Archive | November, 2010

45. What type are you?

28 Nov

My favorite design firm Pentagram asked this question. No, they are not talking about dating characteristics, but typefaces. I have already listed favorite typefaces, but Pentagram went a bit further and developed a series of questions to help you determine what typeface represents you.

 

It is interesting to think about the choices you make in design dictate something about your character and personality. So why did Pentagram create such an application?

“…we wanted people to understand that meaning properly and use it more consciously. Hence our application, What Type Are You? Researched over seven years with a team of 23 academics across Eastern Europe, What Type Are You? asks the four key character questions of our day, analyzes responses in exceptional detail and recommends one of 16 typefaces as a result.” (AIGA Design Archives)

The questions are: Are you emotional or rational? Are you understated or assertive? Are you traditional or progressive? Are you relaxed or disciplined?

I got Archer hairline, which I love. The test revealed the sudden surprises and outbursts that are only seen upon further examination. Interesting. Check out this lovely typography test here.

44. Creating a Portfolio Website

28 Nov

Ahh senior year, time to kick back and relax. Okay, not so much. As someone who aspires to work in the creative field how do you show the world how you think and what you do? A portfolio. Previously a printed body of your work, now in digital form through personal websites.

I am currently in the process of creating this website… http://www.reneealvarado.com. It is still in the works as I am constantly thinking about how to show people what I think and why I think it. I live in a family of engineers and scientists. When I tell my parents or brother what I am trying to accomplish through my website, they are surprised at how detailed I get in my description of work or skills. To them, simply listing where they attended school, and what positions they had is enough. But to be someone in a creative field, it is a whole different ball game.

I found this very interesting and helpful article called Building Your First Professional Portfolio on Design Schack. Definitely worth while read if you are placed in the position that I am. Here is what I learned:
Directly say who you are. This goes beyond your name and transcends into your skills and passions. Their example was “I’m Sean and I design websites”.

Make your work easy to navigate. If you are trying to get a job, the most important thing on a portfolio website is your work. It should be easy to find, see, and understand.

This seems simple but make your resume readable. I struggle with this. I often think that because I like design and typography, I should show that in a resume. But this is distracting and takes away from the point of a resume. Impress with your accomplishments.

I also enjoy looking at portfolio websites that have a section that shows process. I think sketches and mind maps cans show your creativity and the way you think. The difficult part is how to do this in a manner that still maintains professionalism. I will keep my advice, and the advice of others in mind as I continue my website!

43. The future of Fashion Advertising

27 Nov

My dream is to combine my love of fashion and love for the media and advertising into one amazing career. I previously studied apparel design and have a deeper love for fashion than simply liking shoes. I like the history and the art of the designs. I love to look at concept boards and sketches. It is interesting to me that the process to create an ad, and a great line of clothing is very similar. First there is a story, that dictates some sort of concept, which translates to trends, patterns, and color schemes. These are then mapped out on a board, then sketches, then rough executions. Much like creating an ad, a designer must consider who it is they are taking to, and how the clothing will interact with their lives.

Just my luck, both the fashion industry and the advertising industry are in the midst of a transition. The fashion industry is also learning how to deal with social media and online platforms. They are also dealing with a difficult economic time that makes $500 pair of shoes seem quite obsolete.

While I know that the ad industry is responding to this change, I wondered how the fashion industry was responding. I feel that they are more afraid of change than many industries because, while fashion changes, it has been brought to consumers in the same way for decades. I came across this PSFK article titled ‘Is the Fashion Industry in Danger of Going the Same Way as the Ad Industry’.

In the article, they discussed this ‘4-D’ fashion show by Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren broadcast a fashion show and a polo match in 4-d technology on the side of a building in London. “We were the first brand to blend ‘merchan-tainment’ so seamlessly,”said David Lauren in NY times.

PSFK, and me both had the same question, did this help Ralph Lauren sell more things or further develop their brand? I don’t know. This is an example, as the article puts it, of tactics masquerading as brand strategy. What was the point of Ralph Lauren doing this? Yes, it is cool. And yes, it is in fact using technology. But does this align with the all-American values that I thought Ralph Lauren represents? I wear Ralph Lauren, I like the brand, and this does absolutely nothing to reaffirm my loyalty to the brand, or make me want to buy more of their products.

“What I’m taking about is a ‘strategic’ idea, an interpretation of a brands attitudinal point of view and role in culture beyond the drapes, asymmetry and geometry.” That is what is great about fashion, you know that people identify with it when they wear it. And a great fashion house, has a great image that is easily identifiable.

Take Chanel or Burberry. Huge brands that even if you are not involved in fashion, you can conjure up some sort of brand identity. With these deep histories behind great fashion brands comes the amazing opportunity to tell a wonderful story. Some brands are those that have been worn by generations.

While I love Ralph Lauren’s enthusiasm for using new technology, it needed to tell a story. Build upon the brand image that is pretty well established. I would have rather seen polo players from the 1950’s wearing Ralph Lauren, juxtaposed with the Ralph Lauren of today than what they portrayed. The fashion industry has such possibility to use the technology to tell the stories that are actually fascinating and compelling.

42. Favorite Typefaces

27 Nov

I always ramble on and on about how much I love typography. The emotion and simplicity of letters is so beautiful. I have seen many great pieces be ruined through terrible typography. A great visual piece, needs visually great words as well. Here is a random assortment of typefaces that I love. These are all pretty expensive and “designer” typefaces. As a student, I do not have access to all of these all the time. So this is like my fantasy football team or typefaces. Or wish list of couture purses that I could never afford. There are many great typefaces for free at websites such as dafont, or myfonts that I use and usually tweak to make them look like other fonts.

Neutraface (bold) by House Industries. I love the subtle difference in this sans serif typeface. It has effortless style.

House Painter (script) by House Industries. Vintage packaging is so cool and that is what I think of when I look at this typeface. It looks authentically hand-written, unlike many other typefaces.

Tarzana by Emigre. Just look at those upper case E’s and the slight upward curl of lower-case letters. Love it.

This, is Archer. A Hoefler & Frere-Jones typeface. I first fell in love with is when I was flipping through a Martha Stewart magazine of my mom’s. It is delicate and proper, just as I would imagine Martha Stewart (pre- jail time).

Here is another Hoefler & Frere-Jones typeface called Sentinel. A lovely slab serif that I noticed when I interned at Portland Monthly magazine. It looks great in italic and paired with a sans serif like Gotham.
Yes, I realize that I talked about typefaces like an accessory but that is how I think of them. They are so important to good design, and I hope one day I can have all of the typefaces listed above.

41. The Future of Advertising

26 Nov

Being my senior year in college I am trying to suck up as much information, knowledge, and insight that I can before I step out into the ‘real world’. In this world, the advertising I create will not be mock up ideas where a budget is not considered, and I am free to create whatever I want. I will have clients, deadlines, budget, and other people’s opinions besides mine and my professor’s to consider. To say that I am intimidated by this scenario would be a vast understatement. What if the information I am absorbing like a sponge is the wrong information? You don’t have to be involved in advertising to understand that media consumption is undergoing a massive transition. Possibly one of the largest transitions in history. Where does that leave advertising?

Pondering this dismal thought that the industry I am setting myself up for is going through a make-over, I came across a Fast Company article titled ‘ The Future of Advertising’. The article discussed a Swedish design school called Hyper Island, known for churning out talented digital advertising students. Former successful ad execs go to this school to learn about the changing environment for advertising, and express their feelings about the change stating:

“This whole ‘collaboration, we’ll work together as a team’ breaking down of the creative director and art director team — I find it fucking difficult.”

So, what does Hyper Island tell the execs to do?

-Story building, not telling. In order to respond to an unpredictable audience instantly.
-Marketing should be useful. Thinking like a product developer.
-Let go of your ego.

Reading this, I begin to feel better. I know digital. My peers know digital. We understand that you can’t have an ego in an industry that revolves around creativity that is judged not by those that you work with, but my a consumer that may be unpredictable and unlike you.

Advertising went through a transition in the 1960’s from a sleazy act, to something of art. Sure, there are plenty of sleazy advertisements out there, but that is not what I want to have a part in.

“The death of mass marketing means the end of lazy marketing.”

This couldn’t be more true. Advertising has the ability to reach a very specific demographic, with a personalized message, at the right time. The possibilities for a real connection are drastically increased with the influx of media platforms. It is also no longer a one-way conversation. Consumers can talk to brands, either good or bad experiences.

There is also an increasing competition between advertising agencies to win accounts. Businesses want an agency that is accepting of this change, rather than running away from it.

“”The Great Race,” as Forrester Research dubbed it in March, drives a more intense competition over an already shrinking pie, and there won’t be room for everyone. En route to the center, agencies are chasing one another to the bottom.”

I strongly suggest reading this article. It gives a long and broad perspective about where the industry is going. At the meeting of Hyper Island, there was a Twitter feed for the group. Most of the group didn’t know what Twitter was. This is bad news for older advertising execs stuck in their ways. But, I think it is the new crop of advertising graduates that can take this new and scary landscape, and create great work.

Art Directors Club Young Guns

23 Nov

Here’s some daily inspiration. If you don’t know, the Art Directors Club chooses 50 creatives under the age of thirty as their ‘young guns’. These are budding creative stars in photography, illustration, advertising, design, fashion, film…basically anything and everything creative.

Currently I am in the process of creating a portfolio website. I am also working on building and improving my work to put into this website, so it is quite the big process. Looking through some of the Young Gun recipients gave me some insight and inspiration on what I like looking at in portfolio websites, and what pieces tell a lot about a person. I was inspired and driven to make my stuff tell more about me, and to give my website more of a voice because of this. I thought I would share some of the winners, their work, and why I think they are wonderful and inspirational.

This is Steve Peck’s portfolio website. He has quite the impressive resume with an internship at Crispin, and now works for BBH. Aside from the work, I love the way it is laid out. Simple. Clean.

From themorningnews.org

Here is some work from Jennifer Daniel. Her work is hilarious and definitely lets you get to know who she is and what she values. She has a funny infographic about a day in the life of someone unemployed, I highly recommend looking into it. Her about me is written in part lorem ipsum, part recognizable speech, and the bottom of the page says, ‘ A rabbi, a priest, and the Pope walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What is this? Some sort of joke?”‘ You can tell who she is and that she enjoys what she is doing. I think it is great to be able to show who you are in a creative portfolio website. Anyone can have a personal website, but a creative person should show this beyond displaying their work.

This is Nathaniel Lawlor’s portfolio website. He is a writer for Goodby. I am not a writer, but I sometimes try, and I think it is important to think about how a writer should go about presenting their work. I love looking at someone’s process. It give me a deeper understanding of how they think and why they did what they did. Creatives should show their process, it is unique and fascinating, messy, organic. Nathaniel did a fabulous job showing this work and process by designating a link titled ‘illustrations’.

Awesome inspiration and work from young creatives. Back to my work.

“It is scary as hell to work with someone else”

22 Nov

I recently had a group project for an advertising class. It is always interesting being placed in group projects for school because the groups are typically random, and end up with a mix of work styles. There is always one person who takes the lead and a few people who do absolutely nothing. This project was different in the fact that we chose our own groups. I was with two other designs who have similar interests and we all get along. This could have gone either way as far as group dynamics, and it turned out great. We were able to bounce ideas off each other and discuss problems and obstacles that arose in them. The end product turned out better than it would have had we done it alone. This got me thinking about all of the benefits of collaboration.

This is a video from The 99%, which is a think tank of the Behance network. Named after Thomas Edison’s quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” and founded by Ji Lee, author of Making Ideas Happen.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/16979026%5D

Husband and wife team Masamichi Udaagawa and Sigli Moeslinger, founders of Antenna Design New York Inc. discuss why collaboration is important and how to make is successful. Here are some main points:

*It has to come from a need, seeking a complimentary skill

*A complimentary skill doesn’t make a partnership work, there most be compatibility

*Need to align values and goals

*Have a mutual respect

*A good friendship doesn’t mean it will make a good working partnership

*Talk about expectations upfront, before the work starts

*Disagreement is important because it provokes discussion and leads to a better outcome

*Partners allow conversation to be a need to advance ideas

*Another person gives your idea perspective


Antenna Design strives to encourage collaboration in the workplace. The couple designed furniture for the office with board room length tables and open rooms. I think this is a trend that many creative businesses are starting to get involved with.