Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Momentary Gap In Reason

(click image to enlarge)

Regardless of whatever Marka Hansen, Gap North America's President, has to say – the idea to update the Gap logo isn't the problem. In fact, the idea makes perfect sense after all this time. It's the design itself, however… well, that's another story altogether. Whose fault that is, be it Gap's, the agency who drafted the logo or a combination of both, is not mine to decide. Only those involved in the process will ever truly understand where the blame lies. And in a design sense, there's plenty of blame to go around.

A logo that has more to do with "actual student work" than an iconic clothing retailer has no business seeing the light of day. As a teacher, I wouldn't have accepted its cold, bruised blue and black scheme, its pedestrian use of Helvetica (including the bastardized "G") and its overall lack of imagination from a 2nd year design student – let alone an art director and subsequent team of designers doing work on behalf of a multi-billion dollar company.

In the end, Gap Inc. clearly don't get what happened here. “We’ve learned a lot in this process,” Hansen added. “And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community.” No, Ms. Hansen, you went about this the right way but did so with the wrong design. It's that simple.

With that said, good luck to Gap Inc. as they pander to their customer base with both withdrawn crowd sourcing and statements like the one above. They've started sliding headfirst down a very slippery slope and I, for one, applaud the public for bashing this horrendous work of design.

For more, go here and here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In The House Industries Cul-De-Sac…

(click images to enlarge)

WHAT: Field trip for the History of Communication Arts studio class
WHEN: Friday, October 15th, 2010
WHERE: Brandywine River Museum, House Industries

The classroom can be a bubble if you you don't get outside of it once in a while, of course, and this field trip created a powerful combination of traditional applied arts, materials, techniques and contemporary work steeped in tradition. After a morning spent at the Brandywine River Museum, soaking in American works from both the fine and applied art worlds, our group moved to House Industries for a personal tour of their offices. Although I've had a relationship with the House guys for 13 years and even had them to PCA&D as guest speakers back in 2008, I hadn't visited their headquarters. So, for me as well as for the students – this was a treat.

The ever-gracious Andy Cruz (co-founder, co-owner and art director) and Brian Awitan (security, muscle and all-around ambassador) were joined by Ben Kiel (type master, teacher) for both a 2:15 and 3:15 tour for our students. During the 3:15 tour, we were joined by Rich Roat (co-founder, co-owner and operator) and Ken Barber (type master, teacher) as well. Hijinks ensued throughout the afternoon, for sure. Stories, laughs, inside jokes and memories of grandiose mistakes made along the way were shared with the students. There's no one single path to success and it's safe to say that House paved their very own unique one.

As a collective, the students were presented with a variety of image and business-based concepts including press sheets, illustration originals, type design, printed finals, the soon-to-be-launched Photo-Lettering website and – most importantly – the passionate philosophy that made House Industries one of the elite studios of our generation.

It was a lot to soak in, for sure, but hopefully everyone left looking at typography and illustration in a whole new way. For as much as I already knew about House already, I know I did…

"You had better watch your back
When you're in my cul-de-sac.
'Cause there ain't no goin' back
If your mom's Volvo gets a scratch."
– Badneck "Suburban Curse"
(taken from the Blaktur font package CD)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A "Double Elephant" Folio for the Record Books

(above images by Lefteris Pitarakis / AP)

As both an environmentalist and a vegetarian, I consider John James Audobon's illustrated works in Birds of America to be both inspiring artwork as well as works of reflection. Bold and brilliant in every way, Audobon's beautiful pieces showed the world what natural and mesmerizing beauty inhabited this country's shores – still largely free of human influence.

(click illustrations to enlarge)

Published as a series of sections between 1827 and 1838, No. 11 of the 100 or so remaining copies is going up for auction on December 7th at Sotheby's London. The collection of 435 hand-colored prints, created from engravings of Audobon's illustrations, measures more than 3 feet by 2 feet because Audobon wanted to paint the birds life size. By doing so, Audobon was quoted as calling this edition the "double elephant" folio.

Interested? Expect to bid between 4 million and 6 million pounds, or $6.2 and $9.2 million. After all, a copy sold at auction in 2000 for $8,802,500, which remains to this day a world record for any printed book.

(click illustrations to enlarge)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This Boy Loves Country Design…

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Hitting the stores on October 12th on Capital Nashville is Trace Adkins' The Definitive Greatest Hits: Til The Last Shot’s Fired 2xCD collection. Please note that for anyone buying the album on iTunes, I created a digital booklet featuring the full package art for this release as well.

Overall, I wanted the collection to have a cohesive look and in order to help me achieve that, I worked exclusively with a beautiful photoshoot by Kristen Barlowe. Without question, the quality of the images allowed me do so much more with the design as they truly captured the essence of Trace's character and image.