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!


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.