February 18, 2009

Welcome to Heartbreak

Um, if you didn't know...I love Kanye. So much, in fact, that I need your help. I have such undying devotion for him and his work (as a producer, mostly) that I have a hard time figuring out if some of the stuff is really genius or if I worship it just because it's Yeezy. Whether a lover or a hater, you have to admit that there is no shortage of creativity when it comes to West.

He recently released an unofficial music video for the song "Welcome to Heartbreak." 
This is one of my favorite songs on the new album — others: Heartless, Robocop and See You In My Nightmares — because it shows a darker, more humble (gasp!) side of West. I've always been a fan of his flashy neon style, which he has combined with an interesting pixelated effect in this video. It's like the Homecoming video, but on acid. When I started watching Heartbreak, I thought my internet was cutting out. So sneaky, that Kanye. He probably WANTED me to curse at the computer. Once I realized that was the desired effect, I thought it looked a little elementary. However, the more I watch it the more I appreciate the intricacy of the transitions. My final consensus: this video is hot, but should have been used for a more upbeat song, like "Paranoid." What do you think; genius or garbage?

ps: Kanye has a design blog too. It's meant to be.

RIP Rosie

This week I gave my magazine history presentation on McCall's magazine. McCall's seems to be the Madonna of magazines, and has had multiple attempts at reinvention throughout the past century. One successful redesign occurred in the mid-50's with the addition of Otto Storch as Art Director. Storch was a pioneer in the technique of combining typography and visuals to create one cohesive message. This is especially effective in his "Forty-Winks Reducing Plan" design.

We see typography like this in almost every magazine spread nowadays, but back then Storch was exacto-ing words and letters out of stories and warping them BY HAND. Impressive.

Another not-so-successful redesign occurred in 2001. McCall's combined with ROSIE O'DONNELL(?) to create "Rosie" magazine. It lasted a year. 

Not that I even need to ask, but here I go..."Why did it fail?" The Onion ran this hysterical sidebar regarding the fold. 

Max Wanger Photography

Max Wanger is a photographer in New York whose work I originally heard of on one of my favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo. He photographed Joanna's engagement photos, and they are fabulous. I love the unique angles and the way he washes out the color in some of the photos, while over-saturating others.  Plus, couples smiling at each other or swinging on swings is way cuter than those "prom-pose-#5-by-the-creek" travesties I see in the newspaper every weekend. 

AceJet Update: 'Arry Pottah

It seems these book redesigns are all over the blogosphere (I lose a little self-respect every time I use this word, but I've gotten over it seeing as how no other word better embodies just what the "blogosphere" deal) this week, and for good reason. AceJet recently expressed his hatred for the content of the Harry Potter books but his love for the new cover designs by M.S. Corley. Even better, Corley did this FOR FUN. Give me that kind of motivation, a free Saturday, some caffeine and there will probably be a graphic redesign of my entire bookshelf. 
As much as I appreciate this new graphic interpretation of the series, it looks a little too Northwest Native American for my taste. The house screen pictured above is an example of this region's flat and graphic traditional design. Although I know Corley is trying to get as far away from magic and illustration as possible, I think these covers lack the whimsy and mystery embodied in the text.  Do you like how far-removed they are from the original? Discuss.

VOX Designs

Pictured above is my redesigned Vox cover before they changed it to gold. I agree with the final decision to go with gold simply because it's a more universally understood color for a candy wrapper and the purple may have printed a bit too dark on the newsprint. Visually, however, I like the purple and the richer brown (but then again, I definitely prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate so maybe that's just my stomach talking.)

Above is my first department spread of the semester. It was a little strange going from feature spreads and covers to departments simply because there is a lot less creative freedom when doing department pages. I tried to have some fun with good ol' Abe nonetheless, and I think  a 200th birthday is definitely deserving of a party hat.

When I arrived at the VOX office last week to work on my departments, I discovered I got a whole HALF a page for the book section! I had to improvise and use a stock photo instead of using my original Abe illustration (below). The headline included in the illustration below would have had to be cropped anyway, so it all worked out in the end. The new text-wrapped photo makes what may have been an otherwise uninteresting topic (sorry Mr. Lincoln) seem more fun and appropriate for the VOX audience. 

I enjoy working on the department pages. Though there are more regulations it is fun to try and make do with what you're given and create something visually appealing. 

The back of book section is the other page of my department, and this page is even more limited in creativity. I get to choose the "On The Job" photo (I chose this one because it features a boot, so there's no doubt about what this man does for a living), the spot color and which quote gets the mugshot. Exciting stuff. 

February 11, 2009

Love is in the air

How beautiful are these photographs from Etsy seller irenesuchocki? I bet she used these.

Found Typography II

The only thing better than a brick wall is a brick wall with grass lettering.

New VOX Cover

Here is my completed VOX cover for tomorrow's 2.12 issue, sorry it's so small I had to borrow it from the VOX site for the time being. I'm really happy with the result, although now I realize the white text within the "O" is a little difficult to read. Big thanks to Meredith for her help with the foil effect. I tried the foil in a multitude of colors: silver = gray mess, red-pink = a little too "my-bloody-valentine," purple = the best option and reminiscent of Patric's chocolate labels. (picture to come) The editorial board thought the purple would print a bit too dark, however, and worried that the VOX readers may not make the connection between Patric's bars and the purple, so gold was decided as the final color. This way you can really tell that it's supposed to be foil and it evokes that Willy Wonka golden ticket excitement. I'm sooo glad they kept the foil-effect for the "VOX," that was one of my favorite elements to this cover. The other is the little sliver of the chocolate "O" that's peeking out.

Oh that crazy Esky

I love Esky, the Esquire magazine mascot. While I only just learned of his existence two days ago, we're already BFF. He resembles what the love-child of Mr. Magoo and Monopoly man might look like, no?

Click. Print. Love.

I found these adorable homemade Valentines on Olliebollen's site today. All you do is choose one you like,  print it off and voila, you have an instant Valentine AND NO HOT GLUE BURNS! For those of you who hate Valentine's day (sometimes I fear I am the only person left who actually loves it!) this is an easy, less-cheesy way to say "I think you're cool" to a roomie, mom or random person on the street. I am loving the bird one.

February 4, 2009

Cover Designs

Above is my Feb. 12th VOX cover redesign. I was assigned to redesign the second cover, so to avoid the nasty poo-colored effect (below) I tried to choose a good neutral brown that is a little more appetizing. The bevel and emboss effect gives the text the feeling of actually being part of the chocolate bar, while the wrapper further emphasizes the chocolate theme. I wanted to avoid any Bon Appetit-esque stock chocolate photos, so I let the text lead the design. I like this cover because it's simple, aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand. The latter is especially important when designing a cover, because if people aren't drawn to the cover design they won't pick it up and read it in the first place. The pinkish red of the wrapper draws this kind of attention and  plays nicely off the warm tone of the brown, without being too girly or valentine-y. 

A little explanation about the cover design with the repeating hearts. I like it, and I don't think it outright says "Valentine's Day!" just because it is almost making fun of itself. By repeating the same graphic over and over again I was trying to portray what is commercially considered a symbol of "love." By replacing one of them with a similarly shaped chocolate I was trying to show that Patric's (the chocolatier) definition of love is different than most others, but demands equal respect and is of equal importance. I understand that it's definitely not the right cover for this kind of a profile, but I wanted to give it some credit because the idea behind it is more kitschy and less cheesy than the final product makes it look. (The poor photoshop job is a result of time constraints, I would never dream of publishing it as-is!)


After watching the film Helvetica yesterday in class, I am amazed and relieved to discover that there are bigger typography nerds out there than me. (In high school no one wanted to do powerpoint presentations with me because I would take control of the entire project in order ensure there would be absolutely NO Comic Sans or Curlz MT.)

The film was not only entertaining but very informative, touching on the historical beginnings of the Helvetica font and even revealing its original name, Neue Haas Grotesk. It wasn't until the name was changed to Helvetica that the typeface's popularity soared in America. And thank goodness because I frankly wouldn't want to use any font that has a word resembling "grotesque" in the name.

It was refreshing to see the progression of something that began as a simple typeface and has been turned into a cultural icon. Like they mention in the movie, Helvetica is not a font for font's sake. It was not created to depict a certain emotion or theme, but rather to clarify the meaning of the content it carries. Imagine that, text that actually says what words mean! 

What I found most interesting, however, was just how many big corporations and companies use it for their logos. American Airlines has used Helvetica in their logo for more than 50 years now and, because of the typeface's versatility, still looks modern and relevant. American Apparel  (click for my favorite AA apparel) has done something entirely different, using the font to give a cheeky, almost generic feeling to their company. American Apparel's use of an unbiased and simple font reflects the company's numerous plain-colored unisex and one-size-fits-all products.

My favorite part of the movie was the montage of Lars Muller pointing at street signs that use the typeface. It was just a stoic Lars pointing at different signs over and over again, which I found hilarious for some reason.

^play this game! note: it's easier with a mouse.

February 3, 2009

AceJet Update

It seems found typography is all over the blogosphere this week. Acejet posted some fabulous photographs of typographic signs, quite similar to the typographic assignment we did this week. 

Black Velvet if you please...

Black velvet is much more than an outdated textile and darn good karaoke song — it is also a very pretty cocktail.   My recent blog-stalking has revealed not only the BV's beauty but also how simple it is to make; consisting of only champagne and Guinness beer. For extra points, you can pour the champagne over a spoon into the Guinness to create a lovely ombre effect. 

Ombre = dip-dye effect, which has recently become quite trendy in the fashion world. 

If you too would like to enjoy an ombre-esque drinking experience, here is the official recipe (compliments of Domino) for the Black Velvet. 

The Ingredients:

Makes one drink
  • champagne
  • guinness stout

Fill a tilted, chilled champagne flute slightly less than halfway with cold champagne, and wait for foam to subside; slowly add an equal part cold stout.

BTW: Pouring the stout over the back of a spoon helps the champagne and beer separate, creating a dramatic effect.

*below is a college-friendly version of the same recipe. 

The Ingredients:

Makes one drink (because ONE drink is healthy!)
  • champagne (I am going to assume that it is probably going to be Andre. Go ahead and splurge on some Freixenet if you're feeling extra classy)
  • guinness stout (available at the tiny, mobster-owned liquor store on Providence Rd. near Stewart)

Fill a slightly-melted Campus Bar and Grill plastic drink cup with cold champagne. Make numerous messy and futile attempts to reduce foam; give up and instead challenge a friend to chug half. Slowly add an equal part cold stout (stout means dark beer, my beer-challenged friends.) Enjoy. Responsibly.

BTW: Pouring the stout over the back of a spoon helps the champagne and beer separate, creating a dramatic effect and making you look cool in front of all those drinking Natty Light.

Redesign 2: VOX Cover

My last cover was way too specific in both text and visuals, so I expanded the new design to emphasize the much more important trend of indie bands promoting their music in any possible way. I came across this photo on flickr (downloaded legally!) and immediately thought it worked well to convey the facelessness of these indie bands before they gain recognition. The only way most indies can get their music heard is by promoting, promoting, promoting. If they finally succeed, only then is their band name MAYBE scrolled on the bottom of the screen during a TV show. It's gotta be rough, so instead of calling them outright "sell-outs," I tried to give them a story and a reason for why they do what they do. 

Since the subject matter of indie bands is usually associated with odd color combinations and really great graphically-designed concert posters, I was able to have a lot of creativity with the color palette. I decided to work with light blue and red. Separately, those colors are nothing special (baby blue? more like baby BLAH. and we all know red can get OLD, fast) but I think putting them together is a little less predictable. This less-expected color combination mirrors the individuality and edge most indie bands try to embody. And, maybe this is just me, but silvery light blue always gives me a feeling of something new and sleek, like the new technology these bands are undoubtedly using for their music and publicity. 

Redesign 1: Economy Feature

Here is my second spread redesign. I like the simplicity of the left page, which is quite a difference from the convoluted neon pop-art design I used on my previous design. I made the headline small, but it doesn't lose importance because of all the white space surrounding the graphic and the text "head"-line. HA. While I hate excessive drop-shadows as much as the rest of you, I think the shadow behind the headline mirrors the shadow of the dollar bill nicely, and the page would lose depth without it. 

I hate all the text on the right, but as much as I wanted to I just couldn't bring myself to press the delete key. I instead isolated the two opening paragraphs in what I realize is an unorthodox, and some may say improper, orientation. The shading and justification of the different boxes of text help separate the paragraphs and keep the page looking neat, while at the same time leading the eye down and to the main subject of the first part of the story. While I know doing so many text-wraps on body text is a big no-no, in my humble opinion I think the textual hierarchy (from the colored box with sans-serif to the square white box with smaller serif type to the photograph) is assembled in a way that is still easily read and followed.

The second spread stayed very similar. I liked the asymmetrical text orientation, and only changed some fonts and colors around to better fit the feel of the new design. The new green color that is used throughout is much more serious and monetary. 

On a purely visual level, though there is a lot of text on the right side of the opening spread, I think there is enough white space that the story doesn't look too intimidating. The staggered opening paragraphs ease the reader into the story slowly and smoothly. Let me know what you think. And, please do disagree! 

Photo #7

I pretty much eat this weekly. I call it toad in a hole, but I hear the proper name is eggies in a basket. eggies? proper? what? delicious.

Photo #6

This dangerous tangle of cords and wiring hangs right outside my window. I feel safe.

Photo #5

As you can already tell, this series of photographs is very telling of my already monotonous semester. Walk to school, walk to the rec center, sweat, walk home, do work, sleep, wake up, drink coffee, repeat. This is on my way through Lowry Mall one night after class. I love macro.

Photo #4

I reluctantly accept the fact that I am easily defined by the things I like. The corks, pictured below, and the above Starbucks cup are pretty much the definition of Chelsea. Add a Pilates mat and a pug, and you've got me pegged.

I like that you can identify the logo even though only a small portion of the green lettering is showing. Oh consumer whore-ism.

Also, I am no stranger to blogging about Starbucks.

Photo #3

I have been collecting wine corks since the good ol' underage days of swiping corks from restaurants and raiding various friends' wine cellar garbage cans. When I went to Italy sophomore year of college for a summer, the collection nearly tripled and a hobby was born. What can I say, Italians like their wine. While I still have no concrete plan as to what exactly I will do with them, I know whatever it is will be huge and AMAZING. Here is a macro of part of the collection. They sit in a laundry basket in a corner of my room, anxiously awaiting the next empty bottle of Pinot Noir.

I'm starting to think this hobby of mine may be getting out of control.

TRUTH: I frequent wineries and hang around creepily waiting to decork discarded wine bottles. My friend Kolleen captured one of my "finest" moments.

TRUTH: I awoke one morning to find a grocery bag full of corks left anonymously on my doorstep. Don't worry, I poked the bag carefully with a stick to ensure there were no explosives before bringing them inside.

Photo #2

mirrored windowsill.

Typography Assignment

February 2, 2009

Morning Elegance

How beautiful and whimsical is this stop-motion music video? It almost makes me want to be the "go-to-bed-early-and-wake-up-at-dawn-to-chirping-birds-and-sunshine" type of person instead of the "skulking-around-the-internet-until-all-hours-of-the-night-instead-of-writing-a-paper" type of person. Oh well, I can dream.