Read a little. Learn a lot. • Tightly-written news, views and stuff • Follow us on TwitterBe a Facebook FanTumble us!

02 Dec 2011 21:14


Culture: RIP Louis Silverstein, the guy who gave The New York Times its shine

  • An unsung journalistic hero: Before Louis Silverstein, newspaper design was a trade, not a profession. With the many changes he made as art director of the Times in the 1960s and 1970s, he helped change that. White space? More ambitious typefaces? Larger fonts? Abstract illustrations? Those were all his doing. Many of the conventions that modern newspapers now take advantage of came (in part) from Silverstein’s work. It took a lot of pushing, but Silverstein sold editors on these ideas. As a result, the Gray Lady is (and many other papers are) a lot less gray. And graphic design and news aren’t separate entities. Silverstein died Thursday at 92. (Also worth a read:The Society for News Design has a lot of anecdotes about an important figure in visual journalism.) source

02 Sep 2011 00:24


Tech: Blog design engine Ownzee cool, but could use some structure

  • It’s like a visual blogging app. Remember a few months ago, when we featured a service called Webdoc? Well, we had a lot of fun with that. We saw a lot of potential for the idea of allowing people to design posts on the fly (sort of a next-generation Tumblr or Storify), though the service had a few things we thought it could improve upon. Ownzee appears to be using better, less-cumbersome technology for its format. Here’s a roundup.
  • The good First off, the wide-screen format appears to be using a rich-text editor reminiscent of Aloha, and appears to be easier to use. You can do cooler things with more real estate, obviously, though we think the font palette is a little lacking. (No Helvetica?) It’s clear that, though it’s similar to Webdoc, it’s built from a stronger starting point. As they improve the service, this will prove beneficial.
  • The bad Unlike Webdoc, Ownzee appears not to support external HTML or CSS, which would extend the format a bit. However, this wouldn’t be an issue if the service offered easy-to-build templates, so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time. As a result, the format lends itself less to doing serious cool things and more to being a social meme-maker like Canvas. It doesn’t have to be this way, guys!
  • The unfortunate Sadly, The dealbreaker for us is the price — we like the idea, but wonder if charging a $5 monthly fee for this is the way to go. Unlike SquareSpace, you can only do so much with the format in its current iteration, which makes the technology, cool as it is, a little less-useful. Our suggestion: Make it freemium, then offer InDesign-style design tools (grids, rules, extra fonts) for a fee. source
  • » Overall thoughs: There is a market for a good, serious, on-the-fly design tool that takes the lessons from CMS tools like Tumblr and WordPress and converts them to a totally-visual HTML5-only format. The thing that we see right now is not that tools like WebDoc and Ownzee are bad ideas — far from it — but that their scope is too limited. These design tools, while quite advanced, lack structure and full context. If we were Ownzee, we’d be looking to offer ways to quickly structure designs – say, grids, good templates, solid themes and ways to prevent end-users from repeating themselves — that would give it print-design-style conventions. This is why Storify (which basically does this with social-media storytelling) is taking off. Just think how much better posts like these would look if end-users had starting points. We’d certainly use something like that.

24 Sep 2010 20:39


Politics: Shepard Fairey: Obama didn’t turn out to be like the poster

  • There’s a lot of stuff completely out of Obama’s control or any of the Democrats’ control. But I think there’s something a little deeper in terms of the optimism of the younger voter that’s happening. They wanted somebody who was going to fight against the status quo, and I don’t think that Obama has done that.
  • “Hope” Poster creator Shepard Fairey • Admitting that Obama’s potential hasn’t been met in the nearly two years he’s been in office. While he still largely supports the president, he doesn’t feel that if in the same position today he would’ve drawn the “Hope” poster. Beyond the politics, maybe he’s just a little frustrated by the whole thing – see, he’s been embroiled in a pretty rough copyright infringement suit with the Associated Press for a while. source

09 Apr 2010 20:55


Biz: To: Media General, From: Us – Re: Your consolidation efforts

  • You know, people will notice this stuff eventually. Yesterday, newspaper chain Media General announced that it was combining the design and copy-editing efforts of its papers in Richmond, Va., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Tampa, Fla. – three papers that have nothing to do with one another geographically. They’re not the first papers to get treated this way, but they are the biggest. And it’s completely not fair to the communities. Here’s why:
  • These aren’t production jobs The nature of moves like these seems to assume that copy-editing and design functions aren’t really journalism – at least not in the same way as reporting. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the editorial process that puts distance between the journalism and the community.
  • Quality will suffer greatly The fact of the matter is, some dude copy-editing a story in Tampa will not understand the nature and nuance of a story in Winston-Salem. Nor will a designer in a similar position. While Media General is playing this as a move to maintain local focus, it won’t work. It’s a damn shame. source

22 Feb 2010 10:30


Tech: Happy 20th birthday Photoshop! We’ve used you before, we think

  • Yay Photoshop! No single app has brought graphic design into a mainstream light better than Photoshop, which is a great reason to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Strangely enough, this timeline doesn’t mention anything about that slow transition to supporting Intel Macs. Must’ve forgot that. Either way, heck yeah! Happy birthday Photoshop! source

24 Sep 2009 20:22


Tech, World: Good luck: France wants to mark images as Photoshopped

  • Every magazine cover and movie poster could carry a warning in France. The French are apparently concerned about body image in a big way. Because of that, they’re considering labeling ‘shopped images as such. 50 French politicians support the law, which carries huge fines for those who don’t follow it. So, photos of models are either going to carry disclaimers or are going to get a lot uglier. We wonder which. source

29 Aug 2009 11:38


U.S.: Kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard wasn’t always stuck inside a tent

  • She did graphic design work for her captor. Uh. While Jaycee Dugard was largely kept in a tent with her two children, she wasn’t always hidden in there. Suspect Phillip Garrido owned a printing business, and based on one customer’s account, she did graphic design work for his business under the pseudonym “Allyssa.” “She was the design person; she did the art work; she was the genius,” said patron Ben Daughdrill. Another bizarre turn in a bizarre case. source

07 Aug 2009 20:24


Culture: Free fonts are awesome. Especially really awesome ones.

Disclosure: Our long-in-the-works redesign features a brand new logo which uses this font. It, along with the other fonts here, rock. source

18 May 2009 22:03


Offbeat, U.S.: Donald Rumsfeld is the worst Christian graphic designer ever

Imagine a crochety old guy with a lot of power designing these in Powerpoint. Then remember Obama’s branding campaign. Scary, eh? source

31 Mar 2009 20:48


Tech: OK, print’s dead, graphic designers. Here’s how to go Web.

  • Take print philosophy online In this era where the Internet is quickly changing how people read and gather content, it’s becoming more and more clear that you have to perk up your web skillz as a graphic designer. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your print techniques – Brian Hoff of DesignCubicle notes that they might even be an asset. (And cool grids already exist, which should ease the pain. Whoo.)
  • Cool examples of print as web Obviously, The New York Times does a pretty great job approximating the print experience. But other sites, such as Jason Santa Maria’s amazing personal Web site focus on doing something most sites suck at: Providing content-based design rather than forcing content into a rigid CMS. Food for thought, designers looking to switch over. You can do this. source