Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saul Bass on Making Money vs. Quality Work (video)

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I want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares.
I'm with Saul on this one. I would much prefer to make a design I'm proud of than to maximize the profit at the expense of quality.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seth Godin on the Importance of Type

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Even when you choose something as simple as a typeface, be prepared for people to misunderstand you.
—Seth Godin
Wise words. Even the type (fonts) we use say something about us. Godin goes on to explain some really helpful guidelines for getting your type right. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and my favorite tip: "Hire a designer, put in some effort."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Island, Is" by Volcano Choir (video)

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I love the sound Volcano Choir has put together and this video, with all it's visual simplicity and minimalism, is a perfect match to that sound.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Email Tips

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I thought I'd share a few articles and links I've found that are helpful for launching email campaigns.

Design and Build Email Newsletters Without Losing Your Mind (and Soul)
This is a great article written by Matthew Patterson from Campaign Monitor (a great email campaign system that I highly recommend) at Smashing Magazine. Matthew breaks down designing and building an email newsletter with 10 simple tips to make your newsletter effective and as hassle-free as possible.

Here's the 10 points he goes on to explain in the article:
  1. Respect your reader. Don’t waste their time or attention.
  2. Ask nicely first.
  3. Focus on relevance.
  4. Design with a goal in mind, so that you’ll know if it worked.
  5. Make unsubscribing easy.
  6. Code like it’s 1999 (literally) and use inline CSS.
  7. Always include a plain text version.
  8. Don’t assume that images will be viewed.
  9. Follow the law.
  10. Test everything before sending, because you can’t take it back.
The over-arching theme of the article is: your reader comes first. Do everything you can to cater to your ideal reader for your newsletter and people will love to read it.

Video in Email
Campaign Monitor has a done a great service to email campaign builders everywhere with this article which surveys their research in using video in emails. They've covered a wide gamut of video formats and email clients and services to help you decide if using video in your email campaign is worth it. If you are thinking of using video in your next campaign you may want to think about hosting it external to your email. Campaign Monitor's findings reveal that most email systems (like Gmail or Yahoo) will strip out most video formats so your readers probably won't get to see the email right in their email.

Campaign Monitor's Email Gallery
Campaign Monitor posts and highlights great email designs that come through their system. If you're looking for some ideas for your next email template design or just want to see what other people are up to I highly recommend this gallery.

I hope you find these helpful. Happy emailing to all of you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Arturo Herrera Talks About Making Powerful Images (video)

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Artist Arturo Herrera talks about what it takes to make powerful images and how to continue to push himself in making those images in a culture inundated with visual stimuli from every direction.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Social Media ROI: Socialnomics (video)

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A very interesting look at the power of social media in business and marketing.


How are you using social media?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Music I Recommend: Brandi Carlile, The Appleseed Cast, Bonobo

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"Looking Out" from Give Up The Ghost by Brandi Carlile



"Steps and Numbers" from Low Level Owl 1 by The Appleseed Cast



"Recurring" from Days To Come by Bonobo (the stand-up bass part about half-way through is killer)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Making Of: Jay Z's Blueprint 3 Album Cover

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Having recently finished my band's album artwork I've developed a new found respect for artists, designers, and photographers who work on album covers. Personally, I love the mix of design and art that comes from the making of a good album cover. Recently I stumbled on this time-lapse video showing the making of the photograph for the cover of Jay Z's Blueprint 3 album and was again amazed to see how much time and detail is put into something like this.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where I've Been - Number 11

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In the course of a few days I tend to find some interesting things here and there around the web. Here's a few from lately.
  • Moldy Paper Textures - If you're a designer or digital illustrator you probably love freebie textures. These are some pretty good ones of crumpled and grungy paper textures.
  • Formspring.me - a simple little web application that lets you sign up for an account where people can anonymously ask you questions. Here's mine if you want to ask me anything.
Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The State of Phoenix Design

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As I've progressed in my love for (and career in) graphic design I've begun to keep tabs on the local design scene here in Phoenix, Arizona. The last 12 months have proven to be busy for the creative community here in town. Here are some highlights that I thought would be worth mentioning:
  • Gangplank - I'm not really sure of the hazy details of Gangplank's history, but it's basically a co-working space in Chandler, centered around developing innovation in Phoenix (and it's environs). Much of the impetus for the movements within the creative community in the last year have either come from or been supported heavily by individuals and businesses associated with Gangplank.
  • PHXDW - Also known as Phoenix Design Week, in October I watched this inaugural event take the Phoenix design community by storm. Based on the ideas and passion of local designer Mark Dudlik to put Phoenix on the design map, over 400 fellow designers, illustrators, web developers and creative community members showed up and countless organizers and volunteers were galvanized to make it happen. I truly hope this is merely the beginning of pushing our city towards creative relevance.
  • PhxLayers - based on Coudal Partners' Layer Tennis photoshop 'competition,' the first season of PhxLayers pitted local designers (including myself) against one another in a battle for image-manipulation bragging rights. Oh, and got the word out about Phoenix Design Week. Gotta love creative promotions. By the way, there's rumors of a second season starting up some time this spring. Guess I should get to practicing.
  • Dojo Collective - while planning and organizing Phoenix Design Week, Mark Dudlik and Dave Bjorn combined their passions for design, education, and community outreach and started this collective, focused on mentoring the next generation of designers through community projects and one-to-one mentoring. From what I hear, Spring 2010 will see them ramping up several projects to get the creative community to reach out the greater Phoenix community.
  • Sprawl - boy, Mark Dudlik is a very busy man. Sprawl is an extension of Dudlik's work to galvanize the creative community in Phoenix by providing an initiative behind which to promote Phoenix designers. Rock on, Mr. Dudlik.
I'm looking forward to what all 2010 has in store for designers here in Phoenix, and for the greater community of the city as well!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where I've Been - Number 11

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Here are some highlights from around my neck of the internet woods:
  • Graffiti Markup Language - basically a new XML standard (i.e. technical coding mumbo jumbo) in order to archive graffiti tags. Pretty technical stuff but the things people are doing with this new tech is pretty cool. You can check out the video for some demonstration.
  • 2010 Marketing Plan and Calendar - I'm not sure if this specific product is the right fit for you but if you run a business I would highly recommend setting a marketing plan each year. This is a great way to keep your marketing going which is more than half the battle.
  • CopyBox - if you're a copywriter who writes copy for online ads you'll probably be interested in this one. CopyBox bills their product as the "photoshop for writers." Essentially it helps copywriters author variable and dynamic copy for online ads. Definitely worth checking out.
  • "HP Computers Are Racist" Video - This one is pretty funny. A fine example of tech-fail. HP's new face-tracking software fails to track this guy's face. Oops.
I hope you enjoy these little tidbits!

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    John Entwistle Is Sick

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    Seriously. This guy can play bass. Just ridiculous.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Where I've Been - Number 10

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    Here's a few places I've discovered recently on the web that I thought would be worth sharing:
    • Commercial Type - a new font foundry (a company that designs and sells fonts) with a very interestingly designed site.
    • Bethlehem Baptist Church (where John Piper preaches) has redesigned their website. Clean, simple and easy to navigate. Nice job guys!
    I hope these were useful and inspiring for you!

    Saturday, January 09, 2010

    Bon Iver-Related Music

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    Last year I discovered the music of Bon Iver. Since then I've stumbled on some more great music from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver's front man) and some of his former bandmates. Here's some recommendations:
    • Deyarmond Edison's Silent Signs- Deyarmond Edison was Justin Vernon's band in North Carolina before he left and started Bon Iver. They're sound is a a bit more traditional Americana than Bon Iver.
    • Blood Bank - Bon Iver's follow-up EP to their debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Some really good songs on here though it does play with a bit less cohesiveness as For Emma, Forever Ago.
    • Unmap by Volcano Choir, a side-project of Justin Vernon. This one's experimental ambient folk-ish—more instrumental than Bon Iver. I've been really digging this album for the last few weeks.
    • Gather, Form & Fly by Megafaun. After Justin Vernon left Deyarmond Edison, several of his old band-mates started this band, Megafaun. I got to see them open for Bon Iver when they came to town and they put on a great show with some great music. They have a more traditional folk/Americana sound than Bon Iver but also have a bit of an experimental streak. I'm not sure if this experimental side comes out much on the albums (as I haven't yet purchased any of them yet) but a lot of their live music devolves into some really intense experimental stuff using their traditional folk instruments and a minimal amount of digital processing.
    Enjoy!
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      Friday, January 08, 2010

      Where I've Been - Number 9

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      Life has gotten a little crazy for this jerrythepunkrat and I haven't been able to quite keep up to date with all the places I've been around the web. Here's a stab at starting to fix that.
      • Showcase of Modern Web Design Trends by Smashing Magazine - Smashing Mag usually does a good job with these list and round-up articles on design trends. This one did a pretty good job capturing the major web design trends going around right now.
      • Pocket Guide to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - Produced by Forty Agency, a local marketing agency, this short and sweet freebie guide to SEO is great for those who are just figuring out what it means to market on the web. As always, the copywriting is brilliant, the design is tight, and the content is useful. You should definitely check this one out, regardless of whether you care what SEO stands for or not—you might just learn something.
      • Dave Hill - I've seen this guy's photography portfolio before but stumbled on it again recently and was again blown away. If I had to choose just one photographer shoot my band this would probably be the guy. The level of detail, image complexity, and breadth of values in his works is incredible.
      • Scans of Medieval Book Pages - I stumbled on this collection of scans of old book pages on Flickr. Some of the ornament illustrations are just incredible.
      • Barnbrook website - this design studio in London has employed a really unique way to display its portfolio—each image is displayed as the background of the site, with navigation and info elements floating on top.
      • Chris Meisner design portfolio - I found out that this guy is a local Phoenix designer. So far I love his work. Simple, clean design style with a slight hand-crafted feel.
      Have a great day, folks.

      Thursday, January 07, 2010

      Video: "Free" Cover by Ben Rector

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      I rediscovered this video floating around in my email archives. Thought it was worth sharing here. Its got some good music with a great concept of layering sounds all in one video take.

      Wednesday, January 06, 2010

      Where I've Been - Number 8

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      Just a few places I've been around the internet lately:
      • Powercurl - a handy addition to the Mac power cable to keep it neat and tidy for traveling and storage
      • 12 Examples of Paragraph Styles (for the web) - Jon Tangerine, web typographer extraordinaire, has put together twelve different examples of styling paragraphs of text on the web, including CSS style code for each. I'm preparing to build a couple different blog themes this year and these will definitely come in handy.
      • Free Slab Fonts - need some new fonts? Slab fonts are all the rage right now. Here's a bunch of free ones. Most are free to use on personal or commercial work. A couple are limited to only personal work but read the limitations of use for each one to be sure.
      • Doe Eyed - this site is the personal portfolio of illustrator and designer Eric Nyffeler (of Lincoln, Nebraska). He has some amazing work. I especially love the poster designs. Plus his site navigation's a bit funky and fresh.
      • Desktop Calendar Wallpaper downloads - if you're looking for a cool desktop background for your computer that has a calendar up for January, be sure to check out this huge list of free ones.
      • Movie Title Stills Collection - a massive inventory of screenshots of the opening title from movies, spanning 1920 to the present. A designer's goldmine of inspiration for old and new-school type treatments and inspiration.
      • Kellerhouse - this design studio has worked on a ton of movie posters and DVD packaging. Some really great designs in here.
      • Time Management for Creative People by Mark McGuinness - this free PDF download looks like a promising guide to helping me get my time under control. I'll let you know how things go. Here's short and sweet article from McGuinness about why creatives need to be organized and manage their time well.
      • Friends of Type - a promising gallery of interesting samples of type treatment, updated frequently. I'll definitely be bookmarking this one for future inspiration.
      Check ya later, my peeps.

      Tuesday, January 05, 2010

      Online Communities Map

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      Back in 2007 my uncle (a Nashville graphic designer) sent me a link to this brilliant (and humorous) visualization of the web:


      My wife happened to stumble on the image in cleaning out her emails and boy, things sure have changed in the last 2 years.

      One of the biggest changes my wife noticed was Myspace and Facebook. Since 2007 Facebook has sky-rocketed to the top of the pack of social sites, even getting more hits on Christmas day than any other site (including Google). According to Facebook's stats page, their network now has over 350 million members worldwide. And there are more than 700,000 local businesses with pages up on Facebook as well. Looks like Facebook is the place to be in the social networking/media world right now.

      Another interesting item from the above map was the complete absence of Twitter. Though not technically a social network in the strictest sense (but rather more of a communication tool) it has been the hot topic for social media and networking in 2009 and boasts one of the fastest growing memberships amongst online communities. It's amazing that two years ago it wasn't even on the radar for most people. Such is the nature of internet trends: they come hard and fast (and usually disappear just as quickly).

      What do you think about Facebook, Twitter and social networking sites? Does the business you own or work for use social media marketing? Why or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

      Monday, January 04, 2010

      The Importance of Details in Communication

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      It's amazing what the small details can do in communicating best to others.

      Take this traffic light concept for example:


      A standard street light is pretty simple: red means you stop; green means you're clear to go; yellow means a the light is going to change to red soon. And yet there is something crucial not communicated with a standard street light—how soon is it going to change.

      I can't count the number of times I've sat at a light waiting for it to change from red to green and been watching the crosswalk signals to find out how close we are to being able to go. I'm sure you find yourself doing it too. This proves that only a little bit of extra info can be really important.

      And here, in the concept picture above, a simple series of lights around the outside of the main light, that count-down the red light, give us this information clearly without much interference to the current system of communication.

      This approach can be taken in nearly every system of communication we engage in and use: our everyday conversations, public speaking, emails, advertising, web sites, phone calls, cell phone texts, product packaging, even in branding and identity—the list can go on and on. In every system that we use to communicate with others we can probably do it a little better. And sometimes all it takes is some simple changes.

      For example, when you're giving a presentation (i.e. public speaking) or even in face-to-face conversations, what does your body language communicate? That you didn't get much sleep last night? That you're nervous? Or maybe your body language is pretty much mute and isn't helping you out at all?

      How about all those cell phone texts you send? What does your spelling and grammar say? It may sound trivial—and maybe it is—but every little detail says something about you and the message you are trying to get across.

      One more example: how about your business logo? What does the shape and color communicate? Does the font your name is displayed in say anything? Maybe you don't even have a logo—what does that say to people?

      Some things you do don't need to change much, if at all, to communicate your message the best that it can. But maybe some things need to change a lot.

      What little things have you noticed that make you a better communicator? Is there anything that you notice you need to change to better communicate with others?

      Sunday, January 03, 2010

      Inspiration: Abduzeedo Poster by Signalnoise

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      There's a few illustrators/designers who produce work that I consistently just love. Signalnoise is definitely one of these. His use of vivid colors, abstract space imagery and vector shapes always hits home with me. Here's one of his latest posters, a project commissioned for the Brazilian design-related site, Abduzeedo.com.


      Saturday, January 02, 2010

      On Living Each Moment as It's Own

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      A hero of mine, John Piper, recently re-posted an article (10 Resolutions for Mental Health) in which he explains the great impact his professor Clyde Kilby had on his own life. Kilby helped Piper to open his eyes to see the glorious nature of each moment if seen as a part of a life lived before a loving Creator.

      I highly recommend reading through all the resolutions but one from Kilby that Piper lists rang especially true in our current circumstances:
      I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.
       I've been thinking about the noise and distractions of our present lives lived in this 21st century—a century begun right smack in the middle of the information revolution. With the advent of the internet—the ease to which it brings just about any information before us and the ease to which it gives us to push our priorities in front of others—I've felt myself being buried alive under the massive weight of all these various channels screaming for my attention. And on top of this lies the perceived pressure to keep up; to remain current with this tidal wave of information sources. The "devilish onrush" of our current times is weighing me down mightily.

      The quote from Kilby brought a relieving reminder—each moment need not be lived in fearful anticipation of making the most future moments. But my focus needs only be to fulfilling this moment, the one right before me, as the moment to live well. Amen. Those are soothing words to my ever-distracted soul.

      Have you found the "devilish onrush" of our present times overwhelming at times? How have you dealt with this? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

      Friday, January 01, 2010

      Chop Cup Video

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      This video is just too great not to share—what seems like a simple magic trick turns reality on its head. Be sure to watch it all the way through.




      (Video found via the ISO50 blog.)

      Happy New Year!

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      2010 is looking to be a busy year for me with lots of great things already set up. I can't wait to see how things turn out!

      I'm hoping you all have a great new year also. Got any great plans that you're excited about? I'd love to hear about them!