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Trashing Your Brand Part II: The Komen Foundation

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Susan G. Komen For the Cure

Over the past thirty years, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation built a strong reputation fighting for women’s health. The institution’s looped pink ribbon became an ubiquitous symbol, finding its way onto American Airlines jets, Ford cars, Dell computers, and Yoplait yogurt. But a sudden withdrawal of financing from Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening threw the previously neutral brand into a vicious cultural debate. To most observers, Komen was putting politics ahead of women’s health. Under immense pressure, the organization apologized and reversed their decision a week later, agreeing to continue funding grants. But the damage was done and a once powerful brand has been badly tarnished.

Creating Annotated Screenshots the Easy Way

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How-to Easily Create Annotated Screenshots for Clients

As a web developer who creates custom content management solutions for clients, it can sometimes be difficult for our clients to remember everything we teach them during website training sessions. Often I receive minor questions after the session via email. If you’ve ever tried to explain step-by-step how to perform a certain task within a computer program through a plain text email, you know how difficult that can be.

Since I do this often for clients, I’ve found a system that is incredibly useful and allows me to show detailed instructions on how to use their web-based content management system software very quickly and easily. To use my method, in addition to having a Mac, you only need three things: read on

Designing with Less, Part I: Paper

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Did you know that fifty thousand trees are cut down to print the New York Times every day? Wait, that can’t be right. The fact is, I haven’t a clue how many trees it takes. I don’t even know where one would find that sort of information. For all I know, it could take just one tree, but at three hundred sixty-five times a year, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that more trees are used than we care to admit. Even if it did take just one tree to print one issue of any newspaper, that would still be pretty hard to swallow. It makes me sad.

As a graphic designer, I create a lot of waste. In spite of that fading phenomenon know as the web, many of the projects I work on are multiple-page print documents. Flyers, brochures, and magazines—they don’t look or feel the same on screen as they do in your hand, and they never will. Designers review each and every layout many times, in addition to presenting alternative layouts to colleagues and creative directors, long before a client sees anything and recommends changes of their own. If I printed each page as many times as I made edits, whether a change in image, layout, type size, color—you name it—I could probably collect the equivalent of a small forest of paper myself, each day. And I used to. read on

The Devaluation of Stock

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On Monday, March 2nd, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial average fell under 7,000 for the first time since 1997. NPR had assured me of this as I was packing up for the day. Since I rarely concern myself with the stock market, the numerically sound fact struck me as something that surely related to design, but I couldn’t remember what that was. I wrapped a scarf around my neck and headed out, one foot in front of the other trying to reconnect-the-dots in the frigid winter air. As soon as I entered my apartment, I began fervently shuffling through papers in the recycling bin. Whatever complacent connection I was trying to make was in there somewhere.

Earlier that day, I received an email from a well-known stock photography site that announced the sale of photographs for as low as one dollar. This was nothing new—other sites have offered similar prices for a couple of years now. But the email brought a feeling of contempt deep within that I could not, at the time, explain. In my mind, the stock house was devaluing its product. This particular web site offered a better-than-normal selection of stock photographs. You might find a handshake, let’s say, that doesn’t look like most handshakes. After I did a few quick image searches, however, I realized that the site was not selling more images for a cheaper price. Rather, it was cheapening the quality of more of its images, a depressing thought.
read on

The Building of 24/7 Main

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24/7 Main, the blog that Taylor Design built, is here at last. What started as a meeting with Dan Taylor over a year ago has become a reality. It was largely a group effort, but special thanks goes to John Rudolph, who was the mastermind behind the design, as well as Dan Taylor, for keeping the project chugging along. Despite the busy nature of Taylor Design, Dan allowed John and I the time to work on this lovely blog and get it done!

I would like to discuss the process and challenges that went into turning John’s vision into reality on the web. I’m mainly a front-end web developer, so my job was to write the code that initially shaped the blog’s “bones” (HTML5) and the “clothing” (CSS), and then after that was squared away, I also wrote the code that integrated the HTML5, CSS and Javascript into a customized WordPress installation that allows us to run everything neatly and efficiently.
read on

Six Steps to Successfully Partnering With an Illustrator

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Sample Illustrators' Work

I can’t draw.

Well, that’s not entirely true. At least not the way I once could and certainly not the way an illustrator can. Developing a style, a methodology, a great idea and bringing it to fruition takes a lot of passion and talent. And patience. That’s why I’m happy to partner with someone from this group of gifted folks whenever I can.

I’ve been fortunate to work with wide range of illustrators, not just in style or personality, but also locale. The UK has been a hotbed of talent for my needs, but I’ve worked with folks as far away as Japan and as close as, well, across the office (see Vaughn Fender). The digital age and FedEx have made it easy to go global for a great piece of custom art.

I’ve also been fortunate to have 99% of these collaborations work out really well. I gather from colleagues and friends in the design industry that I have an impressive track record (Watch, now I’ve probably jinxed myself).

So, that got me pondering: What is it about my process of commissioning an illustration that is so successful and enjoyable? read on

The Booooom! + Adobe Remake Project = Not Appropriate

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Adobe’s latest “Imagination Challenge” in the UK asks students to “remake” a famous work of art through photography. Apparently, the people at the blog Boooooom! thought it was such an original idea, they decided to hold the exact same competition. Originality, what’s that?

Of course, there is nothing new about appropriation, as its use is commonly regarded as one of the primary facets of Postmodern art. The only problem is, it’s been done. In the late 70’s, Re-photography practitioners like Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, and Sherrie Levine, each employed appropriation in their art. Richard Prince is probably most famous for his early 80’s “Cowboys” series, in which he re-photographed Marlboro advertisements straight from the magazine. These photographs were then hung in a gallery, completely changing the context of the image. One could also argue that Marcel Duchamp accomplished a similar task of questioning the role of art in the 1920’s, with his “Ready-Made” pieces. You might recall, “Fountain,” a urinal turned upside-down.

The problem, then, with the Adobe project is context. Re-using, or re-purposing art in the context of a competition – especially when the event is being held by a company whose products are used for commercial design — leads to very little insight. The competition becomes merely an exercise. And judging by the submissions on Boooooom!’s web site, an amateur exercise at best. This sort of experiment is to be somewhat expected from Boooooom!, but higher standards should be held at Adobe. Don’t get me wrong, unlike Apple, I love Adobe. My workflow, and hence life, is made infinitely easier with the help of their software. Might I suggest that the competitive platform they employ to showcase the Adobe Suite of product be more appropriate? It should be design-centric, in my mind, and of course, it should charge its competitors to be, yes, more original. Maybe then the participants can truly showoff their talents and, in turn, understand why Adobe is at the forefront of creativity and innovation.

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