Stranger Typography

stranger things logo title

Think about your favorite tv series. Now think about the title sequence (or opening credits) for that show. Do they suck you in? Do they put you in the mood for the story? Great title screens do. A few of my favorite title sequences are Sherlock Holmes, anything Star Trek and The Walking Dead.

But let’s take this a step further. What if you took your favorite show’s title sequence and removed all the fancy effects, shots of the actors and any scenery. Would that title screen still be able to do it’s job? If that title screen belonged to Stranger Things, then, yes it’s doing the job amazingly.

Stranger Things is Netflix’s new fantasy suspense drama set in the 80’s. It’s very very good. And it’s simple intro does a spooktastic job of setting the tone for the show. You can watch it here.

I want to note three great design aspects of this sequence.

1. So much with so little. While the design is minimalistic, the mood and tone completely draw us in. It takes serious skills to be able to communicate so much with typography, three colors and an – admittedly incredible – sound track.

2. It’s a mystery. The title sequence, like the show, is itself a mystery. At first, the shapes floating around look remarkably familiar but not entirely recognizable. A few scenes later, they reveal themselves to be letters, but what do they say? The mystery isn’t resolved until we zoom out to see the whole picture.

3. It’s retro AND contemporary. The title font, if you’re curious, is a Benguiat variant. And as this excellent blog post points out, it was pulled directly from the cover of multiple Stephen King Novels. It’s also contemporary because the designer elegantly paired a serif and a sans-serif. The sans-serif, Avante Garde, is the font used to render the names and roles.

Imaginary Forces, the team that made this sequence, really nailed it. Now it’s your turn. You can have some fun with this Stranger Things logo generator to make your own title screens. Here’s a few of mine:

typography rules

dumband-dumber

huckleberry finn

Have a great week,

sig

Grand Slam Poster

Did you know Charleston used to have a baseball team called the Charleston Rainbows? I didn’t until a few weeks ago when I collaborated with the awesome team down at Wine + Food Charleston. They commissioned me to design a poster for their upcoming ticket launch party on Sept 15th: Grand Slam Jam.

The event theme was the Rainbows, baseball, retro, etc. They put together a mood board to help give me an idea of the what they wanted. From there, I developed some rough sketches:

sketches of charleston rainbow poster

They picked one, a bunch of graphic design happened and we ended up with this for the final poster:

final wine + food poster for ticket launch

Additionally, we used the poster as an animated graphic for their email promotions.

charleston baseball jam

Great people. Great project. Don’t forget to buy your tickets to the Grand Slam Jam!
sig

2016 Print Trends by Paperspec

This month, Paperspecs put on a webinar about the hottest print design trends in 2016. Paperspecs is a website dedicated to all things printing and paper. And by paper, I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill Staples multipurpose. No, this is more like the TMZ of the paperworld: what’s hip, mill news, swatch book scandals, who’s printing who, etc. Real design nerd stuff.

I’ll save you 45 minutes and sum up their “Top 5” print trends. Or if you like, you can watch the original webinar here.

Number 5: Kraft Paper

It’s got that artisan, handmade, enviro-friendly feel.

kraft paper wedding

Number 4: Go for the Gold

It isn’t just for Grandma’s bling anymore.

gold menu items

gold ink brochure

Number 3: Soft Metallic Sheen

According to the webinar, this is silver label paper printed on a digital press. Pretty slick.

 soft sheen label
Number 2: Tone on Tone

There are many ways – in various price ranges – to achieve this next level effect.

 spot varnish

emboss

Number 1: Hand Sown Thread

This is called smyth binding. It’s not new, but this treatment (exposed) is the rage. Juries out for me on this trend.

smyth sewn

smyth2

 

Hope you enjoyed this recap. Have a great week!

sig

 

 

 

Gradients Are Back!

have you noticed that gradients are making a comeback in the world of commerce? Perhaps, you didn’t know they were ever out of fashion. Or even more likely, you’re not 100% sure what a gradient is? Never fear.

Simply defined, a gradient is a slope (or fade) that displays a smooth transitions between two or more colors. Here are some examples of simple gradients.

graphic design gradients

In the early days of computer graphics, gradients were rampant… and bold. Any old desktop publisher with a copy of Photoshop could pop a rainbow fade into their design with the click of a button. The effect was so easily achieved that it lost it’s appeal as a sophisticated element of design. And sometime during the rise of minimalism, the gradient was cast to the background along with other aesthetic rejects like the Drop Shadow and Comic Sans. It also probably didn’t help that professionally printing a design with a gradient tends to increase production cost because it requires at least 4 layers of ink.

The gradient is indeed back. Truthfully, they never went away completely, but now you can find them featured prominently in many types of graphic design. Proof of their status: big brands (i.e. people with money to lose) are using them. A fresh example is the new Instagram logo suite.

instagram

As with many things, the old is now new again. There is one key difference though: the new gradients are almost always highly saturated and very colorful. Here are some examples that really struck me.

website with gradient

(source: https://mixpanel.com/jql/)

f8 gradients web design

thank you typographygradients web design

(source: https://www.fbf8.com)

Not to be left behind, I’ve dipped my toe in the water when the situation was appropriate. Take a look!

south carolina graphic design

let's get to play

Go forth! Upgrade your marketing materials with large swathes of fading color! A word of warning though – like any fashionable trend, please consult a professional to make sure you’re “doing it right”. Luckily, I happen to know one.

Have a great week,

sig

A Rebirth of Simplicity

boxTrends come and go in the world of graphic design. Many of them are exciting, inspiring and brilliant. They also represent an era, so when that era passes, the trends fade and become less relevant. Think art deco.

Simplicity is timeless. A designer can always return to simplicity. If well-executed, simplicity can be equally brilliant and inspiring, and it’s almost always functional.

A new book documents the “rebirth of simplicity” in the graphic design.” Stuart Tolley’s “MIN: The New Simplicity in Graphic Design” documents the new wave of minimalism washing back over the world of graphic design.

min

The design of the book itself is a tribute to minimalism, as are its 400 photographs.

book1 book2

Contrary to its form, simplicity is not simple, and it requires creativity and expertise to execute. It’s a bit like turning down the volume on a rock band – that’s when you discover the real musicianship.

9k=

Minimalism will not crowd out other design concepts; it’s just an appealing option. Ultimately, that’s the best design trend – whatever works for the product and consumer.

So what do you think? Are you a fan of minimalism?

sig

Anatomy of a Web Ad

Graphic design is equal parts listening, thinking and actually designing. On this project, I thought it might be interesting to open a window on the thinking.

grenadeThe client, Guided Choice, provided this very clever copy and asked me to design their web ads. In this first one, it was important to read the copy and understand its purpose.

Once I did that, it was clear how to illustrate it to drive home the copy point and create some humor.

I also paid attention to the hierarchy of the copy. Clearly, the most important part of the copy is the second statement – the description of what the company can do for you. But you won’t read that unless we grab your attention first. So I prioritized the headline.

I highlighted the call to action, without making it a copy priority, by dropping it out in a white box. Clicking there will take you to their website.

cliffThe company name is small because it doesn’t matter very much at this stage. The first priority of the ad is to convince you to click to their website. Only then does it matter who you’re dealing with.

Again, it was important to match the illustration to the copy. It’s obvious that neither works without the other.

There’s a lot of copy in this one. The challenge was to lead the reader through it without overwhelming them. To achieve that, I made the image and headline pop.

The reader’s eye naturally jumps to the call to action in the box. Then you can fill in with the explanation above it – or not, it doesn’t really matter. The reader has gotten the point.

teaThis last ad is a little different.

The copy actually did all the work itself and didn’t really need an illustration to explain or reinforce it.

So I used the illustration as decoration and kept it out of the way. It pleases the eye but doesn’t interfere with the work of the words.

I used color to add power and hierarchy to the words. Questions in blue, answers in pink.

The call to action is boxed and bold.

I made sure to use happy colors. This isn’t about scaring people; it’s about helping them succeed.

I’ll be really interested to see how well these ads work. I know I gave the company the best chance to acquire new customers through good design.

sig