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Most graphic design magazines and books rely heavily on "creampuff" projects--stuff for multi-billion dollar corporations and skateboard park coffee houses. The former have design budgets equal to the GNP of mid-sized countries, the latter award extra points for the pseudo-extreme.

In reality, most graphic designers work with clients who simply want a smart solution at a reasonable price. (I found out early on that most of my clients were not as interested in my quest for self expression as they were their own quest for remaining solvent.)

(Haha...someone reminded me of my writing this as part of a review of Jeff Fisher's Identity Crisis--it is a book about real organizations and realistic solutions. Unfortunately though, the situation has improved.)

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 

For QuarkXPress  Here 

The art of food photography--with a smart phone camera

In 2013 a camera is an appendage for most of us. It is almost always at hand, costs little or nothing to use, and increasingly, it is becoming a powerful tool for marketing.

This piece from the Wall Street Journal looks at how restaurants are encouraging customers to take photographs of their meals for the purpose of advertising.

It got me looking for advice about perfecting food photography-much of which translates well to the smart phone camera.

From the Wall Street Journal: Waiter, a Pretty Steak, Please, Restaurants Offer Perks to Diners Who Post Photos of Their Meals...  Here 

From National Geographic: Photographing Food...  Here 

From SAVEUR Magazine: Todd Coleman's Food Photography Tips...  Here 

How the pros do it: Jennifer Joyce...  Here 

Laura Fyfe...  Here 

Mari Mereid Williams...  Here 

A quick look at an effective poster design

This poster for Starbucks caught my eye. Why?

1. It drew me in. The large circle and then the white circle within a circle is almost a target. It led my eye to the message the poster is meant to communicate: riding a bike.

2. It juxtaposes nostalgia with modernism. The the modern layout with bold shapes and the smooth, extra-condensed typeface make it unexpected.

3. It uses shapes for emphasis. Note how the designer repeats the shape of the wheel. I particularly like the cropping of the large photograph-wheels within wheels.

4. It uses color in a literal way. I like how the poster is a half-filled cup of coffee.

5. It uses multiple types of images to add interest. There's the small, full-color (big) apple, the straight black and white photo, the high-contrast, diagram-like image of the smaller bike, the distressed, coffee-colored overlay, and the isolated logo.

Describe pic link...  Here 

More pieces of the Starbucks Ride Share campaign...  Here 

The IAAH website...  Here 

Learn virtually any software program...

I recommend A huge library of top-quality, design-oriented tutorials. Click here for a 7-day free trial.  Here 

Graphic designers: Who makes the creative tools you use?

If you're a designer who uses an application like Photoshop or Premiere Pro, you can appreciate the amazing technologies these programs equip you with.

This software and super-sophisticated programs like Pixar's Renderman are built using ideas developed, in part, by networks of researchers and scientists working recruited by corporations and universities.

Today, a look at one little-known (to most of us) organization that is contributing to the development of many type of future tools-Disney Research.

Research Areas at Disney...  Here 

A demonstration of some recent advances in "seam-based com­pos­it­ing"...  Here 

An example of the type of folks who work at Disney Research: This is the personal page of Ivan Poupyrev, Dr. a Senior Research Scientist...  Here 

Poupyrev is one of Fast Company magazine's 100 Most Creative People of 2013...  Here 

Top of the heap creative tool? You've got to think it's Renderman...  Here 

A cool studio table idea...  Here 
I purchased Canon EOS Rebel T4i Digital Camera...
With 18-135mm Lens a few months ago. It's a terrific tool that I recommend heartily.  Here

UI as an emotional framework

For years, the marketing community has been criticized for the mere notion of subliminal messaging. Yet, that idea pales in comparison to the way consumers are researched, prodded, corralled, and branded in 2013.

Haha... most, I think, would not be comforted to hear two of the folks from Google's Android Apps team describe how developers should view the user. They present a kind of "emotional framework" (my term) for UI design that employs principles such as "touch their hearts," "sprinkle encouragement," and "only show what I need when I need it."

Is it just me or does it sound somewhat foreboding?

Enchant, Simplify, Amaze...  Here 

A good idea often seems obvious: an example

To me, a good idea seems so obvious. But would this have occurred to someone who was not so comfortable seeing life through a lens? Kudos to photographer Tom Hussey.

The story...  Here 

The images...  Here 

An interesting creative collaboration

Here's an interesting collaboration between a client (Steamworks Brewing), a design firm (Brandever), and two illustrators (James Ng and Michael Halbert).

Scratchboard Illustration for Steamworks Beer Label...  Here 

The project overview...  Here 

The Brandever website...  Here 

James Ng's website...  Here 

Michael Halbert's website...  Here 

I pointed to Halbert's wonderful collection of tutorials back in 2007...  Here 

What is "steampunk"...  Here 

Does your client's competition understand the systems, networks, data sources, and options better than you do?

When you share content in an online social network, who is listening?

That is the question posed (and answered in part) by a paper on the publications page of the Stanford HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) Group publications page. That paper, titled, "Quantifying the Invisible Audience in Social Networks," is the product of HCI and scientists from Facebook's own Facebook Data Science team.

Why point to it?

Because it offers some good insights, in particular about Facebook, but also, it and the links below are an important reminder of how much marketing, advertising, and graphic design is now and will be, directed by data.

By that I mean, we can't afford to operate in the vacuum of yesterday's research models and professional intuition. Does your client's competition understand the systems, networks, data sources, and options better than you do? We should be concerned.

Quantifying the Invisible Audience in Social Networks (292KB PDF)  Here 

From Buzzfeed: The Number Facebook Doesn't Want You To See...  Here 

From TechCrunch: Facebook Engineer Fires Back At BuzzFeed: Users Don't Care How Many People View Their Posts...  Here 

From MIT Technology Review: What Facebook Knows...  Here 

Facebook Data Science...  Here 

The Stanford HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) Group...  Here 

If you use this link to buy your type from, 
You won't pay any more but I'll get a kickback and will be one step closer to getting that English manor house.  Here 

From a user interface standpoint, 
I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to give readers lots of choices. Especially after they have chosen a link within your site.

By that I mean, if you know what I'm looking for (based on what I just clicked on), don't present me with five new choices--give me what I asked for. Links can be looked at as providing the reader with options or as distracting them from the business at hand. I think, when you just throw up lots of options, you risk sending the signal that you don't know (or care) why I'm 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 and -- that means, if you purchase something from them, I get a small commission. Comments? Suggestions? Write me at [email protected] -- Chuck Green