Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Giving Up on Design? A Helpful Logo Design Video

Check out this video of Michael Bierut describing a time where he "missed" on the first few rounds of the New World Symphony logo and had to keep truckin' along until a final—and great—solution was approved. (Start at the 3:23 mark.)

Michael Bierut at AGI Open 2011 from Design Indaba on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Source Sans Pro Font: Comparison Sheet to Helvetica

It's pretty cool news that Adobe just released their first open source type family, Source Sans Pro. It comes in 6 weights, each having true italics, a total of 12 styles. When I went to check it out I got a great back story on the design, but didn't find much of a specimen sheet to show it off. So I wanted to put together a basic comparison sheet. I chose the regular weights from 3 other common typefaces that come "free" as system fonts on the Mac OS and are commonly defaulted to for a quick design job. Along with Source Sans Pro, those 3 include Myriad Pro, News Gothic MT, and Helvetica Neue.

Now, I'm a pretty big fan of News Gothic and Helvetica Neue (got kind of burnt out on Myriad after it showed up as the first font in Adobe programs all the time). I've grown an appreciation for gothic typefaces and their restrained, solid aesthetics and function. And when I saw that Source Sans Pro was at least influenced by the gothic designs News Gothic and Franklin Gothic, I was excited. But what I was concerned about was that it was just going to be a generic Myriad knock-off. I was pleasantly surprised when I did the comparisons to quickly see that there was indeed a gothic influence when compared with the common Myriad.

The Source Sans Pro type family is definitely worth the free download...especially if you're looking to have a nice, functional alternative to some of those common system fonts. Plus it has more styles included in the package than those others.

Read the story behind the design (by Paul D. Hunt) here. Download the font package here.

(Note: All fonts in this comparison sheet image were set with auto kerning and auto leading in Adobe Illustrator.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Havens Construction Logo Design Review



FÖDA Studio's webite says: "A strong masculine extrusion of a simple letter form. The stacked forms of the letter “H” allow this small company to look like a much bigger player, as the identity references a number of established gestures that suggest construction, assembly, stacking or lamination. When paired with the WordMark, a key-like form emerges, symbolizing the end of the process."

Sturdy and inviting. There is quite a sophisticated graphic illusion found in this logo mark: the layered H's seem to display not only the capital form of the letter, but I also see the lowercase form in some of the connections. Is that bad to have two different forms of the letter possibly be seen by viewers? Not at all. The dominant image presented is definitely the capital H, and the lowercase is secondary (whether it was intentional or not). So wether you see either form of the letter, it's still always an H, and not some other hidden letter that might cause confusion. The execution of the design is done by true craftsman---those who are sensitive to how every detail can make the mark better. There is nothing superfluous that tries to enhance it, as the form itself is very attractive and memorable. Part of what brings appeal is the consistent use of paralleled repetition of lines and angles. Repetition is a powerful graphic tool to grab someone's attention, and this design uses it in a very intelligent way to create depth around the stacking concept. The design looks sturdy in that all those verticals present it as upright, and if you were to go through with a straight edge, you would find all kinds of grid systems applied to pull all the elements together. Lastly, one of the major stars here is the use of positive and negative space. The contrast you get looks bold, but not heavy. And it invites the viewers eye to move in and out of the form. Leveraging the Gestalt principles, there is much that a person's mind needs to complete on it's own, which adds to it's interest. When scaled, the mark holds it visual integrity very well and remains recognizable. In particular, those repeating parallel lines create a sort of pattern that is distinct and will create retention.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Examples of Cool Twitter Avatars - The Power of Design

I didn't join Twitter until last summer, but as my list of people I follow grows, so does the abundance of varying Twitter avatars in my feed. I'll be honest, there are some I pay attention to more than others because of who they are and my interest in what they post. But then there are days where I just want to skim the long list of tweets, and that's when the what comes into play. When I say what, I mean what it is that will catch my eye (even for the slightest moment) to make me possibly pay attention and see what's being said.

That's where the value of design comes into play. Above are some examples of some of the icons that have really caught my attention. Obviously, I'm a designer, so the people I follow are mostly designers, hence, there's bound to be a larger abundance of cool/good icons in my list (though some are pretty bland). For most other people on Twitter, they're following non-designers. The difference I see is that a well designed icon has that grabbing power over many other icons. The primary gap is between an icon and a photo of a person when scanning. I scroll through my list, and a person's face placed in a square at such a small size can be really difficult to distinguish. And there's a lot of them (especially for non-designer feeds). Normal photos just look like stock; even a relatively cool illustration that just fits neatly in the square icon frame can look generic and unidentifiable. (Now don't get me all wrong, there really are some nice photos of faces out there that have great composition and interest.)

I think the ones that have that potential stopping power the most are based largely on design that is simple and has contrast. Simple in that I can actually read or distinguish what the icon is (whether the person is using a logo or some other graphic). Contrast in that it has a shape, or balance of space, or form that makes it interesting and causes it to "pop." In the icons here, I think you can see that some of the primary elements making up these eye-catching designs leverage a letter or two, a number, have a lot of white space, are cut out in a unique shape, or just rely fully on a flood of the person's branded color. So, should you use a logo over a photo? Not always, because sometimes it seems someone just slaps their logo into the small pixel area and it becomes quite illegible. Again, the simple logos translate best. A nice option, if you want to use your logo, is to crop it in an interesting way or just pull out a single, identifying element.

There are enough Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber photos out there for all the fans, that a bland photo for your own Twitter avatar can make you just another face in the crowd. Scroll quickly through your own feed and see which icons catch your attention. Consider the little implications that the power of good design and thoughtful application can play in each and every scenario, including Twitter.

Twitter icons belong to the following (listed from left to right, top to bottom): @agiopen @CreativeReview @edenspiekermann @hofstededesign @hsyee @hyperakt @idApostle @itsnicethat @jessicahische @johnmaeda @lplayground @movingbrands @OK_RM @saffronbc @sagmeisterinc @SVA_News @the_partners @thedailyheller @thefoxisblack @TwoTimesElliott @vincefrost @vonster @WolffOlins @YoungJerks

Adam Ladd of Ladd Design

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S.F. Law Library Logo Design Analysis



No description on Hatch's website, but S.F. Law Library's site says: "It is the mission of the San Francisco Law Library to provide the judiciary, the public, the bar, and city, county, and state officials free access and use of legal reference materials in order that they may conduct their legal affairs and preserve their legal rights."

Friendly and professional. For what could be a very stoic mark for a government-serving law library (as the library's website design reflects, and unfortunately just smothers the logo), Hatch's execution is very nice. The monoweight line treatment of the hand/book keeps it clean and not busy, and placing it in a unique holding shape adds to it's strength and versatility. The rounded, rectangular shape mimics the linear yet rounded corners in the lines to unite the elements. There are only two level lines in the design (the top of the thumb paralleled with the top edge of the book), while the rest are all angles, which provides interest. The "gestalt-ish" subtraction of the underside of the hand leaves a nice breath of room under the busier portion of the mark. Though it does only present 4 fingers (3 and a thumb :) it is visually completed as a whole hand by the viewers mind---in part due to the visual support of the curved lower edge of the shape leading you along. Reducing it in size does cause the line element to suffer some as it starts to fill in, but that unique holding shape helps create retention of the design to a viewer.