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Communication Design

Canada 150 Logo Revealed to Subdued Response from Graphic Designers

Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 01, 2015

Canada 150 logoAfter a controversial logo contest bitterly criticized by national design organizations, the Canadian government revealed its chosen 150 anniversary logo. The logo, a maple leaf created from a mosaic of multi-colored diamonds, is the creation of University of Waterloo design student Ariana Cuvin. According to the Department of Canadian Heritage website, Cuvin designed the logo to represent Canada’s 13 provinces, with colors and placement chosen to reflect the country’s history and diversity. The logo is reminiscent of the hugely popular centennial logo, created by designer Stuart Ash.

Response to the logo design has been muted; the Ottawa Citizen reported that most designers declined to critique the logo. There is a general consensus that the logo is an improvement over the original proposed designs, an assemblage of tired, overused imagery created in 2013 by Canada Heritage in-house designers and tested in focus groups for the astronomical fee of $40,000 CN. That earlier attempt drew the criticism of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD), who drafted a letter to complain that “Design is a process involving research, creativity, strategy and client participation. Without going through this process… any designs that are developed will fall short of what is possible.”

Unfortunately Canada Heritage’s response to the proposed designs was the announcement of the logo design contest, targeted to Canadian design students. As we reported in January, Canadian design organizations were outraged, and launched a “My Time Has Value” campaign to point out the hypocrisy of asking for spec work from students. While the campaign did not persuade Canada Heritage from continuing with the logo contest, the small selection of logo submissions – only 300 total – indicates that the protest resonated with students.

Cuvin herself has little to say about the controversy, other than she knew what she was agreeing to, and didn’t feel exploited. However, remarks she made to the Toronto Star — “It does kind of suck for a professional, this big project being given to a student… There’s a client, they chose what they liked, and it happened to be my design.” — indicate that she may not fully comprehend the concerns voiced by protestors. The design organizations are using the outcome as an opportunity to educate. Both RGD and the Graphic Designers of Canada have issued an open letters inviting designers to writer their local representatives about the value of design.

Keep Your Art Director Happy: 10 Mistakes Illustrators Make

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 24, 2015

Guiseppe CastellanoArt director Giuseppe Castellano has compiled a list of 10 common mistakes illustrators make in delivering their artwork. The advice covers basic errors in file delivery that are guaranteed to sour a working relationship. Much of the advice covers basics, such as file type, color space, specs, and cropping. However, Castellano also provides insight into what makes art directors sing when he asks illustrators to push beyond the obvious in selecting their color palette, and in considering composition and point of view.

His strongest advice is to avoid springing nasty surprises on the client – by producing something unexpected, being late, or being unprofessional. He reminds that art directors have a hierarchy to answer to, and often have the training and experience to work with illustrators who are struggling with an assignment. Castellano encourages illustrators to keep their art directors abreast of any difficulties they’re having with meeting the terms of an assignment: “As long as you stay communicative, you and your client can work through any issue together.”

A Video Compilation: What Hollywood Thinks of Graphic Designers

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 05, 2015

For your diversion: design students Ellen Mercer and Lucy Streule of Central Saint Martens – University of the Arts London have compiled a video of graphic designers as portrayed by Hollywood. The 2-minute Youtube video features snippets from television shows and feature length films, with everyone from Meg Ryan to Keanu Reeves claiming their design credentials.

So how does the Hollywood portrayal stack up, at least as illustrated in this compilation? It’s a somewhat jaded depiction. There’s Ryan from “The Office” asking Pam to design the company logo (for free, if we remember the episode correctly), and Beverly from Episodes telling a young designer that she used to want to be one too, because she “loved to draw.” Perhaps the most cynical portrayal (from Chicago Fire) is the young woman who claims anyone with a laptop can be a designer: “Wish I’d figured that out before I racked up $60,000 dollars in loans.”

Bring your Blood Pressure Up: Spec Work Documented on Social Media

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 25, 2015

@forexposure Twitter streamIf you’ve been advised to keep your heart rate steady, you should probably avoid @forexposure_txt on Twitter and shitspecwork on Tumblr. @forexposure provides a steady stream of outrageous requests for free labor. Some of the requests are from businesses one could safely assume have a budget: “You will be doing interviews for a real media outlet. Our prices are affordable and way cheaper than classes.” Some make it clear that the projects have no funding: “In the past contributors have been expected to buy a few copies of the book to help with funding.” Almost all promise some sort of payoff in exposure: “In exchange you get exposure on my account when I tag you in my Instagram pictures.

The Twitter account is maintained by comic artist Ryan Estrada. The posts are often breathtaking in their audacity and general cluelessness: “We do have a budget for professional services, BUT WE DON'T WANT TO SPEND IT.” While the Twitter stream is so comical it’s hard to believe, Estrada assures us “These are real quotes from real people who want you to work for exposure.”

Until recently, 3-D illustrator Timothy Reynolds published the Tumblr spec work blog shitspecwork. The blog featured submissions of requests for free work from large companies, such as HBO, Audi and Coca Cola, to music bands looking for free poster design, to posts by individuals trolling for free labor. Some of the posts cover headline-generating campaigns, such as the Canadian government’s student contest for a logo for the 150-year anniversary of the country’s confederation. 

Unfortunately, Reynolds has ceased to post to shitspecwork. Last December, he sent out a request for anyone willing to take over the blog. Earlier this month, he posted that “I gave up on http://shitspecwork.tumblr.com last year because it took a lot of negative energy to run it. But if anyone wants to take over, lmk.” Interested parties can contact Reynolds via his Twitter account. No doubt there will be a wealth of material for anyone interested in documenting requests for free labor.

Right: @forexposure's Twitter stream.

Have a Cool Sustainable Design Project? Renourish Wants to Know

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 20, 2015

RenourishEric Benson and Yvette Perullo of Renourish, the initiative to promote sustainability in communication design, are working on a book for graphic designers who “want to integrate a sustainable ethos into their workflow.” The book, Design to Renourish: Sustainable Graphic Design in Practice, seeks to teach real-world solutions to successfully collaborating with clients on creating sustainable work – projects which meet ethical and environmental standards. The authors would like to incorporate case studies of client projects, with in-depth interviews of the designers.

Designers are encouraged to submit comprehensive campaigns that meet one of Renourish’s print or digital minimum standards for sustainability. Projects can include print, digital, environmental graphic design, and packaging design. Projects must have been completed in the past five years. Student, self-promotion, and speculative works will not be considered. Projects must be submitted online by March 2.

Designers wishing to learn more about how they can make more sustainable choices in their professions can view our archived webinar with Yvette Perullo. In “Renourish: Qualify as a Sustainable Communication Design Practice,” she and guest Gage Mitchell review how designers can utilize the resources Renourish has developed to make greener and more ethical choices in running their practices.  The archived webinar can be viewed for free by Guild members, or is available for purchase for $35 by non-members. Other Guild webinars on sustainable practices include “Designing for Social Value: Following Your Heart to Commercial Success” with Doug Powell and “The Truth About Paper: Positioning your Design Practice as ‘Green’” with Laura Shore of Mohawk Paper.

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