It's getting closer! Here's a peek at my desktop and some teaser images from #18. Final files go to the printer on Monday and it will be printed in a few weeks. But hold your horses... physical printed copies won't be shipping until late June/early July. You can subscribe, though, in the meantime!
This is the opening statement for the paper-lover's extravaganza of a feature in the forthcoming issue of UPPERCASE magazine. Profiling 50 companies who create greeting cards, wrapping paper, stationery and all variety of paper goods, the UPPERCASE Stationery Guide is an excellent reference if you're a paperholic, have a retail shop and are looking for unique items or are an aspiring stationery designer looking to break into the industry.
The companies we've profiled are all part of the UPPERCASE family; the feature was created from an open call sent out on the website and via social media channels. Once again, the talent of our readers is amazing!
As a bonus to our subscribers, each subscriber copy will include an actual sample from one of the profiled companies. Greeting cards, bookmarks, letterpressed goodies... Erin and I were delighted as we opened each box that arrived at our door. I've photographed the samples to show you want you can expect to be hand-inserted into your subscriber copy. The following represent just a teaser of all the samples.
Just a small sampling of the amazing selection of what will be randomly included in your subscriber copy. Issue 17 is in print production and we're excited to ship this one out.
These free samples are only included for subscribers as of March 26—so subscribe or renew today to get this nice little bonus.
(Use the code "marchingrightalong" for a surprise discount at checkout. Click here to order!)
Thank you to Sandra, my SAIT intern for a week, who Photoshopped these images for me.
This guest post is by photographer Yvonne Rock.
Susan Connor (Susy Jack herself!) was probably the most outgoing and personable individual I met during the entire Unique NYC event (there was lots of giggling during our chat together) and her items are just as so.
With a background in painting, Susan went back to school for graphic design to create not-too-cute, not-too-formal stationery. Six years later, Susy Jack, in addition to prettily patterned paper goods, also carries a wide variety of other items—recipe boxes, kitchen towels, calendars, decorative clothespins, and the list goes on. She truly loves creating different types of items. It opens up a new world, enriches her and fulfills her joy of meeting new people.
LOVE LOVE LOVE by UPPERCASE The poster I designed in 2009 and sold via my website. It was designed by typing the word love with various pressures on my Royal typewriter and then scanning and enlarging the results. See the original blog post here.
LOVE LOVE LOVE by The Gap This week, Eleanor came to work wearing this shirt. This isn't a new shirt, she recalls purchasing it maybe three years ago which would place both designs to the same time period (and right when my posters were making the blog rounds). This design from The Gap uses various weights of the font Trixie.
What do you think? Creative coincidence or lazy knockoff? Love or no love for The Gap?
However this tshirt came to be, it is old news now. And that's the thing... it is so difficult to police your designs once they are out on the web and in the world. If Eleanor hadn't worn the shirt to work, I would have never seen this design so very similar to my own. In the course of design career, my work has been copied and blatantly ripped off a few times. Unfortunately, there has been a case quite recently where I could very obviously trace the path from my work directly to some other company's product. In fact, I could overlay their design onto my original and trace the similarities in fonts, angles and placement of elements—let alone that the overall impression of the design was that it looked like it was by UPPERCASE. I sent polite but firm letters to the offenders, consulted with a lawyer and was very disappointed with my lack of choices to see the wrongs made right. Ultimately, I decided that I could not commit the time, emotional energy or funds to pursue it and I had to just "let it go". But the disappointment lingers and I wonder how the infringement will affect my income. It is very hard to let it go.
NOT LETTING GO: ANOTHER TSHIRT TALE
Modern Dog is a Seattle-based design firm who is standing up to the big guys in another case of infringement on a tshirt. They have chosen to fight, at considerable expense and effort. In order to offset the costs, they have set up a website which accepts donations to help in their legal bills. I made a small donation to show my support.
Modern Dog writes: "Compelled to make things right, we entered into a lawsuit that is now a year in the making. If anyone had asked me a year ago if I thought this case would drag out for months, I would have said no. I naively believed that this case would be settled in a few weeks.
Boy, was I wrong.
We find ourselves in a battle with some of the biggest corporations in the world, and we have no idea how long and hard they intend to fight as they have seemingly unlimited resources. Our jury trial date is not until September 2013, in that time the process could easily bankrupt us. We need money to see this case go to trial; money for depositions, forensic accounting, expert witness testimonies, and other expenses related to the case.
In June of 2012, I made the decision to sell our Greenwood house, partly to reduce our overhead expenses, and partly to fund the lawsuit. I realize now that we are in it for the long haul. I cried the day I handed the new owners the keys, but I also felt a sense of relief because I knew that I personally would be able to help my company fight."
Please help the underdogs.
And do your part when it comes to respecting intellectual property. Know the difference between inspiration and infringement. Don't put images on Pinterest if you don't know who created them. Don't repin or post without attribution. Give credit where credit it due.
"Actually doing the things that I set out to do increases my level of satisfaction."
Stefan Sagmeister was likely the biggest draw for conference attendees since he does have that 'rockstar' graphic designer status. I have heard Sagmeister present twice before; the first was a great presentation about his first sabbatical from working. The second presentation he must have been seriously jet-lagged because it was a dull and sleepy talk. Third time was a charmer, as Sagmeister talked about The Happy Film and his clues to happiness and satisfaction.
Things that make Sagmeister happy:
• thinking about ideas and content freely — with the deadline far away
• traveling to new places
• using a wide variety of tools and techniques
• working on projects that matter to me
• having things come back from the printer done well
• designing a project that feels party brand new and partly familiar
• working without interruption on a single project
• getting feedback from people who see our work
"I do more of the things I like to do and fewer of the things I don't like."
I am very bad at predicting what will make me happy in the future. It's like going to a supermarket when you're hungry and you buy too much stuff.
Presenter tip: rather than imagining the audience naked, just start out by showing a picture of yourself naked.
Julia Hoffmann is MoMA's creative director. As the head of the in-house design team of 6 designers and some freelancers, she handles brand identity and exhibit graphics, advertising, signage, collateral, etc. I found her talk quite interesting since during my freelance years I did design work for much smaller cultural institutions such as the local opera as well as art galleries. Some points taken during her presentation:
They think of the opening graphics to an exhibition as mini brands or book covers to entice visitors into the gallery.
"First think, then design."
The MoMA considers other cultural institutions their "competitors".
"It is the spectators who make the pictures."
The MoMa typeface is a Gothic Display created in 2004 by Matthew Carter. It is based on Franklin Gothic. By using one typeface (with creative variations as shown above) the designers can focus on the content itself—and not have to have arguments with curators or artists about what typeface is most suitable for each unique exhibition.
Under the theme of 'design thinking', Julia shared a project that the museum undertook this past summer in an effort to get more American tourists to the MoMa. It was a project large in scope with outside consultants and multiple departments offering input. In the end, it was realized that "you can't be everything for everyone" and this red flag signalled a campaign destined to be ineffectual. What was missing in the failed project was "the gut"—there was too much analyzing, too many voices and opinions through committee to create a unified message. So though designing and thinking to various degrees are always necessary, you have to leave room for emotion, intuition and randomness. "We use the designing and thinking to rationalize our gut," Julia stated during her presentation.
Some other words of advice? Speak up and don't be shy when it comes to design. Question the brief... does it make sense? Challenge the vision of non-designers and ask them to trust you.
The relationship between client and designer is always a little bit of a dance.
Jake and Pum Lefebure are the husband and wife duo leading Design Army, a successful firm located in Washington, DC. The presentation was divided a bit like "his" and "hers". He takes care of business development, but it seems that she is in charge of the creative vision. A behind-the-scenes video showed the pair at a photoshoot, with Pum communicating the vision and attending to details and Jake with a coffee in hand, sometimes napping. It seems that they play this dynamic up for effect and judging from the caliber of their work, there are no slackers in the Design Army. Their style is a combination of highly art-directed stylized photography with boutique custom typography.
Design Army is active in promoting their firm and their partnership (mainly through styled photographs of themselves) published in DC lifestyle magazines and design journals. They are also advocates of entering their work in design annuals and claim to get a lot of new business through the exposure. They believe that if you exert the effort and cover the cost of producing great imagery for use by the media, it will pay off in free publicity because many publications are looking for quality images under time and budget constraints. As a publisher, I would agree with this statement—though the glamorous, styled image that Design Army projects isn't the UPPERCASE aesthetic, I do look for high quality images.
• Clear, succinct, informative writing
• Object photos are well-lit on a simple backdrop (white is nice) or shown in-situ
• Illustration previews as good scans or as jpg files
• Intriguing workspaces that show the creative process
• Photos of the artist or artisan either against a simple backdrop or shown in his/her studio
• High resolution image files easily available through a provided link (i.e. don't send or email high res images without asking!)
• All relevant (working!) links and contact information
Please also follow the submission guidelines here. >>>