Archive for the design Category

[#design] 600-Or-So Portland-in-2016 Bookmarks For Westercon 67

Posted in design, Graphic Design, logo design, PDX photos, SF, Westercon, Westercon 69 on June 13, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
The Wife™ had a little busytime project.

You see, we’re involved on the edge of a little group that’s trying to bring Westercon 69, in 2016, two years hence, to Portland. The bid will be voted on at Westercon 67, being held this next month in Salt Lake City, and we have been promoting.

And, by we, I mean a rather divers group of passionate individuals doing what they can, when they can, and making it count. The sun our planets revolve around is the inimitable Lea Rush; entropy fears her, scattered card decks stack themselves at her mere approach. I am essentially a graphic design support grunt at this point, and provide support to Meredith Cook when and as she needs it. The Wife™, she handles the office we’ve called “Mailroom”.

In case you ever needed to know
what more than 600 bookmarks
looked like, here you go.
How to Support
the Bid
(click to embiggen)

At this point, it is as such: a call came a day or so ago from Lea wondering how many bookmarks were left. We had started a stock of 5000; less than 2500 are left (we may have a handful or two left over before this is done, and this is no sin … we own lots of books which require marking), and the mission; send 600-or-so of them to Westercon 67’s ComCon. Mailroom snaps into action: The Wife™ counts out the required number, packages them up, and gets them ready to go.

They’re in a box, right now, ready to be shipped. Inspired by the example of those around us, the proper amount of energy is leveraged for the maximum effect. USPS Media Rate is our faithful friend, and Westercon 67 will have the bookmarks.

Which are sweet, by the way. Featuring the logo designed by Meredith with assistance by myself, they feature a picture of a night-time Portland skyline snapped by the ViviCam 3705, the Plastic Fantastic, back in 2009. ‘Tis a picture I’m most proud of, and I’m equally proud that it may help, in a small way, win a very significant moment in time for the fandom of the Rose City. This is the bookmark:

Like I said, sweet! The night-time scene has a little bit of Tron and Matrix-y stuff going on there. Great mood setting. The round patch is the offiical Portland In 2016 logo, done by Meredith with help from myself. This is the photo it was based on:

 And that was in January, 2009. Photos are forever …

And they make, I’ll say again, sweet bookmarks.

Presupport is still available. Clicky to embiggen the back of the bookmark, on the left above (there’s even a QR code for your enjoyment) for terms, or go to to find out more.

Yeah. This is something that should happen. 


[design] Milton Glaser Hearts Microbrew Labels. Unless He Doesn’t. Without Extra Added PDX.

Posted in design, Graphic Design, label design, Milton Glaser, package design on March 31, 2014 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

Milton Glaser is responsible for a a lot of graphic awesomeness over his career, including a very iconic New York logo.

Just recently The New York Times asked him to review a handful of microbrew’s labels. Is very trenchant. The bad reviews are, as usual, the most fun to read, as witness:

“The surface of this is so unpleasant. It sort of looks lumpy, like food that has gone bad. To me, this is antithetical to the idea of refreshing taste. Even though this violates assumption, it still doesn’t create a sense of anticipation about drinking it.”

The rest are here.

SPOILER ALERT: There is no mention on Portland anywhere on this list. Yeah, I know, right? You figure any intersection of NYT, beer and microbreweries would squeeze out a pip labelled PDX, but no. Not this time.

(via You The Designer)

[art] The Klein Line of Fine Christmas Cards, 2013

Posted in design, The Crafty Wife on December 28, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

The Wife™ is getting mad crafty. Or maybe the banality of printed holiday cards just isn’t doing it for her anymore. Either way, as Christmas approacheth, she geth buthyth.

This is this year’s line:

Both hand-made, hand-design, and utterly original and unique, by The Wife™, equally utterly original and unique, and I’d not have it any other way.

I just adore the design on the left. So whimsical! The circles were salvaged from some used Christmas wrap, so, very recycled, very PDX! The one on the right has a lot of simple charm to it. They went over big time at work.

[design] When Is A UPC Barcode More Than A UPC Barcode?

Posted in barcode design, design, package design on December 26, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis

When I was but a neat thing, MAD Magazine was a hold-out. Held out against putting ads in. Held out on getting any class at all (and we loved them for that). And, in the day of the multiplying UPC symbol, held out against putting that on the cover, until the April 1978 edition (which actually came out in February, I think. MAD loved putting the cover-date two-or-three months ahead of the actual month), which, in a fit of EC-style rage, looked like this:

Well, it didn’t, as history will show, and if history won’t show, we’ll say shut up, history. I’m writing this article, not you. It did provide for a long string of sarcastic jokes at the UPC symbol’s expense (mine was a callout that proclaimed it the World’s first computer-written joke), so at least MAD got that out of the deal.
Today, the UPC symbol has made its home in commerce; it, and similar barcodes, are pretty much everywhere. Their utility cannot be denied. Still, designers design around it, put it in a corner which gets pretty much ignored but for the scanning beam of Chad Vader’s new, more powerful laaazer checkout system. But it need not be …
The scanner will scan the barcodes if they are correctly printed, but like a lacklustre gem, the proper setting can make all the difference:
Nifty! I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m down.
More coolness from Benjamin Starr at Visual News here: Read carefully within the text for more nice links, all of which I tried and all of which are distracting in the good way.

[design] Dept Of War Math – Propaganda for Geniuses

Posted in design, Graphic Design, Graphic Design Humor, illustration, War Graphic Design on June 1, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
So there’s a trending topic these days (that I hope does more than trend), and its name is survivorship bias. You’ll all want to write that down, because it’ll become a serious bit of discussion in the months to come … or should. If it doesn’t, that’ll be unjust, and I think I’ll be coming back to it here.

Surviviorship bias. Learn about it, courtesy of David McRaney, at the blog You Are Not So Smart.

But it started me on this road, a great riff on a classic style. And it has to do with the wartime Department of War Math.

War Math?

A little-known, unsung department that helped us carry the great World War II?

Well, yes … and no. It’s like this:

During the war, math and science played a very large role, of course, and a role that extended into things like the post-war Race for Space and the very large role also that scientists played in giving us the shiny technological world to follow.

But during the early 1940s the USA was running up against problems requiring extensive mathematical modeling … and the computers that could do that modeling didn’t really exist yet. The most powerful number-crunchers of the time, as the article says, ran on toast and coffee.

There was a time that ‘calculator’ was a human job title, do take note.

The Applied Mathematics Panel, made up of groups of human mainframes ensconced in various spaces hither and yon, was, or should have been, our Department of War Math. Commanders in the field brought them problems, and they solved them. Pretty much just like that. They came up with a way to figure out how to best fire torpedoes based solely the ripple pattern left behind by a ship … if it turns, you see, the ripples are different in a way, and if they’re cruising evasively, you can’t predict which way they’re going to turn, but if you analyze the waves, you didn’t have to.

Actually, they were kind of Mentats, really.

McRaney’s article on survivorship bias goes into great detail about how these amazing people would not only use their technical knowledge but superior analytical and logical minds to finesse the unobvious but crucial details out of any situation. He went to Dave Clark, of the video and animation design studio Plus3, who brought the notional Department of War Math to virtual life, with pitch-perfect propaganda graphics. This one is my favorite:

Illustration by Brad Clark of Plus3. Used with permission.

The heroic math geek spirits the downed Allied pilot away from the crashed plane. “Carry the one?” Indeed. Containing clever wordplay with a multiple meaning, pitched with just the right patriotic enthusiasm – and a deft eye for the war-poster style, we have a completely convincing poster for a war department that wasn’t – but it should have been.

This next one is a rather darker, but none the less on-target:

Illustration by Brad Clark of Plus3. Used with permission.

That Nazi swastika never saw it coming. With a palette that reminds me of those sinister, silhouetted “Hun comin’ to get ya” posters, the heroes work unseen in the background, Mentating an Allied victory for sure. That compass means business, man! And again the adroit multiple-meaning word play; We’re counting on you goes more than one direction, when it comes to the math the sharp pencil brains at the Dept of War Math did.

If I were them, I’d be selling posters of this. Great satire like this comes along so infrequently.

Plus3 Video is at

Again, these illustrations used are by Brad Clark, to whom I express grateful thanks.

[design] Design We Like: SE Portland’s Township and Range Restaurant

Posted in design, logo design, SE PDX Photos, signage, typography on March 31, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2909.The various buildings and businesses along the ever-fashionable SE Hawthorne Blvd are in a state of flux. A building at 2422 SE Hawthorne was, for many years, a photo lab. It has become a restaurant.

It’s called Township and Range, and being a geography hobbyist, I know of which they refer to, and found it intriguing that they should name a neighborhood bistro after such a technical term.

t caught our eye mainly because of the bold design of the signage, which is engaging to the eye, bold and attractive, and spiffily well-done. 

The design accomplishes the task of tying a philosophy of ‘local is best’ to the establishment’s message by the rather clever trick of the geographer’s term. The about page shows that they understand the thinking behind the Public Lands Survey System quite well, even to the point of just what the point of the Willamette Stone is, and they knew enough about to create an impressive logo that has the look of the Willamette Stone benchmark pretty much nailed.

When it comes to geographic attitude, it’s got aplomb, Bob.  Which is an impressive bit of local passion, all the more so for a restaurant.

What really  caught our eyes, though, was the bold design of the signage facing the street, which we enjoy mightily:

Nice, eh? Bold, hard to ignore, and fun to look at. The type, reminiscent of automobile and appliance nameplates, is approachable, and the bright red neon provides the contrast you want against the coole colors of the building. The word and is lit from behind: when the night falls is when you see it outlined in silhouette.

It’s clever and we wish we’d of thought of this. 

[design] Photoshop Masking Techniques Everyone Should Know

Posted in design, digital design, how-to on May 21, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2826.Can you name them without looking at the app?
In case you can’t, here they are:

  1. Magic Wand
  2. Quick Selection
  3. Quick Mask
  4. Lasso/Magnetic Lasso
  5. Eraser
  6. Pen
  7. Layer Mask
  8. Channels

They have various approaches to doing the same thing – selecting things for changing them. Select it, then effect it, goes the maxim. And some are better than others; the eraser is the one the noobs use then abandon as they soon find there are things like the layer mask that allow you non-destructively edit things, so you always have the original to go back to.
While, generally, I personally don’t recommend the eraser tool the beauty of Photoshop is that it offers enough tools to do any one thing that you can approach anything the way it works best for you.
I found this nifty article at Spoon Graphics’ blog that summarizes it all very nicely: