Creativity Explained

When I started my career in design, everything was done by hand. It was essentially analog except for the individuals that were setting type on very rudimentary computers that were dedicated to doing that one thing – setting and outputting type that was specified by the designer and then pasted up to be photographed on a stat-camera.

In addition to that, I would also be asked to rub down “Letraset” type from large alphabet sheets, setting headlines or other display items by hand. It was slow, tedious, work that required concentration and patience. You learned a lot about typography because Letraset was expensive, you had limited character counts, and undo was removing anything you screwed up with masking tape and starting over. If you want to know more about all of this I recommend watching “Graphic Means“.

When Adobe first hit the graphic design world with Postscript fonts for use in programs like “Illustrator 88“, (yes, that’s the original name because it was introduced in 1988. The link takes you to a very informative video from 1988 if you want to engage in Throwback Thursday) it caused a seismic shift in the industry. Suddenly graphic designers not only had greater control over the creative process with access to hundreds of fonts and greater control over how it was laid out on the page. By the way, I’ve been using Adobe products since 1988 and much has changed since the dawn of the computer graphics revolution. One thing hasn’t though, and that would be creative inspiration, and creativity itself.

Recently Adobe has launched a new section of their Creative Cloud website that focuses specifically on that very topic – creativity. Creativity Explained is a new series to guide you through the basics of art and design with the first section focusing on what else, typography. There are six articles including an interview with German designer Eric Spikermann. (the guy speaking in the video above). Some of the articles are pretty fundamental but still worth reading and informative. It’ll be interesting to see where Adobe takes this site, and whether or not they introduce more advanced content and concepts moving forward.

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

Danish Modern – The Danish Chair

I have always loved Danish Modern furniture. It is a love affair that began when I was a kid, probably because my mother loved it and she used to take me with her to places like “House of Denmark” when she was window shopping or dreaming of what her house could look like.

The three videos below are from Marius VaitkeviciusThe Danish Chair” project and they are a wonderful breakdown of the history and styling of Danish Modern furniture and applied functionalism. They are informative and feature a great stylistic approach showcasing what you can achieve with Cinema 4D and After Effects. Great production value, a solid story, attention to detail, what more could you ask for?

Each one is about 2 minutes in length so they are easy to digest. It’s Monday, and lunch time somewhere. Take a few minutes and relax while learning about the influence of Danish Modern on the world.

Facebook Thinks I’m 12 and I’m OK With That.

Back in late August or early September, Facebook for whatever reason decided that I was 12 years old and no longer eligible for a Facebook account. To resolve this issue Facebook asked me to take a photo of my driver’s license, or passport with my birthday visible and email it to Facebook support. This was never going to happen. Based on previous data breaches that Facebook has experienced in the past, I said “nope” and decided to wait until my birthday in January thinking that Facebook would simply reset the clock and realize I was now 13.

The thinking was my birthday would roll around, Facebook would think I’m a year older and wham bam I’d be back in business. Turns out this was not the case. Instead, Facebook said I had waited too long to reactivate my account or send in proof of my age and my account had been permanently disabled. OK, so I no longer have an account. What are the options? I can contact support and supply a photo of my ID and ask to be reinstated. I can open a new account and rising from the ashes like a phoenix make friend requests and start the Facebook journey again, or I could simply walk away and be done with it. I chose to walk away.

I have now been off of Facebook for more than 6 months, and I couldn’t be happier. While I still have an Instagram account, my posts get deleted after 7 days, so nothing lives longer than a week. Something I’m perfectly fine with. I was never a Twitter user to speak of. Same with LinkedIn. This blog automatically posts to both, but I’m lucky if I get more than a dozen engagements on Twitter, probably because I don’t retweet, comment, lie, share, or anything else on the platform. LinkedIn fairs a bit better with each blog post averaging about 100 views. Once again it could be better, but I don’t spend enough time engaging with others on the platform to extend my audience and reach and I’m OK with that.

At this point, I have absolutely no desire to become a Facebook member again. I have no plans to increase my social media presence on other platforms and have decided to go back to an old-school way of communicating with people. I’ve decided to start writing letters. Actual physical correspondences that I send out in the mail with an envelope and a stamp, that take days to arrive and may never get a response.

I used to be good about writing them. Finding clever and unique ways to craft and send a letter to someone. Once I wrote a letter on the individual cigarettes in a Marlboro pack. Each one was numbered, and each cigarette contained one sentence. There was a note that slipped into the cellophane wrapper telling the recipient to smoke the cigarettes when they were finished reading to destroy the evidence. I hope they did.

There is something about having to slow down and take the time to think about the words you use. The sentence structure. How to embellish with illustrations, photographs, or design work that once again I’m finding quite appealing. Maybe it’s an outcome of a year-long pandemic and the isolation that so many of us have experienced. Either way, I’ve been slowly receding from social media for some time starting a few years back. Here’s to something slower and hopefully more engaging for whoever receives a letter from me.

If I have your address, consider yourself warned.