Cartongate: Peter Arnell Speaks

February 26, 2009

Today’s 3 Minute AdAge features Arnell Group CEO Peter Arnell defending his agency’s Tropicana carton design.

Bloomberg Has A (Design) Posse

February 24, 2009

Long before most of us even knew what an Obama was, NYC Mayor, Mike Bloomberg had the politico-graphic design game on lock down. Back when I used to intern at Graphis, I relished the days when I’d get to peruse the many boxes of entries sent in by designers all over the world. I remember holding in hand a copy of a Vince Frost designed magazine, and nearly fainting with excitement. I was but a lad and suffered the occasional bout of design-induced syncope.

Around the same time, Bloomberg had sent over a couple boxes of things: letterheads, calendars, t-shirts, and the like. I was amazed at how well designed everything was. All the pieces were thoughtfully designed, making use of a simple color palette of orange and white, a unified system of typography, and an overall aesthetic that was business but with a freshness one wouldn’t exactly expect from a politician (though Bloomberg is obviously more than just a politician).

A couple years down the line and Mike is ruffling a few feathers by seeking a third term as mayor, but it’s no big surprise that he’s doing it in style. Head on over to and have a look around. It’s not necessarily a content-heavy site but it damn sure looks good.

I’d love to know who’s responsible for his design work. Top-notch stuffs!


take a GOOD look at foreclosure

February 23, 2009

The abysmal housing market isn’t all bad news. Anne Trubek shows some of the positive things happening in one Cleveland community. It’s bittersweet but it’s better than just plain bitter.

Link: This Is Also What Foreclosure Looks Like


February 23, 2009

The big story today is PepsiCo’s ‘New Coke’, as The NY Times is calling it. Only months after releasing their much talked (and blogged and blogged and blogged) about Tropicana carton redesign, they’ve decided to switch back to the Strawrange, citing a strong outcry from their ‘most loyal customers.’ Cool. Looks like we’re going to have the privilege of experiencing yet another shelf-off.

Do you think major rollbacks like this affect the credibility of designers?

Music Is Magic Is Hesse Is Children’s Television

February 20, 2009

still from the December Cheryl promo video

Freshly awoken from last nights Cheryl party, ears ringing though not entirely soaked in blood this time, I spent the morning thinking about music. There was a moment last night when a certain song came on and the entire party began jumping up and down in unison. The spontaneity of the jumping and the divine appropriateness of the act itself can only be described as ‘magic.’ I often think about the world’s steady current and, sure enough, while using the john this morning (come on. like you don’t read on the toilet!) I came across this passage that illustrates the exact feeling about music I’ve been having today.

The words of this Chinese writer point fairly distinctly to the origins and to the real although almost forgotten meaning of all music. For in prehistoric times music, like the dance and every other artistic endeavor, was a branch of magic, one of the old and legitimate instruments of wonder-working. Beginning with the rhythm (clapping of hands, trampling, beating of sticks and primitive drums), it was a powerful, tried-and-true device for putting large numbers of people “in tune” with one another, engendering the same mood, co-ordinating the pace of their breathing and heartbeats, encouraging them to invoke and conjure up the eternal powers, to dance, to compete, to make war, to worship. And music has retained this original, pure, primordially powerful character, its magic, far longer than the other arts.
from The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse

Damn you, Hesse! Why you gotta be writing all good and stuff?

Well, since Hesse pretty much stole my thunder, I’ll leave you with this video (I bet you can’t share youtube videos, can you Hesse?!). It’s practically a line by line adaptation of this post.

I bet you’ve never seen an elephant do that before! Oh, and this shot is kind of amazing.

The Glass Bead Game

How (Not) To Write Like A Designer BUT Blogging Is Totally Cool!

February 18, 2009

Somali Pirates prefer Direct Deposit

When starting this blog, I was more concerned with the writing aspect of it. Whether relating a certain topic to my experiences as a designer, or simply doing a bit of research and writing about design history, my intent was (and still is) to weave some kind of narrative into my posts. Despite my love for the game (the game=graphic design), if I could make a living as a writer (or Somali Pirate), I probably would. That being said, I’d be foolish to not share this article from Core77, How (Not) To Write Like A Designer. Design writer, William Bostwick gives five tips on how to write about what we do.

While the article focuses primarily on writing copy for clients, the tips apply to any kind of writing. Maybe not blog writing though, because we all know that Blogilslavakia is a land of lawlessness — abound with grammatical misfires, unnecessary quotations, and scriptural disarray. But that’s what makes it so much fun!

I remember reading a few years ago that blogging was eroding the English language. I’m not so sure about that. I like to compare bloggers to the hobbyists who ushered in The Age of Radio, or the artists, writers, and designers who created the 60s counterculture magazines. Granted, a lot of us are in it for the clicks, but I don’t have to be older than I am to say, never before has there been this much writing on design. We can’t all be making ourselves dumber. Or are we?

Anyways, someone should do a How To Write Blog Like A Designer article. I’d do it but I’m rather hungry at the moment. I’m also having a tremendous craving for Raisinets, whose original wrapper (thanks Candy Wrapper Museum!) actually makes me want Cracker Jack(s?) instead.


Or maybe I’ll just have a Shaquille O’neal Mr. Big bar.


February 16, 2009

I haven’t done a linkheavy post in awhile. Here’s a bit of today’s weather.

NY Times Magazine has a great piece on the NBA’s most underrated player, Shane Battier. It’s relevant to this blog because it talks a bit about the numerati and the role they play in professional sports. I’ve been following Shane Battier since he played at Duke. It’s good to see he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Cover Art for Yeah Yeah Yeahs new album It’s Blitz

I’m really digging the artwork for Yeah Yeah Yeah’s upcoming album, It’s Blitz. Sometimes all it takes is a photograph. I really hope they don’t feel compelled to put any type on it.

I’d be lying if I told you I had ever actually read a Harry Potter book but maybe if they had these penguin style covers designed by MS Corley, I’d be more compelled to pick one up.

The Boom Is Over. Long Live Art. The NY Times is on fire this week. This wonderful piece takes a look at past economic downturns and how they shaped the art worlds immediately after them. There is mention of Fab 5 Freddy and Basquiat, two artists whom, until recently, I had no idea were related. If you’re wondering what designers do to make it through tough times, here’s a link to Michael Bierut’s tips on getting through a recession.

Somehow I missed the memo about Cake Wrecks. Hilarious!

photo by Jeff Baxter

MOMA takes over Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue Subway Station! I hardly take the subway anymore but this is pretty cool.
(via swissmiss)

The Serial Box Collector and General Mills New Old Boxes

February 13, 2009

This blog does not endorse Ice Cream Cones Cereal. That shit was gross!

My mother always said, “You are the company you keep.” Actually, that’s a lie. My mother never said that. Most likely she said something along the lines of, “I don’t like that boy, and why does he wear his pants below his butt?” However, She always stressed the importance of keeping good company and it is with that in mind that I have cultivated, over the years, an entourage of mildly strange but supremely entertaining people.

I’d like to introduce you to Michael Donahoe. Some of you may already know him as the funny guy who used to write for Electric Gaming Monthly (EGM), but I know him as Mike(no profundity in that one). Mike was my freshman year suitemate in college and he introduced me to a whole host of things: The Promise Ring, the masculine side of Hello Kitty, Mates of State, and even Myspace. Yes, we all have that one friend who urged us to join Myspace back when it first came out. Mike was that guy for me. I’m not sure if I love him or hate him for that.

Well, the summer he introduced me to myspace was the summer Mike and I found we had something in common, something that has taken our friendship beyond the realm of college suitemates and into the land of lifelong partners for the greater good of mankind. Mike and I both love cereal. I particularly enjoy the taste of cereal. Mike, being who he is, likes cereal for the boxes. He collects them! Actually, I don’t know if he likes the taste of cereal. I guess he would. I mean, it would be dumb if he bought all that cereal and just threw out the cereal and kept the boxes. Anyways, back in the early days of blogging, he and I had an idea to start a blog and a zine devoted to cereal. Sadly, it never came to fruition but perhaps one day, Mike, one day we will get to our Prize Inside.

Well, just the other day, the mighty Steven Heller wrote Package of Champions, a post about a Wheaties Willis Reed box he recently stumbled upon. The post got me thinking about Donahoe and his boxes. It had been a couple years since I’d last seen him and I wondered if he still collected. Well, thanks to Facebook’s 25 Random Things, I’ve learned that he still does. In fact, just yesterday he sent me(I stole it off his Twitter page) a pic of some of his latest acquisitions.

It seems General Mills is celebrating its history by releasing these fantastic throwback boxes. That would explain Steven Heller’s Willis Wheaties. My favorite of the bunch, so far, is the Trix box. Despite my seething hatred for that rabbit(not because he constantly fails at stealing things from children but, like a bushy-tailed Sisyphus, he is a constant reminder of the meaninglessness of life), I quite like the way he looked in his younger more oblong-headed days.

Also, rollerskates.

And is it just me, or does the vintage Cocoa Bird look a little bit like Christopher Lloyd?

I’m also digging the General Mills throwback logo. Are grammar schools still teaching kids to write in cursive?

Also, here are the two best cereals money can buy.

The Starsky and Hutch of Breakfast Cereals

Donahoe is a much more entertaining writer than myself. Read his blog here.

Good Donkey! or Can Green Design Be Good Design?

February 10, 2009

Logo for The Climate Group, design by Browns

Language developed through repetition. We understand what the word dog means because we were told, “this is a dog” and everywhere we went people agreed. We learned to associate the shape of a dog, with the word dog. The world of graphic design, a world that exists solely for the purpose of communication, is guided in part by the same concept. It is through repetition of certain visual communicators that designers create for our clients an easily understood language.

Over time, however, this language we create becomes so ubiquitous it loses its power. When was the last time you ever actually considered the meaning of the word dog? You’ve said the word so many times that, unless you’re really into dogs, it no longer grabs your attention. Now, if someone pointed at a dog and said to you, “Look at that donkey over there” they’d get your attention. They’d also be crazy but the point is if you want your dog to get attention, call him a donkey. Of course, you’d have to justify it but you get where I’m going.

Eddie Murphy and his sustainable Donkey

One sector that has reached the dog point, as far as visual language goes, is what we call Green, that being anything to do with taking care of our planet. On Design Assembly, designer Tom Crabtree takes a look at the donkeys of ‘green’ design. Some really great examples in there.

I must say, though, it takes a certain combination of designer and client to pull off some of the examples he cites. While it is our job to push things further, at the end of the day, the client wants what they can understand. So if you can’t convince the client that your donkey is a dog, you’re pretty much stuck in the pound.

Link: Not Easy Being Green

Wikipedia: It’s Love

February 9, 2009


Ode To Wikipedia

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
For without you, in this blog, I’d have very little to write.
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee because you refuse to sell ad space.
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as you hold firm in your belief of what is Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion but I’m glad you weren’t around when I was younger cause I’d totally not know a damn thing about proper research. . .

Yeah, it sounded like a good idea in my head. Nevermind the poor excuse for a sonnet. AdAge has a nice little interview with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, in which he discusses why Wikipedia refuses to put ads on their site. I bought this very computer with dirty money(money I made designing banner ads), but that doesn’t mean I have to like them. Or does it?

Link: Wikipedia: Massive Audience But Beggars Profit