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Communication Design

So What Kind of Logo Can You Get for $5?

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 11, 2014

Fiverr advertisementSacha Greif wondered just that when he heard about the bargain basement job site Fiverr, which connects buyers with sellers willing to provide their services – from business plans to programming to creative services – for only $5. Fiverr has been aggressively promoting their design services, exhorting businesses to “put an end to being ripped off” by paying $100 for a logo. In contrast, the website promises “unique design, fast and affordable.”

Grief had reason be intrigued. In  2011, he started an online service, Folyo, which connects businesses to vetted freelance designers. However, unlike Fiverr, Folyo places the budgets for the services provided by their designers at between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the project.  Fiverr’s promise of “a custom design project” for only $5 seemed impossible. To investigate the quality of work he would receive, Greif created a fictitious company, SkyStats, and went to Fiverr to find a designer to create a logo.

As described in his article on Medium and on his blog, Grief noticed that the quality of the designers’ work quickly dropped off as he browsed through their portfolios: “…the quality would suddenly drop after a few pages, quickly going from sleek, glossy renders to amateurish, clumsy clip-art…these designers were appropriating other designers’ work, and passing it off as their own.” A Google reverse image search confirmed his suspicions. (Fiverr designers have a reputation for stealing work; Jeff Fisher of Logomotives has long been documenting Fiverr designer ripoffs on Twitter.) Greif also discovered that the claim of a $5 logo was a bit misleading; requesting “add-ons” such as source files or copyrights to the work added a whopping $20-40 to the fee.

Greif finally settled on three designers who portfolios appeared to carry only original work. The designers reassured him that they would only deliver original concepts. The initial logo designs ranged, in Greif’s opinion, from “bad to surprisingly good”, and he posted the results on his blog. That’s the point at which the story became complicated. Commentators on the blog soon reported that the work of two of the designers – the best work – was ripped off, and posted links to stock agencies carrying the graphics. In fact, the origin of one of the designs, a dimensional cloud graphic, is still up in the air – no pun intended. The work appears both in the Dribbble and Behance portfolios of a Russian designer, and on the stock image site, Dreamstime.

Greif contacted Fiverr to complain that their designers are selling infringed work, and not surprisingly, never heard back. (Fiverr’s terms state that services which engage in copyright or trademark infringement may be removed from the site, and the sellers of such services may be banned.) Greif is remarkably sanguine about cut-rate logos, comparing them to fast-food burgers. But his experience with Fiverr has soured him: “…people trying to deceive you by passing other people’s work as their own, and stock art as original work is another matter altogether. Sadly, this is the kind of incentives you create when you drive price down to such an extent.

Fiverr supplied logo 1 and original source

Fiverr supplied logo #2 and original source

Fiverr supplied logo #3 with original stock image

Chronicling the (Extra)Ordinary: Tiny PMS Match

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 18, 2014

© Inka MathewThe Pantone Matching System has gone from being an invaluable tool for designers to a cultural meme. The Pantone company is capitalizing on the public appetite for designer-chic by producing color-swatch themed goods, from iPhone cases, to mugs, stationery, and pencil cases. The creative community has taken inspiration from the iconic swatches, producing their own variations based on superheroes, skin tones, beer, chocolate, and food – both using food to create swatches, and matching food to swatches.

One inspired take on the Pantone system is cataloged in Tiny PMS Match, a blog created by designer Inka Mathew. For the past year, Mathew has been color matching objects from her daily life to Pantone swatches. Since the objects need to fit within a Pantone swatch, they are tiny, nondescript items that ordinarily would be overlooked: seeds, buds, a Froot Loop, a worn toy fish. But as photographic subjects, framed by their swatches, they become imbued with beauty and mystery.

The blog archive also serves as a touching visual journal of everyday life. For example, her travels are chronicled in the swatches, as a French thimble, an English souvenir, and seashells make their appearance. Family life is revealed in a Barbie shoe, children’s vitamins, and a wedding ring. Even the changing seasons are reflected, as the buds of local flowers are replaced with blossoms, seed pods and autumn leaves. It’s a lovely meditation on the extraordinary beauty to be found in an ordinary life.

© Inka Mathew Tiny Pantone Match

Images © Inka Mathew. Used with permission.

This Is the Story about “These Are the Things”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 14, 2014

Jen Adrion and Omar Noory of the design and illustration studio, These are the Things, are the paradigm of successful creative entrepreneurs. Young and attractive, their resumes are the stuff of designer envy: creators of cool maps featured on the tony shopping site Fab, illustrators with a steady gig with Afar magazine, purveyors of beautiful cards and posters, and subjects of a case study in a best selling book on successful start-ups. Yet at last autumn’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, Adrion and Noory dispelled any myth of an easy ride. In a talk memorable for its honesty, they described the daunting setbacks they’ve faced.

The lecture, titled ”How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy The Ride,” is illustrated with a graph showing Adrion and Noory’s meteoric rise, a suitable device for two infographic designers. Rather than showing a steady, straight angle towards success, the upward trend is punctuated with deep dips representing financial loss, anxiety, and thwarted plans. The two provide a frank recounting of their setbacks, from unmet expectations, to naïve mistakes and oversights in financial planning, to circumstances beyond their control.

Despite the grim topic of lessons learned, the lecture is hardly a downer. Both Adrion and Noory are brimming with energy and self deprecating humor, and many of their setbacks were the result of inexperience, hardly unsurprising for two 20-somethings starting their first company. What stands out is their ability to assess a bad situation, and do whatever is necessary to continue in the business they love. The lecture is a gift to the creative community, made all the more generous by Adrion and Noory’s openness.

A full transcript of their talk is provided on their website.

Portrait of Adrion and Noory, used with permission.

Jen Aldrion and Omar Noory

Dorm Room Tycoon: Information & Inspiration

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 07, 2014

Dorm Room Tycoon sounds like a startup founded by a 20-something cobbling together the next big Internet sensation. In fact, it’s a collection of podcasts with innovators in design, technology, and business. A wide range of design disciplines is covered, featuring the likes of Jeffrey Zeldman (webdesign and coding), Erik Spiekermann (typography), Swiss Miss (communication design), and Jason Saint Maria (interactive design). The interviews are a relaxed exchange, as DRT founder William Channer and the interviewee seem to wander from topic to topic. Listening to the podcasts is rather like overhearing two very bright people having a comfortable conversation.

Channer started DRT in 2011. As a creative and mobile product designer based in London, he was frustrated by the dearth of solid advice on building a startup business. Reading profiles of entrepreneurs in technology publications exacerbated his frustration, since most articles focused on irrelevant life stories, or perpetuated origin myths. Channer decided to conduct his own interviews that would focus on questions about process, drawing out practical advice and life experience. He chose the name, “Dorm Room Tycoon,” to reflect the idea of starting small and doing something big.  

Channer has applied what he’s learned from the DRT interviewees. Just this year, he launched Panda, a web app and Chrome extension, which provides a steady stream of news and inspiration. The web app provides a split screen with news feed of article links on technology, design, and job listings on the left, and thumbnails streamed from portfolio sites Behance, Dribbble, and Awwwards on the right. The news feed streams from technology and design aggregators, such as Hacker News, sidebar.io, and Layervault Designer News. Users can add the Chrome extension to their browser window, book mark the web app,  and subscribe to Panda’s  weekly newsletter.

Below: The speakers featured in Dorm Room Tycoon are tagged by color codes: red for business, green for technology, and gold for design.
Image © Doorm Room Tycoon. Used with permission.

Go North: Guild Member Discount for DesignThinkers 2014

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 16, 2014

November 6-7
Toronto, Canada

Join the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) and over 1,500 visual communicators for the 15th annual DesignThinkers Conference, a celebration of creativity and strategic design thinking.

The event welcomes a star-studded line-up of 25 international speakers, including:
-    Charles Adler, Co-founder, Kickstarter
-    Irma Boom, Netherlands-based Book Designer
-    Henry Hobson, Film Titles Designer, “The Walking Dead”
-    Wesley Grubbs, Founder, Data Visualization Studio Pitch Interactive
-    Aaron Draplin, Founder, Draplin Design Co.
-    Sybille Hagmann, Type Designer
-    Ellen Lupton, Author, Educator & Curator
-    Karen McGrane, Author, “Content Strategy for Mobile”
-    Debbie Millman, Author & Host, Design Matters
-    Paula Scher, Partner, Pentagram
-    Erik Spiekermann, Author & Creative Director, Edenspiekermann
-    Richard Turley, Creative Director, Bloomberg Businessweek
-    Jessica Walsh, Partner, Sagmeister & Walsh
-    Todd Waterbury, Executive Creative Director & Sr. VP, Marketing, Target

Members of the Graphic Artists Guild get special pricing! Register on the Group/Org rate. Early Bird rates end September 26. Learn more at www.designthinkers.com.

DesignThinkers © RGD

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