Monthly Archives: September 2008

What is graphic design?

Design Observer has a nice – but slightly longwinded – piece explaining what graphic design is in lay terms. Some key points I like are the ubiquity of graphic design, “quietly good design”, and how the designer’s personal expression always comes through, even with the “pragmatic and problem solving” type.

However, I wish it mentioned the dearth of design outside of graphic design.


How to tell a story with book spines

Narrative offers a emotional, intriguing, and human dimension when incorporated in design. For the designer however, it’s not always easy to tell a story. We often have to rely on vaguely telling the story. Artist Nina Katchadourian has a nice example using book spines to do this.

Sorted Books

[ via Boing Boing ]

lmgreen & Dragset : Drama Queens

Here’s a goofy little video of sculptures talking about how they’ve been critiqued.

[ Found via VVork ]

Difference Between Graphic Design and Interaction Design

Here’s a great slideshow illustrating the difference between graphic design and interaction design. With this blog, one of my goals is to articulate and refine my definitions of design, the sub-disciplines of design, and how other disciples (like art, science, politics, philosophy, and literature) relate to design. I think presentations like this will help me formulate these definitions.

[ Found via Monoscope ]


I ran across Schtock yesterday, a site where this “amatuer designer”, showcases the images he has created from the images that cross his desk at his job. He works cataloging stock art. I’d like to take the time out to offer a couple thoughts I had in relation to this site.

The top navigation for the main part of the site – used to go back and forth between images, and show the stock images used in that piece – is very natural and unobtrusive. I find the “about this image” particularly modern and a great use of John Maeda’s SHE principle. But, I think there are some serious problems with this site that go beyond simple heuristics evaluation or discussion of usability.

Also, let me state that while the site creator self-refers as an amateur designer, the author is assuredly neither amateur nor a designer, but a fantastic artist.

First, the “about this site” link should not go to a blog. When clicking “about this site” I expect to go to a page whose main content is explaining the site. Yes, that content is on the blog, but in the upper-right, a place for tertiary content at best.

Second, the simple image navigation interface is nice, but unless there’s an implied sequence to images (and sometimes even if), a browse by thumbnail option should be provided. This is a fairly common mistake I find in sites. Simplicity-in-design is no excuse for adopting a simple solution.

Third, and this relates back to the blog, going to the blog gives the sensation of going to another web site. I tend not to look at the URL bar much, and I had to go back and forth between the blog and main portion of the site a coupe times to be sure belonged to the same site. Yes, the gray colors match (and it’s a serious-designerly gray), but there has to be more there for the blog and the site to really belong together.

All in all though, this images on Schtock are incredible, and the art belongs more in a museum than on my silly little blog.

Paul Rand on Design and Art

Here is a very nicely done video encapsulating Paul Rand’s views on art on design. I don’t necessarily agree with his linking the two so tightly. Aesthetics is important to both, obviously, and he is a master of aesthetics, but they are not the same.

I tend to differentiate design and art by their intent. Design is done in service to others to create a more desirable world or future. Art, on the other hand, is more about personal, emotional expression and capturing subjective perspectives of the world.

Regardless of how you may think of the two, enjoy the video.

[ Found via Monoscope ]

Obama Waffles channel Song of the South

Wow, it’s amazing people still believe that producing things like Obama Waffles (here, here, and here) produce a positive outcome. From Alternet:

This year’s Value Voter Summit made less news in its speaker line-up than it did for the sale of a particular brand of breakfast food: Obama Waffles. In the far corner of the exhibit hall at the Values Voter Summit two gonzo entrepreneurs hawked a product they described as “political satire”: a box of waffle mix emblazoned with a cartoon image of a bug-eyed, toothy, dark-lipped Barack Obama eyeing a plate of waffles.