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education

Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy

kidrobot5

Hold on to your Dunnys and Munnys, design fans, because Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz is making time in his new life as a maker of beautiful bicycles to guide Smorkin’ Labbit lovers–and anyone else who is interested–through the process of creating a great designer toy. Budnitz has signed on to teach “Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy,” an online course that launches October 16 through Skillshare.

“The goal of the class is to help artists sketch their own toy,” Budnitz tells us. “I talk about the basic history of designer toys, since it’s important to know the medium in which you’re working. There’s also a discussion about appropriation and juxtaposition, two elements of design that are found in most good art (and toys), and some ideas of how to apply this to your own toy.” And of course, he’ll offer plenty of pointers on how to design and draw a toy, with an eye to getting it off the page and into into production.
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So, How’s Your Graphic Novel Coming?

Need a nudge to get moving on the graphic novel you’ve been writing and/or drawing in your head for years? First, seek inspiration from Code Monkey Save World. The graphic novel in-progress–based on the songs of Jonathan Coulton, written by Greg Pak, and drawn by Takeshi Miyazawa–completed a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year (earning nearly ten times its original goal). According to the creators, the project was born after Pak joked on Twitter about writing a supervillain team-up comic based on Coulton’s characters. Coulton tweeted back “DO IT.” And so they did. You can, too, and the Mediabistro mothership is here to help with an online course that promises to move your graphic novel out of your head and onto the page–and beyond. Marvel Comics veteran Danny Fingeroth leads the eight-week learning adventure, which will take you from devising a proposal and writing word balloons to surviving Comic-Con and handling Hollywood. Learn more and register here. Sessions begin Thursday, October 17.

Learn Infographics and Get a Free Webcast


A dollar bill stamped with fact-based infographics from the Occupy George project.

Ready to respond to requests of “Show me the data!” with more than a sad little bar graph? The Mediabistro mothership is now recruiting would-be data visualizers for an online course in infographics that can “engage an audience in your brand, cause, or mission.” Guided by veteran creative director Sascha Mombartz, whose resume includes stints at The New York Times and Google, students will get up to speed with online tools (we’re looking at you Many Eyes) and develop a robust spec for a data visualization. The infographical fun starts next week, and if you register by tomorrow (no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on September 12), we’ll throw in a free webcast. Use promo code WEBCAST at checkout. Then use all of the dollar bills you save to circulate your newly created infographics.

Studio Gang to Design UChicago Dorm

The University of Chicago doesn’t want for distinctive architecture. The campus is home to buildings designed by everyone from Eero Saarinen and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to Rafael Viñoly and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, whose 184,000-square-foot Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts opened last year. And in a few years, some 800 undergrads will get to live (and eat) in a dorm designed by Chicago’s own Jeanne Gang.

The university has selected Studio Gang Architects to design a major new residence hall and dining commons on the north end of the UChicago campus. The firm will work with Mortenson Construction on the project, which is expected to open in 2016 and will shoot for LEED Gold certification. “We are excited to develop our design that focuses on creating vibrant student communities within the residence halls, connected to a series of new, active public green spaces and environments,” said Gang in a statement issued Tuesday. Read more

TypeEd Offers Type Classes for the Masses

Poor typeface selection, butchered executions of proper glyph handling, the ridiculous setting of justified copy: these are just some of the typographic tragedies that TypeEd aims to banish from the planet. “We exist to protect and serve the letterform, typesetting against the villains of bad design,” say Michael Stinson and Rachel Elnar, who founded the Los Angeles-based program of typography and typesetting courses last year in their design studio, Ramp Creative+Design. “Our mission is to educate designers, students, and practitioners on the fundamental skills of typography.” Among their latest offerings is “In the Loop,” a six-hour script letterform workshop taught by veteran creative director Leah Faust. We asked Stinson, a veteran designer/art director and TypeEd’s lead instructor, to tell us more about “typesetting for the jetsetting” and couldn’t resist the ‘ol desert island fonts question—read on for his top three typefaces.

What led you to create TypeEd?
Rachel went back to teach in the Cal State University system after an elevan-year hiatus, and noticed that with the overflow of computer-based classes into college curriculums, design fundamentals like typography were pushed to the wayside. So, she brought me in as guest speaker to give her interactive class a few typography tips. After seeing the enthusiasm, we eventually we decided to start an education program in our design studio.

What will “In the Loop” workshop participants learn?
In The Loop is an exploration of script-making and letterform crafting. The workshop will cover the history of iconic script signage in Los Angeles, and discuss how to make a script memorable and effective. Attendees will learn about the aspects of readability, angle, stroke variation, and how to translate scripts to digital form.

What is your greatest design pet peeve?
My greatest design pet peeve is the absence of thinking in design. When a designer chooses elements because of personal preference instead of being informed by research, history or concept, I feel that they’ve really missed a great opportunity. Designing without thinking is pure lack of consideration for the reader.
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RISD Museum Rolls Out New Identity, Website

There’s a trend a-brewin’ in the form of deconstructed, shape-shifting graphic identities for art museums. We still can’t stomach the “responsive W” that Experimental Jetset cooked up for the Whitney, but Project Projects is onto something with its dynamic new look for the RISD Museum. Part of an overhaul that included a name change (it was formerly known as The Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design) and the first website redesign in the museum’s history, the fresh mark was inspired by the architectural space of the RISD Museum—composed of five buildings located on the historic East Side of Providence, Rhode Island–and consists of a stylized “M” within which the letters R, I, S, and D are positioned.

Check out the identity’s fluid, interactive application on the new website, also a Project Projects project. “Throughout [the site], colorful bands function as gallery walls and create a sense of progression from room to room as the visitor scrolls, dimensionalizing the site and connecting it to the identity system’s emphasis on the museum as a space,” note the designers, who have mixed the bands with “button-like tags [that] foster a more networked type of discovery through the museum’s collections from Ancient to Contemporary, grouping objects by time period, genre, material, and technique to emphasize methods of making across disciplines.”

Adobe Illustrator, in a Class by Itself

Mediabistro continues to heed your cries for more design courses, and July is all about Illustrator. Over two weeks of online learning, budding ad designers will get up to speed on the software under the guidance of veteran art director Andrés Jimenez, who has designed everything from a website for the Jay-Z/Iconix clothing brand Artful Dodger to a NASCAR paint scheme for Jackson Hewitt. All we ask is that you use your newfound colors and gradients knowledge for good. As Spider Man‘s graphic designer cousin Gene once said, “With great special effects and filter skills come great responsibility.” Learn more here.

Parsons Partners Up for Social Innovation Incubator

Projects with potential for positive social or environmental impact will get a boost from a new Parsons initiative. The school is partnering with the Toronto-based Centre for Social Innovation (which recently opened a 24,000-square-foot space in New York’s Starrett-Lehigh building) to create an incubator program for Parsons students and recent alumni launching design-led social innovation projects. Check out the five projects that have been selected for the incubator’s first cycle, which gets underway this month and runs through September 2014:

  • Bike Flocks: an urban, clean energy transportation system focused on biking
  • Make Your Mark, an urban parks stewardship program for youth that connects STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) to design and social change
  • Enacting Policy: an educational platform for understanding complex policy issues that incorporates role-playing, storytelling and mapping techniques
  • Co-Kreate: an innovative and sustainable housing alternative that generates economic development, and supports education and community development
  • Citysteading: a community-driven process that seeks to empower marginalized urban populations to have a voice in driving important policy issues such as affordable housing and environmental protection

Parsons Students Repurpose Luxe Leather Scraps for ‘Wasteless’ Competition

Waste less, want more? That’s the thinking behind Wasteless, a sustainability-minded competition that challenged students at Parsons The New School for Design to transform Poltrona Frau‘s leather leftovers–freshly harvested from the floor of its factory in Tolentino, Italy–into luxe accessories and objects. Designer and Parsons faculty member Andrea Ruggiero led a group of 15 Parsons product design students in the seven-week project, and earlier this month they presented their projects to a panel of judges that included Massimo Vignelli, Metropolis editorial director Paul Makovsky, and Federico Materazzi of Poltrona Frau.

Jenny Hsu emerged on top with “Piqnique” (at left), a woven case for meals on the go that doubles as a leather placemat. Rounding out the top three were Yuna Kim‘s “Miovino” leather wine glass tags and the “Tuft” candle holders (at right) designed by Benjamin Billick. The three winning designers will head to Italy this summer to visit the Poltrona Frau factory and work with the company’s master craftsmen to fabricate prototypes. Check out all 15 of the student designs at Poltrona Frau’s Soho showroom, where they’re on view through Tuesday.

School of MFA Boston to Honor Glenn Ligon


A production still from 2012 episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century that featured Glenn Ligon.

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will honor artist Glenn Ligon with its SMFA Medal. First presented in 1996, the award honors individuals “who have made a significant and lasting impact on the art world, and recognizes their commitment to diversifying and communicating with the world through art.” Past recipients include Alex Katz, Kiki Smith, Ellen Gallagher, and Robert Rauschenberg. Ligon will receive his SMFA Medal (complete with red ribbon) this evening at a gala that will take place at the museum and benefit the school. Guests can assess potential future SMFA medalists during a pre-dinner silent auction of student work.
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