The history of typography

Stop-motion animation short on the history of typography by Yukon-based designer Ben Barrett-Forrest. Read an interview with him here.

(via The Atlantic)

Tiny art, big impact

I have a little thing for the works of Isaac Cordal. He makes tiny sculptures and places them in public settings, both urban and rural. I’m charmed.


From his Cement Eclipses about page:

Isaac Cordal is sympathetic toward his little people and you can empathize with their situations, their leisure time, their waiting for buses and even their more tragic moments such as accidental death, suicide or family funerals. The sculptures can be found in gutters, on top of buildings, on top of bus shelters; in many unusual and unlikely places.

If you’re charmed too, you can follow Cement Eclipses on Facebook here.

Iconic icons: archiving Canadian logos

Canadian logos

This is very cool and caused my heart to surge with nostalgia. Some clever designers, calling themselves the Northern Army Preservation Society of Canada, have begun an archive of their favourite Canadian logos. In their explanation ‘About the Project’ they write, among other sweet things, about Canadian design and designers:

“We built upon the bold, no-bullshit European aesthetic and made it our own. Clean, tasteful design where it isn’t even required – the numbering on the sides of our trains; signs for national parks, our government letterhead. Even our wheat. Wheat doesn’t need good design does it? We did it anyway, because it’s part of our culture.”

Their logo is pretty cool too — national parks flavoured! Have a look for yourself at


The art of logo design (video)

“A great logo is memorable, it’s appropriate to the brand, and it’s simple so it can work everywhere and look the same in every situation.”

Off Book is a PBS web series that explores cutting-edge art, internet culture, and the people that create it.

Just the faces of downtown Guelph

Guelph Portrait Project

Austin Gibson, a photographer, local artist and downtown Guelphite, has started The Guelph Portrait Project, featuring raw, up-close portraits of other downtowners. Basically no more than a series of mugshots, the aesthetic result is extremely personal and compelling.

Austin is quoted in a Guelph Mercury article: “Everyone complains about photos of themselves. Part of this project is to expose that fear and maybe help people get over it, because of the detail and the level of intimacy. It captures people in that raw, real way that we don’t normally see in a photo.”

The idea was to start by shooting portraits of his closest social circle, and then begin to move outward in ever-widening, connecting ‘degrees of separation.’

I find it both beautiful and fascinating as a social project, not just an art project. I love that as I stare longer at this teaser shot (above) — I find that eventually, gradually, I’ve recognized, if not put a name to, every face. And I really like that it levels everyone socially — no names, no job titles, no status — nothing to hide behind or stand upon. Just the faces.

I sat for the project last Friday night down at the Army Navy bar on Gordon St. It was a fairly simple procedure. It’s one-click and you’re done. Austin told me there are no re-takes unless there’s a technical fault or your eyes are shut.

Visit (and like) his Facebook page to find out when you can sit for your portrait. He’s planning a second event like the Army Navy shoot. Also, check out Austin Gibson Photography for more of Austin’s work.

Donations are welcome and apparently you can purchase your own raw, up-close, every-wrinkle-and-blemish portrait too. I think I’ll get mine.

SkyArt | the space in between


I used to doodle in the margins. Draw cartoonish figures — little stick figures that hung from the letters in my textbooks. I meant them to play on the perception of spaces, as though the drop from the heading to the first line were a doozy; as if the margin on the edge of the page was a chasm that the tiny figure was in danger of losing itself into, headlong. I’d also compulsively scrawl and fill in the closed spaces of letters — the hoop of the ‘o’, the head of the ‘e’, the belly of the ‘d’…I’d systematically fill the empty space.

In SkyArt, French artist Thomas Lamadieu draws captivating illustrations in the empty space of photographs of the sky between buildings. It’s charming. In his artist statement he says: “Jouer avec les formes pour pouvoir faire vivre le vide,” which I understand to mean roughly that he is playing with forms to bring the empty space alive.

I wonder that its charm isn’t that we’ve all tried our hand at doodling, and so can relate. Or maybe it runs deeper still, to some shared unconscious pleasure we take in filling any void. We love to confabulate, to make stories, in emptiness. Or perhaps — and this my favourite personal theory on the matter — it’s the saucy tongues on almost every illustration. The figures taunt you with the cutest little pink tongue, stuck out. I’d say that’s the smallest, earliest gesture we know that says:  ‘come here, I’m hiding something.’ And we almost can’t resist. Very sweet.


Know how to fold ’em

foldedbirdOver at the they have cool ideas and templates for deciding how to fold your printed project. It’s a great place to get creative folding inspiration if you’re planning to make a brochure but don’t want the same-old-same-old or if you have specific or unusual folding needs.

For graphic designers, it’s also a community and a resource for “folding compensation mathematics, animated folding illustrations, naming and numbering conventions, considerations, and a levels system for budgetary guidance.

Trish Witkowski, the resident Chief Folding Fanatic, says her passion for folding came about when, as a designer, she couldn’t get proper templates for intricately folded print pieces. She says:

My frustration (and curiosity) turned into a 7-year research project, working with some of the most respected binderies and printers in the U.S. and Canada to document all of the brochure folds I could find. The result was an 850-page book about folding, and a big fat printing industry award for creating the FOLDRite system—a system that standardizes file creation for folded materials.

Of course, according to me, if you go anywhere on her site, go straight to the other folding stuff where ‘the goofing off’ happens. There you will find links to free paper toys and origami sites and folding projects and clever videos and fun facts about the world of folding.

Simple single-page website design

I love the simplicity of a single-page website and these examples — 21 Inspiring Single Page Wesites — are very cool.

No complicated, standard, drop-down menus. In fact these single-page sites remind me of a restaurant menu. The kind you find at a pancake house, a laminated over-sized sheet. You can see everything at a glance.

Probably my fav of the 21 sites chosen by WDL, is a web design company out of Brooklyn, Milk & Pixels. Bold, fresh, beautiful. Worth a short scroll.


Source: Web Design Ledger

EDIT: Just heard Jian on Q (CBC) late today and one of his guests has a supremely elegant single-page site. He’s a 17-year old who seems to have just sold his news aggregating app to Yahoo. Well done, Nick, impressive. See

Astonishing Italian-designed space saving furniture

Technically this falls under the purview of industrial designers, not graphics. But it’s so beautifully designed that I couldn’t resist sharing it. The design is fresh, clean, efficient.

The simplicity and cleverness of the space saving is remarkable. For example, the beds are ingenious (I’ve never seen a murphy bed that could fold down with loose items stacked on a front-mounted shelf staying in place all the way down — magic!), but they look a little insubstantial, reminiscent of a camp bed or cot. Perfect for people with no time to lay around in bed, or if you want to be able to sleep 20 guests in style in a studio apartment.

I watched the entire six minutes with interest and ongoing wonder at what they might pull out of the wall next.


Resource Furniture, who is importing the line from Italy, apparently has a Toronto location!

The evolution of business cards

Acquaintance CardDesign Float Blog has a wonderful brief history of the business card – from it’s origins in 15th century China to the present day.

Enjoy a short trip through the evolution from visiting cards to trade cards to the modern day business card.

On the 21st century card:

Today’s business cards come in an array of shapes, sizes and materials. Designs are no longer limited to paper-based products and almost any surface can be printed on to create a unique card. And thankfully, handing out your business card is no longer the etiquette minefield as it was a few centuries ago. There are still a few essential rules that should be followed to ensure its success. Keep your card easy to read, service-appropriate and include all your relevant contact details if you’re interested in building business acquaintances that get you further than the front door.