Archive for the Graphic 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)

[design] Dept Of War Math Posters Now For Sale

Posted in Graphic Design, Graphic Design Humor, illustration on June 3, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2936.In the previous missive, the remark was remarked that Plus3 should be sellin’ them Dept of War Math graphics as posters. Unless you were a very silly person, you agreed with me.

Well, Brad Clark and Plus3 have heard and delivered.

Hie thee hence:

You’ll be glad you did.

[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.

[net_liff] Gmail Ninja, The Infographic

Posted in gmail, Graphic Design, independent graphic design, info design, infographic on April 23, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2929.From designer Aleksander Tsatskin comes a pretty effective cheat-sheet for all the keyboard shortcuts that, if you take the time to learn them, should elevate your Gmail exprience.

Everyone knows what keyboard shortcuts are. Every pulldown has a staccato list of symbols to the right of the commands; these key combos connect you directly to the function without having to mouse, click, drop, click.

The problem with keyboard shortcuts is that they require discipline and practice. It also might be more comforting just to find and read the command in your pulldown menu. It takes a little courage; you have to know what you’re going for. But who doesn’t, if you use any Word-like program to assemble your documents, know what the key combo for Italic, Bold, or underline? It’s even here in the Blogger interface, which saves a ton of time.

I first learned the mad savings in effort that keyboard shortcuts when learning QuarkXPress. There were a group my instructor called the ‘Fab Four’, and indeed I used them all the time. The keyboard shortcut, CMD-SHIFT-OPT , for instance, increased the size of highlighted type by one point up or down respectively. Saved a lot of mousing and clicking.

The infographic delivers just what’s needful, and that’s why it’s good. Graphic elements are greatly simplified but very recognizable, and the visual grammar translates instantly.

A very effective use of color, style, line and shape; green is the color of the keys, yellow are the simplified instructions. Simple lines and shapes tell the visual story.

Here’s the whole thing, via a link; if you use Gmail as your primary email interface, as far as cheat-sheets one could very easily do worse.

Gmail Keyboard Shorcuts

(via Bit Rebels)

[design] A Symbol For Earth Day

Posted in Earth Day, Graphic Design, graphic design history, Ron Cobb on April 22, 2013 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2928.April 22nd, upon which eve this missive is being prepared, is recognized worldwide as Earth Day. And, in this era when ecological conditions seem more dear than ever, what with the state of the Arctic icecap (I hear there are projections that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by the year 2025) and the rather depressing staccato stutter-step of I think it’s some achievement hat Earth Day is being taken seriously as a day of awareness for all rather than just something ‘hippies’ celebrate (as I recall was its reputation upon incarnation).

Our ecology is important; it’s the most beautiful world in the world. I couldn’t be happy without you.

There was a symbol, created in the 70s by cartoonist Ron Cobb, which attempts to give ecology an icon. I remember it from then. It looked (and still does look) like this:

It looks kind of like the Greek letter theta, and like many such symbols, is invested with meaning. It can be seen as a minuscule ‘e’, a letter which stands for many positive things; Earth, environment, ecosystem, &c, &c. The crossbar is framed by an oval with a narrowing stroke at the top and the bottom; that the narrow parts are on the vertical axis renders a minuscule ‘o’ shape that we typographers call ‘unstressed’. This gives two silhouettes; an ellipse along the exterior (a very natural shape, planetary orbits do this) and a circle interior (we live and socially relate in circles, there’s a circle of life, and to the eye the Earth from space is approximately circular in shape.

The website PeaceButtons has a delightfully wonderful graphic that explores the various meanings; enlightenment thuswise can be found at They even tie the square shape in.

The first design I ever saw for an Earth Day or an Ecology flag, now, looked like this:

It was also designed by Ron Cobb. It features the Ecology glyph in yellow in a green union with green stripes. The resemblance to the US flag is obvious, and appropriate as I think, with our awesome technical prowess and national drive, if only we could summon it, the USA could lead the world in cleaning up the mess that was made. One might point out that it’s also appropriate in as much as the USA led the way in making a great deal of that mess, but I’m not necessarily here to point fingers.

There is another official Earth Day flag, complete with ™ and all. Nothing personal, but I like the above better. I like the symbolism in the Ecology glyph, and I like the color green. I am an Oregonian after all, and green is what we try to do here.

Think of it as you go through Earth Day. What we do affects everyone else. And, with 7 billion of us on this shrinking blue marble, now, more than ever, we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

At least we can be a good neighbor.

And so it goes.

(Since Ron Cobb’s website is just a front page right now, here’s his Wikipedia entry. He’s been places, yo.)

[graphic design] 30 Ways To Die Of Electrocution In Greater Germany

Posted in cartooning, Graphic Design, vintage design, Weird and Funny on October 25, 2012 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2875.This following diagram isn’t just a good idea … it’s the law. Or it should be.

The book this (and other pictures similar) is found in is one called Elektroschutz in 132 Bildern, published in Vienna in the early 1900s by a physician named Stefan Jellinek. The pictures are nice and direct and unambiguous; they teach, graphically, that the surest way to kill yourself with electricity is to form a complete path from source (usually the bright red arrow) to ground (the screened back, pink arrow. Arrowheads provide the path for current flow.

The pictures seem oddly timeless despite being drawn in a style instantly recognizable for that of Germany and environs in the early 20th Century. They’re very evocative, showing the startled stunned dismay of the victims, and the drawings are strewn about with strange inscrutable devices with dials and terminals whose apparent function is to place lethal electrical current in places where foolish, thoughtless death is made even more convenient and unavoidable:

And electricity being what it is, not even animals are excused from appalling stupidity:

Who’s a bad dog, then?

Really, considering the flagrant disregard for safety apparently exhibited by the German-speaking peoples during that time, it’s doubly astounding that the Deutsches Kaiserreich even made it out of the Wilhelmine era, never mind Reich #3.

H/T for this boon. View 30 of these überamusing diagrams at this flickr album: Via Google+ at this post: