ON DARK evenings in late 1916, a frail 76-year-old man could often be seen shuffling furtively between The Dove, a pub in west London, and the green and gold turrets of Hammersmith Bridge. Passers-by paid no attention, for there was nothing about Thomas Cobden-Sanderson’s nightly walks to suggest that he was undertaking a peculiar and criminal act of destruction.
Between August 1916 and January 1917 Cobden-Sanderson, a printer and bookbinder, dropped more than a tonne of metal printing type from the west side of the bridge. He made around 170 trips in all from his bindery beside the pub, a distance of about half a mile, and always after dusk. At the start he hurled whole pages of type into the river; later he threw it like bird seed from his pockets. Then he found a small wooden box with a sliding lid, for which he made a handle out of tape—perfect for sprinkling the pieces into the water, and not too suspicious to bystanders.
Those tiny metal slugs belonged to a font of type used exclusively by the Doves Press, a printer of fine books that Cobden-Sanderson had co-founded 16 years earlier. The type was not his to destroy, so he concealed his trips from his friends and family and dropped his packages only when passing traffic would drown out the splash. There were slip-ups, all the same. One evening he nearly struck a boatman, whose vessel shot out unexpectedly from under the bridge. Another night he threw two cases of type short of the water. They landed on the pier below, out of reach but in plain sight. After sleepless nights he determined to retrieve them by boat, but they eventually washed away. After that he was more careful. Continue reading →
Hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional—the image of the artist has changed radically over the centuries. What if the latest model to emerge means the end of art as we have known it?
Pronounce the word artist, to conjure up the image of a solitary genius. A sacred aura still attaches to the word, a sense of one in contact with the numinous. “He’s an artist,” we’ll say in tones of reverence about an actor or musician or director. “A true artist,” we’ll solemnly proclaim our favorite singer or photographer, meaning someone who appears to dwell upon a higher plane. Vision, inspiration, mysterious gifts as from above: such are some of the associations that continue to adorn the word.
Yet the notion of the artist as a solitary genius—so potent a cultural force, so determinative, still, of the way we think of creativity in general—is decades out of date. So out of date, in fact, that the model that replaced it is itself already out of date. A new paradigm is emerging, and has been since about the turn of the millennium, one that’s in the process of reshaping what artists are: how they work, train, trade, collaborate, think of themselves and are thought of—even what art is—just as the solitary-genius model did two centuries ago. The new paradigm may finally destroy the very notion of “art” as such—that sacred spiritual substance—which the older one created.
Done to Death has just published a recently discovered collection of photographs of 70s daredevil, Evel Knievel. For any boy who grew up in the 1970’s, there are few cultural icons who could inspire as much awe as this red, white and blue clad madman. He would jump over rows of flaming cars on his Harley, strap himself to a rocket and shoot himself over the Snake River Canyon, survive horrible crashes, break bones and endure third degree burns only to get up and do it again. What mind of a 10 year old boy wouldn’t be blown out of the stratosphere?
At the height of his fame in 1972, Evel (real name Robert) was invited down to the Oklahoma State Fairground to wow the crowds by local businessman Jack Cooper, the owner of Cooperville Car Dealership. Four decades later Jack’s grandson Garrett Colton found a box of slides in his grandfather’s attic which captured that very special visit with vivid old school charm.
1. The Internet can Make Anyone a Good Graphic Designer
While it is true that you can find graphic design tips and endless tutorials and tricks online (for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), simply knowing your way around some design software does not make you a good designer. Gaining lots of experience, using some good old creativity, and even getting a degree are important for any designer hoping to create a professional website and/or brand.
2. There is no Difference between a Logo and a Brand
If you want to start visual marketing for your business, it is important to know the difference between a logo and a brand—not just for your sake but also for the designer’s. A logo is just the icon by which people recognize your business. But a brand includes a logo and so much more, such as color schemes, fonts, the appearance of your business card, letterhead, and website, etc. It’s the overall representation of your company—but it can also be as detailed as requiring specific sizes, measurements, and locations of all branding materials. Try Googling brand standards for a big company, and you’ll find some incredibly thorough brand standards. Then consider your business’ marketing strategy. Do you have good brand standards?
3. Graphic Design is Only Done on a Computer
This is absolutely not true. I took several graphic design classes while in college, and every project started with a sketchpad and pencil. The brainstorming stage should typically be done on paper and include dozens of formative ideas. Then, a few of these sketches should be fleshed out on quality paper for the client. After one or two ideas are agreed upon, the designer can move to a computer to start creating the design. Paper and pencil allow several possibilities to be explored quickly. The computer is for building designs of the best ideas.
4. Simple Designs Cost Less Time and Money
Just because a design appears simple doesn’t mean minimal thought or creativity went into it. When it comes to designing websites, it’s up to the designer to figure out how a website will flow—how one page leads to another and how menus are organized and displayed. If the designer can make a content-heavy website easy to view and navigate, then he has successfully done his job. But a lot of time and effort go into determining how things look and feel, even in clean and simple designs.
Don’t find yourself falling into these misconceptions. Graphic design is an art and excellence comes with a lot of practice. What misconceptions have you encountered about graphic design? Share with us in the comments section.
Laura Hussey, partner and creative director at London-based SomeOnewrites about the influence of color in brand identity. Color is one of the most overlooked and underutilized piece of the brand puzzle, and for some reason, the power of color to convey mood and define a brand is often completely forgotten.
A study of the world’s top 100 brands (defined by brand value) saw 95% use only one or two colours. 33% of those top brands would like to think they own the colour blue, and 29% think red is their colour. It suddenly becomes irrelevant, it’s what you do with it that counts. Why be limited?
It’s a quick read and a good primer about color and how color relates to building a recognizable and memorable brand. I recommend it for those of you who are considering designing a logo for your business.