Friday, December 5, 2008

End of the Semester

I enjoyed this semester and learning where our profession came from and all the things that have influenced it. I find a lot more inspiration and insight in everyday things after learning so much about the history of architecture, art, music, society, politics, and the world's history in general. I can't wait for next semester when we learn about artists and graphic designers that are working right now. So thanks to all my blog mates for the great conversation and for teaching me many interesting and diverse things. You never know, bloggers in five or a hundred years could be writing about how we influenced the graphic design world. At least I hope they do. Thanks and I hope everyone has a great break.

Any I would like to extend an invitation for everyone to come and see my art exhibit. My work will fill the entire space for the month of January. The place is called Cooper Ella's Cafe. It's in Maplewood on Sutton Blvd, just south of Manchester Road. They have Kaldi's coffee and great desserts and the space is really unique. Click here for directions.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Camel Cigarettes Remove Joe Camel 1997

Camel cigarettes have used Joe the Camel in the advertising for many years. In 1997 they removed him because competitors and others thought Joe was enticing young children to smoke.
Mr. Joseph Camel, the cartoon tobacco mascot, is currently facing charges by the feds that he has knowingly and with profit aforethought enticed children to smoke cigarettes. He is not accused of hooking kids in the manner of a playground pusher, however--he's never directly addressed children or been seen in their company. Rather, Mr. Camel, himself a habitual user of nicotine, has been accused of being way too cool, in much the way that Joseph K. was once accused by the authorities of being way too guilty. The very president of the United States has put the case in these terms--Joe Camel, declares Bill Clinton, tells minors that "smoking is cool." Now, this is a charge of considerable interest. For it to stick, "cool" must be perceived to be good, or else associating it with smoking wouldn't be so dangerous that the ads have to be banned. And Joe Camel must make smoking seem cool because of the life he leads, as suggested in the ads that feature him. So what does he do in these ads? Among other things, he plays in a blues band, shoots pool with his buddy camels, rides a big hoggish motorcycle (without a helmet), drives a flashy convertible (without fastening his seat belt), and otherwise does a whole lot of hanging out in graphically interesting settings. Mr. Camel is never seen doing any productive work of any kind, is never portrayed wearing bourgeois clothing of even the Casual Friday variety (he usually wears a leather jacket), and is never seen in the company of middle-class camels who have to work for a living.
For years, hundreds and maybe thousands of smokers in cigarette ads have been lighting up at picnics, on hiking trails, or on horseback. Yet the first commercial smoker to get hauled into court is the first one to have stepped into a pool hall, to have shrugged off respectability. While the FTC is not consciously playing the prude here, there is a logic to cultural control to which regulators are heir.
Personally I think this really hurt camel, due to the fact that using this cartoon, fun looking camel helped them sell more product. Although I can see how this fun character would entice younger kids to want to smoke. The advertising and imagery for this product really has a large impact on its buyers. I also think that camels old advertising method was much more effective then the new generic camel logo.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Apple Today

When we talked about Apple in class, we only discussed the Mac and how it influenced society by introducing a new technology. I wanted to address Apple's advertisements and the graphic design that they use. Just about everyone has seen an Apple commercial, whether it be for a Mac, iPod, iPhone, etc. As far as I can remember, Apple has some of the most memorable commercials and ads. The company shows you the product, but more importantly they show you how it is used. Each commercial shows the different features of the product by actually using it. Cleaning products and toys often show the product in use, but Apple does it for electronics in a very successful way.

Other companies have latched on to style and visual properties that Apple commercials have. The new Touchsmart Pc by HP shows a person using the product. All of the new phones from LG, Samsung, and Blackberry do the same thing. I remember older Blackberry commercials that were visually pleasing but were only concepts that represented the "essence" of the product (the phone being built out of people or places, etc).

Apple's website, commercials, ads, product packaging, and products are all very clean and sharp. They only show the necessary information, so viewers are not overloaded with images or information. This is smart because typical viewers tend to be put off from sensory overload. Neutral colors and sans-serif fonts are used so that the products really shine. Apple uses simplicity and classic visual elements in such a way that it is copied by many.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pop Art

So I was thinking about the Modernism and Postmodernism movements and the transitioning between them, and it made me remember how much I actually like Pop Art.  To me, Pop Art not only shows popular culture at the time, but it also seems to be a time in art history where artists show the transitioning between the two movements and experimenting with art.  My ultimate favorite Pop Art Piece is Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing? by Richard Hamilton.  The piece has a big muscle man and pin up girl with them showing the newest and best products you can buy for the time, the 1950s.  It tells so much about what popular culture was doing at the time in history.
But most people know this movement best by Andy Warhol.  His most known work would that of the Campbell's soup cans, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and the Velvet Underground.   The majority of his is done by monoprint and  silk screening, while he also did work with films.  He fits perfectly into the Pop Art because he was taking advantage of the popular culture of the 1960s, which led to him becoming a pop icon.


"The Meaning of Type"

There were a few things I found interesting in the article, The Meaning of Type by Steven Heller. Most notably, Hitler's campaign posters.  His posters were deemed as modern with the use of the silhouette and sans serif font, yet just a couple years later modern art and typography was considered "Kulturbolchevismus."  I think Hitler should have done his research before he criticized Bernhard, seeing he wasn't actually Jewish.  Then what got me again, was the how Hitler banned the use of blackletter typeface.

Another thing I found interesting was the paragraph on Helvetica.  I know that it was created by a Swiss designer, but I never thought that it's origins would help promote neutrality and cleanliness so much.  The waste management company wanting to use Helvetica to clean up their image, and the Soviet Union using it label for it's export items.  What I found most intriguing about the use of Helvetica is the how an inner city civil rights group used it to appeal to middle class, white Americans.  Who decided that that specific group of people were attracted to Helvetica?
When looking at Avant Garde's alphabet a capital ligatures, I was almost amused.  Some of them are actually interesting to look at, while other letters seem to bulky.  I can see why the typeface would have been widely used in the 1970's, but it's also sad to see it overused and abused.

sources:; issue 50

Friday, November 14, 2008

Moscow Olympics in 1980

In 1980, the United States led a 61-nation boycott of the summer Olympics held in Moscow that year. U.S. President Jimmy Carter called for the boycott to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. But well before the invasion of Afghanistan, before the Iranian hostage crisis involving 52 American hostages, before the oil shock that sent oil prices to historic highs in 1979-80, Carter’s presidency was in shambles.

How the Boycott of the Olympics Came to Be:
Neville Trotter, an extreme right-wing conservative in Britain’s Parliament, asked Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to lead a worldwide boycott of the Moscow Olympics.“Another venue should be found,” he said, “and if necessary the games should be postponed for a year. This is the one lever we have to show outrage at this naked aggression by Russia. We should do all we can to reduce the Moscow Olympics to a shambles.”In fact, Saudi Arabia was first to pull out, in protest over Soviet aggression on Islamic land. On Jan. 17, 1980, the Muhammad Ali Amateur Sports Club, funded and supported by Muhammad Ali, announced that its 32 member boxers and athletes—several of whom were favored to win medals—would boycott the games.In his State of the Union message on Jan. 23, Carter announced the boycott: “I have notified the Olympic Committee that with Soviet invading forces in Afghanistan, neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow.” The next day, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 386-12 to support Carter’s call. Among those opposed to the boycott were Phil Gramm of Texas and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan. The Boycotting Nations: In all, 61 nations boycotted the Moscow summer Olympics — but less than half the nations of the Middle East did. The nations that boycotted are as follows: Albania Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belize Bermuda Bolivia Canada Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile People's Republic of China[4] [5] Côte d'Ivoire Egypt El Salvador Fiji Gabon Gambia West Germany Ghana Haiti Honduras Hong Kong Indonesia Israel Japan Kenya South Korea Liberia Liechtenstein Malawi Malaysia Mauritania Monaco Morocco Netherlands Antilles Niger Norway Pakistan Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Philippines Saudi Arabia Singapore Somalia Sudan Swaziland Thailand Togo Tunisia Turkey United Arab Emirates United States Uruguay U.S. Virgin Islands Zaire

I thought the posters for the Olympics were very interesting. They look nothing like posters for the Olympics today.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We discussed the international style and its effect on corporate identity. I thought that I would explore corporate identity today and how important it is for businesses. The importance of graphic designers and corporations is growing more important because of the economic state of the times. Graphic design has proved to be a very powerful tool in influencing the public. I looked over Target's website and below are some of my observations.

1. Target's website utilizes white space, grid and sans serif typefaces. This is a direct result of how work from the International Style looked.

2. The website has contrast themes within the color and advertisements. They emphasize red and white as well as products of all kinds that wouldn't normally go together being put together in
their advertisements. This also goes along with the Swiss and the stylistic elements that they used in their work.

3. One of Target's main slogan is "Design for All"

This is the most telling. The Swiss International Style first emerged because of a need for clarity and versatility as well as a need to be understood by all different types of people. Target focuses their products to everyone of everyone background and nationality. They even have line of products call Global Bazaar which highlights the products of countries all over the world.

I have included images directly from Target's website to show specific examples of their corporate identity and how linked it is to the International Style. Target even put the following information on their site, "96%: The percentage of people who recognize the Bullseye, even nudging out Apple and the Nike swoosh." This shows the true power of a company's identity and how it can improve their business.

Please go to and look around. The entire site is clean, professional, and reminiscent of the International Style.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Graphic Designers

In Steven Heller's article, The Back-Stories, Informed by Trends, Cults, Philosophies and Nationhood in Eye Magazine he says, "Typefaces and typography are never designed in a vacuum." This statement is exactly what we have been discussing throughout this semester, but we have gone even further to include all parts of design.

As Graphic Designers, we are given a
responsibility to design both thoughtfully and creatively. In terms of being thoughtful, designers must have knowledge of what is going on around them. I believe that this is the most difficult part of designing. One must research and be aware of their surroundings in order to be successful. Events and happenings in the social, political, scientific, ethical, environmental, and popular world must all be taken into account when designing, not matter what is being designed.

A teacher once told me that designers must have reason for every design decision that they make. This is one of the primary differences between a graphic designer and a studio artist. Both artist and designer must have a creative nature or personality, but graphic designers must be creative under specific guidelines, constraints, rules, and/or requirements.

For example, a studio artist can use blackletter just because they want to
(unless commissioned to do a specific work). A Graphic designer must have the knowledge that the use of blackletter has many connotations that are associated with it and always accompany its use. Steven Heller discusses this in his article. Blackletter instantly evokes feelings of WWII and the dark ages. So typography, typefaces, and any design cannot be created or utilized in vacuum because it would not be successful unless by chance.

Steven Heller's article expresses the importance of the designer's knowledge of the past and involvement in the present. Creativity comes naturally to a graphic designer, that's why we love what we do. But designers that take the initiative
and have drive to do the extra work and research will surely prosper and this is what I have and continue to realize. I find myself wanting to know everything that I can about anything, because you never know when that information will come in handy.

I have found that reading articles such as Heller's make me even more interested and excited to be a part of the Graphic Design community, because it really is extremely hard work that we do. But I do enjoy making art just to make art as well. The images throughout this post are my own, I thought that I'd show you that even though I love graphic design because of its purpose and structure; I also love to make art just to make it.




I never realized how often we use isotypes/pictographs, so I went looking for an older examples.  The pictures I posted is from 1944, and is comparing the 1937 male to female ratio in Great Britian and in the Soviet Union.  There are five age groups, and each symbol equals 250,00 people.

Of course this isn't the earliest example of pictographs.  Pictographs can be dated clear back to the days of cave painting, but Otto Neurath is the one credited for making them universal.  The person symbol is still used to this day, and variations of it can ben seen quite often.  The universal sign for restrooms is a great example.  The only variation is the dress shape on the female sign.  In the picture above, the shape of the person according to country.  People aren't the only thing used in pictographs.  They are now used in parks, airports, office buildings, malls, etc, and the simpler the better.  I honestly don't see pictographs going away anytime soon.  They may actually gain even more popularity.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Meanings Of Type By: Steven Heller

After reading this article I really got a new idea for type. One thing I found interesting in this was Neuland and Chop Suey: faux ethnic. Neuland was designed in 1923 by Rudolf Koch. This type is a family of convex-shaped capitals reminiscent of German Expressionist wood-cut lettering. Koch did not make any preliminary drawings, which accounted for an informal quality that, according to a type specimen brochure distributed by Superior Typography, INC.  It was expressive an atmosphere of exotic flavor. In addition it states there is an unusual expressiveness a subtle harmony of ruggedness and delicacy of design. Neuland was recommended for advertisements promoting airplanes, boats, books, coffee, gifts, lacquers, rugs, tea, and tours and was widely used until the 1930s when it was sidelined like so many novelty typefaces. in 1933 Neuland was revived as the logo for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. I thought that is was very interesting due to the fact that this type was revived after so many years.

Sources: (image)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Paul Renner and Futura

Paul Renner created the typeface Futura between 1924 and 1926 and released it in 1927. We learned in class that he designed it in order to make a typeface that would function better than Herbert Bayer's universal typeface. He follow the basic Bauhaus rules but made the type easier to read and he put more varience in the weights. He understood that the harsh geometry of the Bauhaus typeface was in fact more difficult to read despite its positive social meaning and purpose. He believed that a humanist or roman typeface was easier to read and people reacted more positivly to it. I have decided to explore the use of Futura today, because it is a very popular and respected typeface.

Futura is available in a wide variety of weights. This makes the typeface very versitle. All of the weights that are available today were not designed by Renner. Some were designed as late as 1955 such as the extra bold italic font.

I found a lot of examples of Futura use. Because of the typeface's versatility, the examples are very diverse.

Below are image of Futura's many applications:

Swissair's Logo | Boeing's Logo | Hewlett Packard's Logo

The TV show Futurama (not their logo, but used primarily everywhere else) and Stanley Kubrick uses Futura and variations of it in many of the titles and title sequences. Below are just two of them: The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited.

The image at the top of the page is the example that I found to be most interesting. It is the commemorative plaque that Apollo 11 placed on the surface of the moon.


Sources:, Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Great Depression

The great depression was a period in history of worldwide economic instability that began in 1929 and ended in the 1930s and 1940s. It began in America and consequently spread to other ares of the world. The stock market crash in 1929 is seen as the initial event that caused the depression.
This period affected all aspects of people's lives. Personal areas of people lives changed drastically from the clothes they wore, the food they ate, and the recreational activities that they enjoyed. Income fell, jobs were lost, and companies failed. The fall of crop prices caused many rural and farming families to suffer. Because industries were doing poorly, jobs were not easily available. The only definable thing that fixed the economic state of the United States was the profitable nature of war. World War II allowed the United States to have infinite jobs and possibilities in commerce and trade.
Another major change that occurred during the war was the rise of women in the work force. So many men went off to fight in World War II, women were the only people remaining to work in the American jobs. Women learned many new skills in all areas of employment. This change in the social network caused problems later because women were expected to return back to being "housewives" after the war was over and that did not occur. Many women enjoyed the new challenges that they faced in the working world. They believed that they were just as talented and should be just as equal as men.

All of the events that I discussed above affected the appearance of artwork, how it was made, and why it was made. This is the main thing that this course has taught me. It also makes me think about how our artwork will be seen in the future and what it will say about our society, our culture and the world we live in. The artwork of the thirties is very diverse depending on where it was from and its purpose, this element of art will hopefully never change. All the images are from the 1930's and each one is not only unique because it was made a particular artist. The purpose and message of each is unique. The first shows the industrial age and manufacturing. The second is a sculpture that is very realistic and natural. The third is vibrant and meant to boost the US economy.

Image 1: Ernest Fiene's "The Lucy Plant Carnegie Steel"
Image 2: Aristide Maillol's "Homage a Debussy"
Image 3: F.H. Hogue CO's "Foot High Vegetables" Fruit Crate Art


Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Flickr

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wizard of Oz Image

Here is another image I found that didnt get uploaded

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

So I decided to write about The Wizard of Oz. This was the design of the Wizard of Oz poster from 1939. Although there was a lot of "new" ideas going on in Germany at this time, they really did not grasp the idea yet in the United States. There are different type faces and the poster fells a bit cluttered, compared to the German images we saw that were going on at the Bauhaus.
The Wizard of Oz is a 193
9 American musical-fantasy film mainly directed by Victor Fleming and based on the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The film features Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch of the North, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Frank Morgan as the Wizard.
The film follows schoolgirl Dorothy Gale who lives on a Kansas farm with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, but dreams of a better place "somewhere over the rainbow." After being
struck unconscious during a tornado by a window which has come loose from its frame, Dorothy dreams that she, her dog Toto, and the farmhouse are transported to the magical Land of Oz. There, the Good Witch of the North Glinda advises Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City and meet the Wizard of Oz, who can return her to Kansas. During her journey, she meets a Scarecrow, Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, who join her, hoping to receive what they lack themselves (a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively), all of this is done while also trying to avoid the many plots of the Wicked Witch of the West, in her attempt to get the ruby slippers that Dorothy received from the squashed Wicked Witch of the East.When it was released during Hollywood's golden year of 1939, The Wizard of OzOz's TV broadcasts are now controlled by media mogul Ted Turner (who owns the rights), the advent of home video has made this lively musical a mainstay in the staple diet of great American films. Young Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), her dog, Toto, and her three companions on the Yellow Brick Road to Oz--the Tin Man (Jack Haley), the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), and the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger)--have become pop-culture icons and central figures in the legacy of fantasy for children. As the Wicked Witch who covets Dorothy's enchanted ruby slippers, Margaret Hamilton has had the singular honor of scaring the wits out of children for more than six decades. The film's still as fresh, frightening, and funny as it was when first released. It may take some liberal detours from the original story by L. Frank Baum, but it's loyal to the Baum legacy while charting its own course as a spectacular film. Shot in glorious Technicolor, befitting its dynamic production design (Munchkinland alone is a psychedelic explosion of color and décor), The Wizard of Oz may not appeal to every taste as the years go by, but it's required viewing for kids of all ages. didn't start out as the perennial classic it has since become. The film did respectable business, but it wasn't until its debut on television that this family favorite saw its popularity soar.



When I went looking for posters from the two different time periods, I found it much easier to find posters from right after the Bolshevik Revolution.  The picture I found (on the left) is from the 1920's, and I'm not exactly sure the specific topic of the poster, but my guess is about politics.  It's very easy to see that a grid was used with a small color palette.  To me, the poster is almost intimidating with seriousness and the eyes looking slightly off to the left.  

Now when I went to look for more contemporary work, I felt as if I were coming up short.  I did find a couple pieces on AIGA's website.  The one I am showing (in the red) is actually a book cover done in 2006, but looks like it could pass as being done as the same era as the other poster.  The book is a classic novel that tells about times under Stalin.  I was surprised to see how similar the designing was.  It still follows a grid and uses similar typefaces for some of the information on the front cover.  To me, it seems as if the Russians found a design style that really worked for them and stuck to it, making only minor adjustments.  It makes it very easy to pick out Russian work, discuss and compare it stylistically as to what was going on during that time period.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Contemporary Russian Design

I searched for a long time to find contemporary posters or advertisements from Russia. I found many connections between artwork from after the Bolshevik Revolution and contemporary works of today.

The images from El Lissitzky and Rodchenko are from just after the revolution (images to the right). Stylistically, these posters have a defined grid and layout. They are asymmetrical and primarily utilize neutral colors with bright accents. The two designs also instruct the viewer to feel something or do something.

The images below are contemporary examples. These designs have been influenced by the work from after the Bolshelvik Revolution. The first design is a movie poster from the early 80's. It utilizes asymmetry and the characters have strong facial expressions that evoke emotion. The second image is a design by Avanov from 1989. The single bright color draws attention to the center of the poster. This is very similar to the poster by Rodchenko that is above. The neutral colors balance out the bright color and the geometric shapes. The composition is asymmetrical and has an underlying grid. The final image is an event poster from 2008. This design utilizes grid, layout, and instruction. The simple color palette puts focus on shape and negative space. This design has obviously been influenced by the work of the Russian Constructivists.

Contemporary Russian design resembles that of Russian Constructivism, but that is not the only period that can be seen. I look forward to learning more about the other periods that have directly influenced art of today. There has been such a connection between each and every period, each piece from today has hundreds of influences and connections to art from previous periods. Every design choice comes from somewhere, something we've seen, whether we consciously think about it or not. I wonder who and how our work will influence graphic designers in 50 or 100 years.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Communist Propaganda

It took me a really long time to find something to talk about. I came across this contemporary ad of m&m's. This poster is designed by Clemenger BBDO as design agency in Australia. As you can see there is a lot of communist issues with this ad. One is the fact that the whole poster is red. Its talking about voting for the favorite m&m color. Which in this one of course they are telling you to vote for red. I thought this was a very good contemporary example to show the link from then to now. There are also the solider implication in this ad also. I also think it was funny how on the top it say "The Redolution".