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Web Designer Excuses

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 13, 2013

DesignTAXI recently reported on a website every web designer will want to bookmark. “Excuses for Lazy Designers” projects fresh excuses for why a web design project is off track. The excuses range from the obvious (“No-one uses IE anyway”) to the insider (Josef Müller-Brockman”). The site was created by Cole Peters, digital designer for Future Workshops, an app development firm in the UK. Peters was inspired by the equivalent website for developers, “Excuses for Lazy Coders.” The DesignTaxi article is especially amusing for the typographic smackdown of Cole’s designs in the reader’s comments (“It’s a typographic thing.”). Designers are a tough crowd all around.


Brought to our attention by @designTAXI

The excuses provided range from the obvious (top), to the trendy (middle), to the insider (bottom).

Carrier Pigeon:  Giving Wings to Creativity

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 29, 2013

Carrier Pigeon, CP9 art © Richard Kegler In 2009, a group of New York City-based artists, illustrators, writers and designers collaborated on an ambitious project: a commercially distributed magazine in which the artists would have complete creative control. A Kickstarter campaign the following year successfully raised printing costs to cover the first issue. The result is Carrier Pigeon, an approximately 100-page quarterly magazine featuring original artwork and text by both up-and-coming and well-known contributors such as Marshall Arisman. Each issue functions as a work of art, with the layout uniquely designed by that issue’s art director.

The perusing – or interacting with Carrie Pigeon goes far beyond the reading experience. Each issue incorporates tactile or dimensional features. For example, Volume 2, Issue 3, includes a magnetic pop-up paper sculpture by cover artist and painter Adam Lister; the issue covers images of sculptures which combine magnets with abstract paintings. The stories (fantasy, dark comedies, scifi, and other genres of fiction) are beautifully designed and illustrated with work in a variety of media, such graphite drawings, etchings, photographs, woodcuts, and paintings. Each issue also features six portfolios of international artists.

Now into its third year of production, Carrier Pigeon recently published their 10th edition, (the first issue of volume 3, CPX) and will be releasing it at the Governors Island Art Fair September 1st. The publication is a labor of love; the limited run of 1,000 copies is put together by volunteers and contributors, often in the workshop of printmaker and frequent contributor Justin Santz. The publishers hope to eventually have the magazine completely funded by subscribers, sales, and carefully selected advertising. Their vision is to keep the magazine as a creator-controlled, collaborative publication, one which “provides artists with a venue for telling stories in an undisturbed environment by fostering… unconditional artistic freedom in both direct subject matter and the interpretation of text.”

Above right: The front cover of the 9th issue, featuring three-color letterpress artwork by Richard Kegler. Below: The portfolio feature for artist Jennifer Ale from the 9th issue. All artwork © the artists.

Spread from Carrier Pigeon, CP9, artwork © Jennifer Ale

Mixed Reactions to Adobe’s Creative Cloud™ Subscription

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 22, 2013

Adobe® Creative CloudTM logoIn the three months since Adobe® announced it’s discontinuing its boxed version (and perpetual license) of Creative Suite® products in favor of a cloud-based subscription service, reactions from professional creatives has been mixed. The move provides both a deterrent to the rampant piracy of Adobe® software as well as a more stable revenue stream, since currently many users are unable or unwilling to pay for costly upgrades. Adobe® has bundled significant additional features in with the Creative Cloud™ software sets, including integration of a personal portfolio site via Behance® Prosite, integration of Typekit® webfonts, syncing of personal settings, tutorials, and more.

A cost analysis of the individual plans show that for Adobe® product users who purchase upgrades frequently, the cloud subscription service will lower costs initially. CNET calculated that the Design Standard boxed set would cost $1,648 for the initial cost and one upgrade, versus $1,800 for three year’s worth of Creative Cloud™ – and that would include eight additional software packages (such as Premiere Pro®) and online services.

For those users who skip version upgrades as a savings tactic, the new model will be more expensive. (This savings tactic may have been on the way out. Adobe® attempted to offer upgrades to CS6 only from CS5 and 5.5, but after a firestorm of criticism, changed the policy in January to permit upgrades from CS3 and 4). Digital Arts calculated that the tipping point on Cloud subscriptions – the point at which the monthly subscription becomes more expensive than a perpetual license – is 26 months for a CS6 Design Standard and 38 months for the CS6 Design and Web PremiumCS6 Design and Web Premium. Students are impacted the most; the tipping point for CS6 Design and Web Premium Student and Teacher Edition is just 20 months at the student subscription rate.

The backlash against Adobe® resulted in an online petition asking Adobe® to “Eliminate the mandatory Creative Cloud™ subscription model.” Protesters have a number of concerns beyond the pricing structure, including worries that Adobe® will hike up the monthly fees at any moment, and concerns about Internet connectivity, access to files, etc. (Adobe® has addressed many of the misconceptions about the Cloud model in their “5 Myths about Adobe Creative Cloud™.”) As of mid August, the petition had gained 38,000 signatures. Some users have been turning to alternatives to Creative Cloud™ and Adobe® products.

Adobe®, however, has been on track with their projected subscription levels since the release of Creative Cloud™. In a mid-June MacWorld article, Adobe® reported a total of 700,000 subscribers, and expected to reach their target of 1.25 million subscribers by the end of 2013. So far, Creative Cloud™ seems to be a success as a pricing model. But as a solution for piracy, the jury is still out; one day after the official release of Creative Cloud™, a torrent link to a pirated copy was uploaded to The Pirate Bay. Reports are that the copy works fine.


Adobe® Creative CloudTM totems

Putting a Face On It – Inside Book Jacket Design at Random House

Posted by Rebecca Blake on July 30, 2013

Chip Kidd & cover art by Seth in Inside Random HouseRandom House has posted a series of videos highlighting recent publications and giving an inside peek at the publishing house. One of their most recent uploads features some of their most noted art directors speaking on The Art of Cover Design. The video offers intriguing insight into their approach, as summarized by Robbin Schiff: “Our job is not to illustrate the book. Our job is to intrigue the consumer, set the tone, set the stage…” Key to their process is thorough research, including meeting with the editors, interviewing the authors about what their mindset was as they were writing the book, and closely reading the book manuscript.

While each art director brings his or her unique sensibility to the design process, they all take inspiration from the author’s words. The process is very intuitive; Chip Kidd describes getting a feel for a typographic versus illustrated versus photographic solution for a particular work. Sometimes surprising elements are incorporated. Peter Mendelsund, the designer of Stieg Larrson’s The Girl… trilogy, describes using a photocopy of his daughter’s hair in the cover design for the Girl Who Played with Fire.  The insight into the arduous process of repeatedly revising the designs, often working in tandem with illustrators, is priceless.

Brought to our attention by @brainpickings

Below: In the video, Peter Mendelsund, Chip Kidd, and Robbin Schiff discuss the process behind the design of selected book jackets.
Random House book covers

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