Art and design.

MOO Goes Luxe with your Business Cards.

If you are a designer that works with print, you know how important paper quality is to finished product. In today’s world, there are a million and one online digital printers that offer business card printing on the cheap. More often than not, the phrase “You get what you pay for” rings true with these.

About a week ago digital printer MOO introduced a new line of cards called “Luxe“.Printed on 600gsm (32pt), Mohawk Superfine paper with an optional color line sandwiched between the outside substrates of paper, these cards stand out. The cards are triple the thickness of standard business cards, and feature a stunning, tactile quality that you won’t find anywhere else with digital printers on the web. Oh and the cost won’t break the bank. 200 cards will run you about 100 bucks.

Founded in 2004, MOO produces millions of business cards, postcards and minicards monthly, all while maintaining a special place within the design community thanks to their high standards, and innovative processes.

 

San Francisco Day Two

We should have planned more days in San Francisco before driving south along the PCH to Santa Barbara. Out of all the cities in America, this is my number one choice for places to live. Not the suburbs, but the city itself. It has all the dynamics of New York, yet it always feels so international compared to other US cities.

Today was spent knocking around North Beach, the Presidio, and Fillmore districts after waiting for more than an hour to eat at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. Everywhere we went we were surrounded by culture, food, fashion, and design. All of which is juxtaposed with the homeless and transient society that also floods this city. Perhaps this dichotomy of cultural extremes is why I am drawn here. There is so much wealth, and culture, so much in the way of the arts and design communities, yet there is also a counter point to all of this.

For example, today we were looking at all the wonderfully designed kitchen wares at the Allesi store, while a homeless man used the doorway next door as a bathroom, completely oblivious to the people passing by. The pedestrians, like the man in the doorway desensitized to all of it.

No matter what, I still love this place.

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Design Friday, Sam Suliman.

With the rise first of CD’s and now all digital music via sources like iTunes and Amazon, the art of the Album cover is something that tends to get over looked. It is a sad but true fact, and I am as guilty as anyone for the demise of the album cover. I haven’t purchased a physical CD for myself in almost 10 years. iTunes has just made it way to easy. Album cover art is one of those things that is or was so radically important to the purchase process. When I would go into a retail outlet, it was the design of the album cover that would draw me in, and in many cases it would influence my purchase. If the album looked cool, then the band had to be good.

Designer Sam Suliman, had the gift of being able to draw you in with his simple, minimalist design work for the recording industry. His album cover designs are constructed from simple geometric shapes, saturated primary colors, and dynamic layouts. Each design captures the feeling of the music contained within, yet in most cases is really a simple abstraction of who the artist is, or what kind of music they play. His work in the mid 1960’s focused primarily on jazz and classical artist, and carried a visual impact that would have stood out on any store shelf, in a period where many designers were turning to photography to highlight the band members themselves.

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Designing Hot Rods

P9070237Last night I was having a discussion about design topics with a friend of mine and it got me to thinking about this years Greaserama car show at the Boulevard Drive In. The reason I started thinking about it is because my current desktops and screen saver is made from photos that I took at the show this year, and because the cars in the show are truly “designed”. I’m going to use one car as a specific example, partly because I have a number of images of it, and partly because the attention to detail is outstanding. It is that attention to detail that elevates this car to a status point that is many ways equal to a work of art, and that shows the design thinking behind it. I have no idea who created this. It was parked on the lot with all the other vehicles at the show, and the owner was nowhere to be found. This car in all it’s rusted glory, is a work of well designed hand crafted rolling art. Everything about it has been thought out and executed and styled with a keen eye. It is because of this attention to detail, and the unique theme that I am saying this qualifies in its own right as something that is well designed.

It has been said that everything is in the details, and this is true. What helps define the design quality of this car is the execution of theme from front to back and the level of detail in which that theme is executed on every level.

Lets start at the back of the car and work forward. Looking at the tail end, you notice a number of things. First off the car, while appearing rusted is solid, the color is a patina that has been applied to give it a unique look. framing the top of the open back window is tone on tone pin striping painted to look faded and burned in over time. The pin striping detail calls back to a classic period of American hot rod culture. Where the top of the car has been chopped and lowered a detail of welded wire wraps the seem to create a look like the top of the car has been stitched to the body much like the top of the Frankenstein Monsters head. Hanging out of the back window is a human skull sporting a pair of broken and tattered goggles. The top of the skull is sown on with wire just like the top of the car mirroring that detail. The licence plate holder is from a dealer in Las Vegas, it holds a 1935 licence plate bearing the number 666. All of this is designed to create a menacing appearance that says in its own way, “Trouble”.

As we move down the car you notice that the side windows are a unique orange color, helping to pull together a look that says this car is from a place that is hot. A place that is as much trouble as the car is itself. The rusted patina wraps around the back end and extends down the body panels and doors all the way to the front of the car. As you look inside the vehicle, the attention to detail explodes. Who ever made this car really thought about the overall look, and the selection of interior items in the build out. The floor is constructed of old barn wood planks, tacked to the flooring is an old Phillips 66 sign, placed to look as though it is covering a hole in the floor itself. The seats are made from steel tractor seating, and old leather horse collars. in the center of the floor where the shift lever would normally rise is a welded set of horse shoes, designed to create a unique bottle holder, enhancing a building western theme to the car. A flashlight is attached to the steering column with rusted baling wire. Hanging from the rearview mirror is a set of spurs. The mirror itself has an inset clock letting you know that this was a unique find brought to and installed in the car. Behind the mirror, bolted to the roof frame is a cast Frankenstein head with checkered flags on each side. I love how the Frankenstein theme is peppered throughout the car and repeated with small accents inside and out. The orange windows cast a unique glow inside the car, tinting floorboards and highlighting interior parts.

Just outside the driver’s side door is a vintage bottle opener with red paint flaking off of it. It sits just above another pinstripe that wraps around and over the front of the car just outside the windshield. The color of the pinstripe matches the orange of the windshield glass, and stands out against the sanded and rust colored black undercoat of the paint. Gauges protrude from the bonnet outside the cab designed to be visible from the driver’s seat. The whole car looks like it has been driven for a million miles, torn apart and rebuilt time and time again becoming its own Frankenstein Monster. It has a western feel that seems like it came straight from Death Valley, looking for trouble and eager to find it.

The front of the car is styled the same way. The radiator cap is a horse shoe that frames in a hand giving you the finger, letting everyone know just exactly what car and driver think of the rest of us. It sends a clear message, “Get out of my way.”  The grill looks like a snarling mass of shredded steel. The bottom a mess of broken tines, bent and shaped for maximum effect. Even the interior of the straight intake stacks coming off of the carburetor are painted an orange to match the color of the glass and the pinstripes. Every section of the car has been shaped, and formed in order to create an overall look. A theme that is one of a kind. This car has truly been designed in every sense of the word, and more over it feels like part of a never ending project. It is as though this car will transform and morph again as it ages with its owner.

So I guess the point of this is the fact that good design is all about the details. And good design comes in all shapes, sizes and themes. Look at the images and you will see what I mean when I say that this was “Designed” and that the attention to detail is outstanding.  By the way if anyone knows who the owner/builder/designer of this car is send me a comment so I can post it and give them credit.

iPhone App of the Week.

A few years back Autodesk bought Alias software and with it acquired one of the best drawing applications around. “Alias Sketch”, now “Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.” It’s still a great app and if you haven’t used it I say give it a try. You can get it here.

What I am excited about is the new iPhone version that Autodesk released earlier this week. I have been using it for a couple of days now and it is one of the best drawing/painting apps I have seen for the iPhone.

The SketchBook Mobile App uses the same software engine as Autodesk SketchBook Pro, delivering much of the same power and functionality as the desktop application. It features a combination of high-quality digital pencils, pens, markers and airbrushes, as well as an artist-friendly, gesture-based user interface, that enables users to create everything from quick sketches to print-quality production artwork. I have been using it for about a week and it just rocks. It is intuitive and powerful, and a bit more robust than applications for the iPhone Like “Brushes”.

According to Robert Kross, Sr. VP of the Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk”Mobile apps are becoming increasingly advanced, moving beyond simple entertainment or utilitarianism. We are delighted to offer an app on the App Store for industrial designers and the creative community.”

With the SketchBook Mobile App, Autodesk continues its long-standing tradition of bringing cost-effective professional design tools to creative professionals.

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The iPhone Camera and All Those Lovely Applications For It.

City Market Vegetables.

City Market Vegetables.

You know it’s really all about the tools, and how you combine them. Actually that is arguable. It could be said that it’s really all about the content you produce. I tend to agree with the latter on this. I’m a huge proponent of “I don’t care how you make it as long as it looks good and does what it is supposed to do in the end.” With that said, I want to talk about iPhone photo apps. I am always amazed that I can take the crappy little camera on the iPhone, combine it with the right series of applications, and turn out some really solid images. What I have discovered is this; you can’t use just one app. the best result happen when I combine 2 to 4 for the final image. The images below were all shot on my iPhone in various lighting conditions and tweaked with no less than 3 apps, and multiple filters within each one. I think the reason that I am drawn to the way these images look is because they remind me of color versions of early photography and the school of  Pictoralism as pioneered by William Henry Fox Talbot in the 1840’s

Knob Hill SF

SF

Knob Hill

The Mini

Hot Sauce

Ibanez Artcore Guitar

China Town