TheAtlantic.com has been running a series of charming infographics on topics ranging from hairstyles in the 20th century to the history of weapons over the ages. Created by Jackie Lay, a designer, illustration and art director for The Atlantic Magazine, the brief animated timelines combine flat-graphic illustrations with one inconsequential element in the picture showing subtle movement. A wisp of hair gently moving out of place. A cloud slowly passing across the sky. Steam lazily curling up from a hot cup of coffee. The movement isn’t part of the storyline, but it entices the viewer to pay closer attention. It carries the viewer into the next frame. Without that almost infinitesimal movement to grab the viewer’s interest, the image would be what it actually is: A still illustration. Animation doesn’t always have to be a full-blown Pixar-like extravaganza. Sometimes a little movement makes all the difference between stagnant and intriguing. Read More »
Less than a decade ago, a billboard was essentially a printed image blown up to a gargantuan size. The picture didn’t move, respond to what was happening in the environment around it, nor interact with passersby. How times have changed, and with it, the types of skills designers need to execute their ideas. Even printed pieces are not static anymore, what with the option of Augmented Reality movement and sound.
Stopp of Stockholm produced this subway billboard for a Swedish cosmetic line called Apolosophy by Apotek Hjärtat. Connecting ultra-sonic sensors to the billboard screen, Stopp made what appeared to be a “still photograph” of a young model come alive. Calibrated to react to arriving trains but not to passing passengers, the sensors made it look like the breeze from the passing trains were tousling the model’s hair. After the train went by, the model returned to her “still” repose. What a delightfully simple idea and brilliant use of technology.
Leo Burnett ad agency made clever use of negative space to communicate Fiat’s Don’t Text and Drive message. Those who focus on the large alphabet letters often miss the silhouetted image in the negative black space. It’s a matter of perspective and where your attention is centered: On the letter “R” or the girl with a balloon? The “F” or the bus? The “N” or the dog? The subjects in the negative space are hiding in plain sight, but you have to be alert to see them.
Designing a book cover is an exercise in balance. The image or graphic has to distill the story without giving away the plot. It has to create “shelf presence” to entice shoppers to pick up the book for a closer look. It has to avoid false advertising, but can’t be boring, even if the content is. It should give shoppers a sense of the genre – suspense, sci-fi, romance, self-help, current events – but imply that the author has a unique and fascinating take on the subject. While it is true that “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” it is also true that you can design a cover that makes shoppers want to buy the book. This video from Random House features interviews with book designers from its publishing groups (Random House, Knopf Doubleday and Crown) providing insights into the complex process of creating compelling, eye-catching and meaningful book cover jackets.
It is hard to say what will happen to the penguin logo when Penguin Books and Random House complete their merger, announced in October, but I can’t imagine that the pudgy little bird won’t survive. Founded in the UK in 1935 to bring well-designed quality paperbacks to the market, Penguin Books made the flightless bird its trademark from the start. The first penguin was drawn by designer Edward Young, with Gill Sans specified for the typeface, and covers showing three bands of color used to organize titles by genre – orange for fiction, dark blue for biographies, etc. Typographer Jan Tschichold modified the logo in 1946 and redesigned some 500 Penguin books and also wrote a four-page design manifesto, “Penguin Composition Rules.” In 2003, Pentagram’s Angus Hyland tweaked the penguin logo some more.