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Arming ourselves with the design and communication skills necessary to bring about positive change. Advertising. Graphic Design. Industrial Design. Environmental Design. Automotive Design.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

something for nothing

Here's an article about a little phenomenon that has been popping up lately in advertising.
  • Who needs ad creatives?
  • It comes from Ad Rag, a website that posts different discussions about advertising-related topics. This subject has really been getting at me lately, but I'd like to hear your opinions about using customers for free, or near-free, advertising.

    Side note. Here's a piece that I did recently for a proposal. Basically, the company would sponsor an art show for students and local artists and then distribute the proceeds to the art community and local schools. It appears mutually beneficial, but is this the same as what's happening in the article above?

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005


    I've been really fascinated by architecture lately. I notice that when I walk into a building or room where the space has really been taken into consideration, I feel an ability to breathe, to think, for ideas to be absorbed, that I don't find in less-though-out areas. I have a few friends who have recently decided to become architects and I wanted to learn as much as I could about it.

    As I started to do research, I began to realize how inter-disciplinary the field really is. It's not nearly enough to simply learn to make buildings. If you are going to create a structure, you must first have a grasp of artistic theories. Theories of contrast and space, theories of color, perspective, line quality, balance. You must understand the fundamentals of mathematics and physics to ensure that your structure be self standing and withstand the elements. You must be a master of materials, both traditional and modern and understand their affect on your design. You must understand the history of buildings of the past and compensate for buildings to come. You must be aware of the social implications your building will suggest, as well a thorough understanding of what it will be used for. You must understand philosophy. Will your structure reflect minimalism or post-structuralism? An architect must grasp both the theory and practice to achieve greatness. Vitruvious, one of the first writers of the architectural process wrote; "He who is theoretic as well as practical is therefore doubly armed; able not only to prove the propriety of his design, but equally so to carry it in to execution."

    Why the divergence into architecture? Architecture is public access. It is open to the scrutiny of anyone who experiences its presence. It is ubiquitous, and, unless inspiring or beautiful, overlooked. Does any of this sound familiar? Does it feel like it should be familiar? Do you think any of these things as you design?

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    less is more or less more

    This blog is starting to inherit some of the same characteristics of my written journal. Sparse, unfinished, inconclusive. Maybe my lack of consistent writing is a reflection of a personality trait that I am seeking to apply to more and more areas of my life: minimalism. Although I wouldn't say that a seemingly random selection of entry dates constitutes true minimalism, it does fall in line with my desire to get rid of the excess.

    This weekend was a particularly cleansing one for me. No enemas or colonics to speak of. I, however, sold 13 items to Pibb's Exchange Saturday, and I had two more bags full of clothes for Name Droppers. I began to filter through my room next, finding anything that I could throw out or give away. Fortunately, I went through this process when I left my parents house, so the reduction wasn't extensive. The next areas of clutter genocide: my mind and daily routine. Looking back at some of the previous entries, I notice a pattern of no pattern at all. Sure I have a fairly consistent hygiene routine, work routine, even play routine; but my thoughts are often disparate and even combative.

    Before I get into my plan for organizing myself mentally, allow me to explain minimalism as I see it (please offer your views if you find mine lacking). Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe uses the term "Less is More," and I believe this the source for why minimalism is successful. Less allows the more to function. Less is the bare stone walls that allows the single colored wall to alter the mood of a room. Less is the public transportation that allows a large city to run smoothly. Less is the writing, void of fluff, that allows the poet to express deeper meaning through fewer words. Minimalism is packaging intelligence, creativity, efficiency, and passion into a single streamlined package. It's A drop of water, a banana, a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water.

    Minimalism is not sluggish, excessive, loud, or single in purpose. It is the Ducati Monster, naked in its appearance, openly revealing the absolute essentials. It is not a Harley Fat Boy, flourished in chrome with the muffler chopped. It is the ipod which houses years of music, images, and documents, recallable at the slide of a finger, that hides in your pocket. It is not you thousand-c.d. collecion which takes up an entire wall of your apartment.

    Let's ponder this last comparison for a bit, shall we. It may seem that most of my examples so far are capitalistic in nature. As I have said earlier, this is the truth of our society, and the only way to truly change it is through the front door with better ideas than existed in the past. I the case of ipods and c.d.s, you can call me a leader of sheep for championing the expensive devise, but I truly believe in its possibilities. Imagine the end of all c.d.s. We are at a place in time where this is not only possible, it is the more intelligent alternative. All music, all album artwork can now be downloaded. If everyone were to convert to downloading music to their ipods as opposed to purchasing c.d.s, we could eliminate thousands of tons of plastic and paper waste annually. The c.d. itself, the jewell cases, the booklets, the plastic sealing, the security devices, the shipping material, paperwork, in-store displays, paper receipts; all could be eliminated.

    Now you may counter: This will take away the jobs of the c.d. makers, jewell case makers, booklet designers, paper producers, plastic industry moguls, c.d. security laboratory heads, U.P.S. brown uniform seamstresses, box makers, in-store display cutter-outers, and most obviously, the snobs at the music store who tell you your taste in music is immature. I rebut: This is progress. This is sustainability, this is thinking of the future of resources and making a small dent in preserving them.

    Let's extend this to the movie industry. There is no need for DVD's. All of the processes aforementioned apply to DVD's. All visual and audio entertainment can be housed in portable and stationary hard drives. A step further? There's no need for us to even have hard drives for our audio-visual needs. Everything could be purchased, stored, and retrieved from central servers. All we would need are the devices to recover our information. This would eliminate the need to purchase again and again costly hard drives to store our insatiable need for entertainment. Another step further? This is particularly out there as I happen to love the current system. But apply this to books. I realize this requires improved devices for readability, but potentially, all new books and already printed editions could be placed on a central server. I know that this is a huge stretch. But if you want to make a change, you have to look far into the future for the ideas to begin the change today.

    Why the sudden divergence from the field of design? Well, I don't really see it as a off-point at all. The truest design consists of only the essential elements. I've been reading, on and off, "Hey Whipple, Squeeze This." There's a section that really hit me.

    Hold on...

    Some dumb shit at the table next to me is describing the tattoo he's going to get. A majestic eagle, gracefully snatching an enormous trout out of a glinting stream, back-dropped by an unfurling American flag, topped off with the family crest. Stunning. Truly stunning.

    Back to work. Hey Whipple. There's a section talking about what to put in to an ad and what to take out. You start with a typical ad: Pretty picture, Headline, body copy, logo, company info. Now take out what you don't need. Do you have to have the body copy? The Logo? Phone number, web site? Do you need to have a picture, or is your headline strong to stand alone? Or the other way around. Do you need tons of color, or will it be stronger with a single swash of red? better yet, can it survive in black and white? Can you reduce your headline to a sentence, three words, one? Can your photograph be reduced to a symbol. You get the point.

    So much could be solved if we were to train ourselves to think in terms or reduction rather than collection. Can you fit your entire life in a car? On the back of your motorcycle? On your back? In your wallet? Everything material is distraction. How much time and money do you spend on your car? You spend $20,000 on a new car, $1,500 on tax and titling, 4% interest, get it tinted, new wheels, you clean it weekly, fill it with gas. You buy air fresheners for it, get the oil changed, regular tune-ups, INSURE it. You pay for parking tickets, speeding tickets, meters and parking garages. You fix flats, and squeegee the windows. Why? How many hours a year do you spend on your car. I'm talking the hours you work to pay it off, everything you do to keep it running, and the little extras. I would put serious money down that it takes up more than a quarter of your waking life.

    A quarter of your life to a losing battle. Simply imagine what you could do with that time. T.V.? I won't get started again, but a professor of mine once computed that if the average American were to spend his time pursuing educational endeavors rather than watching t.v., he could have four doctorate degrees by the age of fifty. I guess the only thing that would do is make more obvious how stupid people really are.

    I'm done. I'm making myself frustrated. Think about it. Please.