April 2, 2008

Digital meets handmade

Despite the incredible advances in technology, fine crafts like typesetting and letterpress still hold a certain aesthetic appeal. However, because of technology, we can create digital designs that are output to polymer plates and print them in a similar process, using a type-high (0.918") form to create a relief print. This relief process is what gives letterpress printed pieces their tactile quality, an element not replicable through offset printing.

Picture 4.pngFor your final project, we will be using the New York based companyBoxcar Press to make polymer plates which we will use to create prints on a Vandercook press. As with any craft, understanding and being sensitive to the process is integral to the success of the final piece. Not only should you understand the technical aspects of the process, but also consider the strengths (and weaknesses!) of the technology when conceptualizing your piece.

Continue reading "Digital meets handmade" »

March 15, 2008

The Thing Quarterly

Has anyone else seen THE THING?

THE THING is a quarterly periodical in the form of an object. Each year, four artists, writers, musicians or filmmakers are invited by the editors (Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan) to create an everyday object that somehow incorporates text. This object will be reproduced and hand wrapped by the editors and then mailed to the homes of the subscribers with the help of the United States Postal Service.

Sounds intriguing...

March 4, 2008

Postal mailing resource

envelope.pngFor the Greenway promotional piece, a major consideration is how the final piece will be distributed and mailed. There are many specifications regarding what and how things can be mailed. The Addressing and Mailing Dept. at the University is a great resource for information surrounding these issues, including size and format regulations:

February 18, 2008

Connecting to webspace from off-campus

If you are experiencing difficulties connecting to your U of M webspace from home or other off-campus locations, you may try running a VPN (Virtual Private Network) Client before you try to establish a connection.

vpn.pngTo do this, simply:

1. Download the appropriate VPN software
2. Follow the installation instructions

February 14, 2008

Dreamweaver specifics

If you are using Dreamweaver to upload files to your U of M webspace, you will need to install an extension in order to set the file permissions to allow for public viewing of your files.

1. Download extension
2. Follow these directions

Remember, you can also set the file permissions in a separate FTP client. Either way, test yourself by viewing your website and seeing whether or not the files are visible. You may need to refresh your browser once you have updated the settings.

February 7, 2008

Let's get LARGE.

Your persuasive poster is meant to printed on a large format printer, in order to increase your familiarity with atypical printing sizes and non-standard methods. There are a variety of printing options in the cities, but the most accessible ones are available to you as CDes students.

plotter.pngPlotter information
The College of Design has (at least) two plotters available for students, one in McNeal 305 and one in Rapson 127. You can find more information about lab hours, etc on the CDes "The Lab" website. Note: This site also contains a wealth of other information, including program tutorials, which may be helpful to bookmark.

Cost: $5 per linear foot (MAJOR deal!)
Size: Up to 42" wide (allow for margins) and X" long
Color: Color / BW
Paper: Matte / Satin
File type: Adobe .pdf (from jump drive or NetFiles)

Remember to *plan ahead* when printing as many things can go wrong, i.e. the plotter is out of paper/ink, your file type is incompatible, everyone is trying to print at once, etc. If you have more specific questions, the lab attendants are very helpful.

February 4, 2008

Motivation / inspiration

As you work on the design of your home page and eventual website, it may be inspiring to check out some Webby awards nominees and winners, categorized by year and type (i.e., Art, Best Home/Welcome page, Professional Services).
webbyAward.pngThe Webby Award is one of the most prestigious and widely recognized honors a website can receive, and the winners (chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences) can count themselves among the most elite and industry-leading sites of the year.

umnArchive.pngWhile it's always useful to have some well-designed sites to look to as inspiration, looking at the worst designs can be inspirational as well. To see for yourself how much the field of web design has progressed, check out the Wayback Machine, which has archived web pages since 1996. Looking at the University's site in 1997 is quite revealing as to how much has happened in a short time.

timeline.pngSimilarly, this collaborative interactive piece, "Defining a Decade of Web design" addresses some interesting questions regarding web design, its cultural impact, and how it has changed over the course of the last decade. The interface allows you to explore this interactive timeline and see the progression that has occurred in our field and social and public realm as well.

University web space access

As U of M students, each of you have access to 20MB of web space on the University of Minnesota servers. Your web address (which cannot be changed) is:<your Internet ID >

adcs.pngADCS has a great overview and guide that will help you through the process of accessing your space and uploading files for public viewing. Read the ADCS Personal Website Guide to get a better understanding of this process.

Continue reading "University web space access" »

January 31, 2008

Critique value and methods

On the eve of our first project presentation and critique, it is important to reflect on the value of this critical diaglogue. Critiquing is a critical part of being a designer: besides the personal growth that is fostered by having our own work analyzed, it helps each of us to refine our communication skills and sense of design principles by critiquing the work of others.


The critique helps students to deal openly with criticism while it trains them in the important verbal skills of explaining the reasons behind their solutions. They must go beyond "I like it" or "That stinks." Critiques help students to internalize standards of excellence, to develop a shared vocabulary for discussion, to learn to incorporate useful suggestions from others, and to evaluate their own and others' performances.


Critiques will be incredibly important this semester, accounting for nearly a fourth of each assignment grade. To help you organize your thoughts as you evaluate the work of your classmates and peers, remember the following structure . . .

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January 29, 2008

Judging a book by its cover

bookReviewBlog.pngWe were always taught not to do it, but it really makes no sense at all. Maybe instead of 'judging,' we should be critiquing. After all, a book cover gets about 2 seconds to make an initial 'sell' to its audience . . . what is it communicating in that short amount of time? And is it relevant to the contents of the book?

Check out the NY Times, "The Book Design Review" blog, which makes a job out of critiquing book covers from a design point-of-view.

January 28, 2008

How to [quickly] read a book

howtoRead.pngPart of your book review invariably requires you to do some actual reading of your chosen book. Think you already know how to read? Smart reading can help you read a book much more quickly than you think . . . and that doesn't just mean skimming. Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren outline a great strategy for what they call "systematic skimming" or "pre-reading," outlined in their book "How to read a book."

Continue reading "How to [quickly] read a book" »

January 22, 2008

Design blogs

Blogs can be a great source of inspiration and resources. Well maintained blogs are often updated daily (sometimes more) and serve as a portal of information that would otherwise require significant effort to gather on your own. The following are design blogs that you may be interested in checking out:

blog3.pngDesign Observer: Writings on Design and Cultures
Maintained by renowned design critics, Michael Beirut, William Drenttel, and Jessica Hefland and contributed to by many others, including Steven Heller, this blog focuses on social commentary and criticisms related to design.

blog2.pngInhabitat: Future forward design for the world you inhabit
Focused on "all things green," this blog increases awareness of the need for and presence of sustainable design in our society and cultural artifacts. It is a great example of a specific theme-based blog.

A menagerie of designed artifacts and processes, this blog focuses mainly on the handcrafted quality in design, a recent and popular trend in design.

Any other blogs you find interesting? Let us know!

January 15, 2008

Class books

As promised, I will be contributing some of my own books to our class 'library', including the following . . .

Continue reading "Class books" »