Remember The Title #3

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)

This opening sequence, featuring the iconic musical score by Ennio Morricone, is a classic. Not because it is a campy Western featuring Clint Eastwood, but for the crazed blood battle animation, contrasting antique hand typography, and distinctive western soundtrack.  Dubbed the Ennio whistle, the introductory two-note melody resembles the howl of a coyote merges with vignettes and Tuco's frantic search for the buried gold in the cemetery.



The Realities of Graphic Design

Over the years I have seen graphic design students make the leap from classroom to full-time employment. In fact, it was ten years ago that I experienced the same transition. Graduated from college, I bravely landed my first graphic design job with a web design company. Back then I was lucky to land a job in the field, particularly in the area. The odds were against us with 8 out of 40 students from my class working in the field one year after college.

It was in college that we were taught about design theory, history, software, and how to push our design work. We were there to impress our teachers, peers, and build a portfolio for ourselves. The bulk of the projects were about experimentation and not necessarily realistic to what we would experience in the real world.

It is now looking back there are realities about graphic design that would be valuable to any graphic designer starting out:

Graphic Design Is Hard Work

You will have to work hard to do the type of graphic design that you studied about. This means you may have to endure menial, repetitive design tasks. You may have to put in extra time to get jobs finished to perfection. By doing an exceptional job at handling these tasks, the doors will open for you.  You will gain knowledge that you can apply to the more difficult design jobs that will be coming your way. Own all your projects and you will get to doing the design jobs that you have dreamed about. Go the extra mile with typography, color, layout and you will become a great graphic designer.

The Studying Does Not End In School

Learning will never end in the area of graphic design. You need to stay on top of the trends and technologies in the field to keep your work relevant and efficient. Unfortunately with a full time job there may not be time during normal hours to do this. You will have to spend some of your own time reading magazines and books, subscribing to blogs, and going through websites. Upgrading your software will force you to make the leap to expanding your software skills. I received my training using Photoshop 8, Illustrator 9, QuarkXpress 4, and used Syquest disks to save my files. You can imagine how behind the times I would be if I did not adapt with the changing technology over the last 10 years!

You Are Designing For The Client, Not Yourself

That grunge, handmade look that is your signature style is great to represent your personal portfolio but your client may not appreciate it. This is why a design brief is so important when defining design projects. You need to understand your client's market, goals, and the messaging they are trying to get across. The look and feel that they are after may not be how you typically design. But any good designer will be able to adjust to a style that will work for their customer.

People Think That Everyone Is A Graphic Designer

Along the way you will run into clients that think that everyone is a graphic designer. This could include your client's spouse, child, or anyone with a computer. Although it is tough not to be offended, this is your queue to educate your client. Take them through your process and provide examples. What sets you apart from anyone else who has a computer with design software?

You Will Not Always Produce Portfolio Quality Work

Your client may have a hideous logo that was designed by themselves and they may not have the budget for a full redesign. Or there may be projects where there is an extremely short timeline, like a newspaper advertisement, that needed to be submitted yesterday. There are times where you will be restricted in your designs. You can definitely make suggestions to change directions but there will be a point where you have to compromise with your client. They are, after all, paying your bills.

Seek Criticism, Not Praise

It is always nice to hear all the good things about your design work. But there are times when you will get blinded by your own designs. The things that other designers notice in your designs for improvement will ultimately give you a better design. To become a great designer you need to tap into the criticism.


History + Anatomy - A Few of My Favorite Books Part 3

Here are some more printed beauties from my library. Be sure to see mini reviews and photos of my first 6 favorite books here and here.

Apartment Therapy Presents:
Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Design Solutions

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, 2008

For years I have been enjoying Apartment Therapy's blog about inspiration for your home. There have always been good ideas that are inexpensive to create a modern looking home one room at a time. The Apartment Therapy book is a great resource to see to the potential for organizing and decorating your home. The book shows real homes and real people with a tour of their space. The designs were very modern and contemporary which gives me things to do with my own space.

A History of Graphic Design
Phillip B. Meggs, 1998

A History of Graphic Design is actually one of two textbooks that I have kept over the years. As a professional graphic designer it is an essential resource to retrieve the various styles that have evolved in visual communications. From the evolution of cavemen carvings to graphic designer master Paul Rand, this book gives you all the details to how we have evolved to modern day design. This book is so comprehensive that it could be considered Graphic Design's Encyclopedia.

The Anatomy of Design: Uncovering the Influences and Inspirations in Modern Graphic Design
Steven Heller and Mirko Ilic, 2007

The Anatomy of Design is another comprehensive resource documenting design styles and concepts in an anatomy type way. The book has a pullout page for each main design that breaks down the components of concept and style that have been used. It opens up your mind to integrating these styles and concepts into your own work. I can't imagine how long it took to gather all of this information into a book format.


Beautiful Print - Some More of My Favorite Books - Part 2

Here are some more printed beauties from my library. Be sure to see mini reviews and photos of my first three favorite books here.

Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works
Erik Spiekermann + E.M. Ginger, 2002

Stop Stealing Sheep is a good introduction into the world of typography. The book offers basic terminology and concepts into type classification, selection, and usage in a engaging, sometimes entertaining way. This book is compact and covers a lot of territory in its form which is the opposite of the many other typographic guide books out there. The illustrations and photographs are very demonstrative with easy to grasp concepts.

How To Read A Photograph - Lessons from Master Photographers
Ian Jeffrey, 2009

How To Read A Photograph is a beautiful book featuring a visual history of photography and a guide to the style of the great Master Photographers. The quality of the printing really shows through as you turn page to page to reveal the next photographic masterpiece. The author interprets at least one photograph from each Master offering incite into the symbolism of the striking image. The book covers work including Fox Talbot, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Alfred Stieglitz.

One Perfect Day - The Selling of the American Wedding
Rebecca Mead, 2008

Personally working full-time in the wedding industry, One Perfect Day offers an eye-opening view on the commercialism of the wedding industry.  The all consuming details and industry's invention of the "Bridezilla" phenomenon has overshadowed the simple concept of a wedding - a celebration of two people that love each other. Part investigative journalism, part social commentary, this book goes behind the scenes into the world of wedding planners, department store bridal registries, honeymoon destinations, and wedding accessory manufacturers all creating ways to make money from the Bride's happily-ever-after. 

Check back shortly for three more of my favorite books!


Print Is Not Dead - A Few of My Favorite Books Part 1

Recently I was able to scoop up a few more books for my library from SFMOMA's amazing bookstore. (Of course they were hardcover books so I had to carry them back home to Canada in my carry-on to make sure my luggage did not go overweight! I was one kilogram under...)

Getting back into reading has allowed me to go through and organize my books that I have purchased over the last ten years. There are great books in my collection that have stood the test of time ranging from recommended reads to just examples of great book design. There is still no comparison to a printed hardcover book in this age of Ipads, Ebooks, and the Internet. Print is not dead. It is actually refreshing after hours in front of a computer to get away from the screen and curl up on the couch flipping through the pages.

Typography 20: the Annual of the Type Directors Club
Adam Greiss, 1999

Although this book is over 10 years old it is still a great example of superior typography and book design. I love the cover of this book and all the typographic details throughout. This annual demonstrates  a 1950s school theme. The TDC opens up an annual competition of the best typography in the world in a range of categories including identities, logos, stationery, annual reports, video graphics, and posters. Even though these were designs from 1998 they are still strong and show that the best designs use good type.

One Red Dot
David A. Carter, 2004

One Red Dot is a modern pop-up book for all ages. The goal - to spot the one red dot for hidden in every pop-up. Each pop-up is a magnificent paper sculpture with bright colors and paper that becomes mobile or makes a sound. Every time you flip that page you wonder how did they create that?

The Laws of Simplicity
John Maeda, 2006

I believe the philosophy that the more you can take away from a design the better your design will be. Maeda encompasses this concept and breaks it down into simple terms. He brings it down to a business, technology, and life application. Society is looking for simple, easy to use. Simple equals sanity. The Ten Laws = 1.Reduce 2.Organize 3.Time 4.Learn 5.Differences 6.Context 7.Emotion 8.Trust 9.Failure 10.The One

Check back shortly for three more of my favorite books!


A New Catalogue Of Inspiration

Just last week I was invited to join Pinterest, an online platform for curating and cataloguing images. Over the years I have spent time creating collections of sources that inspire me in my work. This has usually been done by documenting links in emails, bookmarking them in my list of hundreds of websites, or downloading and organizing images for future use.

Pinterest streamlines this process and displays your collections in a visually appealing format. You can follow users that share similar interests in inspiration and allow others to follow you. Pinterest is as much about discovering new things as it is about sharing.

Follow my new inspiration catalogues at


Bending Your Perspective

With film photography I have always missed the unpredictability of the final results of developed prints. The photos may come out over-exposed or under-exposed. Maybe the subject is out of focus or there is a flare in the shot. After a couple of months with a new DSLR and having some time to experiment with different lenses, I am hooked with my Lensbaby and Optic Lens System. This is the closest to getting back to film photography in the digital world.

This fun and creative system requires practice. The bending and focusing of the lens can be somewhat discouraging in the beginning. There is a lot of experimentation involved to judge the manual settings to ensure the correct exposure and focus. You have to manually insert your aperture rings, allowing for custom shaped apertures.

It is the creative effects that I really love. With the optic system you can swap out the lens to create a pinhole effect, or a plastic lens effect. The photos end up with a soft, artistic feel, almost painterly quality. Edges of the image create a blurry motion, with an element with a sharper focus.

Here are some of the highlight shots I have taken with my Lensbaby so far:


The Life of Trees

If trees could talk what would they say? Would they be able to tell the story of human evolution? Trees are, after all, the largest and longest living organisms on earth. In modern day, there are trees that are still standing after close to 4000 years.
It is quite amazing, how a tiny little seed can grow into something so ecologically fundamental. A tree will take water and salts out of the earth and lift them up to the leaves, sometimes over 400 ft above, and through photosynthesis the leaves combine the water and salts with carbon dioxide from the air to produce the nutrients which feed the tree. Trees also remove carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, from the air.

In a sense, trees have given us life and evolved civilization as we know it today. Without trees, there would not be wood. There would not be fire and the evolution of production, transportation, building, paper.

Because of their ecological influence, trees are also universally symbolic of birth, life, death, regeneration and rebirth. The influence is evident in many faiths but also artistically in many mediums, such as photography, painting, and drawing.

There is a debt we owe to trees. By destroying our forests there is a danger not only for the environment but also for ourselves.  Preserving our trees and wood resources will essentially preserve civilization.


  © 2010 Design by Stephanie Janke -

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