show

Rick Poynor
Posters by Hans Hillmann for Jean-Luc Godard’s Films
09.16.14

Rick Poynor looks at the work of a master of cinematic graphic design

Jessica Helfand
La Grafica
09.03.14

Typography is, of course, her lingua franca:  and who better than to write this book than Louise Fili?

Elizabeth Guffey
Deborah Sussman: Los Angeles Design Pioneer
Jessica Helfand
Logocentrism
Steven Heller
User-Friendly Paul Rand
08.13.14

Paul Rand did not coin the term “user-friendly.” He would have hated its trendy sound.

Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo
The Rand House: A House to Work and Live In
08.12.14

While not a large house, it felt just right, as if it had been made to measure for every interaction and every function.

Jason Santa Maria
On Web Typography: Smart Quotes
08.05.14

Punctuation is a system.

Rick Poynor
The Mysteries of France:
A Gothic Guidebook
Observed
Redesiging the Parking Sign
07.17.14

Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting parking tickets. Her solution: redesign the signs.

The Editors
Parametric Posters from MuirMcNeil
07.16.14

New posters by MuirMcNeil demonstrate the parametric principles of their typeface designs.

Jan Almquist
Perceiving Deeply
07.10.14

On Teaching to See, A film by Andrei Severny; produced by Edward Tufte.

Justin Zhuang
East and West: Graphic Design in Singapore Today
John Bertram
These Events Did Not Occur in Black and White
07.07.14

The history of cover design for This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.

John Foster
Whirlwinds, Snowdrops, and Big Bangs: Vintage Fireworks Labels
07.04.14

Happy 4th of July!

Véronique Vienne
Two Monumental Shows in Paris: One Large, One Small
07.01.14

There are two shows you shouldn’t miss if you happen to be in Paris this summer.

Inkahoots
Black, Red + Gold
Michael Bierut
Massimo Vignelli, 1931-2014
Véronique Vienne
Image Making, Reclaimed
05.22.14

Etienne Hervy, art director of the International Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont, France, asked a painter, not a graphic designer, to create a pair of posters for this year’s event.

Debbie Millman
Brian Singer
Debbie Millman
Steven Heller
Justin Zhuang
Monocle Magazine: A Singular View of the City
Alex Knowlton
Miami Nice
Observed
Celebrate Design
04.23.14

In case you haven't heard, AIGA celebrates its Centennial this year.

The Editors
Records for Life: Rethinking the Immunization Card
Francisco Laranjo
Critical Graphic Design: Critical of What?
Observed
Glaser Goes Psychedelic
04.11.14

If you're watching the premier of Mad Men this Sunday, you may notice some familiar-ish graphics. That's because the key art for Season 7 was created by Milton Glaser, based on some of the work he became known for in the 1960's and 70's, now frequently described as 'psychedelia'.

Alexandra Lange
Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
Debbie Millman
Debra Bishop
04.07.14

Design Director of More Magazine, Debra Bishop discusses her career designing for magazines, including her years working for Martha Stewart, and the tension between designers and editors.

Observed
2014 Porto Summer Editorial Design Course
Samantha García
Inalienable Rights, Wolfsonian-Style
Observed
Shape: A Film About Design
04.04.14

Shape is a short film that is part of MakeShapeChange , a project aimed at young people to get them thinking about how the world is made around them and where design fits in.

Observed
Bistrophobie Poster
04.03.14

Can a poster shut people up? Locals in a bistro-dense corner of Paris would like to think so.

Bryn Smith
De Vinne at the Grolier Club in New York
04.02.14

A review of the Grolier Club’s quiet, yet noteworthy exhibition, “The Dean of American Printers: Theodore Low De Vinne and The Art Preservative of All Arts”.

Chris Pullman
How Can One (Re)make Swiss Typography?
04.01.14

Chris Pullman on the 1970's covers of Typografische Monatsblätter, a monthly journal serving the Swiss printing and typography industry.

Debbie Millman
Joe Marianek
03.31.14

Joe Marianek talks about decisions that shaped his career and about the process of getting hired at Apple.

Observed
Typolitic
03.31.14

Typolitic is a new website that presents some of the best typographic student work from undergraduate design courses around the world.

Observed
See America
03.27.14

Over 75 years ago the government first commissioned posters to showcase the country's most stunning natural features under the banner "See America".

Observed
Inge Druckrey + Sister Corita Kent on Film
03.26.14

On Friday, April 4th, the Department of Graphic Design at Yale University will be showing Teaching to See and Learning by Heart, two short films on the work and teaching of Inge Druckrey and Sister Corita Kent.

Rick Poynor
The Filmic Page: Chris Marker’s Commentaires
03.22.14

The French director Chris Marker’s book Commentaires is as innovative as book design as his documentaries are as films.

Observed
Complaints Posters
03.20.14

Complaints! An Inalienable Right, is a poster exhibition curated by author, design critic, educator and Design Observer friend Steven Heller.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Open Source Politics/Open Source Design
Rob Walker
Boris, Subverted
Debbie Millman
Irma Boom
Alexandra Lange
Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories
Observed
Porto Design Summer School
03.05.14

Porto is an undiscovered gem for designers everywhere: an astonishingly affordable, visually extraordinary European oasis right on the coast of Portugal, where typography reigns supreme. It's also a summer destination for two weeks of intense study with Hamish Muir, Andrew Howard and Jessica Helfand.

Observed
Design Issues Covers
02.24.14

MIT Press has posted a gallery of Design Issues covers from 1984-present on Pinterest.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Surface Wreckage
02.14.14

Why do photographs and images of torn street posters exert such a powerful hold on the imagination and emotions?

Rob Walker
Personal Packaging
John Foster
Nineteenth Century Menu Covers
Alexandra Lange
Criticism = Love
02.01.14

Why you have to love design to be a critic.

Observed
50 Years of Cuban Film Posters
01.23.14

The Danish Film Institute has posted their collection of Cuban Film Posters from the past 50 years or more on Flickr.

Tarpley Hitt
Speaking Typography: Letter as Image as Sound
01.16.14

Just as a poet weaves the intent of his poem into its sound and craft, so did Lissitzky, as designer, hope to marry intent with the typography and the design of the book itself. But did he?

Chris Pullman
Joseph Müller-Brockmann’s Typographic Re-boot
01.08.14

Chris Pullman on a jolt of Swiss Modernism from 1960.

Debbie Millman
Alex Center
John Foster
Japanese Municipality Logos
12.08.13

A look at the forward-thinking, abstract logos that symbolize Japanese city municipalities.

Debbie Millman
Jennifer Kinon + Bobby Martin
11.11.13

OCD Designers Jennifer Kinon + Bobby Martin talk about their design philosophy — and their general willingness to do the unexpected.

Alexandra Lange
L.A. Loves Deborah Sussman
11.08.13

A Kickstarter for an upcming exhibition on the wotk of Deborah Sussman in Los Angeles.

Rob Walker
Seeing The Problem
11.05.13

How a graphic communication campaign could help us address a real electoral map crisis: Gerrymandering 2.0.

John Foster
Horror Movie Posters
11.03.13

Accidental Mysteries for November 3, 2012 highlights vintage horror movie posters.

Chris Pullman
Remembering Alvin Eisenman
10.24.13

Alvin Eisenman received the AIGA Medal in October, 1991. Chris Pullman, a student in Eisenman's class of 1966 — and a member of the faculty ever since — gave these remarks at the event.

An Open Letter to AIGA
Status Quo or Transformation? A False Choice
10.23.13

An open letter to AIGA.

Debbie Millman
Chip Kidd
10.21.13

Legendary book designer Chip Kidd on why his TED talk was the 19 most frightening minutes of his life.

Observed
Possession
10.17.13

Someguy, also known as Brian Singer, is a San Francisco based fine artistand graphic designer. His most recent work — Possession — is a screen print on uncut dollars.

Alexandra Lange
MoMA’s Modern Women
Observed
Wheat Paste Graffiti in Detroit
10.03.13

Graphic Design students of Dan Sinclair at Eastern Michigan University wheat pasted their posters in a sanctioned area of Detroit

Stephen Eskilson
Heteronormative Design Discourse
Observed
Let's Talk Movie Posters
09.19.13

Movie poster for the upcoming drama The Gambler.

Jude Stewart
The Tricky Science of Color Perception
09.16.13

Color is subject to a thousand kinds of distortion as it travels from an object, through light, through your eye to your brain. Yet the tricky, interwined science and art of color perception still goes under-appreciated.

John Bertram
Lolita — The Story of a Cover Girl
08.14.13

Excerpt from Lolita — The Story of a Cover Girl.

Observed
The Beauty of Letterpress
Rick Poynor
Soft Machine’s Dysfunctional Mechanism
07.29.13

An alternative cover for the French release of The Soft Machine’s first album alludes to the history of the machine in 20th-century art.

Observed
Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age
07.18.13

An exhibition of 118 socially, environmentally, and politically-motivated print posters by an international cadre of artists and designers.

Martha Scotford
Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer
Observed
Jan van Toorn
07.09.13

A video profile of Jan van Toorn, from the series "Dutch Profiles: Design, Fashion, Architecture".

Alexandra Lange
How To Unforget
Debbie Millman
Michael Rock
07.08.13

Michael Rock about self-hatred in design, the benefits of being an outsider, and his new book.

Rick Poynor
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 2
07.02.13

In the mid-1990s, Inkahoots became a graphic design studio with its sights set on social causes.

Alexandra Lange
An ABC of the ABCs
07.01.13

Were you a child? Did you read books? Then the NYPL's "ABC of It" serves as a portal back in time.

John Foster
An Archive of Czech Film Posters
Rick Poynor
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 1
06.26.13

The Australian design team Inkahoots is a model of community-based graphic design practice.

Francisco Laranjo
The Whitney Identity: Responding to W(hat)?
Alexandra Lange
That Personal Touch
06.10.13

In the age of the digital signature, what does script mean?

Observed
The Man in Black, On Your Envelope
06.04.13

On June 5, 2013, the US Post Office issues a new stamp designed by Greg Breeding featuring Johnny Cash.

Debbie Millman
Maggie Macnab
05.31.13

Designer, educator and author Maggie Macnab talks about what designers can learn from nature — and what they can give back.

Observed
Be an AIGA Design Star
05.29.13

Command X — the AIGA live design reality show that happens on stage at the biennial design conference — is back for its fourth season.

John Foster
Chinese Propaganda Posters
Debbie Millman
Jessica Walsh
05.17.13

Jessica Walsh once sold moss-covered rocks to her elementary school classmates. Today, she's Stefan Sagmeister's partner in Sagmeister + Walsh.

Observed
Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America
05.15.13

Michigan was an epicenter of modern design in postwar America, this summer the story will be told through a symposium at the Cranbrook Educational Community and an exhibition at the Cranbrook Art Museum.

Rick Poynor
The Conceptual Posters of Boris Bucan
05.15.13

Boris Bućan’s little known early posters, produced in Zagreb, were reductive, sharply defined, cerebral and enigmatic.

Observed
Circus Poster Archive
05.14.13

Circusmuseum.nl, is "the ultimate image bank" of circus posters, photos and prints — with nearly eight thousand circus posters from 1880 to the present, from the Netherlands to America.

Rick Poynor
The Age of Wire and String Rebooted
Observed
Editorial Design. Summer. Portugal.
04.22.13

Taught by leading design professionals and educators from Europe and the US, the Porto Design Summer School Editorial Course is a unique opportunity to study graphic design within the setting of one of Europe’s oldest and most beautiful cities.

Debbie Millman
Emily Oberman
04.19.13

Emily Oberman's three acts — from Tibor Kalman at M&Co, to Number Seventeen with Bonnie Siegler, to becoming a partner at Pentagram.

Observed
We The Designers
03.18.13

We the Designers” is a national exhibition of self-authored graphic design on view through April 5 at the AIGA National Design Center in NYC.
Kate Cullinane
The Original Paradox
Observed
Envisioning Design: Education, Culture, Practice
03.11.13

The Department of Art at the University of Northern Iowa is hosting a symposium April 26-27 called Envisioning Design: Education, Culture, Practice.

Rick Poynor
Utopian Image: Politics and Posters
03.10.13

By celebrating political posters for their design do we collude with the established order they seek to challenge?

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Fin de Copenhague
03.05.13

Asger Jorn and Guy Debord’s book Fin de Copenhague is a Situationist classic and a brilliant piece of design.

Debbie Millman
Clement Mok
03.01.13

Clement Mok on the early days of Apple computer, the joys of working for Steve Jobs and starting his successful businesses.

Chris Calori
Six Feet Under: Mapping Tangled Transit Networks
02.26.13

A review of Underground Maps Unraveled: Explorations in Information Design by Maxwell J. Roberts.

Rick Poynor
A Dictionary of Surrealism and the Graphic Image
Michael Bierut
Chromatophobia
02.13.13

Michael Bierut on his chromatophobia.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
01.20.13

David Rumsey's collection of more than 150,000 maps is one of the largest private collections in the United States. Herewith, a selection.

Rick Poynor
Socialism and Modernity: A Hidden History
01.15.13

A new book documents the unfamiliar history of socialism and modernity in graphic design from former Yugoslavia.

Michael Bierut
Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport
Observed
Poster Design with Saul Bass and Stanley Kubrick
01.07.13

Saul Bass designed the movie poster for The Shining, but not without plenty of comments from Stanley Kubrick.

Alexandra Lange
George Nelson in Two Dimensions
Debbie Millman
Christopher Simmons
12.21.12

Christopher Simmons discusses his lastest book, Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes, and reflects on why designers should be continually redefining their profession.

Alexandra Lange
Bad Taste True Confessions: Erté
12.19.12

True confessions about my own bad taste. I loved Erté. Did you?

Rick Poynor
Herbert Spencer and the Decisive Detail
Rick Poynor
Robert Brownjohn: Photos at Street Level
11.18.12

The Victoria and Albert Museum has put 18 of Robert Brownjohn’s photographs on display for the first time.

Leonard Koren
Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing
Ed Ruscha
Sign Painters
Debbie Millman
Aaron Draplin
11.02.12

In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Aaron Draplin talks about being comfortable in his own skin, midwestern pragmatism and why Oregon beats the shit out of SoCal.

Alexandra Lange
Dot Supreme
Michael Bierut
Style: An Inventory
10.29.12

Style: An Inventory by Michael Bierut

Rick Poynor
The Art of Punk and the Punk Aesthetic
10.14.12

Punk has two new graphic histories: Punk: An Aesthetic and The Art of Punk. What conclusions do they draw?

Alexandra Lange
Having Fun at the Museum
Rick Poynor
Demonstrations, Democracy and Design
09.24.12

After demonstrations in 2011, Barcelonas Plaça de Catalunya became a carnivalesque village of protest.

Alexandra Lange
Just Keep Typing
09.22.12

An excerpt from the new book Breakthrough! Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination that involves Post-It notes, legal pads and baking. 

Rob Walker
Card Tricks
09.17.12

The digital doesn't annihilate the analog, and business card creativity proves it.

Rick Poynor
Why the Activist Poster is Here to Stay
09.15.12

Digital communication has given posters produced to contest an outrage or support a cause a new lease of life.

Rick Poynor
Sending Signals about Political Graphics
08.09.12

Issue two of Signal, a journal about the visual languages used around the world to support political protest.

Michael Bierut
The Typeface of Truth
Rick Poynor
Pierre Faucheux and Le Livre de Poche
07.30.12

A masterclass in book cover design: Pierre Faucheux’s work for the French paperback publisher Livre de poche.

Alexandra Lange
Obama’s New Fonts
Rick Poynor
Design a Cover for Eno’s Music for Films
07.06.12

LA architect John Bertram has set a competition to design an alternative sleeve for Music for Films by Brian Eno.

Rick Poynor
What Does Critical Writing Look Like?
Rick Poynor
Updating the Maps of Graphic Design History
06.18.12

Graphic Design: History in the Writing is a heartening sign that graphic design history is attracting a new generation.

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: A History of the Machine
06.07.12

Erik Nitsche’s New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention is a landmark of modern, low-cost, mass-market, educational book design.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Graphic Metallica
David Cabianca
Graphic Design is Dead, Long Live Graphic Design
Rick Poynor
Jan van Toorn: The World in a Calendar
Amelia Lacy
Gene & Jackie Lacy
05.16.12

Gene and Jackie Lacy, Indianapolis-based graphic designers and illustrators practicing from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Michael Bierut
The Poster that Launched a Movement (Or Not)
04.30.12

In the age of social media, does political graphic design matter?

Rick Poynor
Studio Culture: The Materialism of Matter
04.26.12

Studio, print shop, dance club and store: a photographic essay on Matter's design HQ in Denver.

Rick Poynor
The Enduring Influence of Richard Hollis
Nancy Levinson
Design Indaba 2012
03.09.12

Design Indaba 2012 gathered creative people from graphic and product design, architecture and landscape, film and video, not to mention Danish gastronomy and Bollywood movies.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
03.04.12

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment. This week's focus is charts and diagrams.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
01.29.12

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.

Rick Poynor
In Response to An Anatomy of Uncriticism
Pat Kirkham
Reassessing the Saul Bass and Alfred Hitchcock Collaboration
01.11.12

The evidence, scholarship and debates: Saul Bass and the famous shower scene in “Psycho.”

Rick Poynor
Read All That? You Must be Kidding Me
Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Jean-Luc Godard Anthologized
01.01.12

Lawrence Ratzkin’s cover design for an early anthology about Jean-Luc Godard is almost an anti-cover.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
12.25.11

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.

Rick Poynor
How We Learned to Live with Zombies
Rick Poynor
Another Design Voice Falls Silent
Rick Poynor
How to Cover an Impossible Book
11.25.11

Tadeusz Borowski’s book This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen poses a visual challenge for designers.

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Continuum’s 33 1/3 Series
10.28.11

The 33 1/3 books about classic albums are a perfect example of how design can help focus an editorial idea.

Chaz Maviyane-Davies
Occupy America 2011
10.18.11

Graphic designer Chaz Maviyane-Davies adapts a vision of repression

Rick Poynor
Did We Ever Stop Being Postmodern?
Julie Lasky
Media Design Matters
10.12.11

Art Center offers a new graduate track in social design that combines communications and technologies strategies with field work.

Rick Poynor
A Swedish Perspective on Critical Practice
09.09.11

The Reader, a recent book from Stockholm about critical practice, has some smart insights while missing the bigger picture.

Alexandra Lange
Stop That: Minimalist Posters
09.06.11

Make a minimalist poster, see your work travel the digital world.

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: The Metallization of a Dream
An Xiao Mina
90 Years of Chinese Communism: A Multimedia Celebration
08.23.11

How the Chinese Communist Party designed its 90th anniversary commemorations

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Raging Bull
08.09.11

A response to Michael Bierut’s essay about the relationship between bullshit and design, and the discussion that ensued.

Rick Poynor
Andrzej Klimowski: Transmitting the Image
07.27.11

Andrzej Klimowski, author of a new book, On Illustration, has used the medium to create a compelling alternative reality.

Jac sm Kee
The Color Yellow
07.08.11

Malaysians supporting election reform attach new meaning to a national color, yellow.

Debbie Millman
Angus Hyland
07.08.11

In this podcast interview with Debbie Millman, Angus Hyland discusses the peace sign, Deutsche Bank, and the play button.

Alexandra Lange
Welcome to the Hall of Femmes
The Editors
Sappi Ideas That Matter
06.22.11

Trio of 2010 Sappi Ideas That Matter grant recipients

Jessica Helfand
Meet Our Intern: Paul Rand!
06.03.11

Our surprise upon receiving the Facebook mailer shown here, addressed to Paul Rand.

Rick Poynor
Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read
05.10.11

The Designers & Books website has published my list of 20 indispensable books about graphic design.

Steven Heller
Paul Rand, Painter
05.02.11

Paul Rand had more in common with Paul Klee than a four letter first and last name. He too, painted.

Hugh Dubberly
892 Unique Ways to Partition A 3x4 Grid
04.21.11

A 100-second Animation Inspired by Patent No. 7124360.

Debbie Millman
Steve Frykholm, Herman Miller
04.15.11

After a 40-year career with Herman Miller, Steve Frykholm discusses life inside this iconic, National Design Award-winning furniture company.

Rick Poynor
Starowieyski’s Graphic Universe of Excess
William Drenttel
Design of Crime, Evil and Death
Rick Poynor
Wim Crouwel: The Ghost in the Machine
04.01.11

Far from suppressing his own creative personality in the way he advised, Wim Crouwel was expressing it to the full.

Rick Poynor
An Unknown Master of Poster Design
Rick Poynor
Slicing Open the Surrealist Eyeball
Andy Chen
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Cub
03.10.11

Is design strictly a set of rules?

Julie Lasky
Design Indaba 2011
03.08.11

Review of Design Indaba 2011 conference in Cape Town, South Africa

David Antin
Bomb Hanoi: The Andy Warhol Cover
03.07.11

Art critic David Antin remembers working with Andy Warhol on the “Bomb Hanoi” cover of some/thing in 1966…

Steven Heller
Souvenirs as Nazi Propaganda
03.03.11

Part three in a three part series on the design practices of the Third Reich.

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Richard Neville’s Playpower
02.22.11

Martin Sharp’s cover design is a garden of queasily decadent delights where the joke is probably on the reader.

Alexandra Lange
Neat Freaks
Julie Lasky
DesigNYC, Round 2
02.18.11

Report on second round of pro bono design initiatives fostered by DesigNYC.

Jessica Helfand
Penny Dreadfuls
02.14.11

Nothing says "I Love You" like a mass-produced sentiment written by somebody else: Herewith, our very own collection of Penny Dreadfuls.

Michael Bierut
Five Years of 100 Days
Steven Heller
The Master Race’s Graphic Masterpiece
02.07.11

Steve Heller hunts down a Nazi graphics standards manual – it had been right under his nose all the whole time.

Rick Poynor
What Does J.G. Ballard Look Like?
Jude Stewart
Grandma’s Matchbook Collection
02.02.11

My grandma collected matches. She scooped them up on business trips from the 1940s through the 80s, while buying ladies’ dresswear for a department store in Louisville, Kentucky.

Michael Bierut
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mentor, Or, Why Modernist Designers Are Superior
01.31.11

Does a strict upbringing make you a better designer?

Jessica Helfand
Certificate of Approval
01.25.11

Jessica Helfand writes about her favorite piece of design.

Edited by Julie Lasky
Social Design in Three Dimensions: Four Examples
01.20.11

A business-school case study inspires MFA design students.

Rick Poynor
In Praise of the East European Film Poster
01.14.11

Czech film posters of the 1960s are some of the most extraordinary graphic creations ever put on paper.

Rick Poynor
Out of the Studio: Graphic Design History and Visual Studies
01.10.11

Graphic design history’s best chance of development now lies in an expanded conception of the rapidly emerging discipline of visual studies.

William Drenttel
A Conversation with Daniel van der Velden of Metahaven
12.27.10

An expansive interview with Daniel van der Velden, co-author of Uncorporate Identity.

William Drenttel
WikiLeaks: Design Proposals by Metahaven
William Drenttel
I (still) Love Amsterdam
12.20.10

Dutch design events in December 2010, including the Prince Claus Awards and graphic design conferences.

Jessica Helfand
Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones but Print Can Never Hurt Me: A Letter to Fiona on First Reading "The End of Print"
12.20.10

In 2000, Jessica Helfand wrote a letter to her daughter Fiona, giving her a primer on graphic design.

Julie Lasky
Ripped from the Headlines
12.16.10

Johnny Selman is a third of the way through his year-long project to graphically enliven the news.

Rick Poynor
The Impossibility of an Island
12.10.10

Atlas of Remote Islands might look like a celebration of distant paradises. Its beauty masks a darker purpose.

Ernest Beck
Cards of Change
12.07.10

Unemployed workers retrofit their former business cards to send hopeful messages.

Steven Heller, and Elaine Lustig Cohen
Designer as Author
12.07.10

In 1954, Alvin Lustig gave a lecture titled “What Is a Designer?” at the Advertising Typographers Association of America. It was his first speech after he lost his eyesight.

Edward Morris, and Dmitri Siegel
Destroy This Book
11.22.10

The Green Patriot Posters project looked to the graphic design and artistic communities for ways to invigorate and mobilize people to remake our economy for a more sustainable future.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Minotaurs in Suburban England
11.09.10

English designer Vaughan Oliver met Adrian Shaughnessy to show him preliminary work on a deluxe Pixies box set called Minotaur.

Andy Chen
Not Queer, But Human
10.28.10

As a gay man and a designer, Andy Chen believes that part of the solution of homophobia lies in creating images that redefine the very way sexual orientation is understood and discussed.

Jessica Helfand, and Marian Bantjes
The Bantjes Covers
10.25.10

Marian Bantjes exposes the long process that led to the cover of her new monograph, I Wonder.

Debbie Millman
Milton Glaser Podcast Interview
10.12.10

An interview with Milton Glaser — graphic designer, illustrator, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and 2010 recipient of the National Medal of Arts.

William Drenttel, and Jessica Helfand
An Introduction to Graphic Design
10.11.10

Graphic Design 101 by William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand.

John Waters
Design Ethos: A Bugle of Change
09.29.10

Essay endorsing a new definition of graphic design practice.

Debbie Millman
The Art of Poetry
09.27.10

Debbie Millman interview Poetry magazine editor Christian Wiman, plus a slideshow of 67 Poetry covers.

Jan Conradi
Looking Back, Thinking Forward: A Narrative of the Vignellis
09.18.10

Vignelli Celebration: Jan Conradi on Lella and Massimo Vignelli and the opening of the new Vignelli Center for Design Studies at RIT.

Jessica Helfand
The Kindness of Strangers
09.16.10

Vignelli Celebration: If charity begins at home, how can we proclaim new and progressive agendas of social change without examining ourselves, our students, our profession?

Alice Twemlow
Massimo Vignelli’s Desk
09.15.10

Vignelli Celebration: Alice Twemlow snoops around Massimo Vignelli's desk.

AIGA
Lella and Massimo Vignelli: The 1982 AIGA Medal
09.12.10

Vignelli Celebration: In 1982 Massimo and Lella received the AIGA Medal for their many contributions to the design world, here is an article which originally appeared in the 1983 issue of AIGA Graphic Design USA 4.

The Editors
Lella and Massimo Vignelli: A Celebration
09.12.10

Vignelli Celebration: The opening and dedication of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, set to open September 16, 2010 at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Kate Howe
The Insignificance of a Logo (Even When Significant)
08.26.10

On the futility of designing the symbol for a controversial religious organization.

Alexandra Lange
This is a Terrible Poster
08.25.10

I saw the poster for the Facebook movie, The Social Network, at the Bergen Street station yesterdayand all I could think was, This is a terrible poster.

Peter Wolf
Pet Projects
08.12.10

Essay on design as an underutilized force for the humane treatment of animals.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Publishing in the Age of the Internet
08.03.10

Design/Research, published by Unit Editions, are collectable "papers" which, focus on design and visual communication, from the past, by placing it in a future context.

Jen Roos
Cup of Heroes
08.02.10

Thoughts on design, sports, and the author's return to a South African township during the World Cup.

Christopher Mount
Wild at Heart: Tadanori Yokoo
07.21.10

Essay adapted from the catalog for "The Complete Posters of Tadanori Yokoo," an exhibition running through September 12, 2010, at the National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan.

Vera Sacchetti
"But Teacher! That’s Not Design!"
07.08.10

Interview with Portuguese communication designer Barbara Alves about teaching in Mozambique.

Scott Henderson, and Dick Sheaff
Independence Day
07.04.10

A collection of early 20th-century postcards manufactured for the Fourth of July.

Meena Kadri
India's Epic Head Count
06.28.10

The enormous task of conducting India's 2010 census is aided by a newly designed form.

Alexandra Lange
Girl Power?
06.08.10

I saw this photo in the New York Times this morning and thought that Carly Fiorina’s campaign poster seemed kind of… girly.

Mark Lamster
Walk the Walk, Take the Design
06.08.10

A few years ago I did an interview with ESPN magazine and was forced to subscribe to read the online version.

Jonathan Schultz
One World Futbol
03.26.10

Report on One World Futbol produced by Hope Is a Game-Changer.

Ernest Beck
Es Tiempo
03.22.10

Report on Es Tiempo, a campaign designed to encourage Hispanic women in Southern California to seek annual screenings for cervical cancer.

Steven Heller
Becoming a Designer in the Age of Aquarius
02.23.10

On rereading S. Neil Fujita’s 1968 job manual, Aim for a Job in Graphic Design/Art.

Jessica Helfand
Prisoners of Logic
02.19.10

For five or six years now, I have led a double life as a painter. Until recently, I viewed this other identity as a kind of dirty secret.

Andy Chen
Left Me Speechless
01.26.10

Our work should not merely address the political injustices wrought by discriminatory laws: it should register the sense of loss inflicted on those who suffer them.

Michael Bierut
Designing the Unthinkable
01.12.10

For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.

Jonathan Schultz
EyeWriter
12.08.09

Report on the EyeWriter software system, which allows a graffiti artist suffering from ALS to continue working merely by moving his eyes.

Jennifer Ehrenberg
Chicago Welcomes You
12.03.09

On designing a resettlement process for Burmese immigrants in Chicago.

Martha Scotford
Ulysses: Fast Track to 1934 Best Seller
12.02.09

The first United States publishing of James Joyce's Ulysses.

Steven Heller
Ramparts: Agent of Change
10.14.09

Ramparts magazine has been dead for almost two decades, but to look back at it, it stands out as one to remember.

Andy Chen
The Value of Empathy
10.13.09

Andy Chen responds to the debate between David Stairs and Valerie Casey on the recent surge of social design activity.

Michael Bierut
The Figure / Ground Relationship
09.25.09

Designing is the most important thing, but it’s not the only thing. All of the other things a designer designer does all day are important too, and you have to do them with intelligence, enthusiasm, dedication, and love. Together, those things create the background that makes the work meaningful, and, when you do them right, that makes the work good.

John Emerson
Pressed into Service
09.03.09

Interview with Lincoln Cushing, co-author of Agitate! Educate! Organize!: American Labor Posters.

Mark Lamster
The Lion of Belgium
08.29.09

In the history of strange maps, this image of Belgium as a lion, printed in 1611 by cartographer Jodicus Hondius of Amsterdam, is surely a classic

Steven Heller
Covering the Good Books
08.11.09

When reading was more fundamental than tweeting, Time Life Books played a significant role in getting the general public to acquire books on almost every subject.

Jessica Helfand
Can Graphic Design Make You Cry?
07.29.09

How can you create anything visually compelling if you don't engage at some fundamentally human level — a place where memory and feeling are as valued as form and execution?

Ars Libri Ltd
Paul Schuitema Collection
06.24.09

This remarkable collection of graphic design is from the Dutch designer Paul Schuitema.

Ars Libri Ltd
Walter Dexel Collection
06.04.09

This remarkable collection of graphic design is from the German Constructivist artist and typographer Walter Dexel.

Ellen Lupton
A Conversation With David Barringer
05.28.09

David Barringer’s book, There’s Nothing Funny About Design is actually very funny. The conversation that follows was conducted via e-mail over a three-day period.

Jason Grant
Cultured Graphic Hygiene
05.12.09

Regardless of how difficult, disobedient or messy their subject, museum posters are courteous and clean. Is there any reason why graphic design for museums shouldn’t be the measure of their exhibits?

Michael Bierut
Invasion of the Neutered Sprites
04.21.09

There is an epidemic threatening our world: the pointy-limbed little people that appear in every other nonprofit logo. Death to the Neutered Sprites!

Adrian Shaughnessy
Ten Graphic Design Paradoxes
03.27.09

I’ve just finished writing a book about graphic design. There are entries on kerning, the wisdom of using only lowercase letters, and the merits of Univers. But mostly it’s a book about the soft stuff — the stuff that we deal with every day and tend to take for granted.

Steven Heller
Japanese Face Masks
03.23.09

You may recall seeing in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, scores of surgical face-mask-wearing passersby navigating their ways through the dense futuristic metropolis that is a cross between Tokyo and LA. So I was totally surprised to find on my first trip to Tokyo that not only is it the custom to wear such masks everywhere, it's big business too, with a nod to graphic design.

Kenneth Fitzgerald
I Believe in Design
03.16.09

In each of the communities I’ve lived I’ve encountered one of these trucks. It’s always a white van, hand-inscribed by paint or permanent marker with a variety of Biblical verses and religious admonitions....

Mark Lamster
Annals of Branding, Redux
02.17.09

The design elves over at Pepsico have been very busy of late, as noted here last week regarding the (awful) new logo for the corporate flagship and the (much hated) new packaging for Tropicana.

Mark Lamster
The Real Thing
02.06.09

Tropicana has been getting a lot of flack over its redesigned juice cartons. Steve Heller called the rebranding "a mistake." Jason Kottke simply dubbed it "sucky." Let me respectfully disagree.

Steven Heller
The Good Books
01.21.09

Why can’t American publishers produce a series of good — no great — books on graphic culture like Die Bibliophilen Taschenbücher? Published in 1979 by Harenberg Kommunikation, Dortmund, Germany, each small usually full color volume was based on a visual theme, including American absurdist postcards, German political posters, French cigarette advertisements, vending machine cards, Soviet Posters, and Liebig’s Fleisch Extract advertising cards

Rick Poynor
Barney Bubbles: Optics and Semantics
12.18.08

The intricately reflexive nature of his work made Barney Bubbles a true original in his time. No previous British designer had produced graphic communications this playful, personal, dense with allusion, or tricksy. Bubbles was a postmodernist before this new category of graphic design had been identified and defined, and he is as significant an innovator as his American contemporary April Greiman.

Jessica Helfand
Ten Things That Need to be Redesigned
12.17.08

Lottery tickets, the hearse, monopoly money, IRS forms, airport design, children's ski jackets, political lawn signs, TV remotes, blister packaging and the state of New Jersey are examined for their design flaws.

Steven Heller
My Dada
12.03.08

Way back in 1965, as a fifteen years old, I was an early EVOtee. I had stumbled upon one of the first issues at a newsstand. The cover, which I remember vividly, had a photo collage of a serpent emerging from battle fatigues worn by America's commanding general in Vietnam, William Westmoreland. Haunting is not a strong enough word to describe the impact that this had on a teen just a year or two out of Valley Forge Military Academy, where, surprisingly, I had learned about the military impossibility of winning the war.

Steven Heller
History of Aggressive Design Magazines
11.14.08

Graphic design evolved during the late nineteenth century from a sideline of the printing industry into an autonomous field with its own lore, icons and personalities. The missing link in this evolutionary process is trade magazines. These magazines did not just reflexively report the current trends instead some aggressively codified key methods and mannerisms that in turn defined a profession.

Jessica Helfand
Graphic Design Spam
11.07.08

Have you received any graphic design spam in your mailbox lately?

Andrew Blauvelt
Towards Relational Design
11.03.08

Is there any overarching philosophy or connective thread that joins so many of today’s most interesting and increasingly diverse designs from the fields of architecture, graphic, and product design? I believe we are in the a third major phase in modern design history, moving towards an era dominated by relationally-based design activities.

Michael Bierut
The Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman
10.23.08

For over 40 years, Lou Dorfsman designed everything at CBS from its advertising to the paper cups in its cafeteria. Getting great work done in giant institution is supposed to be hard. How did he make it look easy?

Michael Bierut
26 Years, 85 Notebooks
10.12.08

Since 1982, I have never been without a marble-covered composition book. I am now in the middle of Notebook #85. Together, these notebooks create a history of my working life that spans three decades.

The Editors
Winners of the Chicago Poster Biennial
09.23.08

Design Observer is pleased to be an official sponsor of the Chicago International Poster Biennial, and to publish a slide show of 31 of the winners of the 2008 competition.

Adrian Shaughnessy
A Layperson's Guide to Graphic Design
08.28.08

Graphic design has been likened to a wine glass. When we drink wine we barely notice the glass it’s served in. It’s the same with graphic design: people absorb the messages that graphic designers use their skill, training and ingenuity to make, yet rarely stop to think how the message is constructed or how it affects the viewer.

Steven Heller
Clipping Art, One Engraving At a Time
08.04.08

These books, universally known as clip art books, some edited by Dick Sutphen and many others published by Dover and Chelsea House, were owned by almost every American illustrator, designer, and art director who found solace in them when an idea was needed but their imaginations were not entirely up to the task. This is a personal remembrance and homage to them.

Alice Twemlow
Graphic Design at the Museum
06.05.08

The work of Graphic Thought Facility, a London-based graphic design consultancy, is on exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago until August 17. It’s the first time the Art Institute has staged a show solely on contemporary design...

Denise Gonzales Crisp, and Rick Poynor
A Critical View of Graphic Design History
06.02.08

Now comes yet another historical survey, Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide by Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish. Denise Gonzales Crisp and Rick Poynor have been marking pages, making notes and exchanging views...

Jessica Helfand
Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink
05.30.08

An elegy to the makeready — those sheets of paper, re-fed into a press to get the ink balances up to speed, leaving a series of often random, palimpsest-like, multiple impressions on a single surface — in the digital age.

KT Meaney
Greening the Grocery Store
05.24.08

It turns out that the "recycling symbol" at the bottom of my yogurt container had nothing to do with its recyclability. So why was it there? My curiosity led to findings around which I built a design class.

Steven Heller
O.H.W. Hadank
05.22.08

Paul Rand held Hadank in the highest esteem because he practiced modernist formal principles even though he did not follow its dogma or style. And most important, as Rand said “Hadank was then and always an original. A profile of O.H.W. Hadank by Steven Heller...

Dmitri Siegel
Credit Where Credit Is Due...Or Not
05.19.08

Dmitri Siegel explores the various practices of design attribution.

The Editors
Chicago International Poster Biennial
05.06.08

Contemporary posters published within the last two years are eligible for the Chicago International Poster Biennial and may be submitted by any poster designer in the world with no entry fee. Physical entries must be received in Chicago no later than May 27, 2008.

Jessica Helfand
National Scrapbooking Day
05.03.08

"Scrapbooks (like these) remind us that creating an album from saved matter does not necessarily provide an accurate self-portrait..." An essay by Jessica Helfand from her new book on the occasion of National Scrapbooking Day.

Debbie Millman
Abbott Miller
03.28.08

An interview with Abbott Miller, Pentagram partner and an award-winning graphic designer and writer. Miller is also the art director of 2wice magazine.

Debbie Millman
Laurie Rosenwald
03.14.08

On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks with graphic designer, artist and actress Laurie Rosenwald.

Alice Twemlow
Some Questions about an Inquiry
02.21.08

“Critical design” is design that, through its form, can question and challenge industrial agendas; embody alternative social, cultural, technical or economic values; and act as a prop to stimulate debate and discussion amongst the public, designers and industry. As critical design gathers momentum, where is graphic design?

Michael Bierut
The Smartest Logo in the Room
02.11.08

The birth, death, and debate around one of Paul Rand's last logos: the "crooked E" he created for Enron.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Look and Feel / Nip and Tuck
02.07.08

If clients are happy to refer to the output of graphic designers as look and feel, where's the harm?

The Editors
Fifteen Minutes of Fame
02.01.08

If graphic design's become so edgy as a profession that we're getting name-dropped in hit movies, maybe it's time to get serious about how we're really being portrayed.

Jessica Helfand
Gone, Baby, Gone (Things, Part II)
01.30.08

From July 19, 1977 to February 28, 1981, the security staff at New York's Roosevelt Raceway kept a fastidious record of lost property. The result — 152 pages of wayward mittens, misplaced wallets and hundreds of personal items — is as much a record of the social history of a generation as anything I've come across in a long time.

Steven Heller
Wilhelm Deffke: Modern Mark Maker
01.24.08

The modern corporate logo was born in Germany shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, the direct descendent of burgher crests, coats of arms, trade and factory marks. One of the most prolific of these mark makers is barely recognized in design histories today, except for the occasional footnote. His name is Wilhelm F. Deffke...

Andrew Blauvelt
The Work of Task
01.16.08

The presence of Task asks, How do you make a magazine for the post-critical, post-movement moment of contemporary graphic design?

Michael Bierut
Will the Real Ernst Bettler Please Stand Up?
01.08.08

In the late 50s, Swiss designer Ernst Bettler created a series of seemingly harmless posters that brought down a drug company with a Nazi past. It's a great story, but it never happened. Why do we need to believe in Ernst Bettler?

Jessica Helfand
Remembering Paul Rand
01.03.08

This essay, a rememberance of Paul Rand, is taken from Michael Kroeger's book, Paul Rand: Conversations with Students, which will be published on January 3 by Princeton Architectural Press.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Graphic Editorship
12.16.07

Fuel's realization that they possessed the transferable skills and instincts to publish thought-provoking books with editorial depth, has allowed them to create a publishing venture that offers a fresh take on visual culture.

Michael Bierut
How To Be Ugly
11.11.07

Whether reactionary spasm or irrevocable paradigm shift, the new trend is making design that looks ugly. The trick is to surround it with enough attitude so it will be properly perceived not as the product of everyday incompetence, but rather as evidence of one's attunement with the zeitgeist.

Jessica Helfand
Type Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry
11.07.07

Designers make choices about the appropriateness of type based on any number of criteria, and "liking it" is indeed one of them. But is that enough?

William Drenttel
Stephen Doyle: A Few Words
10.29.07

Stephen Doyle is a graphic wordsmith.

Adrian Shaughnessy
The Designer's Virus
10.25.07

Perhaps he was right and I was wrong? Perhaps it is dumb of me to believe that the only design worth bothering about is design born out of a mixture of personal enquiry and intelligent intuition? I realized I was suffering from the designer's disease: empathy.

Jessica Helfand
Science and Design: The Next Wave
10.16.07

Scientists probe and manipulate and channel and divide; they split and fuse and spike and engineer; but most of all, they look. As a designer, to spend any time with scientists is to become at once profoundly aware of our similarities and devastated by that which divides us.

Michael Bierut
May I Show You My Portfolio?
09.21.07

My art school portfolio has sat in a box, largely untouched, in the closets and basements of the three places I've lived in the last 27 years, sort of like a slowly decaying design time capsule. A few weeks ago, I opened it up for the first time in a long time.

Dmitri Siegel
Designers and Dilettantes
09.18.07

Dmitri Siegel discusses graphic design authorship and the impending release of Elliott Earls' new film, The Sarany Motel.

Michael Bierut
You're So Intelligent
09.05.07

Wanting to be taken seriously, designers yearn to be respected for their minds. Yet they take their real gifts — a miraculous fluency with beauty, an ability to manipulate form in a way that can touch people's hearts — for granted.

Michael Bierut
Flat, Simple and Funny: The World of Charley Harper
08.16.07

A tribute to the late designer Charley Harper, "the only wildlife artist who has never been compared to Audubon and never will be."

Alice Twemlow
When Did Posters Become Such Wallflowers?
06.29.07

What was odd about many of the posters Alice Twemlow judged in a recent competition was that they didn't promote an idea, event or product; their only purpose seemed to be entering numerous annual poster competitions.

John Corbett
Sun Ra, Street Priest and Father of D.I.Y. Jazz
06.22.07

Before the 1950s, artist-owned record companies were unheard of, but Sun Ra pioneered the idea along with a couple of other musicians and composers. Sun Ra and Alton Abraham helped define the do-it-yourself ethic that came to be a central part of the American independent music industry, designing and in some cases manufacturing the covers themselves. In the process, they maintained a previously unimaginable degree of control over the look and content of their jazz releases.

Steven Heller
Martin Weber in the Third Dimension
06.19.07

You may not have heard of Martin J. Weber, but he was a graphic artist, typographer, art director, and most important, inventor of various photographic techniques that gave two-dimensional surfaces the illusion of being reproduced in three dimensions.

Adrian Shaughnessy
The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster
06.06.07

Designers often bemoan the lack of coverage given to graphic design in mainstream media. Yet when design catches the attention of journalists and commentators it usually results in a vicious mugging rather than hearty praise.

Jessica Helfand
My Dirty Little Secret
05.28.07

Gardening is its own infuriating design challenge. You fret and you rethink and you second-guess yourself constantly, and then for one delirious, thrilling moment something blooms and you feel utterly triumphant. And then it dies and you are back where you started.

Jessica Helfand
Ad Reinhardt, Graphic Designer
05.17.07

Ad Reinhardt fretted about the meaning of life. He agonized about the purpose of painting. He questioned everyone, critiqued everything, and worked incessantly. In other words, he was a graphic designer.

Michael Bierut
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Typeface
05.12.07

Why choose a particular typeface for a particular situation? Here are thirteen reasons.

Debbie Millman
Jeffrey Keyton
04.06.07

An interview with Jeffrey Keyton, Senior Vice Ppresident, On-Air Design and Off-Air Creative, MTV.

Dmitri Siegel
The New New Typography
03.29.07

French design duo Vier5 make new typography. The author raises questions about modernism and typography.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Ephemera: Town & Country Cookbook
03.26.07

Book cover designers are visual choreographers who frame miniature narratives in order to tease prospective readers into wanting more. Which often means showing less. Or not.

Michael Bierut
Good at Art
03.19.07

Growing up in the sixties, I couldn't throw or catch a baseball with authority, punch someone in the face, or shoplift. But I had something I could call my very own. I was good at art.

Debbie Millman
Not David Carson
03.16.07

A special interview about David Carson, featuring guest vocalist Simon Lince.

Dan Nadel
This is Not My Design Life Now
03.08.07

In the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's current triennial exhibition, Design Life Now, the selections in graphics and pop culture are conservative and long out-of-date. To Dan Nadel, 2006 looks a lot like 2000.

Jessica Helfand
The Illusion of Certainty
02.19.07

Artist Allan McCollum aspires to an unprecedented scale with this "Shapes" project: his goal is to make enough shapes, assuming a population of approximately 9.1 billion by the year 2050, so that everyone on the planet can have one. Shapes aside, what's truly fascinating is the idea of the system: what is it about them that we hate to love and love to hate?

William Drenttel
The Good Citizen's Alphabet
02.08.07

Bertrand Russell had the wisdom to realize that certain words require proper definition to be used correctly in political and social discourse. This alphabet book is offered here as a slide show for our readers.

Michael Bierut
All That Jazz: Posters by Niklaus Troxler
01.30.07

Niklaus Troxler's jazz posters can be viewed as a single, self-initiated project that has developed over five decades, a body of work with few precedents. Spanning an astonishing range of styles, the posters are united by a single thing: the passion of a single man who serves at once as designer and client.

Lorraine Wild
Sister Corita: The Juiciest Tomato
01.09.07

In Daniel Berrigan's words, Sister Corita is a "witch of invention." And there is no doubt that at least in those tumultuous years of the 1960s, her powers of invention seemed supernatural, if not divine... Corita's work stands for its sheer graphic invention, the riot of letterforms and color, and the immediacy of its connection to her time and place.

Jessica Helfand
The Not-So-Golden Age of Zero Tolerance
12.15.06

When I was a student, the assignments and their expected outcomes were intentionally conceived as chore-like, specific and frankly, narrow. This was the age of zero tolerance: deviation from a designated format was neither an approved approach nor an acceptable method. Today, the opposite is more likely to be true: a student who does not expand his or her approach to a project is strongly encouraged to do so.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Listomania
11.14.06

The English design group Spin has produced a publication called 50 Reading Lists, which allows the reader the double pleasure of admiring the handsome presentation of 50 lists, as well as the chance to study the reading habits of 50 graphic designers.

Jessica Helfand
What Makes A Good Poster?
11.08.06

From Nineteenth Century broadsides to Paula Scher's posters for The Public Theatre, the history of the poster is the history of modern civilization. So why are academics so hell-bent on poster board and bad typography? Why don't they ask us for help?

Adrian Shaughnessy
Graphic Design vs. Illustration
10.15.06

Graphic design's ability to deliver explicit messages makes it a major (if little recognised) force in the modern world: it is embedded in the commercial infrastructure. Illustration, on the other hand, with its woolly ambiguity and its allusive ability to convey feeling and emotion, makes it too dangerous to be allowed to enter the corporate bloodstream. Our visual lives are the poorer for this.

Dmitri Siegel
More Rules
10.01.06

The artwork for Beck's new album The Information immediately brings to mind the work of Sol LeWitt and the question of where the creative act is situated: in making the work or making the rules.

Michael Bierut
Alan Fletcher: Living by Design
09.27.06

Remembering the late British designer Alan Fletcher, who once said, "I treat clients as raw material to do what I want to do, though I would never tell them that." For him, design was not a profession or a craft, but a life.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Small Town Life: The Logo Stops Here
09.04.06

Working with Florence Knol, Lucille McGinnis convinced her husband, Patrick B. McGinnis, that the New Haven Railroad needed a new logo. Enter Herbert Matter, Swiss-born designer, photographer and Yale professor whose own education was framed by apprenticeships with Cassandre, Leger and Le Corbusier.

Michael Bierut
The Road to Hell, Part Two: That Elusive Silver Bullet
08.08.06

An online offer to teach anyone to do graphic designer raises the ultimate question: can we conclusively prove the value of design to the general public? We can't? Now what?

Dmitri Siegel
Please CARE
07.23.06

CARE is a four-step process for learning design. Building a strong process is the best way to prepare students for the complex, collaborative work of the designer.

Jessica Helfand
The Global Curse of Comic Sans
07.20.06

In this coastal region slung just below the Pyrenees, one might expect to see evidence of the enduring cultural tensions between Spain and Catalonia — different kinds of signs or symbols, for instance â€" but on the surface at least, no such rift is exposed. Instead, Catalonia clings to a visual language that celebrates the goofy: this is a country awash in Comic Sans.

Lorraine Wild
Wassup, Beatrice
07.05.06

I've heard endless definitions and descriptions of graphic design: I can recite them all, and on any given day I can identify with one essentialism over another: e.g., "Today, I'm a conceptualizer." I can even be swayed by the argument that, in fact, we work in a moment when graphic design is devolving as a practice identifiable by any common standards. It makes me think of a woman who I have always found completely annoying in her assuredness — Beatrice Warde.

Michael Bierut
The Mysterious Power of Context
06.22.06

Some of the most effective graphic design is neutral and open ended, and acquires its effectiveness only through use and association. Is it possible to anticipate the power of context in design?

Debbie Millman
Stanley Hainsworth
06.16.06

On this episode, Debbie Millman interviews Stanley Hainsworth, former Design Director at Starbucks and the founder of Tether in Seattle.

Michael Bierut
The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation?
06.04.06

A new magazine from Business Week on design and innovation was created through an unpaid competition. If this is innovation, to hell with it.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Academia: The New Exoticism
05.22.06


Debbie Millman
Gael Towey
05.12.06

On this episode, Debbie Millman talks to Gael Towey — the editor and founding Creative Director at Martha Stewart Living.

Michael Bierut
I Am a Plagiarist
05.11.06

Plagiarism is a hot topic in the world of publishing, What does it mean in the world of design? Michael Bierut pleads guilty.

Jessica Helfand
The Art of Thinking Through Making
04.21.06


Debbie Millman
Jessica Helfand + William Drenttel
04.14.06

Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel work in partnership at Winterhouse and are co-founders, with Michael Bierut and Rick Poynor, of Design Observer.

Jessica Helfand
The Propensity for Density
04.11.06

It's like design's been on a diet and finally gets to eat that giant cheesecake: shifting notches on the belt buckle, we're so happy for the sugar high that we don't realize we're slipping. And slipping we are.

Michael Bierut
Variations on a Theme: New York's High Priorities
03.30.06

A half-page weekly feature in New York magazine has become a showcase for some of the world's best graphic designers.

Debbie Millman
Peter Buchanan-Smith
03.24.06

Peter Buchanan-Smith, founder of Buchanan-Smith LLC, is the author of Speck and The Wilco Book.

Michael Bierut
Warning: May Contain Non-Design Content
03.18.06

Design is that it is almost always about something else. The more things you're interested in, the better your work will be.

Debbie Millman
Kenneth FitzGerald
03.17.06

Artist, educator and writer Kenneth FitzGerald is currently Associate Professor of Art and Graduate Program Director in the art department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Google and the Tyranny of Good Design
03.12.06

The Google logo — that scrap of oddball typography — is perhaps the most famous piece of graphic design in the world today. In its own small way, it's a little beacon of insurrection, in a world where graphic designers have become the agents of conformity.

Debbie Millman
Christoph Niemann
03.10.06

An interview with German-born designer and illustrator Christoph Niemann, who claims to have only one trick: “sitting in front of a white piece of paper and thinking, staring and drawing until my head hurts.”  

Debbie Millman
Carin Goldberg
02.24.06

Carin Goldberg was a staff designer at CBS Records and Atlantic Records before establishing her own firm, Carin Goldberg Design, in 1982.

Debbie Millman
Paul Sahre
02.10.06

Graphic designer, illustrator and author Paul Sahre established his own design company in 1997. His office is part design studio and part silkscreen lab: he designs book covers and prints posters.

Jessica Helfand
Separated at Birth: Method? Or Madness?
02.05.06

Karim Rashid's method© cleaner is strikingly similar to that of a discount depot: coincidental congruousness?

Debbie Millman
Bill Grant
02.03.06

Bill Grant founded the Atlanta-based Grant Design Collaborative in 1996 and has worked with clients including Adobe Systems, Georgia-Pacific Papers and Steelcase, among many others.

Michael Bierut
In Praise of Slow Design
01.15.06

Is there a such a thing as slow graphic design? A look at 80 years of barely perceptible design changes at The New Yorker.

Jessica Helfand
Civilian Typography: The Power and The Fury
01.08.06

Without a cell phone, or in a flood, or barred from public transportation, the thing that separates human beings from the animal kingdom is our ability to communicate verbally. If we can't do that, we do it graphically. When all else fails, the pen isn't just mightier than the sword: it is the sword.

Lorraine Wild
Good Font, Shame About The Reporting
01.02.06


Michael Bierut
The Unbearable Lightness of Fred Marcellino
12.29.05

Remembering Fred Marcellino, the designer and illustrator who dominated the look of quality fiction dustjackets in the 1980s.

Jessica Helfand
Cease and Design
12.01.05

Where graphic design education is concerned, more doing and less asking is necessary.

Lorraine Wild
Think Regional, Act Annual
11.27.05

Flying from New York to Los Angeles last week, I spent the long hours at 35,000 feet doing something I had not done in years: I read the Print Magazine's "2005 Regional Design Annual" cover to cover. Here are some of the things I learned:

Jessica Helfand
The Shock Of The Old: Rethinking Nostalgia
10.27.05

Placing Nostalgia: where in the design landscape does it fit? And should it be included in the first place?

Michael Bierut
The Great Non-Amber-Colored Hope
10.24.05

A student design for a prescription pill bottle takes a metoric rise to mass production and becomes an instant icon in the world of graphic design.

Jessica Helfand
On Citizenship and Humanity: An Appeal for Design Reform
10.06.05

Ruminations on the Citizen Designer: A human first, a designer second, but most importantly, one who responds to collective cultural needs.

Adrian Shaughnessy
"Can you make the type bigger?"
09.30.05


Paula Scher
Remembering Henryk Tomaszewski
09.15.05


Michael Bierut
You May Already Be a Winner
08.29.05

Are graphic design competitions worthwhile?

Adrian Shaughnessy
Self-Initiated House Music
08.04.05

It is perhaps stretching definitions to say that Julian House has become a musician, but with the help of sampling technology and an array of digital audio tools, he makes striking and compelling audio assemblages, which have strong stylistic parallels with his collage-based graphic design.

Jessica Helfand
Why Bugs Don't Belong on TV
07.31.05

On today's TV screens, the station-identification logo sits tethered to the surface, like an annoying rash that won't quite disappear. You think you've kicked it when — WHAMMMO — there it is again, blemishing the patina of an otherwise perfectly good viewing experience.

Debbie Millman
Paula Scher
07.15.05

Paula Scher — arguably the most successful and influential woman working in design today — began her graphic design career as a record cover Art Director in the 1970s. She has been a Pentagram partner since 1991.

Michael Bierut
Rick Valicenti: This Time It's Personal
07.14.05

In his newly-published monograph Emotion as Promotion: A Book of Thirst, Rick Valicenti provides a glimpse into a designer's life that is at once accessibly seductive and brazenly idiosyncratic.

Jessica Helfand
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto
07.08.05


Lorraine Wild
Exhibitions by Renzo Piano and 2x4
07.04.05

Both architect Renzo Piano and graphic designers 2x4 are at the top of their respective games as designers, but the way they approach their own exhibitions (at LACMA and SFMOMA, respectively) places them at opposite poles of a style of communication, and maybe even belief.

Debbie Millman
Stefan Sagmeister
06.29.05

A candid and revealing discussion with design innovator Stefan Sagmeister, whose work has been hailed as “intense, cunning and evocative.” 

Michael Bierut
The Obvious, Shunned by So Many, Is Successfully Avoided Once Again
06.28.05

Does anyone devote as much energy to avoiding simple, sensible solutions as the modern graphic designer? Publications of designers' own work demonstrate what effort they go through to needlessly complicate what might be simple solutions.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Decoding Coldplay's X&Y
06.08.05

At a time when invisible data streams of binary information fed straight to our desktops are doing away with the need for album covers, it's odd to find a record sleeve as the subject of media comment and speculation. Odder still that the album cover in question — Coldplay's X&Y — should contain binary data as its central motif. Prophetic or what? The X&Y cover is agreeably eye-catching. You wouldn't call it a classic, but it has an unexpected severity that lifts it above the anodyne and cosmeticised design currently favoured by multi-platinum selling artists. It has dark echoes of Peter Saville's ephocal Factory covers.

Michael Bierut
The Man Who Saved Jackson Pollock
06.06.05

Herbert Matter, the designer who stored away a cache of recently-discovered Jackson Pollock paintings, deserves a similar rediscovery.

Rick Poynor
But Darling of Course it’s Normal: The Post-Punk Record Sleeve
05.20.05

There have been collections of post-punk music and now, finally, there is British music critic Simon Reynolds' 500-page history of the genre from 1978 to 1984. It's a brilliant book. He argues that post-punk music's explosion of creativity equals the golden age of popular music in the mid-1960s, but that it has never received its full due. I think he's right.

Rick Poynor
Getting Louder: Chinese Design on the March
05.05.05

The “Get it Lounder” design exhibition in Shenzhen, billed as the first of its kind in China, reflected the lifestyle aspirations of its participants. Will Chinese design be able to confront social reality in more overtly critical ways?

Jessica Helfand
Greer Allen: In Memoriam
04.28.05

Designer, critic, pundit and historian, Greer Allen was Senior Critic in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. He designed publications for The Houghton Library at Harvard, the Beinecke Library at Yale, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and a number of other distinguished cultural institutions around the country. Greer Allen died last week after a short illness. He was 83.

Momus
Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places
04.28.05

A little survey of the visuals being produced for some of Europe's independent labels just now.

Michael Bierut
Me and My Pyramid
04.22.05

The redesign of the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid is neither satisfying nor nourishing from an information design point of view.

Debbie Millman
Michael Bierut
04.08.05

Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. and worked for a decade at Vignelli Associates before joining Pentagram as a partner in 1990.


Rick Poynor
Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot
03.21.05

Dot Dot Dot is the most stimulating and original visual culture magazine produced by designers since Emigre's heyday in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.

Rob Walker
For Kicks
03.03.05

A look at one facet of the sneaker phenomenon — that is, the way that fashion and brand loyalty can come together in what might be considered the folk art of a consumer culture.

Michael Bierut
Designing Under the Influence
02.26.05

The similarity of a young designer's work to that of the artist Barbara Kruger provides the starting point for a discussion of the role of influence in design, and whether it is possible for someone to "own" a specific style.

Jessica Helfand
Our Bodies, Our Fonts
02.21.05

Body markings — piercings, tattoos and so forth — have recently evolved into a kind of marginalized form of graphic expression, yet one that sheds an unusual light on some of the more mainstream ways in which design often reveals itself.

Tom Vanderbilt
Rise and Fall of Rock and Roll Graphic Design
02.14.05

Has heavy metal graphic design run its course? Is the band logo as a species dead? And is there much of a future for the graphic representation of popular music itself?

Michael Bierut
Authenticity: A User's Guide
02.08.05

Graphic designers take pleasure in simulation. This makes defining authenticity a tricky thing.

William Drenttel
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag
12.29.04

In Remembrance of Susan Sontag: a designer's twenty-five years of interaction with the legandary writer.

Momus
Berlin Wheatpasting
12.26.04

"What is desirable in our field," said Milton Glaser in 2002, "is continuous transgression." Berlin wheatpasters know that. They're out there at night, come snow, come rain, risking fines or imprisonment to publicize semi-legal parties with amateur, exciting, semi-legal graphics.

Michael Bierut
The Whole Damn Bus is Cheering
12.01.04

The familiar yellow ribbons stuck to cars urging us to "support our troops" have lots of competition and are horribly designed.

Jessica Helfand
Donald Trump, Art Director: Not The Real Thing
11.29.04

Not until now has Pepsi opened itself up to a public makeover on national television, a redesign in the hands of a smattering of aspiring capitalists, a group whose combined knowledge of design principles might be characterized as, dare I say it — negligible.

Michael Bierut
Logogate in Connecticut, or, The Rodneydangerfieldization of Graphic Design: Part II
11.21.04

A new logo for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism by Cummings & Good provokes a public controversy on the value of design.

Michael Bierut
The World in Two Footnotes
11.18.04

Writing in Eye Magazine, Nick Bell observes that designers too often act as "agents of neutrality" or "aesthetes of style" and suggests that they focus more on their work's content.

William Drenttel
Does Aspen Have A Future?
10.09.04


Jessica Helfand
The Rodneydangerfieldization of Graphic Design: Part I
10.08.04

We need to listen to people besides designers. We need to get in those boardrooms, those war rooms, those bastions of decision-making where no designer has ever been before. We need new legacies, better policies, richer histories for the next generation of graphic designers.

Michael Bierut
Graphic Designers, Flush Left?
09.20.04

Are graphic designers as a class predisposed to favor left-wing politics?

Jessica Helfand
Under The Microscope
09.09.04


Michael Bierut
What is Design For? A Discussion
08.17.04

Rick Poynor and Michael Bierut discuss the purpose and promise of graphic design, in a conversation moderated by Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne.

Jessica Helfand
Ladislav Sutnar: Mechanical Beauty
08.10.04


Jessica Helfand
Graphic Design: The Movie
07.21.04

Some time ago, I pondered about the future of graphic design as a reality show, but recently I've become convinced that its real future lies in its actual integrated presence onscreen: design as part prop, part protagonist.

Michael Bierut
Ed Ruscha: When Art Rises to the Level of Graphic Design
07.12.04

A retrospective of the drawings of Ed Ruscha raises the question: is he an artist or a graphic designer?

Jessica Helfand
Ask Not What Your Typeface Can Do For You: Ask What You Can Do For Your Typeface
07.08.04

"Manhattan-based architect Frederic Schwarz's memorial 'Empty Sky' WILL USE Times New Roman..."

Jessica Helfand
Take Two Logos and Call Me in the Morning
07.01.04


Michael Bierut
The Idealistic Corporation
06.16.04

American corporations in the mid-twentieth century, such as IBM, Container Corporation, and General Dynamics, worked with designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herbert Bayer and Erik Nitsche in the conviction that design was not only a tool for business, but an potent instrument for making the world a better place.

Jessica Helfand
Designer by Day, Catwoman by Night
06.11.04


Rick Poynor
Modernising MoMA: Design on Display
06.06.04

MoMA is broadening its approach to graphic design. Recovering this material history will assist us in understanding our broader cultural history and help to educate a more aware generation of visual communicators.

Michael Bierut
McSweeney's No. 13 and the Revenge of the Nerds
05.29.04

McSweeney's No. 13, published by Dave Eggers and guest edited by Chris Ware, is a masterwork of publication design and an invaluable survey of today's best comic artists and graphic novelists.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Academia, Part I: What I Didn't Learn In Graduate School
05.12.04


Michael Bierut
My Democracy Was Irretrievably Undermined by Reactionary Idiots and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
05.09.04

Will a designer t-shirt contest have any effect on the US presidential elections?

William Drenttel
Learning from Las Vegas: The Book That (Still) Takes My Breath Away
05.05.04


Michael Bierut
Better Nation Building Through Design
04.28.04

A new flag design for Iraq may inadvertantly symbolize much of what is misguided in the US's occupation of that country.

Michael Bierut
Catharsis, Salesmanship, and the Limits of Empire
04.22.04

Nozone #9: Empire and a new promotional campaign for the radio station Air America demonstrate alternate ways that graphic design can engage political issues and their audiences.

Michael Bierut
I Hear You’ve Got Script Trouble: The Designer as Auteur
04.17.04

Screenwriter William Goldman has written about how difficult it is to ascribe authorship for a film. The same may be true for graphic design, which, like filmmaking, is essentially a collaborative activity.

Jessica Helfand
Graphic Flanerie
04.15.04

Graphic Design's real power comes from its ability to reach us through any of a number of means, both real and virtual, now and later. This ability to transcend the everyday and resonate in the heart, the soul, the mind and the memory—this is graphic design's reality, its legacy, and it is, decidedly, a reality that is more than a sum of its parts.

William Drenttel
El Lissitzky for Pesach
04.10.04


William Drenttel
The Lying Game No. 2 (Or Vietnam Redux)
04.06.04


Jessica Helfand
The Lying Game
04.01.04


Jessica Helfand
Annals of Typographic Oddity No. 2: Spaceship Gothic
03.26.04


Rick Poynor
Jan van Toorn: Arguing with Visual Means
03.21.04

Jan van Toorn’s designs embody an idea about citizenship. They address viewers as critical, thinking individuals who can be expected to take an informed and skeptical interest in the circumstances of their world.

Michael Bierut
The Book (Cover) That Changed My Life
03.19.04

The deceptively simple 1960s paperback cover of J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" is redolent of a very specific time and place to readers who discovered the book then.

Michael Bierut
George Kennan and the Cold War Between Form and Content
03.13.04

Diplomat George Kennan's "Long Telegram" of 1946 is a memorable synthesis of form and content, and a demonstration of how powerful form can be.

Jessica Helfand
The DNA of AND: Ampersand as Myth and Metaphor
03.12.04


Michael Bierut
1989: Roots of Revolution
03.06.04

"Dangerous Ideas," the 1989 conference of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) chaired by Tibor Kalman and Milton Glaser, introduced many themes -- social responsibility, political engagement, professional ethics -- that still resonate today.

William Drenttel
Defamiliarization: A Personal History
03.03.04


William Drenttel
Typography and Diplomacy
02.26.04


Jessica Helfand
The Crisis of Intent
02.24.04


Michael Bierut
The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover
02.18.04

Comparing the magazine covers of today to those created for Esquire magazine in the 1960s by George Lois leads to only one conclusion: today's magazine ideal magazine cover is enticing, not arresting, aiming not for shock, but for seduction. And it stinks.

William Drenttel
Call for Entries: Periodic Table of the Elements
02.05.04

Jessica Helfand and I are building a collection of Periodic Tables and hope to publish a book on their scientific, visual and cultural history.

Jessica Helfand
The Span of Casual Vision
01.13.04


William Drenttel
Adolf Wölfli Invents Design Brut?
01.05.04

Mr. Gomez has taken your basic 19th-century-madman-artist and turned him into a model 20th century graphic designer.

Michael Bierut
The Forgotten Design Legacy of the National Lampoon
01.05.04

The rerelease of the National Lampoon's ersatz and hilarious "1964 C. Estes Kefauver Memorial High School Yearbook" is a reminder that the magazine's art directors, Michael Gross and David Kaestle, anticipated our profession's obsession with vernacular graphic languages by almost fifteen years.

Rick Poynor
Notes on Experimental Jetset
12.21.03

Experimental Jetset’s argument that design should have a certain autonomy and an inner logic separate from tastes and trends makes sense, but as a rationale for defaulting to Helvetica, is it convincing?

Michael Bierut
Errol Morris Blows Up Spreadsheet, Thousands Killed
12.17.03

Errol Morris's documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara" demonstrates his mastery of information design as a poetic narrative device.

Rick Poynor
Adbusters in Anarchy
12.11.03

Adbusters’ once orderly pages are in a state of heaving agitation. The magazine seems to be seduced by the coolness of design as a gesture, even though this is part of the surface-fixated postmodernism it deplores.

Jessica Helfand
Sign Language: Endangered Species or Utopian Uprising?
12.05.03

At turns provocative and peculiar, photographs of a new building in Birmingham, England, hint at a utopian uprising: No angles. No signs. In other words: no branding?

Rick Poynor
Remember Picelj
12.02.03

The English-speaking world knows little about the design history of Communist Europe. Few will have heard of the distinguished Slovenian Ivan Picelj. His prints ask us to remember; they are full of yearning.

Rick Poynor
Unnecessary Revival
11.16.03

As a first-time enthusiast for American Typewriter, I was happy to see it pass into history. Resurrecting the typeface now that the typewriter has given way to digital technology is just nostalgia ― soft at the core.

Jessica Helfand
Implausible Fictions
11.12.03

At what point does the designer's interpretation threaten to skew, or misrepresent or somehow implausibly amplify information in a manner that might be considered irresponsible?

Michael Bierut
Graphic Design and the New Certainties
11.10.03

Graphic designers claim to want total freedom, but even in this intuitive, arbitrary, "creative" profession, many of us secretly crave limitations, standards, certainties. And certainties are a hard thing to come by these days.

Rick Poynor
Those Inward-looking Europeans
11.09.03

Three American design teachers visit London and the Netherlands. European designers, they say, are not paying attention to design history. Maybe the visitors are missing local factors and broader global issues.

William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician II
11.06.03

More on Edward Tufte and his critique of PowerPoint.

Jessica Helfand
Fatal Grandeur
10.30.03

Maybe design isn't going to kill you if it falls on your head. But if YOU fall, design is not exactly going to save you, either.

William Drenttel
Twin (Cities) Type in Flux
09.14.03

A new typeface commissioned for the City of Minneapolis moves when the wind blows. Is this what Gutenberg imagined when he invented movable type?

Jessica Helfand
The Real Declaration
09.06.03


William Drenttel
Paul Rand: Bibliography as Biography
09.02.03

This is bibliography as biography, and a posthumous testament to the considerable scope — and ongoing life — of one designer's mind. A Selected Bibliography of Books from the Collection of Paul Rand


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