Friday, October 15, 2010

Design in Black and White

Often when I am teaching students, I have them work on a design in only black and white. This is mostly based on my belief that this technique helps you focus on your typography, layout and concept without relying on color tricks to help you distract the eye. It is also because it is amazing what beautiful results you can create with this simple combination.

Black and white emphasizes the negative space and the sharp edges of shape and form. I think it is a technique that designers often overlook as a potential solution to some design problems. It really can create more opportunities than may be obvious at first. I have attached some samples of designs I have found in black and white. They are inspiring and just as amazing as color examples. In some cases, they are more powerful, especially in packaging, where black and white is rare.

Typography is especially strong in black and white. It helps emphasize all the details and negative space in between.

Because black and white is so rarely seen in design, it can be hard to approach your own designs that way. If time permits and the brand will allow it, at least for initial concepts, I try and start some of my designs in black and white. I have always felt that if the layout is strong without color, than color can be used for branding purposes and details. I have attached some of my designs that I began in black and white before adding color.

Coca-Cola Company concept anniversary card

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept poster

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept awards album spread

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept banner

Qwest concept poster

I almost always start logos this way as well from practical purposes (possible faxing, copying, etc.) Some stay black and white because of their strength without color.

iRoam logo concept

MillerCoors Beer Garden logo concept

Black and white in graphic design can be an amazing exercise and can offer potential opportunities for unique marketing and visuals.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Typographic Posters

While teaching typography at both Brainco and the Miami Ad School, I always include a class on typography on a large scale. While I do refer to exterior signage and other huge size graphics, the assignment I hand out is usually a large-scale poster. It is great way for students to understand how to design and then refer to their work as they go. It may seem like typography on the computer is working, but until you stand back and refer to it and adjust, you could be missing great opportunities. I usually throw in some limitations like it needs to be in black and white and only typography can be used. I am always amazed by how many different examples the students come up with and how creative the solutions can be.

I have compiled some great examples of typographic posters from around the world as part of my teaching research. I refer to them myself all the time for some inspiration and to remember that typography can be as interesting and effective for graphics as any photograph or illustration. Especially some hand-drawn letterforms can be amazing in their details and overall form.

Please leave comments about which typographic posters have inspired you!

Friday, October 8, 2010

What is in the Works?

In the past several weeks, I have been amazingly busy working on freelance projects and internal projects that I have wanted to pursue for a long time. I have been lucky enough to have several ongoing identity projects, which are some of my favorites to work on. I have also kept up with my sketching and some yet to be posted updates on a website project I have in the works. Several of these are just snippets of posts yet to come, with more details!

As it seems to be with many freelance clients, a few have gone one for months as they are redefined and refined. The first logo concepts are for a product that I worked on while at a contract position for a children's production/animation company.

These needed to reflect a carefree/playful attitude mixed with some 1960s colors and themes. An interesting mix of concepts and imagery to work with.

The next set of logos are also concepts for a new product that is still on the down-low at this point. Many of these represent several rounds of concepts as the theme was changed and redefined as something visual came into the works. There ended up being a wide range of approaches on this one. A huge thank you is due to my friend and fellow designer/art director Fred Le Bail for sitting with me and running through some great ideas, styles and concepts.

I have also been working on my One Piece One Week concept which has ended up being for a realty company I named "3-Step Realty" in Providence Rhode Island. I am really excited about this one and will post more designs as I have them completed. I have the logo, letterhead and business cards well under way! Stay tuned for more details.

As busy as my days can be, I try to keep up with my personal sketchbook. I managed to do a drawing at Split Rock Lighthouse during a family vacation up north.

I also made it to a session of the figure drawing Co-op at CVA. It is open to anyone for $10 on Saturdays from 1:00-3:30 and is a great way to draw various poses of live models. It was great to return to the art school mentality and expand another part of my creative mind. I will say that figure drawing has never been my strong point but I love the challenge and the quiet retrospective the time offers.

Finally, through some illustration and careful typeface choices, I have been working on a very special piece for my family. I am only including some details at this point as the final will have to wait to be seen until our new family member arrives sometime in November.

I am keeping busy as the weeks tick away and have a few things in the works. I am excited by all of the new work and chances to create some new designs and illustrations. I also keep up on my photography and will be starting my own photo blog in the next couple of weeks. Stay posted on my work and progress on some of these pieces!