8 posts categorized "Inspiration"

ChangeOrder 2010 Summer Bookshelf

Summer bookshelf 10

Looking for a good book to cozy up with this summer?

I've been saving up book recommendations for this coming holiday season (much in the spirit of 2009-2010 and 2008-2009), but I couldn't wait to recommend the following books for your designery beach-reading pleasure. Feel free to also throw into your cart the pre-sale for Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills, which went up on Amazon.com today.

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How to Throw a "Part with Your Art Party"

Donnie Dinch and his lovely girlfriend hold up work by myself and the photographer Alison Braun


My wife and I were staring into our closet at a big bundle of framed photographs we'd accumulated over the past eight years.

"What are we going to do with all of these?" I said. It was unlikely we'd ever show them again or own a place large enough to accommodate them all. Wouldn't they look better in someone's home? At this point, would it make sense to just give them away?

"Let's throw a 'Part with Your Art Party,'" my wife said. Hence, a plan was hatched.

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Spotted in Seattle: DC Web Stencil Kit

DC Web Stencil Kit

My friends over at Design Commission sent me one of these Web stencil kits for the holidays this year, and I'm totally hooked. You can now buy one of your own through their Web site for $19.95 + tax/shipping, which gets you a stencil, a pad of grid paper, and a mechanical pencil.

I'm looking forward to seeing what these guys are going to make for next Christmas. Perhaps an IA stencil?

Multifont Buckle by Steel Toe Studios

Multifont Buckle from Steel Toe Studios

All you letterpress fanatics, beware: Steel Toe Studios, a design and metalsmithing company in Seattle, recently came out with a hand-forged belt buckle cast in a pattern to mimic metal type.

You can buy it through the studio's Etsy store or direct from the studio, where you can use a mini-Flash app to select buckle types and belt sizes. You also get the choice of purchasing a belt made from recycled bicycle tire tubes to match! (The belts are made by the local firm Alchemy Goods, who continues to find new uses for old rubber, vinyl advertisements, and other leavings.)

Major props to my coworker Carrie Byrne, who spotted the studio, purchased one of the belts, wore it in to work, and ended up easily convincing me into buying one of my own!

[Edit 01/08/09: The belt buckle isn't made from metal type; it is cast from a pattern formed from metal type. No lead for you. :) ]

Book Review: Shapes for Sounds by Timothy Donaldson

Cover of Shapes for Sounds by Timothy Donaldson

A is for Aleph. B is for Beit. G is for Gimel...

When I was a child, Hebrew was beaten into me by a series of well-meaning teachers. Upon reflection, they were probably my first foray into hand-lettering type. Sadly, the letters stuck, but comprehension of the words peeled away past my teenage years. I have always had a nagging thought in the back of my head that if I’d seen a clearer historical thread between Hebrew and modern English, I would have better retained the language.

Shapes for Sounds, a lovingly crafted book by Timothy Donaldson and published by Mark Batty, explores the birth and maturation of the Latin alphabet in both written and spoken mediums across the whole of Europe and the Middle East, and so much more. It clearly demonstrates the path from the first recorded alphabets all the way to our native tongue of English through the lens of my first love as a designer: typography.

Read my full review of Shapes for Sounds at The Designer's Review of Books

Lessons in Arrangement from the To-ji Flea Market

To-ji Flea Market, Kyoto | Pottery and Ceramics Arrangement

The old man crouched on his haunches, lost in thought. As a stream of people flowed past, he reached forward, quietly shifting the placement of varied and sundry antiques on a bright blue blanket: an incense holder, teapots, rice bowls, binoculars, reproductions of classic Zen art on roughly cut wood, books for copying sutras, quartz watches, lacquered boxes, flower vases, and six-inch tall carved figurines meant to represent an African-American blues band.

The To-ji Flea Market happens on the 21st of every month on the grounds of To-ji Temple, about a ten minute walk from the JR Kyoto train station. I wasn't at the market to purchase a memento of our trip. I wanted to observe how these few hundred shopkeepers -- from food stalls to pottery, from old picture scrolls to antique buttons -- displayed and maintained their goods.

Arrangement in Japan is an art unto itself, with its own kind of psychology. Any designer who has dabbled in visual merchandising knows that the specific qualities of an arrangement have a gut-level influence on how we perceive information. A pile of leaves can look peaceful and natural, while a haphazard stack of paper on a messy desk can incite a riot. Both can be shaped by human hands, but a truly great visual stylist is able to infuse even the most mundane objects with a kind of spirit that seems both spontaneous and inevitable.

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Spotted in Japan: Graniph


One of the most fascinating thing about observing Japanese design culture is the use of the English language for pure aesthetic concerns, usually without regard for proper use. I can't recall seeing a single Japanese person wearing a t-shirt without Roman text on it, usually arranged in a haphazard sort of grammar that made half-sense to my rigid American ear.

At first, it almost hurt to see such illogical sentences paraded down Omote-sando in the name of fashion. But in time I found them endearing and ended up buying a few out of sheer whimsy, such as this one:

"Fragment: Many times of the life seem to have come to lose its way. It was you in such a case that I encouraged me anytime, and watched easily. Though I picked up the piece of the conventional life and gathered you, I have become it withou any unity. But I think that it is the life. There is not it in the straight road imagining, and the incline is intense, and the way winds."

Multiply this by 5,000, and you get the idea of what you'd experience shopping in downtown Tokyo.

Graniph, whose stores I had seen all around Japan, I had initially assumed to be a purveyor of t-shirts such as these -- especially because their Helvetica-based logo had echoes of American Apparel in it (or vice-versa). Boy, was I wrong. I had 5 hours to kill in Tokyo-Narita Airport and 10,000 yen burning a hole in my pocket, and when I finally went into their store there, I wanted to buy the whole place. My wife and I probably spent forty-five minutes tearing through every shirt that they had, finally settling on these two. (We couldn't fit any more in our carry-ons.)

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