Archive for July, 2010

[design] The New Look Pac-10: It’s Not Just a Logo, it’s a Brand

Posted in branding, design, logo design, logo redesign on July 30, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Debuted yesterday: the new Pac-10 Conference’s logo. It’s kind of a slick production, and quite stylish when placed next to the design it succeeded, a box with big type and the suggestion of the setting sun.

There are appropriate images. The Pacific-10, encompassing the states of Oregon, Washington, California and Arizona (and soon enough to include Colorado and Utah) is the westernmost geographically-located big collegiate conference. the update includes two things you find quite a lot of the the west – the mountains (under the A) and the ocean (with a wave curling about the “10”) into a slick, sleek shield.

And, of course, ours being a visual culture, we fixate on what seems, in the context, a daring update (your mileage may vary). But, after a year in which the Pac-10 almost … almost … eated the Big 12 to become the Pac-16, the attitude of the Pac-10 (the Pac-12, soon enough) has been shown to be a new, world-beating thing.

At least that’s what they really want you to perceive here. The new-look Pac-10 is more than just about a new logo. It’s about a new swagger and style, a new attitude.

Much of the credit for this new wide-shouldered confidence is being laid at the feet of the Pac-10’s commissioner, Larry Scott. He led the charge to try to annex six more colleges, and has been at the forefront, the public face, of the new bold conference. In a succinct but punchy statement, he lays it all on the line. And the media events this week, with all Pac-10 football coaches in entourage, just really underline this.

This, my friends, is more than a new logo, it’s the magic spell they try to cast with the word brand. It’s the whole 50 yards on first down. It’s probably why it’s easier to find Pac-10 press extoling the virtues of the brand than decent graphics of the new logo (I nicked the above from Wikipedia’s article). It’s a nice logo, but just considering that would be kind of missing the forest for the trees.

But all this … the “conference of champions”, the academic reputations of the member schools, the positive aspects of life in the western USA, all these are contained in not just the logo, but the words and the stories they try to tell with them.

So far, they’re doing a pretty good job.

If you like the Pac-10, you’re probably liking this. And the new logo is a refreshing change from the old stale one, and cleverly executed too – and ready to turn the “10” into a “12”, with little fuss, when the time is right.

We call it a pass completion.

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[design] The Dying Art Of Design?

Posted in art, design, design trends, Graphic Design on July 27, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

A while back I read an article by Salem’s Von Glischka titled Don’t Be A Tooler. The article is chewy food for thought, and can be read at It generated a ton of discussion and I contributed a conment, and still to this day get emailed the occasional reply to the thread.

The idea of a tooler, as I understood it then and understand it now, is the sort of person who is a able user of tools like Photoshop and such and thinks that some mastery of the standard digital design tools makes them a designer … but along the way, they’ve avoided acquiring the soft skills a designer really needs to create … how to see as an artist, how to view a graphic design assignment as more than a chance to produce something that has a surface look of everything else.

That’s not to say that you can – or should, in some cases – fight popularity. Can’t really be done. But it demonstrates a lack of depth that talent can’t always make up for, resulting in forgettable designs that don’t really distinguish themselves at all. Sure, you can use Photoshop like a pro – but can you draw? Von Glischka is renowned amongst designers for his artistic, illustrative approach to designing, and the extra depth that “old-fashioned” skill provides his work informs every piece I’ve ever seen him do with a sort if interior logic and harmony.

It’s tough to explain and sound like “whalesong and joss-stick” talk, but you look at Von’s work, and you see it instantly.

Free and Numerous Tutorials and Resources as a subsititute for design intellect?

The intarwebz have been a boon to me and to many people who want to learn a new technique or see how some other designer achieved a cool effect. If you get on enough design mailing lists or Twitter, you soon find you can’t swing a virtual cat – dead or otherwise – without hitting a list of nifty, fun tutorials on how to achieve this, that, or the other effect, and free resources for the stuck designer. Your bookmarks file will soon be filled to bursting.

But, as mom always said, too much of a good isn’t a good thing anymore. Francisco Inchausté, writing at Smashing Magazine, holds a view that harmonizes, in its way, with Von Glischka. I’d put it this way: the embarrassment of riches on the ‘net today, instead of making us nimble designers, actually threatens to turn us into lazy, deriviative hacks:

Dependance on resources such as freebies and tutorials is turning our design industry into an assembly line that churns out the same exact piece, with perhaps slight variation. Design is not a commodity, but the more that designers use freebies and the like, the more it will become one. The Web is just a large copy machine, as Kevin Kelley puts it. Design seems to be going down this road, too. Even our information resources—the design blogs themselves—are clones of each other.

I think he has a point. It doesn’t take a career with a ton of success to realize that if we all use the same resources we all start looking like the same designer. Moreover, it’s too easy to begin to browse your library of tutorials like a pantry of ready-made design solutions. Then, you cross the line into Tooler territory, and you stop using your insight, substituting a sort of reactive thinking for actual design problem-solving.

The overall prescription seems to be, back away from the computer for a while. Get a real design book or magazine and spend some time reading. Sure, you’re a Photoshop virtuoso or an Illustrator god, but even I’ve seen in myself what will happen when you depend on digital apps to do all your work – they become your brain (as I write this, I’m in a epic struggle to get my drawing chops back. My skills have reverted to, as far as I’m concerned, a shambolically bad level).

So, get out the sketchbook and pencil. Break out them old Walter Foster “how-to” books if you have to. You don’t have to show anybody your new bad drawings, and when your skill returns, you can look back at teh awful and say to yourself “see how far I’ve come”.

It’s a hard road to travel.

Not only are digital apps easy to use and come up with awesome f/x … they’re fun!!! So, that’s a hard habit to break. Expect withdrawals.

But we mustn’t forget that design and art is, first, and foremost, a human thing, and requires all the good, old fashioned, human skill our hands are capable of if it’s going to be solid.

For all his public life, recently-departed gonzo cartoonist John Callahan was a quadriplegic with limited use of his hands. He drew with them anyway. It took both his hands to do it, but his cartoons were visceral and real. If you, like me, have full use of both your hands, you can at least try. Your design might be better for it – anything with a solid foundation tends to endure.

The Smashing Magazine article is at Yes, it was done on a computer. Just savor the irony, peoples.

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[pdx] Thunderstorm Debris Over The Rose City

Posted in art, liff in PDX, pdx pictures on July 27, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

My The Wife” generally thinks I waste time and energy with Twitter, but paying attention to the Twitter stream pays off, I tell you what.

Earlier tonight, as I was doing some tech editing, I noticed my backyard was bathed in a beautiful salmon/ochre/russet-y sunset glow. Those are the best. They lend a timeless, eternal, suspended quality to the sunset. Very cozy.

At about 9:00 PM, Twitter-pal @forkfly said I encourage you all to look outside right now. Wow!, with a link to an amazing shot of the sky.

I dont know where @forkfly got that, but that roofline seems to make me want to say that was from somewhere in Sellwood.

Wow, indeed. I did look out, and got my own pix.

And this:

And this:

The first one was just to make sure I centered that big “bite” which adds to the drama of the cloud. The next two were to make something artistic out of the silhouette of the TV aerial, which for some reason makes me think of record album covers I’d known.

Watching the news a bit later on, we found that a lot of people caught this and uploaded them to the local TV outlets. KPTV-12’s Mark Nelson seemed to be saying that this was some of what he called “thunderstorm debris” from all the t-storms we had east of the Cascades today. I didn’t know that thunderheads broke up like that.

This beauty belies the gravity of the situation that the thunderstorms that spawned this amazingness probably marked the beginning of wildfire season on the dry side of Oregon, but here … wow.

(NB: Forkfly’s pic hotlinked to. All rights remain with the original picture taker. All rights reserved on my own)

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[pdx] A Moment of Silence for Cartoonist John Callahan , 1951-2010

Posted in art, comics, liff in PDX, pdx artists on July 24, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Just broken by the WWeek: Callahan, the famous PDX quad who draws teh politically-incorrect funnay, has passed on after a year of fighting additional ailments apparently brought on by surgical complications.

He was 59 years old, which, I suppose if you had asked him, was a whole lot of years longer than he thought he’d have gotten.

The WWeek note can be seen at

Also, centered at the bottom of his website’s front page ( underneath his portrait photo is simply the notation “1951-2010”, which seems about right in tone – Callahan may have had many moods, but public sentimentality never seemed to be one of them.

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[art] Old-Fashioned Painting Of Building Ads … Up There

Posted in art, design, design trends on July 16, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

The craft of building ads is something that seems to be on the way out, or maybe just looks that way. Hanging vinyl banners is quick, easy, and efficient – but a lot less charming.

When it came time to show off the perfect Stella Artois, though, the company chose the old-fashioned way. Up There is a short movie that details that struggle.

It’s viewable at a page at this link right here: Since it shows off beer ads, you have to be of legal age to view. Please don’t lie to them.

It’s about 12 minutes.

I was utterly charmed, myself. H/T to Pete Vogel.

(Bandwidth warning: I’m decidedly not happy with the streaming. On my older computer, sound galloped ahead of the pictures by more than a minute, and on the more powerful computer we have around here, there was so much rebuffering that the computer evenually gave up about 6 minutes in. You will enjoy what you do see, promise you that.)

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[liff] Question Of The Day

Posted in liff, zeitgeist on July 16, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

It would seem to me that the most absurd shelves in the used-book store are the ones with the self-help books on them.

Discuss amongst yaselves.

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[pdx art] An Artist A Day Back In April At Muse Art+Design

Posted in art, art resources, liff in PDX on July 15, 2010 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Continuing to be historically late-to-the-party, I wanted to share something that I stumbled on back in April before life became a bit sucky and distracting. But it involves Muse Art+Design, and watching artists work, which are two things I’m big fans of.

The other year, when we first got acquainted with Muse, it was April and we noticed they had put up spots all around the shop announcing something called An Artist A Day. It is, as it turns out, more than just a cool and canny bit of promotion. AAAD gathers thirty artists, one per day, who work in the front window of Muse, creating one piece per day, which is then hung about the shop and silent-auctioned.

Here’s the best part: the proceeds of the auction are used to buy Art Supplies for the Schoolhouse Supplies store, which is a free classroom-supply store for teachers. The value of access to art supplies for schoolteachers should be self-evident. And it’s supported by great local art supply companies, M. Graham and Art Alternatives, so you know it’s good.

Muse does this once per year, and according to the AAAD website, they’ll be accepting applications to particpate in the 2011 edition starting in January.

Here’s the hip:

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