An Animated History of Art and Design.

When I was in art school, there was a mandatory amount of art history classes you had to take in order to get your degree. I think I was required to take one class a semester for each year. In the end I ended up taking many more than I was required to. Some were great, and some simply sucked. The suckage was partly due to the instructor, partly to the materials, and I’m sure partly due to my lack of engagement.

All of this brings me to a great series of animated shorts from The Open University. There are six in all and they cover some of the most important sections in art and design moving from Gothic Revival to Post Modernism. The animations are short, feature a nice illustrative style, a modernist take on typography, and a great section of color pallets. All six are below.

It’s Wednesday. Here is Some Mid-Week Animation Inspiration.

A little over a year ago I posted a short little video from Evan Seitz titled “ABCinema” At the time I said I was jealous of the quality of his work, and I’m here to say it again. Below are the other short animations from the series. These are fantastic. Superb motion design, animation, sound design, editing, illustration, and layout. I could watch these all day. Great work. Really great work.


Quotes From Pogo Art and Design Boutique.

I am on some sort of poster kick this morning. While trolling the internets looking for design inspirations, I found another set of posters that I love. This set of posters designed by Pogo features quotes by philosophers,  authors, poets and an occasional proverb. The posters themselves show stunning examples of typography, color pallet, and layouts. The overall typographic layout for each of these is really wonderful, standing on its own aside from the actual quote.

Ross Berens’ Planets.

I’ve always been a sucker for things about space, the planets and space exploration. I think it goes back to growing up during the Space Race, and the euphoria that surrounded the Apollo program in the late 1960’s. This morning I found this series of posters by Ross Berens for the planets in the solar system, and was completely smitten.

This series of posters is so well designed. Each one combining minimal photography, solid typography, great use of texture. and layout. The design work shown here is really solid, and reflects the emerging skills of this young designer. If you look through his entire portfolio, you see the work of someone who has a very bright future in the field of visual design.

The Power of Color.

If you are a designer that works on an international level you are probably aware of how the meaning of colors varies in different cultures. As the world becomes smaller, the importance of color perceptions in other cultures becomes more and more important. The folks over at Zoho:Lab have put together a great interactive chart that cross references color and it’s meaning in different world cultures. If you click on the image below, you can explore this interactive world of color at the Zoho site.

Logo Design and the Use of the Negative

What makes a logo really work? What gives it that certain pop that allows it to stand out from the crowd? In many cases it is the clever use of negative space. Using “whitespace” effectively as an active part of the design doesn’t just create visual harmony – it also produces optical illusions that elevate this vital brand identity element from bland to iconic. By incorporating negative space into a logo with adept skill, designers can make maximum visual impact with the simplest elements possible.


This could possibly be one of the most famous examples of using negative space in logo design, and also one of the most subtle. FedEx’s white arrow, formed by the joining space where the E and the X meat is a detail that many people don’t even notice, yet it is an excellent example of good logo design. Designer Lindon Leader of Leader Creative explains why it’s there.

“An arrow, in and of itself, is one of the most mundane graphic devices in visual communications. Truly, there is nothing unique or particularly strategic (marketing-wise) in using an arrow as a brand identifier… The power of the hidden arrow is simply that it is a hidden bonus. Importantly, not ‘getting the punch line’ by not seeing the arrow, does not reduce the impact of the logo’s essential communication.”

Ogden Plumbing

According to designer Matt Everson, “Ogden’s core competency is great service, so I was determined to create something friendly and personal. I focused almost exclusively on the human figure as I knew this could illustrate many things (response, strength, personal service, etc. In messing around with wavy, water-like shapes I developed the running plumber image and saw the opportunity to incorporate the plunger.”  This logo would be totally different and probably far less effective if the plunger were in the other hand, raised above his head. It would probably read more like a weapon than a tool and it would change the dynamic balance of the overall logo itself.

Café Melody

The Café Melody Logo designed by Jure Klaric for a lounge bar in Croatia gets more effective the longer you look at it. The two simple shapes make a slightly stylized “C” for “café”, and they visually form a coffee cup on a saucer as seen from above. In addition the shapes join to form a volume button, which helps to emphasize the name, and function of the lounge. Coffee, and Music.

8 Fish

Using separate images of eight fish to illustrate the company’s name would be far too busy for a logo design if it weren’t as well done as this. Jerrod Ames managed to fit them all into a logo that is still crisp and minimalist. The logo plays off of Escher like styling creating vibration, and balance all at the same time.

Harris Structures

Designer Ahab Nimry of St. Louis created this logo using two ‘H’s including the one formed by negative space which come together to form a complete structure as seen from an isometric angle. The logo is quite fitting for a company named ‘Harris Structures’.

ED ‘Elettrodomestici’

This logo by Gianni Bortolotti is pure genius, based on pure mathematical perfection.  Although it probably helps  that the letters ‘E’ and ‘D’, which stand for Elettrodomestici, Italian for ‘household electric appliances’, when placed side by side happen to form the shape of an electrical plug.


Designed in 1951 by Georg Olden, one of the first African-Americans to achieve some notoriety in the postwar graphic design field. is a beautiful example of positive and negative space playing to each other. The mark is an unmistakable as an eye, yet it is distilled down to the simplest of elements. The Eye device was conceived by William Golden based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign as well as a Shaker drawing.


In contrast to CBS, who’s logo has changed very little over the last 58 years, NBC needed a lot of tries to get it right. NBC went through no less than 6 ineffective logos, including a xylophone and a much busier version of the current peacock, before settling in 1986 on what is now considered an iconic example of effective logo design. Designed by Chermayeff and Geismar they took the peacock, which was already the established visual mark for the network, and simplified it with the use of negative space.

Simon Page Poster Designs for IYA 2009

Simon Page is a self-taught graphic designer from the UK with an emphasis on typographic art, illustration and geometric design. Earlier this year he produced a series of posters for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA) campaign.

The posters like most of his work is brilliant in it’s simplicity and use of geometric form. The style reminds me of  that mid 60’s to mid 70’s period where international style had distilled itself down to basic elements and was being widely used in text book cover design. Seriously, these posters remind me so much of science book covers from Jr. Highschool. Page’s color pallet is refined and exquisite. There is an excellent sense of balance, and layout that is carried across every poster.He uses subtle textures in the backgrounds that gives an almost nostalgic sense of age and use. The typography treatments are understated, yet help to pull the entire composition together in each poster. These posters are really, really nice.

According to Page he is influenced by a number of contemporary designers like, Alex Trochut, Joshua Davis, and James White. I would go on to say I think he has been influenced if even unintentionally, by designers like Joseph Müller-Brockmann,  Emil Ruder, Paul Rand, and Armin Hofmann.

The full series of International Year of Astronomy 2009 posters are available for purchase via: Graphic design by Simon Page.