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 youworkforthem.com. 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.