Wednesday, December 10, 2008

End of Semester

I just wanted to mention that I enjoyed taking this course. It was nice to have a class based specifically on the history of Graphic Design. It was a change of pace to focus on design and typography, rather than how perfectly painted a piece of art is. It was easier for us to connect with the material, and it directly related to our field. I certainly think that this class, combined with the other art history classes has really broadened our knowledge, and will help us in our career. I am looking forward to next semester in Graphic Design History II!

AIGA posters

For anyone in laurie's type class, I thought you might want to see what the poster designs actually are for this year's AIGA events as compared to the ones we designed in class. These are all for this year's exhibits except for the 50 books/50 covers which is from 2006 because they don't have their new design yet. I think this exhibit is actually the most creative because each year they have a new, unique way of displaying the art. As you can see, my example is one where they hung them in plate holders and had a kitchen theme. If you go to AIGA's website and search these events, you can see all the themes from the previous years. Oh and also the circle's with photos in them is from the Everday Design exhibit. I also think we should take a senior trip next year and go see one these in NY :) It would be the best way, to me, to really experience today's contemporary art. Just like we went in person to see and feel the books at Wash. U., the professional work would have a much better impact in person rather than on screen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Meanings of Type

I read the article "The meanings of type" and it gives a little more historical reference and meaning to designers if they have ever wondered why specific typefaces are chosen for assignments or pieces, or why we are “drawn” to some typefaces rather than others. These two quotes sum it up for me: "type design and typography are routinely informed by conscious and unconscious contexts that change with time." This is how our conscience knows which elements of a design work together. For example it gives the historical context of blackletter and psychedelic type and contemporary designers of today know these types send messages subconsciously because they were used for Nazi design and “free love” movements.  The Espers image is a good example of contemporary design using 60’s type that works because it promotes a Folk Film Festival in Philadelphia. “Practical and commercial motivations prevail but social and political rationales are never far away" is the second quote that I think serves a clear message. You have to think about the product and “making it sell” but the social and political references you might be making by choosing typefaces is also important and you don’t want to send mixed messages. That is also why it is important to be universal because different cultures see things differently.

Source:, Issue 50, article author Steven Heller, image:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Birth of the User"

If I understand Ellen Lupton's article correctly, it makes perfect sense. As designers we are to design for the user of what we are creating not just some joe-blow who descided to pick up that particular item and read it. Or the writer who just fills in all the information.

You might be thinking, "well duh!" I knew what I was designing and who I wanted to target. But was I actually designing for them? Was I going to reach the audience I wanted to or was another going to like it?

First and for most the user is the number one person. And in return we as designers get feedback and information on our users/audience, whether its in the younger crowd (teens to mid thirties) or the older crowd (60+) and anywhere in between.

Monday, December 1, 2008 is Charles S. Anderson's Website. After hearing about him in class, I was excited to go home and check out his website. I was impressed by his work, but let down by his site. Since I am studying Web Design along with this class, I noticed some things that didn't seem right with his site. The navigation was very confusing, and there were a few inconsistencies. Upon first glance, his site looks clean and nice. Once I decided to click on icon design, I had no idea where to go next. I had no clue what I had to do to view all of his icon designs, or how to see the next one. I became frustrated, and decided to click a different link. As I scrolled back to the top of the page, my cursor ran over this weird looking graph on the right side, and all of a sudden a new image popped up of an icon design. I then realized that you had to scroll over the cells to view his other icon designs. Honestly, I did not think this was very user-friendly or effective. In Web Design we learned that the viewer should never have to think, where do I go next, or how do I view this? It should be straight-forward, or they will get frustrated and leave, like I was about to do. As far as inconsistencies go, some pages had the text contained in the overall shell of the website, on a few other pages, the same type of text was extending out past the page. I don't think this was intentional. If this were a student's website, I do not think anyone would hire them based upon the layout of the site. It may turn them away because the student didn't care about the presentation of their work, even though the work itself was great. I just feel like the site could have been thought through a little bit more. I posted an example of the graph on his site above. The other image refuses to upload, but I will keep working on it.

David Carson

"Never mistake legibility for communication." ~David Carson

I find it remarkable that Carson self taught himself and has come to be such a popular face in the graphic design field. His work (second picture) evokes so much information in just one space. Your eye is drawn to the larger letters to say "it's your world", although some letters are lost in the background, it is still legible. Obviously sticking to his quote.

The first picture is like Carson's work, I believe with a more modern spin and seems to be only for display rather than communication. There is no type, but I get an urban feel from it. With the metal from what seems to be the side of a railroad car, arrows representing street signs, and graffito that is normally found on railroad cars. It uses the same range of appealing colors, but in a more modern way.

Pictures are from: and

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Russian designs comparison

Russian design after the Bolshevik Revolution (collage to the left) utilized shapes, elemental forms, and emotional color. Visuals filled the layout and were the dominant element (with little type included) so that the message could be accessible to all (even the illiterate could understand the message). The purpose for art at this time in history was mainly politically-centered. The government owned everything and designs were created to propagate the socialist ideals. The Russian's avant-garde art was "a composite of antagonistic groups, each with its own aims; Symbolism, Cubo-Futurism, Rayonism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Productivism, Concretism, and Engineerism were all invented to prove that a minority of the experimental artists were correct and the overwhelming majority wrong" according to art historian George Costakis. Contemporary Russian design, on the other hand (examples above), is more expressionist and free. The works reflect "the major current of Russian alternative culture and describe the history of independent, or “non-conformist,” art processes and movements from the 1960s to the present". Curators Marat Guelman and Juan Puntes also state that "people and the art world in Russia from the 1960s onwards, experienced a period of slow, gradual but real thaw, a defrost of three quarters of a century’s cultural freeze that happened not in a single decade, but over several decades, culminating in the period of the 1990s known as Glasnost." The social and political context at the time of both of these "movements" was the main motive for the creation of the artist's art. It was their driving force and has yielded countless, enduring works of art.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Good Design is Good Business"

The quote "Good Design is Good Business" was mentioned in class, and it is something that I firmly believe. Thomas Watson first said this in the 1950's. He was the American President of IBM. Design has grown drastically since then, and I think more and more companies are starting to agree with Watson. The most successful of companies have strong corporate identities, and branding that remains consistent. A good example of a strong identity is in the recent election. Barack Obama invested a lot of money in developing an identity for himself. He used it consistently everywhere his name showed up, whether it was on his website, bumper stickers, television commercials, advertisements, etc. And he ended up winning the presidential election! Of course, this was not the only reason that he is going to be the next president, but his branding was very appealing, and i think it grabbed the attention of the younger voters. I certainly think it helped him a lot! Apple is another good example. Their iPod ads using the black silhouettes of people dancing while listening to their iPods have grabbed the attention of many. The great ads, combined with the great design of their products has lead them to be the leading seller of music players across the globe. 

If you go to any major companies website, 9 times out of 10, you will see a strong corporate identity usually through use of color and a logo design. I think it is hard for anyone to take a company seriously that has a sloppy website and poor design. Good design is Good Business.

Friday, October 17, 2008

War Posters

These are images I found of war posters. The top image is a World War I poster similar to the ones we looked at in class, and the bottom image is a modern poster.
I think it is very interesting to compare the two. Actually, I guess I should say contrast the two, since there really aren't any similiarites between them. The WWI poster is much more subtle, in its message and colors. The modern poster is so much louder and 'in your face.' The design of this one is pretty clever. The designer chose to parody the popular iPod ads.
Those iPod ads are everywhere, so I think just about everyone knows what they are. If you can't read the text on them, the real iPod ads say "10,000 songs in your pocket, Mac or PC," and the war poster says "10,000 volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent."
My, how times have changed! Obviously, these posters are describing two very different wars during two very different times, but I still think it is interesting to note the differences between them stylistically.
I also thought that the placement of the bottom poster was clever. Not only is it mimicking one of the iPod ads, but it's right in the middle of a bunch of the actual iPod ads. It would be kind of funny to be walking down the street looking at these iPod ads and then suddenly be looking at that!


I like the work from the Dadaist. I may not get why they reformed when it seems it was just another direction that art was moving in. The graphics catch my eye the most. It is just randomness and chaos; sometimes I wish I could just do that, but everything has to be so precise for me. There is no rhyme nor reason to anything, it's just there. 

The one part I don't get about dadaism is why they plastered "Dada" all over their artwork. The picture to the right doesn't but others do. Obviously there must be a reason somewhere.

Monday, October 6, 2008


We briefly discussed photography in class last week. But I wanted to discuss it a little bit more, since last year I took a very interesting class that broadened my knowledge on the history of photography. Shockingly enough, it wasn't even a photography class. It was a class called "philosophy of the environment". Toward the end of the class, our teacher shared a lot of information about how tedious the process was, and how long it took to get a good image of the outdoors. Camera's were certainly not very portable. If you wanted an 8x10 of a landscape, a photographer had to carry a camera that could hold a 8x10 plate in it to capture the image on. These plates were not cheap, and they were heavy! Definitely not portable! So to get this photograph of a landscape, your photographer would have to carry a huge camera and multiple plates around with him or her. There is no way they could get the perfect shot, in one take. My teacher also explained to us that these plates had to be processed immediately. So on top of carrying the plates, and the camera, your photographer would have to carry around all of the chemicals needed, and in some cases a portable dark room tent. That sounds like a lot of work when compared to how easy it is to capture a photograph of a landscape today with our digital cameras. However, some will argue that you can't beat the quality and detail of an original Daguerreotype. My teacher will argue that the Daguerreotype process produces a much better image then a digital camera any day.

Success Secrets of the Graphic Designer

So in class last week, Tyler said something about a majority of persons in the design business getting out of it and reasons why they would. So I tried to find advice from some successful designers with longevity in their field.

Michael Bierut (image 1) said "Clients are most afraid that you’re going to go off and design something without really listening first. Just keep asking questions: the more you ask, the more you’ll understand what the client is looking for in a designer."

David Schimmel (image 2 & 3) said "Figure out what your vision is, what your interests are and where you want to focus — and then spend the time when you’re not designing pursuing clients in that area. People work with people they want to work with, not necessarily those who are best for the job. And it’s not always fair. Instead of fighting, try to embrace it, and then you can succeed."

Michael Schwab (image 4) said "You cannot be shy. You have to be aggressive. It helps to be obsessed and driven. When you’re starting out, strive to work for people who really inspire you, and who you admire not only creatively, but ethically."

To find more advice and profile information including how and why they got into the business, their "keys to success", tips to a sustainable career, favorite accomplishments, and SO much more, check out You can see their work in a larger format and there were also 7 more designers interviewed including illustrators!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Field Trip

I really enjoyed going to Wash U for the field trip. Viewing slides in class gives you a general idea about what books and ads looked liked during a specific time period, but you can't experience them. Being at the museum, touching the books, feeling them, seeing how they were made, really made a difference. I had no emotion toward the works, just seeing them on the screen, but now I can get into them and understand them more. I definitely enjoyed the modern books and prints as well! Seeing some of those things was just so neat! It was amazing what some artists could do with paper. I liked the globe, and the candy box the best. Printmaking is such a tedious process, and I have a lot of respect for those that do it. I took printmaking last year and I had a really hard time with it. It was very frustrating for me because I am a perfectionist and every little flaw bothered me. My teacher told me that those were marks that proved that the work was hand made, but it was still hard to get past that concept. Some of the books at the museum reiterated that concept. The makers liked to show off that it was hand crafted, like one book left the green thread that bound it together visible. It is amazing how books were made many years ago, and how so many illustrations in them were hand drawn. 

Field Trip

I too enjoyed the field trip very much. Being in graphic design and so constrained to the computer, I often forget the importance of hand-made materials and what a difference it makes to the overall feel and quality of the art. Paper for instance, makes a huge impression on the piece and there are many types to choose from be it thick, thin, translucent, colored, etc. I'm so used to getting the standard Epson paper, I need to remember to venture out of the box (when appropriate). I'm glad to see contemporary artists take the time to invent new books and reading styles. I think Wash U has an invaluable resource at their hands and if anyone starts feeling bogged down by standards, grids, or computers, an artistic bit of fresh air is just what they need and is waiting for them at the library.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wash U Field Trip

The most interesting thing I experienced on the field trip was that the books and leaflets were actually real. I know that it was said that they were real, but I really didn't believe it. But on closer examination of those things you could tell that they were in fact VERY old.

I liked several of the pieces, including the Gutenberg Bible leaflet, most of the contemporary books, and another book written in French I later found out (the one that had the history about everything way back when). The Bible leaflet was incredible! To look close up at the printed section and then compare it to the hand written section you couldn't see any differences between the two. My favorite of the contemporary pieces was the "candy box". How clever and ingenius!

Overall the trip was fun and educational.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Advertisements During the Industrial Revolution

This is a great example of what advertising looked like during the Industrial Revolution. Many typefaces were used, and even some were hand drawn. Often times the most important text have shadows behind them. A lot of information was crammed into one advertisement. Some information so small that you could hardly read. I have also noticed that most advertisements during this time used distorted text. Mostly in the shape of an arch or a wave. The ads were very decorative with a lot of detailing, often around the edges. Information, images, and text were placed all over the place with no rhyme or reason. Most things I have mentioned are cons, but there are some pros. For instance they knew that to provide emphasis on something they should make it bigger, bolder, or have shadowing to make it pop out at the viewer. They were able to put a lot of information into one ad and it may not be very successful but they have started to group information together and form the beginnings of a layout.

If I growing up during this time I would want a little more layout design to come into play. As a designer I would go to printers and offer design services to them to help get information across clearer. A designer could work for the printer, so that when a company needed an ad made they got a little bit more of a personal experience. When the company came into the printer, a designer would be there to help them formulate an ad. I would also suggest that they use fewer typefaces in one single ad, and try to choose typefaces that are easy to read at first glance. Organizing the information better, and trying to simplify it would be a great start. A good layout is very important. 

The Industrial Revolution brought about a lot of new products and services, and many company's needed advertisements, and they needed them fast. I assume that this is why ads were thrown together like this with little thought about design.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace was a great innovation of the industrial revolution in Great Britain. It was both acclaimed and criticized for its design.
The pros of this creation include:
--It was modular (made of standard units that could be easily constructed)
--It could be (and was) disassembled to function for its temporary use
--Made of fairly inexpensive materials (glass and iron)
The cons include:
--A mechanical design that was criticized for its dehumanization and standardization
Stylistically, before the industrial revolution, buildings were made of concrete, stone, and heavy materials. Gothic Revival architecture was still popular, so this lead to the battle between Gothic and Classical. The Crystal Palace lead the way to the modern style and just as expected, cleaner, simpler forms became popular.

Friday, September 12, 2008

If you Google the Victorian Era, images of fashion arise. Yet if you type in Victorian Era art paintings appear.
The paintings are like photographs, you are not sure whether it is a painting or a real photograph. But then you realize it is in color and there was no color photography back then. They are almost dream-like, that they don't seem to really exist. Some appear whimsical in that they are fantasy paintings. Of a maiden walking through the forest with sun peering through the trees lighting the way. A unicorn at her side and arriving at a palace in the woods. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?
Painters don't paint like that anymore. I don't remember the last time I saw a painting like those from the Victorian Era. Its as if there is no more imagination (thanks to video games). There is no sense of what was and what is. When did dogs noses start looking like triangles instead of a rectangular form?
I am going to contradict myself of what I just wrote, but if I were to be a painter back then, my thought of what should come next would be a more simplistic way of painting. More shapes than images, more subtle colors not such a wide range of (paintings wouldn't take as long to paint), I guess that's what you could call abstract. And so that would bring us into another era.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I found this image in the AIGA design archives. This is the cover art (designed by John Gall) for the book Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. Doctor Faustus is a work of fiction that follows the life of a German composer in the 1940s.
The typestyle used for the cover is Fraktur, which was based on calligraphy. This particular typestyle was created by a German printer, Anton Schonsperger, in 1506. I think this typestyle works well for the cover of the book for a few reasons:
  • This typestyle just looks very German to me (which makes sense, considering that it was created by a German). Without knowing anything about the book, I assumed it was about someone German, or something related to Germany, just by looking at the cover.
  • I have not read this book, but all of the reviews I read claim that the book has a very dark and pessimistic feel to it. To me, this typestyle is very dark and ominous looking, which seems to fit the book.
  • At the time this typestyle was created, the word Fraktur was not only the name of a typestyle, but also a generic term used to refer to all blackletter type. Blackletter type has a very dark feel to it, which goes back to the dark tone of the book.

I think the designer did an excellent job of conveying the feel of this book. It shows that you don't always have to use a lot of color or pictures to get your point across. You can tell just from looking at the cover that this book is not a fluffy piece of reading, but a very heavy one.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Well, my image wouldn't save either, but to look at it just search the design archives and search for the book titled Still Such because the cover is designed in the typeface Sabon as well as the text in the pages of the book itself.
Sabon was designed by German typographer and designer Jan Tschichold in 1966, based on the sixteenth-century typefaces of Claude Garamond. It is classified as Humanist or Old Style and the typeface is frequently described as a Garamond revival.
The typeface is appropriate for this book's cover because the book is about classical literature and Sabon is a classical font. I read a quote from the book and it spoke of "first country life" and "first Europe." It seemed to me that the speaker was inspired by his/her country's rich heritage, enjoyed Europe's beauty and splendor, and had a zest for life. The reading seemed almost poetic and the Sabon typeface shares this tone. Its fluid, organic shape and varied thick-to-thin curves reflect the human form from which it was inspired and it is used successfully in this design.



I was looking in the design archives for an example of something displaying the Garamond typeface. I couldn't find a direct match, but the font displayed on this book is very similar. The Garamond typeface was developed in the 1500's, during the Renaissance. It was one of the first typefaces to eliminate the black letter, Gotchic type, and it is still used today. It makes the font clearer, and easier to read. It is probably why the designer chose this typeface for the cover of his book. It gets the message across clearly and quickly. It is perfect for this book which was designed to display the beauty of typography and the power that words can have. The book cover is simple, but gets the point across. There aren't bright colors, or beautiful images, or eye-catching graphics, just words. It is elegant, and it grabs my attention because it isn't gaudy, or overworked. It would stand out on a bookshelf for those reasons. The layout is nice as well. I can't think of any ways to improve the design. It just shows how important typography is to the design world. 


Well, the photo I was trying to upload wouldn't, so I'll just talk about it.

I found a book design off of the AIGA archives search engine. It was titled The Potomac Canal and having it set in Jenson typeface is seemed very scholarly. It was a history book and I could tell this by the name, George Washington, underneath the title. And on second thought, the type seemed to disappear into the clouds of the painting that was also on the cover causing a little airy feeling.

I think the designer of the book cover did a decent job. I think the title could have been larger, because the painting becomes the center of attention when first you want to know what kind of book it is. When I first looked at it, I thought it was an art book then I went in search of the title and found it to be a history book.

While the cover is simple it also packs alot of information onto the cover and it makes the reader want to find out more about the Potomac Canal and George Washington.

If you would like to see the book cover simply:
1), and click on the archives at the top of the screen
2) Once inside the archives, search Jenson
3) The book cover was the seventh choice.