Archive for January, 2010

Design crush

So, like all girls, I tend to get all giggly and moony over truly hot, sexy, rugged, manly, ripped, gorgeous graphic design. Graphic design that you imagine probably has great hair. Graphic design that would take you out, buy you a wagyu steak tartare dinner and a sidecar, take you back to its loft apartment and spend the night giving you multiple orgasms. Phew. Even thinking about it gives me an attack of the vapors.

My latest crush is on this guy, Michael Freimuth, who works out of NYC. Actually, I don’t technically have a crush on the guy himself (I have no idea who he is, outside of the internets). Just his layouts. His conceptual flair. His art direction makes my heart beat a little faster. What I’m saying basically is that I want to have his design babies.

Materiel

spread from Materiel magazine

 

See what I’m saying? I tend to get in these moods where I get all burned-out on print design and how predictable it can be. There are only so many rip-offs of David Carson deconstructed-grid magazine layouts and cute, organo-friendly Orla Kiely patterns that I can stomach at once. So it always lifts my spirits when I stumble across something like this:

Logo

sick logo design

 

Now that is a logo design I can get behind. Not surprisingly, Michael Freimuth has been honored in Print Magazine and Communication Arts multiple times. Cheers to that. Thanks for the inspiration, Mikey. I needed something to keep me from being buried under the deluge of rejections sent by design firms and art galleries. Here’s to you!

March

web design for an NYC firm

 

(p.s. black and white is where you shine, dude.)

Materiel

Another spread from Materiel magazine

 

Logo

sick logo design numero dos

 

Proximity

Spread from Proximity Magazine

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Typodolatry

I find it comforting whenever I come across someone who shares my obsessions. I think the idea is that if I have to be crazy, at least there is a community for people like me. This is probably how people feel about Alcoholics Anonymous. Hi, my name is Allie and I’m a nut for typography. I fully admit that I have no control over my addiction. When speaking to other graphic designers, I bask in the warm glow of mutual understanding. Past issues of Emigre Magazine, Look, and Colors are my pornographic reading. I have a tattoo on my arm of Sherlock Holmes’ profile done entirely using the letters of his name in different fonts. I’m seriously considering naming my first child Mrs. Eaves.

Emigre Poster

Poster design by Emigre

 

It always amazes me how little the average layperson considers or even notices typography. When a consumer looks at an ad or magazine layout, they might be struck by the imagery, the color scheme, the copy, and they may be able to tell whether or not it is well designed, if they have some artistic sense.

But a majority of the general population completely ignores the font design. Ad agencies don’t often use font as the focal point of a piece, but when they do, the letterforms tend to be used almost architecturally–more like shapes to be used as compositional elements than as actual words. As illustrated in the print pieces below. Both are wonderful designs, and both are good examples of what I’m referring to.

The Economist

Saul Bass-inspired Economist cover

 

Interesting Typographic Ad

This ad uses type very effectively--as an illustration

 

This is not a bad thing by any means. It can be used to spectacular effect. And there are exceptions to this rule, as in all things. Examples of effective typography are everywhere in the world of print advertising, sometimes even overshadowing the other design elements. The problem is that unless most people have great typography shoved in their faces, they wouldn’t notice if the whole ad were set in comic sans. We need more of this:

Ps2 Ad

Playstation clearly speaks my language

 

collage typography

Type and collage! Be still my heart!

 

Peace Ad

Good sentiment, great design.

 

Truly great font foundries are far from dead, either. The Emigre powerhouse (can you tell I’m obsessed) is still setting the standard for quality, iconic typefaces. Their pictographic font ‘Hypnopaedia,’ is so sublimely good in both concept and execution that it’s worthy of a museum exhibit. Another favorite font hangout of mine is Smeltery, a French font factory (say that 3 times fast) that has the added appeal of offering their designs for free. The fonts are sophisticated, modern, and have what I can only describe as ‘European’ sensibilities. Did I mention the free part? Other noteables are Typotheque, Process Type Foundry (great sans serifs), and Positype (which satisfies my love of ligatures).

There are plenty of resources for finding free fonts online, too. Especially useful for those of us who have over 7,000 fonts on their computers and no money in their pockets. There’s no excuse for comic sans, papyrus, curlz, or any of the other ugly and ubiquitous display fonts that pop up everywhere. Otherwise sane people are somehow blind to the poor taste they show by using these aforementioned bastions of mediocrity. I’ve even seen Papyrus used in the opening credits of a movie. A movie! Listen–if you can afford to make a movie, you can afford to buy a well-designed font with your desired aesthetic. You can even hire a typographer to design a font specifically for you! Think of that! In terms of movie-budget-scale spending, the cost of that would be negligible, and I wouldn’t have to cry and rend my garments in despair.

I’m done with my rant, now. Just remember to notice the little things, when you next pick up a magazine, or see an ad on a bus-stop or subway station wall. Give a little internal shout-out to Bodoni, Caslon, Garamond, and Gill. Designers, keep on spending hours in Illustrator, finding new ways to use type. Design your own typeface if you have the patience. (I don’t.)

And i’ll close with this:

type

Wear this shirt. Embrace the geek.

Boston Valentine’s Day Gift Guide — For Her

Guys, do you like being in a relationship?

Ok, let’s say I believe you. Let’s say your girlfriend cooks for you, or knows how to deep throat like a champ, or enjoys playing video games as much as you do. You want to keep her around.

Valentine’s Day is a scam. Everyone knows this, especially if they’re single. But It’s also a test. Buying a unique, thoughtful V-Day gift for your girlfriend is a sure-fire way to let her know that you’re a sensitive, loving boyfriend who is always thinking for her. If the gift is good enough, it is also an optimum way to let her know that you deserve a marathon boning session. There’s even a possibility she’ll be so grateful that she’ll tell that one hot bisexual friend of hers (every girl has one), who will be so impressed that she’ll want kiss your girlfriend and touch her boobs–while you watch!

So this is for you, men. A hallmark card and a box of Godivas won’t cut it this year. I’m here to help.

Food Gifts
First of all, if you can’t afford a gift, you can always bake something. Guaranteed panty-peeler. I suggest a batch of red-velvet cupcakes, which are relatively easy to make and have a cheery, apropos color scheme. You can find a good recipe at Pinch My Salt. If you want to make her squeal, try rummaging around for a mini-muffin baking pan. Girls love weensy little things, and making them small means you can eat more without feeling guilty.

Home-made not your style? Lack baking equipment and knowhow? Don’t worry, you lazy bum. Just check out the red-velvet cupcakes at Sweet, which has locations in Back Bay and Harvard Square. Their cupcakes are moist and satisfyingly messy, with toothily sweet frosting (my favorite). There’s a pleasant bit of nostalgia at play here, too, which counteracts any slight twinge you may feel at playing into the hype of the recent cupcake craze. But hurry up! If you don’t buy now chances are this fad too will pass, fading away alongside steampunk and that pale kid from Twilight.

then again, cupcakes may never go out of style

this photo was taken from the lovely cakespy blog

Runners up for good food gift: Hot Chocolate Mix or a box of Chocolate Mice from L.A. Burdick (voted best hot chocolate by the Boston Globe Magazine and beloved by my personal hero, Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten).

Jewelry Gifts
Terra Firma, in Belmont Center, is a genuine find. A local gem, Terra Firma, which irritatingly doesn’t have a website, sells unique jewelry of spectacular quality. This isn’t your Zales or Jared wholesaler of blah. They carry artisanal work which ranges from tasteful and simple (but never boring) to wildly quirky.

Runners up for good jewelry gift: Alex and Chloe is an online store that sells modern, geometric pieces that are surprisingly affordable. Also Etsy.com has an overwhelming selection of handmade, high-quality jewelry (if you can find it), from romantic braille necklaces to crocheted nature-Inspired pieces made in wool. Everything that can be made, has been made. Plus they sell inexpensive vintage and antique jewelry.

antique-inspired ring

from mylavaliere's etsy shop

Bath and Beauty Gifts
Giving your girlfriend a pile of makeup on V-Day probably doesn’t send the best message. Even if she doesn’t automatically assume a hidden subtext to everything you do (the odds of this are slim), you probably don’t know anything about cosmetics. My advice would be a little gift basket full of pampering goodies.

Sephora (which has multiple locations in Boston) sells Bare Escentuals Flawless Definition Mascara. This is basically the perfect makeup product. No other mascara holds a candle to it. Your girlfriend will worship you. Meanwhile Lush, which has locations on Newbury St and in Harvard Square, carries ultra-relaxing fizzy bath bombs. Why not get the Sex Bomb scent to get her in a frisky mood? Or help her get into a frisky mood with their Honey White-Chocolate Massage Bar which moisturizes while you use it. If this doesn’t get you laid, you’re better off single. Bonus points: Lush also has vegan products.

fizzy stress-relievers at Lush

Lush Bath Bombs taken from HelloMokona's photostream

Runners up for good bath and beauty gifts: Anthropologie (which also has many Boston locations) sells delicate, hard-to-find perfumes and home fragrances in stunning packaging. I recommend RoyalApothic brand home scents in ‘Distillation of an Edwardian Fireplace.’ It will make her room of choice smell like a moonlit fête thrown by Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward. (Trust me, it’s a good smell, especially for winter)

Miscellaneous Gifts
Black Ink, in Harvard Square and Beacon Hill, has…well…everything. And everything they have is adorable, unique, and either startlingly useful or bizarrely, wonderfully purposeless. From art supplies like fluorescent pencils and colorful moleskines, to home decor (posters of Tintin and screenprinted wrapping paper are standouts), to droolworthy books.

from Black Ink

who needs highlighters?

Speaking of books, if you get it right they make great gifts that can be just as romantic as roses. Here’s a brief list of books that will make your girl brag about you the day after.

Poetry is a classic choice for your valentine. Luckily, 2009 saw the publication of Selected Poems: Wallace Stevens. Read them aloud to her–she’ll think you’re a genius for discovering him. (It’ll be our secret.) Or if you want to go a more thematic route, The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda is collection of the poet’s most romantic works. It doesn’t get much more Valentine’s Day appropriate–plus it will make you seem thoughtful, sensitive, and intellectual. That’s sexy. For bike aficionados: The Bicycle Manifesto is well-designed and chockablock with information about bike repair, mechanics, history, and general bike culture, complete with pictures. For girls who cook: Thomas Keller, owner of French Laundry, has a bistro cookbook Bouchon which is a little less intimidating than his other cookbooks, but is still Michelin-quality fare. (Mario Batali also has a tremendous cookbook Mario Italiano, available on Amazon.) For foodies: Heat by Bill Buford is an often-hilarious account of his giving up a writing career to slave away as a kitchen bitch in a famous manhattan restaurant. Toast by Nigel Slater is a bittersweet tale of childhood memories flavored by food–sometimes awful, always illuminating. For art and design geeks: Domino’s Book of Decorating and The Private World Of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Berge are two beautiful books of interior design at its best. For fashionistas, the venerable blog The Sartorialist is full of beautiful street fashion photography and style inspiration. In the art for art’s sake category, Painting Today is a definitive anthology of contemporary artists of note. Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life is a tremendously entertaining and colorful retrospective of the work of one of the best-known, most prolific illustrators. Lastly, Maira Kalman has updated Strunk and White’s ‘The Elements of Style,’ a timelessly relevant manual of the english language, by filling the generally dry style guide with her whimsical, richly colored gouaches. As a childhood fan of Kalman’s picture books, I can’t think of anyone better to bring some life and humor into this text.

book of ilustrations

Charley Harper's lush illustrations

So that’s my way of giving some advice to the men of Boston. Take it from someone who is going to be painfully gift-free on the holiday in question–it always pays to show someone you love them.

creative genius and bipolar disorder

I always find it interesting the connections that are made between that bipolar disorder (among other mental illnesses) and creative brilliance. It certainly seems like quite a few of the great creative minds of the past can be sort of post-diagnosed with manic depression, and some of the great living artists have been diagnosed with it, but is there a causal connection? Multiple studies say yes, and its not hard to see why (even for an dilettante psychologist like me): living life constantly in extreme states, fluctuating between despair and mania, creativity can often be used as a coping mechanism. During manic states, creativity is almost an impulse (and isn’t that what mania is all about?), energy is boundless, limits seem nonexistent, and the potential for out-of-the-box thinking and creative leaps is heightened. During depressive states, creativity can be used to express feelings that are powerfully destructive and maintain a sense of self and a connection to the world. The ability to feel things deeply is a crucial part of being able to create work that affects people on a complex level. It makes sense.

Here is a partial list of writers and artists who have (or were thought to have had) bipolar disorder. I’m not a big fan of diagnosing someone after their death (because its easy to manipulate the evidence to suit multiple theories), so I’ll include only those who have compelling evidence:

Jeremy Brett
Brian Wilson
Stephen Fry
Graham Greene
Edvard Munch
Edgar Allen Poe
Kurt Vonnegut
Beethoven (This one is iffy–some people now think that ingesting high levels of lead caused his lifelong illnesses and may have affected his mood.)
Tom Waits
Robert Lowell
Hart Crane
Sylvia Plath
Johann Goethe
Graham Greene
Virginia Woolf
Honore de Balzac
John Keats
Leo Tolstoy

(On a related note, it has been argued that Van Gogh was not bipolar, as it was thought up until recently. Two researchers, Dr. Loretta S. Loftus and Dr. Wilfred N. Arnold, have suggested that he suffered from acute intermittent porphyria–the same thing that caused ‘the madness of king george’ and a disease I only know about from watching House, MD. It seems to fit the symptoms well, although it is an inherited disease and there is no evidence of the illness in either of his parents. This is why I’m skeptical of post-mortem psychological diagnoses.)

vintage camera ephemera on etsy.com

I have a desperate love for etsy.com. You can find amazing vintage treasures there, if you take the time. My favorite way to find things is to find a shop I love and then search through their favorites. Anyways, I would love to make a treasury there, but its next to impossible, so I’m posting my vintage camera finds here, because I have to post them SOMEWHERE. Some of this is cameras, some is photography that I find irresistable.

Chicken Portrait
“Chicken Portrait Two” by The Glue Factory

Instamatic
“5×5 Instamatic” by F2 Images

5x5 Time Traveller
“5×5 Time Traveller by F2 Images

Coney Island
Coney Island Carnivale by Depuis (reminds me of a photo essay I saw in the Paris Review)

Paris Rooftops
Paris Rooftops by Alicia Bock

Moonrise
Moonrise by Frances Photography

Sometimes, you Fly
Sometimes, you Fly by Raceytay

On the Fly
On the Fly by Irene Suchocki

Yes, as you can tell I’m a fan of muted colors for winter. Hope this list inspires you!