Apparently, four items were not adequate enough to satisfy readers’ desire to know more about designers. In the immortal words of Oliver Twist, they said, “I want some more.” Ask, and ye shall receive. What follows is another crack at the illusory world of those loveable, typographic tastemakers.
#5 Critiquing Other Designers
I promise this will be the last reference to Brand New in this blog serial. But there’s no avoiding the ultimate source for logo-praising and logo-bashing on the blogosphere. Introduced by Armin Vit in 2006 as a division of his UnderConsideration website, this forum for speaking one’s mind on the state of contemporary brand design has designers hopping. Just check out the torrential response to such posts as “A Penny For Your Thoughts,” (JCPenney, February 2011), “Don’t Mind the Gap, or the Square” (Gap, October 2010), and our very own “Suddenly a Dragon Appeared out of Nowhere.” (Agility, December 2006) From insider perspectives to aesthetic trash-talking, there’s a lot for designers to enjoy (or abhor) there in the Comments section.
Designers are notorious pack rats. It’s not like they’re opposed to minimalism, but if you look closely enough, you’re bound to find a collection of some sort—whether it’s out in the open or tucked away in a closet. From vintage wood blocks to Victor Moscoso psychedelic rock posters to vinyl toys, there’s no limit to what designers will devour in the name of “authenticity” or “hip factor.” If you ever see such items on Etsy, at a flea market, or in an antique store, you’d better swoop in before the designers beat you to it.
#7 Photoshop Battles
An internet phenomenon pitting masters of the ‘shop against each other, the PSB evolved from the Photoshop Tennis games of the early 2000s. Usually undertaken to establish to perpetuate humorous internet memes, they often require great amounts of skill to accomplish. And who better to prove their photo-manipulation acumen and wit than a graphic designer? Check out one such battle of brush strokes, hosted by QBN and Media Temple.
Surprising, right? With iPhones, iPads, and PowerBooks to occupy their time, you might be surprised to know that designers almost single-handedly keep stores like Hennessey+Ingalls and Taschen alive. No; there’s not much to read in the books that designers typically buy. But the beautiful design galleries in these coffee table juggernauts are a constant source of inspiration, to be opened again and again. How many folks can say that about their copy of “The Once and Future King“?
#9 Moleskine Notebooks
Technically, Moleskines are also books. But they’re books with lines, and sometimes no lines! Once again eschewing conventional books (the ones with words), designers cannot resist these stylish, handy little books that they use daily to scribble notes, draw pictures, and capture their latest flashes of brilliance. Not only do Moleskines have the benefit of being heaps cheaper than tablet devices, but they also invoke the spirits of such famed users as Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso.
#10 Kerning In-jokes
Once designers learn how to kern (how to provide the proper amount of space between each letter of a word) it’s impossible not to turn of the auto-kern-corrector of the mind in the outside world. Heinous examples abound, and the easiest way to relieve the stress of seeing such affronts to typography is through a unique brand of designer humor. While many hilarious, unintentional examples exist on the internet, the clever (and more appropriate) example above came from David Friedman’s blog, “Ironic Sans.”
Miles Seiden is a designer for the Siegel+Gale Los Angeles office.