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Communication Design

Doodle Alley: Sustain Your Creativity

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 26, 2013

Illustrator Stephen McCranie has published a wonderfully illustrated treatise on nourishing your creativity. Brick by Brick, appearing on McCranie's blog Doodle Alley, is a cartoon of advice on developing habits and practices to sustain a creative life. The publication was borne of McCranie’s desire to catalog what he had learned during his first couple years as an illustrator. He soon realized that what he was writing “… wasn’t a book about how to create, it was a book about how to be a creator.” Rather than cover the nuts and bolts of being an illustrator – practical advice on getting published, for example – Brick by Brick seeks to give artists the emotional tools they need to thrive in a difficult career.

Some of the advice is heart-warming and postive. In “Be Friends with Failure,” McCranie cautions artists against becoming harsh self critics, and encourages them to embrace failure as part of the learning process. Other advice is extremely wise: in “You Are Not Your Art,” McCranie warns the artist against deciding “…your life is your art,” cautioning that result could be “You treat the master of your craft like gods…but you could care less about people who aren’t as skilled as you.”

McCranie is working on a print edition of the book. His successful Kickstarter campaign raised over $39,000 – $30,000 more than his stated goal. The book will be a 200-page, full color comic about sustainable creativity, and will feature the cartoons on Doodle Alley. The printed publication will include three additional essays that don’t appear online: “Name it to Wield it,” “Divide and Conquer,” and “Work to Work.”

Artwork courtesy of the artist. © Stephen McCranie


Be Friends with Failure, © Stephen McCranie

The Digital Hearth: Yule Log 2.0

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 24, 2013

Yule Log 2.0 logoThe Yule Log, that broadcast of an endless loop of a crackling fire that first played on WPIX-TV in New York City in the 1960s, has become a beloved holiday cliché.  After having been cancelled for a number of years, the parent company of WPIX, Tribune Broadcasting brought back  the broadcast, and numerous knock-offs have been spawned. The most creative is Yule Log 2.0, a collection of short films and animations submitted by both up-and-coming and well-known artists. The collection is curated by animator and illustrator Daniel Savage, a 2012 ADC Young Gun, who has created work for Comedy Central and Google. The Yule Log 2.0 website was created by Wondersauce, a New York based web design studio.

Yule Log 2.0 showcases a lovely range of illustration styles. Both Frank Chimero and Leta Sobierajski created whimsical flames from wiggling fingers. Josh Parker’s stick-figure embers are reminiscent of early cartoons, and Michael Fuchs, Daniel Leyva, and Bianca Meier illustrated a hapless marshmallow who sits too close to the fire. Visitors to the website can either view each video in sequence, or, in true Yule Log spirit, set one animation to play over (and over and over and over).

Yule Log 2.0 offerings include submissions by (clockwise from top left) Michael Fuchs, Daniel Leyva and Bianca Meier; Yussef Cole; Greg Gunn; Matthias Hoegg; Josh Parker; and Frank Chimero. Screenshot courtesy of Yule Log 2.0.

Yule Log 2.0 screenshot

Remembering Mandela: The Mandela Poster Project

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 23, 2013

Icograda Mandela Poster ProjectIn recognition of the passing of Nelson Mandela, we’re revisiting the Mandela Poster Project, and Icograda-endorsed initiative which took place this summer. The project was initiated by South African designers Jacques Lange and Mohammed Jogie. It sought to celebrate Mandela’s 95th birthday by soliciting poster submissions from the global design community. From the outpouring of 700 submissions from 70 countries, 95 posters were selected for exhibition. With the contributors’ permission, limited editions of some posters were printed and sold, with proceeds going to Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust. The funds will assist in the estblishment of a dedicated children’s hospital in Johannesberg – Africa’s third, and a final wish of Nelson Mandela’s.

The poster project submissions highlight Mandela’s influence and impact globally. Many of the designs reference his distinctive features and Africa, combing the shape of the continent with portraits of Mandela, and using the South African national colors. But many designs also incorporate the designer’s native cultural references, incorporating patterns, imagery, and typography unique to that individual’s culture. The overall effect reinforces the universality of Mandela’s message of empowerment, justice, and ultimately, harmony.

More about the Mandela Poster Project can be viewed at Mohammed Jogie's presentation to TEDxSoweto.

Below: Poster designed by Canadian designer Robert L. Peters. Poster © Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust.

Butterick’s Practical Typography

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 19, 2013

Butterick's Practical TypographyLawyer and type designer Matthew Butterick has self-published a treatise on typography: Butterick’s Practical Typography. Although the book is targeted to non-designers, it is a clear, easy-to-follow overview of the basics of typography that even designers well-versed in type layout will enjoy revisiting. Butterick builds a solid basis on typography best-rules, starting with “Why Typography Matters,” and proceeding with thorough discussions of type composition, formatting, font choice, and page layout. He concludes with an appendix of valuable features such as a meaty bibliography, a list of bad typewriter habits, and keyboard shortcuts for common accented characters.

Butterick’s Practical Typography is not only a well written treatise on the fundamentals of sound type usage, but also an experiment in web-based book publishing. Butterick created Pollen, the publishing system used for the book, using the programming language Racket. The result is a simple, elegantly designed online publication which is easy to navigate and free. Butterick intends to keep the book ad-free, but requests that users support the expensive project by buying Butterick’s fonts, sending a donation, or buying his previous book, Typography for Lawyers.

Butterick comes by his expertise through a career built on design and typography. After receiving his BA from Harvard in visual and environmental studies, he worked as a type designer and engineer at the Font Bureau, and created Herald Gothic, Wessex, and Hermes. After founding the web design firm Atomic Studio (later bought by Red Hat), he went to UCLA Law School and joined the California Bar.

Crafting a Portfolio for Licensing Your Art

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 29, 2013

J'net SmithJ’Net Smith, owner of All Art Licensing, recently featured an article on “5 Top Portfolio Tips for Art Licensors.” In the articles, she shares her tips on the size of the portfolio, how to organize the portfolio by theme and create flow from piece to piece, and how to select work for an online portfolio. She advises artists to select work that fully represents their style while being relevant to the current market. She also recommends that the work be organized keeping in mind how manufacturers approach their collections so as to minimize frustration when wading through a portfolio.

Smith recently completed a series of new classes on Art Licensing Essentials, Collections and Presentations, Marketing and Sales Techniques, Negotiations and Contracts, and PR and Promotion Essentials. While the live classes concluded in mid-November, she's offering two classes as downloadable audios with over 70 slides, details, and a presentation. The classes, "Art Licensing Essentials — Creating Collections, Presentations and Websites" and "Developing Marketable Art Licensing Portfolios that Sell!" can be purchased from the All Art Licensing website. Smith will be offering new classes in 2014 — we'll keep you posted on her schedule.

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