Browse Category: Graphic Design

Tina Roth Eisenberg is awesome.

I’m a big admirer of Tina because she’s the ultimate renaissance woman – she was trained as a graphic designer, and she’s become an entrepreneur and major force in bringing creative people together, through CreativeMornings and Studiomates. I really admire this progression that some designers are making, from doing work at an agency, to freelancing, to doing side projects as their main focus.
I had the chance to meet her at the Tattly birthday party, and she was fantastic and made time for an interview.
Tina’s Blog, Swiss Miss

What aspects of your career are you the most proud of?

What a fantastic question! I am most proud of seeing something I made having a positive impact on other people’s lives: TeuxDeux helping people stay organized. CreativeMornings inspiring and connecting people around the world. Studiomates giving birth to lots and lots of projects and companies just by the sheer fact that smart people hang out together every day. Tattly employing a group of smart and talented young people and creating passive income for our illustrators. 
If you weren’t a designer, what do you think you would be doing?
I came close to signing up for architecture school. But if you ask me now, my current secret back-up career would be to become a landscape architect. 
How do your life and work relate to each other?  How do you keep balance between the two?
I love what I do so much, that I would never stop. Meeting my husband, having kids has helped me find some much needed work-life balance. Now, I come to the studio at 9 am and go home at 6 pm to be with my family. I no longer work on weekends. My kids have been my biggest career catalyst as well my biggest reason for working less. Or maybe, working more efficiently, I should say?
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your career?
Waiting for the right moment. I always thought I’d start my own design studio, magically waiting for that ‘right moment’ to come. Then, I got pregnant with my first daughter and realized that the right moment never comes. The right moment is now. If you really want something, you have to be courageous and just do it. 
What sort of plans do you make for the future?  How far out do you make plans and goals for?
I do like to set rough goals, 6 months out, but in the end of the day, I am very much a spontaneous gut-reaction driven person. 
Creative Mornings is totally worth getting up early.

I’d like to thank Tina for taking the time to answer my questions, and for being a huge inspiration.
Also, I think Tattly tattoos are made of magic, since I have one (AWESOME) that has been on my arm for five and a half weeks.

Design For Good!

Last weekend I went to Design For Good, which was hosted by AIGA West Michigan at Grid 70. The basis of the event was this: For one weekend, designers and copywriters and web developers get together and use their skills to help out a local nonprofit.  Seems great, right?
I worked with the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition, as a copywriter. The GGRBC needed a website for their initiative to get the city of Grand Rapids to put 100 miles of bile lanes in roads before the end of 2014.  Other projects included the Creative Youth Center, Kitchen Sage, Fashion Has Heart, Build a Better Block, and the Well House.  Each of them had a website made, and depending on the needs of the nonprofit, the group working with them might have made an ad campaign with posters and ad graphics, or come up with other ways for the organization to improve their communications.
I feel like students can get so much out of events like Design for Good.  Personally, I think of it as a mini internship. Think about it – in an internship you get the chance to use your skills in a work environment, meet professionals in your field, and see what it’s like to work with other people who come from a different background.  Events like Design For Good do the same thing, and they I’m not a graphic designer, so it was a new experience for me to work with a lot of graphic designers and web developers.
I’d like to thank the AIGA and Grid 70 for hosting this event.  It was a great experience, and I’ll be sure to come to the next one!

Graphic Design: Now in Production

Graphic Design: Now in Production opened at Kendall and the GRAM on Thursday night.  I went to both portions of the exhibit, and it’s pretty fantastic. If you have even a mild interest in Graphic Design, it’s worth a visit. It was curated in collaboration with the Walker Art Center and the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, both of which are places that I dream of visiting*.

In Kendall’s Federal Building, the exhibit is focused on film titles, posters, books, and magazines. The first thing I notice in the exhibit was the wall of screen-printed posters, test prints that Aesthetic Apparatus made in the process of making their posters. In the next room, the focus is on interactive pieces, like the Poster Wall for the 21st Century, which gathers data from various internet sources and creates posters based on a formula. If you tweet with #posterwall your tweet will be a part of that. I definitely didn’t understand how that piece worked without reading the information on the wall, but it’s an interesting concept. In the middle hall, there are some posters that go on the minimalist-movie-poster theme, but some of them are TV shows. I don’t really see the need for this piece to be in the exhibit. Maybe minimalist movie posters were new and cool ten years ago, but they’ve become pretty common. It seems like every graphic designer does the minimalist move poster at some point, and now they’re old news. In the next room, the focus is on graphic design for the screen. There are several iPads, showing different apps and how they deliver information. I’m not a graphic designer, but I know that this is a big deal, that there are major differences in how one designs for a screen and how one designs for print. It seems like this is a really worthwhile topic to explore. In the next room, there are opening credit sequences showing from various films. I didn’t see a lot of people spend time in this room, but I enjoyed watching the credits, and many of them were from movies I recognized, like Juno. In the next space, they have fantastic examples of books, things where the designer doesn’t just make an image for the cover, but functions as the author as well. They’re challenging the notion of what a book can and should be, which is important, given that books are becoming less necessary for things that are strictly text. This area blends into the space where the focus is textile design – many fabrics by Maharam are hanging on the walls, and the vague category – designerly objects. There was an Eames shell chair that involved a design on the back and bottom, and there were the ever-adorable Field Notes notebooks. I wish that this portion of the exhibit was explained a little bit better, it was hard to decipher what the curators were going for with it.

At the GRAM, the exhibit was focused on identities, typography, and information design. The space where the GRAM portion of the exhibit is housed is far more open than the space at Kendall, which influences the way visitors travel around the exhibit. In the first portion of the exhibit, there’s an interactive voting piece that uses plastic chips to give visitors a say in logo redesigns. I was astonished at the speed with which people went through this portion of the exhibit, it seemed like most people had an instinctive response, whereas I wanted to look at it and discuss it for a longer time. One of my favourite pieces was by Blu Dot, a metal interpretation of the New York Times logo, done in a style that reminds me of their Real Good Chair. In the next room, there were several video pieces, which people seemed to brush past, instead of taking the time to watch them. I’m not sure what made this happen, but I think it’s worthwhile to note how people travel through a space. The video piece that I liked was an animation done to go along with a talk about education. Along with being an interesting animation, the ideas are intriguing and well worth a listen.

The final thing that made me jump up and down, repeatedly, in public, was the Feltron Annual Reports.  I heard about them on 99% Invisible,** and the idea has been captivating ever since.  Nicholas Felton keeps all sorts of records about his life, and at the end of the year, he makes a fantastic, detailed infographic.  It’s the greatest.  Here, listen to 99% Invisible, it’ll make so much more sense.

Moral of the story:  Go to Graphic Design: Now in Production, and be amazed by wonderful things.  You will not regret it.

*Walker?  You and me.  This summer.  It’s going to happen.  I really hope so.
**I’m going to say it again: If you’re not listening to 99% Invisible, I don’t understand what you’re doing with your life.  Ira Glass says that it’s great, I say that it’s great, so what are you waiting for?  It’s like…a really wonderful blog, but you can listen to it while you’re doing other things with your eyes, like driving.  Go.  Listen.  Love.

Penguin Random House

Earlier today it was announced that Penguin and Random House will be combining.  This is a huge big deal in the publishing world, but I think it’s particularly interesting from a branding perspective.  Penguin has a fantastic brand.  When I see the Penguin logo, I think of classic books that have an impressive following.  The Clothbound Classics by Coralie Bickford-Smith are gorgeous, and Penguin itself seems like a great company to work for.  I’m hugely jealous that Siobhan Gallagher gets to intern there, and Impress The Penguin really got me thinking that I should apply.  Penguin is fun, Penguin is quirky, Penguin is quality.

Random House?  I know they’re a publisher.  I know that they make a lot of books.  I didn’t know what their logo was until I googled it today, and I don’t have any particular association with Random House.  Their branding is pretty eh.
Then, I got thinking and wondering what the logo would be like for the combined publishing house.  Here’s what I came up with.
What do you think?  Critique is welcome, and I’d love to see what other people have designed!

Also, this tumblr is great:  Penguin Classics You Never See


On the list of companies that I admire and wish I had started, Threadless is pretty high up there.

 Now it’s time for the awkward woodsy t-shirt shots!  Fun!  Woodsy!

I wear a lot of shirts by Threadless. Threadless was born of a couple guys who played a lot of photoshop ping-pong and started putting their images on t-shirts, and holding contests for t-shirt designs.  Twelve years later, anyone can submit a design and anyone can sign up to rate shirts.Their system makes it more of a “Threadless club” than just a “Company that sells shirts.” Highly rated designs are printed onto shirts, and everyone buys them, and they come with free stickers.

This is crowdsourcing. Like opensourcing, but different. 
One problem, I think, is that because Threadless is crowdsourced, and because they only pay for the designs that win, it’s not going to attract a lot of professional designers. I see Threadless as something for amateur designers to do, and something that professional designers could do. For fun.  Threadless pays, but they only pay for the designs that are printed.  That’s a little bit like a company saying “We want a website, so how about you design a website for us, and then we might pay you.” For a lot of companies, this mentality leads to inferior work because the designers don’t have the chance to find what the company needs before diving in.  The same isn’t quite true for t-shirts, because Threadless is always looking for a t-shirt design that people will like, it’s not as complex as a website.  For the designers, contests usually cheapen the work that they do.  Contests draw a lot of designers who are willing to work for free, and they let companies assume that this kind of design work should be free; or at least very cheap.
Threadless can do this because it feels honest and fun. If Hot Topic tried to do this it would come off as fake and corporate and plastic. 
If there’s anything fantastic that you know about in art and/or design, email me about it, and you’ll probably see it on the blog soon.

John Barton


I first saw John Barton’s work in the student showcase on Behance, and I liked the style that he had, which I saw as minimalist with a techno feel, which you see a lot of in the album cover he designed for the Soundtrack to a Catastrophic World

What first made you interested in graphic design?
I’ve always been a creative-minded person from an early age so it was almost a natural progression for me to go into the creative industry. At that time I was already creating my own CD covers and posters so Graphic Design seemed like the right choice, and as kid who wouldn’t like having their work potentially being seen by millions of people?!

How would you describe your work? What has been your favourite project to work on?
I’d describe my work as having a contemporary style with a modernistic approach to thinking. Behind all my work is a concept – idea driven design that usually manifests itself in an aesthetically clean way. My favourite project, and the one that highlights this style most is probably the vinyl cover for Soundtrack to a Catastrophic World. Its content is a selection of different transmissions and noise patterns and I wanted to show this through design somehow. The moire effect represents the tuning of a radio and the custom typeface is loosely based on Morse code. It took a lot of experimentation to get right but I’m really happy with the end result.

How do you find a concept for a project to be based on? Is that something that a client can articulate, or do you have to work with them to find it?
This usually comes from research and development after meeting with a client. Views and thoughts are shared throughout the process so that they aren’t kept in the dark. So far the clients I’ve had have been great in allowing time for experimenting with ideas – something that projects like Catastrophic World are a key aspect in order to find the right solution.

What does your workspace look like?
Nothing out of the ordinary – just a mac and desk at home. At this moment in time it’s all I really need. In the future I’ll hopefully look to rent studio space.

What is the biggest influence on your work?
I wouldn’t say there was one particular influence on my work, but Dieter Rams’ 10 principles to good design are like a check list for each project. Even though he’s a product designer, his ideals can work throughout the creative arts.

Is there anything that you would like to say to student designers?
Apart from the usual work hard stuff, I’d say that joining Twitter and following designers/studios that you like is a great way of getting an insight into how the industry works and helps keep you in the loop while studying.

John describes this project as a celebration of collaboration.  I find it entertaining to say these words very fast, and I like the way it functions, with pieces coming apart and reveling different parts of the message that he’s conveying.  You can see more pictures of it here.
I was really interested when John said that he uses Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles for Good Design as a checklist for his design products. I sometimes hear about designers crossing over in disciplines when they look for inspiration, but I would think of the Ten Principles as guidance, more than inspiration.  I had never actually seen a list of the principles either, just heard them referenced once or twice.  

Because you were curious, good design..

Is innovative
Makes a product useful
Is aesthetic
Makes a product understandable
Is unobtrusive
Is honest
Is long-lasting
Is thorough down to the last detail
Is environmentally friendly
Is as little design as possible

I can get behind all of these ideas, and even though they’re written by and industrial designer, they can apply to all kinds of design.
What do you think?  Do you take inspiration or guidance from other disciplines?  Do you think that learning from other types of designers and artists can improve your work?

Monique Sterling

I came across Monique Sterling’s portfolio on Behance, and I was drawn to the way she uses simple imagery to make a strong statement.  Plus, I’m a sucker for Disney movies, and she made a whole series of minimalist Disney posters like this one.

How would you describe your work? 
I would describe my work as quirky, quite vibrant and radiant. I love simplicity but sometimes I find myself creating complicated designs that appear to be so chaotic and complicated.

How did you end up pursuing graphic design professionally?
My pursuit for graphic design began in my junior year of high school, when I began taking my first career class, Graphic Communications. Then for my senior year, we had a choice of choosing Graphic Communications or Web Design from our list of interests. I chose Graphic Communications because I loved creating artwork and working with the computer. I also love being more hands on. I felt that graphic design allows me to be more creative in a way. I am interesting in web design, but at the time, I wasn’t very good and it and I found it quite tedious. 

I read in your bio that you plan on studying web design when you’re done with school. How do web design and graphic design relate and interact for you?
After studying in the field of design for four years, I’ve learned that web design and graphic design are very much tied together, like two peas in a pod. But in my opinion, a good sense of graphic design is fundamental to being a great web designer. It’s one thing to know coding and such, but it’s another thing to be aware of color, balance, symmetry and other principles and elements of design. During my spare time, I did some research and taught myself web design fundamentals and I’ve grown to love it. Being able to create and maintain websites would only be an extension of my graphic design skills.

How do you go about starting a project? 
Most of the time, I could be watching TV, forever scrolling on Tumblr or just washing the dishes and an idea would come to me, either from a quote I read, from something someone said recently or a song in my head. Once I get the idea, I write it down or sketch it out and hop on a few art and design blogs (such as yours) to draw inspiration or I’ll just go straight to work in Photoshop or Illustrator and modify my designs as the days go by.

What is your workspace like? 
My workspace is pretty much my bed. I like to be extremely comfortable when I’m working and since I work on my laptop most of the time, I just open iTunes, plug in my headphones and get to work while resting comfortably on my pillow.

What is the most challenging project that you’ve done?
When I really think about it, the most challenging project I’ve ever done was my final project for my second semester Foundation II course as a Communication Design major, in which each student had to create a book on any subject they wanted but the book had to have some sort of interactivity to it, while illustrating a several design elements. And of course, I created and chose the most complicated subject ever: Music & Art Throughout Time. For my book, I chose songs that represented different periods of time and illustrated a different song for each page. I chose to illustrate songs from the Victorian Era, the 70’s, 80’s and the present (I used graffiti to represent the present).

What do you think is the biggest influence on your work?
The biggest influence on my work would have to be the work of other artists. My favorites being Matt W. Moore and Raphael Vicenzi; I draw inspiration from their works, my life experiences and from my environment.

I find that I get my inspiration the same way Monique does, from everything around me.  I also really admire her interest in web design.  Web design is something that I’ve always thought that I should learn a little about, but I’ve never had the motivation to actually learn it.  Thanks for letting me interview you, Monique!

Thanks for reading!  I’ve made some changes recently to the site, including the new layout and adding more links to the Cool Kids on the Internet page.  If there’s anyone who’s doing great stuff that I should write about, email me.

Ric Bixter

I first saw Ric Bixter’s work with these rubber band boxes he designed for a school project.  The assignment was to go into a store and find an object to repackage in an interesting and creative way.  Not only is the text on the boxes amusing, the shape of the boxes varies, based on the strength of the rubber bands they hold.  I thought this idea was really clever, so I asked Ric if I could interview him about what he does.

Fifteen Seventeen:  How would you describe your work?  

Ric Bixter:  I try to base my work around ideas and clean graphics.
FS:  How did you end up studying graphic design professionally?
RB:  I always liked art when I was younger and studied Art and Design in school. The course was about experimenting and I started designing on the computer. Moving on to study Graphic Design at university was quite a jump as it was a different way of thinking and working. Since starting university, I have been introduced to a whole world of design, literature and ideas which I am still discovering.
FS:  How do you go about starting a project?  
RB:  I usually start with some broad research on the topic, finding as many images as I can, that relate to what I am working on. I will then sketch out some ideas before moving onto Illustrator to continue the development. 
FS:  What is your workspace like?  
RB:  I have a sketchbook in front of my laptop which is plugged into my tv so I can use a duel screen when designing, on the other side of the desk, I have my cutting mat and usually a heap of trimmings that pile up on the desk. I try and keep it relatively minimal and tidy but sometimes in the middle of a project that idea goes out the window.
FS:  What is your dream project to work on?
RB:  I would love to be designing film posters for some of my favourite directors like Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro or Christopher Nolan. If I could completely make up a job, I would be the on site graphic designer for the F1 teams just in case they needed some designing in the middle of a tour around the world. 
FS:  What is the most challenging project that you’ve done?
RB:  I would say any of the projects I have done at university. With rather broad briefs and 5/6 tutors, it can be hard to get your head around an idea sometimes.
FS:  What do you think is the biggest influence on your work?  
RB:  I would have to say my university course as before I was doing Art and Design but since then I would say being surrounded by students and professionals of graphic design and reading books like The Art of Looking Sideways, Elements of Typographic Style and A Smile in the Mind
Another project that Ric has done, a design for recycled tissue paper is pretty cool, and you can see it here.  Ric’s blog is here. Thanks for reading, and if there’s anything cool that I should write about, email me.

Siobhan Gallagher

Siobhan Gallagher is a graphic designer and illustrator, and she’s pretty great. I first saw her work on Tumblr, with a set of playing cards.  I love the way each card has its own personality, instead of having all the kings, queens, and jacks look the same.  The colors are different from card to card, but they fit together like a traditional deck.  Instead of black and red, you have warm and cool color schemes, with different patterns combined on the cards.  I wish I had thought of these!  You can see the rest of them here.

I’m drawn to works that involve a lot of tiny details, and after poking around on her website a little, I found this piece that she did, called The Wicked City.  It is stunning.  When I look at these, I find myself wondering if I could reproduce these patterns by hand and am suddenly struck by visions of losing my mind with a Sharpie.

After a while spent in awe of her work, I decided to ask Siobhan some interview questions.  Here’s what she had to say.

How would you describe your work?  I like to think of my work as playful, colorful, clean, and well-thought out.
How did you end up pursuing graphic design and illustration professionally? I always loved art when I was younger but what really drove me into graphic design specifically was in high school when I was the yearbook editor. This was when I first used InDesign and Photoshop and really got into it (like, “stay after school to work on it for hours” into it). After high school, I spent a year studying English Literature in Ottawa and realized that was not for me, so I applied to two art schools’ design programs, got into both, and decided to head to NSCAD University to get my Bachelor of Design! I’ve always loved illustration and luckily both design and illustration goes hand-in-hand pretty easily for me and even luckier, people pay me to do so!
On your website, I read that you spent a semester at University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  What effect, if any, did that have on your work? Studying at University of the Arts in Philadelphia was an amazing, flew-by-so-quickly experience that has definitely effected how I work now. I was able to take both Graphic Design and Illustration classes. What I loved about the Graphic Design department was how strong their methods of typography instruction were, which helped improve my designs and how I worked. My illustration instructor at UArts helped me in strengthening my technique and in giving my illustrations more depth, which I hope to continue and develop throughout my career.
How do you go about starting a project?  Hmm! I guess I start with very basic sketches. In illustration work, I draw an outline of how I want the final piece to look, scan it, bring it into Illustrator and draw over it with the Pen tool, and keep playing around with it until it looks the way I’d hoped. With graphic design projects, a lot of my layout exploration is done digitally rather than in my notebook.  In editorial projects, this means a lot of playing around in InDesign, and in poster of book design, this means a lot of experimenting in Illustrator.
What is your workspace like?  Honestly, I try to keep my workspace clean. I really try. But it’s always covered with books, prints, cards, calendars, etc. It’s all about managing the madness I guess. I just like surrounding myself with what I love!
What is the most challenging project that you’ve done?I actually just completed it: my school’s graduation catalogue. It’s like the art school equivalent of a yearbook but it consists of the works of everyone who is graduating. I had to design a cover and theme that best represents my school and graduating class, pitch three different concepts to the university president, then establish the cover design, grid, layout, colour palette, and paper stock in a matter of weeks. What was challenging was knowing that what I was designing was going to represent my entire school so it couldn’t just be a great showpiece for myself, it had to be something that everyone would like. I just sent off the final proofs to the printer yesterday so I’m really excited to see the final product printed on the specialty paper I ordered!
What do you think is the biggest influence on your work?  Oh, man. I’m not sure who THE biggest influence is, but I’m inspired by Stefan Sagmeister‘s versatility, Jessica Hische‘s drive, the illustrations of Ryan Brinkerhoff‘s, Andrew Kolb, Luke Bott! Ah! There are so, so many, these are the first few off the top of my head.

Here’s a little more of Siobhan’s work.  I like how she can do great things with a wide variety of colors, or with a very limited palette.

A huge thanks to Siobhan for letting me interview her and use her photos in today’s post.