12/29/09

Got Talent?


Taxi Design Network launches The Creative Finder, a portfolio listing site designed to match freelance designers, illustrators, photographers, and animators with the art directors who need them. Get registered, get your portfolio uploaded, and get to work at www.thecreativefinder.com.

12/22/09

How to Design Climate Change

Design for the Next Century
Saul Griffith takes on the design challenge of our age

We know the problems. Climate change is real. Ice caps are melting. China and India are coming online, and their populations are going to want to drive cars, eat meat and buy flat panel TVs. To power those TVs, China is commissioning a coal-burning power plant every two weeks. Finite resources are being depleted at an ever-faster clip, and landfills are filling up with the cast-off crapadoodle of a consumption-crazed society. Meanwhile designers are walking around wearing T-shirts that say: “Design Will Save the World.”

And that drives Saul Griffith nuts, because saving the world will take more than wearing a cool T-shirt. He should know. Read more at: www.commarts.com

8/11/09

Why We Love The Advertising Business


It's the People!

The brains behind Business Guys on Business Trips skewers the pretensions of the ad biz with a gimlet eye, a minimalist approach that turns the players into generic cartoons, and thought balloons filled with real agency jargon but devoid of any actual real thought. Which makes it a work of genius.

These cartoons feature the inept, the afraid, the craven, the backstabbers, the smokeblowers, the ass kissers, the bootlickers, the ladder climbers, the talentless hacks, the clueless... in other words, everyone you've ever known who has ever worked at an agency. Which, of course, includes you.

What Business Guys On Business Trips understands perfectly is that people don't want to laugh at themselves, they want to laugh at someone exactly like themselves. Well, here we are.

Bonus: for the long form version of Business Guys on Business trips, read Then We Came To The End, by Josh Ferris, the best and funniest novel ever written about the agency business.

7/28/09

Crowdsourcing meets MTV


Sour puts the face in the crowd

Andy Warhol said "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." Today, thanks to the Internet, the proliferation of web cams, and cheap video editing tools, Warhol might have to rephrase his famous aphorism to: "In 15 minutes, everyone will be famous."

In this sweet, clever music video, the band Sour has crowdsourced the cast directly from their own fan base. Each of the hundreds of scenes was filmed straight from a web cam, with participants logging on from around the world. The result is a lovely testament to community and creativity directed by Masashi Kawamura + Hal Kirkland + Magico Nakamura + Masayoshi Nakamura.

7/23/09

At OMNI Hotels Our Guests Come First

Lights, camera, action! And I mean action.

Digital movies made in a hotel. Hmmm, wonder what they expected, when they planned this promotion.

In a boon to the sex-tape industry, OMNI hotels are loaning a Flip digital video camera to their weekend hotel guests. Even better, they are sponsoring a contest in which the winner of the best 3-minute movie gets a free trip -- not to Vegas, baby -- but to that hotbed of digital filmmaking, Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania. My favorite part of the promotion is the free breakfast, which the marketers at Omni have called "Flipjacks!"

7/16/09

Branding in Bangalore


Outsourcing Logo Design

Just when you thought, no matter how crappy the economy is, designers will always have work, the work gets shipped offshore. No kidding, you can get a decent logo designed for a less than $100 in Malaysia, according to today's story in the Wall Street Journal.

While typically companies can spend tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes as much as six-figures for a new logo and identity campaign, for a mere $67 an outfit in Penang, Malaysia came up with a fairly sophisticated take on a creating an identity for a hypothetical startup that retrieves data from a crashed hard drive. OK, it's not Paul Rand, but the effort cleverly incorporates the hard drive disc platter with the first initial of the company "Disk Fix Solutions." Not bad for a fistful of ringgit.

5/6/09

Art In Focus


When Information Design is A Work of Art

3,500 items from SFMOMA's collection are on view in a single screen thanks to ArtScope, created by Stamen Design. That means some mighty small thumbnails. Instead of diving down the wormhole of endless categorization, Stamen chose just to show the whole damn thing at a glance. Fortunately, a built-in microscope is included in the form of an interactive rollover viewer. Click to zoom, and bring the art work into view. It's a fascinating way to browse a collection of art, inviting serendipity into the equation, uncovering new works, and rediscovering old favorites.

The seemingly random organization is actually arranged by time, according to when the pieces where purchased by the museum. A keyword search lets viewers browse more systematically, searching for themes, styles, titles or individual artists. Built using Stamen's own Modest Maps, the interface enables mousing over a mosaic of tiled images, panning and zooming through a landscape made of artworks.

5/4/09

Danger! Danger! Information Graphics At Work


Let's be careful out there.

It's a dangerous world. At any moment you could be crushed by falling objects, fall off a cliff, be swept to your death, run over by a tank, or electrocuted by high voltage lines. The flickr group, Stick Figues in Peril documents our propensity to do stupid things, and the well-meaning attempts of information graphics to prevent us diving into shallow water, swimming in dangerous surf, erecting ladders directly below high voltage lines, and walking right to the edge of unstable overlooks. The human folly in all its glory is illustrated in seeming infinite detail, one information graphic after another. It's a rich and apparently growing field. To date more than 10,000 members have posted over 18,000 images.

4/22/09

The Future Is Not What It Used to Be


Sam McMillan Profiles Futurist Paul Saffo in Communication Arts

Ten years ago, to commemorate their 40th anniversary, Communication Arts sat down with Paul Saffo, a noted forecaster based in Silicon Valley. We asked Saffo to look ahead at what the coming years would bring. At the time, the Web was booming, you couldn’t find a parking space in San Francisco and, if you could write HTML and sign your name without drooling, you could command a six-figure salary. At a dot-com startup like...Pets.com. Kozmo. Or Dr. Koop.

A decade ago Saffo looked out and saw: ubiquitous sensors, inexpensive flat screens and a rise among person-to-person interaction over the Internet. He even said, “The Internet is going to spawn other forms. We’ll have some things that look like TV, but are interactive.

At the end of that interview, almost as an afterthought, Saffo pulled out a black and chrome gadget about the size of a matchbook. “Oh, this might be interesting,” he said. “It’s an MP3 player. Holds about 40 songs. You can download them from your computer and play them back.”

To see if Saffo got it right, and learn what he predicts might be coming over the horizon in the next ten years, read the entire article online at Communication Arts....

4/12/09

Process 39 Lights the Candle


Where design ignites innovation

Process 39 ignites creativity. Combine a rock solid conceptual process with design talent and you get great ideas that go from marketing requirements document to the market place faster than you can say: elevator pitch.

Principals at Process 39, Brenda Stine and Dale Horstman, recently launched their website, and it is a standout example of technical design chops, gorgeous Flash animation, and on-target story telling skills. With copywriting by Wordstrong, the site consistently positions Process 39 as client champions who roll up their sleeves, understand their client's business opportunities, then dig deep to find design solutions, from brand identity, logo design, product development and interface design through website development and creation of DVDs and printed pieces.

4/1/09

words, words, words


Inventive typography from A to Z.

Finally words that do what they mean. It's a movable feast of words at www.typotopo.com, Paul Cho's animated landscape of typographic explorations. Coded in Processing, these letters fly by in a star field, until you click a letter, and invoke an animation. Mouse over a word and it springs into life, revealing its meaning in a visual definition. While some of these examples are trite, and seem like a midnight effort after the caffeine ran out, others are hypnotic, clever, and insightful.

3/21/09

The Web Designer’s Idea Book


The ultimate guide to themes, trends, and styles in website design


By Patrick McNeil
Published by HOW Books
250 pages; $25.00
www.howdesign.com

The catalog of web themes, trends, and styles in The Web Designer’s Idea Book captures the state of web design, circa 2008. Patrick McNeil arranges hundreds of sites by type (blog, forum, e-commerce), by style (retro, minimalist, photographic), by theme (nature, food, clouds), by element (icons, rounded corners, stripes), by structure (tabs, tiny, buckets), and by color. Introduced with a brief essay, each style is illustrated with representative full-color screen grabs, and accompanied by a sample color palette. URLs are included for further exploration. One the one hand, the book is a fascinating visual guide to the infinite variety of web design. On the other, it also spotlights one design cliché after another as designers rely on tried and true themes to communicate, organize their ideas, and attempt to present content in interesting ways. With the exception of the truly adventurous explorations in the section on site design by structure, The Web Designer’s Idea Book may not inspire new ideas, but it will serve as an effective reference for current design thinking on the web. Who knew clouds were a web design theme?

3/17/09

At Wordstrong our clients come first


I had my finger in the zeitgeist; they had their fingers…somewhere else.

One Taste, the people that brought Naked Yoga to the world, and a former client of mine, were featured in the Sunday New York Times. The story was remarkably even-handed and handled the subject of a group of 35 sexual adventurers, revolutionaries, and explorers in a non-judgmental or inflammatory way.

My work for One Taste was strictly limited to branding, consulting, and copywriting. Unfortunately. But as you can imagine, I never missed a client meeting.

3/6/09

Email Blasts Made Simple


More blast for your buck

A new email newsletter and downloadable template from Campaign Monitor makes it easier than ever to reach out to clients with good looking, effective email campaigns.

Designed expressly with graphic designers in mind, Campaign Monitor is a web-based service that makes it simple to send good looking HTML “permission-based” email blasts to thousands) of recipients. For designers who want to promote their studio’s efforts, or offer email campaign services to their clients, Campaign Monitor is indispensable. Simply send in your HTML design, and Campaign Monitor tests your design against more than a dozen popular email clients, runs it through spam filters and firewalls, and even raises response rates by personalizing the emails you send. Subscriber management tools let you build any number of mailing lists for different clients and diverse campaigns, and import a list of contact names from a standard delimited text file. Reporting tools provide at-a-glance statistics revealing who opened your email, linked through to destination pages, unsubscribed, or forwarded the email to a friend. For those who build campaigns for clients, Campaign Monitor can provide access from a client’s website to a list of previous campaigns. Resources include 33 free ready-made templates, a gallery of exemplary newsletter campaigns, and a getting started guide. Pricing is cheap: 5 bucks a blast, plus a penny for each email address you send to.

3/5/09

Pepsi gets a new logo; Arnell Group gets a black eye

Muddying the water so it looks deep.

Look familiar?
The Pepsi logo captures the best thinking of Western Civ. Or not.


Every now and then a piece of marketing hoo-ha comes along that is just so over the top, so full of BS, so arrantly wrongheaded that you have to look at the calendar just to check that it isn’t April 1st.


OK, so I may be the last person in the world to have seen the Pepsi Breathtaking marketing platform put out by the Arnell Group (the people who brought you the failed Tropicana packaging) in support of the new Pepsi logo, but I can’t help but be amazed at the thinking (or lack of it) that went into the preparation of this document. You can’t help but think, somewhere at Arnell a newly minted Brown graduate is pumping his fist and saying to himself, “I knew that Liberal Arts degree would come in handy one day!”

Despite what you think of the logo (I like it just fine, by the way) the strategy document that explains the logo design by invoking the golden mean, the Mona Lisa, Vitruvian Man, the Fibonacci Sequence and the earth’s magnetic field is a mess. I’m still half hoping that someone from Arnell will pop out on April Fools Day and shout “Just kidding!”

In 27 pages a clear thought fails to escape
the gravitational field of this document.


It’s not Breathtaking. It’s jaw-dropping. Or as the good ol’ boys say down south, “It’s too much candy for a nickel.”

3/3/09

Polaroid Technology Lives On


Shake it like a Pola-droid
Polaroid understood instant pictures. But, married to their proprietary film technology, they missed out on the digital camera revolution. Despite their bankruptcy, there is still a way to share the love of instant imaging, the super saturated colors, and the anticipation as you watched your image come to life in the palm of your hand. Thanks to Dominik Fusina (alias Paul Ladroid), Polaroids live on at www.poladroid.net. Simply download the app, drag a jpeg onto the desktop icon of an old Polaroid, and wait, wait, wait for your image to develop. A grabby hand icon lets you shake the image while you wait. A timer alerts you when your image is ready to print in 400 dpi resolution.



So the film is gone: the white bordered instant prints, the incredibly foul smelling fixative you has to squeegee over the film, the Saturday night live parody of the SX -70 Cheese Slicer… all will become dim memories. And yet, the Poladroid site is finding an audience of Polaroid fanatics. According to Paul Ladroid’s own stats, he’s received over 300,000 downloads. The numbers reveal there’s still a deep longing in the photography community for those ghostly images appearing before your eyes and the sense of wonder in never knowing exactly how your picture will turn out.



See what develops...

3/2/09

Technology Made Simple


As simple as possible, but no simpler

Remember the 1993 movie Philadelphia, in which Denzel Washington plays a small time homophobic lawyer who asks a witness to “explain this to me like I'm a six-year-old”? Well that’s exactly what Lee and Sachi LeFever of Common Craft do with high tech concepts for clients including Google, Redfin, and Boeing. Using crude low-tech devices like cut out paper dolls, hand-drawn sketches, and, well, even their own hands, they explain high tech concepts like Twitter, Pod Casting, and Social Networking in an informal voice over so simple even the most fearful technophobic Luddite would get it.

While some agencies demonstrate technology with razzle dazzle special effects, and try to awe their viewers with whizzy Flash techniques while selling sizzle, Common Craft understands they are in the explanation business. No matter how complex the subject Common Craft keeps it simple. You can view their free videos at the Common Craft Show where they explain everything from RSS and Online Photo Sharing to Wikis and the proper use of CFL light bulbs. Corporate influencers who want to get their companies to adopt some of the technologies explained by Common Craft can purchase high resolution downloads of these videos for use in the workplace.

2/27/09

Bus Slogan Generator


Driver Does Not Make Change
What’s better than your own bus?
Your own bus slogan.

Atheists in London have declared the death of god, then announced it on buses in London. Turns out the joke’s on them, since god doesn’t take public transportation. Nonetheless, their response is typically stiff upper lip. Beelzebub is coming for your immortal soul. Carry on. Asteroid wipes out life on earth? As you were. DOW falls 879 points in an hour? Just get on with it.

Here’s the best part:
Yes, you can generate your own bus slogan. Here’s mine:

Think of them as rolling haiku. An existentialist poke in the eye. An inside metaphysical joke.

Now if they would just drive it around London for a few hours, I’d be happy.

2/23/09

Advertising with an English accent


Strategy & Branding

The most thoughtful, consistently useful blog I’ve found on strategy, branding, and advertising comes from Richard Huntington, a planner at Saatchi. His posts on emotion, ideas and how to get them, as well as his collection of briefs (I mean creative briefs) put the stiff upper wit and a surprising amount of heart into advertising.

2/18/09

The Envelope Please



Not quite the Academy Awards for Information Design...

Flowing Data has announced its 5 Best Data Visualization Projects for 2008, and there are some great examples of cutting edge data visualization. Wordle, an old favorite has made the list, along with Radio Head's House of Cards music video, a project created out of Google Labs that used 3D laser scanners to create the imagery captured for the video. Just in time for Valentine's Day (and lonely hearts club members) is I Want You To Want Me, in which data from online dating sites comes to palpable life. Finally, because there will always be an England, there's Britain From Above, a BBC series that looks at traffic flowing into, out of, and above Britain. Air traffic, ship traffic, Internet traffic and good old fashioned traffic traffic are all rendered here as glowing traces of light.

2/13/09

Anti-Productivity Tools



Video Jukebox
Yeah, I know, it’s easy listening for recovering rockers, but still, how can you not like Ida Maria singing, “I like you so much better when you’re naked.” Watch streaming videos, or just play it in the background.

Alt-Rock Radio
Think of the coolest person you know. Now imagine what's on their i-Pod. Now hit shuffle.

Sweet Soul Music
Remember 45s? The little records with the great big holes. A collection of southern soul from the golden age of the 60s. For the real deal, just listen to Gloria Jones singing Tainted Love.

Let Your Freak Flag Fly
Wolfgang's Vault posts the best live concerts from the heady days of Bill Graham presents. If you missed the Dr. John concert in '78 cause you were messed up behind some Tuinals, this is your chance to hear what you've been missing. Just remember what the Dead Head said back in the medical tent, after all the drugs had been flushed from his veins: "Man, this music sucks!"

2/11/09

The Mother of All Motion Graphics Sites


Moving all of the pixels all of the time

Spellbinding and awe inspiring, the motion graphics showcased on Motionographer will have you picking your jaw off the floor at the same time you are asking, “How did they do that!?”

1/29/09

And now a word from our sponsor…



Ads of the World
With the Super Bowl approaching, its a good time to see what advertising agencies from around the world are doing. Chances are it doesn't involve talking Clydesdales. The site at http://adsoftheworld.com presents a global compendium of work submitted by agencies in lands where English is not the first language.

The website not only showcases great print, tv, radio and environmental work worldwide, it provides an instant tutorial on the power of visual communication. Many of the ads on the landing page communicate without a single world. Powerfully, eloquently, and humorously. Copywriters take note.


In Hong Kong, advertisers distribute mouse pads illustrated with naked breasts (to promote breast cancer exams). In Asia a man lights himself on fire (really) to illustrate the fiery hot taste of Kurkure potato chips.

All in a day’s work at adsoftheworld.com

1/28/09

Grab & Go


Screen grab and markup tool

Download Skitch and instantly grab a screen shot, mark it up, add comments, drag it to a document, or send it via email. An essential tool for interface designers.

Don’t let the playful interface fool you. Skitch is a surprisingly powerful screen grab utility for Macintosh users that is dead simple to use. Fire up Skitch, make a screen grab (Skitch can capture an entire screen, a window, or a snapshot of a selected area), and simply drag and drop the result into an open application. Built-in markup tools are presented in an “always ready” interface that makes it simple to annotate a screen capture for use in tutorials, user guides, and interface design applications.

Skitch seems designed from the ground up with sharing in mind. Saving screen grabs and including them as part of an email is as simple as selecting the “mail this image” command from the File menu. Skitch immediately opens your email application with the screen grab already in place. For graphic designers, web producers, and illustrators, it’s a superfast, goofproof way to get immediate feedback on works in progress.

A dedicated online area at www.skitch.com enables designers to post their projects and share it with a selected workgroup or post to a website url. Seamless integration with iPhoto and iSight and iChat extend the capabilities of Skitch. Skitch will save screen grabs in jpg, pdf, png, svg, and tif formats.

1/26/09

One and Done



Very Short List
One email a day, delivered to your inbox. One good idea each day, provided by people that scour the Internet so you don't have to. Breakthroughs in weird science, the coolest new commercials, and achievements you never thought possible. Sign up for it at www.veryshortlist.com/subscribe

1/25/09

Next Slide


Slide:ology
By Nancy Duarte
274 pages; $34.99
Published by O’Reilly Media
www.orielly.com

We’ve all experienced death by PowerPoint. The retina searing graphics, the torturous word-by-word recitation of every single bit of on-screen, mind numbing copy. Before the U.S. army goes to war, full colonels build a PowerPoint presentation, then march through a list of bullet points. They don’t call ‘em bullets for nothing, after all.

Nancy Duarte, a woman who has made a career creating presentation graphics for Silicon Valley stalwarts and director of the firm that created the presentation for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (and the Oscar for best PowerPoint goes to….) aims to change that. Slide:ology Her book on creating effective presentations is meant for marketers, but smart graphic designers, brand builders, and visionary communicators will recognize an opportunity when they see one.

Slide:ology matters because it addresses visual thinking, visual storytelling, and communicating using graphics. Duarte covers storyboarding, graphic design, motion design, and mapping the presentation to the brand message. Separate chapters explain the display of data, the use of diagrams, and the nuts and bolts of slide design, including screen real estate, color palettes, fonts and typesetting, using photos, adding motion, and yes, how to write bullets.

Ultimately slideology is about meaning, and that means starting with an idea. Helping you communicate that idea powerfully and persuasively is what slideology is all about.

1/23/09

Trendspotting


See the future first.
Each week the trendspotters at Springwise send out their new business ideas from around the world. Springwise is a one-stop shop for great ideas that just might be capable of changing the way we do business. A database of ideas includes everything from education to eye shadow. A free newsletter keeps you on top of breaking trends in commerce, marketing, education, style, design and much more. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow at www.springwise.com.

1/22/09


Word Clouds

http://www.wordle.net
Lost in the word cloud. Wordle changes everything you knew about writing for the web. And reading it, too.