Category Archives: Graphic Design

$5 logo from Von Glitschka

Once upon a time, this very popular illustrator/designer named Von Glitschka created a website to sell logos for $5. The kicker is that he would only spend 5 minutes on each one and there would be no revisions allowed. It was done out of frustration from what he calls ‘cheap a** clients’.

However, for fans of his, this is a great way to have a cheap piece of ‘art’ from the man himself. After some conversations about his $5 logo website with Jamie Carroll, we came to the conclusion that it was pretty genius.

And.. what do you know? I got one for my birthday, from Jamie.

For an undetermined amount of time, this $5 logo has replaced my prior logo on my personal website/blog (desktop version of the website/blog only).

Recently, I came across Dieter Rams’ ten principles of good design. I didn’t even know who Dieter Rams was – but assumed that he was surely a graphic designer, based on his definition of good design (and maybe the glasses).

I was wrong! (which proves good design is transcendent)

Dieter Rams is an industrial designer – mainly working for electronic device manufacturer, Braun. He designed products such as coffee makers, radios, calculators and so on. Basically, if he failed at his job as designer, people would get really frustrated with the devices that fill their daily lives. Talk about a tall task – especially in comparison to myself – a measly website designer.

So here is Dieter Ram’s ten principles of good design:

Good design is innovative.

Good design makes a product useful.

Good design is aesthetic.

Good design makes a product understandable.

Good design is unobtrusive.

Good design is honest.

Good design is long-lasting.

Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

Good design is environmentally friendly.

Good design is as little design as possible.

—Dieter Rams

I’ve talked about this in the past on this blog. I was reminded of this debate from a past professor who re-blogged a post by Frank Chimero.

So, should designers be coders? The answer is, “Yes, to an extent.”

I say ‘to an extent’, because we can’t expect a web designer to be able to do everything a programmer can. These are two different career paths. We can and should expect there to be an overlap between these separate fields. This overlap mainly lies in knowing HTML and CSS. (now you know what the question marks are for in the graphic). So designers should understand code and be able to write HTML and CSS.

Adobe’s recent release of Muse has surely stoked this debate even more. Muse promises to rid the need for a programmer/coder (you know, the way that Microsoft Publisher rids the need for a designer). The problem with this is that Muse promotes a lack of coding knowledge and as a result web designers are still uneducated about coding and their websites are worse off because of it. Websites are not digital versions of print design. They are living documents in 4D – changing based on user interactions, responsive design, dynamic elements etc. For more on why Muse is not the answer to web development, read Elliot Jay Stocks’ assessment.

The point here is that web designers should understand and be able to write HTML/CSS. As a comparison, take this example I mentioned in the aforementioned blog post,

…an architect should understand how a house is built. Otherwise, the architect has become a meaningless decorator of a medium he doesn’t understand.

Frank Chimero says it like this,

Design decisions are not only affected by the characteristics of the content being designed, but also the qualities of the format. The best way to understand the characteristics of the web is to speak its language.

What are your thoughts on this? Should web designers know how to code? How extensively?

Want to know where to start learning how to code? Check this out: Don’t Fear the Internet


A few years ago I had a course where we were encouraged to push the limit of what graphic design is and break the rules of design and typography to create something fresh… as fresh as sweet, sweet mountain dew. Here are a few pieces from that time period (which also draw much inspiration from designer, David Carson). I call this my ‘make the professor happy’ era of my design work. 🙂

Ad for Still Magazine's new website

This has to be my favorite magazine ad I’ve ever designed. Why? Because I had a vision,  sketched it out and communicated it to the photographer. It came together exactly how I planned. That may sound easy, but it’s not always.

The goal was to portray simply, that the print-only publication is now going to be online for the first time ever! I sketched a stack of magazines with 3-d ‘WWW’ on top of them. I then presented my idea to Kelly Rogers, ATSU’s awesome photographer and he came up with some sweet lighting ideas and various compositions.

I then went to work carving out the W’s from foam-core. Needless to say my foam-core cutting skills aren’t up to par. I first tried carving out a serif W… THAT was a disaster. Then I settled for a sans-serif W. My co-worker/friend/amazing illustrator/foam-core master, Jamie Carroll offered to cut the letters for me. THANK GOODNESS.

I then walked around campus stealing as many magazines as possible to form a huge stack for the photo. The photoshoot took about an hour or so and the only post-processing I did was to remove the stool the magazines were sitting on and to make the ‘WWW.’ pure black/white and not tinted pink (since the foam was pink.)

iconnect magazine advertisement

I recently designed this advertisement for placement in the A. T. Still University alumni magazine. It’s pretty cool to come full circle with a project. I had designed the iconnect website (see this post) and now print advertising for it. I also designed the first ever website for the alumni magazine – Still Magazine. More on that to come later.

Recently, Mitch Goldstein (a great designer and educator at Rhode Island School of Design) blogged about his holy sh*t moment. His was that you could photograph type instead of just ‘typing’ it. A design student, Brittany Loar responded with her ‘moment’ as well.

Here are few of my holy sh*t moments:

  • Throughout high school I would design everything with drop shadows. During my second year of college I realized NOT using a drop shadow was actually better. I do break this rule sometimes, but with great subtlety.
  • As far as typography, I realized that I could kern out (generous space between letters of the word) words to add more contrast with other type (see this logo). I learned this closer to my third year of college.
  • As far as page layout, using very generous margins with blocks of text really opened some things up for me (see this print ad). This as well was learned during my second year of college.

These probably don’t sound too groundbreaking if you’re a designer, but for a young designer (as I was), they are huge.

Now it’s your turn!

What was your holy sh*t moment in your profession, whether you are a designer, writer, photographer, programmer, or any other type of professional.

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Creative Improv started over a year ago as a way for Michael Goldsmith and I to work together and provide web, print and identity design to clients. It has been a joy to continue to work closely with ‘Goldie’. It feels like a dream come true, to be crazy busy with design for such a wide range of projects as fellow artists, bands, museums, a math curriculum, and even a bridal shoppe.

We’ve had business cards since the beginning, but we’ve just now got letterhead and envelopes. Check them out below!

A technical note – we used for our printing and everything came out perfectly. The color was spot on and the ability to do a full bleed on the envelope was freeing!

Letterhead and envelope for Creative Improv

Business Cards for Stephen Emlund at Creative Improv

This week at BSU, Gene is speaking about Missions, so at about midnight last night I created this for the PowerPoint during the service.

Here are the Rapala Fishing Lure ad and the Brochure for Society of Illustrators I mentioned in the last post.

For the left half of this, I found cool frames, pictures of people holding fish and a photo of wood panelling and put them all together to come up with the “bait shop wall”

This was a brochure which is folded in half and then in thirds and it was a mailer. The back of it was served as a poster.
Poster –

Information side –

Just the front cover –

Before the last two projects we had to design a poster for the Native American Heritage Month that Truman has every year. I chose to stylize just an Indian Headdress and bring attention to the people as a whole. This is why I left out a person wearing it. The headdress was hand-drawn with ink and then scanned in.

Recent BSU Design
Tonight is the FUEL service and I designed this by compositing a night sky and a closely cropped photo of a sculpture of jesus. I had to colorize it and change the contrast, This took only about 20 minutes.