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Bedazzled Fingernails: A Case Study on the Sights and Sounds of Mastodon

Mastodon, perhaps you’ve heard of them, perhaps not. Either way, its no secret that these Atlanta-based prog-metal titans are making a name for themselves. Active since 2000, the band has paved the way for so many smaller bands all while taking what it means to be stereotypically ‘metal’ and absolutely crush it.

The band’s first four albums, Remission, Leviathan, Blood Mountain, and Crack The Skye were four concept albums that centered on overall themes of the elements: fire, water, earth, and air/aether, respectively. Musically, these records are considered metal essentials by many. The artwork and design is another story in its entirety. Each album has artwork that not only follows the concept of each album in terms of elements, but also follows it lyrically. Using vivid tones and powerful brush strokes, each cover draws the audience’s eye in with each subsequent release. Each of these albums was done by Paul Romano.

Maybe the most iconic of their releases is their fifth album, The Hunter. The cover itself was designed by wood carver AJ Fosik who created a very detailed sculpture for the album art.

To check these guys out, listen to their music, buy their merch, or see their artwork, head on over to their official website.

The New Look

When an iconic brand goes through a change, it will always be a big change, but not always successful. The Coca-Cola Company just went through a huge re brand of their Diet Coke products due to falling sales. In statements given by the Coca-Cola company, they stat that they wanted a new modern look to their company. With that idea in mind, they dropped their signature swirls, wave, and serif font on their logo. With a block of vibrant color to represent the new flavors and hybrid serif/sans-serif font they crafted, the new look is pretty successful on the can version, when they are all put together. The new simplistic vector illustrations on the can are much less distracting than the old overly detailed version of the older designs. Although successful for the cans it does not quite translate as well for the bottle. With this packaging there is different positioning and seems much more claustrophobic because of the touching edges.

Deconstructing Spider-Man: Stan Lee’s Balancing Act

Comic book legend Stan Lee’s original 100 consecutive issue run on The Amazing Spider-man from 1964 to 1971 is widely considered one of the greatest spans of writing in comic book history.

In the 1960s, The Amazing Spider-Man was a refreshing take on the increasingly predictable superhero genre, as it featured a young hero dealing with the real-life problems that come with keeping a secret identity. One of the most innovative aspects of the comic is the way that Lee expertly weaves together the threads of Spider-man’s heroics and Peter Parker’s hapless social life.

Due to my love for these comics, I was eager to deconstruct just how Lee managed to create such a seamless and compelling story.  Particularly, I was interested in visually understanding how the narrative of the story balanced Spider-man’s adventures with Peter Parker’s adolescence. I mapped out the narratives of two issues, #45 and #46, to better understand the way that Lee worked his magic and spun a web into the heads of readers worldwide.


When viewing these images, something to note is that Stan (and the artist, John Romita) usually transitions from Spidey to Peter mid-page, most likely to continue the flow for the reader and maintain interest.

Ultimately, this design decision is distinctive to the comics medium, as the page itself plays a role in shaping the narrative.

Design is Not Art

Ooo you’re an art major? You must be able to draw really well! I watch as the excitement leave their face when I tell them that I can not draw to save my life, I do graphic design. The look on their face goes from “how you think you’re going to make a living on that” to an expression that’s less worried.  After that, I get to geek out and tell them all about the wonderful ways that design is not art. Design has some art elements in it but has more purpose than a piece of art. People who are not in the design field have no idea the difference. It is our duty to educate people on the difference and start addressing our major as design instead of art. In the design field, artistic elements like the rule of thirds are used but do not make up the whole process.

Read more here!

Clients and Communication

Working with clients is one of the best and worst parts of being a designer. I enjoy listening to clients describe the things they are passionate about and want me to help them create design solutions for, but when it comes to receiving feedback from clients, as a designer you can be stuck waiting.

Since beginning my work as a graphic designer for the Office of Student Involvement, I have been able to work on multiple projects with various student organizations and offices. I often meet in person for an initial consultation and then continue to communicate via email with my clients, and sometimes they don’t respond in a timely manner. If there is one thing that I’ve learned about working with clients while at my job it’s that I need to be on top of communicating with them.

Like in any relationship, communication is key. Completing a project efficiently and with the least amount of revisions is about effective communication–everyone needs to be on the same page. As the designer you need to have the best idea possible as to what your client wants and the changes they need. It gets tricky when the client doesn’t know what they want; when this happens, it is important as a designer to be descriptive, but concise when explaining the options your client has. It also can be difficult waiting for your client to give you feedback on your latest design, but be patient.

An article about Best Practices for Building Client Relationships

The Perfect Tool

Where would artist, designers, and writers be today without the pencil? Beyond a doubt, the pencil is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. There are so many variations to choose from: wooden, woodless, mechanical, etc. As a designer, I am picky when choosing my perfect tool.

Choosing what pencil to buy can be a very personal decision for some people. Here are some of the things that I have determined to be important when purchasing a pencil: style, usability, how it feels, and value. Based off these criteria and the pencils I have purchased over the years, I have found the Paper Mate Precision 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil to be the perfect tool.

The Paper Mate Precision is a sleekly designed mechanical pencil that comes in white with a gray rubber grip. Taking a 0.5mm lead, the pencil can write finer than typical 0.7mm mechanical pencils. A small white eraser is located at the top of the pencil underneath a metal cap. I’ve been using this pencil for notes and sketching for years because it feels good to use it; writing with the pencil is smooth and it feels comfortable in the hand. The body of the pencil is solid and has some weight to it which gives it a high-quality feel.  The Precision is reasonably priced for its quality. A two-pack is under ten dollars and comes with eraser refills and pencil leads.

If you’re ever considering purchasing a new mechanical pencil, I recommend the Paper Mate Precision.

If you are like me and tend to erase a lot, try these: Pentel Twist Erase III or Paper Mate Clearpoint

Video Game Cover Art

While browsing video game stores looking for something new to play, either physical or online, the first thing I see is the cover art of the game. The style and images can give me an idea of what kind of adventure I’ll find playing the game. Some covers are more appealing than others, and sometimes I would be interested in a game because of the art only to look at the description and find out it’s a Candy Crush clone with a new palette. Not all are that misleading though, and can give you a glimpse of the feeling you will get while playing the game.

Some are about adventure and exploration, so they have some landscape in the background. Others are about challenges and have a character reaching out towards something. And some are about scary haunted houses and will let you know with a spooky house in front of a setting sun indicating that dark and spooky times are to come.

Less is More

In the past decade I noticed we are getting more and more minimal with design. Whether it is graphic design, interior design, or even architectural design, the more minimal the design the better. We enjoy a crisp and clean environment.


If we take a look at a website design back in the 80’s we can see how cluttered and confusing the site is to navigate on. If we saw a site like that today, chances are, the average person would be stressed out just looking at it. Why wasn’t simplicity a necessity then? Are we just now understanding that user experience affects the outcome of the product and that simplicity is more pleasing to the eye? With minimalist lifestyle on the rise, we have to take into consideration as designers what the user wants and what attracts them the most.

When you think you have it all figured out

Story of my life. I started out this semester on top of everything. I even bought a new planner to organize and plan my weekly schedule. Well, sometimes things don’t work out as planned and when you don’t plan for bad things, chaos takes over. As a designer in training, I have to be ahead of the game and prepared for the worst; my professor ripping my hard work into shreds. This has not happened to me…yet…but I have heard the horror stories of work my shredded to pieces in front of the entire class!

As designers in training, our classroom environment is set up like the workplace. Time management is everything and draft, draft, draft. This semester has been rough taking 18 credits and working thirty hours a week. If you are pursuing a career in design, make sure you take into consideration the workload and have a healthy balance between work, school and personal time. All I can say is, coffee has been my best friend.

Poster Designs for TV Series

Designing successful and interesting TV show posters might be tricky for designers when they have to make the decision of what images should represent the feeling or main selling points for a show. Many TV shows have relied on just showing the main character and the title of the show, but there are some who are still trying to make a more interesting design that relates to the contents of the show. The following are some examples that use the plot of the show as part of the design choices.

La Casa de Papel, aka Money Heist (terrible name translation in my opinion), is about a group of robbers who intend to make the perfect robbery inside the place where money is printed in Spain. The poster design very much reminiscent of a bill of currency in both style and colors.

Surely, most readers will know about Black Mirror in some way or another. The series is an anthology of non-sequential episodes taking place in a dystopian not-too-far future each making us scared of our phones and daily technology a little more each time around. The cracked phone screen image on the title poster is something most have unfortunately seen a some point, and that in itself recalls unpleasant memories sort of like a sample for prospective viewers.

There are many other shows that do this too, and are very interesting to look and find how they relate to the plot as we learn more through watching it.