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Category Archives: Design

It’s about to be summertime, and that means I must begin my reading list. How do I do that? I walk through the aisles of Barnes and Noble and see what pops out at me. Scrolling the virtual aisles of The Book Cover Archive, this is what I’ve come up with so far.

Leeann Falciani

Designer: Leeann Falciani

Text making noise.

Isaac Tobin

Designer: Isaac Tobin

As subtle sigh of relief.

Pete Garceaum, Nelson Mandela

Designer: Pete Garceau

Just beatiful, simple and powerful.

Jason Ramirez

Designer: Jason Ramirez

Funny and lighthearted. I usually don’t like vertical text, but with this, I dig it.

Ben Wiseman

Designer: Ben Wiseman

You got me. Very clever.

Will I read them all? Maybe not. Probably not. There’s still overflow from last summer, but they’re still nice to look at, right?

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This poster design has found its way to many design blogs in many different versions–too many different versions. Where did this poster start? Why do people love it? And when will it go away?

The poster was created early in World War II and was specifically created to keep peoples’ spirits up if the Nazis invaded Britain. This was the third of a series declared by King George VI. The two before it  said “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory” and “Freedom is in Peril.”

The “Keep Calm” poster was never distributed and they were all supposed to be burned, but in 2000, a bookseller from Barter Books came across the design and from there, the design has become a hit. King George declared the design have a simple clear font and his crown at the top. For the most part, it’s stayed true to his wishes.

My personal favorite:

Call me a party pooper, but someone needs to find another poster that’s centuries old to copy off of. I would say it’s getting old, but 1939 is more than old.

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Even though I’m fully aware of what you can to in Photoshop to make someone twenty pounds lighter here and take out  a blemish there, sometimes more than that is done, and with a barrage of media flashed in my face, I admit that everytime I see the cover of a magazine, or a billboard, my first thought is not always, “Well that must be fake.”

Last year in France and the UK, politicians wanted to regulate the use of alterations made with the use of Photoshop. French parliamentarian Valerié Boyer suggested putting  a label on the image.

“Swinson’s proposal doesn’t yet have an enforcement suggestion, but it does have a rating system: images would be rated on a scale of one to four, with one being simple enhancements such as lighting adjustments, and four being major digital surgery such as bulking up Gordon Brown to Rambo-level buffness.” (The Register)

This is not just triggered by the recent fad of brutal reality, it’s all about the kids. A teenage girl sees how thin a celebrity is or  flawless their skin is and by trying attain that is like trying to attain the impossible. Here’s a somewhat mind-blowing video. There is nudity, but don’t be offended. It’s just pixels people.

This is stuff you can do with Photoshop CS3 and CS4, so with CS5 and the content aware tool, are we going to believe anything we’re seeing? Is it fiction photography?  The technology is great, but when covers of the same person in the same year look completely different, design seems to veer into the territority of morality.

Madonna is a pop goddess, so they can’t have ner published looking like the grim reaper.

Scary, huh?

Art is coming into this new genre of re-appropriating. Maybe along with that is he art of digital retouching. There are whole firms with this sole purpose and they have laundry lists of celebrity clients that won’t let a photo be published until they’re personal retoucher has done their nips and tucks.

France is onto something. The legalities are still up in the air, but making a sort of warning label on drastically altered photos would change the world of photography, graphic design, advertising and publishing–or so you would think. But the surgeon general’s warning on cigarettes didn’t eliminate smoking.

Is it art, or just a false reality? Is the real art to be found in the beauty of reality? Personally, I think clone stamping a blemish or erasing some distracting frizzy hairs, is nothing to feel guilty about, but when things are being altered to make people look anatomically questionable, then there is an issue.

If you don’t know, I love GQ magazine. Yes I know it’s a men’s magazine. Yes I know I’m not a man nor do I want to be. I’m not a tomboy, I’m straight and I like girly things, I just also like GQ. Here’s why:

  • It’s well-designed.
  • There are good articles.
  • There are great photos
  • There are hot men on the covers.
  • I LOVE the letters from the editor.

Also, most women’s magazines have at least one headline on the cover advertising a crash diet or making yourself look younger or your hair shinier, which I find distracting and depressing. Also, the celebrity articles tend to be written from the angle of paparazzi instead of a  journalist.

Anyway, I want to share some blurbs from one  of my favorite things I’ve read in the magazine. It’s an open letter that snuck in on the last page. It’s called “Dear (Possibly Doomed) Class 2010.”

We’re all on our way to graduation, and people are suggesting to stay in school because the job market sucks. If you want more schooling, fine, but if you’re trying to avoid facing the cutthroat world of classifieds, it seems like you’re just delaying the inevitable and racking up more student debt in the process. That’s where I stand and here’s where GQ stands (It’s quite a bit of text, but trust me, it’s worth it):

“Well, you finally made it. You graduated! You spent four years (or eight, or ten–no judgments!) and eleventy billion dollars of your parents’ money, and now you’re a bunch of learned-ass adults. Or maybe you just spent five minutes on the University of Phoenix Web site, clicked ‘print diploma’ and went downstairs to do a couple of pre-Family Guy bong rips, because hangin’ out on the quad with a bunch of losers doesn’t fit into your life-plan right this second.

………..

“Now for the bad news. You’re joining the workforce in the middle of a jobless recovery, which is basically the O’Doul’s of economic rallies. It’s  no picnic out here. Or, okay, it’s a picnic, but it’s a Cormac McCarthy The Road type of picnic, there’s not enough canned peaches in the shopping cart, and everybody’s calling dibs on the one bullet. And also there are fire ants.

Mighty institutions people once took for granted–banks, newspapers, American Idol–are crumbling, and while most of them deserve to, the problem with a world without mighty institutions is that mighty institutions used to employ a lot of people. You could always get The Man to finance your lifestyle. No more. That unpaid internship you’ve got your eye on? Be prepared to flight somebody for it. Possibly your dad.

………..

“Frankly we’re wondering if you guys are going to be able to handle Malaise 2.0. Most of you were born in 1988, which means you were 3 years old when Nevermind came out (which makes us 826). You’ve never known hardship. ..You’ve also never lives in a world without Intenet, which means you’ve grown up with an exaggerated sense of your own self-importance…you posted ‘response’ videos on YouTube; poured out your every typeable thought on a  glittering, blinking MySpace page.

You had access to all the machinery of self-promotion before you really had a self. You thought of fame as a birthright.  And now you’ve been booted into a world that will LOL at your sense of awesome-life-entitlement, then offer to ‘hire’ you to blog for free.

………..

“We know how we sound, Oh-Tenners. We sounds old. Carson Daly old. Eddie Vedder old. And jealous. We did not, after all, actually graduate from college. We went, and then we went less often, and then we decided we were finished…But once we made that decision, we set about starting a life, secure in the knowledge that–because we’d never actually done anything–no one gave a crap about us or our burning conviction that we were too good to make some dude’s latte.

We advise you to proceed under the same assumption, graduates. Having a thousand Facebook friends means about as much in 2010 as a personalized-license-plate key chain meant in 1990. We live in a moment when anybody can make a name for themselves; the game you’re suiting up for is about making  that name matter.”


There have been many disputes about the entitlement generation with our iPhones and our constant Googling. Well here’s the long and short of it: Every generation will attempt to make information, transportation and communication more instantaneous and accessible. Whether with the invention of the iPhone, the Internet, the mobile phone, the car, even the written word, we’re all trying to move things along, and why shouldn’t we?

Do we feel entitled? To a certain extent, yes. But are we apathetic? Are we lazy? Do we have a superiority complex? I think not. When we feel we are entitled to certain technology, certain information, or (in the art world) certain design that isn’t available, we think, “How can we make it better?” “How can we make the things we want and need?” And that’s the start of progress.

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If you don’t know, I love GQ magazine. Yes I know it’s a men’s magazine. Yes I know I’m not a man nor do I want to be. I’m not a tomboy, I’m straight and I like girly things, I just also like GQ. Here’s why:

  • It’s well-designed.
  • There are good articles.
  • There are great photos
  • There are hot men on the covers.
  • I LOVE the letters from the editor.

Also, most women’s magazines have at least one headline on the cover advertising a crash diet or making yourself look younger or your hair shinier, which I find distracting and depressing. Also, the celebrity articles tend to be written from the angle of paparazzi instead of a  journalist.

Anyway, I want to share some blurbs from one  of my favorite things I’ve read in the magazine. It’s an open letter that snuck in on the last page. It’s called “Dear (Possibly Doomed) Class 2010.”

We’re all on our way to graduation, and people are suggesting to stay in school because the job market sucks. If you want more schooling, fine, but if you’re trying to avoid facing the cutthroat world of classifieds, it seems like you’re just delaying the inevitable and racking up more student debt in the process. That’s where I stand and here’s where GQ stands (It’s quite a bit of text, but trust me, it’s worth it):

“Well, you finally made it. You graduated! You spent four years (or eight, or ten–no judgments!) and eleventy billion dollars of your parents’ money, and now you’re a bunch of learned-ass adults. Or maybe you just spent five minutes on the University of Phoenix Web site, clicked ‘print diploma’ and went downstairs to do a couple of pre-Family Guy bong rips, because hangin’ out on the quad with a bunch of losers doesn’t fit into your life-plan right this second.

………..

“Now for the bad news. You’re joining the workforce in the middle of a jobless recovery, which is basically the O’Doul’s of economic rallies. It’s  no picnic out here. Or, okay, it’s a picnic, but it’s a Cormac McCarthy The Road type of picnic, there’s not enough canned peaches in the shopping cart, and everybody’s calling dibs on the one bullet. And also there are fire ants.

Mighty institutions people once took for granted–banks, newspapers, American Idol–are crumbling, and while most of them deserve to, the problem with a world without mighty institutions is that mighty institutions used to employ a lot of people. You could always get The Man to finance your lifestyle. No more. That unpaid internship you’ve got your eye on? Be prepared to flight somebody for it. Possibly your dad.

………..

“Frankly we’re wondering if you guys are going to be able to handle Malaise 2.0. Most of you were born in 1988, which means you were 3 years old when Nevermind came out (which makes us 826). You’ve never known hardship. ..You’ve also never lives in a world without Intenet, which means you’ve grown up with an exaggerated sense of your own self-importance…you posted ‘response’ videos on YouTube; poured out your every typeable thought on a  glittering, blinking MySpace page.

You had access to all the machinery of self-promotion before you really had a self. You thought of fame as a birthright.  And now you’ve been booted into a world that will LOL at your sense of awesome-life-entitlement, then offer to ‘hire’ you to blog for free.

………..

“We know how we sound, Oh-Tenners. We sounds old. Carson Daly old. Eddie Vedder old. And jealous. We did not, after all, actually graduate from college. We went, and then we went less often, and then we decided we were finished…But once we made that decision, we set about starting a life, secure in the knowledge that–because we’d never actually done anything–no one gave a crap about us or our burning conviction that we were too good to make some dude’s latte.

We advise you to proceed under the same assumption, graduates. Having a thousand Facebook friends means about as much in 2010 as a personalized-license-plate key chain meant in 1990. We live in a moment when anybody can make a name for themselves; the game you’re suiting up for is about making  that name matter.”


There have been many disputes about the entitlement generation with our iPhones and our constant Googling. Well here’s the long and short of it: Every generation will attempt to make information, transportation and communication more instantaneous and accessible. Whether with the invention of the iPhone, the Internet, the mobile phone, the car, even the written word, we’re all trying to move things along, and why shouldn’t we?

Do we feel entitled? To a certain extent, yes. But are we apathetic? Are we lazy? Do we have a superiority complex? I think not. When we feel we are entitled to certain technology, certain information, or (in the art world) certain design that isn’t available, we think, “How can we make it better?” “How can we make the things we want and need?” And that’s the start of progress.

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I’m a Texan, but I wouldn’t say I claim Texas, at least not in the way some do. There are the Texans who have the drawl in their speech the spurs on their boots and the balls on their trucks, and since my patronage doesn’t extend far beyond my license plate–it doesn’t seem right to go around claiming it as a major character trait. But I have recently come to to terms with a Texan aesthetic, things of normalcy in the Lone Star State that (as I am finding) are not normal around the country.

1. Mums

Why the hell would anyone wear these things? To be honest, I’ve never known. They can be long or short, usually school colors. It’s just a flower as a centerpiece with ribbons and various plastic garland and stuff hanging from it. You can make them yourself or order them, but either way you’re looking at triple digits out of pocket. The guys wear them to, but as garters. As a junior, you are “allowed” to wear a double mum, which has two flowers or centerpieces. A senior you can wear a triple mum–good Lord. The flowers. Sometimes there are lights and things that make noise.

Our homecoming was more about the football game than a dance, so usually they are just worn with a t-shirt.

2. Trucks

The other day my roommate made the statement “People who drive trucks are ass holes.” That assumption was confirmed twice that day, but I felt somewhat blasphemous agreeing with it considering I come from a place where trucks are a status symbol ad a culture of themselves. There’s a reason Dodge’s slogan in Texas is “Bigger in Texas, better in a Dodge.”

It’s not just a guy-thing either. There are plenty or girls who drive trucks. More power to them. I seldom see people towing things around in their truck, so it seems like a more fuel-efficient vehicle would be a more financially sound choice, but hey, if it has  a Hemi, why not?

3. Country music

Like I said, I don’t have a country station programmed in my car. I know a few songs here and there, but country concerts are a good time.

Of course, it’s best if you can mouth the words with the band, but even if you don’t, at country concerts, people know how to the words, they get hyped, and they get drunk–really drunk. It’s not country without a song about boos, a girl and a truck.I’ve been to several concerts at a place called Bill Bob’s (“The World’s Largest Honky Tonk) in the Fort Worth Stockyards. That’s Texas fun.

The nation that is the state of Texas proudly flies their flag the same height as the U.S. flag, because they are the only state that can. Texas is not part of the South–it’s Texas. Yes, I had my prom at Lone Star Park, a horse track. Yes, I say “y’all.” No, I don’t wear boots too often and I don’t have a truck, but Texas is part of who I am and in some way, part of how I design, write and live.

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If I had the patience, the attention to detail, the knowledge of typographic history, or the creativity to be a type designer–if I had any of that–and I designed one typeface (a good one), I could die happy.

Alot of people don’t know what a typographer is. It’s a person who designs typefaces. What is a typeface? It’s a font. Like Comic Sans? Well, not exactly but you’re on the right track.

After taking one type class I’m completely in love with letters. Not in the same way I’m in love with words as a writer, but it connects. How the content connects with how each letter, word and paragraph looks can make or break the appeal of anything you read.

I won’t go into detail about classifications and anatomy, but here are some pretty letters:

Make letters out of stuff.

Make letters into stuff.

Lots of letters.

Not lots of letters.

Old.

New.


Commercial.

Street.

Clever.

Elaborate.


Almost anything can translate to type.  My Typography professor said, “Think of how it should sound. That’s how it should look.”

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