Speckyboy Design Magazine » Graphic Design http://speckyboy.com Web Design News, Resources & Inspiration Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:58:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Visionaries That Shaped Modern Graphic Design: John Maeda http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/22/visionaries-shaped-modern-graphic-design-john-maeda/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/22/visionaries-shaped-modern-graphic-design-john-maeda/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:48:32 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=50664

Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, like Wim Crouwel, Saul...


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Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, like Wim Crouwel, Saul Bass, Cipe Pineles and Milton Glaser. Each one offers lessons for today’s creatives, and provides inspiration for new ways to innovate. As part of our series profiling some of these icons, here is the fifth: John Maeda.

Icons of Graphic Design: John Maeda

John Maeda was a computer science grad student at MIT on his way to becoming a user interface designer. Then he read Thoughts on Design, by Paul Rand — an experience that shifted the course of Maeda’s career.

Time Paint software for Macintosh, 1994
Time Paint software for Macintosh, 1994.

Maeda took a humbling message from Rand’s book: Understanding the computer did not necessarily make one a good designer. Encouraged by his professor Muriel Cooper, Maeda decided to study graphic design in Japan, where he added traditional design skills and concepts to his knowledge of computers.

One of ten poster designs for Japanese type foundry Morisawa, 1996
One of ten poster designs for Japanese type foundry Morisawa, 1996.

Maeda then returned to MIT to teach, and founded the Aesthetics and Computation Group at the Media Lab. It was there that Maeda, who as a child excelled at both math and art (though his father only bragged about the math part), explored the area where design and technology meet. For Maeda, the computer is a tool and a medium. Through the Media Lab, Maeda created digital experiences like The Reactive Square, in which shapes responded to sound, and Time Paint, a time-based program of flying colors. His Design by Numbers project (no longer active), encouraged designers and artists to learn computer programming.

Exhibition poster for Ginza Graphic Gallery 2002
Exhibition poster for Ginza Graphic Gallery, 2002.

In his quest to educate, Maeda writes books, too: The Laws of Simplicity outlines his hopes that technology will simplify, rather than complicate, our lives. From 2008–2013, Maeda was president of Rhode Island School of Design. As an educator, he considers creative thinking equally important as technical capability in developing the leaders of tomorrow. To the emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) throughout the country’s educational system, Maeda proposes adding an A for Art, to create STEAM. His goal? Not to make the world more high-tech, but to make it more humane.

Shiseido poster celebrating 30 years of commercial films, 1995
Shiseido poster celebrating 30 years of commercial films, 1995.

Further Reading:

This article has been excerpted from Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design by John Clifford. Copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.


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Visionaries That Shaped Modern Graphic Design: Milton Glaser http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/15/visionaries-shaped-modern-graphic-design-milton-glaser/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/15/visionaries-shaped-modern-graphic-design-milton-glaser/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 12:12:08 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=50665

Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, like Wim Crouwel, Saul...


The post Visionaries That Shaped Modern Graphic Design: Milton Glaser appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, like Wim Crouwel, Saul Bass and Cipe Pineles. Each one offers lessons for today’s creatives, and provides inspiration for new ways to innovate. As part of our series profiling some of these icons, here is the fourth: Milton Glaser.

Icons of Graphic Design: Milton Glaser

Studying under painter Giorgio Morandi in Italy transformed Milton Glaser’s views on design. He learned to respect the past and to draw inspiration from ideas and movements that actually came before the Bauhaus. Glaser had nothing against modernism; he just felt it had run its course for innovation and expression. Instead, he embraced historical styles, ornament, and complexity.

Mahalia Jackson poster, 1967
Mahalia Jackson poster, 1967.

Upon his return to the United States, Glaser teamed with Seymour Chwast, Reynold Ruffins, and Edward Sorel to form Push Pin Studios, the influential collaborative famous for its eclectic illustration and storytelling. For Glaser, Push Pin was fun—a place where the Cooper Union alumni could re-create their school experience. In 1974, Glaser left to start his own studio, as he felt Push Pin was so well known that it had become a style in itself, limiting his creative potential.

Logo for the play Angels in America, 1993
Logo for the play Angels in America, 1993.

In 1966, Glaser designed a poster that was included with Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits album: a simple silhouette of the singer/songwriter’s profile, inspired by a Marcel Duchamp self-portrait, brought to life with a rainbow of curls and a custom typeface. The album sold millions of copies, making the poster one of the most widely distributed in history (though Dylan himself apparently never liked it).

Bob Dylan poster, 1966
Bob Dylan poster, 1966.

The 1970s brought financial crisis and high crime rates to New York. The state wanted to attract tourists and raise morale among residents. Glaser designed the simple I (Heart) NY logo, by now so familiar that it feels like it has always existed, pro bono. (Although he didn’t make money from it, someone did and still is — it would have cost a ridiculous amount to publish it in these pages). As someone who believes in being active in his community, Glaser has said he is proud to be part of a movement that transformed the city and state that he calls home.

School of Visual Arts poster, 1996
School of Visual Arts poster, 1996.

One of Glaser’s many strengths is his versatility. He founded New York Magazine with journalist Clay Felker in 1968, art directing it for nine years. It became the blueprint for city magazines all over the country. To make a federal building in Indianapolis more inviting, Glaser designed Color Fuses, a mural wrapping around the building that explores the interaction of light and color. His love of food led to graphic and interior design projects for several restaurants, including Windows on the World at the World Trade Center. He has also designed packaging and store environments for supermarkets, like Grand Union, making product information clearer and helping people better navigate through the store.

Identity for Asylum Records, 1983
Identity for Asylum Records, 1983.

His teaching and writing have contributed greatly to the field. He still works today, and credits his longevity to his love for design and the fact that he can still be astonished.

Further reading:

This article has been excerpted from Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design by John Clifford. Copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.


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Visionaries That Shaped Modern Graphic Design: Cipe Pineles http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/08/icons-graphic-design-cipe-pineles/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/08/icons-graphic-design-cipe-pineles/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 12:42:44 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=50465

Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, from Wim Crouwel to...


The post Visionaries That Shaped Modern Graphic Design: Cipe Pineles appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, from Wim Crouwel to Saul Bass. Each one offers lessons for today’s creatives, and provides inspiration for new ways to innovate. As part of our series profiling some of these icons, here is the third: Cipe Pineles.

Icons of Graphic Design: Cipe Pineles

Today, women make up around half of the graphic design profession. But when Cipe Pineles was looking for her first design job, prospective employers were interested in her portfolio—until they learned that the unusual first name belonged to a woman.

She eventually became an assistant to Condé Nast’s art director Mehemed Fehmy Agha in 1932, and would expand her role there over the next 15 years. Designing for magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair, she learned all about editorial design, art direction, and European modernism. Agha pushed her to consistently outdo herself and to find inspiration in fine art. She became art director at Glamour in 1942, the first female to hold that position at a major American magazine.

Charm cover, 1954
Charm cover, 1954.

She moved on to be art director at Seventeen, a magazine for teenage girls edited by Helen Valentine. While competing titles saw young women as frivolous husband-hunters, Seventeen considered its readers smart and serious. By commissioning fine artists like Ad Reinhardt, Ben Shahn, and Andy Warhol to illustrate articles, Pineles rejected the idealized style typical of magazine illustrations at the time, and exposed her audience to modern art. As an artist herself, she was a hands-off art director. Her only request: That the artists produce illustrations that were as high in quality as their gallery work.

Cipe Pineles Seventeen cover, photographed by Francesco Scavullo, 1948
Seventeen cover, photographed by Francesco Scavullo, 1948.

In 1950, Pineles became art director at Charm, a magazine targeting a new demographic: working women. She designed fashion spreads showing the clothes in use—at work, commuting, and running errands. “We tried to make the prosaic attractive without using the tired clichés of false glamour,” she observed in a later interview. “You might say we tried to convey the attractiveness of reality, as opposed to the glitter of a never-never land.” Her work helped to redefine the look of women’s magazines, while also furthering women’s changing roles in society.

Pick Your Potato spread from Seventeen, illustrated by Pineles, 1948
“Pick Your Potato” spread from Seventeen, illustrated by Pineles, 1948.

Beginning in 1961, Pineles worked independently for such clients as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. From 1962 until 1987, she taught editorial design at Parsons School of Design, and directed the design of the school’s publications. Her approach to teaching was to focus on content, not style. During a career of many firsts, Cipe Pineles led with her work and she led by example. She died in 1991.

Cipe Pineles Fashion spread from Charm, 1957
“Fashion spread from Charm, 1957.

Further reading:

This article has been excerpted from Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design by John Clifford. Copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.


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Visionaries That Shaped Modern Graphic Design: Wim Crouwel http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/01/icons-graphic-design-wim-crouwel/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/08/01/icons-graphic-design-wim-crouwel/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:01:36 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=50292

The Netherlands is a small country, but it's had a big impact on design. Wim Crouwel's typographic work is a good example of Dutch design at its best: clean and functional, like the work of his forefather Theo van Doesburg—yet progressive and surprising.


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Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, from El Lissitzky to Saul Bass. Each one offers lessons for today’s creatives, and provides inspiration for new ways to innovate. As part of our series profiling some of these icons, here is the second: Wim Crouwel.

Icons of Graphic Design: Wim Crouwel

The Netherlands is a small country, but it’s had a big impact on design. Wim Crouwel‘s typographic work is a good example of Dutch design at its best: clean and functional, like the work of his forefather Theo van Doesburg—yet progressive and surprising.

In the 1960s, Dutch graphic designers usually worked solo, and companies with large projects hired firms outside the country. In order to attract those large projects, Crouwel and four partners, with a range of experience in graphic and industrial design, formed Total Design. It was the country’s first multidisciplinary studio, where teams handled complex two- and three-dimensional projects. Private corporations, government agencies, and arts organizations hired Total, and their designs for postage stamps, airport signage, and museum posters made a distinct mark on the country’s visual culture.

1967s New Alphabet typeface
1967s New Alphabet Typeface.

Crouwel had an uncanny sense of how computers would influence design and vice versa, and he created a groundbreaking typeface to work with this emerging technology. At the time, dot-matrix printers and computer screens couldn’t reproduce traditional type with curved letterforms. Starting with the Swiss typographic grid, Crouwel based letters on the rectangle, using only vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines. The result was 1967′s New Alphabet, so radical in appearance that it was almost abstract. It was never meant to be used; it was just an experiment. Crouwel must have been surprised to see the New Alphabet used on the cover that Peter Saville designed for New Order’s Substance album 20 years later.

Vormgevers poster
Vormgevers poster, 1968, for the Stedelijk Museum.

Still, that concept influenced his future work, like his poster for Vormgevers (Designers), for which he hand-rendered the lettering based on squares in a visible grid. Crouwel developed a system for Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum where each piece—posters, brochures, advertisements—used the same grid. Although these pieces promoted art exhibits, they never depicted the art itself. The type-centric design and common grid unified the museum’s communications, yet the system was flexible enough to remain fresh and interesting.

Wim Crouwel Calendar 1964
Wim Crouwel Calendar, 1964.

Hans Rudi Erdt, A. M. Cassandre, and especially Josef Müller-Brockmann are big influences on Crouwel’s work, and in turn, Crouwel remains a prevalent figure in the design world—in 2013, he was celebrated with a retrospective at London’s Design Museum. Crouwel inspires young designers, including Philippe Apeloig and Spin, who created a series of posters based on the grid he developed for the Stedelijk Museum.

Leger Poster 1957
Wim Crouwel Leger Poster, 1957.

Interview

A short interview with Wim Crouwel at the Design Museum.

Further reading:

This article has been excerpted from Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design by John Clifford. Copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.


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Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design: Saul Bass http://speckyboy.com/2014/07/23/icons-graphic-design-saul-bass/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/07/23/icons-graphic-design-saul-bass/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:58:07 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=50278

Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, from El Lissitzky to...


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Part of my education as a graphic designer was learning about the field’s history. Before, I thought history classes were stuffy and dull. Not this class. I was floored by the bold approaches and radical experiments I saw in this “old” work. I wrote Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design to highlight the pioneers, from El Lissitzky to Paula Scher. Each one offers lessons for today’s creatives, and provides inspiration for new ways to innovate. As part of our series profiling some of these icons, here is the first one: Saul Bass.

Icons of Graphic Design: Saul Bass

Before Saul Bass, movie titles were considered so unimportant that theater curtains weren’t pulled aside until they were over. When Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm was released in 1955, featuring Bass’s minimal, animated title sequence, projectionists were actually instructed to open the curtain before the credits began.

Bass studied art in his native New York, learning about Russian Constructivism and the Bauhaus from his teacher György Kepes, who had studied under László Moholy-Nagy. He opened his own office in Los Angeles in 1952, where he designed print ads for movies. Director Otto Preminger hired Bass to design the poster for his 1954 film Carmen Jones; he liked it so much, he asked Bass to design the titles as well. Bass focused on two elements that symbolized the film: a rose and a flame, superimposed over each other.

Carmen Jones  opening credits by Saul Bass
Carmen Jones opening credits by Saul Bass.

That was a key element of Bass’s work: Rather than spotlighting the movie’s star, he would develop symbolic images to represent the film’s meaning. For The Man with the Golden Arm, starring Frank Sinatra as a card dealer addicted to heroin, abstract paper cutouts enter the screen at different angles while the brassy score plays. At the end, the cutouts change into a distorted arm, the film’s main symbol.

The Man with the Golden Arm opening credits
The Man with the Golden Arm opening credits by Saul Bass.

For the first time, the title sequence set the mood and became part of the movie. Bass designed classic titles for Psycho; It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; Bonjour Tristesse; Vertigo; Grand Prix; and North by Northwest. He continued designing for films into the 1980s and 90s, with titles for Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino, among others.

Vertigo movie poster by Saul Bass
Vertigo movie poster by Saul Bass.

Grand Prix movie poster by Saul Bass
Grand Prix movie poster by Saul Bass.

Bass also changed the way films were marketed. What other designers were doing for corporations, Bass was doing for movies, creating a comprehensive and consistent suite of materials, from on-screen titles, to posters, to advertising. Collaborating with his wife, Elaine, Bass also directed his own films, including the Academy Award-winning short Why Man Creates, and the feature-length Phase IV.

Bass brought that same iconic visual approach to his corporate identity work. He designed logos for Continental Airlines, Minolta, AT&T, Warner Communications, and others, some of which are still in use today:

AT&T logo by Saul Bass
AT&T logo by Saul Bass.

Warner Communications logo by Saul Bass
Warner Communications logo by Saul Bass.

Vertigo movie poster by Saul Bass
Continental Airlines logo by Saul Bass.

Further reading:

This article has been excerpted from Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design by John Clifford. Copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.


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