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Is a Graphic Design Degree detrimental to the collective types of design?

Most Graphic design degrees you are able to receive at the college level, including George Mason, encompasses such a wide variety of topics it becomes very difficult to fit in more than two courses on the same subject. You can’t obtain a firm grasp on, say editorial design, before you must move on to a web design course. This is disregarding general education and introduction level art courses.

Would we be better off graduating with the confidence to say, I am a: web designer, UX designer, editorial designer, or any other actual job title? It is assumed you will call yourself a graphic designer until you find a job and carve out a path of your own. This mentality is what leads to the old adage, you will do most of the learning during your first job rather than in college. I have had teachers tell me this, which is a little unsettling due to the massive amount of money I’m shelling out for this education — which I was just told contributes relatively little to my overall knowledge.

What do you think? Should a college degree be the price of entry or more of a solid bass of knowledge?

Delicious Fun

Personally, I find it hard enough to find the time and energy to make my own food, let alone create food art. Food design is a field most people probably don’t think about because, naturally, most people are concerned with taste rather than the aesthetic of food. To me, the Japanese have perfected the challenge of food crafting with bento, which is Japanese packed lunch box that not only looks fun but is nutritious as well. A typical bento lunch will have rice, vegetables, a protein, and fruit.

Bento7 Bento9Bento5Bento6


Bento artists think differently from other artists because they are limited to the ingredients they have. At the same time, the possibilities are endless because they have the whole grocery store to gain inspiration from. A big influence on their ingredient choices is the flavor combinations of the different food they have. Besides making it look good, they have to worry about taste as well, which makes me respect them even more. I also think bento allows for artists to return to their childhoods, bring out their creative side, and just have fun with their food.

If graphic design doesn’t work out for me, I just might go into the bento business.

Looking Into Logos

Logos. We are all surrounded by them. They can look deceptively simple. But how many of us truly look at logos to determine the subtleties? Here’s one that surprised me:

Letters in Toyota logo

Logo contains letters T-O-Y-O-T-A

So the Toyota symbol actually has all the parts to make up their brand name. Uh…wow! Despite hours stuck in traffic surrounded by some half dozen Toyota logos, I never made this connection.

Toyota Logo

logo for Toyota

According to Toyota’s webpage about their logo, this symbol has been around since ’89. The three ovals each have their own meaning. The two ovals inside the big one represent the steering wheel of the car, and make up the “T” of Toyota. These inner ovals also represent the relationship between the company and their customers. The outer oval signifies the world “embracing Toyota.” This logo looks the same, whether you see it from the front or through your rear view mirror. There’s obviously a bit of thought that went in to this. No wonder it took about 5 years to finalize this design.

Sadly, no mention of the designer(s). Does anyone know who designed this?

A Fond Farewell to Howard Paine


Howard E. Paine in 2010, holding up examples of the changes he helped bring to National Geographic Magazine (Adam Paine)



The Washington Post wrote a large article about Howard Paine, the graphic designer for both the United States Postal Service and National Geographic Magazine.

He worked for more than 30 years at National Geographic retiring as their Art Director. He was responsible for the redesign of their type heavy cover, which took him over 20 years to convince National Geographic to change.

Thank you Mr. Paine for your perseverance in the redesign process adding color photography to a national magazine cover that has been around since 1910.






The U.S. Postal Service Elvis stamp, which Mr. Paine helped create. (U.S. Postal Service)


Mr. Paine also worked for the USPS for about 30 years, and his 29-cent stamp of Elvis Presley created in 1993 remains the all-time leader in commemorative stamps. Becoming the stamp design coordinator in 1981, he played a roll in designing around 400 stamps.

Thank you Mr. Paine for the many new designs that affected our postage stamps.


It’s great to see an appreciation for the dedicated work of beautiful design.


If you are interested in reading his article in The Washington Post, here is the link:


Is it Art or Is It Shock?

Recently, I’ve reading a lot about the artist Damian Hirst, both his personal and professional life. He is a British sensationalist, if you will – that specializes at metaphorically slapping his audience members in the face with his shock-value packed work. da_2141050b

What you see above is Hirst standing in front of a dead shark – that was killed for the creation of this piece – that is floating in a tank filled with formaldehyde. Initially after seeing this I think to myself, “What is the point of that?” I have been told that Hirst’s mission is to force the audience to think about and deal with death so that they can truly enjoy life. Okay. Alright. I appreciated that until I read about who Hirst was as a person. The unassuming man that you see above is the same man that regularly drops his draws on the top of a bar at 3 a.m. after ingesting more alcohol than humanly possible, smokes like a chimney,  and wouldn’t be himself if he wasn’t tripping on something – and all of this with his young son by his side. Now, I realize that many great artists didn’t and don’t have the most put together personal life, but I find that if you can’t practice what you preach even a little bit your work takes a hit. If you have taken it upon yourself to be the “truth cannon” and demand that people appreciate their lives by shoving death in their faces – and yet you lead such a destructive life the validity of the work is reduced to nothing. All I see is man fighting for fame and fortune via shock value. To me this is not art. To me this is reckless.

Be There or Be Square

The 2014 DC Design Week is coming up next month from Saturday, October 19 to Saturday, October 25 in and around Washington!

I’ve never been to any AIGA DC events ever since I’m still relatively new to the whole “design” world; however, I plan on making my first trip to at least one of the awesome events planned. They are offering some really interesting salons and workshops, creative lunches, and an exhibition as well! Looking through the events, they seem relevant to all designers – beginner to advanced. I wanted to use this post to inform you guys about this, in case you’re interested too!

I’m most excited about the last day of the event, October 25th, because they have left us at a cliffhanger! Apparently, it’s “To be announced, it’s a surprise!” That’s just begging me to go out that day to NOT be the sucker who missed out on the best day ever. Which it better be with that extravagant mystery!

Registration will begin starting next month, so look out for that if you plan to attend! For a full list of events, visit the main site here:

I hope to see you there! :)

It’s all about the Process!

Ever wonder how some of the great designers in the world came to be? Time and practice are definite factors in their success. Natural creative and artistic talent doesn’t hurt either. But what it really boils down to is their process.

Over the past summer of 2014, I had a class where we had to research graphic designers and create a body of work inspired by them. I chose David Airey. He is brand identity designer from Ireland, and has worked for clients from all around the world. But I didn’t get inspired by just looking at his portfolio. I looked through his notes and thoughts on how he came to those ideas in the first place. I’ve observed his process and broke it down in some easy steps.

1) Research: As boring as it may seem, research is key in a designer’s process. It makes the difference between a design with soul and a design that appears flat. Knowledge about a subject or client can help you get the job.

2) Sketch: Draw out your ideas! It’s great to have ideas in your head. But to get the juices really flowing, it helps to have them out on paper. It may even create more ideas for your design

3) Trial and Error: Here comes the fun part, experimentation! Picking out appropriate typefaces, layouts and color swatches gives your design some personality. See what works and what doesn’t. Even ask peers for advice

4) Trim Down: Once you’ve got a working idea, it becomes time to clean it up and take out unnecessary elements. Smooth out the rough edges and polish it till it shines.

5) Apply on Print: Print out your design and present it. Does it look like that way you want it to? Does it stand on its own? And does it effectively communicate the intended message? If you can answer yes to these questions, then you’re ready.

As simple as these steps may sound, they serve well for Airey in his work. It definitely helped me starting out as a new designer.  And hopefully this will help you as well in your process.

If you’d like to see David Airey’s work, here’s his process –

A new logo can change everything!

olive_garden_logoI was pretty shocked to see that Olive Garden had redone their logo and redesigned their brand. Their old logo goes back until I can remember. From the looks of their logo change, you can immediately notice that they are going for a more modern look and leaving behind the “classic home kitchen” feeling of their old logo. Many restaurant update their logo after several years and I do think it was time for Olive Garden to go for a different look (even their website has been completely redone). Their new logo uses more of a flat look and uses an illustration instead of an image. Also, interestingly they have dropped the “restaurant” tag line and changed it to “kitchen” perhaps going with the whole reinvention of their brand. I do think their new look is very refreshing and interesting, they made a drastic change to their logo and I do believe that they have improved on it. What do you think about the new logo? Would you have stayed with older one?

Too Cute to Eat

I was looking for inspiration for one of my class assignments and happen to stumble upon this adorable little creature.


This little guy is the mascot for a brand of tofu sold in Japan and it’s name is Hanari Tofu,which translates to elegant tofu. In the beginning, the tofu was not selling well and virtually unknown. However the company’s new marketing strategy to create a character  turned into a success as now they have branched out from just selling tofu. Now fans can buy cushions, stationary, and even cell phone wallpaper. Originally, one tofu character was created but because of its popularity, Hanari now has five other friends, all representing the different types of tofu.

TofuCharacter34       TofuCharacter12     TofuCharacter7     TofuCharacter5

The characters are so popular that it is hard to find information about the actual tofu itself.  It’s almost as if the company has moved from the food to toy industry. Even if you can’t read Japanese, I recommend checking out their website because it’s not only a great representation of clean Japanese design, but it’s also simply adorable.

I am not sure if the actual tofu is delicious but I am willing to give it a try if Hanari is on it!

Web Design Hell

How does a web design go straight to hell? Find out here in this hilarious comic posted on the Oatmeal:

I want to share this with you because one of my professors shared it with me, and I love it. I find this comic so brilliant because it is able to effectively communicate a big problem in the relationship between a designer and a client.

This is exactly what I fear! There are so many steps in this process that we are doomed to “over-think” our designs and not “K.I.S.S.” them (in reference to a previous blog posted here). During this process, we may lose hope, lose our identity as a web designer, and even lose in making a somewhat-successful design. After going through all this, I would definitely fall into a state of absolutely-zero confidence. However, as designers, we need to be confident in our work all the time so we don’t lose clients. This comic warns us to not fall into this hell.

As crucial it is to keep the client happy, we need to remember that we are the designers with relevant experience and professional advice (if not yet, “soon-to-be” designers with relevant experience and professional advice). The most unsatisfying thing would be to make a website for a client and rate it as your worst creation ever. The last picture in the diagram reinforces how a client sometimes forgets their role in the relationship and leads us to creating an “abomination”.


How can we avoid falling into this “design hell” while staying true to our clients?