Awful Type

The world of typography is a vast landscape of letterforms and history, advertising and revolutions. In 1450 the Gutenberg Press changed civilization like the internet changed our civilization. Information became available to the general masses, moving the center of knowledge from the elite class to the middle of culture. Today, information and culture have merged and is filled with typography and will likely remain so until some from of mind-to-mind communication is pioneered.

Sometimes I think about what it would be like to be illiterate, or what it would be like to see words for the first time if the first time were right now. To look at letters and not understand is beyond my frame of reference, I don’t remember a time before I could read, but for most of my life the content captured my attention more than the type. Mark Z. Danielewski’s book House of Leaves is visually compelling yet I still did not see the letters, the fonts for themselves. (By the way, if you haven’t at least looked at House of Leaves, you should immediately find a copy and check it out.) I finally began looking at type while enrolled in the Graphic Design program at ACC. Typography with Linda Smarzik opened my eyes to the level of detail possible in type design. I began to see billboards and magazines and newspapers differently. I realized every piece of type I saw in the world was placed there by someone for a specific purpose. Mostly. Sometimes it appears no thought entered into the design of a sign. My friend James Benavides started a blog called Awful Type designed to not only point out less than crafted typography, but also as a source of inspiration for anyone who must intimately consider the finer details of designing typography to communicate as clearly as possible.

Check us out at awfultype.com and be sure to appreciate the world around you because it has all been designed for you.

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Return of the Pod(cast) People

My love of podcasts is an ever evolving organism and today I have a selection of some of my favorite podcasts lately. I realize podcasts are essentially talk radio and I might be turning into my father but there is no denying the benefit of listening to people sharing information.

Type radio
The production quality is not super but the content is awesome and it is not hard to listen to. Featuring interviews with well known designers from around the world, the four part Massimo Vignelli interview is a gem in the series.

Let’s Make Mistakes
Not always serious, not always on topic, but always entertaining and/or educational. The description, “Mike and Jessie talk about design, with a lot of tangents along the way” is accurate.

Pixel Recess
This is purely fun. Each episode is around 10 minutes and consists of an interview with a designer and usually ends with cursing.

Here’s a couple of my recent favorites not related to design.

Sawbones–A marital tour of misguided medicine
This is one of my favorites from Maximum Fun (see also Judge John Hodgman). Mrs. McElroy is a doctor and Mr. McElroy is the perfect foil. They travel through the history of medicine and reveal some of sciences’ less proud moments. Of course cocaine is a great cure for opium addiction, so is drilling a hole in your head. They are pretty good about getting out a new episode each Friday and being funny.

Radiolab
A great podcast ordinarily, they went out of their way with a live tour and were kind enough to post a performance on YouTube. Fascinating, exciting, and educational barely scratches the surface of this production.
Radiolab Live – Apocalyptical

The Art World is the Whole World

Today I’ve got some awesome art to share.
First up is Peter Gric. His hand painted masterpieces will blow your mind. “Cortex” is one of my favorites. Some of his work seems directly influenced by H.R. Geiger, but I think the imaginary landscapes are his best work. Don’t miss this video.

Where Peter Gric is a master of the brush, Werner Hornung is a master of the pixel. Ironically, Hornung’s website is dismal, especially next to Gric’s, but the digital images he creates are amazing. I like “Going Through Life with a One Way Ticket” the best. The composition and the colors convey a sense of motion with the stages of life depicted as a moving circle.

And now for great art by my buddies.

I’ve watched Matt Morcher go from tagging around town to painting colorslposions on canvas. Recently he successfully morphed into a new style still rooted in color, like Jackson Pollock but more intentional.

Another artist whose growth from hobbyist to professional I’ve been privileged to witness is Tyler Ristow, or Pharo if he’s making music. Tyler creates unbelievable visionary landscapes and sometimes creates his masterpieces at live music shows.

For the full treatment, check Tyler on Facebook.

Hope y’all enjoy the art and I encourage everyone to go to a museum, scour the web, seek out amazing art.
Life is better with art.

I’ve become a Pod(cast) Person!

The amount of information available via podcast staggers the mind. Any interest is covered, probably by more than one podcast. It’s like talk radio except you get to choose the content. Apple recently updated their podcast app and they improved the interface and added a playlist function. I look through the podcasts I am subscribed to and add the episodes I want to the On-The-Go playlist and then hit play, I get to program my very own talk radio station.

Enough singing the praises of the medium, let’s get to some content.
Many of the podcasts I listen to are design related and a few of my favorites are:
Design Matters with Debbie Millman– Debbie Millman is President of the design division at Sterling Brands and the AIGA. She podcasts her radio show from Design Observer. Each episode is between 30 minutes to an hour and she talks with designers, artists and other creative people about their creative lives.

99% Invisible-Roman Mars is a public radio producer and reporter who hosts this podcast. This one grew on me, I didn’t quite get it at first, but each episode covers some obscure topic about a hidden jewel, like public stairways in San Francisco, or offers insight into the fabric of our daily lives. The recent post about the Modern Moloch sheds some light on the early days of the automobile.

The Deeply Graphic Design Cast-I happened to start listening to this podcast right as they started a “Portfolio Site Pro-Tips Series” which has already given me some ideas and inspiration. They don’t post regularly but every post is worth listening to.

On The Grid-This is the newest podcast in my cue, but after one episode I am hooked. Episode 30:Make it Worse is 47 minutes 52 seconds of awesome. I hope they keep up the quality, after listening to two posts I feel confident these guys have it dialed in.

These are the top of my list, there are others I like but these four are at the top of my mind when I think about design podcasts I listen to.

My whole life doesn’t revolve around design (mostly, but not all of it), I also like science and home brewing.
For science and general knowledge of the world:
NPR:How To Do Everything– The mission statement is “If you need to know how to find a date, or how to find water in the desert, we’re here for you. No question is too big or too small.” I recently listened to Episode 102: 70 Days in Bed with Howard about a man who stayed in bed for 70 days straight as an experiment for NASA and space exploration. This particular episode is more interesting than instructive, but like 99% Invisible, How to Do Everything sheds light on topics most people never think about but affect our everyday lives.

Science Friday-Another one from NPR, every Friday Ira Flatow serves up interesting news from the world of science. You don’t have to get the podcast, NPR brodcasts this show on their radio stations, but I like being able to choose which topics I want to learn about and I can pause it if my kid needs my attention.

Stuff You Should Know-Josh and Chuck provide another resource for interesting information you may not even know you can’t live without. Want to know what makes a one-hit wonder, or how CPR works? Stuff You Should Know has you covered and then some, brought to you by HowStuffWorks.com.

For home brewing:
The Sunday Session-About once a week The Brewing Network presents a long podcast (2-4+ hours) featuring tips and tricks for home brewing and interviews with professional brewers. One of the better episodes is the live broadcast from Celebrator’s 25th Anniversary Bash, but most episodes are entertaining and educational.

That’s all for now, I’m sure as I wade through the vast ocean of information encoded as podcasts I will find more to share and if you’re following my blog you’ll be the first to know.

C’est Magnifique

I’ve never had a desire to know French until now. Jean Francois Rauzier is an artist who uses thousands of images to create what he calls ‘hyperphoto’. The images he creates are stunning, collage is not even in the same category with the blended image masterpieces created by this artist.

I’ve mentioned my bibliophilia before so it should be no surprise I particularly enjoyed the ideal libraries.

I endeavored to find more info about J.F. Rauzier but his whole web presence is in French which makes sense because he is from France but makes it hard for me to gather information. Chrome will translate the French for me but I don’t think it’s really conveying the message.

Fortunately for me his images are beautiful in any language and inspire me to hone my Photoshop skills.