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The Fresh Prints of Bel-Air

Print tangibleit’s classic. It’s tactile and personal, much more than an e-mail or an instant message. Print allows design to reach outside of the virtual realm and interact with the public through posters, signs, business paperwork, pizza boxes, things, stuff, and various other items.

I will admit that as much as I love the convenience of the internet, I always enjoy picking up a piece of printed matter and admiring/investigating it.

The smell of a fresh book, the grit of a newly turned page, the rich black ink and classical typefaces; all of which are unique characteristics of print. This uniqueness is why print will continue to last into the technological age. Print will continue to offer its substance to humanity for centuries to come.

My Experience in a Letterpress Workshop

I recently had the privilege to attend a letterpress class held at Lead Graffiti in Newark, Delaware, led by a retired professor of design at the University of Delaware and his wife. Fellow designers: it was an incredible experience. The majority of the workshop was spent on designing our own typographical pages in a book we created as a class, but we got to use some pretty incredible machines in their print shop. Having to create a design on the spot for a page of text proved to be challenging for me– given more time, I would have designed it differently. The Lead Graffiti studio contained an overwhelming number of fonts, sizes, and embellishing characters to choose from; I barely got the hang of it in the six hours we worked.

Experiencing all of the different machines, each with their own way of pressing ink into pages, was a fascinating opportunity. Lead Graffiti have an arsenal of letterpress machines, and their usage was dependant on the sort of project that needed to be printed (usually, by size). Separate from the printing press machines sat Lead Graffiti’s Intertype machine, used for casting blocks of metal type so that the designer doesn’t have to manually typeset individual letters. We used the Intertype machine to cast each of our names in the final page of the book we created. Most of the machine’s mechanisms are visible as it works, and the user can watch as it operates to cast the line of type punched into the keyboard on the Intertype machine’s front.

Because of this workshop, I now have a greater appreciation for the clean, polished look of an analog-printed product. I would definitely recommend taking a workshop to see these machines working in person, because seeing your work printed onto paper through a printing press does not compare to digital printing.

Random Rebranding: The Donkey Sanctuary!

Rebranding projects are perhaps the most exciting and gratifying works that a designer could ever be part of–or at least that’s what I think. A past rebranding project showcases the wonderful fruition of a new identity for a DONKEY SANCTUARY! It seemed quite bizarre for me to imagine, but I found the results sophisticated and appealing.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

These are just a few examples of the rebrand material that I absolutely adore. What I find most appealing about the ones I’m sharing are, the close up features of the donkey along with the texts. It makes for a tactile, delightful and yet meticulous composition.

From the color scheme to the new logo, the cohesiveness of the new identity was quite successful too. The rebrand helped increase donations by 76% in July/August period compared to the same period in the year prior. As one can see from the before-and-after shots, rebranding is quite an aesthetically pleasing endeavor. While the affect it may have on the client’s mission is an even greater reward!

Tis the Season for #ChristmasLights Aesthetics

Thinking of a new cliche to shamelessly bandwagon? As the seasons change and the new year approaches, the amount of potential fire hazards for trendy Instagram pictures return at an alarming rate.  There are many iterations and creative ways to use Christmas lights. The string of lights does offer a way of lighting a subject in a very dramatic manner and can set a warm or romantic mood, but like many props in the photography world, it is hard to execute seasonal techniques without becoming overdone and borderline cringey. I think its the fact that the process to achieve a certain photo is seen. The image of people intentionally wrapping themselves, or even their children in these electric wires, is what creates this sense of uneasiness among critics like myself. All that aside, people will not hesitate to hit that like button! Cliche away!

Never Judge a Wine by It’s Cover!

Haha, but I confess that is exactly what I do each and every time I shop for a new wine. When strolling through the aisles of the grocery store I make wine purchase decisions based purely on name and label design without any real knowledge of the wine! I generally know what I want to spend and whether I want red or white (almost always red), but beyond that, I know very little about wine or winemaking. If I taste it and like it, not much else matters to me.

So many choices

Every label is a combination of artwork and typography designed to evoke an emotional response that will either persuade me to buy the wine or pass over it. For example, the first time I saw Fat Bastard, I had to buy it for my brother (he loved it!) When I saw 19 Crimes, I was immediately intrigued and had to try it. I make these decisions in the span of just a few seconds with no real time for any thoughtful analysis. Many labels feature something like an estate name in a sophisticated font titled over a sketch of a vineyard or family crest. After a while, they all look the same to me. The edgier labels are the ones that get my attention and my wine budget dollars.

Who could resist this bottle?

 

Doesn’t this label scream to be picked up and read?

 

Does this label mean this is the wine to go with chicken? I’m so confused!

How does one wade through the sea of choices? What do you think makes for successful wine label design?

 

Snapchat, a new art form?

I confess. I am guilty of being a slave to the modern world of social networking. If you’re part of this guilt train, Snapchat may be the root of your shame. Snapchat allows users to capture their daily life and keep their followers up to date through its many features. Originally, Snapchat was just a means to send temporary pictures or videos, but it has evolved since then. The addition of creating “stories,” the abundance “filters,” and the unlimited possibilities with with emoji and stickers has created a new canvas for the masses.

Stories are a culmination of posts a user makes throughout the day, in which the series of media are stitched together in one. Some users would craft the wildest and even most abstract cinematography, and come up with innovative ways to post creative content. When broken down, emojis are basically shapes and icons that have a sense of familiarity, and the usage of these forms to create another work can be compared to the era of pop art.
 
Snapchat can be a means of blurring the lines of “high” art and “low” culture.

The Best Graphic Design Firms For You

As students, we may take on freelance opportunities and use projects in class to express our personal design style. However, once we graduate, some of us may go out to work for a design agency. There are many options, so it may help to start looking for what agencies best fit your design style and values. Here are just three renowned agencies. For more, check out this “50 Best Graphic Design Firms in the World”.

  1. Firstborn – the New York agency started by Michael Ferdman in 1997, covers apps, 3D models, websites and “just about anything else that takes advantage of digital technology.” The client list include PepsiCo, M&M’s, Puma, and Ford. Firstborn’s clear digital mission for “design and innovation”, has won them over 200 awards, including a Cannes Gold Lion for its work with clothing company Uniqlo.
  2. Monumento – the Mexican “supermodernist” agency uses sleek and sophisticated styles to create work that will “brave the test of time.” The agency believes “simplicity works” and their solutions are always skillfully minimalistic to “strive for modern culture.” Some clients include modern magazines like Folio and Pocketmag.
  3. Go Media – the Cleveland-based agency was founded by Wilson Revehl and William Beach in 2003. Go Media is known for its passionate design, creativity, and meaningful idea. The agency promises, “No matter what the medium, [its] staff of seasoned designers applies a keen eye and a compelling aesthetic to achieve head-turning results.”

Frustrated? Design it!

Frustrated with something stupid that you feel like could have an easy fix to it? Why don’t you take matters into your own hand, and design it yourself! That’s just what David Barnett did. Barnett was a professor who was simply frustrated with his headphone wires constantly tangling. He wanted something that was easy to use but also effacement with a modern cell phone that wouldn’t be a distraction to using your phone. After playing with some buttons and glue, Barrnett knew he was onto a genius design. And just like that he created the Popsocket, that allows someone to wrap their headphones around the base and when they don’t need to use it, they can simply pop it back in. The Popsocket safely sticks to your phone and comes with other benefits like making it easier to hold your phone and using it as a phone stand. The Popsocket comes in many different colors and designs, and it can even be personalized/customized. The bottom line is, don’t wait for someone else to create something that you can create, you could become a millionaire!

Check out https://www.popsockets.com/ for more information about this product.

Another Semester

Another semester is coming to a close for me, along with some of the most enjoyable classes I’ve had at George Mason. I won’t point out which classes but two of them are requirements for my B.A. in Graphic Design. These classes taught me the importance of internal and external education.

 

I firmly believe that to be successful you must learn to become independent and trust your gut. But you must learn from someone else before you can learn to trust yourself. I’ve had past professors that tell me to “figure it out by myself”. I would always feel confused and a little discouraged since I had no idea what to change in my work. When I would stare at one of my projects I knew something was off in a design but I didn’t have any knowledge of why I needed to change it. I wished that my professors would have explained the why and how of what makes a design work. Not with examples found by professionals but with my own work or someone learning.

 

True, you won’t always have your professors to provide feedback on that final draft to deliver to a client. College is preparing us to be confident in our knowledge and abilities. Though I still have my doubts when it comes to my own work, I find that revising my work beyond what the professor suggests helps long-term. Its what is expected from us in the real world so its best to start now. How I learned this was not being left in the dark by my professor. Instead I came to this conclusion from receiving feedback on my work. By internalizing the parts of my designs my professor would point out, I began checking these elements in all my work. Then I would go online to read up on these issues knowing what exactly what was the problem. Giving constructive criticism on other people’s work can help improve the way you look at your own work too. In that way you become a teacher and realize what your strengths are in design.

 

I look back on this semester as one of tremendous personal growth. College is the perfect place and time to be exploring your assets and areas to improve on. Now I believe I’m a more confident designer than I was at the beginning of the semester.

Branding A Strategy

 

Did you know that having a strong brand package can improve the growth of you company? A brand can be a color, logo, slogan, or all of them. However, in the article “Branding Guides: Take the Guessing Out of Design,” it explains that branding is “the experience that your customers walk away with from your business.” By having a good customer experience, it will continue to having repeating customers. I like the example they used when they talked about how Starbucks developed their brand experience. “It’s because they are not selling you a cup of coffee. They are selling you their brand experience.” However, by using a branding guide, it can create a strategy for the design.

A brand guide is a document which a web developer or designer may use to help understand the company’s brand and theme. This will allow a designer to work with the company’s successful brand. To me, I like this idea, because this helps the designer to gain experience and learn different methods and ways for making a successful brand. Not only that, but the designer will have less stress and frustration for coming up with a new effective designs or logo. All the designer needs to do is just to update it and follow the theme of the brand, and the designer will get paid for it.