Friday, April 24, 2009

Form and Content 6: Good and Bad Outside Typographic Designs

1. OfficeMax's typographic sign is strong in it's design. There is a powerful connection between the look of the font and the store's products. This is always a good quality in a logo/sign because you don't question what the product they are trying to sell is. The serifs make it look professional and remind me of a typewriter but having a font with curved lines make it appear more consumer-friendly and less harsh. The simple yellow and black color scheme coincide with a typical legal pad which also connects to its products.

2. Yes Issue 1's has it's strengths and weakness's in its design. With road signs and political issues, hierarchy is essential. In this case 'Yes on Issue 1' is the most essential and then the picture of the girl that relates directly to the issue and makes it personal. These evident essentials are what is strong with the design. What is weak is the rest of the sign. When you are quickly driving by something you can't read small text or information if this sign was placed by a red light or stop sign maybe more people would be able to read it but where it was located the text was not appropriate.
3. Casual Male XL's sign is another strong sign design. Because they have a small target group they were able to focus in and create a design that their specific customers would like. The font is modern and masculine. It is also nice how they tie in the the orange bar with the orange XL. Having the XL larger also connects with the products being sold and the literal meaning of the word.
4. The Marathon Gas pump's design has its strengths and weakness's but overall it is weak in it's design. There simply is too much going on for your eye to focus on and there is a lack of flow and unity. There is a lot of typography and colors and there is no clear hierarchy. Someone that is not used to pumping their own gas could be quite intimidated by the design and layout of this gas pump. Its not as user friendly as it could be.
5. The University of Akron banner signs are strong in their design. They take in consideration that people are just quickly walking or driving by and that they are up high up so they stuck with something simple in design. I have seen banners with small type that you could never read while driving. The UA and the curved shapes look nice being repeated multiple times.
6. Flynn Environmental's design is alright but there is nothing special or anything that standouts about it. It works in hierarchy and in simplicity for the road but the type and logo is too plain that no one would remember it or see the direct connection between the logo and the business.

The biggest thing about design in the real world is that it needs to convey a message, function in its location, and stand out. Appropriateness is essential. Something can look cool but if its not functional or relates to the company its representing it is not a good design.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Form and Content 5:

This print design is a poster and album cover for a Indie group, Spokes, found on the website by Attitude Design. The designer intended for it to have a retro feel. I think the strength of the works is the unity in design between them but they still have some variation within. It has a focused color scheme and the similar lines going throughout really unites all the page layouts. Theses lines also bring interest to the piece being one of the only graphic elements. The sea-foam, redish orange, and tan color help support the retro feel they were wanting to achieve. The composition works but isn't all that exciting since most of the pages have all the elements dead center in the page with similar negative space on all sides. The lines of the K help break up the rectangular shapes and the different warm and cool colored sides descend and ascend create a little more interest and depth. The hierarchy is clear since the title of the group is largest in scale and the album title is smaller in scale which automatically leads your eye to the group's title first. The typeface they chose is fairly modern in style and not having serifs allows the lines of the font to continue to the edge of the page. Overall I think this design is fairly strong but I don't like it for a cd album for a band. It seems more like a design for a business. There are no pictures of the band or any clues to lead you to believe its a band or even music related.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Form and Content 4:

This image comes from the website and was designed for the Boheme Publishing company whose goal is to teach graphic design. This piece is really strong because of the depth created by layering, line, and perspective. There are three main line elements that create a grid for the space. They aren't given much importance in the hierarchy but are definitely elements that gives the piece structure and depth. The first line element is a basic grid overlay that is placed behind "color theory." The next line element is the radiating lines that meet at "For Teaching Graphic Design Subjects." These draw your eye backward toward a vanishing point giving focus to the text there and again creating depth. The last line element is the set of dashed lines that are given more weight and placed more randomly throughout. This element is treated more like the text and is used to break the text up and also emphasize the different angles in the piece. The text itself is the main emphasis in the piece and creates the most depth. The text has a lot of variations in scale, typeface, and color. The scale variations create a hierarchy in the text, pulling your eye more to some words before others. Some of the scale choice is due to some words receding towards the vanishing point. I think the main reason for the typeface variations is that graphic designers use different typefaces and by showing different fonts in use it gives it more of a designer feel. It also makes overlapping areas easier to discern what word is what. Color contrast helps with this point a lot too. The color scheme is limited to just three hues of warm colors- pink, orange, and yellow, a white and black. This creates unity within and simplifies the potentially busy design. The only real design problem I see is the treatment of the actual content (the series name or title). These elements lack a clear hierarchy and place within the grid and seemed to be an afterthought. This information should be clear-cut and flowing since it is the information that is pertinent.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Form and Content 3:

Under the "Meaning & Composition" lesson from a professor of typography ( was an example from Josef Muller-Brockman, a Swiss graphic designer. This design is quite simple and direct but visually it works and when broken down there are more complex elements than first realized. The hierarchy is strong and how the font is placed leads your eye around to read all the elements. "Helvetica" is definitely the focal point of the piece, being the largest of all the fonts in scale and also having the most contrast. The bold white font against the bold black stripe really make the title of the typeface jump out. The location of being almost dead center also pulls you in. Small details like the H and the l in Helvetica lining up with the red diagonal stripe simplifies the piece and shows that the designer was looking at the details and had sense of an internal grid connecting the visual elements with the type itself. One of the most unique features was how he laid out the lower case and upper case letters. Most people want to divide the characters up equally line by line but he broke them up kinda randomly, more based on the graphic broken lines that they would create. It then becomes more about the type fitting into the design and making sense visually than trying to adding two chunks of 26 characters into the design. Another unique element is how he switches weights or the color of the font within the text. Although the first line of uppercase letters are not more important than the second line of uppercase letters he chose to make them bolder. He did a similar thing with the quote making "in war" bold and black, "truth" even bolder and white, and "is the first casualty" in a finer black font, all in one sentence.  This uneven distribution of weight and color actually has a purpose.  "In war" fitting in the dark red needs to be heavy because there is so much font to the right of it. "Truth" is the focal point of the sentence so it needs to have a higher contrast so it white and even more bold. "Is the first casualty" is lighter and airier so that it balances out and does not distract from the title. This style is also carried out where the author's name is and in the different weights of black lines so there is a consistency throughout. Even though this Swiss design seems simple at first glance it is all the small graphic decisions that make this design work so well.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Form and Content 2:

I found this typographic piece on the website  It is a data table designed for a typography lesson. Although it is displayed small on the screen the original intention was for it to be installed with the dimensions of 3x2 meters (9.8 x 6.6 feet).  The table is really unique since it is designed with typography alone, without any grid lines like typical tables. Most audiences don't enjoy reading tables and only do if they have to, but this data table has a clear hierarchy, colorful text, flow, and variation which pull you in. The design does not compromise the purpose of informing you though.  All the information is still clear cut and easy to read. The way the text is laid out and scaled creates a sense of flow and it leads your eye around the piece, making sure you read each of the categories.  While reading tables audiences have a tendency to read the first couple columns and skip the rest but because of the flow and the hierarchy your eye is directed to all the content, reading the most pertinent information first and then the less significant ones. One of the biggest design elements is the scale of the font. The way the font is scaled not only creates a clear cut hierarchy but it also creates a sense of depth. With almost all tables repetition happens since it is column after column of information but it is nice that the color and scale of the font creates variation within it. The color scheme is very contrasting and bright and uses a lot of different colors to add more variety. I'm not sure if this color scheme is the strongest but it does look nice. I would have like to have seen a smaller palette or maybe not as bright of colors.  I'm just not sure how it would look blown up to 3x2 meters with those bold of colors.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Form and Content 1:

I began my search at the website /blog/ design/unique-website-layouts/ looking for some unique website designs.  It took me to  This website demonstrates a unique way of showing a portfolio and of navigating throughout sites.  

Melissa Hie is a web and graphic designer who wanted to create a site to show what she has done (her portfolio) and how to contact her if you want her design expertise.  Her website is unique in the way that you navigate through the site by sliding from page to page.  Each page on her site has a button with three-quarters of a circle and an arrow.  If you click on the button the next page slides into view.  This way it is not endless links in bars, instead you are guided through the website page by page, more like a book.  Her design leads the viewer to become more engaged in the site and read through all the information presented.  This site is very simple, to the point, and informative yet unique and pleasing.  To have both function and design is what graphic design is all about.  

Not only does the navigation work so well but other simple design elements like the typography, the hierarchy, and the color scheme are also strong.  The typography throughout the whole website is very simple and consistent.  Because the design was strong, she did not need to use complex font.  The goal of the website is to inform, so complex font would be distracting to those who just simply want to hire a good web designer.  The hierarchy also is a strong element.  Each page has a clear cut title, subhead, and/or body copy.  There is no competition between these layers of focus.  I also liked her color scheme.  She was able to use bright colors like purple, lime, pink, and turquoise but its not too bright or random.  I think by having the pages slide from one page to the other it ties the colors together and make the pages have unity.