Art, process and design blog of an aspiring industrial designer.

Posts tagged ‘graphic design’


This video, Wonderland, is real-er portrayal of life working in the creative industry (film, advertising, graphic design, computer animation, etc.).  Super fascinating, and not always uplifting, but I watched it, and then watched it again – if that’s saying anything.


Work Wisdom from Milton Glaser

IMAGE: here

“I always thought about, in early life, our objective, certainly people in the design profession, is to look professional, and to feel professional…. and you wanted to have that veneer and that sense of authority… and it was all we really wanted to do – you come out of school and you want your work to look like these marvellously slick, professional things that were in the world…”

“And then at a certain point, you reach professional level, and your work looks like that, and you realize its not enough.  That merely, getting to a point where your work looks good enough to be called professional is just the starting point.”

“…as a metaphor… when you start to learn how to draw… you are so overwhelmed with the difficulty with making things look like what they are… and you almost die trying to control your nerve endings so that the object looks like its supposed to, and you spend years doing that. And then finally you get to the point when you finally draw something that looks like what they are.”

“And then you discover, that’s not the point.  That being able to draw something that looks like something, is nothing.  That that is only the starting point.  Now you have to ask yourself, how do I make a good drawing, or an expressive drawing, or a drawing that means something.  Because the ability to only make it accurate, is actually a low-level ability.  Even though its taken you years to get to that point, its not very relevant.  But there’s no other way to get there.

“The same thing is true of your work. You sort of strive to make it look good, and make it look as good as your peers, and make it looks as good as the other stuff in the “Art Directors Annual”, and so on.  And then at a certain point if you continue and persevere, you realize that’s not good enough.  You have to go beyond that level, in order to engage that other thing, which is true expressive content, true meaning.”
-Milton Glaser, Design Matters

A metaphor that, I think, applies to all aspects of work, and anyone who wants to be truly great at what they do.

The Importance of Side Projects

If you didn’t already know, side projects are IMPORTANT.

In whatever industry you are daring to work in.  Even the ‘irrelevant’ projects.  If you didn’t already know this, you are super late to the party.  I have heard so many great professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs speak about the importance of side projects, so listen closely.

In my opinion, and again, from what I’ve read from great people, side projects are arguably more important for your personal sanity and career of choice than school in a chosen field, or even employment experience in a chosen field.  This is because it shows:
1)  initiative,
2) potential (no client!! no limits!),
3) dependability and dedication, and

These four things are so essential for any hard working individual who inspires. Initiative and hustle are very important with everything being so fast and available these days (-> laziness runs rampant).  You have to be the one to grab it!  Also, when you work on a side project on your own time and money, it can literally be anything you want it to be, and thus holds so much potential.  It can be long-lasting and over the top and epic and beautiful, but also, if you fail, no big deal.  Just start again tomorrow.

Dependability and dedication are a given with side projects.  There are no real deadlines, you are not getting paid to do this and maybe no one will even see it.  Its almost more the opposite – often friends don’t get it, tell you its not as important as hanging out with them, and you run into at least two snags during the process (its becoming not what you were planning, you run out of materials, you are off schedule, your dog pooped on part of it).  But from this, you become self-motivated AND you become dependable.

It’s also a great way to build a portfolio, and continue to let your creative self naturally evolve.  Even if you are really great at writing fiction revolving around 9/11, sometimes you just have to move onto the next phase of your creative life and write romances taking place in the turn of the century.  You are no longer that person who wrote your first novel – you’ve grown, you’re happier/more depressed, you’ve explored it.  A side project is a great way to do that without pressure, or your editor saying that they’re not  really interested in this new kind of novel from you at the moment.  It is really one of the best ways to get the kind of clients you want and to focus your work in the area you want.

One fabulous example of a side project is starting a blog….. but there are SO many people doing all sorts of different side projects out there.

Here are some amazing examples:

Jessica Hische.  Jessica works as a letterer and illustrator, and with her early web presence started posting many different side projects on the internet.  Some of those include Daily Drop Cap (where she created a new letter of the alphabet every day. So far she has gone through 12 alphabets, but has since stopped the project).  She also made Mom, This Is How Twitter Works, Don’t Fear The Internet, Inker Linker, Should I Work For Free?, a doodle blog, etc. etc…  All while working and maintaining her own personal blog…. She makes me feel so lazy. Check out way more of her side projects right here (since she is the Queen of Side Projects, for reals).

-Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka SwissMiss.  In addition to starting her design blog as a side project, which has since become one of the most popular design blogs of all time, Tina has also created Creative Mornings a free, creative, conference-like lecture series that has since spread to major cities across the globe, Tattly, a design-y temporary tattoo company, and the design-y to-do app, Teux Deux.

Ji Lee. Currently a communication designer at Facebook, Ji Lee created and started the famous Bubble Project, the word as image project, and so many other side projects.

Aaron Draplin.  Graphic designer who created Field Notes as a side project!

Kate Bigaman-Burt.  Drew copies of her receipts until they were paid off, and then drew everything she bought in a day, everyday.  She’s been drawing daily since February 2006.  Crazy.

I could go on and on, but alas, I must go floss.  Go start a side project! Tell me about it in the comments!  (Also, if you need some tips or encouragement, re-read this post or check out this link or this one.)

Vernier Panton

Vernier Panton is such an amazing artist and so influential to me!  He really embraced and pushed the futurist, space-age style of the 60’s and created environments, not just restaurants, bars or hotels, with his designs.


IMAGES:  1 // // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8  // 9

Theme: Adventurousness

So, today I have this feeling… this feeling that I’m gonna do something stupid just because I’m feeling adventurous. (But nothing THAT stupid, or that actually matters. (e.g. Cut all of my hair off and donate it to cancer.  “OMG! How could you do that! It’ll take, like, a year to grow back!”  FRESH NEWS: Hair grows back, and your odds are a big 50/50 that the short hair won’t look bad.  Those are good odds, so take a chill pill. ANOTHER EXAMPLE: Do/plan an art installation.  Money – blow it on something random that you love, that has no definite guarantee of turning out! Who needs it! Time – beh! It might be ‘evident’ in the piece that you spent months planning this!  => ADVENTURE-ing)

For normal people, I think when they need that exciting adventurous feeling they will do normal-er, more obvious adventure-things, like go explore a deserted building, or an area of town, or try a break dancing club, or go to a casino. (I had a friend who would always say, “Let’s go on an adventure!”, and I used to be like, “Yeah! Is this guy for real?! Awesome! I’m a person who loves adventures!” Turns out, I’m not.  I only like or itch for an adventure in art.  That sounds like Public Service announcement conclusion, but it is true.)  For me, all of my real risk-taking adventuring or crazy-things happens in art.  Otherwise, honestly, I think I’m kind of a more boring/safe person.  I could be wrong, but I think so. I am literally hungry for it.  I never understood what people meant when they said that about stuff other than food or love, but I AM.  I think art makes me a better person – at least, a cooler version of myself.

When you are knee-deep in a hat/head-piece made of forks and knives, you know that if someone came in partway through, they wouldn’t just think that you were cray cray.  They would think, “WTF?!”  Or, when you have some ridiculous plan about doing an art installation in the middle of the street, when someone drives by midway through the installing process, its another, “WTF?!”  Or when you are painting or staple-gunning plates to a 6″ radius tube to use as one of the turrets for St. Basil’s Cathedral of Moscow, obviously, a “WTF?!” comes.  The moments of “WTF” before “Genius!” – those are the adventures-in-process moments.  When you smile and say, “They are totally right, I am so crazy” to yourself.  A “this can go either way, let’s hope for the best and try really hard” moment.

What are you hungry for?  How do you guys act adventurous?  Is it in food, or while working the stock market?  Do people look at you like you are a crazy person, too?  Let me know in the comments.

Here is some adventurous stuff.


Okay, even though I have already talked about him a kajillion times on this blog, I cannot have the theme be Adventurousness and not talk about Stefan, with regards to adventurous graphic design.  He transcends the genre and incorporates it into the physical, kinetic, tactile, as well as the digital.  He makes pop up inflatable art installations.  He does projects that seem crazy – take a year off work to explore new ideas, even though business is FINALLY going well (Maybe my clients will just leave me?! Maybe I’ll have nothing to go back to!) – and that are not about money.  He talks about ideas and issues that stand in the way of his own personal development.  Obviously ‘WTF’ adventurous.

selfcon,APR2-2013 everybodthinkstheyareright,APR2-2013

IMAGES: here // here

Another person I wanted to talk about in Part 1, is the graphic designer and art director, Eiko Ishioka.  She is another incredibly adventurous, creative designer.  As I mentioned, she began as a graphic designer and worked for a long time in Japan doing graphic design, art direction and advertising work, and eventually established her own design firm.  Then, around the year 2000, she decided to apply her background to costume and clothing design.  Obviously she was amazing at it, and was recently nomintated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design for the film “Mirror Mirror“.  I watched that film exclusively to check out the costumes and was not disappointed in the least.


IMAGES: here // here  (via NewYorkTimes online; Great article and obit about Eiko here )

Eiko is an amazing graphic designer and costume designer who did not let her career or her background label or limit her.  She took on new and conceivably ‘unrealistic’ projects, and delved into a field in a way that might have seemed crazy to others.  And she rocked at it. Boom boom pow.


The first film I want to talk about is “The Artist“.  I really want to give my thoughts about the entire film here, but I will live it for the ‘MM (Movie Madness)’ page.  To come out with a silent film in this day and age, and have it win an Oscar for Best Picture is astounding to me.  Not to say that silent films can’t be great movies, but it is very difficult, I think, for a silent film to mass-reach a modern audience, who most likely hasn’t had very much connection with the medium possibly at all.  (AND also, there hasn’t been so much major development with silent films as a medium in the last long while. Therefore, further room for exploration.)  It really shows how well the film is made, and how much they used ‘being different’ and taking a chance to their advantage.  Not only did the film win 5 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, but it was nominated for a total of 10 Academy Awards.  And was the first silent film to win an Oscar since 1927.  I’m pretty sure that a lot of people that Michel Hazanavicius went to get money from for this film thought “WTF?!  This guy is crazy trying to make a major silent film.”  And it might stayed looking crazy until the ticket sales started to pour in and the awards committees came a-knockin.  Hazanavicius is someone who may not be traditionally adventurous in life, but is sure as all hell adventurous in art.

IMAGES: here // here

Say Anything“, which I have also mentioned on the blog in the past, also really embraces taking chances and doing something crazy (which isn’t actually crazy, but is still pretty crazy).  The film shows a really interesting social perspective; a perspective that embraces doing things because you want to do them, and not because you are supposed to (or not supposed to) do them.  For example, the main plot line of the film (spoiler) is that Lloyd, the main character, asks out Diane Court, a girl in his high school who does not hang out with his friends and whom he does not know very well.  This might seem obvious or normal to a mid-20-something year old, but I can say honestly, even as a young-20-something this is still so unusual!  In the film, Lloyd doesn’t even go against social convention, but just kind of ignores it even exists altogether.  I used to fantasize about this happening in my high school!  Not really about getting asked out by someone not in my group of friends (although that too), but just about ignoring pointless, stupid social conventions that we all follow for no reason.  Lloyd is a cool guy and Diane is a cool girl – why shouldn’t they go out?!??  Yet, at the start of the film people ask the couple how/why this came to happen over and over again! Because it is still so shocking!  Anyway, here is a great quote from the film that demonstrates my point.

Mike Cameron: I don’t know you very well, you know, but I wanted to ask you – how’d you get Diane Court to go out with you?
Lloyd Dobler: I called her up.
Mike Cameron: But how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?
Lloyd Dobler: I’m Lloyd Dobler.
Mike Cameron: This is great. This gives me hope. Thanks.
(Quote from here)

And it does give hope.  And acts as an example of how we should all act.


IMAGE: here

When Mary Katrantzou entered the fashion scene in Spring/Summer 2009, she was a recent grad and an instant hit.  She has become so popular and such a sensation since then, with all of her lines afterward, if not recieving rave reviews (by the likes of Anna Dello Rosso), receiving generally positive ones, which is rare for any designer.  With a focus on textile and pattern design in school, a theme throughout her work is the screen printing of images of often very lush, rich items on very simple, clean, architectural dress shapes.  Not only did this technique make her commercially appealing when companies wanted to copy her work, or when she wanted to do more affordable versions of her clothing (i.e.: her collaboration with Topshop), but also applied an idea that Mies Van Der Rohe (famous modernist architect) was famous for in a fresh way.  She applied the idea of lush riches in a 2-dimensional, clean way to her simple structure, and used her expertise as a 2-D designer to direct her 3-D designs.  She tried something that could have looked cheap and tacky, and jumped into a field that she did not know or specialize in (fashion), to ridiculously great avail.  To have a textile designer jump to startdom in the fashion world is not only rare, but totally unheard of.  She was adventurous in art, and it payed off.



IMAGE: here

My mom recently told me this awesome story about the Brooklyn Bridge and its history.

In 1870 John Roebling, a civil engineer, had the idea of a way to creatively construct what we now know to be the Brooklyn Bridge.  Bridge building experts of the time could not understand or see his vision, and thought his ideas were, of course, impossible.  But after working with and explaining the concept to his son, Washington Roebling, also an engineer, his son was convinced that the bridge could be built.  Somehow the two were eventually able to find investors who believed in their project as well, and the project was commissioned.  Then, a few weeks into the construction, an on-site accident tragically killed John Roebling and severly injured Washington.  In the hospital bed, Washington found that he was able only to move one finger and, since he was the only other person who understood and believed in his father’s design, the structure could not be built without instructions from him.  He eventually developed a code with his wife, Emily Roebling, by tapping his finger and over the next 13 years tapped out the instructions to her on how the bridge should be built.  The bridge was successfully completed in 1883, and is still standing today, as symbol of New York.  Both John and Washington were adventurous in their art, civil engineering and architecture, and because of it they built one of the most iconic and used bridges, and one of the oldest suspension bridges, in American history.

Here, I could also talk about the engineers and architects who were the trailblazers and harbingers of changing styles, etc., but for today, I’m just going to say the point, and save those people for another day: be the one who does something so dumb and different that it seems crazy to people. That is how all of these people got started.  Just get used to the ‘WTF’, cause it probs means you are doing something right.

The Happy Show

Stefan Sagmeister (the graphic designer, who I’ve featured on the blog in the past…) brought his show, The Happy Show, to Toronto’s Design Exchange, and I am so freakin glad he did.  Stephan, if you are reading this, thanks dude.

Amazing, fun, fascinating, fresh, clean, branded, beauty. That’s it.  I wanted to bring my camera and take some pictures for the blog but I TOTALLY forgot. :(  BUT, here are some I’ve found around…


I love how he clearly just did it how he wanted to do it.  There were some parts that were totally unrelated to the exhibit, for example the little display he had giving patrons his most favorite candy in the world!, were I felt that a Suit would totally want to shoot down. It was unrelated, but totally added to the whole thing because it brought me into his world just a little bit more, and the giving, friendly spirit of the exhibit definitely aided in the message: What makes us happy? and make sure you leave this exhibit happy / inspired!

thehappyshow1,feb142013IMAGES: here // here

Here are some ‘Life Lessons’ from his book and exhibition:

“Trying to look good limits my life.”

“Having Guts always works out for me.”

“Assumptions are stifling.”

“Seek Discomfort.”

If you are in the Toronto area, I highly recommend you check it out! It will be running until March 3rd! Also, check out this article or the Design Exchange website to hear more. NOTE: They are defs not paying me to write this. I wish.)  I highly recommend you all check out his TED talks( here, here and here), AND his book.

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