Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"AIGA Design for Democracy"

In class it was mentioned that AIGA redesigned paper ballots for voting which really caught my attention. Design still and always will serve a purpose to government.

I found this article on the AIGA website,, and found it quite interesting. It explains how AIGA is encouraging states and election jurisdictions to apply the design guidelines for voting ballots. These guidelines were created by the design members of AIGA to help influence and motivate designers.

These are two paper ballots that were redesigned using their guidelines. Do they look familiar? I voted using a paper ballot this Novemeber and it is almost the same exact design! They were clearly easy to use in my opinion. I think its so cool that AIGA directly influenced the design on the ballots that we use to vote for our president!

These images are from the link,, that's included in the article.

Russian Constructivism

I think Russian Constructivism was similar to the Bauhaus in my opinion, meaning that they were both way ahead of their time in how unique and well designed their artwork was. I find it interesting that they looked down on emotional artwork and wanted to create strictly objective forms that had universal meaning. The hand in particular has a very strong force behind it.

I'm so fascinated how they created these photomontaged images and texture within these posters by hand and reproduced them! The geometric structures and basic shapes and bold colors representing the communist regime in Russian at the time are quite moving. It would have been nice to see Tatlin's tower actually built! This is probably my favorite movement that we have learned in class simply because it links to my family's past, being from the former Soviet Union. In these constructivist photos I included, you kind see the constuctivism that went into each piece and see how they clearly represented this movement with the sharp geometric shapes and the hand built quality to them.

I borrowed these images from which was a site I found that included some interesting information about Russian Constructivism and many more photos of artwork.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The "Birth of the User"

It seems that the “user” came about in the late 80’s-90’s with the introduction of the computer and the internet. The user is different from the reader in that they are not as patient, where they go is sometimes more important than what they read, and the text they read can be more important than what it means.

The impatience of the user could come from a desire to read from paper rather than a monitor, but rather comes from culture. While on the web, there is a need to feel productive, rather than leisurely. The internet is used for searching and finding answers, even though you know you’ll reach some obstacles along the way.

But even now as I write this, I think about myself searching at the library vs. online – I know that not every book I pick up is going to contain the information I need. So I expect obstacles (as Lupton says the user expects to be “disappointed, distracted, and delayed by false leads.”) How is this different from searching online?

In the first couple paragraphs of the article, Lupton mentions “Typography becomes a mode of interpretation, and the designer and reader (and the designer-as-reader) competed with the traditional author for control of the text.” This is true to the web now-a-days as well. Websites are becoming increasingly more “designed” vs. the standard black Times New Roman on a white screen with blue and purple links. Web page designers are finding more ways to control the text to design a page, whether it’s by using Cascading Style Sheets to alter the text or creating an image to use on the page in place of text that can be selected with the cursor.

“In typography as in urban life, density invites intimate exchange among people and ideas.” I like this idea. It’s an interesting way to think about lack of white space as being a good thing. If the information is laid out in a clean and orderly fashion, then it is easier to make connections and comparisons and find information quickly and without problems. So many times it seems that lack of white space equals poor design. Much like the “design” of the Victorian Era, when many varieties of type and images were all thrown together on a page, with no real meaning behind the layout. But no matter how organized an area of information is, we as people can only interpret one piece of information at a time. The internet leads us to information overload easily.

So as designers, we need to do our best to design for the user so that they can understand what they are viewing, or reading, and make the best possible choices.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

David Carson and Nine Inch Nails

Just some cover art I couldn't post on comments...

Postmodernism in Pop Culture

"The disappearance of a sense of history, the way in which our entire contemporary social system has little by little begun to lose its capacity to retain its own past, has begun to live in a perpetual present and in a perpetual change that obliterates traditions of the kind which all earlier social formations have had in one way or another to preserve... The information function of the media would thus be to help us to forget, to serve as the very agents and mechanisms of our historical amnesia" (Jameson).
Postmodernism in its most easily identifiable form seems to be the re-hashing of retro styles or nostalgic subject matter. Normally in the form of parody or tribute, it is the recycling of an idea to identify or create new meaning to a concept. These combinations sometimes seem very unlikely and usually involve a blend of "high" and "low" art. For example, I cite Matt Groening's "The Simpsons" parody of Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Time."
This is most commonly seen in: 
  • Film/TV genres
  • Photographic images
  • Typography
  • Color
  • Clothing
  • Advertising images 
  • Hair styles

Postmodernism is "history" represented through nostalgic images of pop culture, fantasies of the past. History can become the style, and historical representations blend with nostalgia. The end result is dependent on the original concept, but in the process develops its own narrative.

Alexey Brodovitch

Alexey Brodovitch (1898-1971) was arguably the most avante-garde layout designer ever. His layout designs influence and resonate through modern layout design and high-art photography today. He emigrated to the United States in 1930, and began working as Art Director for Harper's Bazaar, a well-known American fashion magazine, in 1934. Harper' s Bazaar considers itself to be the resource for "the well dressed woman and the well dressed mind." The focus was on the world of fashion, beauty and popular culture on a monthly basis. Brodovitch was one of the first designers that taught design as a professional discipline. Brodovitch's avante-garde philosophies revolutionized magazine design with his usage of "asymmetrical layouts, white space and dynamic imagery." His double page layouts are considered some of the best ever made, using practices that were groundbreaking for the time, such as bleeding photos over the gutter, using serif type faces such as Bodoni, and using the photograph as the overall basis of the spread. He is credited with influencing many leading photographers and designers, such as Richard Avedon, Art Cane, Hiro, Bob Cato, Irving Penn, Otto Storch, and Henry Wolf. Brodovitch was also known for commisioning the works of well known photographers Man Ray  Henri Cartier-Bresson, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, George Hoyningen-Huene. 

Democratization of Design

Found this blog post tonight on the democratization of design. It links to a full page article run by The Gazette in Montreal.

The basic point of the article is that good design is much more accessible these days - there are gobs of blogs devoted to the subject, stores like IKEA offer well designed, attractive products at affordable prices - even Home Depot and Lowes have more than just the affordable but not quite as attractive products, that people at one time were limited to because good design was expensive, and more difficult for the common person to get their hands on.