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The Simplification of Design

It seems that simple designs are becoming more and more commonplace. Ever since the rise of modernism, minimalism, and the landscape of advertisements, information has become fragmented with the large amount that is being processed. Unable to focus on a single point, advertising and the “landscape of signs” has changed our grasp of visual reality. As a result of an abundance of ad and sign exposure, many companies are turning to simplicity to counter the fragmentation and stick out as unique among the clutter and busyness.

With the rise of advertising and abundance of information, minimalism is becoming the driving force against the rise of the modern commercial landscape. Simplifying designs is becoming a regular practice to grab the viewer’s attention. Considering the decay of attention spans along the birth of the internet and overabundance of information, simple designs along with the rise of practicality has inspired many companies to go lean with their visual identity systems.

An AMAZING Design Reference Just Released!

If you have not yet heard of Mark Price’s newly released book, Content Desert, I suggest you take a moment to check out his work online, or better yet get a hold of a copy! The book includes pages and pages of amazing 2D graphic art content. Done in grayscale, and with masterfully laid out design elements, he produces meta-design landscapes.

I enjoy how every composition is very stimulating; just looking at one gives me ideas for my own work. I also found the text that he chose to include very witty. Especially as it relates directly to design, such as “PLACE HOLDER.” I can’t help but associate the phrase to the process of design making. I have not come across a design book quite like it. The content is quite abstract, yet the overall design theme is clearly communicated. What is the book seeking to accomplish exactly–in no better words–“The book brings together a multitude of hijacked glyphs, damaged vectors, stolen sentiments, and product mockups reimagined and recontextualized at the moment of content’s obsolescence.”



My Really Shallow Approach to Art Appreciation

When I first lay eyes on any artwork or design, my initial thought is to evaluate the work based on its ability to peak my interest. Does it grab me emotionally? Did I experience a WOW factor? Does the art create a warm feeling for me? Is there a sense of calm or tranquility about the piece? Or is there something visually exciting about the work? Does the art cause me to happily reconnect to a pleasant memory? Does it stimulate my thinking in a positive manner? Does it inspire me to be a better person? Does it motivate me to be creative? Does it make me laugh? Does it present a new idea? Or am I simply intrigued by the aesthetics created by the application of the basic visual elements of line, color, shape, form, texture, and space? 

I’m not being a crybaby about this, it’s just that I’m easily bored with artwork that otherwise leaves me feeling cold, sick, or disgusted, regardless of what deeper interpretation I may have derived from it. I just don’t care to view images that present obese nudes, graphically depict extreme acts of violence, or otherwise illustrate the darker side of humanity. I have a greater appreciation for art that can trigger my interest in those heavier topics without it being forced down my visual throat, just as filmmakers did during the early days of black and white movies. To me, that’s being truly creative. 

The Chair Built for Two

There’s a chair designed specifically for separating into two chairs if needed. It can be very useful in seat accommodation, like at a waiting room or house festivities. We often feel awkward or aggravated when there are few too many seats to accommodate a larger group of people. This chair can relieve those feelings.

The utilitarian chair is called the Dividi, made by the company Kuadrat. The Dividi is inspired by Japanese culture, as the chair splits into a stool and a zaiso. Made from birchwood, Scandinavian woodgrain detail, and thick textured fabric, the Dividi is a beautiful chair.

Although the idea of the Dividi is interesting & very practical, I don’t believe the public of the United States would make use of it. They wouldn’t want to separate the chair and take the uncomfortable stool, or sit on the floor with the zaiso just to share with someone else. They’d rather have a whole chair to them self. Sadly, we live in a selfish society, where people only care about their wants and needs and not others’. However, I appreciate the thought of a chair designed for a positive and practical way to solve “the crowded room with few chairs” scenario.

Is The New Aldi Logo A Fail?

Aldi is a leading discount supermarket chain with stores in over 18 countries. The brand is based in Germany and started by two brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946. In my experience, many college students on a budget are attracted to the supermarket over their competitors. That may be why the company underwent a logo redesign, in hopes of modernizing their logo. However, this has sparked debate if the new logo Is successful.

The new “contemporary” logo is designed by Germany-based consultancy Illion Markensocietaet. The designers tried to create depth by using a gradient background, which goes against the flat design trend. Also, the designers chose a curved typeface, refined the borders, and have the blue “A” appear ribbon-like.

Personally, I believe the designers missed the mark with the redesign. The new logo is complicated rather than simplified in order to appear more modern. The dated gradient effect is the main offense of the design. Rather than a stronger brand identity, the new logo can be confused from that of an airline or gas station. Hear what other graphic designers had to say about the logo. What is your critique on the new Aldi logo?


The Total Package

When walking across the cereal aisle of a grocery store, shoppers are enveloped in a colorful sea of options. Some individuals already know right away what brand of cereal they want specifically. Other customers simply do not have the time to compare the pros and cons of products, so they result to judging by the packaging of the product. These shoppers choose to visually analyze the different brands available, based on the packaging design and their aesthetic preferences. With copious varieties of vibrant colors and attention-grabbing designs, shoppers are heavily influenced by product appearance, whether they know the brand or not.

For instance, when comparing the designs of generic store-brands like Great Value cereal and popular name brands like Kellogg’s cereal, customers will find the Kellogg’s brand to be more appealing because of the company’s reputation as well as the well-known, signature box designs. The food business highlights the importance in packaging design today, displaying the messages and promises of brands to their target market.

The success of food businesses today depends on their reputation as a brand and is heavily illustrated through appealing packaging. Ultimately, first impressions can easily make or break communication with potential customers.

Is Technology the Killer of Creativity?

Graphic design hasn’t always been technology based, some early forms of graphic design were done by hand. Since the rise of technology within our discipline some have questioned if it has hindered our ability to think creatively without relying solely on the computer as an aid. New tools and updates within design programs makes designing easier and faster. Some believe that this is the cause of designers depending on tools to help design instead of using personal creativity and problem solving abilities to achieve goals. Instead of using twenty different filters or new distort effects from new updates and patches for example others believe we should try to set our design apart through the use of creativity. I personally love technology and feel differently; I think technology is good for graphic design and love that it is always getting better. I feel that new tools will only enhance our creative ability as designers.


Is Technology Killing Creativity?


Designing for Friends

It always gets tricky as a designer when family members or friends expect free design work from you. If a designer gave free work to every friend they had, they would never make a dime. This being said, as professionals we need to stand by our prices and be firm about the quality services we are providing. Respecting your business will make others respect it as well.

This isn’t to say that every now and again you can’t be generous, and give the gift of your design. The difference is when the free work comes from the artist’s willingness, not a friend’s feeling of entitlement.

This week, my childhood best friend got married, and in preparation I had offered to create a wedding suite design as part of my wedding gift for her. The suite included save-the-dates, invitations, thank you cards, and all the works. What made this gift so special was the investment of time I had put into the suite.

I’ve always believed work made by hand comes from the heart and shows you made an effort. In respecting a designer’s time and skill as valuable, free gifts like these are worth much more than readily available and expected freebies.

Here is invitation design from the fall wedding suite:

Wh-y Do Designers Hate Hy-phens-?

In justified text, hyphenation is necessary to avoid distracting or unsightly spacing between letters or words. However, for a text block applying a ragged right margin, many designers would rather die a slow, painful death than use hyphenation (I’m not kidding; people have VERY strong opinions about this). The most common reasons I could find for these vehement feelings were merely aesthetic preference, and the belief that hyphens make text just slightly less readable. I think if it does make text any less readable, the amount is negligible. Hyphenation is a common tool used in published books and newspapers; people are so used to seeing the tiny dashes now that I don’t think they truly make any difference in a piece’s cohesion. Turning on/off hyphenation will give a flushed left block of text a different shape, so it just depends on the designer’s eye (or the client’s preference) for which version has less distracting shapes or spaces.

Interestingly, the aesthetic considerations of hyphenation change depending on the language. One person on a design forum mentioned that German has many longer words than English, in which case hyphenation would be even less avoidable. There are general rules of thumb for this, like a maximum of three consecutive hyphens over three lines. Some words in German need to be broken up in specific places or the meaning will change (ie. “beinhalten” and “bein halten” are entirely different words).

The debate is endless, but those designers who have no qualms with the hyphen should definitely be acquainted with the ground rules of their usage.

The Bitmojam

The Bitmoji app is the current popular craze that allows you to personalize your own avatar. As Aaron Gell puts it, “Bitmoji are perhaps best described as the mobile web’s version of Hallmark cards, but better.” You get to choose from a library full of hairstyles, outfits, poses, and moods. Bitmoji was originally Bitstrips that Snapchat bought out back in 2016 and integrated the app into its own. Many illustrators and animators that were on the Bitstrips staff work for Snapchat in their Toronto office. They have brainstorming sessions twice a week that are known as a Bitmojam and each week they launch 15 to 20 new bitmoji designs. Here’s how the team turns their concepts into these creative avatars:

1. Sketching concepts

The team brainstorms with six phrases and sketch out scenes on index cards until a timer stops. Some examples of the phrases are “I can’t even” or “You had one job”

2. Finding an expression

 A modified version of the bitstrips comics builder is used to create scenes with a generic avatar to find that perfect expression

3.  Fine-tuning the design

The team makes sure places the bitmoji on test avatars to make sure it fits within a frame


Read more about Snapchat’s bitmoji in Aaron Gell’s articles: