Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flusser Response

Reading this article made me look at design in a way that I was certainly aware of but never wanted to use as a definition. Indeed design is a way of enticing the consumer or whoever is being communicated to, I agree with that. In fact I agree with all of Flusser’s statements but I don’t think of it all in such a negatively toned way like he does. And this idea of design as trickery is stronger in some areas than others. For example advertising can hold a great deal of showing off a product in a way that is a misconception to the consumer on the producers behalf. An unreliable product can be have an advertisement designed for it that makes the consumer believe it is a quality item. In this light, yes I can see design being flawed and a little ‘evil’ but I think it’s enough to justify it by saying it’s just the society and economy we live in to sell that way. In other ways, design is trickery on the other end of the spectrum in say branding a company. Branding will portray a company to be seen in a way that they want their consumer to understand them. For example, when I brand the textile line that I’m designing for seminar I want the branding to make the consumer understand my product as being quality, well designed, thoughtful, free, pure, optimistic, etc. And I know that this is okay because I truly do back my designs with all of these elements. Of course branding can go in the other direction and, like advertising, portray an image of a company that is very positive when really they are up to no good. It can all go either way. But I do agree with Flusser’s theory that design is trickery, I just like to think so in a better light.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Emblems from 1/28/13

Quote 1: “I’m not fucking putting up with this. I’m not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I’m not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.” James Yeager

Quote 2: “Never get angry. Never make a threat. Reason with people.” Mario Puzo (1920 - 1999), ‘The Godfather’

Image Credit: From the now taken down video on

Quote 1: “When we began the Christmas season this year, we were all very much aware that a war was being waged by the Christmas grinches -- the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU], Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and other secularists, to steal Christmas from America. To not only take Christ out of Christmas, but to remove Christmas totally from the American scene. I am happy to announce today that we are winning the Christmas war.” Jerry Falwell on a televised sermon Dec 19th, 2004

Quote 2: “Do you think you are the first person to believe their war was justified?” Won Shi Tong on Avatar the Last Airbender

Image Credit: Artwork by Nick D. Kim,

Flusser Response

I really liked the essay that Flusser wrote. I had never thought about designers as tricksters before, but now I see it as something that is very true. What we do is trick people into trying to buy a product or believe a certain thing. That is our job description. If we fail to trick someone into buying a product we could lose our job. Designers aren't the only artists who trick people in believing a certain thing or to rally for a cause. Other artists often do that as well in their respective mediums.


(Above) "First You Build The House, And Then The House Builds You"
Text = Definition of "Home" according to wikipedia

A home is a place of residence or refuge. When it refers to a building, it is usually a place in which an individual or a family can live and store personal property. It is generally a place to provide safety and is used as a center from which people or animals base their daily activities. Most modern-day households contain sanitary facilities and a means of preparing food. Animals have their own homes as well, either living in the wild or shared with humans in a domesticated environment.

Home is also used to refer to the geographical area (whether it be a suburb, town, city or country) in which a person grew up or feels they belong, or it can refer to the native habitat of a wild animal. There are cultures in which homes are mobile such as nomadic peoples. Sometimes, as an alternative to the definition of home as a physical locale (“Home is where you hang your hat”), home may be perceived to have no physical location, instead, home may relate instead to a mental or emotional state of refuge or comfort. Popular sayings along these lines are “Home is where the heart is” or “You can never go home again”.

(Above) "Reaction is Dependent on Time and Place"
Text = Dr. Phils top 5 Parenting Tips

1. Plug In
Make a conscious decision to plug into your kid’s world. You can’t make assumptions about the critical choices that children have to make today because the world they are living in is different from the one you grew up in.

2. Spread the Word
When you talk to your children you’ve got to spread out your logic so that they can see why you’re saying what you’re saying. Research shows us that the amount of trouble kids get into is inversely proportional to the number of words spoken in the home. What that means is, the less you talk at home, the more trouble they get in outside the home.

3. Talk About Things That Don’t Matter
How do you ever expect to talk to them about things that do matter if you haven’t practiced by talking about things that don’t? 

4. Remember, You’re the Parent
Children have lots of friends who tell them what they want to hear. They don’t need you to be another friend. They need you to be an authority figure who lets them know where the boundaries of acceptable behavior are. Trying to be his or her friend will only undermine your authority as a parent and come back to bite you.

5. Allow Them A Sense of Mastery
You have to put your kids in a world where they feel a sense of mastery over their own environment. It’s important that they don’t feel 
they’re subject to arbitrary guidance or haphazard decisions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ian - Emblems

Here are the emblems I created for Monday's class (1/28/13).

Both deal with quotes relating to carpe diem.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

emblematics 1

For Monday 28 January we're

  1. reading Cramsie, The Story of Graphic Design, his introduction and chapter 1, Design and Sign (origin of alphabet); and
  2. building two emblems: image + two units of text, whose combination yields an opportunity for meaning. As we discussed Wednesday, our own extensions of the Phaidon Archive — descriptive and discursive text wrapped around an image — might be thinned and repurposed to emblematic ends.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

UC Logo Response

I read the Christopher Simmons article first and these two quotes struck me the most from what I saw:

There is confusion between having an opinion and having a relevant opinion,” said Correa. “This results in even less productive social discourse around everything — not just design; it’s a basic misunderstanding of democracy.

Design as a discipline is challenged by this notion of democracy, particularly in a viral age. We have become a culture mistrustful of expertise—in particular creative expertise.

I think that since design in the world today is so accessible and accepted that people of any background feel that they are experts. I believe they feel this way because they feel that the design is for them and connected with it therefor they are entitled to it being exactly what they want regardless of if they really have any knowledge of the principles of design what so ever. I feel that people think that anyone knows what ‘good’ design is bases on the very vague, very uninformed basis of whether the person ‘likes’ it or not or whether they think it’s ‘cool’. From an outsider view the field isn’t taken as seriously as something that requires a lot of education and practice to do well like say something in engineering — people won’t make an opinion on something such as that based on whether they ‘like’ it or not. I think it’s important that before the general public forms their opinion about design that they understand what design is and everything that goes into producing a logo.

I found it interesting in Michael Bierut’s article when he stated: “As usual, no one had expressed much passion for the good old seal until it was threatened by the arrival of the new logo. Suddenly, people were lining up to testify to its virtues.“ In an alternate way of looking at it, people should realize that maybe they needed this kick in the pants to appreciate what was already there and be excited about something else new (since the old seal wasn’t going anywhere) rather than lashing out against it in a seemingly impulsive way.

And again when he says: “But all the UC logo dissenters remind us of how different designers are from regular people. Designers tend to overvalue differentiation and originality. We are taught this in design school.” This really is so true and on point, and explains exactly what I was trying to say above about the difference between the people who design the logos and the general public who think they’re entitled to have equal say and understanding of such a thing when really they don’t have the knowledge.

Perhaps we could also ask: what was the purpose? What was the process? Whose ends were being served? How should we judge success? But we seldom look any deeper than first impressions, wallowing instead in a churning maelstrom of snap judgments. Should we be surprised when the general public jumps right in after us?

It is great that in society today people are aware of what design is and all but in the biggest regard I’m not sure if its in a positive way. What this does is only make us as designers savvy up on our persuasive skills to sell our idea to the client and then to the public.

Reading response 1

After reading the article "The UC logo controversy" I had a few problems with how this whole thing came to play. First off I think the University of California should of had the consideration to talk to the public about even coming up with this logo and fully explain its usage in the long run then putting it side by side with the seal. Another thing is that the comity got so defensive with how the public didn't know anything about the meaning of this design and to pretty much tell everyone even designers to back off and their opinion didn't mater. I read a comment and it stated "Good design doesn't need an explanation" and when you have so many people telling you you're design is bad it probably is. I for one like some of the usage of the design but have a problem that it was going to be the identity for the entire campus and institutes. For my understanding the University of California is a really prestigious school and I think school like that have their own identity using their own design that they don't have to change and become "just like everyone else" it already stands out on it's own. Lastly the people defending this logo and telling everyone to back off and telling designers they don't understand how much work and time went into this logo are just a bunch of morons. All designers good and back know that the process of good design what ever that maybe takes a lot of time and trial and error.

After reading the Article "Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport" I do agree that most people are afraid of change in designs that they seem to be attached too. I know that as a designer I go around and look at design and critique on the design. I also know that bad design can also be the clients fault. I have done freelance work for my dad and our neighborhood and what the board wants I had to do. Even after countless explanations on why my piece was the one they should use they stuck to their guns. Though after a sign or two was printed out I had members come up to me and tell me that they should have gone with the original design. I do see Graphic design criticism as a spectator sport. I think anyone that has gone to art school or taken any design courses can look at something and see what could make a design better and question why they designed something this way.

Monday, January 21, 2013

UC Articles Response

I think this is an issue that won't be going away any time soon. Simple factors of the evolving world around us are contributing to this type of issue. For example, the world is becoming a place where people who have grown up with the internet are becoming young adults and, naturally, more vocal in their opinions. We have yet to see what the world will look like with the younger generations becoming more and more of a prevalent force in the national dialogue.

Until now, many grew up in a world without this extreme degree of connection that is available today. Previous generations grew up in a time without constant exposure to these various forms of media. The world has never been so well connected, news has never been so immediate and abundantly available, and people experienced a life that was a bit more simple and disconnected. Growing up with the internet as a part of every day life, younger generations only know a world where information is instantly available to anyone with interest. When you grow up in an environment where full disclosure of information is practically instant and routine, it makes for people who are used to forming lightning fast opinions without necessarily hearing all sides of the story, or perhaps even based off of misinformation or plain old shoddy reporting. Society will continue to become more and more opinionated and entitled because that's the culture that is overwhelmingly embraced by people online.

The evidence is pretty much everywhere - without generalizing about EVERY person out there, I feel it can be pretty safely stated that the lifestyles of the youth of today are pretty vastly different from that of our previous generations. Whether you look at how we spend our free time, how we carry on conversations, or our ethical/moral code, it can be pretty clearly seen that people are changing due to this media saturated environment that we live in each day. The anonymity of the internet has spawned a "troll" mentality in many people, and having so many outlets to easily put in your two cents on virtually any topic has allowed many people to believe that they are in fact entitled to contribute it, no matter how uninformed a person may truly be. I tend to call people who engage in this type of behavior "armchair experts". People watch all of these bad reality tv shows and read an article posted to Facebook and suddenly they're informed enough to form an intelligent, constructive opinion, and they can't wait to jump online and tell the world all about it.

I think this emergence of entitlement has combined with another issue that has been taking society by storm lately. The world is also becoming a place where sensitivity to every little complaint or dissatisfaction  is suddenly a critical issue that needs to be dealt with. Business has focused so closely on customer satisfaction that it has turned the world into a reactionary horde of screaming children whenever we aren't happy with something, no matter how ridiculous. Even the most insane, ignorant opinions easily become bandwagons for us to jump on with the increasing popularity and accessibility of things like online petitions and social networking. If you're upset about something and decide you need to find support for your beliefs, no matter how absurd, chances are you can find 50,000 other people out there who are just as ridiculous as you are.

Reading Response 1

I think that it is impossible to assume that people are not going to criticize design in a age where art and media are blending together and the population as a audience is absorbing information making them more aware of changes that they otherwise would have cared less about.

It’s true that people are becoming more aware of design everyday, because it is becoming more important.  Functional design and cutting edge design is what people crave because it means that we are advancing technologically and as a whole. However, these advancements are also making people experience a greater sense of nostalgia when it comes to designs that have been around prior to the push to develop clean and contemporary modes of identity and design.

Older designs can remind people ofsimpler times and bring out qualities of reliability, quality, and superiority. These designs are important because they have withstood the test of time and have made there way into the lives of those who view them. However, when it comes for a change I agree that the audience does not always understand the process of design and the reasons why an identity may have to be changed.

The readings keep bringing up the point that some people when they see a design think that it is too easy and that “their 4-year-old” could do a better job. I think that this thinking can fall into the same realm as armature photographers who believe that if they buy an expensive camera then they have what it takes to declare themselves as professionals. Obviously, understanding art and design comes by understanding the process and history of the craft and it is up to the designers to educate their audience in the best ways possible.

I also think that it is important to be aware of these opinions. A lot of times in the articles when it came to the designs of things that people have a great deal of attachment too, I feel like the discussions happen mainly between designers in a world that is somewhat closed off from the outside till the unveiling of a design. If people were let in and able to see the process maybe they could have had a more positive discussion about the whole thing rather that attacking the final product in the end.

I think that as a designer preparing to enter the design realm it is important to remember that people don’t always understand what is happening behind the scenes and that it is important to do this kind of research to contribute to your design. Perhaps the next phase of good design will revolve around understandable design. In other words... design that an audience can understand and that is driven by public awareness.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reading Response

After I heard about the controversy in class I decided to google it and see what media had reported on it before reading the articles. Most of what was said was rather uninformed and invited commenters to call the logo various names, or state that they could have done better.

Seeing these comments I was not surprised when Michael Bierut mentioned them in his article "Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport." What he is saying is very, very true. People today seem to notice design and are willing to form an opinion about it without being informed or thinking about why things were changed. 

This isn't something that is limited to design. Jumping to conclusions and calling somethings "stupid," "dumb," or "ugly." is the norm these days. You see it happen with movie casting choices, when a favorite competitor is eliminated from a reality tv show, or when an author decides to kill off a character. People are ready to defend the old ways and not be open to change, or to think about why that change has to happen.

In the case of the University of California logo the change was needed to unify all the different sections of the college. While the logo itself may not be the greatest thing, there was a very strong reason for wanting to have a logo that brought everything together. I think the biggest problem and why everyone decided to state their opinion was misinformation. If it had been very clearly explained right away what the new logo was doing I feel it could have gone by unnoticed. Sure, some may still have called it ugly, but the public outcry would have been much less.

I find it more a shame that the University did not stick to their guns. I think they should have as the designers who made the logo were from the University. Personally if I were looking to apply to college and heard all of this I would think twice about applying there. I would feel like the design department was stepped on and not defended as it should have been. 

In the end, I think this whole debacle just hurt everyone and showed how misinformed people can be.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

getting underway

This exercise may extend beyond next Wednesday, but it’s a start.

something personal

We will be using the Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design throughout the semester, and hopefully will gain some familiarity with a good portion of the 500 examples/instances of design contained in it. But that's not enough, we’ll be making our own, extrapolating from their format, and extending the archive.

Select some object, designed or not, that meant a lot to you as a child (age 0-12, or so). Remember it, describe it. Measure it. Learn about it. Describe it. Document it. If from fallible memory, so be it. And, for Wednesday 23 January, develop a sheet on that item, same format as the Phaidon Archive sheets, two sides.


(appears to be metric)

sheet size   :   238mm w, 314mm h
column widths   :   10mm + gutter 4mm + 10mm
column height   :   283mm (measuring top rule to bottom rule)
margins   :   top 14mm, right and left 17mm, bottom 17mm
(check   :   14 + 17 + 283 = 314; 14 + 100 + 4 + 100 + 14 = 238)

font   :   Helvetica (10pt, approx, top info + body copy)

the uc.logo imbroglio, and design criticism.

For Wednesday 23 January, read:

  1. Christopher Simmons. The UC logo controversy: How 54,000 people, the mainstream press and virtually every designer got it wrong. posted 9 January 2013 at AIGA blog.
  2. and a better presentation (with visuals) of Simmons’s essay, at his own blog.
  3. Michael Bierut. Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport. posted 14 January 2013 at Design Observer.