Archive for January 2008

Skateboard magazines

January 18, 2008

Just wanted to share this cover.
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I love how skateboard magazines have become this hybrid of too-cool-for-school writing and amazing photography. I don’t think you get much more pretentious than your average skateboarder or skateboard magazine (I’m talking from 12 years of being a skater myself) but I don’t think it matters when you get such a sweet looking product like this. oh and yes, this magazine proclaims itself to be about ‘skateboarding • life • art • progression’. Well, whatever. Nice magazine.

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Design Philosophy?

January 16, 2008

I thought this post on Gizmodo about Dieter Rams product design for Braun in the 1960’s and his obvious influence on Apple’s Jonathan Ive’s design was really great, but what I really found fascinating were Ram’s 10 principles for good design:

• Good design is innovative.
• Good design makes a product useful.
• Good design is aesthetic.
• Good design helps us to understand a product.
• Good design is unobtrusive.
• Good design is honest.
• Good design is durable.
• Good design is consequent to the last detail.
• Good design is concerned with the environment.
• Good design is as little design as possible.

I especially agree with the last one.

More on the magazine audience…

January 16, 2008

To continue again what I yacked about below… when I first came on board this publication and we started re-designing, our number one priority was not to alienate our existing audience. The redesign required some (though not a great deal) rethinking of the approach writers were taking to their assignments in terms of length and spec charts, that would help the design and editorial act as one cohesive (there’s that word again!) piece, and not require work on the part of the reader. The other priority, which is a little harder to sum up, was to make the redesign accessible, modern, new and mainstream, but not to be a smack in the head. If it worked, then the regular reader would know something had changed, but perhaps they wouldn’t immediately grasp what, perhaps they’d read the magazine, find it as familiar as always, but also pick up on some sort of re-invigoration of the content as a whole.

Generally, the reader response to the redesign was good. The readers were good enough to point out problems they had (like body copy being slightly too small for the older readers, which made us increase it in size from 9pt Garamond to 9.6), but they were also kind enough to encourage the progress that the magazine was obviously trying to make. The editor did address the redesign in the first issue with the new look, which I think inspired the majority of the responses from the readers. Since then we’ve made numerous small changes here and there, and one major overhaul a couple of months ago to the look of our interior pages, and I feel a lot better about the direction of the magazine in terms of design. I also still believe however that we’re not addressing our biggest problem – how to pull in a new audience and adapt to their expectations. Basically I think we have to decide if we are going to continue on our current path, and hope that a new generation of audiophiles is constantly growing and finding the magazine themselves, or decide if we can take an Apple iPhone like approach and build our new readership by making it incredibly obvious that this magazine and the products reviewed inside are exactly what they need in their lives, even though they weren’t aware of it. Does that make sense?

Some recent work… continued

January 16, 2008

To continue from the post below, I think this selection of covers is a good example of the direction I think we were mostly successful with last year. I think this approach has led us to…or is a natural progression to the more graphic approach to photography that I talk about in my previous post. I’m not saying I was happy with all these covers however, in fact I think there are a couple of stinkers in there, and I wish there were more cohesion between the image we shoot for the cover and the eventual cover headlines, which invariably are the very last thing we do in production… right back there with the contents pages (another area we need to work on).
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Some recent work…

January 16, 2008

I’ve been working with my friend Adam Voorhes, who is the by far the best product photographer I’ve ever met or worked with, on a new direction for the photography in my regular job’s magazine. The samples here are I think the closest yet to what I’ve been trying to achieve. I’m really trying to push a more graphical approach to the photos, as opposed to contributing to the endless onslaught of blah shiny surface/colored background product photography out there (particularly in the electronics field). Oh and lets not forget the girl in swimsuit holding an iPod.
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Wall and Piece

January 14, 2008

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This is a great book about Banksy, the well-known yet anonymous British graffiti artist. There’s a ton of cool stuff in here, and a lot of it gives me tons of ideas for really graphical photography and type treatments. And it makes me want to go out and spray paint a bunch of stuff. That’s not really the point though I suppose.

Display configuration changing the way we work

January 14, 2008

I hope Apple follow the pattern of the past few years and tomorrow reveal another sweet new product I will not be able to justify buying.

I’m really interested in all this multi-touch/touch-screen/Minority Report (almost) style technology which is always being talked about, used in a couple of places (like the iPhone) but still not really having a huge impact on the day to day workplace. I’m curious to see how products like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop (my 3 daily apps) are re-configured to work in a new environment, when eventually a touchscreen monitor is available that effectively negates the need for a mouse and keyboard. Would it encourage less rigidness and more fluidity or randomness if you are able to literally scatter electronic files on a screen in a manner similar to real-world objects?

I can imagine the work going faster in such an interface, but also imagine needing at least a 30inch monitor immediately! Anway, just thinking out loud. If Apple are the first to tout a product like this aimed at creative/graphic uses, then I need to pretty much resign myself to not being able to afford one anytime soon after!