Remember The Title #4

Up In The Air (2009)

With spring in the air I now have the traveling itch. I suppose soon enough I will be on my way as part of a business trip. But that does not necessarily count — as it is still work. So to inspire my next big leisure trip, I will have to watch the title sequence to Up In The Air (2009) instead.

I love how this intro captures the aerial views and the floating feeling when traveling via air. The patterns, textures, and colors can give away what region you are traveling to. The typographic motion also lends to the overall experience. The views play into the contrast of scale - as humans we are big but also very small.

*There is a great interview about the making of the title sequence by Shadowplay Studios here. View the official title sequence here.


Views of Medicine Hat's Saamis Tepee

Working as a graphic designer over the years with different local companies, the teepee has become an almost required element to symbolize Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

Since its move to Medicine Hat in 1991, the world's tallest teepee, a.k.a. the Saamis Tepee, stands 215 feet high, overlooking the Trans-Canada Highway. Originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary, Alberta, the roadside attraction is passed through thousands of travelers making their way across Canada.

Every so often I will snap a few photos when I am passing by.


10 Deadly Type Crimes

Are you a type criminal?

Even the best of us commit the occasional type crime by accident or inattention. Knowing the “ten deadliest” type offenses will make you a better designer and result in projects looking more polished and effortless to read. As with all guidelines there are some rules that are worth breaking under certain circumstances. But you need to understand the rules that stem back to the days of original typesetting before you can break them.

Don’t Do It!

  1. Horizontal or Vertical Scaled Type
    Distorting type by stretching or squishing is committing font murder. Instead adjust the spacing between your letters or choose a condensed or expanded typeface.
  2. Dumb Quotes ("…") Used In Place of Quotation Marks (“…”)
    The purpose of dumb quotes ("…") is to indicate inches and feet like 5'2". Their use to mark quotations is common across the type landscape. Reserve smart typographer quotes (“…”) for quotation marks and apostrophes.
  3. Two Spaces Between Sentences Instead of One
    Say goodbye to the days of typewriters of when this practice started. Not only does this leave an ugly gap between sentences, it’s typographically wrong!
  4. Failure to Use Proper Fractions
    All typefaces have built in fraction characters. Learn the keystrokes. Instead of using 1/2 to represent one half use the proper ½ character. It looks nicer and it takes less room.
  5. Faking Italic, Bold, or Small Caps
    Computer pseudo styling is a sure sign of an impostor. Computer styling results in distorted forms that degrade your type and overall design.
  6. Wrong Use of Hyphens (-), En Dashes (–), and Em Dashes (—)
    Dashes of different length have specific uses that every designer must learn. Hyphens (-) connect linked words and phrases, and they break words at ends of lines. En Dashes (–) connect numbers like 1–10. Em Dashes (—) express strong grammatical breaks.
  7. Too Many Signals
    Visual emphasis can be created with just one signal. It is not necessary to bold, italicize, underline and set in all uppercase to make type stand out.
  8. Creating Graphics with Type That Needs to Be Web Accessible
    Stemming back to the limitations of type for the web, a common practice has been to create graphics to incorporate designer fonts into a Web site. This is a big no-no for any type that needs to be read by screen readers or search engines. Thank goodness there is more flexibility with the introduction of web fonts. I am using web fonts on this blog.
  9. Failure to Eliminate Widows and Orphans
    A widow is a word that sits on a line by itself at the end of a paragraph. An orphan is the last line of a paragraph that sits alone at the top of a column or page. Type does not like to be alone.
  10. Poorly Aligned Type
    Ugly gaps can occur as text is forced into lines of even measure. Avoid this by making sure the line length is long enough in relation to the size of type. With left and right alignment columns can lose their organic appearance and develop bad rags leading to legibility issues.


Alcatraz In Photos

Alcatraz Island, or commonly referred to The Rock, is famous for its history as a prison from which, officially, no prisoner ever successfully escaped. My trip last year to the Island just a ferry ride away from San Francisco was so fascinating with its eroded buildings, climbing vegetation, and audio tour of the actual prison.  I got some great (almost eerie) images from the tour of prison island.

Loading Ferry To Alcatraz Island
Side View of Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island At Sunset
Vegetation on Alcatraz Island

Traveling To Alcatraz Island
United States Penitentiary Alcatraz Island Sign - Indians Welcome
Roots Overlooking Out To San Francisco
The Burned and Decayed Hall
Inside A Cell
From Behind The Cell Bars
Lighting Through The Protected Windows
Peeking Through A Guard Gun Hole


Typeface (2009)

Typeface (2009) By Justine Nagan
My fascination with type lead me to Justine Nagan's documentary Typeface, recently released on DVD by Kartemquin Films. The film features the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin (population of 13,000), a town hit hard by globalization. The historic block-long warehouse which houses over 1.5 million wood letterforms, ceased operations in 1985, coinciding with the introduction of the MacIntosh computer. Since the late 1880s the factory was the main provider of wood type in the US. Typeface, created on a $100,000 budget, focuses on the Midwestern museum’s fight to stay connect in today’s digital type revolution.
In a time when people can carry computers in their pockets and watch TV while walking down the street, Typeface dares to explore the twilight of an analog craft that is freshly inspiring artists in a digital age. The Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, WI personifies cultural preservation, rural re-birth and the lineage of American graphic design. At Hamilton, international artisans meet retired craftsmen and together navigate the convergence of modern design and traditional technique.
—Kartemquin Films
After watching the film I left feeling that hopefully a solution can be developed to sustain the museum. In the movie the last surviving Hamilton Type workers are in their early 80s. Their knowledge and process needs to be documented for the younger generations of designers.

There is optimism though - the fact that the Hamilton Wood Type Museum is a working museum helps. Designers and small press operators who are willing to make the trek can actually experience printing with wood type. The letterforms are not protected behind glass. Visitors can open type drawers, touch, and work with the type. The museum also now has a store to buy original prints produced on site as financial support.

It would be neat to travel there some day.

For information on the film, Typeface visit
Hamilton Wood Type Museum -
Limited Edition Wood Type Printed Included with DVD


Design In Which We Trust

Can design decisions influence whether we perceive a company to be more credible than another? 

The answer, yes!

Design is your first impression. It has actually been proven that design is the first filter when it comes to building trust, especially online. A study conducted on opinions on a health website proved that 83% of the comments were related to design factors, such as a bad first impression regarding the look and feel, poor navigation, color and legibility, and the url of the website. An impression takes only a few seconds.

Fonts influence your perception. Another interesting study was conducted focusing on the effect of website typeface appropriateness on the perception of the company. It was proven that typefaces that were serif were considered more professional. Courier and comic typefaces significantly decreased the perception of the company as professional, believable and trustworthy.

Content = Credibility. Design does not stand alone when establishing trust. After a user's initial impression of the design, content is the second filter in deciding whether a website is considered trustworthy. In the study 74% of the participants’ comments were about content being important in deciding whether they found a site trustworthy (after the initial design impression). This proves that if sites can provide credibility including content written by experts or people that they can identify with their target market, a website is considered believable. Users need to benefit from the content.

Without a professional design, users will not even see past to view the content. That is why it is ultra important to really to fine-tune your design in order to showcase the content to its true capability. Your users will feel more comfortable and you will be able to get your message across more easily. Design builds trust even if it is subconsciously.


Creative Ruts (and Overcoming Them)

"An idea is nothing more nor less than a combination of new elements" - James Webb Young

As creatives we are not reinventing the wheel but taking the ingredients that we already know about and blending them into a new recipe. We are merging them in a new way - to make them creative. What I like about this quote is it gives the solution for finding your idea and overcoming your creative rut.

Today I am in a rut trying to create this post that you are reading. So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, I am talking about creative ruts and how to overcome them to inspire myself but hopefully you as well.

Idea expert Jack Foster explains creative ruts perfectly.
"Of course you're in a rut. Admit it."

"Why do you think you do the same things the same way in the same order every morning when you wake up? ... Or eat the way you eat, or dress the way you dress, or think the way you think, or, or, or?"

"It's because you're in a rut."

In his book How To Get Ideas he goes further to offer some advice.

"And if you just stay in your rut and let things creep in naturally, you'll never pile up the kind of varied and extensive database you need to form new ideas."

"There's a huge, fascinating, exploding world of information out there – in any direction you care to look."

"But you must look. And the sooner you do the sooner you'll become aware of "old elements" you didn't even know existed."

So that is what I will do I will take a break from here and get my brain focusing on something else. I will listen to music that I have not listened to before. I will visit a place I have not visited before. Maybe I will study a different language. I will get out of my creative rut.

In my experience here is a summary of how I have been able to get from under my creative rut.
  1. Define the creative problem
  2. Search for answers in non-traditional areas
  3. Stop stressing about having creative block and take a break from it
  4. Come back to the problem with a different perspective
  5. Talk your problem out to others
  6. The ideas will start pouring in!
I hope this has been helpful. I am good now.


Wordle - Beautiful Word Clouds

Any type fanatic will love Wordle, an online word cloud generator. Word clouds give visual hierarchy words that appear the most frequently. The generator allows you to tweak your fonts, layout, and colors. You can import words from a web page or cut and paste your own strains of text. Think of the possibilities with importing your own blog or your favorite poem or lyrics.


  © 2010 Design by Stephanie Janke -

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