Graphic Design

All 400 issues of Communication Arts in Digital Format.

caWell it’s about time. Communication Arts has finally released every issue, 400 in total, of their magazine in digital format. This is every issue dating all the way back to 1959 now available for download. They aren’t free. They are going for $9.99, but if you are looking for solid research materials and don’t want to have hundreds of hard copies lining your shelves, this is a good way to go. When I got the email about this, this morning I was hoping they might be offering a bundle deal. Something where you could get every issue for a fixed price, or buy a decade at a time for a fixed price, but apparently not. This means if you want them all it won’t be cheap. You’ll be spending $3996.00 for every issue from the current one all the way back to August of 1959. If you run a design library, or if you have a firm that can afford it this would be a valuable research tool for past styles, trends, advertising and communication history, and a barometer reading of the sociopolitical landscape from a design communications perspective.

When I got the email about this, this morning I was hoping they might be offering a bundle deal. Something where you could get every issue for a fixed price, or buy a decade at a time for a fixed price, but apparently not. This means if you want them all it won’t be cheap. You’ll be spending $3996.00 for every issue from the current one all the way back to August of 1959. If you run a design library, or if you have a firm that can afford it this would be a valuable research tool for past styles, trends, advertising and communication history, and a barometer reading of the sociopolitical landscape from a design communications perspective.

If you don’t want to drop any cash on these, you can still look through all the covers going back to 1959, and get a really nice overview of how design styles have changed over the last 58 years.

59-spread

 

69-spread

79-spread

89-spread

99-spread

09

17-spread

 

 

 

 

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Graphic Design Today from Gestalten

coverHaving spent more than half of my life working in the graphic design and communications business I have seen many design trends come and go. One thing that is certain, is the state of graphic design is in constant flux. This is reflected in “Graphic Design Today” an in-depth survey on progressive contemporary graphic design from Gestalten. In recent years, graphic designs relationship with adjoining disciplines such as illustration, three-dimensional installation art, industrial design, interactive design, UI/UX design has pushed the further development of the discipline. And this in turn is  raising the bar for graphic designers.

 

This book from Gestalten examines and documents the current state of graphic design, identifying some of the most visionary young designers at the top of their game with examples of their progressive design aesthetics in the printed form. The book features a wide range of graphic design samples ranging from poster design, book, and magazine editorial design as well as typography. Most of the work is print oriented and shows a trend that I find interesting, a desconstructavist approach to visual design that blends elements of the 1980’s 90’s and early 2000’s into a unique style that intentionally manipulates and distorts traditional rules and ideas with a playful and experimental verve.

Graphic Design Today features  design trends from Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, France, Great Britain and the USA. Through abundant visuals and illuminating texts accompanying each featured project, and a foreword by François Rappo, renowned typographer, and teacher at ECAL Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne, this expansive volume provides an in-depth look at the state-of-the-art of contemporary graphic design and is going in my design library.

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The Road to Colorado

cub-lakeIn 48 hours I’ll be heading to Colorado for 5 days of hiking and taking photos in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is an annual trip, but this year is a bit special since we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park system in the United States. While noodling around on the internet over lunch I did a search on “National Park Posters” and found that the park service has a site dedicated to the posters that have been created for each of our National Parks so I decided to have a look. What I found is series of new posters that have been produced in the famous WPA style of the 1930’s and 40’s but with an updated look. The posters capture the spirit of the originals, and have a specific style guide that has obviously been applied to each, help to create a consistent look across the grouping. The look of the imagery varies slightly from poster to poster, with some that are obviously manipulated photos, or a digital painting that used a photo as a guide layer, but I have to say they are well done and work. The Park Service is selling the posters to help fund the National Park system and what you get for the money is a 13 by 19 inch poster printed on recycled paper that is signed, numbered, and dated. Below is a small sampling of the collection.

 

yosemite

yellowstone

olympic

kings-canyon

 

grand-canyon

grand-tetons

 

dunes

cub-lake

capital-reef

black-canyon

arches

acadia

cub-lake

A New Symbol For The South.

HatI’ve never lived in the South. I have cousins that live there and my brother moved to Alabama a few months back, and that is about as deep as my relationship to the southern United States gets. I know the south has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and I know that the confederate flag is a symbol of controversy for many living there and not living there. It is a symbol that has long been divisive and polarizing, occasionally popping up in the news when there is a call to ban or abolish it from public use by a state or local government. So I can’t imagine the challenge of designing a new symbol for the south that would be inclusive, embrace the traditions and heritage of the region, and not spark arguments from those that believe the confederate flag is sacred.

Last year PRI and WNYC asked 70k ft to do just that, and they did. Below is the imagery that they created and some of the thinking that went into the redesign. The embedded links go to the South website and to the PRI site where the team discusses in detail the process, the thinking, and the reaction to the new symbol for the southern portion of the United States. It is an interesting read and listen if you have the time. I have mixed feelings about the end results. I like the new symbol better than the tired old confederate flag, but I’m not sure it will resonate with southerners. It’ll be interesting to see if this new symbol takes hold and develops traction in the future.

Studio360_redesign_challenge_70kft10_6gXLb89

Truck

Rosa Parks

Studio360_redesign_challenge_70kft25

Monday Morning 80’s Flash Back.

If you were wondering what era was having an influence design these days, look to the 1980’s. Everything from 8bit game graphics, to over saturated color pallets, collage, geometric shapes and patterns. It’s all there and it’s all retro. Well retro to some, nostalgic to me, I grew up with it. When I was starting out, it was 1950’s and 60’s retro design that was influencing many, so it’s no surprise that a 1980’s retro look is hot right now. I guess that means the 1990’s grunge look will be creeping in soon if it already isn’t.

Below are two examples of 80’s influenced videos to start your week off with. They feature new takes on bad effects that were produced by state of the art gear 30 years ago. 8 bit graphics, and audio to remind you of the games your dad used to play at the arcade, and loads of bright colors. The thing I love about both of these examples is how the visuals have been filtered through a new set of eyes, and a memory of this style handed down from a generation before and faded memories of early childhood.

Herb Lubalin: Typographer

Well here is one more book to add to the design library list for the studio. Unit Editions has released a new book on design master Herb Lubalin with a focus on typography. If you don’t know who Lubalin was, or if you aren’t sure of what he is most famous for in terms of type, he designed Avant Garde Gothic, Serif Gothic and Lubalin Graph. Now before you bash Avant Garde, understand that when used correctly it has a precision, and coolness that exudes modern. The issue is, like so many typefaces that became a casualty of the desktop publishing boom of the late 80’s, it was over used, and used badly by so many designers. When used right, without every ligature thrown in, Avant Garde Gothic is a well tooled typeface with refined geometry and clarity.

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“Herb Lubalin claimed not to be a great typographer. ‘In fact,’ he said, ‘I’m terrible, because I don’t follow the rules.’ This new book proves the opposite. On every page it features Lubalin’s typographic genius (logos, layouts, lettering and typefaces), and places him at the forefront of 20th century typographic innovation. 

Herb Lubalin is, by today’s standards, a typographic master. Everything he did – working in collaboration with some of the giants of lettering and type – had the sparkle of genius. 

He even had names for what he did: he described it as ‘graphic expressionism’ or ‘conceptual typography’. Using his ability to adapt, merge and create new typographic forms, he was able to enhance and amplify meaning in ways that hadn’t been seen before. 

Having published two books celebrating the genius of Herb Lubalin as a graphic designer working in many spheres, this new volume concentrates solely on Lubalin’s typography.

It comes with new texts, new design, new photography, and lots of previously unpublished material – and with a price tag that makes it accessible to a wide audience.”