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Friday Design Short: (Almost) October Edition

September 30, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I apologize for this post coming out a bit late. I’ve been caught up with other writing and design projects that I hope to be able to share with you soon. In the meantime, I have a few design links to share before the weekend commences.

First, tomorrow is October. Can you believe it? I can’t, but luckily the start of another month does mean another wonderful selection of wallpapers to redecorate our desktops via Smashing Magazine. So many beautiful, cute, and Halloween-inspired designs to choose from–I might just need to have rotating wallpapers this month!

I know I’ve shared Kern Type, The Kerning Game before, but it’s almost the weekend and I just had to share it again. Besides, it never hurts to brush up on our kerning skills!šŸ™‚

And, finally, while there are some lovely free fonts available online, sometimes you need to buy a font (or two) to create a design project and is a great place to look (among many others that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks as I post about type and libraries). Also, has a free newsletter and a blog that has some useful posts. If nothing else, it can be fun to look through all the font possibilities–especially when you aren’t on a deadline!

I hope you have a fabulous weekend full of relaxing and creating and reading and whatever else you choose to do. I’ll be back with more news and notes soon. Allons-y!

Midweek Design Inspiration

September 28, 2016

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely week, reading some great banned books, and designing wonderful things for your library. As a bit of midweek inspiration (because who doesn’t love some inspiration in the middle of the week?), here are a few resources that will hopefully inspire you–or at least make you smile.

Hand lettering is totally having a moment. Well, actually, it’s been having many moments for a few years now and the wave of interest just seems to be growing. Even if you have no desire to learn hand lettering or calligraphy (separate arts, as you know), check out these beautiful examples as inspiration for your next design project: 19 Instagram Accounts to Follow if You Love Pretty Handwriting from The Well-Appointed Desk.

For more hand lettering examples and inspiration, head over to Smashing Magazine’s roundup of many hand lettering artists in The Art of Hand Lettering. Makes me want to work on my handwriting!

If your library is considering a new promotion/marketing campaign for a programming series or whatnot, consider the amazing work of a crowdfunding campaign in the UK that replaced advertisements with cat posters in a London Underground station. Shared not only because the cats are adorable, but the posters also show how simple design and ample white space can make for incredibly striking posters. Something to consider the next time someone at your library wants to cram “one more thing” into the poster or flyer you are designing.

I hope you have a fabulous week, full of inspiration for your work and play. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Awesome Koloa Signs

September 23, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a relaxing weekend planned. I’ve been traveling this past week and wanted to share some signs I particularly liked in Koloa. You can see, there isn’t any Helvetica in sight and these signs provide some good examples of what libraries can do to make their signage unique and even playful while still communicating effectively.

So here are a few of the signs I saw while walking around:

photograph of Kaua'i culinary market sign

This is a great sandwich board sign for the weekly farmers market. It is cute, easy-to-read, uses the branding font for “The Shops at Kukui’ula” and manages to look professional and homespun at the same time. Love it and the market that it advertises. And, check out the great use of the same colors in the image of the basket and the type used on the sign. This is some thoughtful graphic design. You could try the same color sampling and minimalist design in your next library project.

photograph of sign for Halele'a Gallery

This is the beautiful sign for the Halele’a Gallery in the same outdoor shopping complex. Not Helevetica and still classy! Love the drawings of ferns and fronds around the gallery’s name to create what looks like a name seal. It is beautiful, subdued, and would look great on everything from this sign to letterhead, business cards, and (of course) seals. So lovely. Execute all your library designs with this much grace and people will notice.

photograph for Martin and MacArthur

Another great sign, this one showing a beautiful example of using flourishes for the capitals. Notice in the background on the building how the same “M” is used above the name in the sign. Beautiful, classy, with a lovely color palette that completely works with the yellow of the building, the white of the trim, and the tropical plantings out front. This is signage done right.

Has your library considered how its signage will work within the context of where you will hang it? If you haven’t, you should.

photograph of store directoryThis is one of the store directories. Notice how they same font is used consistently, even though all these businesses uses different fonts in their branding. Easy to read, no extraneous information or little descriptions that no one could ever possibly read at a glance.

Does your library have a directory? Is it as clear and easy to read? If not, its time to make it clearer. Also, note that you don’t have to use a san serif font to make directories readable, you just have to select your font with care.

photograph of sign asking people not to smokeThis is without a doubt my favorite sign at this shopping center. It is witty, clever, and gets its point across without some large, red circle with an “X” over a clip art image of a cigarette. Notice that the san serif font used is playful, which reinforces the language used, but it is still clear.

Libraries could learn from this when creating signage that we want to be more positive instead of negative–especially in regards to noise issues and cell phone use. Clear headline with clever copy. Would love to see such signage in libraries, though probably sans chicken.

Hope you enjoyed this look at some signage and how you can apply lessons from them to your next library sign design. I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of reading, creating, and fun. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Friday Design Inspiration

September 16, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good week and are on the cusp of a fabulous weekend. I have a short post full of design inspiration to help with your next design projects this month.

I’m still loving the monthly design inspiration from Smashing Magazine and the September edition doesn’t disappoint. I hope you find something inspiring from their picks, too.

Also from Smashing Magazine, more free icon sets. These are going to be so useful for work. I can see about a dozen projects to use them on in the library already.šŸ™‚

Do you get inspired by travel? By museums? By great art? If you do, definitely check out the amazing video, “All the art in London in one day.” Makes me tired and energized to travel all at the same time. Now I have the itch to book a trip to London, too!

And, if I can leave you with just one graphic design tip at the end of this short post of design inspiration, is this: if you decide to put a border on a sign or a flyer for your library, please consider what purpose it serves. Are you putting it there for decoration? Or does it serve a design purpose? Remember, we are always trying to communicate in the most clear way possible through our designs, not create framed art on paper. I just ask you to consider: do you need a border or do you need to rethink your design? I’ve been seeing borders pop up more regularly on library signs lately and I’m wondering why. So, that’s your design tip/thought for this Friday. If you have found uses for borders on your flyers and signs at your library, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave me a note in comments.šŸ™‚

I hope September is treating you well, that you have a wonderful autumn in front of you, and that you are able to keep creating wonderful designs for your library and life. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Soup Can Label Redesign

September 9, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a lovely week and have a wonderful weekend planned. For today’s Friday Design Talk, I want to talk about redesigns, specifically in the context of soup cans. But it applies to libraries, especially with regards to logo redesigns, rebranding efforts, and web redesigns. So let’s talk soup!

I was recently in a store shopping with my husband when we noticed that Progresso has redesigned their soup can labels. I took two photos, which you can see below, of the redesigned labels on the left and the older design on the right. So what do you notice? What speaks to you? What works and doesn’t work for your design sensibilities? I’ll wait a bit while you check out the cans and think about it. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you my thoughts below the photos.

photograph of two cans of clam chowderphotograph of two cans of chicken noodle soup

Okay, are we ready to talk redesign and rebranding? Yes? Great!

So, first things first, there really isn’t anything terribly wrong with the redesigned soup labels and the rebranded Progresso banner. But there really, in my opinion isn’t anything great either. It is all quite bland, which I’m almost positive wasn’t what anyone wants people to think of when they think of their soup line. You want soup to be delicious, aromatic, comforting, yummy, right? I just don’t get that feeling from the new design.

So what is in the new design and what’s been changed?

The serif fonts used in the old label have been swapped out for a plain san serif font. Okay, one could make the argument that this makes the label easier to read. It also makes it look like every other redesigned packaging and sign I’ve seen over the last few years. It seems like a large chunk of the design world has been swept up in the Helvetica trend and san serifs are the only go-to fonts used anymore. I have nothing against a good san serif, but I never get the feeling that it is either “traditional” like the label says nor do I feel like it makes me think “yum, soup”.

The new label is less busy. There are no pops of color from the vegetables on top of the Progresso banner (which I seriously thought was part of their logo, but apparently isn’t). There is no depth to the label–most of the gradients have been removed, giving the new banner a flat look, even with the bit of movement with the swoop of the banner from left to right.

The use of just the bowl of soup as the focal image, instead of a close-up with the spoon is an interesting choice. Even with the removal of the center square with the name of the soup from the old labels, it feels like the label now has an odder delineation of space. It almost looks like the can is frowning with how the bottom of the label cuts off the soup bowl, but that could just be me.

The new labels just feel bland, like they don’t want to stand out from the crowd, they just want to sit on the shelf with every other soup can and be quiet. That’s not what you want when you are competing for market share in soup. You want to be bold–to connect–to be different. Stand out. It’s okay. At least they kept the blue, although it is much lighter overall, so I can find it in the soup aisle.

So what does this have to do with libraries? If you are contemplating a redesign or a design of a label, a logo, or really anything for your library, don’t be bland. Be bold. You don’t have to follow every hot new design trend. You don’t have to set everything in san serif fonts and you don’t have to make everything completely flat in your design. Pops of color can be good and eye-catching. In design, as in life and libraries, sometimes you have to standout and be brave. Don’t always go with the safe choice, just because it is there. Pick fonts and colors and designs and graphics that truly connect with your message and evoke the emotions that you want to evoke with your designs.

And, if you are designing for soup packaging, make sure its label screams yum and comfort (it doesn’t have to actually say those words, but the design should). Think about what your design needs to communicate first, always–then go from there.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of fun and relaxation as we head into autumn. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Friday Design Short

September 2, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are well and have a lovely weekend planned. Today’s design post is going to be short as I’ve been under the weather with another nasty summer cold this week. So instead of the post on redesign and branding that I had planned, which will hopefully be written next week, I’m going to share some design inspiration for the start of your September.

First, have you remembered to change up your desktop wallpapers for the month? If not, head over to the always fabulous Smashing Magazine post to change up your wallpapers. Love all the different designs for this month!

Also, for design inspiration, check out the wonderful series of park identity posters Michael Schwab created for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. (Sorry the link goes to their store, but it was the best way to see all the posters together.) If you are in the Bay Area, you can also see the posters as part of the Legion of Honor’s current exhibit, Wild West: Plains to the Pacific. Great reminder that simple and bold are almost always great design choices.

And finally, because it is the last long weekend of summer, check out Joy the Baker’s post for some lovely things to make and eat this weekend. I’m looking forward to hopefully feeling better and getting a lot of reading, writing, drawing, hiking, and relaxing in this weekend. How about you?

I’ll be back next week with more news and notes. Allons-y!

End of Summer Thoughts: Design and Otherwise

August 26, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope the end of August is going well for you and you have something grand planned for the end of summer (even if that is eating more watermelon before it turns into sweater weather). Today I wanted to share a few bits and bobs for the end of summer–design, books, and other things.

I apologize for not having a post out last Friday, but I was at a weeklong bookbinding intensive atĀ San Francisco Center for the Book. It was absolutely fantastic and now I’m trying to figure out how I can find room in my itty, bitty space for crafts to hold bookbinding supplies. If you are in the area and ever have the chance to take some classes at SF Center for the Book, I highly recommend it. Both bookbinding and letterpress classes are great. Last week reinvigorated my love of crafting by hand, away from the computer. It was inspiring to work with such beautiful materials, to learn something new, and to connect with others who share my fascination with books and journals.

The workshop reminded me that we all need to have people to connect with who share our passions for designing, crafting, and creation. Talking with my classmates got me excited to think about ways to bring back what I’ve learned into my teaching and work at the library. Paper crafting for finals week? Sounds like fun to me! We all need to take time to recharge our creativity through learning from experts and talking with others. I’m so glad I had that opportunity this summer.

And summer should be a time for recharging and getting ready for the push to the end of the year (especially if your life revolves around the academic year, like mine does). So it seems fitting to share thisĀ Lifehacker article, What Psychology Teaches Us About Structuring the Workday. As we transition from summer into fall, it seems like we lose our laid back attitudes and replace them with stress. So we might as well use everything to our advantage to make our workday work for us, instead of against us, as much as possible.

While I love summer, there is something lovely about fall, too. Although it sometimes makes me sad as it ushers in the ending of another year, the one thing that never makes me sad is finding out there are a bunch of awesome books I can look forward to reading. So check out this guideĀ to fantasy and science fiction books coming out this fall. Time to update my reading list.

Finally, if you are in the Bay Area this weekend and are a fan of pens, you should really go to theĀ SF International Pen Show. It has an inexpensive admission and looks like it should be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to walking around this weekend as I try not to buy everything in sight!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of art, design, and lots of good times. I’ll be back with more news and notes soon. Allons-y!

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