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Thirty-five years ago I quit my job and traveled around the United States for a few months. I was lucky to do it when I did because I saw the country before it was fully homogenized. In those days I remember each town as having it's own look and feel because each had its own store brands and (seemingly) a better sense of its history.

Today, the big brands and franchises have all but taken over. Beyond geography, I'm hard-pressed to distinguish one town from the next. Many localities, in an effort to modernize, have erased all of the cues that one made them different. I'm not saying that's necessarily bad - lots of entities lost the battle because they weren't providing adequate products and services - I'm merely saying it's different.

My point is this: I can't help but think that the change affords designers a unprecedented opportunity. To help public and private organizations re-cast their identities and spaces in ways that draw on some combination of their historical, geographical, regional, ethnic, and philosophical distinctions.

In the future I believe branding clients and their organizations with generic solutions just isn't going to cut it. To survive and thrive we're going to need to identify, highlight, and celebrate individuality.

Be well, Chuck


Have you seen my InDesign Ideabook? 

315 template files in 19 different categories -- Everything from brochures, newsletters, and direct mail to packaging, calendars, and books (one CD works with both Mac and PC). Use two or three files and you'll pay for the entire book and disc...

For Adobe InDesign Here or For QuarkXPress  Here 

Meet illustrator Lou Beach

Lou Beach uses collage and assemblage to tell stories. He's been around for a long time creating editorial and commercial work.

Last year Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published 420 CHARACTERS, a book of short fiction pieces. (420 references the one-time 420 character limitation of a Facebook post.)

Example 1... Here 

Example 2... Here

Example 3... Here 

Lou Beach's website... Here

Beach is the author of 420 CHARACTERS... Here

An interview with Beach about his book... Here

Do analytics have a stifling effect on creativity?

Seth Godin points us to an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal: Your E-Book Is Reading You, Digital-book publishers and retailers now know more about their readers than ever before. How that's changing the experience of reading.

Telling people what they want to hear is nothing new. The precise science of mentally and emotionally serving up exactly what they desire is. I like the idea of understanding how to meet people's needs and to provide products and services that suite them. But I'm not crazy about the idea of perfecting everything to fit within the clearly defined wants of the market.

That, to me, would seem to narrow the amount of energy that is devoted to produce new ways of doing things or ways of doing things that the majority doesn't much like. Isn't it often the counterintuitive and rebellious ideas that end up producing the most powerful impact?

Research and analytics have their place, but let's not lose the spontaneity of trial and error - it is a core principle of the creative process.

From the Wall Street Journal: Your E-Book Is Reading You... Here 

An accompanying video clip... Here 

Seth Godin's insight... Here 

Seth's latest book: We Are All Weird... Here

About books and the future of print: either/or versus and/also

Here's a thoughtful documentary filmmaker Hanah Ryu Chung describes as, "A humble exploration of the world of print".

"I hope", she explains, "for the film to stir thought and elicit discussion about the immersive reading experience and the lost craft of the book arts, from the people who are still passionate about reading on paper as well as those who are not."

Thanks to Janine Vangool at UPPERCASE magazine for pointing us to it.

Epilogue, The future of print... Here

The documentary website... Here 

An earlier post about UPPERCASE magazine...  Here

Have you collected your free week of Lynda.com?

To me, it is THE venue for learning how to use all of the top design-oriented software programs and for discovering more about the design business and its community.

Click here for a 7-day free trial to lynda.com Here 

The importance of graphic design in communicating complex concepts

Alex Knapp of Forbes estimates the cost thus far of finding a particle consistant with that of a Higgs boson has cost the world $13.25 billion. The problem is that explaining the significance of the discovery is almost as complex as explaining an annuitized life insurance plan - 99.9 percent of us don't even understand what we don't understand about it.

THAT is the ultimate challenge of graphic design. To use words and imagery to break ideas into pieces that are digestible to the audience they are designed to address.

I like these links on two levels. First, I'm curious about the importance and ramifications of the Higgs boson discovery and in seeing how designers, writers, scientists, and others are going about communicating this highly complex event.

If CERN spokesperson Joseph Incandela's statement, "We're reaching into the fabric of the universe," doesn't capture your interest, I'd like to know what does.

The announcement from CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research): The discovery of a particle consistent with a Higgs bison... Here

From PhdComics.com: The Higgs Boson Explained by Jorge Cham... Here

From HowStuffWorks.com: What exactly is the Higgs boson? By Jonathan Atteberry... Here 

From ScientificAmerican.com: What Is the Higgs Boson? By George Musser... Here 

From MinutePhysics.com: The Higgs Boson, Part I... Here

From NationalGeographic.com: The big science of the very small... Here 

From my Facebook and Twitter conversations...

Here's a good one: My friend Diane Cook-Tench is the founding director at the VCU Brandcenter, clearly one of the most influential University-level adverting programs anywhere. She is a smart, respected pro who knows as much about the business and practice of advertising as anyone -- the big picture AND the micro-details. Go over and "Like" her new page and standby for what I suspect will be good stuff. Here 

I've started a list of deterrent phraseology: "We mean business," "Free face painting," "Friendly, knowledgeable staff," "All you can eat," "We think outside the box"

It's time to rework our design workflows for Retina-like display resolution

The good news is high definition imagery is approaching the highest definition the human eye can articulate. The bad news is, the next step is going to be a painful one.

Why? Because, for the next generation of high definition devices, most everything we're designing today is going to need to be produced at a higher resolution.

I didn't really pay much attention to this until my son Rob brought his new MacBook Pro by the other night for me to drool over (no worries - no actual drool).

He showed me that when you view conventional web pages and typical applications on the MacBook Pro's super high resolution Retina display, it looks a little fuzzy. Yes, fuzzy.

That's because the most of the images created for websites are not high enough resolution to display with their normal clarity. I'm not saying they look terrible, I'm saying, if you look closely, you'll notice a very slight blur (there are some simulations of this in the links below).

And that points to a very significant issue for designers as we go forward. To produce images that look good on the next generation of high definition displays, the formula for graphics will have to change. Actually it already is, it's just that not a lot of designers have adopted the newly changing standards.

I'm not telling you this because I have an easy fix - I'm telling you this because the issue needs to be on your radar. The following articles explain the issue from various points of view and point to some developing workflows.

Peter Svensson writes... First Look: New MacBook screen is epiphany... Here

From Mashable.com... New iPad's Retina Display Reduces Eye Strain, Expert Say by Peter Pachal... Here

From Apple support... MacBook Pro: Frequently asked questions about using a Retina display... Here 

The differences... Here 

Thomas Fuchs made a splash recently with this article... Flowchart: how to retinafy your website... Here 

From bjango.com... Designing for Retina display... Here 

And... Designing for Retina display, part two... Here 

Learn about storytelling from the masters of storytelling

Copywriting is storytelling - so when I saw an article that talked about how the folks at Pixar tell stories, my radar went up. It's interesting to contemplate how many of these rules apply to graphic design and copywriting.

Pixar Story Rules... Here

Emma Coats' website... Here 

A couple of books about Pixar practices: Innovate the Pixar Way: Business Lessons from the World's Most Creative Corporate Playground by Bill Capodagli... Here

The Pixar Touch by David A. Price... Here



What are the most popular typefaces? 

Here's Myfonts' current TOP 50... Here

About this newsletter

I try to remain as objective as possible about the information I share here. Unless I tell you otherwise, I receive no compensation from the organizations and people mentioned except for occasional product samples. I am an affiliate of Lynda.com and MyFonts.com -- that means, if you purchase something from them, I get a small commission. Comments? Suggestions? Write me at [email protected] -- Chuck Green