March 2010 Archives

Faced with today's economic realities, affordability is of intense concern to most people. Personally, I live on a very tight budget; so defining affordability is exceptionally important in trying to stretch every dollar. As I write today about finding a suitable definition for affordability, it is necessary to remember that the initial cost of a good or service is not the only factor in this equation. Further costs and the quality you receive also have to be considered when making decisions regarding affordability.

From a consumer standpoint, the automobile is a perfect illustration of the intersection of design and affordability. Ford's Pinto and Toyota's Corolla, both introduced at the beginning of the nineteen seventies, were aimed at the same emerging American small-car market. Both were designed with low cost in mind, but one is now synonymous with catastrophic failure, while the other is one of the most successful vehicles ever produced. Each car was undoubtedly marketed as 'affordable,' but the superior design of the Corolla (and its lack of explosive tendencies) meant that it was perceived as a much better deal in the long run.

The design processes that lead to these vastly different outcomes were obviously unequal. In designing towards the goal of affordability, or under many other constraints, good design is separated from poor design by the alternatives of compromise and sacrifice. As our last speaker pointed out, the design process is simply a systematic way to address a series of problems, questions, or constraints. When these factors are considered in a reasoned and creative way from the beginning of the process, the resulting design can be a positive compromise between otherwise conflicting goals. If a constraint like cost is factored in at the end of the process, however, the result sacrifices other standards. When a company like Ikea or Toyota begins the design process with all their objectives and constraints on the table, then the possibilities for quality, affordable design are much greater.

The other day I took my niece and nephew to the playground without realizing that my niece had a fear of heights. Her fear was non-existent until she attempted to cross an arched bridge. In fear she grabbed onto the guardrails and whimpered as she moved forward instead of heading back the way she came from. I yelled for her to walk back the way she came from if she was so fearful. But instead, with deaf ears she traveled across the bridge, took a step up, walked around a hole and finally reached the biggest slide at the playground while all along whimpering. I found myself silently laughing as it amazed me what a child would endure to reach a slide. What makes a child want something so bad they accept all fears? Why not just make the slide accessible to everyone instead of having children cry their way to the slide?

A search through the internet and it is pretty obvious that everything constructed at playgrounds is the way it is for specific reasons. When you think about it when it comes to children, human beings are born to be aware, suspicious and worried about everything and anything their child comes into contact with. As designers, we have the responsibility to make sure a parent feels secure enough to allow a child to play, watch or see products/images that are accessible to their children.

In the last few decades we've seen playground come a long way in terms of design. To the average person, many may think it's updating the playground to be more fun or bigger. But one of the biggest reasons why playgrounds are redesigned every year is due to safety issues. This is a great example of how design can environmentally harm or keep a child safe. USA Today reports that "about 200,000 children go to the emergency room every year because of playground injuries. About 90,000 of those injuries are serious, such as fractures, concussions and amputations. About 15 kids die from playground injuries every year." Because of these staggering numbers we've seen that "Monkey bars and hot metal slides have virtually disappeared. And instead of blacktop and concrete, many new playgrounds are covered with soft wood mulch or springy rubber chips made from recycled tires."

How design affects children can be greatly seen through the use of playgrounds. If a playground is badly designed, the number of injury increases and if a playground is designed well, injury decreases. The design of playgrounds should keep designers thinking about how their design environmentally not only affect children but people in general.

An interesting read, along with some helpful links near the bottom.

Check it out if you're heading down that path - talks about teaching yourself vs learning from a school.

In the social realm, most everyone wants to reduce waste. People want to be green and help the environment, however companies are not always to do that and to a certain extent consumers know this. Yet some demand more from their companies in terms of environmental responsibilities when others are content with their person efforts. In my personal opinion, I believe that there are more important things we need to conquer socially, but with that said there is no need for unnecessary waste. I believe with splits in passions we can make the necessary steps toward our goals.

For example, although my overall passion is not for the benefit of the earth, it is necessary to have those that do to encourage those who are not passionate. For example design students of Los Angeles are creating a campaign to have residents switch to native plants on their properties in order to save on water. 60% of the residential water use was for up keep of their landscape. Now even if residents don't switch the design students have made a social impact on parts of Los Angeles. People discuss the campaign, families work harder on conserving their water use, and perhaps let the grass go without water for sometime. Although the overall goal was to have lawns switch to native plants not efforts were lost, by making this an issue that is discussed socially is moving towards the right steps. If the campaign is continued I believe it would benefit the society and the earth as a whole.

Although some companies are set in their ways, the earth has benefited from the push of environmentalists. The radicals set into motion a social movement of green. This caused companies to rethink their marketing and their product. Green and environmentally aware were more prominent with the public and companies were pressured to keep up. For example when people realized how much ink was being wasted in inkjet cartridges it created a social stir and caused the company to go back into the lab and find out how to fix it. It also started a wave a recycling cartridges. It changed how things were thrown away when printing.

Waste has become a big issue socially and it continues to have effect on environmental, social, financial, and personal issues. Each part sets into motion a continuous circle of improvement or failure. The issues effect each other. Website. World Changing 15 Apr. 2009. Web. Website. Half of Inkjet Printer Ink is Thrown Away. Web.

In my last blog I cover Marketability in relation to Finance, but after considering it I realized I was actually talking about marketability and its social impact, more specifically the ethics concerning the branding of public space. I kind of got on a tangent on the issue of control and how when anyone, specifically companies, try to control others by through any means it may harbor for the devolution of society, for it prevents the individual from being self-reliant. I kind of regret seeming so cynical, and I wanted my next blog to focus on the positives of a post-modern capitalist society and the idea that society is like a living organism and we are all working together to help each other out. Initially one might feel intimidated or fearful of entering a world that seems everyone is competing in the exact field you are, however call me naive (which is fair) but I have faith that once we are in the 'real world' we will be in the habitat of networks and support systems where people are helping each other out. You know, that story about the Chinese people in Heaven and Hell and the chopsticks and the food and stuff? Where both Heaven and Hell ended up being one large circle of people with long arms (or chopstick or something) shoulder to shoulder around a pile or delicious food? And the people in Hell were starving around this food because they were all trying to feed themselves, but the people in Heaven were happy and full because they were feeding eath other? Yeah, something like that. So what I'm saying is next class we will have a potluck and you can only feed other people. hm.

With that long introduction, I am choosing to blog on 'marketability' in relation to 'personal.' At first when pondering the idea of marketing oneself, my cynicism jumped in and I internally scoffed and thought, "just another downfall of our capitalist society dependent on the vulnerability of specialization, selling 'yourself'." But then I considered this a little more and had a more 'Danny Tanner' take on the whole thing. We've been told hundreds of times that the working world is a semi-permeable (becuase these connections don't really exist, you know, it is an idea, but maybe one of these connections are currently shaking hands, therefore: 'semi-permeable') web of networks. So what I'm saying is next class we will have a potluck, and play Red Rover.

Marketability, a measure of the ability of a security to be bought and sold, is relative to a company and its ability to sustain its existence; marketability is also relative to the individual and his or her ability to sustain their existence. I think where marketing in general has strayed from in the past few years is the sort of marketing that is boastful, dishonest, and misleading.

Examples of more honest/modest design and marketing:

+ Apple (or course)clutter-free aesthetic and 'honest' personality of Apple (except for their 'dishonest' representation of consistently prevalent dimensional and hyper-buffered floors for every damn icon and product they own)

+ Playstation- Honesty is funny, watch this ad if you haven't already, its pretty good.

+Aveda and their campaigns for social and environmental progress. Designs are simple, honest, an informative

Ok I've only given a few examples, but I do see this being a trend. But when companies are honest, they spend more time making really neat things instead of putting effort into pretending they are something they aren't. They probably were able to reach this point after being successful, for they weren't afraid to take the risk. Fear makes people do crazy things, while honesty makes people do interesting things. In the words of Stefan Sagmeister, "Everybody who's honest is interesting." and.. "Being not truthful works against me."

With 'marketability' and 'personal' I probably could have listed a bunch of resources for creating websites and networking, but I hope my message still seems relevant. What I am trying to conclude here with all this seemingly random information is this: when going into the scary real world we should fight any fear we have with confidence and honesty, not with the mindset that the world will take care of us but because of the freedom honesty gives us in creating work that can be innovative and interesting. Sure intimidation is a great motivator, but we can at least try to create a world free from superficiality.

I'm looking forward to this Red Rover potluck thing.

As designers, when you think about cost efficiency from a social perspective, what comes to mind? Twitter ? Facebook? Healthcare? From a purely cost effective and social standpoint, healthcare couldn't fit in any better. A quick look at the healthcare industry will show you how important cost effectiveness is, with the term Cost Effectiveness Analyais (CEA) - "the ratio of the cost of the intervention to a relevant measure of its effect" - popping up around every corner. And from a social point of view, especially at this point in time, healthcare could probably be considered one of the most significant social issues of today. Since the 2008 election, healthcare has been on the minds of a huge number of Americans. And with Obama's signing of the bill on Tuesday - essentially enacting one of the largest and most expansive pieces of legislation in history - the issue won't leave our minds any time soon. So it's pretty obvious that both cost effectiveness and social perspectives play a large role in defining healthcare, so the question for the rest of us would be: where does design fit in?

This question is a tough one for me to answer, after all I'm not a healthcare expert or even a professional designer. But I am a consumer, and my views on healthcare reflect the views of at least some other people out there. When I think of healthcare, I get a little scared. Being a type 1 diabetic, it's essential that I have good coverage for the medications that I need. The thing is, healthcare is advertised and marketed towards consumers as something thats incredibly boring, and for some, a little scary. While doing some research for this assignment, I came across this other blog called the Amino Lounge. It's written by Eric Hayward, a Creative Accounts Director at Grossman Design here in Minneapolis, and he had some really interesting things to say about the way healthcare is marketed and advertised:

" Of all the marketing messages consumers receive, those dealing with health care are arguably the most important. Weigh the social impact of a Cheesy Bacon BK Wrapper against news of life-saving technology or facilities. And yet, poor health is communicated far better to American consumers than is good health. It's not as if health is less interesting. Health does far more for your sex life, your family life, and your waistline than greasy pork and nicotine. Advertisers are just better at connecting these products, in consumers' minds, with the things they care about...

...Right now, we're stuck in a preachy, "apple-a-day" mentality. Thinking top-down, we start from a position of expertise held over the heads of all of you, unhealthy slobs that you are. The fundamental promise of health care is a "should"...Exercise more because you should. Eat better because you should. It's also, often, a negative. Take this and you won't get dandruff, heartburn, or worse."

The more I thought about what was mentioned there, the more I thought, "Wow, the guy's got a good point." The way that healthcare is marketed to the general public is almost pathetic - how does a smiling, silver-haired doctor or a happy sea-side jogger relate directly to ME? Truth is, they really don't. As Eric Hayward points out, they're just healthcare cliches that everyone is tired of seeing.

So how do we go about better marketing healthcare? Well for starters, let's throw out those cliche's out the window, and start with something fresh that most of us can actually relate to. As Eric Hayward says:

"We [advertisers] have gotten lazy. We keep dipping into the same pool of superficial generic images, forgetting to create new, better underlying stories. That's what advertising is: translating the brute reality of mere marketing into great stories that reach our hearts. If we put story first and details second, the better story will inform more relevant choices for the words, images and sounds that activate feeling and drive action. A better story is one connecting health care with personal desires for beauty and freedom, versus connecting it with morality. It's easy and convenient to recycle a preachy, "apple a day" storyline about what we should and shouldn't do as a cause for better health care. It's harder but better to appeal to human self interest, looking at the self-generated motivations consumer/patients identify as their own reasons to pursue better health care. If our own laziness as marketers is truly the culprit, guess what? Patients will get lazy too."

And the truth is, just because the healthcare bill has passed, that doesn't mean that all our healthcare problems are solved. It's still largely dependent on having the public care about their health - getting them to see the benefits of doing what's right instead of going to McDonald's or Burger King. As designers, we can play a part in connecting with people and getting them to actually care about healthcare. And if healthcare can be marketed and advertised in a way that helps accomplish that - where individuals take the step to take care of themselves a little more - we'll get much more mileage out of the healthcare system that we have, making this a little more cost effective for society.

1. The Amino Lounge (Everyone should read this blog in my opinion)

2. Primer on Cost Effective Analysis

Two areas can be addressed in the context of personal design innovation. The first is design for individuals, for persons. Design is seen and used by a person. The second is how we design for ourselves--what personal gain comes from either our finished design or our work process. We need to consider both of these areas, as they are both important and need to be reconciled for everyone to be happy.

It often seems easier (and makes sense) to design in an evolutionary manner based on past innovative work that was successful and appealing. Two different examples of this are Russel Wright's American Modern and melamine dinnerware, and the animated title sequences of Saul Bass. The innovative and iconic work of both of these designers can be seen echoed again and again as other designers use them as inspiration. These "looks" or "forms" are tried and true. A person likes what is 1) well done, and 2) has familiarity. It is usually easier to evolve what is already accepted than to produce completely innovative work. At the same time, interest in new objects and spectacles is a force that draws an individual to novel designs. However, the newness of a design (especially products and interfaces) must not only provide interest on a personal level, but must also function really well. If it looks interesting, functions well, and does both in a new and different way, personal satisfaction is apt to be high. When balancing these components, what should have the priority--a different and appealing appearance or a function that meets the user's needs in a new, better way? In an essay, design editor Jan van Rossem mentions the huge profits a company such as Alessi can make from selling unusually shaped products, which is fine, "provided the consumer apparently doesn't care if...that most famous of all useless juicers, Philippe Starck's "Juicy Salif", squirts juice everywhere - a small amount of which even makes its way into the waiting glass." (1) He goes on to state that design should enhance quality of life, that originality needs a story (see the next paragraph), and that designers have to be inventors.

The other side of this subject is how we, as designers, go about our work from a personal perspective. We want our work to be accepted by users and viewers, but we also need the creation of that work to be personally satisfying to us (at least we should need that). Luckily, innovation and personal satisfaction are quite compatible, as we can feel a sense of ownership and accomplishment upon seeing our new ideas manifested. If we weren't happy being innovative, then we probably wouldn't be going into design. So how can we create designs that are both personally fulfilling (or have personal touches) and connect with users? One way to do this is to think about incorporating aspects of storytelling into our work. The book Universal Principles of Design directs us to "use storytelling to engage an audience in a design, evoke a specific emotional response, or provide a rich context to enhance learning. When successfully employed, an audience will experience and recall the events of the story in a personal way--it becomes a part of them. This is a phenomenon unique to storytelling." (2) Designer and author Anthony Dunne discusses this idea regarding electronic objects:

"Conventional roles for design include addressing problems set by industry, designing interfaces that seduce the user into cybernetic communication with the corporate cultural values embodied in the emerging environment of digital objects, and finding novel applications for new technology. But design could also develop new attitudes to electronic technology. To do this, designers could become more like authors, drawing from the narrative space of electronic object misuse and abuse to create alternative contexts of use and need." (3)

Having a personal investment in a creation that works well and communicates with the individual user is sure to have a new, lasting, positive presence.

Using the "quality of life" approach, one could say that design is about making people happy. Then, on a personal level, any particular innovative design should 1) make the individual using it happy, and 2) bring happiness to the person who is making it. The financial post will add complexity to these ideas, but for now this seems like a great methodology.

1) Rossem, Jan van. "The Balancing Act of Design: Originality, Individualism, Mass Production". Entry Paradise: New Worlds of Design. Birkhauser, 2006.

2) Lidwell, William et al. Universal Principles of Design. Rockport Publishers, 2003.

3) Dunne, Anthony. Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design. The MIT Press, 2005.

Pollution as an environmental topic is an obvious one. Everything from landfills piling up to toxic water sources to carbon emissions is a form of pollution. Applying this to real life: "40% of America's rivers and 46% of America's lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life."(1) That is just crazy. Also, other than over population, it is the root cause of global warming and one that can be easily solved, especially when looking from a designer's viewpoint. Simple changes made to packaging and product design can make a huge impact on the amount of pollution caused single handedly by poor design or poor management decisions.

A professor of mine in Ireland held lengthy discussions about "what is the most perfectly packaged product?" After much deliberation, we arrived at an overall consensus of...a banana. Think about it. The "package" or peel of a banana keeps the fruit safe and fresh, without the use of any chemicals or preservatives. You don't even need someplace to store it or a bag to carry it in! Plus, once the fruit is consumed, the peel can be put in a compost pile and will completely biodegrade in about one month.

Another statistic: "Every year, one American produces over 3,285 pounds of hazardous waste."(1) Imagine if everything was designed-and consumed- with a banana in mind. The majority of landfill pollution comes from packaging so, with this concept, it could all biodegrade and provide nutrient rich soil to use in farming practices or wherever. The potential designers have to really make an impact on our generation's biggest fight is exponential. Pollution via packaging and product design is something that can easily be redesigned and adapted to create a more eco-friendly world.



Previously, I discussed the implications of our increasingly screen saturated culture on children. Intertwined with screen time is the astounding prevalence of advertisements in our children's lives. In an average day a child views more than 3000 ads on television, environmental advertisements and the internet(1). Here in the United States this feels about right, but in several European countries advertising directed toward children is either severely limited or completely prohibited(2).

In 2005, nearly 12 billion dollars were spent on advertising or marketing targeted directly to children. In the face of criticism from all sides, the advertising industry revised its guidelines in 2006(3). These revised guidelines forced beverage and food companies to promote healthful lifestyles with at least half of their advertisements. Since no one will ever tell you to "eat less" of their product, it's interesting to see where companies' moral compasses point. Did the McDonalds advertisements during the Olympics promoting "what Olympic Athletes eat" count as a healthy lifestyle ad? Technically Olympic athletes do physical activities, and eat food, so maybe they see it as inspiring?

Despite your stance on the matter, as graphic designers we will often be the hands that create the advertisements in question. By no means do I suggest that a healthy alternative is a black and white cereal isle with boxes labeled "HEALTH GRAIN, SUITABLE FOR MINORS". Advertising is without a doubt big business, and will continue to be one for quite a long time. With the obesity epidemic gaining unwanted ground, will we see more drastic change in the American approach to advertising? As we enter this industry there seems to a decision between sticking to your ideals, or just going with the flow. Hopefully there will be a mild-mannered middle ground where you can voice your thoughts on the matter, while helping create a more positive advertising environment.

  1. Children, Adolescents, and Advertising
  2. Advertising - Regulation - Wikipedia
  3. Ads Aimed at Children Get Tighter Scrutiny

"It was a pleasure working with you." We've all heard this before; and thinking about it, work and pleasure are a bit contradictory when you take the literal meaning of the terms. Today, places of employment have been making a bigger effort to increase the enjoyment people find when coming to work. This is not only helpful for the employees to get through a hectic day with high morale, but employers enjoy the benefits of happy employees too, because they are working better and producing more positive results. Kind of a win-win situation, don't you think? Ideally, yes. But the balance of work and pleasure must be appropriate for everyone to reap the benefits.

I though it was interesting when our speaker from 3M discussed the 15% of time they are allowed to explore their own ideas. This seems like a great way for employees to take a break from their real clients and projects and work on something that is of more personal interest to them. On the other side, while 3M gives up 6 hours a week per employee for structured work, they still profit from having this 15% rule. New inventions are coming out of this brainstorming and experimenting time that can ultimately become assets (and profit) for 3M.

New ideas may arise from an allotted daydreaming time, but finding pleasure with one's work leads to increased productivity on a daily basis as well. In an inspiring and fun work environment, people are more likely to feel a sense of worth and eagerness to contribute their best results. If the general attitude around a job is that people are proud of their work, it will push people to do better, delighting those who are concerned with the bottom line as well. A balance must be met with accomplishing actual work and the fun things that let someone accomplish that work in a positive manner. Olson employees don't play dodgeball for 15% of the day, but a little enjoyment at work can go a long way.

Brandstätter, Hermann. "Pleasure of Leisure-pleasure of Work: Personality Makes the Difference." Science Direct (2002). Web.

Kretkowski, Paul D. "The 15 Percent Solution." WIRED 23 Jan. 1998. Print.

Thompson, Robin. "Increase Productivity, Profitability, and Morale and Make Work Fun." Web.

After my last entry regarding the basics of copyrights, I received a request for more information regarding trademarks. I did some research on trademarks, and discovered that the difference between the two, and when to use a copyright versus a trademark wasn't all that clear. From a legal standpoint, both fall under the category of intellectual property law and are ways of protecting the rights to creative works.

To further clarify on my last post, copyrights are a form of protection for the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Copyright does not cover intellectual property such as titles, names, short phrases, and slogans, or even familiar symbols or designs, lettering, or coloring. When the subject matter is more intangible, trademarks are usually more suitable.

Under definition, a trademark protects a phrase, word, symbol or design that distinguishes one company (or even a person) from another. Memorable phrases like "Just Do It." are protected under a trademark. Or "Got Milk?". Trademarked. Even symbols, that seem to come up in everyday discussion like the apple logo, or the Coca-Cola logo, or even just the Coca-Cola name itself, are all trademarked.

Sometimes the line between trademarks and copyrights can cross. The more simple objects, such as the apple logo are trademarked and do not require a copyright. However, if apple were to do more of an ornate logo with a large amount of original authorship, the logo might qualify for a trademark and a copyright.

Once registered, the initial term for trademark protection is 10 years, however, with keeping up the proper maintenance and documentation, a trademark can remain in effect indefinitely. A copyright always has a fixed length based on the life of the creator +50 additional years. Trademarks are also more expensive than copyrights to register, costing about $375.

United States Patent and Trademark Office
eHow | Copyright and Trademark Laws
eHow | Copyright and Trademark Rules
AIGA | Trademark Basics for Graphic Designers

Hello bloggers, in my last blog I posted a link to the new Sunchips bag. The bag is 100% compostable. I talked about how it was a very noble and brave choice, and how other big name corporations should follow their example and could maybe even use their technology. Every one loves newer, smarter, more innovative technologies but there is more to making a greener planet than these kinds of solutions. Half the problem is us, the consumer. We are not doing our part to properly dispose biodegradable products.


As citizens of the most wasteful country, living on a damaged planet, it is our social responsibility to be smarter with our waste. If consumers aren't properly disposing organic materials anyway, what incentive does that give big companies to change their already successful ways? The Biodegradable Products Institute says that 68 million tons of waste being send to landfills is organic materials not being recycled or recovered. The EPA website states that, "Organic materials--comprised of yard trimmings, food scraps, wood waste, and paper and paperboard products--are the largest component of our trash and make up more than two-thirds of the solid waste stream."

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We must ask ourselves, should the finger really be pointed at the big corporations, or should it be pointed at the consumers? It also raises the question, what is the government doing to help? Back where I come from it is easy to recycle food scraps and yard trimmings with seemingly endless woodland and grassland surrounding my house. Here in the cities there seems to be no good place to put such waste. I feel the government should step in and provide and encourage compost bins of some sort, some alternative option to the trashcan. Sadly, our nation is all about convenience. If its not convenient for the consumer, they probably won't do it.


The marketing strategy for the Toyota Prius is the greatest example of green marketing out there today, and in a way, epitomizes the whole "Green Marketing" trend.Take a look at these commercials and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

Check it:

Check it:

These commercials are amazing! Even if you're an ignorant s.o.b that still thinks it's cool to drive around a huge SUV, after watching these commercials you have to admit that the PRIUS is a great environmentally sound car. The creative direction of this commercial is what helps it really stand apart from all the other "Green marketing" that is out there. I mean, they use babies and people dressed in awesome costumes to create an animated natural environment. I wont be surprised when Disney catches on to this visually stunning animation technique and starts making all of their movies with people making up every little detail of the scenery. The scenes are filled with bright colors, and people associate bright colors with being clean. It's like the Prius does no harm to the environment at all, right. The thing that really gets me is the music used in these commercials. I'm the type of person that watches tv with extreme skepticism, never really buying into the b.s messages that are constantly being thrown at the viewer. But with these commercials, I became brain dead and somewhat hypnotized and just stopping questioning and bought into the whole idea behind the Prius. I credit this reaction to the music. The music sounds positive, light, happy, and most importantly has a very natural feel because it's all acapella. There is no manufactured beat, it's all created with the natural sounds of human voices. I guess what I'm really getting at, is that every little detail in these commercials is tailored to the idea of being green, and it totally works, sounds great.

Here's the thing about the Prius that epitomizes the whole "Green Marketing", it shows a world that doesn't actually exist, it's like living in a fantasy. "Green Marketing doesn't actually exist. The only true green marketing is no marketing at all. Obviously that is the extreme way of thinking because companies wouldn't exist without marketing and advertising. For what the Prius is trying to do, for them to sell their message to the consumers, they have to go against what they actually stand for. The amount of production that goes into making a commercial like that produces tons of waste and uses up tons of energy. Again, I know this is totally extreme, but it's something that should be considered. There is always a give and take with thinking "Green", which makes "Green Marketing" somewhat of a mythical idea.

Here is another video of a Prius iphone application, that is being showcased in Times Square. Times Square? Really, Prius? Now is that going with the whole "green" idea that you so strongly put forward?....mmmm....I'm not sure. The app is totally sweet, but again it points out that in order to market a brand or product you can't really be green.

Check it out here:

In doing research for this blog post, I read through lots of issues and arguments on Green Marketing and whether or not it can actually exist. There is a lot of debate on certain issues, but it seems that everyone agrees that all we can really do is taking small steps in the right direction. While the Prius isn't totally environmentally sound, it's at least a great start in moving forward (toyota tagline).

In my research I also came across some interesting debates on how Green the Internet actually is. In today's world, the Internet is the greatest thing ever. At first glance, the internet sounds like a pretty great thing, because it reduces the cutting down of trees and reduces pollution. But the energy that is used by computers and power-plants to allow the internet to exist is creating a lot of pollution and killing our natural environment. The emissions that these power-plants give off do really bad things to our air, which affects wildlife and our environment, which ultimately leads to human health problems. So again, the internet seems really Green and great, but there really isn't a way for it to be as great as people make it out to be. But like the Prius, it's a step in the right direction for now. If you're wondering what you can do to help, a big thing that I came across is Wind Powered Web hosting, which you can get for the same price ($10/month).

Interesting points for us designer's that I found:

"Peope are sick of seeing the same images to represent "Green" thinking. It's one reason why consumers have green fatigue." - Jacquelyn Ottman's presentation at Sustainable Brands 2008 conference. She goes on to point out that consumers have started to questions whether or not a product is actually green or if it is just hiding behind the cliche green imagery.

This point seems to be a huge thing for us as designers to consider. We need to always be thinking creatively to come up with new ideas, so that they don't get looked over and ignored behind cliche representations.

Lastly, here are some cool companies that are doing some great things to help us designers be more green about our marketing: - French Paper Company (water powered!) - Ecojot - Green Graffiti

Sources: "Sustainable Brands Conference 2008". Jacquelyn Ottman. Green Business

"Green Marketing: What Works; What Doesn't. A marketing Study of Practitioners."

Good morning everyone. Hopefully Richelle and Jenny won't be mad at me for this... but for my blog post today I'm going to look at "environmental" in a different way. I'm not going to talk about green, recycling or eco-friendly. I'm going to talk about the environment of the world-wide-web.

When you talk about design for the "third-age"--commonly called old age--the web is a big issue. It started with the baby boomer's parents (our grandparents) who were the first elderly people to experience the internet. The stereotype says that they avoided the internet, were technophobes, or couldn't learn to use it. That might have been true in 1999, but today 41% of people over age 65 use the internet. However, this percent still makes third-agers a small segment of the overall internet-using market. Therefore, little attention was paid to what they need, want, and can use online.

That's going to change. The baby boomers are reaching their third age. This will have a huge impact on designing for the elderly for several reasons. Firstly, it will be a economic necessity for companies to cater to baby boomers because they make up such a large portion of the population. Secondly, baby boomers will be internet experts before reaching their third age (unlike their parents). So they have expectations about how they interact with it. They know how it should work. So if their eyesight or dexterity starts to inhibit their use of the web, they'll notice. And they'll demand changes.

This all means that designing for third-age will become extremely important in the future. I know a lot of designers might cringe at that thought. "So, you're saying we can only use really big type? And really bold colors. And we have to keep it simple. Great." But fear not designers, it's not that simplistic. While design principles like typography, color, and layout will help elderly people use the internet, they're not the end of the solution. Recently, a study was conducted to see how people with with the visual impairment AMD (age-related macular degeneration) interacted with a mobile device. Not surprisingly, the users with AMD had increased errors and decreased speed. However, the study did not find that individuals had any more trouble using a smaller, hand-held devices, compared to a larger, desktop computer. It also found that simply using a stylus (one of those plastic, digital "pens") vastly improved the device's usability. Increased brightness and contrast in the display also helped. Individuals with severe AMD found auditory cues to be helpful.

Our online environment needs to being adapting. We need to ensure the aging population remains part of it. As designers, our job will be to come up the changes, additions and solutions that make it possible. But keep in mind, those changes might not be what you expect. It won't be all big type and giant monitors. It might be styluses, brighter monitors and verbal cues. So let's not get stuck in the stereotypes, but instead, try to find real solutions.

Here's a great summation by Susan Weinschenk's (Ph.D., CUA);

• Don't assume that older adults, with or without visual impairments, will not be able to successfully interact with handheld devices.
• Use auditory feedback on handheld device interfaces, regardless of the age or visual impairment of the user.
• Watch out for your own stereotypes about older users, especially if you are young.
• Make sure users are motivated to use the product you are designing. Be sure you know, and are not just guessing, what their motivation is.
• If you are designing for a U.S. audience, remember that the population of older adults is increasing, and their online use is increasing. This may represent a large segment of your users.

Whether you like it or not, the Internet has become the primary tool for information acquisition.(1) The Internet exists as a forum for issues, and a home for open debate. Like never before, humanity has a voice and tool to relay information, sway an audience or move a people to act. The internet holds such an important role in our modern society, that countries like Finland and Estonia have even declared internet use to be a "basic human right ."(2)

Person awareness starts with being informed of an unknown. One of clearest means of connecting with an audience and enticing them to move on an issue, is by shocking them. Shock value has found a new medium on the web that can be easily and quickly transported, saved, sent and forwarded in e-mails. This medium is of course the video, especially the YouTube video. By simply uploading a video to YouTube, or any other major video host, a user can take a completely unknown issue, or a video of their cat sleeping and create a "viral" video sensation. In this phenomenon, an online video will be relentlessly forwarded, and shared. The video, and therefore the issues that it brings about, can go from virtually unheard of, to a water-cooler-hot-topic overnight.

Many activist groups have found success in using the Internet-user's pension towards "viralizing" videos, for the good of their group. The group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.) Have released many videos on to the web, only to have them become widely shared viral videos. However, if you think that all of these videos contained shocking images of animal cruelty, you may be surprised. The most popular and "virally-transmitted" videos ever produced by PETA, were actually rather risqué clips defaming fur or sharing vegetarian's sexual health benefits.(3)
When millions of viewers saw and shared these videos, they instantly altered the image of PETA as the crazy-women-yelling-in-front-of-the-mall, to a more relevant and humorous group.

As designers continue to cater more and more to the upcoming digital-native generation, we have to fully understand the extent of the Internets importance and its clear role in the life of these users. Digital design offers us a whole range of new possibilities (interaction, motion, etc) that are impossible within the world of print. We should be excited and engaged in exploring these new mediums, and challenging ourselves to come up with new strategies and means to communicate. Clinging to paper print outs as effective means of designed communication seems more and more irrelevant

1. Reuters, "Internet Most Popular Information Source"

2. CNET, "Finland makes 1mb broadband access a legal right"

3. Visible Measures, "Temptation Versus Teasing"

Recently, I got stuck in a rut. Everything in my life was cluttered and messy and distracting, and one thing that I really used to enjoy, design and my work, really suffered. I didn't even notice it was happening until I woke up one morning with a general disgust for my daily routine. I decided to change everything I could. I moved my TV and unplugged it, I gave my video games to a friend of mine, I moved all of my useless junk in my room to suitcases and boxes, gave away old clothes, stripped down everything that was excess and packed it away. Originally I thought this would be a move toward a new start, a moment where I could move on from and change for the better, it turned out to be something different.
I never really changed, but I went back to my old ways, back to when I would carry a sketchbook around with me, and instead of messing around on the computer or with video games, I read magazines or books or just listened to music. It has been probably one of the most satisfying things I have done in my life recently. And now that I have had some time to look back and think about it, I realize I was streamlining my environment. Not making things quicker, but more focused, on what I wanted to do, not what could distract me. I became more efficient. I think this is a really important quality that anyone who wants to be exceptional at anything should possess, an efficiency in their discipline.
As designers we think of being efficient as having a quick and successful project turn around, knowing hot keys for our programs, and having the latest equipment and tools. This is definitely one way to think of it, but being efficient in your skill set as a process is equally as important. Even slowing down can become more efficient, moving away everything you've done up to a certain point standing up and taking a look at it from another angle can change so much.
However, in a business setting this is a completely ridiculous idea, when acquiring clients and securing new accounts is the rule. At the moment I am doing some work for a data storage company where the entire motto is "go paperless, go green," it's an admirable idea, and these days it seems like a great concept to pitch to potential clients. When I started, they were so excited to have a "creative professional around" and "someone who understands visual concepts." However, when it came down to it, they were/and are, so focused on turning out a finished product that my skills became completely useless. I had to be more efficient. There was an instance where I was asked to create a new logo for a sister company of sorts. So I went back to my office, got out my sketchbook and started working out ideas and colors and so on. Fifteen minutes later my boss came in and asked what I was doing, I told him I was working on some concepts, he replied with "I need this in twenty minutes, just make it good enough." I was kind of shocked, I had been asked to finish projects in a couple hours or by the end of the day, but a logo in twenty minutes? Outrageous! I dropped my pencil and opened Illustrator, shaking my head. When I was done, and after it was handed in. I wondered why they even needed me, someone with a proficiency in Word probably could've worked up something just as good, but the worst part about it was that no one really cared, they just needed it fast and out of the door. It didn't matter what kind of changes I had made in my life, and how much more efficient I was in my pursuit to become a designer, just how fast I could turn out sufficient work.
I came across a great article by Aza Raskin, and I think it puts much of what I am trying to say in perspective: "Efficiency is a tool that should be included in the arsenal of every designer." I was so frustrated with how quantitatively efficient i was being forced to be, I lost sight of the fact that I needed employ the lessons of my personal qualitative efficiency that I had taught myself into my design process. I didn't have time to ponder and sketch and philosophise about what elements to incorporate, I needed to know what tools I had at my disposal and what I could do in the asked amount of time. Not be rushed, but understand what was being asked of me, and which definition of efficiency to focus on.


The green trend is something that some companies in today's world have thankfully been catching on to. But I only said some. A trend is something that materializes due to a growing popularity. Ten years ago green design was a small niche of a market, and way more expensive to execute than it is today. Green living has a bigger market now but due to how the alternative still is, not as many people care to live environmentally conscious. If the only way to make a greener world possible is to make green living appear through advertising as lightweight, trendy and fashionable than so be it, but the horrible affects of not living green should also be made completely aware to the public. This movement ideally should be viewed as a responsibility for all companies and people to follow. Even changing the smallest things, not even in a company's area of business but also within the business's offices themselves help tremendously. For example, instead of creating paper invitations and pamphlets make them digital.

There are even recourses that can guide you to design and execute your projects environmentally. holds databases of green printers, papers, and information on how to make your design studio green. Regardless of how ridiculous trends can come to be sometimes, this trend is an empowering and inspirational one. The means to produce anything environmentally friendly requires very different processes than companies that don't use these methods; therefore more jobs are emerging. Those who were always passionate about the environment, but didn't have a crowd that would listen now can empower others and perpetuate the chain. There are more green printers, more green material research, and even more of a web design demand due to this movement. The ethical push that is attached to green design places pressure on other companies to do the same.

By broadcasting your company's green changes through commercials and on websites not only those who want to see them do, but also it is possible that these changes could impact people who once thought against them. I mean lets be honest, television can be very influential. Some companies are changing their products drastically. Sun Chips recently came out with a commercial advertising a bag that is now made of plants and is completely compostable. This bag will fully breakdown in 14 weeks if placed in a warm compost bin. Also, sun chips is participating in a project with National Geographic called The Green Effect that is giving money to 5 Americans with the best green ideas. Because Sun Chips is such a large company, any company with a product with similar packaging will be influenced to make a similar move. Though many large corporations are stereotyped to be ignorant or careless concerning the environment, empowering moves are beginning to emerge.


Airports and Security

Every year I get to travel intentionally at least once and so this gives me the opportunity to learn, understand, and accept the, lately many, security changes that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) makes. However, some of these changes and decisions trouble some frequent and non-frequent flyers, and the TSA as well as each airline company and airport committee are left to make decisions and changes that will rebut them in order to not lose customers.

One of the most argued changes in recent years is TSA's new advanced imaging technology that began being used in 2007. In a nutshell, the two inventions, Backscatter and the Millimeter Wave, helps the people in charge to, well, see under your clothes. It's not really an exaggeration because that is what they want to see. Many people have gotten away with hiding weapons in awkward places that the metal detectors can't scan, or smuggling animals, plants, and food, which obviously isn't something the detectors can detect. According to their website, in this month of March alone, 150 Backscatter imaging technologies were deployed throughout the USA but only 40 Millimeter Wave units total are found in the country. The difference between the two can be seen here.


Millimeter Wave

The reason why there's controversy with these new imaging technology is because some people believe that this is one more step of violating citizen rights and that it's unconstitutional. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has available on their website MANY of the complaint forms against these imaging technologies expressing such opinions. After looking at some of these complaints I stumbled upon a few different but similar reasoning for these objections. One of them was of a father that was travelling with his wife and two children. He believed that not only was the machine an invasion of privacy but that it was "sick and perverted" towards children. Another woman, written exactly word-for-word, said "that the new security measures is for a bunch of peepoing toms."

There is no way to explain or design these units in a way that will not scare some people away. It is what it is, and along with other changes, some people have decided to travel by airplane less. Some airlines have made the decision to turn off and disable the wonderful personal mini televisions each person have in international flights, you can no longer have anything on your lap during the last 30 minutes of flight in some airplanes, the change of carry-on rules narrowing down to one per person as well as the size restriction being stricted to a smaller size than before, the list goes on. During my 10 hour flight back from Brazil just six days after the terrorist attempt on Christmas Day, I became a bit angry at the last hour of the flight when the air crew requested everyone to wake up, buckle up, put away everything, while restricting access to the bathroom. I was extremely uncomfortable, and bored out of my mind.

The airport itself, however, can be a very happy and friendly looking space and I think that's what the committee and even the TSA want it to be in order to, like mentioned before, rebut the whole idea of fear of travelling by airplane. The many shops, windows, familiar food restaurants, in some places free Wi-Fi, are all meant and designed to please and attract flyers into making them feel more comfortable.

In the end, and a personal opinion, I think that these new advanced imaging technologies are OK. Of course they're being handled professionally--nobody can print or save any of the images seen through these machines and is permanently deleted from the system just seconds after first appearing on the screen after the confirmation of the person being clean of threats. However, it's a bit scary as to what new invention is going to be designed in order to scan more of a person. How far is too far? Will it be too much when airport security starts scanning our thoughts? Aren't both an invasion of privacy?

*a note: I accidentally used the term 'economic' instead of 'financial', and wrote this entire post based on it. I think it still works. I apologize*

Honestly, I have no idea what to write about economics and minimalism. Buy less, use less, spend less? Are economics really about money? Making profit? What's more economical, the expensive Eames chair that will last forever, or a cheap, second hand La-Z-boy chair that will last through college? Does economical mean you buy a cheap option that does the job, and lasts just long enough? Or does it mean investing in something that lasts longer than you?

How about all those hidden factors you might encounter when trying to decide how to be economic while working on a project; time, stress, creative freedom, client personalities, publicity, etc. I think there is a lot of potential in business, especially service business, to factor in all the non-monetary things as a part of the economic spectrum.

When it comes to economics, and keeping it minimal, what can designers do to improve their economic situation, and minimize the headaches and heartaches? (This is mostly considering (but not limited to) us right now, the nearly professionals)

The United States economics might not be making happy fat piggy banks, or even well fed piggy banks right now. So, let's barter, trade and swap? Roast those piggy banks, sprinkle some of your extra special talent on the top for flavor, and trade it for something you can't pay for, yet.

From an article on MPR about the growth of bartering:

"Our member exchanges have seen an increase in the last 12 months,' said Ron Whitney, who heads the International Reciprocal Trade Association, which represents 85 barter exchanges inside and outside the U.S."

The International Reciprocal Trade Association is a more organized way of bartering, using a point system. The story also featured a story from a man who designed a website in exchange for a new bathroom window, and a woman who did bookkeeping for a farmer in exchange for meat to feed her family. (1)

To bring this to more of a design perspective, perhaps there is a design skill out there you want to learn, but don't know where to start. I mean, kids can even figure out how to barter. One chocolate, frosted cupcake is equal to three, maybe four girl scout cookies. Two Hello Kitty pencils and one Keroppi sharpener for one lightning Gelly Roll pen. Blue.

A quote from another article on bartering in hard times from USA Today from Roger Staiger, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's business school:

"This is part of the underground economy that does not contribute to the GDP (gross domestic product), but it absolutely contributes to helping people and fostering trade," he says.

Perhaps bartering some services, trading what I do for what you do, could get people to help each other out and get started on something when the economics aren't as plump and juicy as they would like them to be. Bartering could be a great way to become referenced and known, which might lead jobs from more people who also agree that business doesn't always mean money.


Over spring break I was fortunate enough to catch up with two of my best friends from high school. It was around 11p when we decided to take a walk to a local 24 Hour dining establishment for some late night eats.


When one friend offered to pay for the other, there was a mutual agreement that the other would eventually pay back his debt. And maybe it was because we were railing on twelve cups of coffee, maybe it was because it was nearly 2a at this point, or maybe it was because we simply wanted to impress each other with our knowledge of how America's financial system works (which, as it turns out, wasn't very impressive), but their exchange lead to a deep philosophical discourse pertaining to the 'realism' of money.

Please note that our conversation did not pertain specifically to money and how it inspires us, but rather the conversation itself inspired me to think, on a more intimate level, about the complexities of money.

The friend who anted up the cash at the end of the night told our mutual friend that he could simply repay him with a pack of beer. Beer, not money. They essentially traded a meal for beer. And that's all that money really is.

Money is a representation of other objects. It only truly came about because sellers became increasingly disappointed in what others were offering them for their services. First born daughter? No thank you. A fertile plot of land? Nah. Your current wife? I've seen better, etc. Money is simply a universal representation of the objects you intend to one day own. This brief article explains this concept. In a recent article on WIRED "The Future of Money" there are great examples of how objects used to be considered currency. A great example is a cow: "Since everyone knew what a heifer or a bushel was worth, the system was more efficient than barter." The article goes on to explain where money will end up, and what sort of radical economic systems we'll have instituted only a few years from now.


The conversation deviated a bit as we would often slip in and out of bacon & eggs-induced comas, but with the help of coffee we were able to stay on topic for the most part. We finally arrived at a question that perplexed us all: How can a $1 bill be worth more than a $5 bill? I can almost guarantee that the $5 bill does not cost four dollars more to make than the $1 bill. We mentally exhausted ourselves trying to think of a logical explanation for such an absurdity that the only things our brains could handle until 5a the next morning was this game.


Five Things We Learned About Money
The Future of Money on WIRED

The User experience, or how the user experiences the end product is the key to acceptance. This is where a user interface design enters the design process. While most people think of this with computers, it also refers to many other designed products such as military aircrafts, vehicles, airports, audio equipment and, other devices used with computers. (1) Mobile technology is another product that falls within this category. If end users feel that something is difficult to learn, not easy to use or too inconvenient, an excellent product could possibly fail.

Mobile technology is something that has been growing over the past decade and is something that our generation grew up with. We have seen mobile technology grow from an enormous brick to a sleek little device that surfs the web.

With this, as a designer, understanding the difference between personal and social usability helps make a difference in what the product might need and who it will be for.

Personal Usability- Focuses on addressing the needs and concerns of an individual. It pays great dividends to the company in terms of business and customer satisfaction!
Social Usability- Focuses on addressing the needs and concerns of society at large, in terms of impact across masses. It may or may not make business sense.
Improving the reach of mobile technology in rural areas should be of top priority with social issues such as illiteracy, epidemics, poverty, unemployment, water scarcity, female foeticide, etc. are faced prominently by the rural population.

As per the GSM Associations report (Global System for Mobile Communications), our planet has over 3 billion mobile subscribers. If you consider the total population of the world (i.e. 6.6 billion) mobile phones are spreading very rapidly. The mobile phone, like a trusted companion, walks along with us in the most private and public places. It is the most powerful source of information and a medium of communication. "The fusion of mobile telephone with multiple gadgets (computer, internet, television, radio, camera, variety of sensors, etc.) makes it a fairy tale magic wand/ crystal ball. The biggest challenge is how innovatively can we use its immense potential for a desired social transformation." (2) In other words, how can the usability of this design help society?

The creation and pushing of design with mobile technology has come a very long way since the first cell phone. These new inventions of technology have created social demonstrations in both constructive and deconstructive use. Mobile has been helpful for rescue operations during floods, cyclones and disaster management. Blood banks in Kenya send SMS updates about the stock to local hospitals. There are examples of using SMS for sex education, HIV awareness creation, sending weather updates to fisherman and market information to farmers, etc. PDA phones are also used for capturing medical data of villagers. There are reports that discuss how mobile phones are helping in poverty alleviation. SMS polls by television game shows and news channels are rooting the democratic values even deeper. These examples are eloquent enough to tell what cell phones are capable of.

However, with the good, comes the bad. Youngsters can use this technology to circulate bomb hoaxes, pornographic messages which in turn causes social havoc. Mobile communication has given boost to all types of business activities. But we can't ignore that drug dealers, prostitutes, burglars, terrorists and other dangerous anti-social elements are also causing tremendous social nuisance using the power of mobile technology. Usability of these devices can cause social alienation, or invade the privacy of others. Accidents caused by cell phone distraction, health hazards due to electromagnetic radiation of mobile stations, neck problems, and the recent BlackBerry Thumb (Repetitive Stress Injury). (2)

Socially useful applications with basic technology extensions are important in improving social usability of mobile devices. As a designer, we are always trying to create the next best thing and are constantly working to meet the needs of our users. We need to understand that there are going to be positive and negative experiences that may come from our design when designing for society. We can't always please everyone, and someone will always find a different way to use the design. But in knowing this, we can manipulate usability to help social needs.

**Could there be specially enabled mobile handsets for the people who live in flood prone areas or cyclonic regions? A handset with a big SOS (Save Our Souls) button? Why not?!


As designers in today's world recyclability is a hot button issue. There is a big list of things that seem to be important regarding recycling and "going green"; make everything more recyclable, make it so things have more than one use, make products that replace one-time use products. These now reusable items include things such as, shopping bags, water bottles and coffee sleeves. As we move into a "more green" consumer culture it is easy to assume that things are starting to look up. While this is true in some cases and there are incentives to using some of these reusable products, are we really recycling more? Are fewer items ending up in landfills that could have been recycled and/or reused?

I want to take this post to look at the social aspect of recycling. Have you ever thrown something into a recycling bin (plastic, cardboard, paper) and wondered if it actually gets recycled? Does your apartment building have a spot for recycled products? Have you wondered if they actually send these items to the appropriate places or if it just ends up in the same dumpster as all your garbage? I know that I have.

According to it takes quite a bit of effort to implement a recycling program in schools. They recommend involvement of students, teachers, administration and even parents. They also say that you need to "obtain top-level support from the school administration, your school district's operation and maintenance staff and your schools custodial staff." You have to select the items you'll recycle, where they will be recycled to, and establish a system for collecting the recycled items. Just looking at these few requirements it is easy to see how schools can have ineffective recycling programs or not have one at all. Programs for businesses require a similar amount of effort.

As designers it is important to know some of the logistics about recycling. We probably all know from experience how much paper we waste on proofs, misprints and reprints. Additionally we all use glass and plastic products as well as cardboard. We have old batteries, ink cartridges and other electronics that have safe ways to be recycled. When we're at home (whether and apartment or house) we should be aware of the recycling program in our building or city so that we can properly recycle or take items to a location where they will be recycled. Additionally it is important to know your place of business's recycling program. If you know what it takes to change or implement a recycling program we can easily influence our friends, family and place of business.

If you're looking to start a recycling program at a school or place of business these are some good links to get you started.

Continuing with the theme of my last post, printing and its affect on the environment, health, and the alternatives available to us to minimize these side effects. Just a reminder VOCs are toxic emissions that react with sunlight and contribute to the greenhouse affect and global warming, bad for our health and bad for the environment.


As we found out in my previous post, when recycling consumed paper one step of the process is de-inking which takes chemicals and a lot of water, which creates toxic sludge and is expensive to dispose of properly. One solution to cleaning up the de-inking process is the use of biodegradable inks that come from renewable resources such as soy, linseed, cottonseed, tung or china wood oil (barefoot Press). I'll be focusing on soy-based ink since soybeans seem to be the most popular alternate resource when it comes to being green.


Soy-based ink was developed in the mid-1980s to reduce the impact of the oil shortages on the availability and price of traditional petroleum-based inks (it seems that everything is connected to oil availability and pricing)(Claims - and facts).

"Researchers at Western Michigan University have found that soy ink is removed more effectively from newsprint than petroleum ink during the de-inking process, resulting in less paper fiber damage and a brighter paper. In addition, the waste is not considered hazardous and can be treated more easily, completely and cost-effectively" (Soya).

Unlike petroleum, soybeans are a renewable resource. Producing soy inks also requires only .5 percent of the total energy needed to produce petroleum-based inks, and soy inks are biodegradable (Waxman).

The benefits of printing with soy-based inks courtesy of Soya:

  • Vibrant colors - Soybean oil's clarity allows pigments to reach their full potential, resulting in deep, rich bright colors. In addition, used in newspaper ink, it shows an excellent outcome of pigments. Soy ink delivers a high quality print when you switch from petroleum-based ink to soy ink, and you may even see an improvement!
  • Lower rub-off - Soy inks show a greater rub resistance. This is especially of important for newspaper readers.
  • Soy ink is cost effective - The prices of soy ink colors are competitive with conventional ink colors since most of the cost in the colored inks comes from the pigments used and not the vehicle portion of the formulation. Because soy ink provides more intense color, printers do not use as much ink. As a result, more materials can be printed with less ink and thereby reducing their costs. And since they spread further, soy inks leave fewer ink containers to dispose of in landfills.
  • Laser proof - This is important when ink needs to be exposed to the heat of a laser printer or copy machine. As the boiling point of soy ink is lower, there is less chance of the ink being transferred to the machine parts instead of the paper.
  • Stability - Soy ink maintains its lithographic stability throughout the entire print job, so the press operator makes fewer adjustments during production and rejects fewer copies because of inferior quality.

More than 90% of the nation's daily newspapers are printed with color soy ink. Most newspapers use soy ink for color printing because its price is comparable with that of conventional color ink and it has many advantages (Soya).

The disadvantage of soy ink is with drying. Since soybean oil is non-volatile, nothing evaporates and the ink gives off no VOCs (claims - and facts). It's like Nathan Abel from 3M said, the best product is the most toxic (though the best part can be debated when compared to the benefits of soy-based ink). This creates challenges for some printing presses, especially those that use coated papers such as magazines instead of porous, uncoated paper such as newspapers where the ink can dry via absorption (wikipedia). So some soy-inks are mixed with petroleum for quality purposes, so they still contain some VOCs, but the soy-based inks release less than one-fifth of the amount of VOCs emitted by petroleum-based inks (Waxman). And considering less soy ink is needed for adequate printing, this means petroleum-based inks emit 70 percent more VOCs than soy-based inks for the same amount of printing (Waxman).

Soy-based ink is not the perfect solution for eliminating toxic waste completely, just minimizing it, since the soybean oil is just the vehicle; particles of coloration are suspended in the oil, such as the heavy metals zinc (found in white inks) and barium (found in red inks), which can still be quite toxic. They can leach into the groundwater and contaminate the soil if the used ink is not adequately discarded (Waxman). This and certain other chemicals make soy ink not 100% biodegradable (Soya). Then there are the environmental concerns with the actual growing of the resource; an over-dependency on a single crop can introduce the risk of crop disease and epidemics, like the Great Irish Famine. Additionally, the agricultural impact of soybeans can be great: today, 92% of soybean acreage in the US is planted with genetically-modified soybeans, which some believe can pose environmental and human health risks, and soybean production is a major source of deforestation in the Amazon basin in Brazil resulting in the release of carbon into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming (wikipedia).

It may seem that our efforts in trying to preserve our environment by swapping one resource with another and trying to find an alternative material that is less toxic, more energy sufficient, more sustainable is getting us no where. Since they still create negative side effects for our environment and it seems we are stuck in an endless cycle of search and destroy, like our progression from wood to coal to oil for energy and almost depleting our natural stores of each, and this may be true, but the side effects are considerable less than they were before after switching resources, if we look at our efforts in paper and ink. We just need to regulate and moderate the use of these alternative renewable resources so they stay renewable without causing more damage as with the search for different energy sources has.

Some extra tips for printing green courtesy of the Barefoot Press

  • Standard sizes are standard for a reason; they make the best use of the paper on the press. A 6-by-6 inch booklet may please a designer's eye, but it wastes a lot of paper and raises the cost of the project.

  • Approach color creatively. Can you make a two-color design be as elegant and effective as full color?

  • Combine jobs in a way that optimizes the paper, ink, energy and labor.


Barefoot Press. Green Printing. Barefoot Press. Retrieved March 24, 2010, from

Claims - and facts - about environmental concerns: what magazine publishers should know about paper, inks and polybags Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management. (1992). Retrieved March 24, 2010 from

Soya. Soy Ink. Soya. Retrieved March 24, 2010, from

Waxman, Steven. The Skinny on Soy-based Inks. Target Marketing. (2006) Retrieved March 24, 2010, from

Wikipedia. Soy ink. Wikipedia. Retrieved March 24, 2010, from


  • Printer

  • soy bean cartriges

  • Brazil

When it comes to quality and its effects on the environment, it can be challenging for products to be unique and use material that is safe for customers and the environment. We all know the phrase, "Reduce, reuse, recycle." How can we, the designers, apply great quality that will make money and save the environment?

Packaging is expensive and can be damaging to our environment. Most of it is wasteful and the idea of reusable packaging is growing. According to Anne Johnson's article, "Reusing a package or packaging material also increases the material's useful life. This is an environmentally positive design strategy because you gain increased return for the original processing input. It can also lead to a decreased demand for new materials, which conserves resources, cuts processing energy requirements and reduces pollution--also known as source reduction... At some point, even a well-designed and used reusable package will reach the end of its usefulness. Therefore, it's necessary to think about material selections and how the packaging material can be recovered in end-of-life scenarios" (1). This is a great option for designers and for someone who loves packaging, it is extremely important to make careful material selections. This is a challenging task with the evolution of products, but it can benefit towards your product.

Nathan Abel, from 3M, was our guest speaker this week and talked about an eco-friendly product his company designed. It was a Dynamic Mixing System and his team made the tool safer for customers to use and be around while also reducing waste. The chemicals of the product are extremely toxic, but once his team redesigned the structure and use of it, the toxic chemicals were not an issue and it saved money. (2) The importance of this is for designers to think about how they can save money, make money for their company and save the environment.

There is one more link I would like to share. I chose to google, "Eco-friendly web design," and thought there wouldn't be much of anything. However, I came across an article worth reading. It isn't long and provides other links to check out. I never would have thought about eco-friendly web design in this way.

(1) What are the pros and cons of reusability as a packaging strategy?

(2) Nathan Abel from 3M, Senior Seminar lecture, 3/23/10

(3) The Truth About Eco-Friendly Web Design

Lucy Michell/Appeal/Personal

Appeal is to attract, and what us as designers are attracted to is not necessarily what the everyday consumer is attracted to. Throughout my four years in the design program I have struggled with what I am attracted to as a designer to what the everyday consumer is attracted to. Obviously we have learned that you can't design for everyone but you must design for someone, and that someone cannot be yourself...unless you are putting together your portfolio.

As a designer it is hard not to design in my own aesthetic, but that is what a successful designer does. They are able to achieve what they are trying to portray in a multitude of different style and new ways. When showing my portfolio to my mentor he said you have a very apparent style and that's a good thing to have but you have to be able to be as effective in other styles, which therefore make you more desirable in the working design world.

I am currently doing freelance work for French Meadow Bakery and Café, working on the advertisements and art-directing photography shoots. It was difficult at first because my personal style is so far removed from their modern, country, classic aesthetic, that I had a hard time visualizing what kind of ads would fit with their aesthetic and what would be appealing to their audience. So I drilled the owner and manager with questions and since I had already worked there as a server for over a year I had a pretty good idea of their clientele. What I learned was that I could apply my problem solving skills, that I use for my all my projects, but I couldn't apply my own personal style. And we as designers have to be ok with that. Once you can get past that and research the situation the final outcome will be so much better.

I have come away with that experience with the knowledge that we must always know who we are designing for and we must put aside our own personal aim to completely change the world with our personal styles.

Obviously the client must approve our designs, but ultimately, the real moneymaker is the consumer. We have the job of not only appealing to the client but also the consumer. What is interesting is that you have to sell your design to the client with the consumer in mind; the client may think something is one way but the real determinate are the consumers. In the Brad Gap Marty Neumeier states "a brand is not what you say it is it is what they say it is." They meaning the consumer, you have to make your client aware that it is the customer that defines their brand, and that like you must maneuver away from their personal feelings. So I reiterate how important it is to understand your audience and steer yourself away from designing it for yourself. You are not the consumer (only in very slim circumstances.)

We all have what we think is the right design or the right thing to do, so it's very difficult to step outside of that. Our speaker on Tuesday from 3M said something to the degree that, everybody thinks they are a genius, the one with the right ideas, but with that attitude nothing ever gets done. The importance of understanding your audience as well as working within a group are just a few of things needed to successfully appeal to your consumer. Everyone is always going to have their own opinion, but the ones that can compromise, know their audience and work with others are the designers that can successfully appeal to their target audience as well as feel ownership on their personal designs.

Neumeier, Marty. The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance between Business Strategy and Design. Indianapolis, IN: Pearson Professional Education, 2003. Print.

Berry, Nathan. "3M Product Design." Senior Seminar. McNeal Hall, St.Paul. 23 Mar. 2010. Lecture.

When thinking of the social aspects of convenience in design, I am immediately reminded of the Dead Kennedy's album "Give me convenience or give me death" (1). I always found this title amusing and true. Our society demands convenience, so much that we don't even realize how convenient the world has become. Many of the luxuries of our day to day lives are a result of convenient packaging design.

Over the last few decades, the world has exploded with new, innovative packaging. Just take a look at The Die Line (2). This site is a blog of endless, beautiful, creative packaging. Many of the items we refer to as "great" not only because they are aesthetically pleasing but because they make our lives just a little easier -- a re-sealable bag, a twist off cap. We have become so used to these new ways of packaging that its hard to even remember what it was like to have to tap the end of a ketchup bottle.

Not all aspects of current packaging techniques are positive. Much of this packaging, while convenient is not always the most environmentally friendly. In Nathan's 3m lecture (3), he spoke of the vicious cycle of packaging. He explained that most of the time the packaging that society likes is the type that hurts us the most. Many times packaging is oversized and un-biodegradable. It's tough to change packaging when the current techniques are often the cheapest options for companies.

Its a tough decision for companies to switch to environmentally friendly packaging. They risk the welfare of their product with every and any change. Companies like Sun Chips have found a good way of making their packaging green, maintaining convenience and also staying true to their brand (4). Society is not going to quit demanding convenience. Designers, manufacturers and companies must place a larger emphasis on inventing new, environmentally friendly ways to meet these demands.

3.Nathan from 3m, Sen Seminar Lecture, 3.23.10


What we remember from the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing, China is not the design or the labor put into this extravagant event, but the world cheering for Michael Phelps who broke the record for gold medals (and smokin' a bong), Usain Bolt who was titled, "World's Fastest Man" and the amazing opening and closing ceremonies featuring a cast of over 15,000 performers! But, what about behind the scenes? What about the people of China? Did anyone consider their social well being?

As a society, we tend to ignore the implicit costs taken to achieve our desires. As designers, we must constantly challenge ourselves to make sure what we are designing is done with integrity towards the environment and the social well-being of our society. As far as designers are concerned, to what degree are they held socially responsible for their work? Oftentimes when a new design is introduced we are mesmerized by its beauty and function and tend to be distracted from reality. During the construction of the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium, many people in China were displaced and parts of their history were destroyed to show...what? That they are innovators of design? Who cares if we are treating others poorly to get what we want? Right? Let's look at reality here and realize that the majority of people who helped build the stadium were not fairly paid or treated well.

In the video linked below, a designer named Ai Wei Wei speaks about how the stadium and the Olympics were affecting China poorly. He describes that the appearance of the Olympics is, "Far away from reality" and that Beijing holds so much history, but it is being turned into shopping malls and parks (3). He uses words such as "fake" and "pathetic" while he explains that China is not all fun and games, but rather attempting to impress western countries by demolishing many historical sights paving the way for modernization. (for some reason this wasn't linking--so copy and paste it into your browser if you want!)

With little to no restriction on costs and innovation, designers were able to use their talents to do something big! Something people were going to see. Something so glamorous and glitzy and FUN! Who cares if we're using 400 million dollars to build a stadium? Let's do it! Who cares if we only pay each worker $150 a month? It'll be great! Who cares if we treat people like shit and don't acknowledge their history!? Everything will be grand! Let's fill China's smoke with sunshine for a couple weeks and create huge buildings designed so people can run around and play games! SOUNDS GREAT.

As designers, we must learn to embrace the need for social responsibility and take charge! For designing to be fun, we need to stay true to our beliefs and realize when things seem unethical and determine a sense of what is right and wrong. In the book Good by Lucienne Roberts, she states, "Graphic designers don't usually dictate content, but they can decide whether they work for clients who are communicating something "good" for society" (1). In other words, an artist with morals should not feel satisfied with his or her work if others have to suffer in order to create his or her design. It's unethical.

So although designing something with little restrictions seems like fun and a dream come true, think again. The people may see the designer as someone who supports terrible labor conditions, or as someone who supports the attempt to hide the true realities of the poverty stricken Chinese culture. But again all of this poses many questions. Who is having the fun here? The Olympians...visitors...the world....designers...China's people? From a designer's perspective, each person holds morals that are unique. What someone considers a crime can be a misdemeanor to another. I believe that each designer should take each job as it comes and make the decision for themselves. Every design comes with a risk and each person defines fun differently. It just so happens that in this instance of the Chinese Olympics, it's somewhat bittersweet fun.



Lastly--Check out these links. Within the last few months I visited the Walker Art Center and the Zhao Liang: Heavy Sleepers exhibition was up.

This is the description:

"An acute exposition of social realities in China, Zhao's large-scale video environment depicts the interior of a dormitory for construction workers. One side of the space shows sleeping men; the other, a row of empty beds. Walking through, the visitor is immersed in simple scenes illustrating the sacrifices made by China's laborers, as the slow, unyielding camera pan reveals telling personal details. Shot in Beijing during the fast-paced construction leading up to the 2008 Olympics, the empty beds raise the question of whether the men have gone back to work, or finally returned home."



4423533852_3fe0fcb9d1.jpg (more photos of the video) (description/link to gallery talk with artist, again copy and paste)

1) Roberts, Lucienne. Good. Retrieved from: Class Syllabus. Web. 24 Mar. 2010.

2) "Zhao Liang: Heavy Sleepers."

3) Interview with Ai Wei Wei:

Building off of my last post on this blog, I feel like I should discuss the substantial effect that design can have on a society's mores and outlook. In the last post, I discussed how every aspect of an object or concept's design has an impact on our state of mind and how that impact can be either subtle or profound. This concept translates in a similar manner when we consider a design's effect on the health of society in general. 

  The idea of using specific designs to influence a society is by no means a new one -- I would even venture to say that most people are well aware of this concept by now. The historical examples of this are numerous. Take, for instance, the use of posters during WWI and WWII to influence civilian's sympathies. Nearly every government involved in the war commissioned well-respected artists to design patriotic and informational posters that were designed with specific goals in mind. The image of Uncle Sam pointing at the observer in James Montgomery Flagg's I Want You series is a prime example of design that influences opinion. While this poster's message was fairly direct, its persuasive technique was subtle. Like many propaganda posters of the era, the piece was designed to look like a movie poster in order to attract young men. Additionally, the depiction of Uncle Sam pointing straight out at the observer was designed to have a psychological effect on the viewer. The posters released during this war were thought to have been extremely effective -- in fact, many of those responsible for publishing them had conflicting feelings about their effect after the war. Harold Lasswell, a prominent political scientist of the era who worked with the government to disseminate propaganda, later expressed a cynical view about propaganda's power:

When all allowances have been made, and all extravagant estimates pared to the bone, the fact remains that propaganda is one of the most powerful instrumentalities in the modern world...A newer and subtler instrument [will] weld thousands and even millions of human beings into one amalgamated mass of hate and will and hope. A new flame [will] burn out the canker of dissent and temper the steel of bellicose enthusiasm. The name of this new hammer and anvil of social solidarity is propaganda. (1)
  It wasn't very long before the commercial world took notice of the power of design when mass-distributed. For most of the industrial revolution up to about WWII, factories had pushed out massive amounts of a relatively small variety of products and businesses began to realize that perhaps the market was getting saturated with the goods that were viewed as "essential". In order to sell products, manufacturers needed to convince the public that they needed new goods. Instrumental in bringing this task to front was Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays had studied the Nazi's powerful propaganda campaigns during the war and wrote a seminal book on the subject called propaganda. In this book, he stated that "[people] are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of." (2) Bernays believed not only that a populace could be manipulated by designed campaigns, but that they should be, in order to control the baser tendencies of society that are fueled by our "animal instincts". Bernays believed that society could be somewhat pacified through the purchase of material comforts, and he set himself to the task of restructuring how products are sold. Bernays has been largely credited with the creation of the "integrated campaign" for advertising by tying many forms of media and marketing together to sell a single product (he called the campaigns "tie-ins"). Bernays also pioneered the use of focus groups to sell products. The result of his considerable efforts was effectively a shift in how society interacted with products. No longer were products defined by those who bought them. Now, people were defined by the products they bought. If you were a greaser, you bought a leather jacket. Are you a Ford guy or a Chevy guy? What brand of make-up do you prefer? Bernays largely succeeded in shifting the role of products in our lives by designing the identity of a product to appeal to the psyche of individual groups of consumers.
  So, we have established that design, and the marketing surrounding design can have an extremely profound influence on society. This begs the question of how best to utilize this power. In concurrence with my last blog, I think that designers have the potential to utilize this influence for positive purposes. In fact, there are entire organizations based on this principle. One prominent example is the International Academy for Design and Health. This organization's goal is to "promote the stimulation and application of research concerning the interaction between design, health, science, and culture."(3) This organization believes that the success and happiness of society can be greatly influenced by environmental design, and there are precedents that support this claim. While our public housing projects built here in America turned largely into crime-ridden, squalid residential areas, similar projects in Sweden have turned into thriving communities. The difference was largely in the design, and promotion of these areas.
  Suffice it to say, we wield considerable influence on society through the power of design, and there are exciting developments on the horizon that utilize this influence to improve the quality of life on this planet.

(1) Lasswell, Harold "Propaganda Technique in the World War." 1927, MIT Press, pp. 220-221
(2) Bernays, Edward L. "Propaganda." Liverwright Press, 1928, p. 72
(3) The International Academy of Design and Health, ""

As graphic designers we focus on designing to communicate, but now it seems more and more we are persuading consumers to buy. As a designer we have the talent to persuade in designs, but can also communicate positive messages and encourage people to take action in some instances. Can these actions lead to change when dealing with poverty?

Today people are creating innovative ways in fighting poverty by involving others in making a small change or a big change. for example simple offers people to take their message and use it to better poverty in their area. There are companies out there that demonstrate that graphic design isn't just a field to persuade people to make a purchase. The Red Cross created an ad that aimed at getting the youth involved in helping those less fortunate using just an image of a Nintendo DS. In the United Kingdom reinvented "remember to recycle" logo depicts someone grabbing food from the trash and read "Your trash is someone else's food." In Brazil an ad depicts a kid trapped under the concrete and read, "Help a child escape the streets. Donate to our children's villages in Brazil." Salvation army and plenty other companies strive to promote helping the less fortunate and use design to create powerful messages to promote change and help eliminate poverty one design at a time.

In design the possibilities are endless, and new ideas to help a big cause are being seen. We have a great talent that can transform society. Sappi has a program called "Ideas that Matter," that supports designers for the public good. As a designer you need to feed yourself, but also look at ways your design can feed others.

Ads described can be seen:

I maybe should have started my first blog post with a definition of Ownership. But ownership seemed like a common enough word that we all understand what it means. Like all words, however, it has multiple meanings. We all the definition that describes the control over property. That definition relates well to some of the other blog themes... but not so much to the environment. Sure, we can legally own pieces of the environment, specifically land or oil reserves, gold, metal, and other environmental resources. But what I want to focus on is the idea of ownership as accountability, and how we as designers need to be accountable for our designs and how they impact the environment.

The cutting edge of design seems to be happening in the digital environment, which on the surface seems to benefit the environment. Classrooms are using it to reduce paper, but it seems as though many office environments are not. In fact, that report states that 83 percent of companies are not implementing basic technologies. There doesn't seem to be any readily available hard facts stating exactly what impact technology has had on paper waste, except that everyone seems excited about it. As they should be, and as we designers should be. So much of our practice comes from printing out page after page of proofs - but this is slowly changing as more work stays on the computer, less work needs to be printed out. As designers, we should embrace this shift when we can to help reduce our own paper wastes.

It's comes down to taking ownership of your waste. It's important, whenever you print anything, to think "do I really need to print this out?" Can you take ownership of the waste that you are creating?

More to read after the break!

If you look around while walking inside or outside, you'll notice that the environments we spend so much of our time in could really use the attention of graphic designers to increase convenience, usability, and safety while reducing ugliness. We live in a three dimensional world despite the time we spend looking at screens. So here's the site of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (also a good website design). You should look at their blog relating to signage, wayfinding, and environments.

Also, I always find it reassuring that we can use our visual communication skills to inform and educate others. The Cool Infographics blog has examples of this, and also a section on books regarding information design (this section could cut down on search time in libraries or for purchasing). The next blog is kind of messy, but also has infographics examples for quick inspiration. The Periodic Table of Visualization Methods is quite charming, with rollover images illustrating different approaches (so many!).

Lastly, I find to be one of the most fascinating blogs I've come across, with links related to photography, graphic design, art, and science. Scrolling through is worth the time. There is also a large category for web design.

On its surface, affordability is a relatively simple concept, exemplified by this question: Does a certain action expend a reasonable or sustainable amount of resources given its consequences? Because of the way money insinuates itself into so many parts of our modern lives, our first reaction to this idea is often from a financial perspective. We try to balance what something is worth with our ability to pay for it. This balance is central to our consumption-driven society, and because design exists largely in response to consumer culture, affordability has always been a major consideration in design.

There are myriad examples of this influence of affordability on design thinking, but few are more visible than the ubiquitous Ikea. "For us at Ikea, form, function and affordability are as indivisible a trinity as faith, hope and charity," states the company's "Democratic Design" manifesto. Ikea has integrated cost consideration thoroughly into its design process. Not only are the company's products designed for maximum impact with minimum expenditure, but almost every Ikea business practice from logistics to store layout takes into account its impact on the store's prices. The careful design of all aspects of its business is one of the most important factors in Ikea's success.

Another example of the pressure that affordability exerts on the design process is in packaging, as illustrated perfectly by our speaker from General Mills. Every cent passed on to the consumer as a result of increased packaging costs affects buying decisions. Any design change, therefore, must take into account its influence on the bottom-line cost of the product on the shelf. This does not mean that quality design must be sacrificed at the altar of cost, however. Affordability is one of the primary factors in consumers' choices, so it must be a leading factor in the design process as well.



Please do yourself a favor and check out idsgn. The isn't updated every day, but it ensures that the content is never boring and over-saturated.


"Through more than forty case studies, nearly twenty interviews with experienced professionals, and a series of (nonscientific) surveys, Flaunt is a resource for design students as well as young, experienced, freelance, and independent designers. It explains how one can find a way to cohesively, succinctly and creatively showcase their work through an accessible, effective, and creative portfolio. Flaunt showcases a variety of alternatives through a selection of portfolios that represent both the most common approaches as well as some offbeat executions. Hopefully, this book will help ease the anxiety and burden of creating a portfolio--and, perhaps, even help demystify the process of putting it together, along with the expectations of presenting it."

Buy Flaunt from UnderConsideration

The definition of words is often the starting point when one is researching. The base of the argument could be within the definition of the phrases used. When taking a look at Empowerment and Social Responsibility in design, this idea provides an excellent base for showing how broad and problematic this issue can really be.

"Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities" (Wikipedia). One can take this idea in any direction. Empowering can provide a great structure for bringing people together. If you take a look at any political campaign, empowerment is used to reach out and give clarity and structure to people's beliefs. The Obama campaign is a perfect example of success in empowerment. Take a look at this wonderfully written article on Obama's website:

This shows that there is strength in empowerment that can provide a base for many other things. You can provide open opinions on whatever subject you feel necessary; all you need is a method and some empowerment. Someone or something to tell you that you can and should express your opinions is often just the start.

"Design is the planning that lays the basis for the making of every object or system" (Wikipedia). Design in and of itself is empowerment. Whether one chooses to use that empowerment for good or for bad is another story. As designer, we are entitled (or even better, empowered) with the skill set to provide empowerment to others. We are also provided with the knowledge to persuade and inform visually and verbally. As you take all of these things in, think about how well empowerment and design have been paired, because soon I will be showing you how empowerment and design have paired to form some disastrous results.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines innovation as the act of introducing something new. As designers, we consider ourselves to be familiar with innovation, because introducing new things into the world is part of what we do. Though design fields may have deep roots in history and tradition, the design practitioner or thinker typically wants to adjust or come up with new ways to work. Innovation dealing with our environment is an innately important subject to think about and act upon. This is because designing, more than many other areas of work, deals with resources, printing, manufacture, and transport. Design decisions, in addition to doing something for the viewer or user, can affect the beginning and end of a product's life, both of which deal directly with the environment that we live in.

Innovation, design, and the environment is a broad and complex topic. Of course, causing less damage to our environment (and therefore ourselves) is the main talking point regarding environmental innovation. Two areas that I think work well for discussing this are materials, and interactions or systems. Innovation dealing with computers is an issue that reached omnipresence during our lifetimes. Materialwise, what are some environmental effects of this? You could say that many designed printed communications have found a different way to reach people online--from simple messages in place of letters or flyers, to entire journals or publications taking on a different form. You could compare electricity traveling to your screen with messages from a thousand sources as a positive innovation compared to using oil, vehicles, equipment, and chemicals to chop down trees, grind up and whiten their wood, print on the resulting paper and ship it to someone who will probably throw it away. But computers themselves are material-based chunks of manufactured hardware, and considering how permanent their materials are, we don't keep them around all that long before getting new ones. An estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency states that up to three quarters of the computers sold in this country are stockpiled in garages or closets. Less-than-clean incineration or landfilling (here or abroad) is commonly their ultimate destination (1). So innovations relating to computer technology are endlessly debatable, and rely on new innovations (often in design) to try to get the best of all worlds. Complex, manufacturing solutions aren't the only way to establish new methods and ideas. The Ecofont is an innovation I admire because it is so simple compared with material innovations on a larger policy level. The type simply has holes in its letterforms, saving up to 25% on ink or toner (2). People may shrug it off as something that couldn't catch on, but it is truly environmental innovation--a humble introduction of something new.

Beyond the materials related to design, the systems that design works with are also good for studying or applying new ideas. Designers need to be concerned with who does what, and why and how. Here I'll start off with the simple example: a product called Sugru developed by a few people combining design thinking with material science. It is a moldable silicone that hardens at room temperature so one can use it to adjust and fix the products they have, rather than buy new ones (3). My point with this is not so much about the material, but the fact that the designing is being done by individuals fixing their own things in their own way. As designers, we typically desire to be the ones that make useful things for people (or advertise new things), but keeping the environment (at all scales) clutter-free can be done best by people fixing their products and holding onto them, rather than tossing them out. Levi's and Goodwill provide an example of how a change in communication could affect the lifecycle and system in which a product exists. A printed message on the care tags of Levi's jeans asks the customer to donate them when they are no longer needed. Apparently almost 24 billion pounds of clothes end up in U.S. landfills each year (4).

Thinking about new ideas in terms of what materials we design with, and in what system or context those designs function, is key to making improvements to both peoples lives and environments. Simply taking an existing product and marketing it as "green" (whatever that means) in order to boost sales is a distraction from what may actually be good for us. That's why innovation matters--if enough new ideas are generated, the ones that work best will make a difference eventually.


When I think of marketing I think of big business, suits, money-pushers, number crunchers, corporations, NASDAQ, buy! sell! Well, you get my point. In a way, this isn't to far from the truth (which I'll get back to later), but the fact is every single business owner, whether large or small, does marketing and research. Marketing is an essential part of business because it's how decisions are made and how a company is represented. Now I could continue to go on and write a blog about what marketing does for a company and why everyone needs marketing, and how marketing makes business better and reassures the bosses that their money is being spent well and all, but there are probably thousands of books and articles that would explain that kind of stuff much, much, much better than I could. Besides, that just wouldn't be me. SO if that's what you're looking for, read no further. And what worse way could there be to honor marketing by misrepresenting myself on my own blog!? Or is misrepresentation after all, just a way of marketing?

To quote Edwin Land, the co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation, "Marketing is what you do when your product is no good". Getting back to the things I related to marketing that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Land here makes a point I can't argue with. When I think of large corporations, big businesses who only think of making a buck, they do a really great job of marketing their crappy product. Take McDonalds for example, they spend millions upon millions of dollars on marketing. They figure out who uses their product and they market a certain look and lifestyle to those people so meticulously it's ridiculous. They do this because that's all they have; they can't really market their food, because it's closer to being categorized as plastic than it is to being called fresh food. McD's isn't selling food, they are marketing around an idea of food. They spend hundreds of millions a year on marketing, while they spend only thousands on the actual product they claim to have. A general rule I have when it comes to marketing, which I think is safe to bet on, is the more you see a company market itself, the more they have to hide on the inside. Now what about the other side of this quote, the company that doesn't market itself, how is their product? Going with the food comparison, let's take a small business in Minneapolis, the Birchwood Café. They hardly do any marketing, you might see their ad in and the City Pages, they help sponsor events around Minneapolis, they sell some of their products at The Wedge and Seward Co-op's. They don't market themselves very much at all. Yet, I guarantee that everyday during the lunch and dinner hours, they are packed. Word-of-mouth advertising is the best way to market your company. Everyone can say this and that about their own company to market themselves, but when someone else says this or that about your company for you, people listen. For the Birchwood, their product markets itself.

Where does design fit into all of this? Well, because the main purpose of marketing is to get people to remember your company or product or whatever, whether you do it with money or you do it with quality products, good design will always have it's place in marketing. Good design can do whatever you need it to do, whether it be covering up your product, or highlighting it. Take J.R Watkins cleaning supplies for example. I have no idea who they're marketing toward, I could take a guess at who most likely buys their product, but for sexist reasons, I won't. But to my point, I'm pretty sure a male in his early 20's, is not their target market. But, because they have some pretty slick packaging design, I buy that stuff! I've never seen an ad from J.R Watkins telling me to buy their product, but when I see good design, BOOM! Sold.

I'm not sure I'm doing the best job of informing my reader of how design and marketing are ever so reliant of one another and how marketability relates to financial issues and all that. But, there is something to be learned here and while it may not be totally clear to everyone, I'm hoping someone will be able to make sense out of it. I'll try to make something clear, and that is: I think good design beats out any sort of marketing. Of course we've been taught that good design must reflect certain things about what a product and/or company stands for and good design must convey a certain message and all that stuff that comes out of marketing and goes into making "good design". But if I see a product with something that catches my eye versus a product that has enough reasons behind it that it could fill an entire book so large, it makes the dictionary look like a pocket book, explaining why they designed it that way. I'll choose the eye-catcher.

To sum up my current position on how marketing and design fit together, I'll bring up an article, titled appropriately enough for this post, "On (Design) Bullshit". There is a quote in the article that states, "Whether bullshit is true or false: 'It's impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth'." This statement, explains marketing in a lot of ways, because marketing is built on perception and the blurred understanding of what something is and what something isn't. For everything that you might think a certain product to be, it might actually be none of those things. But marketing pushes these certain perceptions and ideas so far, that we forget to wonder whether it's all really true or not. The author of the article goes on to point out that he was working on a project that called for French-looking design. His boss, Massimo Vignelli, said he needed to push the old French style a little bit more with the typography. He had no idea what old French style typography was, but settled on using somewhat of a modern typeface, called Empire, designed by someone from Milwaukee. When it came time to present this to the client, Vignelli explained to the client that they used a typeface called "Ahm-peere". Ahm-peere is French for Empire. The client bought it. This created belief or idea in a product or company is exactly what marketing is to me.

Edwin Land quote : Retrieved March 3, 2010

Bierut, Michael. "On (Design) Bullshit". Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design, 174-176. Princeton Architectural Press, NY. 2007.

So when I thought of the word appeal in reference to society I immediately thought, sex appeal. Maybe I'm immature but I think that kind of appeal that the media has fabricated has had an extreme effect on societies views of reality in every sense. Sex sells and graphic design and advertising have capitalized on this notion.

Sex is so enticing because it has been deemed taboo, which according to Sex Appeal: the art of allure in graphic and advertising design‬ By Steven Heller, is the prime instrument for attracting the public. Sex has been in the mainstream media for quite sometime. Heller mentions that "In print, the many versions of this basic theme culminated in the pinup in the 30's, which served as a generic advertising enticement" also goes on to say that "to this day commercial sex appeal still stems from the pinup paradigm" and basically there is nothing like a hot babe to get a man's attention. Before photography came to the forefront in advertising many of these advertisements, book covers, movie posters where done by painters and illustrators. As years passed the public's morals and views shifted and they demanded something racier. The public wanted something more real so photography became popular and real life models where exposed, things became more provocative and here we are today.


Sex appeal has become a part of everyday life in our society. We look up at a billboard and a bronzed babe with a photo-shopped bod is glistening in the hot sun and fake sweat beads are pooling up around her breasts. At bus stops shirtless men with muscles (that most men don't even know exist, sorry guys) are standing there staring at you as you wait. Sex appeal is no longer mysterious as it was in the 30's. In fact, speaking of no longer mysterious the other day I was sitting across from a man in a coffee shop that was looking at porn on his computer as if he was just reading a regular news article and sipping his coffee. So what does this say about our society, that sex is so out in the open that we feel it's ok to look at porn anywhere? Sex appeal is part of our lives weather we love seeing it or hate seeing it. It sells underwear, perfume, beer, cigarettes, movies, magazines...everything.

Heller states, "commercial sex appeal has value if for no other reason then it stimulates the economy, and the economy is the life force of the republic." He goes on to say "that by this logic, sex appeal is not pornographic until or unless the public stomps it's common foot and finds it intolerable. By extension, overt sexual display is as necessary to a healthy economy as intermittent hikes in the prime interest rate."
American Apparel ad, what's with the girl on the left?

Believe me I am not an advocate for hot sweaty photo shopped bodies in magazines, on the Internet or in movies but we all must agree that this kind of appeal has been lucrative. Now I ask, how has commercial sex appeal affected society? Well lets start with the positive: it's helped the economy (which we can all agree needs a booster) other then that not too much else. Perhaps it's inspired some people get into better shape but most likely it's just made people feel bad about their bodies, which brings us to the negative aspects of commercial sex appeal on society. Considering that commercial sex appeal spawned from a time when women were only being seen as objects and treated as objects, it obviously doesn't come from a good place. The media has designed an ideal body type that is basically unfathomable to the rest of public. Although maybe we are at a point where we are so bombarded by these images that we aren't as shocked or effected by them, but in actuality we still always are, especially if designers continue to come up with new and inventive ways to sell sex.

Concerning us as designers, we need to think about these things, how are we contributing to societies views and understanding of reality? If we choose to use sex as our medium is it possible for it to be in a positive light? Can we use sex appeal in different and new ways? In response to the last question I think we can use sex appeal in interesting ways, for example objects can be sexy or have sex appeal, like cars or sleek new gadgets. We can also suggest sex without even showing a visual (is that ok? There are probably people that would disagree). But you get the idea, it is possible to be innovative with sex, since as designers we do know that it's intriguing but we also know the importance of being thoughtful (at least I hope we do).

I am ending this blog with one more quote from Heller, just to get us to continue to think about this topic.

"The publics fascination with sex and the graphic and advertising designer's acceptance of it as a potent tool have fed each other for the run of the twentieth century. But the public has always been divided on lengths to which sexuality can and should be used to sell, if at all. Polarization between right and left, conservatives and liberals, religious and non-religious is not new to American culture, but the dissenters seem to be more vociferous then ever, which begs the question: How have designers contributed to this schism? Since sex appeal continues to motivate, stimulate, and exacerbate this ongoing debate, designers must take more then a modicum of responsibility for how and why sex sells."

Heller, Steven. Sex Appeal: the Art of Allure in Graphic and Advertising Design. New York: Allworth, 2000. Print.

When thinking about the financial agenda in regards to waste, I am reminded of our speaker from General Mills. I think as designers we have a natural curiosity, especially in large companies like General Mills, about what considerations are made when designing and selling their product. The stereotype of a large company is that they are all about making money at all costs. However I feel that our speaker shed some light on the topic. It was the idea that the company is doing what they can do reduce waste without sacrificing the product or price.

Those with high concerns about the environment and waste would say that the price can be sacrificed for the greater wellness of the environment, however our speaker made a valid point that if they did make it more eco-friendly the product might suffer or the price would increase and that would create trouble with the general public. The product might suffer because the seal of the bag might not be as strong, as well as the product might lose freshness. The materials that are used to create the product preserve the products self-life which also reduces food waste. If the box were changed the product might lose its standing as a trustworthy product. Like if the box was smaller, consumers believe they aren't receiving as much in their box, which would lead to mistrust in the larger company as well as lower sales.

Companies are about making in money, however it seems that most companies are trying to make steps forward towards the environment. One of the top companies that changed for the environment was the Bank of America. "The company reduced paper use by 32% from 2000-2005, despite a 24% growth in their customer base! Bank of America also runs an internal recycling program that recycles 30,000 tons of paper each year, good for saving roughly 200,000 trees for each year." There are many other companies that have made changes in their product design, promotions, and in company transactions for the better of the environment. Overall design and business are working toward making their companies more marketable and environmental friendly.

"General Mills." General Mills Speaker. McNeal, St. Paul. Feb. 2010. Lecture.
"Top 25 Environmental Company Changes." Business Pundit. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.

As design students, we hear the word copyright come up in many classes and discussions whether it is in regards to our own personal work, or the work of others. For me, and I'm guessing for other students as well, the issue of copyright is something that I know is important and I feel I have some knowledge regarding. However, I don't necessarily believe I am as thoroughly educated on the subject as I should be.

When beginning my research, I thought it important to first define the word copyright to ensure I had a clear-cut meaning of exactly what it meant to better guide my analysis. I found that Copyright is "the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work."

After defining copyright, my first question was, as designers, how do we obtain these exclusive rights? The good news is that when we create work, we automatically own the copyright to that work for our lifetime, plus an additional 50 years. No publishing, or registering of your work necessary. However, if you see someone using your work without crediting you, the only power you have without registering is to write him or her a "cease and desist" letter. The only way to legally file an infringement of copyright action is if the work in question has been registered.

Registering a copyright on your work is easy and very inexpensive, averaging around $35 - $45. At this point in our careers, many of us probably don't feel too at risk for copyright infringement, but it is a good thing to keep in mind and consider. Have you designed a great logo and displayed it on facebook? Come up with a brilliant packaging design that has made its way to Might not be a bad idea to register the copyright and protect your work.

Visit for more information or to register your work.

Poverty isn't an easy problem to diagnose and solve; however as designers we can focus on specific aspects of poverty that can be improved. Environmental degradation and poverty are big issues that are seen separate but in-fact are closer related that you may think. The common belief to develop poor countries is to sacrifice environmental issues, however where do designers come equate in this factor?

The United Nations 1998 Human Development Reports show that, "Globally, the 20% of the world's people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures-the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%." People are to blame for the issues with the planet today, not all people have the same impact on the environment. Thus, the words "sustainable design" comes into the conversation. Wikipedia defines sustainable design as the "philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment and services to comply with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability." Sustainability is the key word in bettering the environmental impact industrialized nations have on the world.

As graphic designers sustainable design means to consider the environmental impacts of packaging, publications, printed materials and much more. As designers we can use our innovative talents and find different ways to reduce the amount of materials used on a project. An example would be to use materials made with recycled, post-consumer waste, or print with low voc inks. The Metropolitan Group asks the question "can our design have more than one life? For example, can a long-lasting binder go on to be used for other projects in the future instead of contributing to the landfill?" (1)These are questions designers need to ask themselves when designing products for the future and its future impact on the environment.

(1)Sustainable Graphic Design." Metropolitan Group: Strategic Creative Services for Nonprofits. Metropolitan Group. Web. 04 Mar. 2010. .

\ˈkȯst-ə-ˈfek-tiv, -ˌfek-\ : economical in terms of tangible benefits produced by money spent

To put it in perspective, what I essentially pulled from this definition is that the money or capital invested in a project/venture will be outpaced by the benefits produced from said project/venture. It's a relatively easy concept to grasp, and it really makes a lot of sense. And really, why would you invest time/effort/money in something that you knew you wouldn't gain anything from? Chances are, you probably wouldn't. And if you put it in context like that, the more cost-effective you are, the more gains and benefits you will see. As graphic designers, this plays an extremely important role in what we do. As a matter of fact, in any industry - healthcare, education, name it - cost effectiveness plays a huge role in determining what can and cannot be done. Even as entry level designers, I would assume that most of us try to work as efficiently as possible in order to get the most out of a particular project in contrast to what was put into it. And even if you don't make a conscious effort to work efficiently, I'm sure that it happens at some subconscious level.

And the importance of cost effectiveness just multiplies when moving towards professional careers in design. In a previous class, Richelle mentioned the position of production manager/traffic manager as being an integral part of larger firms. Why is this position necessary when you already have art directors and creative directors and account managers? Because the job of a traffic manager is to maximize efficiency in the way work is produced in a firm or agency, directly leading to a more cost effective outcome. Seems pretty obvious why you'd need some like that in a design firm or ad agency, right? How about in-house design? Well, our first speaker from General Mills also placed a huge emphasis on cost effectiveness. If I recall correctly, he mentioned repeatedly in so many words that any proposal to raise costs on Cheerios packaging better have a damn good reason for doing so, as well as lead to a direct increase in sales, otherwise it wouldn't even be considered. This train of thought adds an entirely different logistical aspect to cost efficiency in design: if you do something, be absolutely sure that what you've done is intentional, well thought out and that it will benefit both you and your client. Essentially, the word arbitrary has no place in cost effective design.

Placing too much of an emphasis on cost effectiveness, however, has its downsides. Often, the most cost effective solutions are those that have a negative impact on the environment or society. Take Walmart for example. Walmart is a great example of maintaining a high level of cost effectiveness, hence the fact that they maintain such low prices. They do this, however, by outsourcing production of their goods overseas where labor costs are incredibly low. In turn, this causes jobs to be lost in the States, as well as the fact that consumers are helping propagate sweatshops to some degree whenever they make a purchase at Walmart. From a design perspective, this can play a large role in terms of production: should you print on the ultra-bleached stock paper because it's cheaper and looks better? Or should you print on the recycled paper despite the fact that it doesn't look as good and costs more? I'm sure that many of us have experienced issues like these where we have asked ourselves "is this really cost effective?" and I'm sure there will be many to follow. In the end, I think it's important to strike a balance between what you think is "good" and what you think is "cost efficient." After all, there's more to design than pulling a profit, but you also won't get very far without working in a cost efficient manner.



Empowerment/ Social

The word empowerment literally means to enable or to give authority to. But the technical meaning doesn't express its true definition. The Journal of Extension did a study on the word's meaning, and concluded that it is a process that you experience when something makes you think about how things are and how they could be (1). When design is so powerful that it activates a change that holistically improves one's life, that is an expression of empowerment. Because of design's influential affect on society, it is we as designers who have the choice to clearly deliberate our message. Through our design we carry the tools to inspire people to fully understand their cycle of influence they have on others. Design, which ultimately turns into actions can shape cultures, communities and families.

Awareness and concern of our lives and how we live them should really be our first priority right? With a lot of people, what they don't know doesn't concern them. Even people's daily purchases carry heavy responsibilities. Whether you buy food from your local co-op or from your local Wal-Mart, your choice furthers a cycle of good or bad events down the line. We as humans need to be aware of how our actions affect other people, even if we don't know them. Design and its ability to communicate must empower people to think, and not just buy. Because our world is not nearly as simple as it used to be, even companies who sell the most simple of necessities cut corners with their materials and production, and ethically crash and burn. Designers need to be socially aware of the corners and with our design, try to create something better. Many organizations believe in this design strategy, and the design collaborative database Good is one of them. This database highlights community design all stars, non- profits and humanitarian design (2). There is a lot of empowering design in the world; you just have to find it.

Social responsibility in design is becoming more prevalent, as a reaction to today's age of state controlled existences, and invasion of privacy (3). Due to the wide array of mediums messages can be spread today, designers are becoming more aware of their power, while two extremes of communicative control and liberation in design are beginning to emerge. Many design firms are trying to create products that spread awareness of today's social and environmental issues. For example, the British design firm &made's Either Oar table acts as both a well designed table that also assembles into a raft and oars, addressing the dangers of global warming and our affect on it. Designers need to engage in a socially responsible practice that empowers the people and defends the idea of solutions, not set backs. Because today could be expressed as a moral depression, a designer's first priority should really lie in the true content of their message.


My word is communication and I think that as graphic designers we can all agree that communication has absolutely nothing to do with us. I know each of us spends countless hours on a design in order to make it so perfect that no one will conceive a single thought by looking at it. We work hard to create products that may as well be made for the comatose. Many people ask me, "Why do businesses come to you to design logos, cover letters, and business systems when you, as a designer, try so hard not to create any impression upon people?" I always respond, "It is so that no one may think positively nor negatively about a business." Customers are happiest when they can look at a design and not even realize it is there. They can stare at it for hours with a ho-hum attitude and then move on with their only thought being "What the hell was I doing for the past few hours?" Communication, although important in almost all aspects of life, has no place in the world of design.

Just kidding!! ☺

Communication, I believe, is at the very heart of design. If people didn't have a need to communicate with each other then there would be no need to design messages to catch peoples attention. The whole goal of design is to create a visually stimulating message that draws a consumer/viewer to a particular product or idea. So the big question is, how do we as designers communicate effectively?

I believe it boils down to two simple things: who are you going to communicate to and how are you going to communicate to them.

In an article I read, it talks about research based design and trying to get Graphic Design to be PHD worthy like architecture is. They find that doing a lot of research "improves work flow and efficiency...adds to a designer's creativity" and "Clients, it turns out, are more satisfied when they are able to see just how and why their designs will be effective or not." When doing research, designers gather information through the use of the internet, interviews with the client and consumer, a companies previous print/web materials, and competitions' materials. If you find yourself researching a single individual (probably attractive) through the means of Facebook and Google maps then I would say you are probably just stalking. Once you know your target audience, you need to figure out how you are going to communicate to them.

As human technology has evolved, so has the way we communicate. This has made it both easier and harder as graphic designers to communicate with a target audience. Easier because now you can put something up online and thousands of people from all over the world can see it but also harder because there are so many different applications and programs that designers need to know. Are you going to be asked to design a new magazine ad, website, iphone app, ...ect. According to Mobile Metrics firm Admob, "half of iPhone users buy at least one app a month."

I myself am not an expert when it comes to what the latest technical advancements are and how they might affect me, but I know that change is inevitable. You can either jump on board otherwise it may be time to choose a different profession. I almost feel like graphic design is merging with computer programming which I had never imagined when I joined the design program 5 years ago. I know that it isn't exactly the case, but it appears like that is where things are heading. I can see it 5-10 years from now where so many designers know how to program that it will become the expected standard.

In the end, effective communication comes from understanding the audience and then having the ability to utilize the tools necessary to communicate with that audience. The tools will continue to change as will target audiences. The life of a graphic designer is very variable which, overall, should be good for us because as creatives we probably dislike the stable and mundane.

On today's episode of Oprah (3/3/10), Lisa Ling travels around the world searching for what "beauty" means to people of different nations. In China she steps foot into the world's first Barbie store located in Shanghai. She speaks to two Chinese girls (ages 8 and 9) and asks which ones they like the most. Without hesitation they both point to a Caucasian doll. Lisa asks if they would buy a Chinese doll, the girls reply 'No, we like the blue eyes'. So what does this have to do with design? A closer look allows for plenty of interpretations but one cannot deny the impact that design has made, whether directly or unconsciously, to people's ideals of the world and their surroundings.

China is a wonderful example to use to show how the media/design can impact the views and beliefs of people and children. In the last decade China has opened its' doors to the outside world and seen a drastic change especially when it comes to the world of "beauty". 10 years ago "every man, woman and child was required to dress in masculine, military-style uniforms. Any display of femininity - like long hair, makeup or jewelry - was strictly forbidden. If a woman broke the rules, she faced severe punishment." Today, beauty is the fourth-biggest industry in China. Dr. Sun Baoshan, a plastic surgeon at Ninth People Hospital, one of the nation's largest hospital, states "Four years ago, we had 30,000 surgeries per year here, but last year we had 40,000 cosmetic surgeries at this hospital alone. This year it will be 50,000." He also states that one of the most in demand procedure is the eyelid reshaping surgery, "which reshapes the smaller Asian eyelid into a larger, more Western shape."

Children grow up looking up to their parents. We see how they learn what is acceptable and what isn't based on their parent's beliefs. So with 50,000 Chinese adults getting cosmetic surgery at one hospital to look more "western", it is no surprise that Chinese children of today grow up believing that the "western" look is ideal and attractive. I mean the adults around them are striving to achieve that look right? So to a child's mind, that look is what is needed to be beautiful. This not only stands alone in China, but we've seen how the western world itself has conflictions within its' own society as models and entertainers are seen everywhere and being compared to.

So what role does a designer play in this issue? Ultimately, it is a client's decision as to who and what is needed to promote a product but one can argue that it is the designer who creates what "beauty" is. Design plays a bigger role in society, even when it comes to children, then we think. It's like a domino effect. A client wants to sell something, a designer designs it, the adult population takes in the information that is being handed to them then make decisions based on their interruptions and lastly, a child looks to the adults of his/her world and molds their views to agree with them. One has to question, if the Chinese media wasn't so bombarded with Western looks, would those young girls be more willing to buy Chinese dolls?

Oprah episode on 3/3/10

Awareness can be summarized as perception, feelings or a sense of understanding (1). Awareness is central to the role that designers play, as we are constantly trying to inform, sway and connect with our audience. Awareness has other correlations however. It can serve in both the financial realm of marketing a product or service, as well as the ethical realm in the form of personal and social knowledge.

When looking critically at awareness, we can realize that it is one of the steps towards bringing change (2.) Individuals need to be made knowledgeable about a topic before they can become enticed to act on it. The question then is how do we as designers bring social issues into the public consciousness. As professional communicators, we can use our considerable visual voice to draw attention to issues or proponent groups of these issues.

Past and current examples of the awareness brought about by design are numerous. One example can be seen during the AIDS crisis in the 1990's. What started off as ignorance, exploded into a public panic, and later, much misconception. Graphic designers and artists created emotionally connective campaigns featuring education, prevention and hope (3.) These campaigns hoped to use stirring images to put a human face on the crisis and ease people into knowledge and away from fear.
(Keith Haring, 1989.)

This tradition of designer as AIDS informer can be seen today in the Product(RED) campaign. Product(RED) is the teaming-up of various retail centers who offer specially branded products who's proceeds go to support the African AIDS crisis. Throughout this campaign, a hip and engaging logo as well as trendy and bold design work brings attention to the African AIDS movement, as well as Product(RED) merchandise that supports the cause.

Being inspired by these powerful awareness campaigns is easy. These designers both past and present created a strong connection between the viewer/consumer and the message, forcing us to think about issues we might otherwise ignore. The real question is what is stopping us from using our talents in communication and our visual voice to a larger degree?

1.) Mirriam-Webster Online

2.) "Why Change Happens: Ten Reasons,"

3.) AIDS Prevention (1988-1990)

Toxicity is the word my world is going to revolve around for the time being, and I am 100% positive that we can all agree that toxicity is bad; bad for the environment (my category), bad for humans (that will be you and me, unless you're not human), and even bad for finances (the other end of the spectrum). The way I see it is that you can either design a product (product being a print piece, a package, or an actual device like a car) that has little to none toxic materials or affects in it which will most likely cost more than making the same product with the toxic materials (though not necessarily the case), or you can spend a lot of money later down the line to clean up the toxic material side effects, which is where we are now with global warming and landfills etc, so in the long run we pay either way. It's kind of hard to talk about toxicity without talking about recycling, deforestation, energy, pollution, or waste, but toxicity guided my research, it's just too hard to keep it all to the one word topic and find supporting facts and statistics that present the issues from the toxicity perspective.

I know when I say toxic waste you automatically think nuclear plant waste or hazardous waste, dead batteries, or mercury liquid in dead appliances and now light bulbs (which is kind of an oxymoron since those light bulbs are suppose to be better for the environment and yet they are toxic as well, go figure). But what I am referring to for the most part, in this blog post, is Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Dioxins.

" VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions. Some health effects are eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness." ~United States Environmental Protection Agency

"Dioxins are environmental pollutants. Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential. Experiments have shown they affect a number of organs and systems. Once dioxins have entered the body, they endure a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored in the body. Their half-life in the body is estimated to be seven to eleven years. In the environment, dioxins tend to accumulate in the food chain. The higher in the animal food chain one goes, the higher is the concentration of dioxins. Dioxins are mainly by products of industrial processes but can also result from natural processes, such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires. Dioxins are unwanted by products of a wide range of manufacturing processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides." ~ World Health Organization


Since we are designers and end up doing a lot of printing, I'll focus on paper and printing. Time for some straight up facts brought to you by The State of the Paper Industry, a report published (on-line) today by the Environmental Paper Network, working together to support socially and environmentally sustainable transformations within the pulp and paper industry. summary found at the Daily Green

  1. First fact, the average American consumes (they make it sound like we eat it) 700 pounds of paper each year.
  2. Forests store 50% of the world's terrestrial carbon. (In other words, they hold onto carbon pollution that would otherwise lead to global warming.)
  3. tasmania-toxic-pulp-mill.jpg
  4. Half the world's forests have already been cleared or burned, and 80% of what's left has been seriously degraded.
  5. The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries.
  6. landfill_2.jpg
  7. Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).
  8. Municipal landfills account for one third of human-related methane emissions (and methane is 23-times more potent a greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide).
  9. If the United States cut office paper use by just 10% it would prevent the emission of 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases -- the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road.
  10. Compared to using virgin wood, paper made with 100% recycled content uses 44% less energy, produces 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 41% less particulate emissions, 50% less wastewater, 49% less solid waste and -- of course -- 100% less wood.
  11. In 2003, only 48.3% of office paper was recovered for recycling.
  12. Printing and writing papers use the least amount of recycled content -- just 6%. Tissues use the most, at 45%, and newsprint is not far behind, at 32%.

I went through a lot of different resources gathering information, facts, and opinions. One source Claims - and facts - about environmental concerns: what magazine publishers should know about paper, inks and polybags even claims that recycling materials for producing paper isn't all that environmental friendly, and when you think about the process such materials have to go through to become ready t be made into paper I have to agree.

"Generally, the further that the source of the waste material is from virgin fiber, the more processing steps--separating, screening, washing, deinking or bleaching--are required, which all entail higher costs and energy use.

To make recycled fine paper, post-consumer and some pre-consumer wastepaper requires deinking and removal of impurities, which in turn generates waste products, such as sludge. The wastepaper also needs a bleaching process for whiteness. Both the sludge disposal and bleaching demand strict controls because of environmental concerns.

Ink removal from printed wastepaper results in a significant yield loss in small fibers, as well as ink and minerals mixed with water. This mixture (or sludge) can be equivalent in volume to as much as 50 percent of the initial amount of wastepaper. Disposal of sludge can be expensive and the subject of strict environmental controls due to the presence of contaminants, like heavy metals and chlorinated organics. It would be much less costly and more environmentally friendly to use old fine paper for applications such as newspaper, tissue and box board."

Though I am not certain what kind of source this information/opinion is based from, it still makes sense. Other sources talked about alternative materials to wood for paper making. Paper Chase by Sam Martin


Like hemp (which is illegal to grow in the U.S. so we have to import it),


agricultural waste or Agri-pulp (wheat, oat, barley and other crop stalks left over after harvesting, combined with recycled paper and other fillers),


and Kenaf a hibiscus plant -- an annual, non-wood fiber plant related to okra and cotton -- is native to central Africa and can grow up to 18 feet tall in a four -to-five month season. Like hemp, Kenaf is naturally whiter than wood and can be bleached with hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine.

This source states that "the major reasons paper mills are hesitant to convert to using kenaf or hemp to make paper is because they are not set up to process anything except trees. Converting a paper mill to process these wood pulp alternatives would cost tens of millions of dollars and major coordination with their suppliers and customers."

As you can see paper is more than just a piece of paper. So what can we do about all of this? It seems our best bet is to reuse, reduce, and recycle. We can also select FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council), chlorine-free paper for your print jobs and office printers, use paper with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled fiber, your goal is 100%. As you can see by fact 8 using recycled paper will have a great positive impact on the environment, but the process of recycling may have some draw backs, so we can push for alternative paper sources like the ones mentioned here and an improvement of the production process to reduce and eliminate VOCs and dioxins from paper and pulp mills, and maybe in our lifetime we will be able to use paper that has only positive effects on the environment from start to finish.

244176_f520.jpgWish I could find the original source for this, or at least a higher resolution.

Some good resources to check out to help you on your way to becoming a greener designer:

Monadnock Field Guide (Eco-Friendly Print) available in pdf format

What's in Your Paper make sure you watch the youtube clip

Barefoot Press

And that's just the paper; check my next post for the breakdown on inks.

all images are linked to their sources

The term status covers many aspect of design. On a personal level, status as a designer might determine how well know you are. One's design status also opens or closes design opportunities. However, another way to look at status is what you have to do to get there, what sacrifices does one have to make to become a great designer? Status raises the question of what it means to be great/famous and what one has to do to get there.

As we draw closer and closer to graduation, the process of compiling a portfolio and job searching has become a top priority. As we look at our portfolios, we look for things that will make us stand out; things that we think look great. The creation of great things does not stop once we land our first jobs, but continues throughout our time as a designer, on a venture to become "famous". However, the way which we define "famous" varies. One might define famous as well or widely known on the other hand, it might be defined as first-rate or excellent. As designers, I believe, we believe in a highbred version of famous, one that makes us well known for excellent work. This pursuit of status opens the doors as we look to move up in the design work force. However, our pursuit of having high status does not come with out cost. As Rochelle mentioned in class, along with several speakers, most design jobs require long hours and tight deadlines - this, to most, is a sacrifice of our personal lives.

Design status does not come without cost, cost of time and personal life. This is a cost some are willing to give, others not so much. However, to be a great/famous designer is a status opportunity that opens many doors for our future. To some, status is very important, to others so is time at home. As designers we must seek our own happy ground, if at all possible.

8 Common Graphic Design Myths Revealed

The Creative World At Work

Social competitiveness is one of the most important motivators in our classes today. Without competition I feel the work produced in our classes wouldn't be as thoughtful or distinguished as we are putting out now. An immediate example is the 'o-tern' internship at Olson Advertising firm downtown. Two designers for Olson spoke in our Portfolio class a few weeks ago, and invited us all to apply for the internship program they are offering this summer. I know of at least 4 classmates are applying for the program, as well as myself, and as much as I love them, I so badly want to get the position over them. The social competition is driving my want/need to do well, and succeed in my application process.

I discovered a yearlong study done by the Korea Institute of Design assessing "competitiveness among countries" and I found the whole study interesting how they found a way to assess competitiveness among countries. They assessed public, industrial and civilian design sectors. In general, more developed countries did better than underdeveloped economies. I feel that the United States often looks to Europe for advice, and that European counties often are "better" than the US in health, style, and design and according to this study, the United States better step up it's design abilities in order to stay in competition with Europe.

Good, healthy competition is good for everyone, but especially designers. As practiced so often in design firms to 'win' a client in the original project presentation, we are competing against other firms and our peers in a healthy way. AIGA often holds design competitions to help emerging, current, and excelling designers get their names out there and make their work seen by other professionals and admirer.

     Posting, sharing, uploading practically any sort of content on the web is a risky decision. With hundreds of millions of people around the world using the Internet every day, there is no doubt that thieves of every age, race, or gender, will get their hands on copyright material and either call it their own, use them for profit, or distribute in several means without consent or permission. It shouldn't be a surprise that most of these materials are consisted of video media, photographs, and all kinds of designed work from website layouts, to pieces of art, to even images that are part or from a designer's portfolio item. What is being done to prevent these web robberies, how does it affect us, and where does society draw the line?

    The most stolen piece of art on the web are images and, people like photographers, have started to imprint their photos with watermarks to prevent these problems. Designers of all sorts have also started to watermark their works. However, as a man named Robert in his blog said (, this does not stop places like "Chinese clone shops from helping themselves." Not just that, but anyone could ultimately reproduce or make their own hand copy of your exact work, even if your image is watermarked and reduced to a very low quality jpeg. Because designers, artists, photographers, and even writers and filmmakers, have begun to think more critically about this dangerous security issue, they have also turned into making some of their works more private as well by using Premium-member websites or limiting the way to obtain them.

    But there are no cops online. One way or another, many people find their way around web barriers. When this happens, the unfortunate ones that had work stolen from them are doomed to either never even realize it or one day they'll find out and then they have to go through an entire legal process to fix it if they care enough to do it. The hard work artists and designers put into their pieces is reproduced, copied, or simply stolen and used freshly without their consent. Even works that are based on your work can be considered a copyright infringement, as explained by the senior editor of, Brian Sherwin. Somewhere, someone out there, is getting away with other people's works in their portfolio, selling pirated movies, games, and e-books, or illegally using a photographer's images to create their own work.

   Where then, does society draw the line? It depends because most of us are guilty for illegally downloading a song, a movie, or even an e-book. However, it's a different situation than stealing the other form of mediums. Most of that most don't generate profit from those files, nor do they post it publicly on the web for others to access. It can be said that it's just one of the imperfect and unrestrained human nature to try to obtain some things for free. Stealing is stealing, but society's opinion on drawing the line for stealing music and movies is very thin only because we all do it. Although there is no exact answer, it could also be said society does draw a thicker line when it comes to being dishonest and to the unmorally attempts to copy and sell online content maybe because we're all possible victims and of course, we're not on a million-dollar salary such as movie producers and singers. But that's another issue. 

    In the end, though, of course designers, writers, and all kinds of other artists, are at risk at all times no matter what they do to prevent web robberies. But the fact that the Internet is so large can go both ways: millions of people are actively browsing the web, and one may be lucky to be well known enough to the point where someone will stumble upon a copyright infringement of their work and then thus be told about it. The "online society," which is consisted of everyone that ever uses the Internet in the world, has to basically look out for each other.


Recyclability is a huge buzzword in all industries today. However, do we really know what is meant by "recycled product" or the question of "what is the recyclability of this product?" There are a lot of different aspects of recycling that the average consumer (or designer) doesn't really understand. This post will look at a few of the most common terms that are used when considering recycling and how they might relate to us as designers.

There are few important things to know about recycling as both a consumer and a designer. A big question often attached to recycling is "is this product biodegradable?" This is an important question because by definition a product is biodegradable if it can be broken down by organisms into basic elements such as water and carbon dioxide. If a product is not biodegradable it takes an extremely long time to decompose in a landfill. Non-biodegradable products are much less socially responsible but can present a higher cost of production for a company. Another commonly heard term is "recycled content" and this is often the term that is plastered on packaging and products to inform consumers that the company is environmentally responsible. Recycled Content is any portion of a product that contains materials recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream during the manufacturing process or after consumer use. Many paper products are labeled as 100% recycled content, however that does not mean that 100% of the content was already used by a consumer with a different intended use and then recycled into a new product. Any product that has already served its original, intended use is called post consumer material. The more post consumer material a company can use in a product the more it says about how environmentally responsible they are trying to be.

While knowing recycling terms aren't necessarily directly related to design it is important to be educated about what the terms mean. As a designer we may or may not come into contact with these terms and be expected to know what they mean. With recycling being such a huge buzzword in industries today being educated about what is meant by the terms is the first and most important step in understanding and properly implementing recycling.

A good link with other terms about recycling (not specifically related to design):

Before this blog, I'd never heard the term "Third Age". I actually had to go look up the definition. I learned that "Third Age" is a term for the retired or elderly phase of a person's life. I guess you learned something new everyday.

But beyond the definition; what is the Third Age really about?
There's the good parts... Being retired (hopefully). The kids are out of the house. More freetime. A busier social life. Time to pick up hobbies. Spoiling the grandkids. And getting a sweet discount at Perkins. :)
But there's also the not-so-good parts... Less energy? Failing eyesight? Arthritis? Getting sick? Trouble getting around? Living alone?

A huge chunk of the population (the Baby Boomers--our parents) approaching their Third Age during next few decades. This means that the issues they face, the ways their lives change, and things they need/want will become a huge priority. And in many cases their changing lives, problems, and needs will be the job of the working generation--our generation--to address.

So now... how does this relate to design?

Well, a big part of it will be learning to design for people with physical problems that come with age. This includes problems like poor vision, mobility, and motor functions. Right now, designing to accommodate or ease these problems isn't the biggest priority. It seems to be more an act of kindness, rather than a requirement. It also seems to only be addressed in settings where it's really necessary (like nursing homes, hospitals, ect.) But when all the baby boomers have reached that age, it will become a priority. The number of people over the age of 65 is going to double in the next 25 years. Both for social reasons and economic reasons, design will need to keep up with them. (But I'll save the economic ones for another blog post.)

For example, I found an article that talked about design typography for people with vision impairments. I know many of us designers love our delicate, small point-size type. Well, that's a big no-no. Colored type on a colored background? No way. Italic type? Not so wise. Pretty, decorative typefaces? Don't even think about it. We as designers are going to have to realize we won't always have the luxury of making it pretty. We'll have to make it work.

Another article made a really interesting point. This generation probably isn't going to handle being "old" the way previous generations did. They're going to demand something much more stylish than your grandma's chunky, black orthopedic shoe. You know the ones I mean. They're not so stylish. And the baby-boomers won't think so either. So not only will they need design to meet their needs, they need design that is just as impressive as the stuff for the younger folks. Because of their sheer numbers, they'll be able to demand it. And if companies still want baby-boomer dollars rolling in, they'll need to have good-looking, quality, well-designed Third Age design flowing out.

But in almost all cases, designs that make information and products accessible Third Age individuals will make them more accessible to everyone. For example, OXO Good grips were designed for people with arthritis. But their ergonomic design made them easier to everyone to use. And because they're so attractively designed, today they're even used by professional chefs and can be found in almost every kitchen. So in lots of cases, the emphasis on good design for the Third Age will result in good design for everyone.

So start thinking about design for the Third Age.



Aries Arditi, Ph.D. Designing for People with Partial Sight.

Product Design for the Elderly.

A website all about design for people with vision impairments.

I ran across this entry on a tumblr blog I follow, that was talking about great web hosting deals.

Here's the body of the post copied-and-pasted here (but go check out the humanmachine blog):

special promotion for broke college students (and anybody, really): order a domain and get a year of web hosting for 8 bucks. the domain can be .com, .net or .org. (use coupon code: 10003BPM)

the free web hosting package offered won't power a huge site, but it's great to start playing around with minimal commitment. 100mb storage is plenty for static sites and small blogging adventures. the small storage size will also reinforce the importance of optimizing your media for the web. the rest of the hosting package is pretty standard: 1 gig transfer, 10 emails and supports multiple domain names. it also has cpanel, which is my favorite back-end interface for working with website settings.

so hey, eight bucks, and you'll have the full package. everything else you'll need to start learning web stuff is free. you can grab some excellent (open source/free) typefaces at the league of moveable type, install wordpress to try your hand at blogging, and hit up smashing magazine for ideas and tutorials.

go learn yourself somethin' new!

To sumerize: You register a domain-name with them, they give you a whole year's worth of free hosting. The domain registration looks like it only costs 8 bucks. Nice deal if you just want a little space on the web for yourself.

But go to that humanmachine blog post because she also links to some other great resources.

In season 5, episode 1 titled, "Fizz Ed," in response to the proposal for the marketing of a cola brand in Lawndale High, Daria asks the principle "Do you really think a public high school should be using its status as a place of authority to serve as one more marketing tentacle of corporate America with the taxpayers subsidizing it?" Daria agrees with the author of No Logo, Naomi Klein, that the individual has a right to unbranded space, especially in an educational institution. (1) Naomi Klein, a well-established Canadian writer who writes on topics dealing with corporate globalization, is an advocate for the importance of 'quasi-sacred' space, space that is free from financial purpose. We are in a pioneering and rapidly growing time of globalization and I feel as emerging designers we have the responsibility to be constantly considering the ethics and possible outcomes in a economy dependant on mass marketing, whether that marketing is in print, interactive web design, or projections on a building.

Post-modernism, starting around the 1960's, is different from Modernism, Transcendentalism, Romanticism, and other collective intellectual movements in that we are in a time where the individual is much more complicated than ever before and takes on infinite identities, whether it is on a personal, local, national, or abstract level. Throughout our day we are constantly hit with marketing that speaks to these many identities. Ad agencies are interested in 'expanding their market' to new identities or personas. While they may believe they are speaking to already constructed personas, I believe it is marketing campaigns that actually do much of the constructing. The individual in today's capitalist society is overwhelmed with advertisement, yet completely dependent on the stimulus it provides. The increase in stimulus in a day may not necessarily be a bad thing, for according to author of 'Everything Bad for you is Good for You' this actually allows for a more intellectual society.

In my opinion, in this type of high-stimulus society, the individual can ether observe and react in a positive way through reaction and the formation of opinions, or the individual can be overwhelmed and consumed by the marketing so they end up like corporate zombies.

In 2007 Sao Paulo, the world's 4th largest city, outlawed outdoor advertising under the "Lei Cidade Limpa" or "Clean City Law." (3) The mayor said it was for environmental reasons but also describes the advertising as visual pollution. "We decided that we should start combating pollution with the most conspicuous sector - - visual pollution." I believe it is important to consider what might mean 'too much' advertising and what sort of negative reaction might be made by the observer.

So what as designers can we take from this information? I believe it is important to be aware of our increasing 'branded space" due to the post-modern individual's infinite identities, therefore infinite demographics and target markets. I believe it is important to consider that because of increased stimulus from advertising corporate societies are becoming more intelligent and able to formulate opinions easier, meaning advertising and design work should be intelligent as well. It is important for designers to be constantly learning and viewing the world in retrospect, for unintelligent designs either offend the intellectual individual or further polarize the zombies.

I got to quote Daria and use the word, 'zombies' in this post, I'd say it was successful.

(2) Johnson, Steven. Everything Bad is Good for You. Riverhead

\pə-ˈlü-shən\ : the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects

I believe that as designers we have a responsibility to ourselves to use our powers doing something we really care about. Hopefully that means doing something that will positively impact those around us. One of the biggest issues today that we will definitely have to face throughout our careers is environmentally friendly design. In respect to my word, pollution, this means everything from using energy efficient computers to printing with non-toxic inks to just printing less.

Becoming aware of and limiting the amount of pollution we cause with our designs will create innovative products that can set precedents for others in our field. For example, SunChips is now using completely biodegradable packaging (1). Hopefully, this will encourage their competitors to also look for ways to decrease the pollution their products cause. I realize it will be a slow change that is coming much to late, but bringing about sustainable design now will keep you ahead of the pack-plus making you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Another example of how decreasing pollution is fueling innovation is the Bloom Box, which, although still pretty secretive, seems like an actual solution in the future of clean energy (2). Google was the first to try it out, followed by other massive companies such as Fed-Ex and Wal-Mart. Ebay saved over $100,000 in its first 9 months of use. There are tons more examples of other designers creating groundbreaking products with tons of money to be made. I don't think that environmental protection and financial stability are on opposite ends of the spectrum anymore. The green revolution is here to stay and we would be wise to drive our designs in that direction now.


My word is quality. With the word quality, I think of customers who determine a products quality on the way it looks, but then there are those who buy certain products just based on its service quality. I have learned this from the way I shop, but also from the way my mother and others close to me shop. Quality distinguishes products from their competitors. As designers, it is extremely important for our designs to have the highest quality because when you have high quality design, more people will want to work with you.

Brad, from General Mills, came by and one of the students suggested that changing the shape could be beneficial to their products. Brad proved this was wrong because General Mills had tried it before and he also showed us why. He drew a tall box and we all referred to it as cereal. He then drew a shorter box and we referred that to a granola box or some other product similar in packaging. The point is, when the quality of the box is changed customers might think they aren't getting what they pay for, causing the company to lose money. The cereal box has never changed and once it changes in drastic fashion, customers question its service. Will the new shape meet their expectations? Will the freshness of the cereal last less if size and shape change? Our perceptions of a cereal box have always known it as one shape. Some packaging can be changed, but cereal will not change because we are used to the way it has always been.

Technology has come a long way and there are no signs of it slowing down. Apple is a popular choice for college students. However, the thing I want to focus on is Apple's iTouch and how its quality of service has drawn in many customers. You can use the internet, check your email, buy music, add game applications for entertainment and many other things. It's everything you need in the palm of your hand minus a phone. As an iTouch owner, there are thousands of applications, ranging from games to social media. It's great to have for music use and the ability to go online makes it even better. That being said, it isn't perfect. According to Walter Mossberg, "It's the first iPod model I've ever tested that fell significantly short, in my tests, of Apple's battery-life claims. It's also the first iPod that lacks any physical buttons for controlling music playback" (1). Yes, its battery-life does not last as long as they say it does and the touch screen takes some getting used to, but it's still a great tool to have. Its quality may not be perfect, but nothing is technically perfect. If everything were perfect then we wouldn't have to improve ourselves and the tools around us. New inventions have given us the ability to learn from our mistakes, both in our own design work and in technology. We improve the quality of our work and Apple improves the quality of their products. Why? So they meet our clients and their customers expectations. That's why the iTouch has become one of the best solutions for playing music. defines quality as: "an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute" (2). We, the designers, all want our work to have something that distinguishes ours from others. We want our clients to be wowed by what we have made for them. Most importantly, we want our designs to last a long time whether it's for a huge corporation or for a single person. Our design work is our life and it may not always be spectacular, but as long as it does what it's supposed to do then it will be successful.



It is difficult to define the word "fun" for graphic designers hold their own personal preference and idea of what fun entails. Fun could mean one thing to one designer and something entirely different to another. The online article, "Emotional design: why we love (or hate) everyday things" by Donald Norman describes a side of design I found to be very intriguing. Throughout this article, Norman describes his view on three very different designs of a teapot and why each hold their own importance whether functional or purely a sculptural piece. Norman states, "Design is important to me, but which design I choose depends on the occasion, the context, and above all, my mood" (1). He goes on to describe how design is heavily tied to our emotions, and how individuals are drawn to certain designs depending on its aesthetic, usability, and practicality. So what is the definition of "fun"? This article describes it as a means of how an individual feels while using the product because, "Sure, utility and usability are important, but without fun and pleasure, joy and excitement...our lives would be incomplete" (1).

Along with the teapots, Norman describes a number of other designed products. Throughout his article he reflects on how individuals feel while using or viewing a product. For example, BMW's Mini Cooper was described not for its efficiency, but rather focused on its aesthetic. The New York Times stated, "...almost no new vehicle in recent memory has provoked more smiles" (1). This quote explains how consumers have the ability to bypass usability for aesthetics because of their emotional instinct. Therefore, because the Mini Cooper is so appealing and fun to look at, individuals have chosen to ignore the flaws of the product because it makes them feel good.

Human beings are the most emotional animals alive where our emotions aid in how we make decisions. For example, the article explains happiness as an aid to creative thinking. The article describes, "...being happy broadens the thought processes and facilitates creative thinking" (1). In a study, individuals were asked to solve a problem requiring "out of the box" thinking. One group of individuals was given a small gift to make them feel good whereas the other group didn't receive anything. As a result, the individuals that were given the gift performed significantly better and gave creative solutions for the problem. Therefore, when people feel good and are having fun, they become more creative.

Fun is a difficult concept to fully understand as graphic designers. What constitutes fun? Who should be having the fun...the designers or the consumers? What does fun entail? Defining the word fun is almost impossible because there are so many ways to view such a simple concept. Throughout his article, Norman describes how designs are heavily tied to our emotions. It appears that when a product is aesthetically pleasing, we are not only drawn to it because it welcomes an emotion of happiness and fun, but it also aids to our well-being.

(1) Norman, Donald. Emotional design: why we love (or hate) everyday things.

Retrieved from


(2) Hout, Marco. Design and Emotion. Retrieved from

As graphic designers, we can also be considered visual communicators. The way we use color, type, and the images we create or manipulate all contribute to the visual representation of an idea or message we are communicating. When considering my term, disability, the first thing I thought of was designing for the visually impaired. So often we consider the readability and legibility of a our designs by carefully selecting a readable size for the typography, making sure the color of the typeface in relation to the background is easy to read, and so on and so forth. But what about those who are partially and completely visually impaired?

In our society, a lot of information is conveyed by sight. Information is often graphic which raises the question, how does it work for people with sensory disabilities? Do blind people have access to visual information? Although they have access to the written culture, thanks to braille, how does it work with images?
This question was the starting point of a research project carried out within eyewear company Alain Mikli International ( This project has the following industrial objectives: conceive an exhibition of modern and contemporary paintings for visually-impaired people inside a French museum. The statement "Do not touch" is very common within art museums, making the works on display only available to visually sighted people. To make museums accessible to people with visual disabilities, tactile visits, targeting visually impaired, are organized. Tactile visits make the works visual information accessible by touch by exploring the original works, or their reproductions, tactile maps, scale models, and tactile pictures. Before Alain Miklis' exhibition was implemented, the pictorial works were presented verbally by a lecturer, thus bringing the visually-impaired audience and museum a new mediation tool. By expanding its' accessibility, the museum shows that accessibility for people with disabilities is a current social issue. While this was great for Mikli to provide in a French museum, more commonly, visually impaired people must rely solely on verbal communication to experience the visually communicated world.

Since it is not feasible to translate our designs into tactile pictures for those who are completely blind, what is our social responsibility for making our designs accessible for the visually impaired?
In "Designing for People with Partial Sight", an article by Aries Arditi, Ph.D., basic guidelines for making effective legibility choices that work for nearly everyone are laid out. (Designing for People with Partial Sight) Many of these guidelines are rules that we are all well aware of and have been taking into consideration when making all of our design considerations. Personally, I think more about these guidelines after acknowledging the age range of my target audience. I think it is very common to think of increasing the size of our typography when a design is going to be viewed by older people but I can never think of a time we we've talked about taking visually impaired people, who come in all ages, into consideration. Say we are working for a client who likes a decorative purple font on a glossy black background; all things that decrease the legibility for visually impaired people. Is it our social responsibility as designers to step in and change the design completely, changing the entire look and feel to make is more accessible to everyone? I think that currently, it is socially accepted that visually impaired people won't be able to read everything, thus not often being a large consideration in the design process. That is not to say that designers aren't constantly thinking about the legibility of their work, but there are definitely design decisions that trump adhering to the limited guidelines which make documents accessible to the visually impaired.

While some companies, like Mikli, are taking action to make visual arts accessible to the visually impaired, it seems as though it is an issue not commonly addressed. The majority of people we design for can see fine but considering the visually impaired is something we should also take into consideration. Whether this be our social responsibility as designers, or the social responsibility of the client we are working for- I'm not sure, but I think it is important that we use our design knowledge to bring awareness to this issue when critiquing and finalizing a design which can hopefully be accessible by people visual disabilities.

Sustainable Packaging

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... A nice site on sustainable packaging.

Let's say my life depended on it -- say, I'm a character in some bizarre existential Czechoslovakian novel -- and I had to quickly put a label on my ideological stance in this world or be killed, I would say that I'm a romantic-realist. I'm not sure if that label would save my life, or elicit a scoff from my strangely cerebral imaginary assailant, but that's what I am. What that means (to me) is that I have a fascination with things that are beautiful, emotive, and perhaps whimsical, but that I am even more enamored with these things when there is a good, solid, well-thought out reason behind them. That means that I enjoy the paintings of DaVinci not just because they are pretty pictures, but because he documented thousands of pages of scientific and anatomical research and graphical studies that guided his paintings. In fact, I probably enjoy looking at the notebooks that chronicled his research more than observing his paintings. The reason I like this logical component of design is because it can make design so powerful.
All design takes planning, and good design often takes some serious research. Done correctly, well-planned and executed design can have a surprising level of impact on every aspect of our lives, even on things as internalized as our own personal physical and psychological health. Such is the power of good design and research.
To prove this point, there is an abundance of data that has been collected on how designers can affect things like the emotional disposition of an individual. In fact, there is a conference every year called the International Conference on Design & Emotion. This conference is centered around the idea that design is so powerful, even simple designed objects and products can have a profound impact on four areas of human emotion: happiness/joy, satisfaction/contentment, anger/irritation, and disappointment/dissatisfaction. Think about it, doesn't the sleek look of that unibody MacBook Pro make us feel contented to use it. Doesn't a well-designed apartment or living space (feng shui is based off of logical framework after all) help us sleep better at night and feel relaxed?
As designers, we wield the ability to affect -- for better or worse -- not just how people feel about a product, but also how they feel about themselves as they interact with a product. For example, many studies have shown that simply the color blue can enhance people's performance and confidence while exercising and lifting weights, whereas certain shades of gray can trigger activity in the the same areas of the brain as thoughts about death, taxes, and disorientation. (2) If you're a smart, informed designer, what color are you going to make that yoga mat?
The more informed we are as designers, the more we can encourage a positive, healthy direction in people's everyday lives. If the designed project is large enough -- say, a large community center, or a top-ten website like google -- every design decision could potentially have a positive and healthy affect on thousands, or millions, of end-users. If we are responsible and informed designers, we can help people in an effort to be mentally and emotionally healthier.

(1) Desmet, P. M. A., & Hekkert, P. (2009). Special issue editorial: Design & emotion. International Journal of Design, 3(2), 1-6.


My key point is Convenience. When I first starting thinking about this word I felt a very negative connotation - laziness. Immediately I was reminded of something my father used to say to me growing up. Whenever I took the easy way out of a situation he would say "Grace, don't be a get-by." This is something I've often reminded myself of when faced with tough decisions - particularly in design. Many times the most convenient design solution is not the best.

When looking for others viewpoints on lazy design, I came across an interview with Jakob Nielson, a web usability consultant. He states, "Lazy design often yields stupid design" (2).

So what is lazy design in terms of Convenience? It's the type of design where creativity is hindered and originality lost. It's that moment where you choose to use a Photoshop brush instead of drawing your own illustration; its that moment where you decide to download a handwritten typeface instead of designing your own. Lazy design allows Convenience to dictate the direction of your project. defines Convenience as "anything that is intended to save resources such as time or energy" (2). Time is probably the most valuable resource to most designers; in fact it is the reason many of us often choose the easy way out. We only have so much time in a day - over a weekend - and in this life. Everyday we must choose where to focus our energy. As designers, we must decide how to balance our work load while still yielding beautiful, innovative work.


During our Design history project, my group was saddled with the task of collecting information about Social Media.

We did out best presenting to you the information we found, but really, we should have just played this video, created by JESS3 for an AIGA Baltimore Feb 2010 event.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from Jesse Thomas on Vimeo.

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