Thursday, January 31

I’m a Type Stalker: A Confession from the Margins of My Soul

Beautiful, bountiful text, I do profess my love and devotion. You have the power to shape my lustful thoughts as I have become obsessed with the flawlessness of your form. Oh whisper to me in words of clarity and subtleness. The exquisite structure of your body emphasizes the movement through the pages of my heart. As the individual flowers of your garden do blossom into silhouettes of delicate color, my mind twirls like an ampersand when I consider your beauty.

As I tap, tap, tap on my keyboard, the sweet musings of my affection, my mind wanders to the gutter. I dream of swimming in the silvery gray sea of your wisdom as it flows and caresses the fine columns on your substrate. I ponder the face our relationship with the thoughtfulness and consideration of a selfless lover. Although you are relentless in your need of my sensitive touch, I persevere with thoughts of your copious visual delights.

Ahhhhh but you toy with the texture of my love.

I do so cringe when your characters kiss the others and yes when you tweak your line space it sets my heart aflutter. I contemplate the spaces I would track to overcome my all-consuming obsession but my love has become centered on your sumptuous indents.

Be still my kerning heart.

Once again, I peruse your letters searching for meaning but alas the rivers violating your body do so mar my quest for unreserved perfection but ultimately you still contain the drop caps of my dreams.

Am I unjustified in my love? Please do not dash my hopes with the careless hyphenation.

Oh text, beautiful, bountiful text. You are not an afterthought in my lustful designs
but a true companion and consummate partner.

Love and Wingdings :-)

Ms. Dash

Wednesday, January 30

My "Top 5" Type Lists

In an homage to one of my favorite actors, John Cusack, and one of my favorite movies, High Fidelity, here are a few of my "top five of all time" type lists:

Top 5 Tried and True Fonts:
1. Trade Gothic
2. Garth Graphic
3. Hoefler Text
4. Helvetica Neue Light (note: not the whole family, just light)
5. News Gothic

Top 5 Overused Fonts:
1. Myriad
2. Trajan
3. Gill Sans
4. Georgia
5. Futura and Eurostile - a tie for spot #5
6. Zaphino (I just couldn't leave it out)

Current Top 5 Favs for the Winter/Spring of '08*
1. Grad
2. Halvorsen
3. Hypatia
4. Alita
5. Union
*all fabulous finds on veer (a surprise, I know *wink*)

Top 5 "Drop My Class If You Use These" Fonts
1. Comic Sans
2. Papyrus
3. Myriad
4. Hobo
5. Anything that looks distressed from

Top 5 Fonts That Just Make Me Smile Even If I Rarely Use Them
1. Electrix
2. Mona Lisa
3. Linoscript
4. Blue Eye Shadow
5. Senator

Top 5 People Who Make Designing With Type/Type Design an Art
1. Paula Scher
2. David Carson
3. Zuzana Licko
4. Louise Fili
5. Herb Lubalin

Monday, January 28

On Type and Text - DISCUSSION #3

Design is all about communication. Ads, magazines, packages, brochures, logos, etc. all communicate to the viewer through visual and verbal cues. The complexity of the information can vary but the targeted result is the same. Create desire and encourage comprehension. The challenge of publication design is to simultaneously make an enjoyable environment for the eyes and make text easily readable for long periods of time. Unlike a poster or package, however, a publication tends to be based heavily upon the written word. Comfort while reading those words is a must. We've already discovered that our Publication Design Workbook, while an excellent text on the topic, is difficult to read for a sustained time. The text is small, condensed and grey - three factors that strain the eye and prevent enjoyable reading.

The easy part of using large amounts of text is picking a typeface. Designers feel no fear of going through the font list in any given program. Pick a serif and san serif. Find two that go well together. Place them into your layout. Piece of cake. Or is it? Text isn't merely the way the letters look individually. It's also how they look line to line, paragraph to paragraph and page to page. A font may look great as a subhead yet not read well as a paragraph.

Think about it as tones of color. Each paragraph on the page create a block of color. It's not merely lines, it creates a shape on the page. It creates relationships with other shapes on the page. Column width and length, choice of alignment, size of type, size of leading and tracking, and color can all affect how the shapes of type appear to a reader. How does your type flow. Is your x-height too high and your leading too tight creating big solid blocks of tone? Is your font too tiny and too pale creating washed out tones like PDW? Where is that balance? How do you get a nice even tone? Many other elements come into play; elements not always thought of when setting paragraphs. Long line lengths can create difficulty finding one's place at the beginning of the next sentence. Too short of a line length can create choppy sentences can cause a staccato effect when reading. Sometimes a poorly designed font will have too much space between words or too tight tracking. All factors in promoting difficult comprehension. It's the overall effect that affects reading more than any individual line. Finding that balance takes time and effort. Finding that balance also means you may have to put more attention on your text than just placing the story and saying "done." You have to pay attention to the size, the leading, the kerning/tracking, the alignment, the column width, the column length, the type color, the space between columns... need I go on?

In addition to all of this (you mean there's more?), it's also a necessity to create clear hierarchy so the reader can navigate the article or story. Which, leads me to the next factor which can affect readability and goes hand-in-hand with hierarchy, space. Type cannot read without adequate space, both between lines and paragraphs but also in relation to the page. Type squeezed onto a page, no mater how legible it may be, will always be less readable due to the lack of breathing room around the shapes it creates. Readers need space for their thumbs to hold the page, they need adequate distance between paragraphs, both top to bottom and side to side, in order to navigate a page and a picture will have more visual impact if the type is not right up next to it. Misuse of the previous statements can create tension on a page negating any effect your other efforts to make reading the publication pleasant. In lay man's terms? Don't crowd the page. It's not necessary to fill every corner and every inch of the page.

So now that I'm done with the soap box, what does this all mean to you? What can you, as a designer, do to ensure your publication is as enjoyable to read as it is to look at? Why it it so important to make this effort when it comes to designing with text? Possibly share examples of text in publication which read well and ones that don't and explain your findings and how you can use it in your own design work. Or possibly offer your own design thoughts on the matter.

PS - curious about who makes decisions about the color of the year and other color related trends? See the new post below this one.


Check out this article if you want a little more information about who is responsible for predicting color trends.

Check out this link to go directly to the Color Association of the United States web site.

Enjoy! Ms. Dash

Monday, January 21

Pantone announces color of the year. What's yours? DISCUSSION #2

Pantone has done it before and has done it again. They have predicted what the color of the year will be.

This year's pick is PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris, a beautifully balanced blue-purple, as the color of the year for 2008. "It best represents color direction in 2008 for fashion, cosmetics and home products," explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. "As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic. Look for it artfully combined with deeper plums, red-browns, yellow-greens, grapes and grays.” –How Magazine, 12/2007

It got me thinking as to what my color of the year will be. For 2007 it was PMS 294. It is the primary color used for my biggest client. I can safely say that while I love my client and I enjoy the work I do for them, I need a break from PMS 294. Moving forward into the new year, I want something new, something exciting, something different. Too often designers rely on the tried and true color choices. I know for a fact PMS 021 (orange) looks beautiful with an 85% grey. I know that a brilliant cyan blue such as PMS 299 looks amazing with a nice deep brown like PMS 161. And PMS 365 (lime green) goes with everything. I know this. They work. But what can I do to break away from the things I know? I hate being stuck in a rut. I hate just reaching for the same old resources.

So therefore, my new color of the year is going to be a bit daring.

Tada! PMS 876

It's a beautiful coppery metallic ink. Metallic? Why not? Metallics, in my opinion, are under used and overlooked. Metallics add another dimension of color to pieces. They shimmer and shine and have a wow factor without being over the top. It doesn't cost any more in the printing process to use a metallic PMS color versus a regular PMS color. I do have the advantage of having access to metallics for my clients so it may make my color choice a little unfair to a student. So, to be fair, I've translated the color into a CMYK match (see breakdown below)— a nice coppery brown — just beautiful. It's earthy and has a richness that will add depth to its use. It promotes a calmness yet not so much that it's static. I think it will compliment teals, reddish-pinks, yellow-greens and dusty purples quite well.

***Please note: I will always, first and foremost, make sure my color choices are appropriate for the target audience and client.***

What do you think of Pantone's choice? What's your color of the year? Or what color best represents you? What can we, as designers, do to keep our color use fresh and exciting?

From Ms. Dash

OK so here goes. This is my second experience with this blog thingy. My first was asking health questions on my cousin's wife's blog to help her get a good grade in her nursing class. It was kind of a family duty but she did get a good grade.

Sooooooooooo these things have a tendency to make my mind go blank. I stare at the screen wiggle my nose like Samantha Stevens and try to think design thoughts.

I have a tendency to ramble. Here goes... :-)

So I suppose you want to know what kind of magazines I read. I will pretty much pick up anything and read it, even books without pictures. (Magazines, newspapers, science fiction...right now dragon stuff.) I suppose the magazine I read most often is the Sunday NYT Magazine that's inserted into the paper. The fashion inserts are cool too. The headline designs are usually minimalist yet quirky. They do a lot with a little and I enjoy the designers' sensitivity to the content of the stories. (And did I say great storytelling through photography as well as strong writing?)

I think there is a great deal to be learned about the design needs of a variety of audiences—no matter what kind of design you are doing—in magazines. Looking at only cool stuff is great but you run the risk of developing a narrow perspective. If you are truly excited about your job prospects in editorial design start looking at tons —I mean loads — of magazines and newspapers.

Just a note: when you start looking at the bad stuff and you can't help but start to redesign it in your head, you're hooked.

You might not think to pick these magazines up and read them they're definitely not cool but I dare you anyway. Try Family Circle, Woman's Day and AARP Magazine. AARP is the world's largest circulation magazine. Great organization, not overly designed but nice attention to type. It has great variety of interesting stories and info as well as great illustration. It is for over 50 and it is fun. What a concept? My Mom gets it. It's a free read and surprisingly up beat.

Yea I occasionally buy Real Simple but in the end after I read it I realize just how disorganized my life is and I need a good dose of Us and People. There is nothing like a little out of hand B. S. to make you feel like you've got it all together.

Love Halvorsen. I could marry Halvorsen. Expansion not so much. I think on the third date I would complain of a headache and go home early.

Ms. Dash

Ms. Dash left this in the comments of my last post, but I thought it was certainly worthy enough to be a post of its very own. *wink*

Saturday, January 19

Expand Your Horizons

Yesterday I was introduced to a new font. I fell in love. It was suggested as a solution by a fellow designer for a solution to a stationery system we're working on. I've hired her on to help me with this job as school as started and all of my fabulous students need more of my time. It works out quite well though. She and I have always been on the same wavelength when it comes to design so her solutions and my solutions for the project compliment well. When she suggested this font, I immediately knew it was a winner. Why? The personality. I know I sound like a broken record but the same old font just won't do and I won't allow it to do. Let me show you why this is so special.

Looking closely, it can be noticed that the letterforms, while perfectly easy to read, are slightly "off". Counters don't sit quite in the center. The lower case letters are playful. Just look at that e, k and g! Marvelous! And the upper case Q! Wow. Still, with all these fun forms, the font allows easy access to the words. I can read it through the specialness. It's a bonus that it looks cool too.

The font is available through and was designed by Stefan Hattenbach in October 2007. A brand spankin' new font ripe for opportunities. He says this about the creation:
"The roots of Expansion can be traced back to an old CD cover. I searched long and hard to locate the original typeface and designer without luck, so bit by bit, I began designing each letter with my own characteristics. Eventually, this developed into a complete, modern display family. The unique character and unexpected details of this face work surprisingly well in longer bodies of text as well as in headlines." -

Sunday, January 13

For the Love of Magazines - #1

Once a month, brightly colored piles of paper bound together invade my home. Some are beautiful pieces of design, some are most definitely not. What they all have in common however, is the ability to make me want to put down whatever I'm working on to open up the pages and read them. Seriously, it doesn't matter if I'm grading student work, creating a new design for a client or cooking dinner; the magazine wins out almost every time. Am I addicted to them? Perhaps. Could I live without them? I'd like to think so but deep down inside I know I can't. So why are magazines so special?

Unlike other sources of media, magazines are the one thing I can read at my own pace and time. Television (not counting Tivo or DVR) is a must-watch-it-now medium as is radio, well must-listen. Web reading can be similar in that while the content may still be there tomorrow, it's likely now buried underneath something else. And newspapers you ask? Ever try to read one while snuggled under a blanket on the couch with a cup of tea in one hand? I rest my case. Magazines are perfect. They come regularly so therefore never end like a book, information inside is constantly changing though I can still find my favorite departments every month and the artistic look can vary not only from month to month but from page to page.

My household receives a plethora of magazines. As a design professional and educator, I receive Print, Communication Arts, HOW, CMYK, Archive and Metropolis magazines. As a Mac geek, I receive MacWorld and as someone who likes general interest reading as well, I receive Shape and Real Simple. Other magazines that come into this house include Smithsonian and American Heritage. (Please note: I already admitted I am addicted to them.)

I like each and every one for different reasons. By far my favorite when it comes to design is Real Simple. It's a large format magazine about making life simpler and more functional ("life made easier" is the tag line) and is printed on a beautiful paper that makes just touching the magazine pleasurable. The editorial content is geared to middle class readers who want the touch of the elegant and upscale without having to spend celebrity-sized budgets. The information is practical and interesting. I'm surprised and eager to find out what it includes when I receive it. Everything from good exercises for belly bulge to unique and functional ways of better organizing your office to packing more efficiently when traveling by air. It makes me want to read it. Every single page of it. The photography is gorgeous and elegant yet obtainable which makes me, as the general consumer, not feel like an outsider looking through it as some fashion magazines tend to do. Full color images are married with with white text to create non-intrusive captioning. Articles lead with interesting photo shoots that catch my eye as I flip through. The type is clean, sophisticated, well leaded and well kerned (And I'm damn picky when it comes to kerning). Every page has more than adequate white space to keep it from feeling cluttered and the system used for denoting departments is quite clear making it an easy task to find what I'm looking for. The color palette is clean and sophisticated and supports the upscale feeling of the magazine well, often complimenting a corresponding photograph. The color palette is also limited so it never makes me feel like I'm browsing through a rainbow. In addition to the above, the magazine has a very clear grid system making the ease of readability high. It's not a stuffy magazine though. It's comfortable feeling, kind of like how a good friend's conversation would look and feel. Kudos to their design staff on such a beautiful and successful magazine.

As for the other magazines, I could rank them in order of design preference, content preference, ease of use, etc. but I think it does them a disservice as they are each unique. As I say often, design is subjective and I am but one designer. What I can say about them is objectively they work. I have no trouble reading them, no trouble working my way through the magazine and no trouble accessing the information I want. I feel the magazines I listed above also communicate well to their intended audience. The design magazines communicate to designers and Smithsonian and American Heritage communicate to history and science buffs respectively. Regardless of the magazine type, the key is sell it. If the magazine draws your attention and compels you to buy it, the job is done.

So the question then becomes why do you buy it? Is it the subject matter? The look? The features? The art? Your reasons may vary as much as the variety of magazines available, but think about it. I've already named my favorite magazine and the reasons why. Take a look at your favorite magazine. Not just look through it though, really look AT it. Look at the type, the imagery, the departments, the cover, the table of contents, the features, etc. Why do you like it so much? Analyze it more than "it looks cool" or "I read it for the articles".

Saturday, January 12

Just click on it - Do it!

Fabulous and innovative site. And it doesn't even matter it's in Dutch.
Click here and watch what happens. (Thanks Dr. D)

Tuesday, January 8

I am appalled at McD's

Even design students even know better than to do this kind of blatant copying. Trent Reznor and David Carson need to call their lawyers.

Are there no unique ideas left in the world? *sigh*

Monday, January 7

Hot San Serif

Having gotten tired of my current font collection—16,000 fonts or so, and yes, I admit it is sad that I need new ones—I made a visit to my favorite site for purchasing fonts, I wanted something new, something exciting, something other than my old standbys. Don't get me wrong, I love Trade Gothic, perhaps a little too much. As a designer I need to remember that while a typeface may work well in every situation, it's not an excuse for continuously using it. My clients deserve unique and original every single time. Using the same typeface over and over does not qualify as unique and original. So to Veer I went and picked up this new font.

At first glance, it's easy to read both in paragraph form and as headline. At closer inspection, it has personality and character. It has a flair that takes it one step further and gives it punch without crossing over into display font territory. I love the little "flips" on the ends of the letterforms. That's what makes it unique. It has proven to be a winner too. This became part of a design round for a client and won out, hands down, over more classic fonts such as Century Gothic, Franklin Gothic and even *gasp* Trade Gothic. Why? Just as I stated above. The client "liked its personality".
The moral of the story? Look at fonts other than those pre-installed on your computer. And I mean really look at them. What makes the font special? What makes it unique? How can you add that je ne sais quoi to your design through use of typography?

Sunday, January 6

Typography Fun!


And there's more where that came from.

If you can't see the video click here.

Tuesday, January 1

For GDII Students

In the spirit of avoiding confusion and disappointment, please refer to your pink sheet entitled "Important Information" handed out with your syllabus for the following rule before continuing.*

"1. You must comment on at least 6 posts—3 prior to your midterm exam and 3 prior to your final exam—during the respective week in which the post appears. These posts will specifically be labeled as discussion posts. The comments will count as 5 points each toward your exam grade (15 points total toward each exam). Comments will be closed once the next discussion post goes up so don’t forget to participate. (Feel free to comment on other posts as well, however, only comments on discussion posts will count toward your exam grade.)"

This means you need to look for this icon:
and then contribute to that discussion. I will number the posts (#1, #2, #3, etc...) If you missed the opportunity to contribute to a discussion, please see the next posted discussion. In addition, when I close the old discussion, I will simultaneously introduce the new one so an opportunity to comment will always be available. I plan on introducing new discussion posts every Monday.

If you see any of these icons:
feel free to comment, however, it will not count toward your exam grade.

Thank You. And now back to your regularly scheduled program. (This week's discussion post is below...)

*If you aren't a GDII student, feel free to comment on anything you like!