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The best of the month includes:

> How do we decide?
> A must-have for your graphic design toolbox: Color Scheme Designer
> The art of presenting for graphic designers

And much more...Enjoy! Chuck Green

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The mark of a good designer: anonymity

This post from the faceoutbooks.com blog points to a dramatic book cover Timothy Goodman designed for Scribner. Take a look and then take a few minutes to browse his portfolio--he does some nice work.

What really strikes me is how different (generally speaking) one piece is from the next. I know I harp on this but I really do think it is one or the fundamental qualities of a good designer--someone who is able to get so absorbed in the client's need that they are able to shed their own identity.

Goodman's cover...
http://faceoutbooks.com/filter/Typography#13851

A closeup...
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_amfWuEQNIWY/SdDppvcXAhI/AAAAAAAAAu0/LBBqeUluTKs/s1600-h/02_Front_Back.jpg

The designer's portfolio...
http://tgoodman.com/

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Can design save the newspaper?

Our local newspaper (The Richmond Times Dispatch) laid off 59 employees yesterday. One in a long series of recent reports that would have you believe that nothing can save the newspapers.

Nonsense. To my way of thinking, the reason this and so many other newspapers are struggling is not simply from "a loss of advertising revenue," "changes in the classified market place," and "the difficult economic environment." What is killing newspapers is an extraordinary lack of creativity. Extraordinary because unlike other institutions that continually reinvent themselves to remain relevant to their audiences, city newspapers (generally speaking) seem to be paralyzed by their legacy.

The lords of news and knowledge need to wake up. We are in the midst of a fundamental shift in the control and distribution of knowledge. A kid with a computer in a remote corner of the planet can monitor a lecture at MIT. And I can sit in my chair and navigate my way, block by block, through the streets of Paris. To imagine that a publication, designed, written, produced, and delivered in much the same way it was 20 years ago, can continue to flourish, is not short sighted, it's blind.

Shutting down creativity is a destructive reaction to success. Instead of continuing to innovate--the very thing that lead to our initial success--we often cling to our original notions. Instead of devoting the research and resources necessary to take the next step we opt to carefully, cautiously, incrementally dabble around the edges of the old ideas--at times, beyond all good reason.

I have no doubt innovators in the newspaper business will survive and thrive. The resulting product may have little resemblance to the newspaper of today but a reinvented model that capitalizes on what works and lets go of what doesn't will surely emerge. It will come from those who, rather than fight the profound technological shift we are witness to, recognize how lucky we are to be living at such a seminal time in history and jump in head first.

The pursuit of making the world a better place is what makes life such a blessing. I find a real glimmer of hope in discussions such as these:

From a recent talk at TED: Can design save the newspaper?...
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jacek_utko_asks_can_design_save_the_newspaper.html

About reinventing newspaper classifieds...
http://www.reinventingclassifieds.com/2008/07/07/bill-ostendorf-redesigning-and-saving-printed-newspaper-classifieds/

The local story. Could this web site be any more nondescript?
http://www.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/local/article/richmond_times-dispatch_eliminates_31_open_positions_and_lays_off_59_employ/247352/

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Design comedy

On his blog, you can view the photograph of Daniel Will-Harris--hands clasped across his forehead--as an artsy portrait of an urbane intellectual, or the final attempt of a defeated soul to keep his brain from exploding. Whichever you presume, I encourage you to read this laugh-out-loud design review of what Daniel crowns the worst of all hotel web sites.

Bad design at a design conference...
http://frickingenius.blogspot.com/2009/04/bad-design-at-design-conference.html

More...
http://www.schmoozeletter.com/

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Screen-to-screen navigation

Here's another version of the "infinite canvas" idea articulated by Scott McCloud. This time, we move screen-to-screen, box-to-box. I just wish I could isolate and point you to a specific frame--that, to me, is the big negative of Flash development.

Hawaiian Modern, The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff...
http://www.honoluluacademy.org/ossipoff/

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The death of DOS word processing and the birth of WYSIWYG

I happened on a site this week that caused me to glance back at the road behind us. It is tempting to always be looking forward, but a dose of history from time to time doesn't hurt. The page I point you to offers the reflections of a man who ran THE most successful software company of its day--Pete Peterson and WordPerfect.

There are many points to be made about marketing, program development, competition in the industry and so on, but what I recall most by my encounter is the dramatic transition between the stark, code-like programs of the DOS era and the what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) programs of today.

Want to feel really old? Did you use any of the original versions of these: WordStar, Ami Pro, MultiMate, DisplayWrite, WordPerfect.

Almost Perfect...
http://www.wordplace.com/ap/index.shtml

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An all-encompassing design project

Here is an interesting case study of how industrial design firm Kerr & Co. teamed up with Hahn Smith Design to create a new line of Gourmet Settings utensils that could stand out in Costco's bare-bones retail environment.

I find it particularly interesting to contemplate being involved in the entire cycle--identifying the audience and distribution point, developing the product, and then marketing it appropriately. As you know, communication designers are typically involved with just one or two steps of the process.

The Gourmet Settings Case Study (860KB PDF)...
http://www.hahnsmithdesign.com/HSD_IDSA_GOLD.pdf

A better view of the work begins of page 29 of the Hahn Smith Design Capabilities Brochure (8.5MB PDF)...
http://www.hahnsmithdesign.com/HSD1059_Capabilities_2009.pdf

Hahn Smith Design's web...
http://www.hahnsmithdesign.com/

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New in the ideabook.com store: The Web Designer's Idea Book

I did not write this book--but I sure wish I had. As someone who actively searches the Web for great design, I can testify to the thousands of hours it must have taken Patrick McNeil (of DesignMeltdown.com) to locate, categorize, and assemble such a large cross-collection of superior web ideas. Simply having a snapshot of these hundreds of sites at this time in the history of the Web is well worth the price.

The Web Designer's Idea Book by Patrick McNeil...
http://www.ideabook.com/the_web_designers_idea_book_th.html

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How do we decide?

If I could promise you that for a mere $500 I could explain how (literally) the brain works to make decisions, would you pay it? I would. But here it is, an entertaining little book that purports to reveal at least some of the answers so many marketers seek--for less than the cost of a modest restaurant meal.

Here is the fascinating interview that introduced me to Jonah Lehrer and How We Decide and The rational rider atop an elephant.

With Robert Krulwich at the Strand Bookstore in New York...
http://www.booktv.org/watch.aspx?ProgramId=FV-10233

Lehrer at the 2008 AIGA Business and Design Conference: Why the Sciences Need Art: Or, What a 19th-Century French Chef Can Teach Us About the Brain...
http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/video-gain-2008-lehrer

Frontal Cortex is his blog on scienceblogs.com...
http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/

Jonah Lehrer's web...
http://www.jonahlehrer.com/home

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I'm posting an occasional tweet on Twitter

General design topics...
http://www.twitter.com/ideabook

For Adobe InDesign users...
http://www.twitter.com/indesignstorm

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Do you use Adobe InDesign? Be sure to read this.


It is easy to underestimate the dimensions of the communities that exist to support and promote individual software products. I created a Twitter page in March to share tidbits about InDesign (Adobe's desktop publishing program) and, in doing so, have met hundreds (on Twitter alone) who have a similar interest in its workings.

In the course of my research I have been tracking down the experts--authors, trainers, and InDesign insiders. If you are a fan of InDesign, allow me to introduce you to some folks who have a similar passion.

Meet Rufus Deuchler, Adobe's Senior Worldwide Evangelist for Creative Solutions (by chance, the first follower of the indesignstorm twitter page!)...
http://blogs.adobe.com/rufus/

Meet Michael Ninness, Adobe's Senior Product Manager, InDesign...
http://www.adobe.com/designcenter/indesign/articles/lrvid4025_id.html

Meet Bob Bringhurst, Adobe's Senior Technical Writer for InDesign...
http://blogs.adobe.com/indesigndocs/

Meet David Blatner, editorial director of InDesign Magazine and author of (among other titles) Real World InDesign CS4...
http://www.63p.com/

Meet Michael Murphy, author and InDesign Certified Expert...
http://www.theindesigner.com/

Meet Anne-Marie "HerGeekness" Concepcion, author, trainer, and consultant...
http://www.senecadesign.com/

Meet Pariah S. Burke, author, speaker, trainer, and host of quarkvsindesign.com...
http://iampariah.com/

Here is the InDesign Brain-Storm Twitter page...
http://twitter.com/indesignstorm

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Creativity is not a stage of life, it is a mindset.

I don't know where or when it began, but there is a terrible misconception lurking out there that creativity has something to do with youth. While younger people might seem to be more creative (perhaps because they are less encumbered by established rules)--I can't imagine any thinking person would actually try to claim that ground.

If you need proof, you have only to examine the 65-year career of one of the world's most talented and prolific designers--Milton Glaser. Now in his 80th year he seems (to me) every bit as bold and interesting as he did during his days at Pushpin Studios in the 1950s and 60s. He was an innovator then and he is an innovator now.

What gets me on this rant is when I talk to a designer--sometimes as young as 40 or 50--who seems to think their creativity is somehow used up. Ridiculous. To me, what they have misplaced is their appreciation of the craft--the privilege of participating in the exploration of new ideas and projects--and the joy of helping others to communicate them.

Whether you're designing a brochure for an industrial manufacturer or a web site for a leading edge start up, it is entirely up to you whether your work is drudgery or grace.

A sampling of Glaser's work...
http://www.miltonglaser.com/index2.html

Some of his iconic posters...
http://www.miltonglaserposters.com/index2.html

As Glaser explains it, "The possibility for learning never disappears..."
http://www.hillmancurtis.com/index.php?/film/watch/milton_glaser/

I laughed out loud when I found a press release dated April 21, 2009 extolling Glaser's his latest project--he remains "on the case..."
http://www.botanistseries.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=4

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Insight on perception from design industry icons

What strikes me about this collection of interviews is not only how different the disciplines of illustration, communication design, and fine art are (they are all represented here), but how differently each person sees himself and his craft. (I particularly like what Michael Lebowitz has to say about the fundamental changes we are in the midst of.)

Passion is the genesis of genius...
http://icon01.com/

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Meet illustrator Chris Gall

Love how each of Chris Gall's idyllic, rich illustrations tells a story.

Example 1...
http://www.workbook.com/static/artist/3093/thumbs_large/03557480539297738108.jpg

Example 2...
http://www.workbook.com/static/artist/3093/thumbs_large/07739179005028494077.jpg

Example 3 (Beautiful lighting)...
http://www.workbook.com/static/artist/3093/thumbs_large/16984337880470192360.jpg

Example 4 (Interesting contrast between the background and foreground)...
http://www.workbook.com/static/artist/3093/thumbs_large/11166123500800874786.jpg

Example 5...
http://www.workbook.com/static/artist/3093/thumbs_large/12131159117656024424.jpg

Chris Gall's site...
http://www.chrisgall.com/

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The art of presenting for graphic designers

When new designers ask for advice, I tell them to master their presentation skills:

"If your presentation skills are weak, you must improve them. Not should--must. Today, as you are reading this page, there are thousands of truly brilliant ideas being generated in the minds of timid people. They will never see the light of day because the artists are unable to sell them--they are too nervous, too intimidated, or simply lack the skills to communicate their ideas with clarity and enthusiasm."

Graphicology.com has produced an excellent series of interviews with industry pros (in PDF form) that speak about the art of presenting.

Nigel Holmes, Principle of Explanation Graphics (PDF -150KB)...
http://www.garageadvertising.com/blogimages/feb07/Presenting_NigelHolmes.pdf

Debbie Millman, Managing Partner, Sterling Brands (PDF -150KB)...
http://garageadvertising.com/blogimages/oct06/Presenting_DebbieMillman.pdf

Sally Hogshead, Creative Consultant (PDF -150KB)...
http://www.garageadvertising.com/blogimages/dec06/Presenting_SallyHogshead.pdf

Peter Coughter, Jr., Owner, Coughter & Company; Professor, VCU Adcenter (PDF -150KB)...
http://www.graphicology.com/storage/article-images/Presenting_PeterCoughter.pdf

Bart Cleveland, Creative Director, McKee Wallwork Cleveland (PDF -150KB)...
http://www.garageadvertising.com/blogimages/jan07/Presenting_BartCleveland.pdf

And, you'll find others listed in the right-hand column on Graphicology.com...
http://www.graphicology.com/

My post "Advice for new designers"...
http://www.ideabook.com/tutorials/1_view/advice_for_a_new_designer.html

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A must-have for your graphic design toolbox: Color Scheme Designer

This elegant tool by Czech designer Petr Stanicek allows you to create color schemes using monochromatic, complementary (contrast), triad (soft contrast), tetrad (double-contrast), analogic, and accented analogic models. It also offers presets, adjustments, reporting, and even simulates various forms of color vision deficiency. (via a mention by Jim Dudley through LinkedIn)

The Color Scheme Designer...
http://colorschemedesigner.com/

Petr Stanicek's site...
http://pixy.cz/index-en.html

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Looking for a prior issue of the Design Links Briefing?

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs014/1101422979778/archive/1102457030824.html

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About the briefing


I try to remain as objective as possible about the information I share here. Unless otherwise stated, I receive no compensation from the organizations and people mentioned except for occasional product samples.

Comments? Suggestions? Write me at chuckgreen@ideabook.com

> Chuck