which would’ve reinvigorated the two companies instead.

Time will tell and I sure hope I’m wrong.

Keeping warm, carrying on in Wicker Park

I have been seeing adaptations of the “Keep calm and carry on” posters all over the city. According to Wikipedia, these were never produced. Instead their resurgence has been as recent as 10 years ago.

It seems a fitting mantra for me as a Buddhist and for everyone these increasingly unpredictable times. I admire its message but also the timelessness of the design and the typography. A quick search on the Interwebs reveals that P22’s Underground Pro is the closest font. Gorgeous.

If this is all too serious, check out this site instead.

Helvetica cookie cutters

Christmas is over, but it’s never too late for cookies. These cookie cutters are great fun and should be used for any occasion.

IDEO Labs

Great ideas are made of these
Who am I to disagree!

Not quite the lyrics, but since school I’ve been a huge fan of IDEO. They have a labs section, which begs the question: why doesn’t everyone who’s a creative have a labs section? Check out their work and enjoy! Do you have a creative playground on the Interwebs?

Image: IDEO Labs

Mission to Mars graphic [Info Graphics]


This is a GORGEOUS example of information graphics. Very easy to read, but it’s important also to sort out exactly what you’re trying to say. In this case the author (in my opinion) is trying to tell us the rate of success and the type of mission, not necessarily the name (as that’s secondary but also present). Beautiful work, guys! Check out the full-size version on the Gizmodo site.