Flight Tag Prints

I spotted these Flight Tag prints on Grain Edit a while back. I love them sooo much! They were designed by Neil Stevens and are based on the designs of vintage airline baggage tags. See more of the series over on Stevens’ blog or buy one of the prints in his shop!

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Black and Yellow: A Fashion Moment

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I’ve always been attracted to the combination of black and yellow. I think it started because my high school’s colors were black and gold. It felt good to put on one of our uniforms because the black and gold colors together looked so striking and powerful. Currently black and yellow seems to be having quite the fashion moment, but this particular color combination also has quite the history as well as a couple of interesting and famous fans.

I, of course, am not the only one to notice the striking effect yielded by a black and yellow color combination. Famous typographer Jan Tschichold noted in his book The Principles of the New Typography that, in typography and graphic design, pure yellow is one of only a few colors that should be used with black because of the “intensity” that the colors create together. (Tschichold, p. 120) Of course, the notion of only using a few colors in combination with black is pretty extreme, but, if you’ve read anything from or about Tschichold you’ll realize that a lot of his ideas were pretty extreme. Still, his thought that yellow and black together create one of the most intense color combinations does apply here.

Musician Jack White also enjoys a good yellow and black color combo. Formerly of the White Stripes and currently of the Dead Weather, White owns his own record label called Third Man Records. The colors of the label are yellow and black. Although I can’t find the source now (of course), I read somewhere that it’s because White believes that yellow and black, as well as red, are the most powerful colors in existence. …maybe he’s been reading a little Tschichold.

While the black and yellow color combination could be described as bold, striking, powerful, and intense, it can also have a soft side when the yellow is more muted. See the two outfits below.

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Source: Left, Right

So, which black and yellow is your style? Bold and striking? Or muted and sophisticated? Will you be participating in this fashion moment?

…While I do love a pop of yellow every once in a while, the muted yellow is more my everyday style. Right now, I’m wishing both of the above outfits were hanging in my closet. I would wear the leather vest number for casual weekend days and the pinstriped pants outfit for work. It would be killer! Maybe I’ll let these outfits be my inspiration for my next shopping adventure.

New York & London Double-Exposed

In film photography, a double exposure is created when a photograph is taken and the role of film is not advanced, either purposely or otherwise, before the next image is taken. This means that the same piece of film is exposed twice resulting in one image superimposed on top of another. This technique can be used to combine two very different images into one frame to create symbolic meaning, juxtaposition, or just a lovely and interesting composition.

The double exposures featured in this post were taken and edited with a more modern means of photographic equipment; the iPhone. The artist, Daniella Zalcman, says she finds the iPhone to be “liberating” since it’s so “simple and spontaneous” compared to the standard DSLR cameras that most modern photographers use.

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I love these images not only because of the beautiful juxtaposition between New York and London, but also the surprising equipment used to create them. It’s amazing how, in the right hands, even a point-and-shoot iPhone camera can be used to create magnificent pieces of art.

If you love these images as much as I do, be sure to head over to Design Observer to see the original post with more pieces. See even more pieces from the series on Ms. Zalcman’s Istagram. And, if you’re interested, you can purchase some limited edition prints on Kickstarter.

Gauged

 

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I was sifting through mechanic’s tools in my dad’s garage the other day. I was on the hunt for this tire pressure gauge that I had photographed a while back for a project in college. I wanted to see it again to get some inspiration for a client project I was working on. …isn’t it just beautiful! I love that it’s kind of grungy and worn. One of the reasons that it’s truly beautiful is because you can tell it was made with care; crafted of metal and glass, it’s much more substantial than many modern tools that are “constructed” with plastic and held together with glue and tape.

While I was on this vintage automobile gauge kick, I found this image:

Super beautiful, huh? …I never thought I would be saying that about anything belonging on a Mack truck… Can you imagine the look/feel/design of this being interpreted as a clean, skeumorphic user interface design? …I’m betting it would be breathtaking! …For those who don’t know, “skeuomorphic” is just a fancy term for when graphic elements are made to look like things from the real world.

Creative Freedom …or not.

“Not having a specific purpose or goal in mind creatively is like paddling in the middle of an ocean with no land in sight. Where do you start? Who is going to give you approval? What is the product you’re trying to sell? And wouldn’t it have been easier to have just stayed on the boat?”

— Anna of Door Sixteen

The hardest projects for me to wrap my brain around as a graphic designer are the ones where there are no rules; the ones for which “the powers that be” have given me “creative freedom.” These projects are usually things like thank you cards and desktop wallpapers; things that could depict anything. Projects like these seem like they should be the easiest ones; just come up with something cool and slap it on there. But, then my designer brain thinks, “Yeah, sure, but what does this super cool design mean? Nothing? Right. So, go back to the drawing board.” I have a designer friend that would describe this strange inner drama something like this: “Designers are problem solvers and, if there is no problem to be solved, it’s hard for us to know what to do.”

I had this mental battle with myself last week as I was designing for a client. It was something that could literally be anything; I had total “creative freedom.” Therefore, as usual, I was at a loss for what to do. While I’d known about the assignment for over a month, I waited until literally the last day to come up with something. …not my best decision, but it ended up turning out alright. Ironically, I ended up making it mean something. I guess my designer brain just can’t shut off sometimes.

Oddly enough, I was introduced to the blog post from which the quote above was taken just as I hit my “I’m never going to think of anything” moment. The post was written by Anna over at Door Sixteen. You should go read it :). …Anyway, It’s always nice to know that there’s someone else out there going through the same thing. And the post serves as a nice reminder that sometimes you just have to create something and not worry about the consequences. Best case scenario; you end up liking what you created …and perhaps someone else will too.

Culture Crush: More Fraktur

So, I hope you aren’t tired of Fraktur yet! …I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. John Foster who rights the Accidental Mysteries post series on Design Observer scouted out these lovely examples of Fraktur. They are from a beautiful book with the very long title, “The Proper Art of Writing: A Compilation of All Sorts of Capital or Initial Letters of German, Latin and Italian Fonts from Different Masters of the Noble Art of Writing.” The title looks even longer in German, so I won’t go there.

What I find most fascinating about Fraktur is how intricate some of the forms can get. This intricacy is especially evident in these specimens. While looking at these, just try to remember that someone sat down with a pen or brush and ink to create these forms by hand; no Photoshop touch-ups or Illustrator line drawings here. Can you just imagine how long these forms took to make and how much thought went into planning each stroke?

In awesome news, the copyright on this book has expired, so it’s now within the public domain! …AND the entire book can be viewed in PDF form courtesy of Open Library!

Here is another of my favorite pages because I just can’t resist:

Be sure to click on over to Foster’s post on Design Observer to find out why he thinks this book contains an “accidental mystery!”

Fear of Failure

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Milton Glaser on the Fear of Failure; Watch it on Vimeo

One of my graphic design professors once said that sometimes the craziest ideas are the best. These are the ideas that might initially promote boisterous laughter and a, “That’s stupid!,” by a committee of critics or that guy you always meet in traffic on your way to work. I’m pretty positive that Henri Matisse was talking about this stage of the design process when he said, “creativity takes courage,” because it truly does. It takes guts for designers (or anyone, really) to put their ideas and craft out there for clients to judge. Sometimes they judge it fairly and with tact, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it will be judged by people who know what they’re talking about and sometimes they won’t have a clue.

As Mr. Glaser mentions in this video, the fear of being judged by others is often what leads to the fear of failure. We assume that if we fail, if that crazy idea doesn’t turn out to be the best one after all, people will judge us and our work because of it. …and they will. But, in reality, people will judge us and our work no matter what. They’ll criticize the work because it contains the color pink; they’re least favorite color, don’t you know. …or because the design doesn’t “pop.” In these instances, it’s simply best to meet the client in the middle. If they don’t like pink; try blue. If there isn’t in enough “pop;” spice things up a bit.

Sometimes, though, clients will turn the opportunity to criticize a designer’s work into a personal attack on the designer. Though it may be hard at first, it’s best to ignore this type of criticism. It’s not constructive in the least because it doesn’t do anything to improve our work. It also doesn’t give us any perspective on how to make our work more pleasing to the client.

But, before we ignore all the criticism that comes our way, it’s best to remember that, more often than not, it’s meant to be constructive. It comes from a place of honesty and from people who genuinely want to improve our work. As a designer, this honest and constructive criticism is the kind we want to hear because it teaches valuable lessons and helps us grow.