Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shaken or Stirred?

During my recent trip to Boston, I went out with friends to a place called the Met Bar & Grill. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was how clever the logo was. of the logos. It's so clever to have the martini glass in the middle of the M. A typographic coup. Excuse the wrinkled napkin -- long trip home.

The problem I see with the branding of the Met Bar & Grill is that they have too many different things going on. There's the bar, the restaurant and then a separate Burger Bar but there really isn't a cohesive logo design that ties them all together. The logo for the burger bar is different and they also have a visual of a bunch of hamburgers making up a mosaic. Here are the burger bar logo and mosaic. I had a copy of the little burger mosaic but must've chucked it with my luggage tag and boarding passes!

Word Play

In Graphic Design History, we watched the film Helvetica. I'd seen it before but that was way before the idea of pursuing Graphic Design had even entered my head. Even with so little formal training under my belt, I got a lot more from this viewing. I'm really hungry to learn so many things. So...after class yesterday, I came home and did all kinds of web searches with the names of designers that were interviewed -- Spiekermann (love this guy -- snarky and cynical), Bierut, Carson. And that's barely scratching the surface!

In these explorations, I found so many interesting web sites. I wish there were more time to explore them all and play. One I'll share with you now is Wordle. At this site, you can enter any text or blog content or your tags in and the site will translate your text into a "word cloud." I can't tell you how much fun I had.

Wordle has features for changing color combos, font, and text orientation. It was interesting to notice which fonts, colors and orientation felt "right" for each piece I entered. I'll share three word clouds I created.

These tags clearly show what I've been focused on! The font is called Gunplay:

The word cloud below was created with a story I use sometimes when I do diversity training. It's a great story from Fatheralong: A Meditation on Fathers and Sons, Race and Society by John Edgar Wideman. It's about creating a world among us by hearing each other's stories and what happens when some stories aren't heard or are cut off. The font here is called Berylium.

For this last one, I put in three of my favorite poems: The Journey and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver and The Avowal by Denise Levertov. The font is Gnuolane Free.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Right Down My Alley

I found this advertisement for the Museum of Arts and Design in an American Craft magazine (not crafts like decoupage or scrapbooking but like handcrafted works of art, furniture, jewelry, etc. - great publication). The copy, the image and the typography work so incredibly well together. The tagline "The edge of experience. The center of Manhattan" plays on the common phrase "the edge of reason" but also suggests that the experience will be modern and "edgy." Then, to have the red GO MAD type at the bottom is a really great way to continue the idea that things are just a little bit crazy over at the Museum of Arts and Design. You won't want to miss it! The modern look of the building with its hard edges, the copy and the typeface also work very well together.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


For a while now, I've been wanting to post something about Snickers. First of all, I love me a good Snickers bar. The colder the better. Since Halloween is almost here, I allow myself to indulge in the little baby Snickers more than I should.

Last summer, I think it was, I started noticing the new
Snickers campaign where they used the distinctive Snickers font to advertise their Snickeriffic treat. It's so interesting that just the font, lettering and color of the word identifies the candy bar so clearly. Somebody did a good job with the original font design.

One blogger (Thomas Sherman) noted that Snickers really missed a web opportunity because they didn't link the words
(through Google Ads) to the Snickers website. I don't see myself working in a commercial market like this (nonprofits or educational institutions for me) but it does seem like a missed opportunity to get people to buy things they probably don't need.

Some people have made a parody of the campaign, making up words like "fatassopolis," "nugatabetes," and "guterrific." One website was developed where you could make your own Snickers logo. Lest we forget that all this creativity is about the bottom line, the site closed because Snickers threatened to take legal action (more here).

I just think it's fascinating how these kinds of things take on a life of their own. Other people have been running with it, too. I thought this one was really funny:

Given my socialist and anti-commercial tendencies, I feel the parodies of ad campaigns are as creative and important as the campaigns themselves. Time not to take commercialism so seriously. As Leslie Cabarga says in her amazing book Logo Font and Lettering Bible (which I will accept as a gift from anyone who would like to give it to me), " helps to remember that no matter how fine, elegant or cool our design may be, it is usually being used to con people into buying mundane commodities, most of which lack quality and integrity, are unhealthful and bad for the environment, and in many cases, nobody really needs them, anyway." Now there's a Graphic Designer I'd like to have a Snickers with.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Face Time

I recently went on a field trip to the Krannert Art Museum with the Graphic Design History class. One of the exhibits is entitled Effacement: Huang Yan's China in the 21st Century. I took pictures of the exhibit typography because I thought it was really clever and meaningful that the "face" part of the title was emphasized. The exhibit itself explores modern "Chineseness" and this part of the exhibit in particular struck me as conveying the way Westerners (and perhaps others) see only the traditional/ancient/stereotyped images of Chinese people.

In these images, I see a parallel to how people in our country (and others) who were not original inhabitants of North America tend to lock American Indians into the ancient stereotypes we've seen in movie
s and history books.

From my understanding, "face" also is an important concept in Chinese culture in reference to maintaining the respect of others and saving face when something shameful is perceived or when a person engages in a shameful behavior. Given the communal aspects of Chinese culture, face becomes a very important aspect of social harmony. From the outside, though, imposing these inaccurate, anachronistic faces on people erases their self-determined identity.