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Your Brain on Design: A Graphic Design Blog

Not what you’d expect

August 31, 2007

Today is My Day

When you think of design that’s for kids — say kids ages 3-7 — what comes to mind? Primary colors? Large rounded fonts? Sweet smiling faces? I’m not saying that that can never be done well, but what about a children’s design that’s not what you’d expect? That’s a little dark, sometimes scary, definitely modern and maybe even a little off-putting?

My 4 year old daughter loves the book Today is My Day by Anushka Ravishankar (Author), and Piet Grobler (Illustrator). The colors are primary, but not. Orangey yellows, darker reds, dirty blues. The illustrations are mostly black and white, highly ornamented, and a little creepy. The typeface is Futura, modern, with its sharp pointed Ms. And it’s a great book.

It reminds me that sometimes the best design is the design that you didn’t see coming.

Thanks, Aunt Katherine. You give the coolest gifts!

Filed under: Visual Candy

Dipping a toe in the font creation pool

August 29, 2007

In the summer of 2005 I took part in an online course offered through the American Association of Graphic Artists in collaboration with MIT called Digital Information Design Camp. It was very intensive, but great. In some aspects I was in over my head, as many of the participants were accomplished programmers from MIT, but everyone was very gracious. I had the opportunity to learn from some amazing instructors (John Maeda! Peter Cho! Lisa Strausfeld!
Martin Wattenberg!) and really overachieving classmates.

One of our assignments was to create a typeface from a restricted set of shapes. Actually, this is how my classmates and I interpreted this assignment — Peter Cho, our instructor, actually meant for us to do something quite different. Anyhoo, here’s what I came up with. We had 2 days to do this project — a real typeface can take months to create. But I think this came out pretty well.

Minimal Alphabet

Filed under: Open Mike

The Worst Font of All Time

August 28, 2007

Just for kicks I did a Google search for “the worst font of all time” (the quote marks are important – it means that you’re searching for that exact phrase in that order. Just a little Google search tip for the inexperienced). Good thing I did. I came across a few excellent sites for anyone who is obsessed interested in typography. Check out I [heart] Papryus and the posts Fonts that Make You Look Lame and 10 Tragic Typefaces. Can I get an rousing amen for these?

I have yet to find the site exposing the true awfulness of Sand — aka the bane of my existence. True story:

I was teaching an intro graphic design class. As an assignment, I gave the class some pictures and text to create a tropical themed multi-page brochure. One of my students set the entire thing in Sand. Headlines, body text, captions, everything. When I asked him why he chose this particular “font” (I even used air quotes), his answer was that since it was a beach destination, Sand seemed like the perfect choice. He picked the font based on the name.

Nice guy. Did not have a future in the design field.

Missed Opportunities #1: I didn’t know you worked for AOL!

August 25, 2007

This happened again today. I was sending an email to someone I work with. I know this person has a web site for his company (I’ve actually visited it), yet his email address isn’t but What a missed opportunity for him! Having your email come from your company domain name is like free advertising for your web site. Using an AOL email address is like free advertising for AOL. It’s very nice of Joe to get AOLs name out there…

If you do this, and your reason is “But I’ve had my email address forever, and everyone I know emails me there”, read on.

With most web hosts, it’s very easy to forward your email from your domain to an email address of your choice (say, or That way your “official” email address is and you can still use your old freebie email account. Want to know how to do this? Email me, and I’ll tell you.

Filed under: Know How,Re: business

Money meet mouth. Mouth, money.

August 22, 2007

I am a professional graphic designer. I design a lot of web sites. One piece of advice I consistently give my clients is “Think about including a blog on your site. Google loves blogs.” So where’s my blog, you ask?

Ta da!

I love what I do. One might say that I can get a little obsessed (if one had witnessed an “ugly font” tirade or a “pointless splash page” rant). I think graphic design is the best career out there, and I’m lucky I’ve been doing it for the past 14 years. This blog is my attempt to share what I know, what I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way), beautiful things I’ve seen, design abominations and more. Thanks for checking it out.

Next up, a newsletter sign up! Know how, know why, just need to find the time…

Filed under: Re: business

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