Graphic Designer | Visual Artist

Category: Graphic Design

Touché! A Walk with the dog.

Touché! Neither dog poop nor bad font choices should be taken lightly. What is your favorite font of the week? Hopefully it’s not ComicSans.  I don’t think it’s even part of my collection anymore an only fun for a second in 1999, here’s why… Read the rest of this entry »

How Brand Identity influenced my career

       When I was first starting out in graphic design with a Chicago marketing firm on Michigan Avenue my creative director was always inspiring the design team to focus on brand identity. She wanted us to come up with a corporate identity campaign for our company. We had an existing logomark but we needed to develop a corporate brand design concept for every in-house publication we pushed out. This was before the age of social media so we relied on print and email advertising.
She inspired us with the work of Paul Rand who is, as some say, the grandfather of corporate branding. Pushing our boundaries, she was adamant about research and developing simplicity in the esthetic of the art already created and build on that. Good brand design stems from a process of thoughtful insight about how to best communicate what the client represents. She wanted us to write about the logo not design it first and that is much more difficult. It was like dissecting a frog.
Taking Rand’s client Morningstar for example, his process took months, however, he produced a final production piece to simplify it into a quick and powerful read for them. “A Signature for Morningstar”

He almost singlehandedly convinced business that design was an effective tool. [. . .] Anyone designing in the 1950s and 1960s owed much to Rand, who largely made it possible for us to work. He more than anyone else made the profession reputable. We went from being commercial artists to being graphic designers largely on his merits.  –Louis Danziger, graphic designer

Why is Brand Identity Important?

Joe Mansueto says it best with his intro statement on the Morningstar websites’ “About” page:

When he founded Morningstar, Joe Mansueto recognized that investors don’t just need financial information—they need it in a form they can understand and use. Effective design is a core strength of our products. Considering everything from how we present information online and in our publications, to how people interact with our software, we work to create experiences that enlighten investors by using thoughtful, precise, and logical information design.

The origin of our logo
After five years of successful growth, Joe felt it was time to rethink how we visually communicated our brand. He decided the logo was the first place to start. He’d read Paul Rand’s A Designer’s Art and admired the impactful logos Rand created for IBM, UPS, ABC, and other established companies. In 1991, Joe contacted the 75-year-old designer, who finally agreed to do the job for $50,000, with half paid up front.

Four months later, Rand sent back his sketches along with a final design that played on the source of the company’s name—the last line in Thoreau’s Walden, “The sun is but a morning star.” To this day, Joe considers the logo the cornerstone of our corporate identity and one of the best
investments he made in the company. (1991)

The true value of a brand is immeasurable if the client sees it. The artist will always see it if executed to its full potential.

SuepHdesign 2017

We’d rather sell Picasso tickets than Nike shoes.


The Fine Art of Designing for Museums:    Why graphic designers are ditching their agency jobs to work at MOMA.

In an art museum, graphic design usually takes a back seat. It’s the practical cousin to the main attraction; the wayfinding arrow that points you towards the sculptures, the block of text that helps you understand what you’re looking at. Design can be utilitarian, sure, but it also plays a bigger role. “We always want the art to be the star, but design can help with that,” says Damien Saatdjian, an art director at the Museum of Modern Art’s graphic design department, where he and a team of seven other designers create and maintain all of the museum’s graphic communication. This includes more than you’d think: from pamphlets and websites to mugs, totes, and exhibition wall text.

The studio, which is sandwiched between the conservation science lab and digital media team, is just a few rows of cubicles. Compared to the soaring ceilings of the neighboring galleries, the space is small and modest. The walls are scattered with potential designs, color palettes, type options, and layouts for upcoming exhibitions.

At any given moment you can find the team at work on up to eight different exhibition displays, while simultaneously handling marketing materials, retail goods, and any random piece of design ephemera that’s thrown their way. “We do anything and everything,” says Ingrid Chou, the department’s creative director. To some, this might be overwhelming, but to Chou and her team it means they can have an impact on nearly every department at MoMA. “We actually have a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening in the museum,” she saysimage

On the day I visit, the team shows me a long-term project they’ve been working on to redesign the museum’s retail items. On the back wall of the studio, sheets of paper printed with ideas form a grid of MoMA-branded goods. One printout shows a tote with MoMA’s logo crumbled haphazardly at the bottom. “It’s reflecting the clutter inside the tote bag,” says senior designer Danielle Hall. Another mock-up shows a T-shirt with half the MoMA logo peeking out playfully behind the pocket.

Most of MoMA’s graphics are constrained by its branding (in this case Paula Scher refreshed the identity template, and the logo was redrawn by Matthew Carter), but designers get to experiment when it comes to special exhibition designs. Every year, MoMA hosts around 12 special exhibitions—major shows from artists like Picasso, Cindy Sherman, and the upcoming Robert Rauschenberg. “That’s where we get to be a lot more expressive,” says senior designer Eva Bochem-Shur.

Designing for the exhibitions begins with research. First the curators share their thesis, then it’s up to the designers to translate that vision clearly and effectively. Sometimes that means keeping the design understated and letting the graphics act as a quiet backdrop for the art. Other times that means creating a bespoke typeface (like the one inspired by the handwriting of filmmaker Tim Burton, for his MoMA retrospective) and figuring out how to creatively present information on the walls. “Ideally it’s a collaboration,” Saatdjian says of working with curators.

Designers start their work on computers and finish in the galleries, which means the museum itself is often an extension of the team’s studio. The spatial aspect of exhibition design—how colors, type, and size work at scale—often means a designer will have to totally retool their design once it’s on a wall. “We’ve all gotten really good with tape measures,” Bochem-Shur says. It’s physical work, too—a departure for most of the staff, which has spent their careers working on screen.

The majority of the designers are agency transplants from firms like Interbrand, Pentagram, Mother, and Bruce Mau Design. The switch to the art world, for the most part, was a deliberate effort; instead of clients the designers here work with curators, and instead of fractured teams, they tend to work together to solve problems. The small group lends itself to open discussions about creativity, art, and what’s working and what’s not. “It’s not as competitive,” Hall says. “I think it leads to better work in the end because you can bounce ideas off each other.”

Ultimately, the appeal of working at MoMA comes down to the purity of designing for art. It’s the notion that they’re making something that isn’t just about selling an object (though that’s part of the job), but selling ideas and education, too. “We’d rather sell Picasso tickets than Nike shoes,” says Saatdjian.


yes I too would ditch the gig gently for MoMA❤️

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