Google May As Well Have Run An Ad On Craigslist

June 15, 2009

Illustration by Gary Taxali — A response to Google’s request for free work.

I despise “contests” put on by companies looking for free work. I also hate when said contests are voted on by the general public i.e. the very same people who submitted to the contest. It’s basically spec work under the pretense of opportunity — and there are few things worse than spec work.

Free work with the promise of “exposure”, however, is even more loathsome than spec work. Granted, exposure is always good but when a company has a set business model and your work, though not entirely tied to the business model, may in some way benefit that company’s bottom line, it is only fair that they offer more than “exposure” for something they obviously see as valuable.

A round of applause to the NY Times for publishing this article about illustrators who declined Google’s request to feature their work on its new web browser without any compensation. Like the article says, when you’re a company as large and profitable as Google, there’s no reason to invite artists without offering to pay them. It’s not as if they’re a floundering non-profit, with limited resources, and a philanthropic agenda. Cheers to Melinda Beck and Gary Taxali for speaking out against it on record.

There will always be takers, Google. Some of us are not in a position to decline the exposure. Still, that doesn’t make it okay. For a company as “progressive” as Google, you’d expect a little more r-e-s-p-e-c-t for the artist.

Use Their Work Free? Artists Say No To Google

also, here’s a link to Drawn’s repost of Gary Taxali’s Drawger post referenced in the article
Don’t Call Me

Being A Designer Is About Accepting Certain Truths

April 13, 2009

Adrian Shaughnessy’s Ten Graphic Design Paradoxes: Not so much a list of paradoxes as they are a tally of keen observations from someone who obviously knows the deal about being a graphic designer. Read it. Ingest it. Come up with your own.

The Numerati vs The Designer: Why Google Web Designers Keep Quitting

March 28, 2009

Yesterday, Silicon Alley Insider tried to shed some light on why Google web designers keep quitting. Fundamentally, Google is a data-driven company; All decisions made there, including design choices, must be supported by data. While a case can be made for running a company this way, many designers would find it particularly difficult working there.

Read about it here:
What Google Web Designers Hate About Working For Google

Also, read my original thoughts on this topic. As a designer who has worked in a fairly data-driven company, I’ve thought about this quite a bit.
The Numerati vs Designer Dialectic


March 23, 2009

What’s up with the 30 degree weather, here in NYC? I thought spring was here. Oh well, here are some things worth checking out.

What Does One Trillion Dollars Look Like
Hint: It looks exactly the way it sounds.

Vandal (Squad) Vendetta
Two weeks ago, I posted about a Powerhouse Arena panel discussion which pitted Vandal Squad graffiti cops against their nemeses, graffiti writers. I did attend, however, of the notes I gathered, I couldn’t come up with anything remotely interesting to report. Hell, I even forgot to bring my camera. Luckily, freelance writer, Pauline Pechin was also present. She wrote a nice little recap of the event.

This Is Why You’re Fat
Just looking at most of this stuff gives me heart murmurs.
(thanks ASF&K)

“Music Covers Are Not Graphic Design. . .”
says Peter Saville, in a recent interview. Read about it over on Eye Magazine’s blog.
(via Design Observer)

Sci-Fi Channel becomes SyFy Channel, not that anyone cares.
Couldn’t tell you the last time I watched this channel. For some reason, the change makes me think of the book 1984 and the concept of newspeak. Let’s just hope I don’t get accused of thoughtcrime.

Hand Dryers From Around The World
Very cool…errm…dry.
(via Clusta)

Retired Graffiti Cop Writes Book. Graffiti Artists Aren’t Happy About It. They Discuss.

March 12, 2009

Photo by The Brooklyn Paper

I love (okay, maybe not love. more like, am kinda into) my local rag, The Brooklyn Paper. Unlike papers with a national distribution, a small paper like TBP can focus on the important local issues like the amazing coin-operated, self cleaning public toilet being installed at Grand Army Plaza, and my personal favorite, police blotters, a rundown of the latest crimes happening in my neighborhood. Not only that, but a local paper like TBP has the privilege of writing with a certain degree of wry sarcasm your national gazette simply couldn’t get away with.

Today’s paper gives the tip-off on a showdown, happening right here in Brooklyn, between a retired cop-turned-author and graffiti “artists” (why the quotes TBP?). Joseph Rivera, a former member of the famed New York City Transit Police Vandal Squad, recently released a book, Vandal Squad, chronicling his experience as part of the unit whose responsibility it was to clean up the city’s 80’s and 90’s era graffiti problem. Apparently, the book doesn’t sit well with some graffiti artists, who cite it as being inaccurate and “lacking in literary or documentary value.” Lucky for us, the criticism won’t be limited to the pages of The Brooklyn Paper. On March 19th, a panel discussion between Rivera and retired Vandal Squad officers as well as graffiti writers Ket, Cope2, and art blogger Stern Rockwell, is being held at the powerHouse Arena.

Though I’m not sure what good can come of a discussion panel like this, I’m planning on going just to see how irate both parties become.

Graffiti War Comes To DUMBO

Joe Rivera, author of “Vandal Squad,” at the powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. between Water and Front streets in DUMBO, (718) 666-3049], March 19, 7 pm. Free.

Employee Number 20 in The NY Times

March 2, 2009

The NY Times Business Section has an interesting article on employee number 20, Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Product and User Experience (the woman who controls the look and feel of Google). Apparently she’s somewhat of a celebrity. Who knew?

Putting a Bolder Face on Google

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)

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

So, do you have any siblings?

February 8, 2009

photo by Elinor Carucci for New York Magazine

We all have a list of questions we ask people we’ve just met(people we wanna date). These questions are meant to 1. show that you are capable of holding a conversation beyond “so, how many siblings do you have?” 2. display your deep inner mysticism and 3. determine if your new friend is not completely screwy. One of my personal questions(and I’ll never be able to ask it again now) is “If you had to choose between going deaf or blind, which would you choose?” My answer is always changing. Some days, I’d rather go blind because I couldn’t imagine a world without music. Other days, I’d rather go deaf because there’s so much of the world I haven’t yet seen. Fortunately, I’ve never actually had to consider this question as a definite possibility but I know there are people out there, much stronger than myself, who do.

Going Blind and Deaf In A City of Lights, a New York Magazine article by Arianne Cohen, introduces us to Rebecca Alexander, a young New Yorker with a rare condition that’s causing her to slowly lose her sight and hearing. Cohen spent a few weeks hanging out with Rebecca and getting a sense of what her life is like, how she deals with losing her eyesight and hearing, and why she can’t stop driving 100 miles per hour(Yep, she still drives).

It’s good to read stories like this, stories that remind us of the power of the human spirit and what has kept us thriving as a species thus far, the ability to adapt even if only on a personal level.

If you’re not in the mood to read the article, check out this video about Esref Armagan, a remarkable painter who has been blind his entire life.

Esref Armagan’s Site