Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Decoration done right.

Proof that decorative elements aren't always superfluous clutter to the message.
The poster on the left is by Marian Bantjes and is for my favorite Podcast, Design Matters with Debbie Millman (see previous post). The poster on the right is Seb Lester. *Click on images for source

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Out of the Box Political Posters

Non-traditional political posters as referenced in "Design for Obama" from Pop: How Graphic Design Shapes Pop Culture by Steven Heller.

Shepard Fairey and His Pastiche

Shepard Fairey's homage to Josef Muller Brockmann.

Read more about Shepard Fairey's influences from Steven Heller

The Purpose of this Blog

I don't say much about the design ephemera I post on the blog. That's not to say I don't have an opinion. You should assume that because I'm posting it here, I like it, or love it. Ultimately, your opinion is for you to decide. This blog is a digest of design that I've absorbed recently and think is worthy of sharing with others. The purpose of this blog is not to tell you what I think, it's to share cool design and maybe you'll infer what I think, who I am and what I like based on the content I choose to post.
Henceforth, I'm going to limit the comments and increase the posts.

P.S. I'm also simul-posting on Tumblr at Not sure yet which format will prove more handy, so I'm keeping them both, for now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is a voice in the design community whom I've recently discovered and quickly come to respect and admire. I've come across her name and work multiple times in the last week and I'm really excited to discover a new voice in design.
I own her book Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design and admittedly wasn't blown away when I first read it but...
Her name came up again as the subject of Steven Heller's "The Daily Heller" in a discussion of her illustrated essay called Penelope. In recently acquiring my first real job in design, I connected strongly with the essay, so much so that I'm currently using images from the essay as the background on my desktop.
Today's "The Daily Heller" was an interview with her about her Podcast, "Design Matters with Debbie Millman" and I thought I'd check it out since she's a well respected and accomplished designer. I haven't had a chance to listen yet but when she's interviewed Steven Heller, Massimo Vignelli, Milton Glaser and Stefan Sagmeister. Wow, quite the line up! I personally can't wait to check these interviews out!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Art vs. Design

"It's one thing to be beautiful, but if it's just beautiful, it's art. To translate into design, it has to have a message and an impact."
This important distinction was so eloquently explained by Leland Machsmeyer, the South judge for Print magazines Regional Design Annual.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about patterns lately and their ability to liven up clean clean swiss swiss design. Generally I avoid cluttered, decorative design and patterns have, most often, until now fallen into that category. I've been paying attention to the way patterns can enhance otherwise clean designs. In a pattern the combination of different elements of art/design come together to impart a mood or a vibe to a design.
This cover for a book of poetry (from The Daily Heller
10.27.10 / Vintage Irish Graphic Design) looks upbeat and lighthearted because the pattern uses bright colors, "fast-moving" lines and floating bubbles. It's a pattern like this that I imagine using amongst other type, illustration or photography to enhance the overall feel of a design.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Color! A History

Print Magazine's latest blog post, "The Wonderful Color Wheel: Part 1" is a brief but fascinating look at the history of the color wheel. While I had assumed the Color Wheel was a much more modern invention by elementray school art teachers, it is actually a very old (according to the blog, as early as 1686), fairly scientific study.
What is even more fascinating than the way these scientists chose to organize the color spectrum, is the presentations of their findings. Old school infographics.
All of the "color wheels" on the post are lovely unions of typography, illustration and of course color.
These old color wheels are really fun to look at. While this may seem an oversimplification of the post, these color wheels, in their history, have transcended scientific representations of information and become art. We should all be so lucky to design something that has such a lasting impact.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

101 Things Designers Can Do to Save the Earth

101 Things Designers Can Do to Save the Earth is a website I found through a link on the School of Visual Concepts website. The wordpress site is one big list of exactly that, things designers can do to save the Earth. While I appreciate that a lot of the items on the list don't exclude non-designers and are things that anyone can do to save the Earth, the design specific items are particularly relevant and helpful. For a taste of the site I'm listing a few of my favorites here:

118. The Designers Atlas of Sustainability: by Ann Thorpe is a more philosophical look at how designers can work in harmony with sustainable design.

117. Forget Ink Use Seawater: Curb a UK media agency's guerilla ad campaign where sidewalk stencils made with seawater promoted the London Aquarium. Seawater takes longer to dry, giving the ads a 20 min. lifespan. This is a favorite of mine not only because it uses resources that are renewable and non-destructive to the environment, but also because as a guerilla campaign I think it is more effective than a traditional ad, like a billboard. With increased impact, it's even more green because resources aren't being wasted on design that doesn't effectively promote the cause.

115. Ecofont: Verdana, except the letters have holes in them, like Swiss cheese. Thus saving 20% of the toner currently used. This is a barely noticeable difference making this an great opportunity to ease reluctant clients into sustainable design . Genius!

There are many, many more ideas for ways to "go green" on this site. I suggest giving it 20 min. of you're normal web surf wanderings for worthwhile inspiration.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


On August 28th the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, hosted Wayzgoose, a printmaking festival. Members of the SVC as well as local designers got together and printed giant posters using a steamroller. While I've heard of this practice, I've never seen it
done before and it was a great opportunity to see some really cool prints and printmaking practices. It was also a great time opportunity to explore the School of Visual Concepts.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clean Clean Swiss Swiss

What exactly does "Clean Clean Swiss Swiss" mean?

In May, I received my BFA in Graphic Design from Montana State University, giving me the ability to now call myself a Graphic Designer semi-officially (I'll be fully official upon getting a job, I figure).

My parents John and Liz own Finegan/Thompson, a design firm in Jackson Hole, WY where I grew up. After school I would walk to their office and wait until 5ish when they were finished with work. Most of my time there was spent making a mess of their Prismacolors and spinning around in office chairs until I was too sick to eat dinner. Somehow between my busy drawing and spinning, I picked up a design aesthetic.

Most of this aesthetic was defined by my parents' taste, which is best described as "clean clean swiss swiss". Some tenets of this aesthetic are: simple but clever design solutions, solid colors, forced connections and visual metaphors, and of course, no papyrus. Overall, just clean, clean like the swiss would make it.

This philosophy guides this blog and my design.

What Does it Spell, What Does it Mean?

Decorative fonts aren't in following with my aesthetics of "clean clean swiss swiss". Decorative indicates there is more there than the bare essentials, and added fluff has always seemed to me to detract from, rather than add to the communicative efficiency of the design.

Cumulus & Foam the typeface by Stefan Kjartansson for You Work for Them was recently raved about in Print magazine (Aug. 2010 p.47).

"What does it spell, what does it mean?" asks the describer of the font on I ask myself the same question when looking at this font and this is why I like it. In Cumulus & Foam, the decoration is the message. This typeface is such that each person reading it will see something unique in the blending of colors, the shape of the letters and in the space between and within the letters. The unique meaning we derive from the words becomes more important than what the letters spell.

Thus, I make an exception to my disdain for decorative type. Fabulous.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I am fascinated by infographics. They present multiple layers of information in a visually pleasing way. Additionally, the different data presented together can provide an enhanced meaning. This infographic was made as a collaboration between Good Magazine and Hyperakt and charts the various ways in which people are hurt at Burning Man, as well as how they were treated or evacuated.

While I'm as interested in the Burning Man festival as the next person, I don't particularly want to know how people got hurt there. This graphic is appealing enough to make me interested in learning more about both the festival and the injuries as a result of it. It's also informative without being over-loaded with statistics and the non-numerical, visual cues aide in my understanding of the information.

Infographics are utilitarian at their utmost. While the ability to inform and the ability to draw attention go hand in hand, it is important that an infographic remain easy to read, quickly. This infographic does so well enough that it could be placed around the Burning Man festival to remind participants as well as to enhance the artistic nature inherent to the event.

This graphic manages to present just enough information to be relevant and visually appealing.