Thursday, July 31, 2008

Guitars & Graphics

Over a Century of guitar music and graphic design, when, if ever, do the two combine?

This is an adaptation of a talk given on June 8th by Michael Johnson from Johnson Banks Design.

He admits that this is a slightly selfish theme for a talk; during the day Mr. Johnson is a graphic designer but at lunchtimes and night he's an amateur guitarist. And in a way, he believes the two things rarely come together. So he thought it would be interesting to take the last century of graphics and guitar music and see if, or when, the two things ever do combine.

The earliest blues guitarists used small, parlour sized acoustic guitars, and often tried to play in a way that emulated the popular piano style of the time, ragtime. Gradually blues guitar developed as a style in its own right, and the earliest guitar heroes were born such as Robert Johnson.

Legend has it that he popped out for a few beers but ended up selling his soul to the devil at a crossroads and received the ‘gift’ of the blues in return.

At the turn of the century decorative design was a long way from beer and crossroads, having carried over the decorative styles of the Art and Crafts and the Viennese Secession. Illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley and artists such as the Beggarstaff Brothers were the design poster-boys of the day (although no-one called them graphic designers, not yet).

What they were listening to as they pushed around their wood type is much harder to ascertain (although it seems that there is a link between Gropius and Mahler, the former having once had an affair with the latter’s estranged wife). Wagner of course was one of Hitler’s musical favourites (he loved to use it at rallies) and became the spur for some of the finest, earliest ‘agit’ work by John Heartfield, protesting against the Nazi dictator’s rule.

Continue reading: Guitars & Graphics.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Micro Casa

I'm always interested in experiencing space saving concepts in person and I'd really love to take a tour of this ultra-compact stairwell dwelling completed in France by H2O Architects back in June of 2007.

Originally designed and built for a lucky teenager, the 12 sqm. house comes complete with four split-levels and is truly an exercise in extreme storage solutions.

Genius. More Info and images: H2O Architectes.

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Thanks to Squee.Gee over at Core 77.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who's Watching the Watchmen?

I am! I can't wait for this to come out next year - March 6th to be exact!

Above: Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach.

Dig the amazing trailer! Watchmen.

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Why America is F*#@ed...

Just one of the reasons why America is F*#@^ed, graphically anyway...

From The forthcoming Draplin Project.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

New York Times iPhone GUI

I'm really digging fellow Texas designer Felix Stockwell's simple 2D black and white icons for the new (and free!) New York Times iPhone App.

Take a peek inside some of the process and evolution of the super nice 29x29 pixel iconography created for the NYT GUI.

Mr. Stockwell collaborated with renowned web wizard Khoi Vinh and designer Caryn Tutino.

Very nice!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Staircase In A Box

Made in Italy, this beechwood and steel staircase from Systema comes in a box ready to assemble with simple tools.

The Modula, pictured above, is a modular staircase solution that allows you to configure and order what you need for your specific situation.

They've also got some pretty sweet options for Spiral Staircases, like the Combi as well as Loft Ladders: Systema.

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Thanks to The Contemporist.

Open For Breakfast

This cracked me up. Created and concieved by Leo Burnett Chicago, this huge egg billboard for McDonald's opens up between 6am and 10.30am, the only time that eggs are on the menu at McDonalds.

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Thanks to Ad Hunt.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Notes on Ralph, Martha, and Turning 21

Mmmmm.. Chocolate Chunk Cookies...

We are moving towards active participation, collaboration and control of actions and experiences that enable us to realize our desires.

More: Notes.

That's Right,


Thanks again to Collapsing Dominant and Design Observer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Crescendo C2

The Stilvoll website describes the Crescendo C2 table as enduring, useful and unique.

Judging from both the site and the photos, I'd have to agree. Combining work with desire, the German Crescendo C2 uses the natural aesthetic variety of the wood as a key style characteristic.

Handcrafted from a solid piece of wood, each Crescendo C2 is a modern interpretation of the term “desk.“ Some call it “desk,“ others “a piece of furniture to fall in love with.” We call it Crescendo C2.

Practical use and ergonomic variability are implemented traditionally in an unobstrusive and unique way. An integrated cable duct with shelves, the variable vertical adjustment or the innovative inclination mechanism are organic components of the design and remain invisible.

I want one.

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Thanks again to Swiss Miss.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Watchmen Trailer

Sweet! Watchmen is really coming and the trailer is up and live on iTunes Trailers.

Really, really digging the visuals but not totally sure what's up with the music selection for the trailer.

What is up with using the Smashing Pumpkins, a band that formed in 1988, three years after the setting of the novel?

And more specifically the actual song, "The End Is the Beginning Is the End”. WTF? As Rebecca Cullers from Ad Freak reminds us, this song was originally written about Batman for the movie Batman and Robin. Did they think comic-book geeks wouldn’t notice something like that? I understand this first Watchmen trailer is premiering with the opening of "The Black Knight", but the music seems to lump this in with all the other super hero movies and Watchmen is anything but!

Fortunately, they've still got 6 months or so to hopefully get back to the soul of the original book using the more poignant and less forgettable songs of by the likes of Dylan and Elvis Costello...

UPDATE: This is encouraging news from Entertainment Weekly:

"Based on footage Snyder screened for EW, at least, the work seems to have been worth it. Multiple scenes—the Comedian’s murder, Rorschach’s introduction, Dr. Manhat tan’s origin, and a title sequence that flies through the history of Watchmen America, set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’”—suggest a film that may capture more of Watchmen than anyone thought possible. Sure, there have been changes. But Snyder’s film clearly seeks to emulate the comic. The Gunga Diner, the “Who Watches the Watchmen?” graffiti, the blood-splashed smiley-face button evoking a doomsday clock—it’s all there."

Awesome. And if that's not enough Watchmen news for you, then dig this: Wow!

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Searching The Galaxy

Dig the awesome Tag Galaxy, a German site with a spacey, 3D planetary interface dedicated to search Flickr images in an completely different and fun way.

This is just one of 13 lesser know, content specific search engines featured over at Smashing Apps. Each search engine listed has some interesting and different ways of searching or unusual presentation.

A few others worth noting are, a free site for finding sound effects and musical instrument samples, and the aptly titled PDF Search Engine, a book search engine that gleans sites, forums and message boards for pdf files. Perfect for finding and downloading e-books.

Check out all 13 from the smart folks over at Smashing Apps.

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Thanks to .

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Smart Billboard

Agency: Jung von Matt, Zurich
Art Director: Hisham Kharma
Copywriter: Sergio Penzo

That's Right,


Thanks to Freddie.

Don't Wash Me!

Check out Scott Wade's amazing: Dirty Car Art Gallery.

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Thanks to the cool cats at LinkDump.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Viva la Concept!

Nice. In a climate where budgets are being tightened and making every penny count is the law of the land, it seems the time is finally ripe for the truly inventive and creative to step up and make things happen. The days of overpaid, lackluster advertising agencies churning out nebulous, concept-free fluff are coming to an end.

The idea is back! Case in point - check out this awesome sign in front of this UK flower shop: "We're famous, find us on Google Maps".

What I really appreciate about this nice little piece of genius gorilla marketing is not just the brilliant use of Google maps and the fact that it's wicked simple and will work for just about any store or business, but I'm betting this is the brainchild of one smart and resourceful individual that's simply paying attention and not the result of a group of miserable ad hacks sitting around in a stuffy and uninspired conference room flipping through the latest CA annual during, yet another, forced "brainstorming" session.

Viva la Concept!

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Thanks to One Floor Up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pimp My Flickr!

If you're a Flickr user you're really gonna dig these two new third party features.

First up is a new free photo viewer called: Blow Up. Blow Up makes use of the recently opened-up Flickr API to show your Flickr photos in a really sweet fullscreen display.

Simply enter your Flickr name and all your sets are immediately viewable. You can even download the code to embed it on your blog or website. Perfect for showcasing your latest awesome shots. Check it out: Blow Up.

And if you're truly into Flickr, there's also a really hip new iPhone App called AirMe. AirMe enables you to take a shot with your iPhone (or any cell phone with a camera) and then instantly uploads the photo to your Flickr account, plus it even adds some really cool smart tags like your city and country - and they put them on your Flickr map.


Want even more from you flickr? Check out PhotoJoJo!

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Thanks to Cool Hunting for the Blow Up heads up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Arioso Toro Gazebo

Really digging this smart and functional Outdoor Gazebo, called the Arioso Toro. According to the site, Toro means lantern in Japanese.

The Gazebo is inspired from the Japanese paper lantern to keep you warm inside and bright up your garden.

Totally working for me!

More info: Arioso Toro.

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Thanks to The Design Spotter.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Positive People Create Positive Brand Experiences

And negative people don’t.

Having moved from the UK and around the US and attending several (at least 8) different schools before starting high school here in Texas, I somehow developed a pretty decent BS detector. Whether it's crossing the threshold of a brand new classroom, party or a place of business, there's always a definite, palapable and inherent vibe based on the mix of folks in the room.


One of the best pieces of advice my mom ever gave me was this: Don't ever be afraid to be the first one to smile and say hello. This one simple act truly works like magic and starts the ever-powerful flow of the Positive Vibe. Think Brian Wilson.

Here's an excerpt from an awesome piece by Olivier Blanchard from his wicked smart Brand Builder blog:

Ever noticed how positive attitudes are infectious? You walk into a store, and everyone who works there is jazzed and happy to be there and energetic… and by the time you leave, you have completely adopted their mood?

Ever noticed that the opposite is also true: Walk into a business where everyone is negative or apathetic, and you find yourself feeling the same dread and negativity?

Sitting in Houston’s Toyota arena with thousands of the world’s most innovative Microsoft partners, I was reminded of the power that other people’s attitudes and moods have over our own - and remembered a post that Kathy Sierra shared many moons ago on her brilliant but now sadly defunct “Passionate Users” blog. It talked about happy vs. angry people, emotional contagion, and the role mirror neurons play in our involuntary tendency to be drawn into other people’s positive or negative attitudes. Very cool stuff, and particularly relevant to some of the discussions I have been involved with in the last few days with some of my international peers. I did some quick digging to find it so I could share it with you. Here are some of the highlights:

Mirror neurons and our innate tendency to pick up other people’s behaviors, good and bad.

There is now strong evidence to suggest that humans have the same type of “mirror neurons” found in monkeys. It’s what these neurons do that’s amazing–they activate in the same way when you’re watching someone else do something as they do when you’re doing it yourself!

This mirroring process/capability is thought to be behind our ability to empathize, but you can imagine the role these neurons have played in keeping us alive as a species. We learn from watching others. We learn from imitating (mirroring) others. The potential problem, though, is that these neurons go happily about their business of imitating others without our conscious intention.

Think about that…

Although the neuroscientific findings are new, your sports coach and your parents didn’t need to know the cause to recognize the effects:

“Choose your role models carefully.”
“Watching Michael Jordan will help you get better.”
“You’re hanging out with the wrong crowd; they’re a bad influence.”
“Don’t watch people doing it wrong… watch the experts!”

We’ve all experienced it. How often have you found yourself sliding into the accent of those around you? Spend a month in England and even a California valley girl sounds different. Spend a week in Texas and even a native New Yorker starts slowing down his speech. How often have you found yourself laughing, dressing, skiing like your closest friend?

Has someone ever observed that you and a close friend or significant other had similar mannerisms? When I was in junior high school, it was tough for people to tell my best friends and I apart on the phone–we all sounded so much alike that we could fool even our parents.

But the effect of our innate ability and need to imitate goes way past teenage phone tricks. Spend time with a nervous, anxious person and physiological monitoring would most likely show you mimicking the anxiety and nervousness, in ways that affect your brain and body in a concrete, measurable way.

Find yourself in a room full of pissed off people and feel the smile slide right off your face. Listen to people complaining endlessly about work, and you’ll find yourself starting to do the same. How many of us have been horrified to suddenly realize that we’ve spent the last half-hour caught up in a gossip session–despite our strong aversion to gossip? The behavior of others we’re around is nearly irresistible.

Keep the good vibes goin' and read the whole thing: Why positive people create positive brand experiences… and negative people don’t.

That's Right,


Thanks to Dappers for the cool candy shot.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saints and Sinners

Music and description for "Come, Saints and Sinners," illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia.

From the book Favorite American Songs, selected by Margaret Bradford Boni (paperback edition of a book published by Simon & Schuster in 1952).

Thanks to Sir Scrubbles and his groovy flickr set of Vintage Print.

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Friday, July 11, 2008


Update - Ok, it's now 3:00 San Antonio time. The site is back and so is all the info on my iPhone including a whole mess of those cool new free apps. As we speak, I am controlling iTunes on my laptop from my iPhone using Remote... Sweet!

Here's what happened: iPhone glitches derail Apple's launch event magic.

I don't know why Apple didn't simply let those with the original iPhone upgrade to 2.0 a day or two before this morning's massive G3 debut...

My iPhone is officially a brick for the time being - I can only imagine how many meetings and deadlines are gonna be missed as a result.

So much for my 9:45 conference call...

Forget the Genius Bar, who needs a beer?

That's A Drag...


And while we're all waiting for access to the iTunes Store, why not crank up this appropriate little ditty from Mr. Johnny Bond: Day Drinkin'...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Meet Otto Watt

Meet Mr. Otto Watt, one of the original radio freaks. The above strip is from way back in September of 1925.

Radio Rules!

Fred Neher was an American comic strip artist and cartoonist. In the early 1920s he assisted Arch Dale on Doo-Dads and he created his own feature Otto Watt.

Neher is best known for 'Life's Like That', a cartoon feature he drew for Bell Syndicate from 1935 to 1941 and from 1945 to 1977. It was published in 500 newspapers at its peak He also created a strip called 'Goofey Movies'.

If you're digging Otto, you'll probably also enjoy The Adventures of Radio Raymond and The Adventures of Radio Ralf as well as mucho mas vintage strips from the cool folks over at: Barnacle Press.

Have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ciao Bella

The Spoon Sisters do it again!

Even if the guy’s dressed in his favorite old white tee shirt, with this napkin at his neck he’ll actually look like he made the effort to get "dressed for dinner". A great conversation piece at any party. 20 paper napkins to a package; five of each design. Cello wrapped. Measure 13” x 13”.

Grab some: Dress For Dinner Napkins.

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Muchas Gracias to Swiss Miss

Monday, July 07, 2008

Why Your Personal Brand Matters

HMK Agent Next

Smart stuff. Enjoy this over a tuna sandwich: Why Your Personal Brand Matters from David Armano at AdAge

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Make It Happen

The good folks at Advertising Age have an awesome piece of advice for all the professionals out there:

Stop being hired by clients and start hiring them. Stop waiting to receive an RFP or mailing hundreds of clients four to six times a year to stay “top of mind.” Instead, pick the folks you really want to work with, regardless of how big they are or what agency they currently work with.

As Sophia Lucero aptly puts it "This is just another facet of what seems to be terribly wrong with business, which shapes our cynicism and despair over what we are getting paid to do. I hope that for you, it started out as a job you would have loved to do for free."


Don't Just Sit Around Waiting for Opportunity to Knock.

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Muchas Gracias to Tom Martin at Ad Age and Sophia Lucero over at Wisdump and Lisa Yarost for the cool bingo shot.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Living The Good Life

It's Raining!
Living the good life means different things to different people.

The good life is about appreciating all your time, not just your leisure time. Far too many people get caught up in the mad rush of a corporate lifestyle and grow completely numb to the little moments, the simple building blocks of time that make life magical. Time, after all, is the single greatest element of life.

Slow Down – Urgency and haste instantly diminish accuracy, awareness and happiness. There is a big difference between getting things done and getting things done effectively.

Appreciate Life’s Simple Pleasures – The best things in life are free. From a quiet lakeside sunset to sleeping in on a rainy day, life’s greatest simple pleasures can only be purchased with mindful awareness.

Foster and Nurture Relationships – A happy, fulfilling life is a life shared with family and friends.

Be Self Sufficient – Freedom is the greatest gift. Self sufficiency is the greatest freedom.

Learn About Different Things – In life, a jack of all trades is far more equipped than a master of only one. Combining the two is the key.

Concentrate on Your Passions – True wealth comes naturally to those who are passionate about their endeavors.

Talk to Strangers – Quite simply, this is how you will meet great people.

Exercise Your 5 Senses – Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Each provides a gateway to rewarding personal experiences.

Use What You Have – Success is not the byproduct of limitless resources. Success happens when you stretch the limits of the available resources.

Be Clear on Your Goals – You will never get where you want to go if you don’t know what you want.

Make a Decision – Indecision is the leading cause of missed opportunity and wasted time.

And my favorite: Assist Others – What goes around comes around.

Good stuff! These are just a few of my favorites, dig the full list via the smart folks over at: Marc & Angel Hack Life.

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Gorge Grown Farmers Market

Really digging this homegrown street campaign for
Gorge Grown Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon.

Agency: Owen Jones & Partners, Portland, Art Director: Craig Skinner, Copywriter: Nick Hughes, Fabricator: Bart Popenoe

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Thanks again Freddy.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Liverpool Letterpool News

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Letterpool is a community art project showcasing examples of glorious typography in and around Liverpool from modern day, dating back to the eighteenth century and beyond. We are calling for entries from the people of Liverpool to send in photographs of your favourite examples of type, ranging from funky and artistic to commercial and industrial.

Many of the photos will be shown on the Letterpool web site and 100 of the best will make it into a hardback book to be published at the end of this year.

Dig it: Letterpool.

And speaking of liverpool... For 44 years a canister of film had been stored in a damp garage in South London; unopened, unloved and almost thrown away.
But, finally, somebody took a look inside - and realised they had unearthed a piece of pop history.

This is the story of a lost Beatles interview, produced by Howard Shannon - which is to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday for the first time since it was originally recorded.

The nine-minute interview took place in the studios of Scottish Television on Thursday, 30 April, 1964 and airs at on Tuesday 1 July, and again at on Saturday 5 July, check out BBC for more info.

And who knows, you might just might find it here over at Necessito La Music...

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Thanks to Digital Thread.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

RIP Dan Cook

Good Taste + Time = Quality

Ira Glass, host and brian child of Chicago Public Radio and NPR's This American Life waxes on the work and creativity behind great story telling.

Ideas are funny things. They don't work until you do. Don't quit, keep working, keep making mistakes and keep learning!

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Thanks to Design Notes.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Adobe Makes it Happen

Number 9... Number 9...

Wow. Just yesterday Adobe released the first Reader application to bake movies and animation into PDFs. With Adobe Reader 9, users can play Flash movies, Shockwave animation, and other rich media content without needing to open a third-party player. Sweet! More from Elsa Wenzel's piece over at WebWare.

And dig this - until now, Flash has been anything but easily searchable. According to CNET, Adobe Systems is working with leading search engines Google and Yahoo to solve the problem. CNET Editor in Chief Dan Farber and reporter Elinor Mills discuss the impact of making Flash pages more visible to search engines.

Read it all: Searching for Flash Files.

Go Adobe!

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Legalize Golf Carts!

Folks in Lockhart, Texas want to put golf carts on the road.


News 8 Austin has details.

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