Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Designing A Better Customer Experience: A Lesson from Taco Bell

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photo by ferret111
I admit, I'm a Taco Bell junkie.

I visit the one near my work at least twice a week but in my defense, it's because I can get a full lunch for less than $5 and their drive-thru is pretty quick.

Having been there so many times I've come to appreciate this store's customer service and the affect it has on my overall perception of the Taco Bell brand.

Yesterday's visit was a good case-in-point of customer service done well, in the face of unexpected issues.

On this particular day the drive-thru speaker was out of commission. Rather than just post a sign (or even doing nothing at all, as I've seen many a fast-food restaurant do), this store had the shift manager outside, speaking to each customer as they got into line. He informed people of the issue, warned them that using the drive-thru would take some additional time, and what their options were (order at the window or park and order inside). Just this little bit of human interaction with clear information about what was going on put me at ease. It was clear what my options were and I was able to make an easy and quick decision.

And it was a great example of this store's desire to be proactive when a problem in their customer service design arises.

All to often I find businesses skipping great customer service just to push more orders through or to stay on top of the flow since they aren't adequately staffed. This bothers me, not only as a customer, but as a brand strategist.

When you skip customer service (or take shortcuts) you essentially tell your customers, "My bottom line is far more important than you, the one who makes my bottom line possible." This is short-sighted and reveals your lack of design thinking. And when the day is done, your brand has taken one more hit in the eyes of every customer who walked through your doors, visited your website, or called your phone line.

Every interaction with a person is a chance to make your brand shine. Don't sell your customer service short.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you find this to be a joyful day as you spend time with family and friends.

And perhaps you might take a moment to consider the reason that many celebrate this day. And no, I don't mean American consumerism — I'm talking about Jesus Christ. (Oops, did I just say that name?)

I'd suggest John, chapter 1 for a good overview of what it means for Jesus, the Son of God, to be born on this earth. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Like This: Abstract Black and White Photograph

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I like this photo. Actually I really like this photo.

Found at greyhandgang.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Launch' - A Free Desktop Background

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I have a lot of ideas. And a lot of them never see the light of day. But once in a while I do put it all together: concept and execution.

This is one of those times.




The concept for this little illustration has been rattling around my brain for a while. I think the tagline pretty much explains it:
LAUNCH
Flying is easy...
once you're off the ground.
These backgrounds are free for anyone to download for their own personal use. I hope they inspire you!

2560 x 1440
1900 x 1200
1680 x 1050
1440 x 900
1280 x 1024
1280 x 800
1024 x 768
iPhone
iPad

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Doodles

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It's been a busy season of life for me but even in the thick of things I've managed to keep the creativity flowing.

One of my favorite outlets for my creative brainstorms is doodling. Often my little pen and ink sketches are purely abstract, with really no meaning. I merely start drawing and see where the pen takes me.

Other times I have a specific idea in mind before I begin. But the point is always to keep it simple and small. I really like to draw small, for some reason.

Anyways, I've been kicking out quite a few of these recently and gained a little attention by posting them up on the new design social site, Dribbble.com. The Phoenix New Times culture blog even featured one of my doodles yesterday!

You can check out some of my other doodles on my flickr account, if you're so inclined.

I love doodling and I hope everyone stretches their creativity every now and again with some pen(cil) and paper. Don't worry about what comes out – these aren't going up in an art gallery! Just have fun, play around with shapes and patterns, and express yourself.

Be sure to let me know how your doodling goes. Leave a link in the comment section below – I'd love to see what you create!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Gap Logo and Thoughts on Branding

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If you hang out with me long enough you'll discover one of my huge passions is branding and company identities. Or just ask my friends. They know it all too well.

I'm not entirely sure what it is but I love the mixture of storytelling, visuals, icons, type, voice and business. So when the Gap released the latest iteration of their logo to the world – to the shock and horror of every designer on the planet – it got me thinking (again) about how crucial branding is for businesses.

While I loathe this new Gap logo, I have to admit that without the inside scoop on how they came to this visual decision I really can't jump too far down their throats. I am a firm believer that branding is far more than the end result of a logo or icon. If this were the case there is no reason why any major company would pay millions of dollars to rebrand. They fully understand that the final logo, their mark, is culmination of countless hours of research, creative brainstorming, concepting, critique, and analysis.

In listening to Debbie Millman interview NYC designer, Eric Baker, I discovered this quote from Mr. Baker that I feels puts branding into perspective:
Design doesn't begin at all until we've done some mood boards; we've looked at the competitive landscape; we see what we want to be and what we don't want to be. And then we can begin extracting from these visual cues what this identity might wish to be, what this brand wishes to be.
This is music to my ears. No designer should begin to create a logo until they have some sense of the identity, the character, the makeup of the company or organization for which the logo is to be created. And hopefully the decision makers within that organization have the same identity in mind.

So the next time you see a poor logo design or hear about a company spending huge wads of cash to rebrand, remember that it's the process, more than the final product that matters most. If you skip the process, you might as well just boot up Paint and make a logo yourself. I mean, c'mon, isn't everyone a designer these days?

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Word to Christians on Church Membership

I help manage and occasionally write for a blog called Humanitas Remedium with several other guys from my church. We hope to encourage our fellow Christ-followers and engage non-believers in discussion on who God is, why we all need salvation, and what the Bible really teaches.

Yesterday one of the guys posted a gospel hip-hop song which is focused on what it means to be a part of a church.

I thought the content of this song was too good not to repost here. Whether you're a member of a church or you've been holding out on plugging in to a local church body for decades, I highly encourage you listen to the words of this song. I firmly believe that formal association and participation in the body of Christ is crucial to the working out of your salvation in your life (if you are a Christian). This song does a much better job explaining my reasoning than I ever could.

Plus it's got a sick beat.





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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Design Portfolio: Microsoft Tag T-Shirt Kit



I recently designed this t-shirt kit as a giveaway to clients of R and R Images. In a previous campaign respondents were asked to give a website URL of their choice. A scannable Microsoft Tag was created for each URL, printed digitally on transfer paper and ironed on a t-shirt. Sales reps from the company then personally delivered the t-shirts in this branded kit.

I also wrote the tagline printed on the shirt, "Tag. You're It." and the kit tagline, "You've Been Tagged."

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

FORWARD: Phoenix Design Week 2010


After the resounding success of last year's inaugural Phoenix Design Week (PHXDW), the Phoenix design community has made it a goal to do it again, and do it better.

This year's event, titled "Forward," looks to take the momentum generated from last year and continue to build community, communication and excitement amongst Phoenix (and Arizona) designers.

The event is being held September 29 – October 3 and includes a number of design exhibits and receptions held over the week and culminating in a full-on conference on Saturday and Sunday.


Some of this year's national speakers include:
  • Brian Singer - reative director and founder of Altitude Associates in San Francisco
  • Hillman Curtis - filmmaker, designer and author from Portland
  • James Victore - artist
  • Mike Joosse - director of chapter development for AIGA
  • Paul Sahre - graphic designer, illustrator, lecturer, educator and author 
  • Von Glitschka - illustrator and designer


As well, a number of local designers and community members will be speaking and presenting on a wide-variety of topics, all centered around, of course, design.


I would highly recommend that if you are a designer in Arizona, or a creative individual looking to be a part of the creative community, that you sign up for this year's PHXDW! You won't regret it!

Head over to the website to register and to find out about how to participate.
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Are You Doing Work Worth Doing?

Seth Godin asks this question in a recent blog post of his:
Are you doing work worth doing, or are you just doing your job?
That is the question, isn't it? Take a minute to think. What are you doing right now, every day? Is it really worth doing? I sure hope so.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

What makes good leadership?

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“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” 
—Theodore Roosevelt 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" — Dan Pink

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Thanks goes to my uncle, Mark Donaldson of Donaldson Design Group for sharing this incredibly informative and creative presentation with me.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

PechaKucha Night Poster Design

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I'm making a momentary comeback from my self-imposed blogging hiatus to post this little design project tidbit. This was my poster design for the recent (and first) PechaKucha Night in Phoenix. My design was chosen as the official poster for this inaugural event! I'm very pleased...and humbled by the honor.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hiatus

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This is a note to those that keep up with me here that I will not be posting any new content to this blog for the foreseeable future. Life and work have been increasing in intensity and I don't have the time to commit to writing and posting as I once did. Perhaps I will be able to get back to this blog at some point but for now I am putting it on hiatus while I get my focus on.

You can still follow some of my daily thoughts and findings via my twitter account: @jerrythepunkrat or through my Google Buzz account.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Unpacked:Definition" Poster Design

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iSix:5 (as their site states) "is a collective of young urban men who share a passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ." This is spot on. These guys love Jesus. And they love hip-hop. Three of these guys go to my church and I'm honored to call them friends and get to hear them on occasion spit sick rhymes that display God's love!


With their new album, Unpacked, coming out April 6th I decided I'd celebrate by throwing together a poster design. The title of the album comes from the main theme of their songs—to unpack, or reveal, the good news of Jesus—so I played on this idea. Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Desktop Wallpapers: Resurgence

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If you're in need of some new desktop backgrounds, might I suggest these from Mars Hill Church's Resurgence organization? You may or may not agree specifically with some of their doctrinal views or even with Jesus and His gospel (good news) in general but these are definitely some well designed backgrounds. Enjoy!

(Click on the images below to go to the page at Resurgence and select your background size.)








Sunday, March 28, 2010

Video: Sound Sculptures by Zimoun

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It's 10 minutes long but this video is worth watching. Each of these installations is made of various tiny machines and motors creating a symphony of ambient sound. I also love the stark design of the installations and the emphasis on the sound and machines with very little in the way of distracting colors or shapes.

Found via Kitsunenoir.com

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Design Highlight: Beautiful Letterpress Invite from The Mandate Press

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I just love this letterpressed invitation. 4 colors. Metallic stock. Overprinting. And don't forget the amazing attention to detail in the illustration. Everything about it makes me go "oooooh!" Designed by the operator of The Mandate Press, a letterpress shop in Utah, it's not all that surprising it's so good. They know their craft.





Friday, March 26, 2010

Design Highlight: Illustrated Celestial Feats by Jez Burrows

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I stumbled on Jez Burrows portfolio site the other day and fell in love with his work, especially this Illustrated Guide to Amazing Feats of the Night Sky which he did for Tiny Showcase (another of my favorite places on the web). Very beautiful, minimalist designs showcased in this set with great attention to detail.





Monday, March 22, 2010

The State of the Internet (Video)

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I found this video recently rattling off stats regarding the internet which in turn reveals the enormity of the internet and it's affect on our lives. Oh, and the design and animations are killer. Great minimalist style.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Letterpress Coasters Video

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This video of making some letterpress coasters rocks my world! Love the blues music too.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Diego Stocco - Music from a Bonsai

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I discovered Diego Stocco's work a year or so ago and I continue to be amazed by what he comes up with. This one features a tiny bonsai tree...and some really sick musical genius!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Inspiration: Identity Package Design

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Another inspirational design from the studio of Lundgren+Lindqvist in Sweden.

This one is their own identity package—the result of their recent re-brand. While the variety of materials of the package is extensive (business cards, letterhead, envelopes, website, mugs, stamps, and a promotional poster) its the details that really blew me away.

The business cards alone art works of art: tri-plex paper stock, spot UV-coating, and even reverse embossing!

I'm quickly falling in love with these guys and their work after perusing their site and portfolio. One of the highlights is the tag line at the end of their company info section:
"Good design is good business."
I agree.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inspiration: Puzzle Poster

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Man, the things designers come up with to make print more engaging and interactive is just astounding to me. This amazing poster is perforated so that the recipient can tear out the various pieces which, are actually pieces of a puzzle! Brilliant!

And in all cases, in poster form, loose puzzle pieces, and as a completed puzzle, the design is beautiful.

This was designed by the Swedish firm, Lundgren+Lindqvist.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

24 Hours of World Air Traffic (Video)

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This time-lapse animation of the world's air traffic for 24 hours is an absolutely amazing visualization. It's interesting to me to see how the traffic ebbs and flows according to the time of day. As well, I was intrigued by the flow of international flights of Europe during the day vs. the United States during the day. Europe appears to me to have a larger center of focus—probably due to their closer proximity to Asia and Africa than the United States.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mad Libs in Your Forms Can Increase Response

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I stumbled on this article recently revealing that in testing on sites like Vast.com and Kelley Blue Book, having a "Mad Libs style" form can increase conversion by 25%-40%.

The way this style works is to have the fields you use to collect information from visitors formatted to be a part of a paragraph(s) of copy. In this way the visitor reads through the paragraph, filling in the blanks with their information to complete the form. This is opposed to a more traditional web form that merely puts up a  list of fields that to collect information with.

I suspect that this different format reads much easier and engages the visitor in a more interactive format. I can remember playing Mad Libs when I was a kid and it was definitely fun. I can imagine that this style  of form formatting could ad just a bit more amusement to the seemingly boring process of filling in information.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Incredible Abstract Varnish and Water Images

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I was turned on to this amazing series of photographs by a post on Kitsune Noir. The images are of varnish being poured into a fishbowl of water. Pure visual amazement for me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bob Dylan Illustration by Mark Weaver

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This one's mostly for my Dad (a huge Bob Dylan fan). But regardless it's a great illustration from the extremely talented Mark Weaver. I highly recommend checking out some of his other stuff on his Flickr account or his website.

Friday, March 12, 2010

iPhone Photography from Carl Zoch

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With the iPhone, Apple opened up a whole new world of mobile applications. And with the inclusion of an onboard camera everyone can easily snap half-way decent photos, process them, and publish to the web almost instantly.

Photographer Carl Zoch has taken this concept of the iPhone being capable of artistic and creative photography to new heights and shot an entire series of photos only with the iPhone. Oh, and did I mention he also processed the photos only with available applications for the iPhone? They turned out great. You seriously need to check this out.

Carl Zoch. iPhone Photography.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Design Highlight: Samaritan's Purse

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I love seeing great design being employed to help great causes and Samaritan's Purse definitely fits this bill. They are a non-profit, Christian relief organization who my wife and I have become involved with recently (at a very minimal level). We whole-heartedly agree with the approach these people take to serving people around the world in need with both necessary physical items, like food and shelter, as well as sharing with them the great news of Jesus Christ coming to die on their behalf that they might be freed from the bondage of sin and reconciled to our great and loving God.

And not only do they have a great mission, they have employed great design and branding across all fronts—from their website and emails to their printed newsletter and other printed collateral. I love the consistency found in their branding across all these communication mediums as well as the attention to detail and the ability to stay clean and fresh and the copious use of large, vibrant images. Major kudos to their design agency and/or in-house design team as well as their photographers.

If you get a chance I highly recommend checking them out and perhaps considering giving some of your time or money to them.

And feel free to enjoy their beautiful branding!

www.samaritanspurse.org/

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Book Review: "Designing Direct Mail that Sells"

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Designing Direct Mail That Sells by Sandra J. Blum (FYI: this is an Amazon.com affiliate link. They send me a small referral fee if someone buys this book through the link given on my blog.)

This book was loaned to me by a fellow graphic designer friend, Melissa Balkon, and it was well-worth the recommendation from her. I learned a ton about the basics of direct mail design.

The book covers a multitude of formats of direct mail and explains well the rules and tips of direct mail design. Most informative were the case studies that show-cased why certain conventions are followed. This was extremely helpful in my understanding of why certain conventions, that I considered ugly, are consistently used, time and again. Just because something's not 'pretty' doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't work. With direct mail (and most design, for that matter) it's all about the recipient. Who your intended audience and their persona should drive every copy and design decision.

Perhaps my one hang up with this book was that many of the case studies are now a bit dated. I would love to see some updates to include how conventions in direct mail have changed since this book was last published. Email and web marketing had not reached the level of use that we see today when the book was published and I'd be curious to see how some of these designers and copywriters have incorporated new technology into their direct mail strategies.

But even despite a bit of 'dated-ness' I'd highly recommend this book to any designer getting into direct mail design or really anyone, for that matter, who wants to understand how and why direct mail marketing works.

If you'd like to purchase this book from Amazon.com (and earn me a small bit of money) you can click the link above or use this link here. Thanks!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Seth Godin on Trying Different vs. Trying Harder

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"Trying harder is impossible when you're already trying as hard as you can.
But you can always try different."  —Seth Godin 
Interesting thought when you're feeling stuck. You can read the rest of the post on Godin's blog.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Rory Sutherland on How Advertising Can Create Value (video)

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Rory Sutherland—Vice President at Ogilvy—gives a talk at TED about the need for more perceived value in the things that already exist. And how advertising and branding can help us to appreciate not only the latest but even things that have been with us all along. Interseting, engaging, and thoughtful presentation.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Focus 2010 Poster Design

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Back around the New Year I wrote a little about some of my resolutions for 2010. One big one was "Focus." I really want to pursue a more focused life-style and game plan for 2010, one that narrows in on the things that really matter to me (like emboldening my love for Jesus and people around me as well as producing great designs and creative projects).

Here's one more step in that direction: a poster design centered on this idea of "focus."

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Michael Bierut from Pentagram Talks About Designing for Clients

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SignalNoise had this video up on the blog back in February and I finally got around to watching the whole thing. Great insight into working with clients, from an industry leader in identity design.

Monday, March 01, 2010

"Can you really quantify creativity?"

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This is the question posed by brand agency SarkissianMason with the launch of their newly redesigned website. The home page sports a glut of metrics they've "collected" from their creative process—things like "mouse miles travelled," "Ideas Generated," and "Bathroom Methane" levels—all in a tongue-in-cheek attempt to point out the answer: you can't measure creativity.

It's really about the emotions. 
In their explanation for the new site SM poses that consumers and buyers buy first with their emotions, not their rational minds (even when they say differently). And placating to the masses with freebies and sweet offers and marketing gimicks only attracts those who hunt for the ever-elusive killer deal rather than true brand evangelists who will shout your praises from the mountain tops. For the most part I have to agree.

Apple. King of Branding.
I mean, just look at Apple. When's the last time these guys had a "one-time-only smoking deal" on a new product or gave stuff away to get you to come to their site? They haven't. And if they continue to play smart, they won't. Why? Because they don't have to—they've built a brand around emotions first.

Either you love them or hate them but rarely do you find people who are ambivalent. And their products appeal to those who love who Apple is—smart, sexy, cutting-edge and creative. And Apple makes a killing ($40 billion a year) by rounding up their lovers and getting them to buy in to the whole family. What's even more amazing is that Apple does it with a family of only 40 or so products. They totally get that if you spread yourself too thin you have a hard time honing in on the emotions that matter for the people that love (or will love) your brand. Focus, patience and consistency in your brand will pay off.

Data Still Counts.
Don't get me wrong though. Data still has it's place. A survey can be a great way to start figuring out what people think about your brand or help you narrow in on that perfect person who will buy your products over and over and over. And numbers can be a great indicator of where you've been and where you're going. But if your sales numbers are slumping and your headache count is climbing it may be time to analyze your brand's overall emotional impact rather than throw out a cheap, gimmicky fix. Be brave. Be bold. Jump hard and long. Lead the pack with big, creative ideas and those numbers will go up.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crazy awesome stop-action block animation video

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This crazy stop-action video was shot completely with painted blocks of wood. Definitely visually inspiring! And those beats are wicked!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Beautiful Tilt-shift Video of NYC

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This really is an amazing video. The tilt-shift lens effect brings such a unique perspective to the Big Apple. The people, cars and construction machines seem so small and almost insignifcant as they race between the buildings.

Oh, and the video's got some great original music to boot!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Carolina Chocolate Drops play some folk-hop and other cross-music goodness

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If you haven't figured out yet I love music. Most any style can be found in my collection—rock, pop, folk, hip-hop, electronica, etc. But I have this certain love for musicians who take traditionally acoustic music styles and mix them up with some modern works. Here's some favorites of mine:







Monday, February 22, 2010

Is this the future of print?

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With the release of Apple's iPad, Wired magazine and Adobe team up to describe what could be a brand new world for 'print' magazines.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Design Portfolio Inspiration: BUILD

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BUILD, a British design studio, has a gorgeous portfolio site I stumbled on today. I love the minimalistic approach to showcasing their work on the main page. Just scrolling through is way fun!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Love Letterpress

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And apparently so do these guys...


KLUGE from Northern Lights on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Type Tide Blog

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Hear ye, hear ye. All typophiles gather 'round! I've discovered a great type blog called Type Tide. And so far it's great.

Oh, and they actually list the font-face used in the design. Brilliant.

Check it out! Type Tide. Curated by Typographica.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teux Deux: A Review

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TeuxDeux (pronounced like "to do") is a simple, online, daily task organizer. I first mentioned this application on the Semi-Daily Dose a couple months ago and have been increasingly using it to keep track of my daily tasks ever since. I now use two different accounts (one for work and one for at home) and even convinced my wife to use it. Oh, and did I mention that it's free? I'm hooked!

In light of this I thought I'd share a it about the application and what I really enjoy about it.

Probably the best aspect of TeuxDeux is its utter simplicity. After signing up for a free account you're taken to the main screen which shows you the next seven days, a simple list under each day, and another section at the bottom for "Someday" tasks. Right off the bat there's little room for confusion as to where to put tasks.

Once you start putting tasks in and getting them done you simply click on them again. They get a simple line through them and grey out so you know they're knocked out. Oh so satisfying.

You can also re-order tasks in each days list by simply grabbing them and dragging. You can drag them up or down in a list or even drag them over to another day's list. This is a really handy feature missing from other simple, free, online tasks list organizers—one that I definitely enjoy.

The main window defaults to show only the next seven days but if you want to jump forward or back in time you can always use the arrows at each side to get there. I rarely find myself using these much since planning further out than a week or two for tasks doesn't help me much. I focus much more on the immediate ones and if it's a long-term task or one that's not a high priority I just put it down in the 'Someday' list. I can always grab it and drag it up when I need to assign it to a specific day.

Overall—simply a great task list organizer! I highly recommend it.

The only conceivable downside that I've found is it lacks an iPhone or other smartphone app. I don't have either so it's not a big deal to me however I'm sure that this feature would be extremely helpful for many.

Here's a video produced by the guys who made TeuxDeux that explains more about the interface and features.

Monday, February 15, 2010

David Ogilvy On Management

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Do not summon people to your office - it frightens them. Instead go to see them in their offices. This makes you visible throughout the agency. A Chairman who never wanders about his agency becomes a hermit, out of touch with his staff. —David Ogilvy
Seriously. Every time someone gets called to the bosses office their stomach drops into their shoes. Nobody wants to work where everyone's got acid reflux.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Third & The Seventh—Beautiful CG Video

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I was blown away with the CG work in this video—the attention to detail is impeccable.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

David Ogilvy On Lying in Advertising

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You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine.  —David Ogilvy

Friday, February 12, 2010

Google Buzz: A Privacy Concern

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I am a big Google fan and have loved most (if not all) of their products. I don't know what I would do with out Gmail and their Google Documents and Sites have been organizational life-savers for me in my work and personal life. I also employ social networking quite a bit and so when Google came out with Google Buzz yesterday I was intrigued.

Essentially Google Buzz is a paired down version of Facebook, allowing you to post status updates for your followers to see as well as link your activity on a multitude of other sites like Twitter, Picasa, blogs, etc.

At this point I don't see Google Buzz being a Facebook killer but it will definitely take a piece of the Facebook/Twitter market share and get Google a few more ad dollars as they will be able to keep their users on their site for a bit longer.

One concern that I do have is privacy. If you choose to make your Google Buzz profile public, they default your public page to include your username...which is also your Gmail address. For some, who want to keep this address as private as possible, having their email address available for spammers to harvest may not be ideal.

You can change your public profile address to use a numerical sequence but for others trying to find it this may become hard to search for or remember. Not ideal. At this point Google does not have the ability to request your own custom public profile username like Facebook does. It would not surprise me to see Google roll out this feature in the near future.

For now, if you're concerned about the privacy of your Gmail address I recommend either taking your public page down or opting out of Google Buzz.

There are a few more privacy concerns raised with Google Buzz but I don't think many of them matter as much as the privacy of your Gmail address. If you want to read about these check out this article from MSNBC.

For myself, I'm not super concerned about these privacy issues. My email address is out there enough as it is and the advantage of having my public profile searchable and easy to find outweighs the issue. And I'm sure Google will address this fairly soon. I see enough people, used to the detailed privacy controls of Facebook, making enough fuss to cause some changes.

If you want to follow me on Google Buzz feel free to head over to my profile page at www.google.com/profiles/jerrythepunkrat

Weird Al Takes on Bob Dylan With Palindrome Style (video)

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I'm a big fan of palindromes, my dad loves Bob Dylan, and Weird Al Yankovic is probably one of the most creative entertainers ever. So when I saw the video of Weird Al's parody of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," I had to share. Enjoy!

(For those of you who don't know, palindromes are words or phrases that are spelled the same way forwards and backwards, like "Was it a car or a cat I saw?")

Press Kit Design Inspiration

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I posted yesterday some helpful articles on how to create a successful press kit. Today I thought I would post a few inspirational designs of press kits from around the web as a follow up. These designs are not limited to only musician press kits but can serve to inspire just about any press kit/brochure/informational kit you might be working on.

Enjoy!

I hope you are inspired! If you have your own press kit designs or know of some design inspirations please, feel free to post some links in the comments.