Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Archives filed under "graphic design"

Content Visualisation

Ray Drainville

It’s kind of fun to visualise your use of words. The Wordle service will take text from your RSS feed(s) & make some nice visualisations for you:

Looking at the generated images, all I can think is that they’re not actually analysing your site’s text, just randomly picking up words.

Best Book Cover Design 2008

Ray Drainville

Book cover design means a lot to me. They say you’re not to judge one by its cover, but what do they know? A good book cover will attract your interest & help pick one out of thousands others. And as a visual essay on the title’s subject, the cover design can be a fantastic addendum to the book itself.

This year’s New York Times Best Book Cover Design covers some of the best examples of the year. My favourites:

What’s Wrong with This Picture

Ray Drainville

Especially with the astounding events in the US during this political season, I like to read The Huffington Post. This morning I came along links to the “Big News” pages, an aggregate of stories about specific subjects. Look at the photos, then the captions. Now try to count the number of mistakes:

I mean, I know that there is indeed a relationship between the photo & the caption, but this is ridiculous.

Henry Sene Yee’s Book Design Blog

Ray Drainville

Happy New Year!

Yet another website for book cover design enthusiasts: …by Henry Sene Yee Design showcases his own work and others as well. I find it particularly illuminating that Yee takes us through the process of designing his covers—and includes rejected designs, some of which are absolutely gorgeous.

It’s inspired me to share some of the design process I’ve gone through for logos, posters & book covers. Watch this space as the year unfolds.

Ugly is the New Pretty

Ray Drainville

There’s an interesting article in Design Observer about the fairly recent trend in ugly design—nasty colour combinations, stretched type & a lot of other characteristics considered no-nos of good design.

The development of this style—perhaps we should call it “anti-design”, even though its proponents claim it’s the hardest work they’ve ever done—seems to be a reaction to the prevalence of overly-clean (and potentially overly restrictive) design as covered in the documentary Helvetica.

Michael Bierut makes a good point about negative reactions to the design:

If you’re familiar with art and design, you know the perils of condemning the shock of the new. After all, no one wants to risk being one of the bourgoisie sneering at the unveiling of Les Mademoiselles D’Avignon (sic) or booing at the debut of Le Sacre du Printemps.

I’ve always disliked people who try to paint critics with such a brush—it’s a response calculated just to shut you up, not to provoke any debate. But it’s one thing to be provocative in your work & quite another to be heedless to anything that’s actually attractive.

Time will tell whether this new trend—redolent of the early days of PageMaker & Quark design with its “ransom letter” font choice & squeezed typography—will actually last. I can’t help but wonder why we’re caught in this same spiral of reaction & counter-reaction: restrictive design vs. unfettered, even unschooled, design. We’re stuck learning & un-learning the same lessons: we’re fighting old men’s wars. After all, it’d be nice to create something new, wouldn’t it?