Graphic Design

The IBM Poster Program

In the late 1960s, Paul Rand created a Design Guide for IBM that guided a group of very talented graphic designers on the visual execution of posters and advertising graphics for the company. More often than not Rand is the name that is associated with all of the work, but in reality designers, Ken White, John Anderson, and Tom Bluhm, and photographer Rodger Ewy created a large volume of the visual design work for IBM.

A new book documenting the posters these designers created. “The IBM Poster Program: Visual Memoranda,” showcases some of the most iconic examples of mid-century corporate graphic design with a unique commentary on corporate communications of that period. It also shows how Thomas J. Watson Jr.’s mantra, “Good Design is Good Business” infiltrated every facet of the IBM organization and created a lasting influence on curated corporate design in the United States.

This just went on my reading list.

“In the late 1960s, IBM was one of the world’s pre-eminent corporations, employing over 250,000 people in 100 countries and producing some of the most advanced products on earth. IBM President Thomas J. Watson Jnr. sought to elevate the company’s image by hiring world-renowned design consultants, including Eliot Noyes and Paul Rand. As well as developing the iconic IBM logo and a corporate design guide, Rand also brought together a remarkable team of internal staff designers. 

One of the designers he hand-picked was Ken White, who, along with John Anderson and Tom Bluhm, headed up the design team at the IBM Design Center in Boulder, Colorado. Together, they initiated a poster program as a platform for elevating internal communications and initiatives within the company. These posters were displayed in hallways, conference rooms, and cafeterias throughout IBM campuses, with subject matter including everything from encouraging equal opportunity policies to reminders on best
security practices to promoting a family fun day. Designers often incorporated figurative typography, dry humor, visual puns, and photography to craft memorable and compelling messages. Many of the posters won Type Directors Club awards and a large number were ‘re-appropriated from walls by enthusiastic IBM employees.

While Paul Rand’s creative genius has been well documented, the work of the IBM staff designers who executed his intent outlined in the IBM Design Guide has often gone unnoticed. The poster designs by White, Anderson, and Bluhm included in this book represent some of the most creative examples of mid-century corporate graphic design, while offering a unique commentary into corporate employee communications of the period. They also embody the full extent to which Thomas J. Watson Jr.’s mantra, “Good Design is Good Business” permeated every facet of the IBM organization, and created a lasting influence on curated corporate design in America.

Lund Humphries Books

ClipDrop Lets You Copy and Paste Objects from The Real World Into Photoshop.

I’m always on the look out for new tools that can help improve my workflow, or reduce painstaking tasks in applications like Photoshop and Illustrator from Adobe. Today I discovered one of those new tools.

Paris based developers Cyril Diagne and Jonathan Blanchet have developed a brilliant app called ClipDrop. ClipDrop lets you take photos of objects in the real world and place them into programs on your desktop computer. Using augmented reality and AI, ClipDrop can extract objects, people, drawings, and text, and then paste them into desktop applications.

It’s pretty slick, especially the text extraction, and i could see this being used quite a bit for a variety projects.

My only gripe is, like so many other applications these days, you can’t just buy it. ClipDrop has a subscription based model that costs $79.99 a year. Although it looks like it might still be on sale for $39.99. Either way, subscriptions suck as far as I’m concerned. I’m tired of getting nickle and dimed in perpetuity for a tool I could use daily. Yes I’d pay a bit more for a one time purchase.

You don’t see carpenters subscribing to hammer and saw services each year. Hey that might be a million dollar opportunity.

Every IKEA Catalog from 1950 to 2020 Online

IKEA gets its customer base and target audience. They consistently produce online content that is designed to entertain as well as market their products. The latest offering is part research, part entertainment, and part marketing. IKEA has put 70 years’ worth of catalogs online for anyone to browse. The only caveat is that they are all in Swedish, so if you don’t speak the language, the descriptions will be pretty meaningless.

I have to say that the mobile or iOS version of the site is pulling off some really nice design. Full frame video with a transparent overlay video on the landing page. You don’t or at least I didn’t get that on the desktop in Chrome.

The site supports the IKEA Museum (yes there really is an IKEA Museum) and if you use the hamburger menu in the upper right you are taken to a minimalist landing page with additional information and activities. The nice thing is IKEA doesn’t attempt to drive traffic to the online store. This is truly for the fans of IKEA design and design principals.

One thing I do find interesting is the fact that the catalog layouts have remained fairly consistent across the decades, and quite a bit of the product line has as well. It’s a testament to a winning formula that IKEA has banked on for years.

Sometimes You Have To Toot Your Own Horn A Little.

I have been maintaining this blog site for more than 10 years now, and it has also been a place to showcase my portfolio and resume for freelance and contract opportunities. For the last 5 of the 10 ten years, I’ve been posting to Modular 4, I’ve been saying to myself I really need to create a separate site that is exclusively focused on the work I’ve been doing and remove the portfolio and resume form here. Unfortunately, life just always got in the way. I’d think about it, procrastinate, fiddle around with a new site layout, get caught up in something else, forget about it, try to come back to it and never actually get anything done.

Well, guess what? I finally got off my butt and got something done. The new site for Wade Johnston Graphic Design features projects that I have worked on over the last 10 plus years, and services offered. It took me long enough, but the site is finally live. So I’m tooting my own horn and saying I’m open for business. That’s a bit of a lie though, I’ve been open and doing design business for the last 30 years. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to new opportunities though, so if you need design and advertising help give me a shout. I’ll be updating the new site regularly with new featured projects and projects that showcase specific skills, so if you are interested check back every so often. I’m also in the process of connecting the new SquareSpace site to my social media accounts so new pages and posts should start populating publically soon.

I’ll continue to post here but within the next few weeks, the menu items for my portfolio and resume will be removed. This website will continue to be what it has been for the last decade, a place where I can sound off about whatever I want, however, I want. If you have been one of the people that have read my posts here over the last 10 years, thanks. I really appreciate it.

If you hop over to the new site, I hope you like what you see.