Monday, April 20, 2009

design and government

"Design Den Haag 2010-2018 researches the relation between Design and Government in Europe within an international context, from cultural, economic and social viewpoints. Starting spring 2010, Design Den Haag will organize a total of five public events biennially in the field of design, architecture and visual communication, with exhibitions, publications, lectures and debates, workshops and documentary films. Each edition will entail a collaboration between Den Haag and another European government Capital: Berlin, Stockholm, Rome, London and Paris. Every edition will be evaluated. The final evaluation of the five editions will be submitted as report to the European Union at the end of 2018. This report will contain recommendations concerning the betterment of relations between design and governance, and on governmental funds for the quality of design, architecture and visual communication."
I had planned on writing President Obama a nice long letter when I graduated about design and its political/social importance in hopes that he would consider increasing its role in government. (and maybe offer me a job! haha)

So, I found out today that an organization called Foundation Design Den Haag in Europe has already started collaborating with the government of Berlin to discuss the potentially dangerous connection between design and government (hmmm). The group started a workshop this week with students to create future political campaigns. Kirsten Verdel, member of Obama's campaign team, even gave a lecture about the campaign and strategy.

It sounds really interesting and I'm excited to see what the future holds for these guys. (The website has a cool feature that takes note of every ip address that visits the site and creates a unique tone from the number combination. they play while you navigate!) will be following all of their events. You can find them here!


Olsen Haus Vegan Sandal!

Saw these SWEET vegan sandals designed by olsen Haus on inhabitat this morning. They are 100% Vegan and made of sustainable and cruelty-free materials. They are a little pricey, but they're beautiful and it would definitely feel good to know that the shoes you are wearing came from a company with this outstanding philosophy:
"The philosophy of olsenHaus is anchored in the universal truth, respect for all beings, with a dedication to the expression of truth in the material world. We are committed to being 100% animal-free / cruelty-free, producing functional goods, with a high standard of ethical social responsibility in animal rights, human rights, and the environment. Products are made of non-animal materials, in sample rooms and factories that are personally checked for ethical practices & environmental impact."

You can find the shoes here.

hey, have you ever seen a planet dance before?

just a little genius clip of paul rudd on sesame street. the episode will air on earth day (wednesday). i love the giant foam earth and i love paul rudd!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

jim jarmusch

something to think about

Chernobyl / 20 years later

(Image credits:misterbisson

Found these images at Village of Joy. We're actually coming up on the 23rd anniversary (April 26th), so I thought I would post them here.
"It took three days before all permanent residents of Chernobyl and the Zone of alienation were evacuated due to unsafe levels of radioactivity. People from around the Soviet Union were forced to come and work here in order to liquidate the danger and evacuate the residents. Many of the workers died or had serious illness from radiation. My father was also recruited for this operation, but he bribed corrupt local officers with some good sausages which were rare and a valuable item at those times, so he’s fine an alive today."

(Image credits:left: Vivo (Ben) and right: Anosmia

(Image credits:hanszinsli

(Image credits:Vivo (Ben)
“Pripyat funfair was due to be opened on May 1st. The Chernobyl disaster happened April 26th.

No one ever managed to ride the ferries wheel. It remains one of the most irradiated parts of Pripyat since the disaster, making it still dangerous today, 22 years on.”

This is all so terrifying. I think the universe might be trying to tell us something. You can find the rest of the article and a ton of pictures here.

Smiling makes me thin

This is part of Mr. Talion's "Buy my street art" photo series on Flickr. He found a pretty unique way to document street art around Berlin. I like the idea and I love all of the visual culture embedded in this image. You can find more here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Found this sweet user-generated art project/website, humus, this morning! Anyone can send in work to be posted to each issue (there are currently 12 issues) and everything is displayed within a moleskine-like sketchbook for everyone to see! There are some size specifications that you can find here, but other than that you are free to submit anything you wish.
Humus is a territory where images, creativity, thoughts and expressions have no border line or demarcation line.
I've posted images of work by Milan Grbovic below, titled spamconsumer/Visualizations of Civil Disobedience.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

chubby animals

I just had to post this little guy because I love him. Sometimes it's hard for me to comprehend how incredibly cute animals can be. Check out this Small Cute Animals post from C77C blog.

the paper industry

As graphic designers, we produce a lot of waste. (I LOVE paper, and I'm sure most of you do too.) Fortunately, most of us are very aware of that and do our best to conserve when it is possible. But, maybe we aren't doing enough. I read this article from the Nation today about some mischief in the paper industry and feel pretty disgusted.
"Thanks to an obscure tax provision, the United States government stands to pay out as much as $8 billion this year to the ten largest paper companies. And get this: even though the money comes from a transportation bill whose manifest intent was to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, paper mills are adding diesel fuel to a process that requires none in order to qualify for the tax credit. In other words, we are paying the industry--handsomely--to use more fossil fuel.


Enter the paper industry. Since the 1930s the overwhelming majority of paper mills have employed what's called the kraft process to produce paper. Here's how it works. Wood chips are cooked in a chemical solution to separate the cellulose fibers, which are used to make paper, from the other organic material in wood. The remaining liquid, a sludge containing lignin (the structural glue that binds plant cells together), is called black liquor. Because it's so rich in carbon, black liquor is a good fuel; the kraft process uses the black liquor to produce the heat and energy necessary to transform pulp into paper. It's a neat, efficient process that's cost-effective without any government subsidy.

"Seventy-three percent of the energy we use in our mill system we produce," says Ann Wrobleski, IP's vice president for global government relations. "We feel like we're the original green industry, if you will." (In developed nations, paper is the third-largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter, behind the steel and chemical industries.)

By adding diesel fuel to the black liquor, paper companies produce a mixture that qualifies for the mixed-fuel tax credit, allowing them to burn "black liquor into gold," as a JPMorgan report put it. It's unclear who first came up with the idea--Wrobleski told me it was "outside consultants"--but at some point last fall IP and Verso, another paper company, formerly a part of IP, began adding diesel to its black liquor and applied to the IRS for the credit. (Verso nabbed $29.7 million at just one of its mills in the final quarter of 2008 for its use of mixed fuel.)"

You can read the rest of the article here.

Could the Paper Industry have proposed an addition to the legislation that included companies who already use alternative fuels? If they had brought this issue to the light in Congress, would Congress have any choice but to say yes? How could the leaders of the paper industry agree to such an unethical strategy? How could they be so insensitive to the well-being of this country and the world?

Although I am incredibly disheartened by this reality, it has opened my eyes just a little bit more to the opportunities for change and activism within the design world.

Nick Hum

Found this article on woostercollective. Hum using ethics as the starting point for his business strategy and comes up with some clever ways to distribute his designed tshirts.

"In the Fall of 2008 I was pondering a few things. First thing I was pondering was the question of how ethical is it to sell someone a "Designed" t-shirt for 25-20 dollars? I found myself and to this day find myself perplexed about how someone has the guts to charge someone else that much for a "t-shirt". So I began to think of ways to distribute my t-shirt designs for very little costs. I came up with two ideas:

1. Buying thrift store shirts, printing on them, then charging a small amount because its used clothing
2. Establishing a system where people bring their own t-shirt, pick a design from me, and they only pay for the amount of ink I've use to hand print on them.

But then I came up with an idea that melded the two, a process which I'll explain in steps.
1. Buy 10 white t-shirts from thrift store ($20)
2. Screen print on them ($.25, elbow grease)
3. Return them back to the thrift store "


Thursday, April 9, 2009

sketch book!

I finally scanned some pages from my Scotland sketchbooks. I thought maybe you guys would be interested. The one above is in the Philly Airport the day I left, the rest were done while I was there. They are mostly observations of the different environment I was living in. It's much easier to pretend you're living in a fairy tale when you're in an unfamiliar place.

i should go to sleep.

tools for changing the world, a website that researches and discusses top online schools, recently published this list of 100 blogs which they consider to be the best 100 blogs for those who want to change the world.
The world is full of visionaries and people who want to make a difference in the world, and many of those people share their knowledge online through their blogs. Whether you want to change the world through environment, humanitarianism, business, or any other way, there’s a blog out there that can offer you guidance and inspiration. Read on, and you’ll find 100 blogs that can help you change the world.
Pretty cool! They are broken up into categories and the Art section has a few design sites including the Social Design Blog. You can check out the other 99 blogs here.


Moldova Protest via Twitter

I was a huge skeptic of Twitter until I started using it. Most of the people I speak to are still cynical, and I have to admit, I was really on the fence until reading this article from the New York Times.

"A crowd of more than 10,000 young Moldovans materialized seemingly out of nowhere on Tuesday to protest against Moldova’s Communist leadership, ransacking government buildings and clashing with the police.

The sea of young people reflected the deep generation gap that has developed in Moldova, and the protesters used their generation’s tools, gathering the crowd by enlisting text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter, the social messaging network."

You can read more about the protest here. It is great to see a young generation acting so closely within politics. Though the President, Vladimir Voronin, denounced the organizers as “fascists intoxicated with hatred," I am positive that their demonstration had some effect their fellow Moldovans, and certainly made an impact worldwide.

all images via B|zZare on Flickr

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

business cards!

We got our business cards back from the printer today! I struggled with an idea for so long, but finally came up with something I can be happy with. I wanted the card to help people/potential employers understand a lot about me in a very short time. People seem to react well to the different things I've chosen to present about myself, I hope that means it's an accurate portrayal.

I also wanted to show people that, though I love graphic design, it doesn't define me. I've realized that life here in America tends to revolve entirely around one's occupation. It would be rare to hear the question, "What do you do?" in somewhere like Scotland, but I feel like that's something I hear at least once a day.

I think that a successful graphic designer is influenced by everything around them, not just design. In his book, How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul, Adrian Shaughnessy references an interview with British writer Iain Sinclair:
"When asked if he did research for his books, he replied that his whole life was research."
That's exactly how I feel! I hope it comes across in the card.

As a side note, it feels awesome to have these completed and printed. We all worked so hard on them and I'm glad that everyone is happy with the results!


Kafka and the Problem of Authority

I am working on a magazine layout for Experimental Type and have chosen to use an article about the philosophical writings of Franz Kafka and Nagib Mahfuz.
"Franz Kafka and Nagib Mahfuz meet within the context of twentieth century existentialism. They attempt to analyze a man's existence. Because they are scrupulous in this attempt, cultural precedent is not admitted into their inquiries. They limit themselves to a deductive process on mankind."
The article presents a lot of opportunities for imagery. It attempts to connect two different men within one context and uses words like chaos and order, material and spiritual. Below are some of my (very rough) preliminary studies.

I started to focus mostly on the chaos/order words, probably because they give me the most room for experiment. During the critique, my professor and classmates leaned more towards the first set of images. We talked about more variety in column width and heirarchy. I also showed these photographs of the first experiment...

and we talked about incorporating them somehow. I would love any criticism or suggestions you guys have.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

thanks mugabe

This is an outdoor campaign for The Zimbabwean, a newspaper (a voice for the voiceless) produced by a group of exiled Zimbabwean journalists.

The effect of the Mugabe regime on the Zimbabwean economy was devastating and it has totally collapsed. Since then, money is worth nothing and the bank note pictured above (the Z$100 trillion dollar note) is not even worth enough to buy a loaf of bread.

It makes such a powerful statement. I think it's important that, as citizens of westernized countries, we are fully aware of situations like these. It's the only way to put our own obstacles into context, and hopefully a way for us to prevent similar situations in the future.

You can read more about it here.

drawing the line

Great poster about design ethics by Steve Haslip.
"This poster was made during my first semester class with the very wise Milton Glaser. The issue at hand was dealing with design ethics, and in an attempt to tackle the subject and further my point I drew the entire image by hand using a single line."
I am always a fan of projects that integrate hands-on media with digital. I think these detailed shots really show the benefits of developing ideas outside of the computer.

It seems only right to post Milton Glaser's witty commentary on socially responsible design, The Road to Hell alongside his student's awesome work.
The Road to Hell

By: Milton Glaser
August/September 2002
Reprinted from Metropolis Magazine, among other places.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of illustrating Dante’s Purgatory for an Italian publisher. I was impressed by the fact that the difference between those unfortunates in Hell and those in Purgatory was that the former had no idea how they had sinned. Those in Hell were there forever. Those in Purgatory knew what they had done and were waiting it out with at least the possibility of redemption, thus establishing the difference between despair and hope.

In regard to professional ethics, acknowledging what it is we do is a beginning. It is clear that in the profession of graphic design the question of misrepresenting the truth arises almost immediately. So much of what we do can be seen as a distortion of the truth. Put another way, “He who enters the bath sweats.”

Finally, all questions of ethics become personal. To establish your own level of discomfort with bending the truth, read the following chart: 12 Steps on the Graphic Designer’s Road to Hell. I personally have taken a number of them.

  1. Designing a package to look bigger on the shelf.
  2. Designing an ad for a slow, boring film to make it seem like a lighthearted comedy.
  3. Designing a crest for a new vineyard to suggest that it has been in business for a long time.
  4. Designing a jacket for a book whose sexual content you find personally repellent.
  5. Designing a medal using steel from the World Trade Center to be sold as a profit-making souvenir of September 11.
  6. Designing an advertising campaign for a company with a history of known discrimination in minority hiring.
  7. Designing a package aimed at children for a cereal whose contents you know are low in nutritional value and high in sugar.
  8. Designing a line of T-shirts for a manufacturer that employs child labor.
  9. Designing a promotion for a diet product that you know doesn’t work.
  10. Designing an ad for a political candidate whose policies you believe would be harmful to the general public.
  11. Designing a brochure for an SUV that flips over frequently in emergency conditions and is known to have killed 150 people.
  12. Designing an ad for a product whose frequent use could result in the user’s death.

Monday, April 6, 2009

For The Greater Good

Just found this Menswear Outpost, For the Greater Good. I will let them describe what they are about because it's way more poetic than I could ever be.

For The Greater Good stands as a fusion of ideas and aesthetics with a concept hoping to send the retail experience on a new course. We plan to specialize in mixing the best in young designer labels and contemporary mens fashion brands; balancing tradition with accents of novelty. With a well-edited assortment of compelling clothing, footwear, and eye wear as well as thought provoking books and documentaries. Our buying rationale relies on instinct and a desire to broaden the ideals of consumers.

For The Greater Good is interested in developing a platform for a progressive design driven and inspirational retail experience that engages the thoughts of social responsibility with patron and product. Ultimately, The Greater Good stands as a canvas to be filled with products all serving to rewrite the rules of luxury and branding the creativity of a generation begat from the likes of JFK, Malcolm X, Clint Eastwood, Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, and Frank Ghery.

Very interesting. They carry brands like Converse, Maiden Noir, Cassette, and Y.M.C. (who designed the amazing sweater below).

Check them out, maybe next time you buy some Converse, you can support the good intentions of For the Greater Good! I'm sure they'll appreciate your business!



Around this time last year, Synthetic Infatuation (of Chicago) printed the first issue of Morning, a zine showcasing the work of new artists and writers.
Issue One of Morning features artists Keith Claunch, Billy Bartels, Amy Rabas, Mark Peterson, Aravind Kaimal, Danielle Moore, and a handful of other soon-to-be famous folks. The issue's theme is "Look what you made me do" and each featured artist designed 10 pages based on a specific theme tailored to them.

Issue One also includes eight screen printed pages by Synthetic (bound into the book) and a pack of buttons by Danielle Moore.
Luckily for all of us, there are still a few copies of this available (run of 100) For a zine, it's a little pricey, but probably worth it. You can buy it here!

Here are some detail shots via their Flickr.

for students!

My professor sent out an e-mail about the AIGA DC student competition and I wanted to let everyone else in on the opportunity. AIGA DC definitely has an idea of what it's like to be a design student because they have made it FREEEE to enter for AIGA student members and there is no limit on number of entries!!! Ellen Lupton and Jake Lefebure (of Design Army) will be judging, so it's a great chance to have your work recognized by people who are doing well within the industry. Here is part of the e-mail!
AIGA DC is hosting its second annual student design competition Show Off.
Last year the competition was only open to AIGA DC students. This year we
are opening the competition to ALL students. We hope that you will share
this information with your students and help spread the word.

The purpose of this competition is to give students a stage to Show Off
their thinking, skills and talent. It’s never too soon for students to start
thinking about how they are going to promote themselves and stand above the
crowd once they are finished with their education.

The competition is FREE for AIGA students or any student who joins AIGA for
the purpose of entering the competition. Students who apply for student
membership when entering Show Off will receive free entry into the
competition. Plus their name will be entered into the running for the 500
printed business card give-away.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive $500 cash plus a copy of Adobe Create
Suites 4. Winners will also be recognized on the AIGA DC Web site.
If you are interested, you can find more information here. I really hope that everyone can take advantage of this!