Graphic Design

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.

1_HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_COVER_full product_optimised2 2_HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_BACL_COVER_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUABLIN_TYPOGRAPHER_WEBSITE_BANNER_page header_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_1_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_2_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_3_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_4_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_5_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_6_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_7_full product_optimised2 HERB_LUBALIN_TYPOGRAPHER_8_full product_optimised2

 

“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.”

Money, Money, Money.

new-zealand-bank-note

Why is it that almost all foreign currency looks so much better than the American dollar? I’m not bashing the buck, but from a design perspective, to me foreign currency is simply more visually interesting than the American greenback. Case in point, the currency of the year awarded by The International Bank Note Society for the New Zealand for its $5 polymer note. The design features the face of New Zealand native mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, with a backdrop of Mount Cook and, a yellow-eyed penguin seemingly printed with what looks like metallic gold foil.

Now, with that said, I don’t think this is an award winning piece of design in the true sense. It is busy, and burdened with an abundance of imagery, and various patterns, but if you look at it in terms of a contemporary painting or print, it’s quite successful. I know that the reason for the patterns, color, overprints, and such are due to security issues and a need to foil counterfeiters, but this is something I might hang on a wall, and that is often the case for foreign currency with me. I’m not going to do that with American currency.

For more about the competition you can find it in this article at theguardian.com along with a video. And below are some additional curency examples.

ARS-50-Front

BDI-2000-Front

CHE-50-Front

CHN-100-Front

GMA-100-Front

MDV-1000-Front

NZL-50-Front

SCO-5-Front

Graphic Means.

After a succesful Kickstarter campaign last year, production on Graphic Means started and it looks like it is getting close to a release date. When it hopefully comes to a theater near me I’ll be going to see it. I want to see it for the history not the nostalgia, well maybe a bit of the nostalgia. The thing is, I did all the things shown in the trailer from paste up, to color stripping and I do not want to go back to it. Sorry folks, the computer changed everything and the way we design today is better. Yes graphic design is still a refined craft that takes a lot of skill and dedication. No design wasn’t better back then simply because it was analog. I hated making Chromalins, doing paste up, and cutting color separations by hand. Did it teach me a lot? Hell yes, there are things I learned 30 years ago that still apply to what I do today, but that doesn’t mean I want to go back to the olden pre-digital days.

The trailer looks good, and the history of how the graphic design business has evolved should be pretty interesting though. So yes, I’ll be sitting in the theater, reminiscing and hopefully learning about the history of my trade as well.

P.S. they have a cool Instagram feed as well.

Think Ink.

Designers that work with print, hopefully think about ink on a regular basis. Ink is the primary vehicle used to complete your printed vision. No matter what your work looks like on screen, the way it is printed, the paper it’s printed on, and the quality of the ink used will impact the final outcome. The video below isn’t new. It actually came out about 6 years ago, but it’s worth watching.

This short film by The Printing Ink Company in Canada takes you through the process, techniques and craft of ink creation. That’s right, the “Craft”, because making ink is a complex process requiring skills and experience to get the best results. The Printing Ink Company shares their methods used to create every color in the PANTONE spectrum and beyond. The challenges they face getting it right, and the attention to detail they put into making every can of ink.

This is a must watch for art students, designers and everyone else in the business that is designing printed materials.

Every Issue of U&lc for Free.

When I first started my career in graphic design, inspiration came in the form of printed material to the mail box. Digital design was for the most part a foreign concept. Almost all work was done the old fashioned way, analog, and the internet wasn’t available. I used to wait anxiously for the next issue of Upper and Lower Case magazine to arrive so I could check out the latest trends in typography, graphic design, and get industry news. It was a go to source for many years, and probably still would be if it still existed. The articles were always interesting to read and the publication felt and read like a newspaper.

“U&lc will provide a panoramic window, a showcase for the world of graphic arts – a clearing house for the international exchange of ideas and information.”

U&lc began publishing in 1974 and for 26 years it was a faithful source of information and inspiration for it’s readers. Each issue was 25 to 30 pages in length, printed in black and white, tabloid size, and except for a few times, hit it hit your mailbox with complete regularity. Now thanks to fonts.com, every back issue will be made available in PDF format. All 26 years worth.

Every month fonts.com will publish an entire years worth of U&lc, and it will be available for download via the fonts.com blog. Now, with that said, be warned the files are a bit big. Not unmanageable, but large. Around 85 megabytes in size. fonts.com also says the files aren’t perfect, since they were created from scans of original materials. Some of the pages are sometimes faded, cracked or torn. There are over 9000 scanned pages for you to go through if you so desire. I plan to go get as many of these as I can. It was a timeless source of inspiration and information back in the day, and still will be.