It is only fitting that my first post would be about Emil Ruder’s masterpiece, Typographie. I bought my first copy in 1994 from Recycled Books in Denton, Texas. It was a 1982 paperback repress, which left out the chapter on color and was reformatted to a portrait style. I was broke, but felt obligated to buy this book. Career wise, it was probably the best money I’ve ever spent; it also started my book addiction.
Typographie sat around my apartment for a while and I would read bits and pieces. Eventually it became commonplace for me to pick up the book and just stare at each page for an extended period of time. After doing this for almost a year, I had a breakthrough. For the first time, I felt like I really understood what Ruder was teaching about space, juxtaposition, layout, and geometry.
Looking back, this manual was the cornerstone of my education in design. It taught me so many things that schools do not teach, and with authority. Ruder could do this with ease, because he taught typography for over three decades, published Typografische Monatsblätter, and helped start the International Center for the Typographic Arts–and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are very few people that have credentials as solid as Ruder’s, and he has the work to back it up.
It’s hard to totally explain the design environment in the early 90’s. In my opinion, design was interesting, but 99% of “graphic design” was “cleverly-boring” work for businesses. The professors in collage poised you for doing that type of work. I was attending the University of North Texas and they would bring in some great speakers. The first one that ever clicked with me was Dana Arnett from VSA Partners. He was a wilder guy, rode a motorcycle, and wore crazy jewelry. At one point in his speech he showed some of his ideas on a bar napkin and this just blew my mind. He made it seem like you could actually have fun with the creative process, something I knew little about. Then Gert Dumbarvs spoke and really opened up the flood gates (with beer, not water) to my misconceptions.
In college, we learned about everything that Ruder talks about in his book, but the modernist ideals were not there. In the 1990’s, the tone is more relaxed and there are some rules, but they are not rigid. Ruder’s tone is anything but soft. He has specific rules with concise ideas and I ate it up. I became versed on how to juxtapose type, how to use geometry in design, and learned about the relationships of objects within space. These concepts are easy to find now and some are actually are superficially “in style,” but back then you had to dig deep to find this information. Typographie covers a wide range of topics and takes the reader from the origins of type layout through the International Typographic Style. No design book collection is complete without this manual, or education complete without reading this at least once. This book is distributed and sold by, RAM Publications.
The concept of “opinions as facts” is getting more and more common. This is a very common way of reporting today and it is even creeping into reputable news sources... and of course, the layman's blog.
We are all quick to judge something, we do it by nature. Judging something on a surface level is not using informed ‘critical thinking,’ it is just being a critic. I like to think if we can use critical thinking with facts, we can come up with constructive criticism. But before we jump to that we need to think about a lot of things when it comes to a rebrand. Here are a couple...
Did you read and understand the Statement of Work? Did you sit in the meetings where the company unveiled their new direction and objectives? Did you hear their long term goals? Did you talk with them about it and question some of their motives? Did you strategize hundreds of ideas where the company could go? Did you present these ideas? How did the presentation go? Did you work a month or a year on building the project? Did you do many rounds of reviews? Were you able to relate with the client and did they understand visual language? Did they really want something unique? Was there mutual respect? Was there a change in direction? Was the company able to pull off the branding visually after you handed off the work? Did the design and language around the mark communicate and express their vision? When you were finished, did the work express where they wanted to go?
I feel like there are so many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to designing anything, it is such a slippery slope to do a knee jerk reaction. So before we judge something, maybe we should ask some questions first before being quick to judge?
Nothing like starting over again, huh? My first post in 2010 talked about starting a blog that covered what we felt was the best work in the field of graphic design. In those last four years we have been over-saturated with images and information (both good and bad). So starting up a blog again isn't so interesting to me. I don't want this to be about inspiration, but more celebration of great work with some content.
If you would like to contact us, we prefer twitter. We do this for the love of sharing great work and would like to keep it simple and pure.
Thanks to Cargo Collective for providing the site and all of their help through the years. We can't suggest them enough.