“Sometimes it simply doesn’t matter how good the brief is, how good your idea is or how well the project seems to be going. Design is a creative pursuit and definitively ‘right’ answers simply don’t exist. To design – or do anything creative – is a practice in asking questions, trying things out and exploring uncharted territory. Attempting new approaches and new ways of thinking are a part of being a creative person. This experimentation can lead to brilliant, maybe even groundbreaking results. But not always. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to concede that what you’re trying to do, simply doesn’t work. By no means an easy thing to accept, the fact is that attempting new things won’t always result in success. Saul Bass knew this… Keep reading…
Computers these days are amazing. With the right software and a little bit of know-how it’s never been easier to whip up any ridiculous image you have in your head, and make it a reality for all the world to see. If it doesn’t look quite as good as you’d hoped, maybe add a load of drop shadows, lighting effects and any other number of gimmicky Photoshop filters until it does? Although, after a while you begin to realise that perhaps the reason it ain’t that great, is because of the idea in the first place. If the foundations aren’t strong enough, the house will fall down. A truly great idea can stand on it’s own without the need to be supported by effects and decoration.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody”
To state the obvious; any designer worth their salt wants to do great design work. Work that can stand the test of time. Work that gets noticed. Work that they can be proud of and get recognition for.
The only real way of knowing that the work we’re producing is good, is when others tell us so. Design is a strange, subjective thing and most designers at one time or another have had to deal with a concept they thought was brilliant being rejected on the grounds that it simply wasn’t all that good. For a piece of design work to be really good, other people have to agree with you we’re afraid.
Steven Bonner is a designer and illustrator based in sunny sunny Scotland. His work is largely focused on beautiful illustrative typography and we’ve been big fans of what he does for some time now. He has worked for a range of clients including Audi, The British Heart Foundation, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Diesel, Nike, The Scottish Government, William Hill and many others. Refusing to stick to a single style, each brief is approached from a completely different angle, the only common factor being that everything he does looks bloody amazing.
He kindly agreed to give us an insight into his world by answering our Ten Questions.
Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to pen romantic verses for our Valentines poster giveaway. We had a huge number of submissions to choose from – some beautiful and creative, some ridiculous and funny, quite a few creepy and vaguely worrying, but all very much appreciated.
We’ve gone through the lot and are pleased to announce the following lucky winners. Our judging process was pretty simple and based on one simple question; which ones did we like the most? Apologies to those who contributed work and weren’t chosen – we would love for all of you to be winners but there could only be a lucky few, and (in no particular order) here they are…
** UPDATE ** The competition has now closed, we’ve been overwhelmed with a huge number of brilliant entries, and will be announcing the winners soon!
The time has finally come to announce the details of our Valentines poster giveaway! Let’s get it on…
If you’d like the chance to receive a copy of our A2 Valentines print delivered your door anywhere in the world, all you need to do is get in the mood for romance and follow these three simple steps:
This week see’s the annual return of the corporate, manufactured and over-priced celebration of all things love – St. Valentines day has arrived!
We decided to get involved with the romance and produced some posters, which we’re planning to give away as a token of selfless love. If you keep an eye on our Twitter feed on 14th February 2013, you’ll witness the grand unveiling and be in with a chance of having one of the beautiful, love-themed A2 prints sent directly to your door. Free of charge. Don’t say we never do anything for you.
Since long before starting Mat Dolphin we’ve been hugely inspired by Non-Format. The two man studio is run by Jon Forss and Kjell Ekhorn and the work they produce is beautiful, interesting, boundary pushing and, at times, a bit weird. The pair have created a style that is both completely unique and instantly recognisable for a pretty impressive client list. Since establishing the company in London in 2000, the pair have gone on to work with the likes of Nike, Coca-Cola, K-Swiss, Gap, Sony, Adobe, EMI, Orange, Rick Owens, Nokia and The Economist as well as a number of small independent record labels – music packaging being one of the things for which they’re best known. Now based in Minneapolis (Jon) and his native Norway (Kjell), their incredible typography, design and art direction has spawned a host of imitators but by the time most people have caught on, they’re already two steps ahead.
They were kind enough to spend some time answering our Ten Questions. Here’s what they had to say.
On this blog (and elsewhere to anyone else who will listen) we constantly bang on about the importance of solving a brief. We highly value the need to communicate the message of client to their target audience. We feel it’s a vital part of the design process and a key part of being a designer. However, as with all creative pursuits, there is always room for adding a small part of ourselves into our work. Authorship is a huge part of what we do and making the work ours is part of what makes it a passion, rather than a bog standard job. Solving the problem in an appropriate, thoughtful and creative way is obviously essential and should be the primary focus, but a designer injecting some of their own personality into the work can go a long way. The esteemed Mr Wim Crouwel knows the deal…
A recent article by Michael Bierut is currently causing a bit of a stir over on Design Observer. The piece ponders various aspects of graphic design criticism and raises a number of questions about the merits and pitfalls of online commentators appointing themselves as a critics. Bierut warns this continual increase risks becoming simply a ‘spectator sport’ rather than a constructive and productive means for comment and debate.
The lengthy piece is as well written as one would expect from Bierut and the points it raises have attracted a number of comments. Design industry heavyweights such as Rick Poynor, Marian Bantjes, Armin Vit and Paula Scher have got involved to share their opinions on the matter.
Recently, the University Of California unveiled a new logo. The general reaction in the studio was relatively muted. Clearly they’ve attempted to update their previous mark – pictured below – with a more contemporary look. The result, whilst certainly not horrendous, is also not amazing. It’s pretty inoffensive and basically ok. It would seem that others had stronger, more negative opinions about the rebrand, and weren’t afraid to let their feelings be known.
Designers work with clients. Clients work with designers. It’s a symbiotic relationship which can be productive, surprising, infuriating, satisfying, testing… but always interesting. If we’re honest, life without clients would be a lot easier – there would be no need for compromise, no need to adhere to deadlines and the clichéd request to ‘make the logo bigger’ wouldn’t exist. These constraints and parameters are, however, the things that differentiate what we do from other creative disciplines and should be embraced. Michael Bierut knows this only too well and sums it up neatly with an all too easily forgotten point.
Weight Watchers recently unveiled a new identity, designed by Pentagram’s Paula Scher. There are a few things we wanted to mention about the identity, which lead on to a slightly bigger, more complex point.
Don’t ask us how or why but recently, we stumbled upon this (obviously NSFW) online archive of Playboy back issues. The collection spans from the first ever issue all the way back in December 1953 to the present day. The early days of the magazine show some great examples of inventive and well considered editorial design. Creative, elegant and much better than most of the tat that fills newsagent’s shelves these days — Top shelf or not. We love them. So we thought we’d share some of the best we came across. Fnar.
Design is one industry in particular that has embraced social media like no other. The platforms that have emerged and developed in recent years are appealing to designers and other creatives for obvious reasons.
There aren’t many faster or easier ways to share new ideas, new work or new problems that need solving than Twitter. It’s a ready made focus group, eager to give feedback. At its best, it’s helpful, convenient, quick and fun. At worst it’s… well, maybe best to not go there. The attractions of Instagram are also obvious. It’s purely visual, incredibly instant and the technology can hardly fail to make your arty snapshot of your dinner, trainers or fixed gear look suitably cool. Similarly, what better way than Tumblr is there to act as curator and inspire people with your carefully selected imagery of other peoples work?
Approaching each and every design brief as a new challenge which therefore deserves a new solution should be standard practice for a designer. Each problem we’re asked to solve presents its own unique obstacles, questions and stumbling blocks. Using a tried and tested method you’ve used before (or, even worse, seen someone else use before), is hardly going to result in the most original final product. Being different is a necessary and important part of allowing your work to stand out from the rest. But it’s not enough to merely do something others aren’t.
David Airey is a designer and writer based in Ireland. When he’s not looking after clients around the globe he somehow finds the time to run the brilliant design review websites Logo Design Love and Identity Designed, (bookmark them immediately if you haven’t already) as well as amassing a huge following through his prolific Twitter activity. 2009 saw the publication of his first book. Based on his original website, Logo Design Love was a runaway success and belongs on the bookshelf of any decent design studio.
Here at MDHQ we’re always on the look out for new stuff to inspire us. When we find something we think might inspire others we shove it out to twitter and spread the love to one and all. Recently we came across the work of Timothy J. Reynolds and were instantly captivated by his style and work. Timothy is an exhibit designer and illustrator based in Milwaukee, WI. Born and raised in the south and originally from Winston-Salem, he picked up the random nickname Turnis when he was a kid and it just stuck. He went to school for architecture, worked in a design firm or two, and then his quit his job and sold everything he owned and left. Wow!
We got in touch with Timothy to ask him if he’d be interested in getting involved with our Ten Questions series. He said YES, so check out his replies…
Most graphic designers love the FedEx logo. Designed by Landor Associates, it’s simple, it’s clean, it’s been around since 1994 but still doesn’t look dated. The thing most designers really love about it, however, is the ‘hidden’ arrow. The little nod to progress and movement that sits in the negative space between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’. Practically everyone (designer or otherwise) knows it’s there, but being in on the worst kept secret in design does give a feeling of being in the know.
We’ve spoken in the past about the importance of the message. The purpose of graphic design, in our minds, should be to communicate a distinct message to the right audience in the most appropriate way possible. We recently came across the following quote by Adrian Shaughnessy who, in his usual succinct and intelligent way, uses a simple and easy to understand analogy to completely hit the nail on the head. The substance taking precedent over the style is something we feel is hugely important and easily forgotten in today’s fast moving and trend-driven design world.