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New Avenue for Publicizing Logo Theft

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 27, 2013

Logo Thief logoA newly-minted website is already having an impact. Logo Thief was conceived to display egregious examples of logo design infringement, and began publicizing examples in late November. Unlike many blogs which complain of copyright infringement, Logo Thief documents examples of logo infringement, providing links to the original creators’ websites and portfolios, as well as the posts by the infringing designers. The links are given in a list at the end of each article, forming a rough timeline of when the logo was original posted to the creator’s portfolio and when it appeared on the infringing website or materials. The LogoThief blog even shows overlaid examples of the original and infringing work — compelling evidence of outright copying.

In one case, a logo infringement showcased by Logo Thief came to a satisfying conclusion independently from the website. As reported in Steven Heller’s column, The Daily Heller, designer Felix Stockwell noticed that the new logo for one of his favorite eateries, Marie’s Cafe and Deli, was a direct ripoff of a logo created by Louise Fili, the renowned designer of many restaurant identities. Stockwell notified the restaurant’s owner, who was shocked and immediately removed the logo from their materials. As it turned out, the owner had purchased the logo for $25 from an offshore logo shop. Logo Thief reported on the positive development.

Other cases appearing on the LogoThief website have yet to be resolved in such a satisfying manner. In one case, a designer’s creation was copied from his LogoPond portfolio. Upon contacting the apparel company which reproduced a lightly altered version of his logo on their clothing, the company demanded proof of copyright ownership from the creator. Since then, the company modified the logo slightly, but the original structure is still clearly visible.

Sunrise: Font Aid VII Creates a Collaborative Typeface for Typhoon Haiyan Relief

Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 25, 2013

The Society of Typographic Aficionados is doing it again: in response to the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan, they’re reissuing their Font Aid fundraising model. Font Aid VII calls on designers and typographers to create glyphs based on the eight-rayed sun featured on the Phillipine flag. The glyphs will be arranged in a typeface that will be offered for sale on the SoTA website; proceeds from the sale will got to Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, December 1st. Participants are asked to submit vector artwork in black and white, to fit within a 10” square. The artwork cannot contain gradients, color, open or stroked paths, embedded images, or glyphs from existing typefaces. Submission guidelines and instructions are posted on the SoTA website.

SoTA has a long history of creating Font Aid initiatives. The original Font Aid project was spearheaded by Swedish designer Claes Källerson in 1999. It raised funds for UNICEF to aid victims of war and national disasters. Since then, Font Aid has been resurrected to meet other disasters: Font Aid II: September 11 (2001); Font Aid III: Fleurons of Hope (2005 – Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis); Font Aid IV: Coming Together (2010 – Haitian earthquake); Font Aid V: Made for Japan (2011 – Japanese earthquake and tsunami); and Font Aid VI: Aster Effects (2012 Hurricane Sandy). The typefaces created for Font Aid VI: Aster Effects and Font Aid V: Made for Japan are still available for sale on the SoTA website. Aster Effects features a glyphs created from astersixes and star symbols, whereas Made for Japan features symbols inspired by Japanese popular culture and historic imagery.

You Are What You Kern: Beautiful Web Typography via HTML5

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 30, 2013

web typography from Amy PapaeliasFor the AIGA Upstate NY Portfolio Workshop this past February, Amy Papaelias created and coded an online resume, “You Are What You Kern,” showcasing beautiful web typography. She welcomes visitors to “poke around” and see how she put it together. The resume was finessed in straight HTML5, using CSS to create section IDs and classes to assign web fonts and control the layout. Such fine tuning is problematic in content management systems such as WordPress and Expression Engine, which make it difficult to override their own CSS structure. However, “You Are What You Kern” is well worth a visit to see what mastering CSS can yield. To make the visit even more worthwhile, Papaelias has included a list of links to some of her favorite typographic resources, from grids and stylesheets, to a how-to on hanging punctuation.

Amy Papaelis is a self-proclaimed type nerd and design educator. She is an assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Foundation at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she teaches web and interactive design, typography, and 2D design.

The Challenge: Draw a Letter a Day

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 28, 2013

Draw a Letter a Day, © The Weekend Lab


Need a quick creative break (and coffee just won’t do it)? The Weekend Lab is hosting a fun project, Draw a Letter a Day. Visitors to the site are invited to draw a designated letter on screen, download it to their computers, and submit it to either The Weekend Lab’s tumblr page or tweet it to @TheWeekendLab. The project’s tmblr page shows a charming range of letter ideas, from a stick-figure A to a Dino-the-dinosaur D. Since the letters are drawn on screen, each has a wonderful hand-drawn quality.

The project was designed by Savannah College of Art and Design graduate Andrew Herzog, and has already appeared on Best CSS. If you’re interested in participating, dive in soon. The project launched on October 23 and, with one letter appearing per day, is due to complete by November 17. As of Monday, October 28, they were already up to the letter F.

Images © The Weekend Lab.

Yahoo: 30 Days of Logos, and One Huge Controversy

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 23, 2013

Yahoo logo © YahooYahoo’s unveiling of its new logo unleashed a firestorm of criticism and scorn from across the board, from designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, ad agency executives, CEOs, and just about the entire Twitterverse. To an extent, they asked for it; for the month preceding the unveiling, Yahoo coyly released a new logo redesign daily. The teasers were generally unexciting; as Kevin Farnham and Geoff Katz (the designers of the original Yahoo logo) pointed out in AdAge, “…some of them could have used a random font generator.” Mark Kingsley on RockPaperInk speculated that the 29 days of logos resembled the efforts of  “an inexperienced designer searching for the magic typeface.”

Even though the 29 predecessors set the bar fairly low, the final logo revealed on Day 30 failed to impress most (one of the rare exceptions being an enthusiastic review on Fast Company). Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer’s Tmblr post on the design process added to the ire. In her post, she described how, “one weekend this summer, I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team,” evoking for many logo designers bad memories of micromanagement from clients with a knack for Adobe Illustrator.

She continued with a list of criteria she and her design team were striving to meet, including, “mathematical consistency,” and results that met their internal polling of Yahoo employees. Designer and educator, Christopher Murphy, described Mayer’s post as superficial and revealing an overweening hubris that completely underestimated the design process. It didn’t help that many designers felt a logo iteration by Yahoo intern, Max Ma, was not only far stronger than the final chosen logo, but didn’t even make the cut to be one of the, “29.”

The new logo is based on Optima, Hermann Zapf’s elegant humanist sans serif. The largest complaint from typographers is that the logo word mark is badly kerned. Additionally, the fuzziness of Optima at small sizes, the unsuitability of Optima as a tech company logo font, and the dated look of a subtle bevel applied to the letterforms were pointed out in article after article. A video rationalization of the logo, constructed as an animated blueprint, came under withering attack as nonsensical post-design justification, and was lampooned repeatedly.

The “mathematical consistency” heralded by Mayers was debunked by designer and educator, Glenn Fleishman, as a “ridiculous notion:” “The only type designs that are "mathematically consistent" are used for computer-readable purposes…All other faces…are designed for optical consistency.” Optima itself defies Mayers’ goal of “mathematical consistency,” since it was not designed for mathematical precision, but rather was based on Renaissance-era stone carvings.

Many felt that the real flaw in the Yahoo logo unveiling was less in the design of the logo itself, but in the strategy (or lack thereof) behind the brand development. Oliver Reichenstein wrote in his cutting critique, “Logo, Bullshit & Co.,” “Brand design follows brand management, not the other way around… For a brand like Yahoo there is something more important than spacing, kerning, colors... It’s gaining trust.”  Margot Bushnaq on Brand Bucket outlined several mistakes Yahoo made in taking a “lean branding approach:” they designed in isolation, overhyped the rebranding, got stuck in details, and thought too small. Steve Cody spoke for many when he described Yahoo’s effort as not letting the right people do the right jobs: “creative design specialists… not engineers.”

But is the Yahoo logo an unqualified failure? For some designers and business leaders, no. Armin Vit on Brand New described the logo as a disappointment after the expectations raised by the 30-day rollout, but feels that the word mark itself is “fairly nice.”John Maeda, President of Rhode Island School of Design, concludes that in a digital age, companies are distinguished by their product and experience rather than through brand identity alone, and commended Mayers for her visibility, making her, “the perfect living logo.” Mark Kingsley in his article, “Malcontent,” pointed out that Mayers and the Yahoo logo design team “did do pretty much everything more recognized designers would do” in designing the new logo. He speculates that the ire over the logo stems from “the fear that what we once thought as our special ability isn't so special after all.”

Perhaps the most thoughtful response came from UK designer Mark Collins on his blog, Pixxel. Titled “Be nicer,” the article laments the vitriol which the design community unleashes on design it deems substandard. Collins writes, “When commenting on design always try to imagine the designer(s) that created it is in the same room as you. You’re speaking directly to them; human-to-human.”

The article is something of a surprise coming from Collins; he rarely minces words in his acerbic, often funny, on-target articles. As he points out at the outset, he’s frequently guilty of what he preaches. But he nails the instinct to eviscerate when he states that, “the majority of those making negative comments are simply following the voice of the few in a bid to be accepted.” And as he concludes, ultimately only time will tell if a design is truly effective.

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