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Keeping Busy, Going Slower


When I’m not blogging, or splattering milk all over my kitchen, I’m running my gallery. One of the aspects of promoting the gallery and its exhibitions that I’ve really enjoyed is printing: letterhead, business cards, exhibition postcards, all of it. I was very fortunate to have the help of lots of great, talented friends when I first opened (and to this very day). Dana came up with a type treatment for my name, and we based my colors on what I had chosen for text and background colors on my Fotolog page. Simple, but it worked.

My friend Kayhan built on what Dana started – he came and spent time in the space, talked with me about my ideas (gently steering me away from the bad ones) and came up with an identity design that is distinctive, but flexible. The simple band design, which you see on the postcard above has worked perfectly for every show I’ve had since the gallery opened – nineteen and counting!

My resources are pretty limited – I certainly don’t have the print budget that a Chelsea gallery does, but I’ve figured out a way to print cards that usually come out looking pretty spiffy. I had one unfortunate incident when I ran a print job twice, for this image: the first run way was too magenta, the second too cyan. We ended up using the second batch, but man, they were way way way off. It was crazymaking.

eshepard_armory.jpgAt first, I tried to work with small shops where I could actually get a proof before they did they job, but the cost was prohibitive. Now I have settled on a gang-run house, Compucolor. It’s not always a perfect color match but they are affordable, and fast. Dana finished this card and uploaded it to their site yesterday evening – the cards (5,000 of them) were delivered to the gallery about an hour ago. And they look awesome, I have to say!

And now, I will pimp the upcoming show: photographs by none other than one Mr. Eliot Shepard, he of fame. (Also, an occasional member of Gawker‘s Team Party Crash.) I am immeasurably excited about this show, it’s been a long time in the making.

MUG on Maps

030205_archive.jpgThe Manhattan Users Guide people must share my mapping obsession. Yesterday’s newsletter was all about maps, from a New York perspective. Which reminds me, I really really need to make a trip to Argosy soon.

Barbara Who?

kruger.gifMichael Bierut posted a great item over on Design Observer about a recent interview he had with a young designer:

The best piece in her portfolio was a packaging program for an imaginary cd release: packaging, advertising, posters. All of it was Futura Bold Italic, knocked out in white in bright red bands, set on top of black and white halftones. Naturally, it looked great. Naturally, I asked, “So, why were you going for a Barbara Kruger kind of thing here?”
And she said: “Who’s Barbara Kruger?”
Okay, let’s begin. My first response: “Um, Barbara Kruger is an artist who is…um, pretty well known for doing work that…well, looks exactly like this.”
“Really? I’ve never heard of her.”

The comments thread is sizzling hot too – kicked of with this salvo from a young indignant (but not terribly original) designer:

OMG. I’m a beginning design student myself and all I can say is you arrogant snob”. WTF Do you know how many million artists and designers exist in the world today? The population explosion has attained such unprecedented levels that there really is no longer any room for pretentious snobbery. You must be over 40 is all I can say.

Over 40! The horror.

Oscar Drama

image_page1-2.jpgIt’s Monday morning and my in box greets me with not one, not two, but three reader tips. My insomniac pre-coffee big meeting in a few hours self thanks you from the bottom of my heart, dear readers. (Keep ‘em coming – email tips to jen AT unbeige DOT com.

Let’s start with the most timely: Over the weekend David Flaherty, a NYC based illustrator, emailed me a link to the Apple True Hollywood Story of Brett Davidson, the little engine, err, designer who could, damnit!

It’s a modern version of All About Eve, except that so far as I can tell Brett is more of a Pollyanna than an Eve Harrington.

Davidson is an employee [ed note: interesting, no?] at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which runs the Oscars. “I’ve been working here for ten years and hoping they would notice my designs,” [ed. note: Hoping they'd notice? I don't recommend this as a career tactic.] explains Davidson. This year, his perseverance paid off. His winning design for the Oscar poster is appearing in multiple forms, on venues ranging from websites to taxicabs, as part of a broad campaign to promote the show. It’s sweet success indeed, considering his lifelong passion for all things Oscar…

In a unanimous decision, Davidson’s poster won. “There were more than 100 entries from all these world-renowned designers,” he says, his voice still tinged with disbelief. “They were big guns that had put together whole campaigns to pitch their ideas. And the craziest thing was, because of my job, I was the one who had to set up their fancy presentations in the conference room. That was torture! They had their laptops and their eight-foot illustration boards, and I looked around the room and thought, I don’t stand a chance—I’m just going to kill myself now. It was very David and Goliath.

Let’s hear it for for Underdog! It’s a classic parable, it’s just too bad that the design isn’t terribly inspired. Davey, I mean Brett let’s a little of his Eve Harrington shine through towards the end of Apple Pro Design‘s gushy, fluffy profile:

I tried to get close to the simplicity of the work of Saul Bass,” says Davidson. “He did so many great movie posters and famous logos like AT&T, United, and Kleenex. I wanted it to be bold and fresh, to breathe some youthful energy into it. I wanted it to have the retro feel of the 1950s while being contemporary too. And I wanted an arresting image that stops you in your tracks.”

Saul Bass, you say? Hmm. Not exactly the comparison I’d jump to, Hollywood dreamer, but every one knows that it pays to think big in Tinseltown.

Henry Wolf: 1925-2005

wolfbazaar.jpgThis just came into my Anonymous Tips Inbox (send me one yourself by typing a note in that little box over there—->): “Guess I’m just a little surprised that no mention has been made that Henry Wolf, a magazine designer, art director, photographer, passed away a few days ago.”

Asked (albeit somewhat passive aggressively) and answered:

Design Observer posted an item about Wolf’s death yesterday… “Known for his superb cover designs for Esquire, Harpers Bazaar and Show among many others, Henry Wolf died this week, at home in New York City. The Viennese-born art director was 80.”

The New York Times ran an obituary. (Registration required. If you don’t wanna do that, I recommend going to Bugmenot to get yourself a username and password.)

There’s an essay by fellow designer Milton Glaser on the AIGA site, which includes a slideshow of many of Wolf’s amazing magazine covers and photographs. From that essay:

In the sixties, Henry chaired a conference he called “Art, Love, Time and Money,” a title which is about the most reductive expression for the totality of human experience I can think of.* These four themes emerge as obsessive elements in most of Henry’s work. Finally, what separates Henry from his peers is his special capacity to evoke the best from those who work with him. It is a rare and special gift.

*Here, here Mr. Glaser.

Share the Love

mcginnessteardrop.gifCheck out these cool public domain icons from artist + designer Ryan McGinness. I’ve always admired Ryan’s abiity to approach both art and design with the same creative spirit. And I love that he insists on making affordable versions of his work available, whether as skate decks, t-shirts, books or, um, soccer balls.

Making A List

feb05.jpgThe current issue of How Magazine is their special 20th anniversary issue. In addition to an in-depth post mortem on their redesign (page 54), the 20/20 feature (page 72) is full of lists of 20 items under various headings.

I was happy to read that artists, galleries and museums were on that list. (OK, duh.) Also included: downtime (SO important) and Paris (France, not Hilton). I know for a fact that there are certain artists inspired by Ms. Hilton, so could a Hilton font be far behind?

Another handy, albeit possibly expensive, list is 20 online places to buy cool stuff for your home office. Included in that list:moss Online, the MoMA store naturally and the online outpost of ZAKKA a cool shop in New York that features magazines, art and toys from Japan.


TScwo.jpgOK, call me crazy, but some how I think this bastard child of a word is not likely to catch on in the manner of, say, spork. That quibble aside, newsdesigner offers a recap of the Toronto Star’s Sunday paper redesign, chock full of before and after photos. The letter from the editor Allison Uncles is pithy to a fault.
(via xBlog)

JPG Magazine Launches

issue1big.jpgA new print magazine from ubiquitous online denizens Heather Champ and Derek Powazek. JPG Magazine debuted last week with it’s first issue Origin.
From their site, which is pretty bare bones at the moment:

JPG Magazine is for people who love imagemaking without attitude. It’s about the kind of photography you get when you love the moment more than the camera. It’s for photographers who, like us, have found themselves online, sharing their work, and would like to see that work in print.

To read more and find out where to buy it, go to their site.


18opart.650.gifThe New York Times Op Art column today offers a humorous take on the ubiquitous fund-raising wristbands. Thanks to Gawker for the link.