April 2010 Archives

The phrase 'going green' has seen a record number of trademark applications.

It seems as though every company is trying to make its mark on the "green" trend. In 2007 alone, marketers set a all-time record at the the US Patent and Trademark Office, registering over 300,000 green trademarks. Big trends can be tough on the trademark business, and many companies are having a difficult time locking in on the rights to their marks.

By definition, a trademark is a distinctive term that tells consumers that a product or service comes from a single source. The problem is, under the umbrella of "going green" many companies are producing similar, hard-to-distinguish marks.

Not only are companies having a difficult time securing the rights to trademarks, they are also having trouble advertising their pro-environmental viewpoints. Now that many pro-environment and green slogans are being protected, companies are running into copyright or trademark infringement issues.

In December of 2009, Honda released an advertising campaign stating that they wanted to save the earth, one gallon of gasoline at a time. However, in the act of saving the earth, Honda (a Japanese automaker) stepped on a few toes, mainly those of Save the Earth Enterprises, an environmental group based in the United States. Save the Earth Enterprises sued Honda for all profits they received from the recent ad campaign and to stop future use by Honda of the Save the Earth trademark.

Whether a company is trying to secure their own rights to a pro-environment trademark, or simply advertise their environmentally friendly products, the overwhelming number of green trademarks and copyrights, are definitely making things more difficult.


How to Obtain a Green Trademark


The first thing that came to my mind as a topic for this post is how innovation in design could affect the value of companies and brands. However, this seemed somewhat trite and vague for me to write about and for anyone else to read. Design innovations can make money if successful, but they are really a form of change, which could imply positive or negative financial implications for a company. In my previous post on social aspects of innovation I quoted an article by Scott Berkun, discussing innovation versus doing things consistently well. I tend to agree that a focus on doing things well is a good way to have financial success. So, instead of dwelling on that I thought it would be interesting if the rest of my post focused on how differentiation among designers/design companies can be its own form of innovation. I will highlight a few examples of business models or self-marketing decisions that help add diversity to the design business community.

LEGO Design byME (1)
I love toys, and LEGO has always had a special presence in the market. I was surprised to find out that a business direction of theirs now lets someone use free software to design a custom model out of LEGO pieces, as well as its box, and then have it delivered. Here's how they put it:
"Is there something special missing in your LEGO collection? Would you like to add a professional touch to your personal gifts? Now you can make, shape & even order the toy you wish in a box you design yourself." (1). I don't know what kind of financial effect this has for the company, but it is a really logical direction for their growth taking advantage of software and online ordering. The LEGO image is one of customization, and this takes it further than was previously possible.

MAKE Magazine (2)
This magazine (now 22 volumes) caters to do-it-yourself-ers and tech hobbyists, giving ideas and instructions for how to create devices out of available parts. Given its audience, I'm sure its online presence and community is just as strong as the publication for communicating ways to make stuff for fun.

Kontrapunkt (3)
Kontrapunkt is a Danish design firm that created a self-named typeface. As "a bit of a democratic experiment" (3), they allowed the typeface to be downloaded and used for free. This seems to me like a very generous, and useful, way to market your firm. I'll do my part in the promotion by putting the link right here.

Knock-Down/Drag-Out (KDDO) furniture (4)
Another design business strategy is to create something based on your needs, knowing that other people probably want the same thing. Christopher Douglas "recognized the need for furniture that was easily stowable..." (4), which lead the former advertiser to create a flat-pack line of furniture for people who moved a lot, like him.

These are just a few examples of how doing different things can be an innovative business strategy in design. The more diversity there is, the more likely there will be a spot in the market for a designer or company to settle in and make money.
(1) http://designbyme.lego.com/en-us/FAQ/default.aspx?id=137352
(2) http://makezine.com/
(3) http://www.kontrapunkt.com/en/
(4) Design Life Now. Bloemink, et al. Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York. 2006. pp 82-83.

How I Put My Portfolio Together With Less Than 100 Dollars

Lets talk about finance, more specifically let's talk about financing a portfolio. With a sweet vision and a slim budget I was able to piece together an appealing portfolio that reflected my identity, my style, and my work.

I started out with a vision of my box: an old hard cover suitcase. I ventured to a few antique stores but had no luck. I made my way to my favorite 2nd hand-clothing store, Everyday People and low and behold there was the suitcase of my dreams. It was bright red, big and hard covered, 15 bucks, not too bad.

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Later on I was talking to my boyfriend about what kind of boards I should use, being the highly skilled wood worker that he is, he suggested Masonite. He said we could cut them down to fit the suitcase just right. So we went to Menards and found a large Masonite board for only 8 bucks. And for a six-pack and a Jimmy John's sandwich ($10) Cooper, lovingly, cut out 12 beautiful boards with rounded corners and middle indent for easy accessibility.

IMG_1637.jpgIMG_1639.JPG

At that point I had spent 33 dollars total, I then had to remove the inside lining of the suitcase, it was quilted satin with ruffles (not quite the look I was going for). After which I ventured to wet paint in St.Paul. Wet Paint is conveniently stocked with the finest papers from all over the world and the finest people on that side of the river.

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I brought my suitcase in and a bearded friend and I went through book after book of Japanese, Chinese, Indian and European papers. We finally settled on speckled, retro, linoleum like paper from Japan, for the inside of the suitcase. And a sea foam green paper from who knows where, for the back of the boards. In total it was 18 dollars, leaving me with 49 more dollars to work with.

Next I called Jonathan, who had previously told me about an office max in Roseville that was far more helpful then, any Kinko's. Anyhow I arrived at Office Max only to have my work printed by the nicest young man in the surrounding area and total costs brought me to $22.81. Leaving me with $26.19, not too bad.

All the cutting and adhesive materials I had at home, which goes to show one should never throw anything away because it could be put to good use someday (I guess this can also depend on what that thing is). So before you go and spend 500 dollars on your portfolio, think about reusing, saving money, searching for deals and nice people, and use your resources and friends, responsibly. We are all creative people, and creativity doesn't only to apply to art and design.

A couple weeks ago I attended MinneWebCon and saw a great afternoon keynote called Inclusive Universe by Wendy Chisholm. This was a great presentation shining light on how important it is to consider accessibility within design. I highly recommend watching this video but if you can't, here are some interesting points she brought up that relate to finance.

People with disability make up the 3rd largest market in the U.S., behind baby boomers and seniors; which represents 5 trillion dollars in spending. As designers, it makes a lot of sense for us to design for those with disabilities. Sometimes people are afraid to face the issue of accessibility because of additional costs, but designing with accessibility in mind from the beginning will save money down the road. For example, curb cuts are designed for people in wheelchairs and if they are installed right away, it saves money. If they have to be installed down the road, because designing with disability wasn't thought about, it will cost more money. While curb cuts are designed with disability in mind, others will also benefit from this design because designing for disability increases the abilities of everyone else even more. How great are cut curbs for your awesome rolling backpacks, strollers and skateboards?

In this talk, Wendy also talked a lot about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 defines how to make Web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. These guidelines also make Web content more usable by older individuals with changing abilities due to aging and often improve usability for users in general.

Taking a look over these guidelines and keeping disability in mind when designing websites is very important both socially and financially. There are endless opportunities for innovation when designing for disability. In Wendy's presentation she gives many great examples of innovative designs that have helped disabled people, especially within the web.

carrollfield.jpg

It was a gloomy August afternoon and a seven year old me could not wait to go outside. As it began to rain, my brother and I gave up and slouched into our extra large white couch from the 90s. The day seemed to drag as we both waited for our Dad to get home. As a side note, my Dad is awesome. Throughout the late 80s and early 90s he was the "sports guy" for KARE 11, and practically pioneered what that guy Perk does with Perk at Play.

My back yard was always cut and chalked into some sort of sports field. My backyard was the greatest wiffle ball field on the block for two reasons: 1) It always had the crazy alternating grass stripes that real baseball fields had and 2) My elderly neighbors did not put up much competition. Come fall, Carroll stadium became a scaled down Metrodome - complete with end zone markers and painted pipe goal posts. Eventually, my Dad returned from work that night and suggested we go out and play some football in the rain.

Mud Bowl '93 was not so much an ultimate sporting event as it was an excuse to enjoy the subpar weather. The three of us played football for a couple of hours, eventually covering each other (and our kid sized Vikings equipment) with mud. And as many of you know, getting completely covered in mud is not exactly something Mom's are enthusiastic about. Unfortunately though, this blog post is not about mud. This is about the importance of details, and how much they contribute to our experiences.

Would the experience of Mud Bowl be any different if there weren't yard lines mowed and chalked in my back yard? Probably not, no. But the fact that those insignificant details were in place made it that much more memorable. Both print and web design allow for an innumerable amount of details. One example of almost overwhelming detail is the product page for Transmit 4. The beautifully modeled truck at the top of the page is actually just the icon for the application. I emailed them about it and they said they even modeled the undercarriage of the truck, which no one will ever see. That, is detail.

We are in the business of details. Design is all about putting in the effort to work in details people didn't know they needed. We are the people in charge of chalking the metaphorical backyard wiffle ball field. As a result, my Dad's meticulous attention to detail has been something that has stuck with me and continues to be a huge influence on my own design work.

Designers initially thought hard to make products that worked, that accomplished certain tasks. After that was possible, designers made the products more visually appealing. Your choice of colors, textures, sizes and shapes for whatever product one was seeking. Today, all of that is possible, and people are looking to take the development of new products to the next level. New technology today is being designed not only to work, and not only to look cool...but to be fun and pleasurable to use.

Obviously, computers come to mind first. In the beginning, the fact that they even existed at all was practically a miracle, then we started getting fancy looking computers (candy colored iMacs, or your sleek-silver MacBook Pro). Now there is the iPad, with the biggest draw is the ergonomically satisfying touch screen. Dozens of every day products we use have become more pleasing to hold, turn on, put together, carry around etc. because of more sophisticated design. I really don't look forward to sweeping my kitchen floor, but the wonderful Michael Graves broom and dustpan set in my hands with the soft rubber handles make it a wee bit more enjoyable.

A place where the joy of simply using technology is best put to use is in schools. Remember going to the computer lab in elementary school? We had to play the most basic math-learning games that could have easily be done without a computer, but since we got to answer our questions using a mouse and keyboard instead of pen and paper...it was more tolerable. Today, schools are allowing kids to work on regulated class assignments with their iPod touch. We used to do multiplication equations on small personal whiteboards in 5th grade, now it is only a matter of time before whiteboards will be replaced with iPads.

What happens when the novelty of touch screens, soft hairbrush handles and gratifying signal sounds wears off? How will we get our next sensory fix?

McCrea, Bridget. "Measuring the IPad's Potential for Education." T.H.E. Journal (2010). Web. .

Winston, Eliza. "Technology Makes Lessons Fun, Engaging for F-C Students." Martinsville Bullitin (2010). Web. .

Often times, when one thinks of cost effectiveness and the environment, one thinks of how environmentalism and "going green" cuts into cost efficiency. In certain cases, this might be true, particularly when looking at the issue in terms of pure profits. Limiting your design options to those deemed "environmentally friendly" are often more expensive and more limited than their counterparts. Additionally, as one of our previous speakers mentioned, "green" products often don't work as well as those that are more detrimental to the environment. So if you're looking for the most cost efficient option and getting the most bang for your buck, then what's "green" often doesn't cut it. But have you ever considered the value of the environment? Sure, it may not have a set monetary value, but one could argue that the environment is priceless, and worth a bit more than the slightly higher costs of eco-friendly products. With that said, shouldn't we factor in the environment when determining the cost effectiveness of something?

In an article published by Newsweek, it was revealed that a project commissioned by the G8 collection of environmental ministers, labeled the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, was working to discover the dollar value of certain ecosystems. The results, in my mind, were pretty astounding:

"In one example, the plight of island communities dependent on fish protein and ecotourism can be measured. How? Researchers found that every hectare of coral reef--a modest area of land equal to just under two and a half acres--is worth more than $1 million annually.

...And in another example: it would cost $200 million to replicate the services provided by natural springs in New Zealand."

These are some pretty serious numbers, and it doesn't stop there. In a separate Newsweek article, it's stated that:

"For a keynote speaker at a conference on wilderness conservation, Pavan Sukhdev possessed a strange job title: banker. Sukhdev, a high-ranking executive of Deutsche Bank who helped build India's modern financial markets, had a fiscal message to deliver. The loss of forests is costing the global economy between $2.5 trillion and $4.5 trillion a year, he said. Many trillions more in costs arise from the loss of vegetation to filter water, bees to pollinate crops, microbes to break down toxins, and dozens of other 'ecosystem services.' "

It seems pretty apparent that the environment has a rather significant impact on our economy, but it's also pretty obvious that the human population hasn't been doing the best job taking care of it. So the next time you decide to print off 1,000 copies of that awesome gig poster you designed with 23 shades of green, stop for a second and consider what that means for the environment. From a short-term standpoint, the less environmentally friendly option will probably prove to be a bit more cost effective, but in the bigger picture, the "greener" option will probably work out best for the global economy as a whole.

In the end - and from a cost effectiveness standpoint - it's just not realistic to always be "green," particularly in our line of work. But at the very least, we should all try to factor in what's best for the environment when making decisions, both design and otherwise.

The Birds and the Bees

Environmental Economics

Graphic Designers are like aesthetic dj's. We draw from a whole bunch of different styles for inspiration, our work requires us to research many different cultural images, and we get to combine these styles and images into our own creations. In social marketing, we combine our own ideas and style with those of others to form something that is unique in it's own right. Social marketing in design can mean many things, to me social marketing is basically marketing a product and/or idea in a number of mediums. When people hear the word "social", they think of a continuous interaction between people. With design, I think the meaning of "social" goes beyond just people to people interaction and includes people to technology interaction. It's easier than ever to be social with all the options we have today. The process in which we design on our own is similar to the way that social marketing is done, just on a larger scale. As graphic designers, we will work with many different companies that fit into very different lines of work. The marketing tools that we have available to us will help us understand how to design better. To quote a line from my favorite television show, The Wire, there's a saying amongst the cops, which is, "A cop is only as good as his informants". With design, I think it's fair to say that a designer is only as good as his resources. Lucky for us, there is almost no limit to the resources we have available to use, because of social networks, the internet, and the many different ways there are to get information.

The idea of "social" always makes me think of openness. Because in most social platforms that exist today, the reason they are so successful is because everything is out in the open, it's there to be seen and commented on. It allows for creative expression in a way that has never been easier. But I believe the key thing to remember with social marketing however, is the design shouldn't be persuaded by the social platforms. I look at a lot of design blogs online for inspiration and I am amazed at how inspiring it is to use those social platforms and see great design work. There is so much of it out there that looks cool, that it's easy to go from one awesome idea to the next. This act of going from one cool design to the next is a great example of how we should all be using our social resources. Sure what we're looking at right now is cool, but we need to be thinking about how we can make our own designs the next cool thing to be looking at. The real power of social marketing is that it pushes us to be better. Social marketing allows people to share what they think is cool, and we then, can take that and run with it.

Environmental concerns and affordability are linked in many ways. Primarily, in the minds of most consumers, these ties are evident in the cost of energy. Affordability is heralded as a reason to save energy, and used as an excuse by those who oppose the development of renewable power sources. I would argue, however, that our long-term needs are best served on both the environmental and economic fronts by a single course of action. Specifically, reduced consumption paired with an increased focus on renewable energy - driven by carbon trading - can minimize our environmental impact while improving energy affordability.

Reducing consumption is the simplest and most obvious piece to this puzzle. Even with no 'greening' of our energy production portfolio (this region of the country gets almost three quarters of its electricity from coal - well above the national average), reduced energy usage lowers our carbon emissions and cuts our energy spending (1). Remember your elementary school environment lessons: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That's not just a list, it's a hierarchy. Reduced consumption is the single best thing you can do for the planet and your pocketbook.

The picture gets a bit more complicated when we turn to the idea of increasing the proportion of 'renewable' energy entering the grid. It costs money to adopt new energy technology, and oftentimes it also costs more per kilowatt hour to produce that renewable energy than to continue using fossil fuels (at least at the outset) (2). The concept of carbon trading is one of the ways to influence market conditions so that they favor green energy. Carbon trading, simply put, places a set price on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted. This allows companies who lower their emissions to, in effect, sell that carbon to someone who wants to pollute more. This provides an economic incentive to reduce emissions.

Australia is currently implementing the beginnings of a carbon trading system that has been in the works for several years, and a report commissioned by The Climate Institute suggests that, although there will be an initial increase in energy costs because of the price placed on pollution (alliteration, you're welcome), the overall effect will be one of greater energy affordability (3). That effect, combined with the increased impetus for conservation of energy, will result in a net positive, both environmentally and economically.


(1) http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/how-clean.html
(2) http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local
(3) Hatfield-Dodds, S. and R. Denniss, 2008, Energy Affordability, Living Standards and
Emissions Trading: Assessing the social impacts of achieving deep cuts in Australian
greenhouse emissions. Report to The Climate Institute, June 2008. CSIRO Sustainable
Ecosystems, Canberra.

As most of us are only a few weeks away from the inevitable change of being protected from the burdens of life by college, I think it is worth talking about what we are designing for. I would say immediately, my word being communication, that we communicate to the public for clients. That is our job. But how much of ourselves are put into our designs and what happens when we are designing for causes or companies we personally don't support or think are immoral. Do we have a greater calling to represent ourselves over clients in these cases and how much is it worth standing up and saying "I refuse to help spread or improve this companies business."

So far the majority of design work has been strictly school work. This enables us to do whatever we want. We choose our audience, the product (most of the time), the voice, and everything else. This is different, as we all realize from actual life, where our clients tell us who they are, who their voice is, and what products they sell. We will all start out working under an art director or in a team of sorts so you would think we would have little control on what projects we get. What if we get assigned a project of completely revamping a strip clubs image and doing all of their advertising work? Or take for instance myself. I am a Roman Catholic. What do I do if I am assigned to work on an Atheist website and print materials? I would say it would be wrong of me to do so. What if I am forced to work on it?

I am not saying we have to go to the extreme and quit our jobs, but it would be an option depending on other variables going on in life. If you have a cause you truly believe in and then you are asked to design for something that is totally against it, how are we all going to handle it? And how are the jobs you take as a freelancer going to impact your career as a designer? Are your clients going to care about the companies that you worked for and the projects you display on your website?

I can't really find much on the topic but that is probably because I am not a professional "googleist". Did that word just happen? You know it did! However, I did find a forum that somewhat discussed the topic.

The question posted was:

"Would you turn to promote in which something you do not believe in such as pornography/liquir/smoking."

These were some of the respondents answers.

  • I would work for Microsoft but would probably overcharge them because they suck.
  • Someone is going to get paid to do it so why not me.
  • I wouldn't aid anyone who was on the wrong side of the fence.
  • Pornography/liquor/smoking? That's a regular weeknight!
  • I wouldn't. At the end of the day, a week of hunger doesn't sting as much as guilt.
  • freelancing is a minefield, turn down or accept the wrong project and it could screw your whole reputation

Everything we do as designers I think give people an insight into who we are. Most of our projects are just jobs, but people will automatically form opinions by what they see. They will look at our projects and what we have willingly created and come to rapid conclusions about who, in this world community of design, would represent their values the best.

In the end it seems mainly to come down to the variables within each owns life. Do I have family? Do I need the money? How bad is the project? Am I awesome so could I easily find a different job? Should we care at all? Hopefully none of us ever have to face a crossroads like this but odds are at some point we will.

Works Cited:
http://www.photoshopcafe.com/cafe/viewthread.php?tid=25960
http://www.andybudd.com/archives/2005/05/10_bad_project_warning_signs/
(here is a site about bad project warning signs for freelancers. Found it searching for relevant information)


When talking about finances the word poverty may or may not come up. Hopefully it never does as young designers entering the design world. So being young designers it is very important to properly manage your financial future now.

Pay Up
For those of you planning on perusing a career in freelance it is important to remember to pay quarterly taxes. As a freelancer you are obligated to pay this, however if it is not paid the IRS will fine you at the end of the year when taxes are filed. For reference you can check out http://www.simplesubjects.com/tax

Buy What You Need
It is easy to get lost in the consistent advancements in technology and make that unnecessary purchase. As designers we all asked ourselves if one should make the upgrade from CS3 to CS4? The best option I can give for this dilemma would be to weigh the cost and benefits carefully, and to keep in mind the same software can be acquired for less in as little as six to twelve months.

In Writing First
It is naive to take on a new project for anyone without having some sort of written agreement in advance. A good contract will define the projects terms, the designers' obligations, and compensation.

Financial understanding is something you should strive for if you are running your own business and not to be ashamed of mistakes you make along the way. As designers we must learn to adapt, something we are all too familiar with, and to keep in mind you can control your finances now.

To greed or not to greed: Minimizing Our Desire for More

What is greed, for the lack of a better word (motivation? incentive? curiosity? necessity? pressure?) Is it good or is it bad? Is is something good that must be controlled to prevent it from going bad?

I recently watched something that you should watch. Its a lecture given by
Stefan Bucher (buk-er) at the Walker Art center for the most recent Design lecture series.

Watch the whole thing, the whole talk is good, it won't bore you, even the question and answer is engaging and relevant to our lives as designers.

But for the sake of this post, watch from 51:40 to 56:30 to get the juicy part. To sum the part up, Stefan talks about his practice of a philosophy called Greed Control. He does not accept jobs based on money, but based on the work. This way, he gets work that he wants to do, and spend what he does earn more consciously.

http://channel.walkerart.org/play/stefan-bucher/

"If making money is your primary goal, you're going to start choosing work on that basis. And the easiest way to make your work better or worse is by the clients that you choose to work for."

An opposing view to this is from the 1987 film Wall Street, by a character named Gordon Gekko. He is a fictional character and the main character and antagonist, played by Michael Douglas. His famous from the film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7upG01-XWbY

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."

What is it that defines the "upward surge of mankind". It is fuel efficient vehicles and ipads? Is it quality education to children and access to higher education regardless of economic background? Maybe it's really cheap chicken wings and fountain drinks, or a global "free market" that allows a low cost of production, despite exploiting labor. It might be getting a really juicy ROI so that if not us, at least the people who pay us get rich.

To bring it back to Bucher's point about controlling greed, I know I hate it when people are only after my money, and I know other people hate it too. But we're global citizens, should we really care about our personal, monetary ROI getting increased each year? What about all the other things, like sleeping and solving social issues, and planting trees? Can we be advocates for peace, and satisfy our desires and pay back our student loans? (this sort of relates)

"A real problem for the world is that each of us 300 million Americans consumes as much as 32 Kenyans. With 10 times the population, the United States consumes 320 times more resources than Kenya does." (4)

This is not an upward surge of mankind. This is ridiculous, we know this. Why do we agree that we can call a nation like Kenya "developing", as if the United States is not developing?

What I really find the most disturbing about greed being disguised as growth "upward surge" is that its very easy to feel detached from participating in the greed pool, and that the greedy contribute to good things. For example, is this ultimately good or bad greed?


1. http://channel.walkerart.org/play/stefan-bucher/
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Gekko
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_Street_%281987_film%29
4. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/opinion/02diamond.html
5. http://awesome.good.is/features/009/009buyingorganic.html

Do you have a special niche in Design?

Sculpting out a special niche in the Design world can be of much help. There is so much competition in the advertising world that even the best and most talented artists are struggling. If you can become aware of that special design area you are interested in you will become an expert at it. Clients LOVE experts. Some designers accidentally stumble upon this and others consciously decide what direction they want to take. Gwyneth Dwyer from Larsen had mentioned this, also; find a niche, focus on that, create networks, blogs, research, comment, and become VERY informed on your niche. Create a place in the design world with this niche on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all other social networks you are involved in to become known and known for you knowledge and interest.

Is one niche sufficient?

One niche definitely helps to become known and helps to focus on a certain aspect of design since it all can become a little too overwhelming at times. Although this is of help, other skills are needed. Being an expert at one thing and having knowledge and experience of others is necessary. It can definitely kick you in the butt if you only focus on one area and that's it. Design firms are relatively on the smaller side, so the more you know the more of an asset you are to their company. Technology is changing everyday and to become an exceptional designer this must be acquired.

Being personally aware of our own interests and talents can really aid in our networking skills and designing overall. The social media and striving to become recognized in the design world can be dreadfully devastating. Focusing on a minimum amount of specialties can only push us forward.


http://artbistro.monster.com/education/articles/10119-carving-out-a-niche-in-the-design-industry

Gwyneth Dwyer, Larsen.

I recently participated in AIGA's Portfolio One-On-One, which personally was a great experience, but socially was a completely different event of it's own. The idea of the event was to put yourself out there and show your work to professionals, but it was much larger than that. All the attendee's of the event were marketing themselves. It was the purest, most honest, and best form of marketing I have experienced so far in my design career. No one could hide behind their work, they had to stand right next to it and sell it. No one could recreate or front their "personality" via blogs, tweets, and facebook, because we were all there, in person, standing next to people we wanted to impress. And the only way to impress them was to actually talk to them and be yourself! The point that I'm trying to make here, is that I think personal marketing should come natural. When it comes to personal marketing, my motto is "Don't tweet about it. Be about it!" Actually, one of the things that really upset me about the portfolio one-on-one event was that they encouraged people to tweet about what they were doing at the event. That seemed ridiculous to me! Here we are standing with hundreds of other designers, actually standing with our so-called "community of designers" from minneapolis and the surrounding area, and they want us to communicate to some other community of who cares who?!? Why not just go and talk to someone in the room about how cool your studio tour was, instead of freakin' tweeting about it. Tweeting in this case, almost comes to a point where it's more anti-social than social. We all paid good money to be here at this event, so why not acknowledge the fact that you're at this thing instead of being somewhere off in cyberspace. Connect face to face, not tweet to tweet is all i'm saying.

This is what makes personal marketing way better than social marketing. Personal marketing is getting yourself out there and having real conversations about things that you care about, whereas social marketing is a totally surfaced form of communication and interaction. So minus that little twitter thing, the portfolio one-on-one event was great. I actually wish there were more opportunities to personally market yourself. I think personal marketing gets down to stronger connections that you have with people, and ultimately is the best form of marketing because of those strong connections.

I understand that twitter and even facebook provide great advantages when it comes to becoming part of a social circle and keeping up on what's going on. But while there are big trends in design being spread all across the internet, most likely there are big trends in design happening elsewhere that will soon be the next biggest, most awesome thing to ever happen to design that everyone will be spreading over the internet! I still haven't bought into the whole twitter thing, and I don't think you need twitter to personally market yourself. I'm not saying twitter is bad, but for me, I spend enough time sitting at my computer, that I don't care to waste more time at my computer tweeting about what I had for breakfast (lox bagel with herb neufchatel! yes it was awesome. no, i'm not jewish). Of course, people don't always tweet about how good their lox bagel with herb neufchatel spread is, i know there is lots of inspiration to be found in connection to design. But personally, I think you would have a stronger connection finding that stuff in real life, than you would on the internet. For example: think if you saw Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster on the web for the first time vs. seeing it at a rally or somewhere while walking around in the streets. I think you would have a much stronger connection and feel something more by seeing it first hand, rather than on someone's blog. The way that this relates to personal marketing is that by doing and seeing things that are more meaningful or more tangible will help your work. Personal marketing is doing things/ designing things that you care about and are interested in.

So when it comes to personal marketing, don't use twitter. I think twitter is fine for social marketing, but not personal. If you have another form of personal marketing, you will be better off. Personal marketing should be exactly what it sounds like, personal. Market yourself honestly and in a way that speaks to who you are. This will help you decide what type of place you want to work at as well. One common piece of advice that I've heard for getting an internship is: "be cool." Meaning, be someone that people want to hang out with. You're portfolio may kinda suck, but if you seem like you would be a good fit with the personnel at a firm, they're much more likely to give you an internship opportunity. And the way that you "be cool", is by personal marketing. Just let yourself stand out a bit and if you mesh with a design firm, then you'll have a good shot of getting an internship. Some firms will think you're cool and some will think you're too silly for them or not the right fit, but it's better for you to figure out what firms you'll be best with by being yourself.

Overall, I don't think you should have to try too hard with personal marketing. There is a place for personal marketing and a place for social marketing. To me, they should be treated separately, but don't have to be completely separate. A marketing teacher would probably lecture me for an hour about how marketing is marketing, and one type flows into the other. But I think personal and social marketing can be different. The more fun that you have with your personal marketing, the more likely it is that your social network will open up (so i guess the marketing teacher is kinda right).

Don't tweet about it. Be about it.

Resources: * the "being cool, be yourself" bit. Advice from every design person I know.

When we design we usually are designing for a client and for a certain audience target, but this way of designing is how we ended up with bursting landfills, unrecyclable materials, and short lived products that can't be fixed or reused.

DESIGN WITH THE END IN MIND
To remedy our current non-green design habits we could follow the writings of Brian Dougherty author of Green Graphic Design, he says we should design backwards by thinking about where your design will ultimately end up. Which will most likely be in a landfill or if you are lucky in a recycling facility, we need to face the fact that our designs will ultimately be thrown away.

So as designers we need to consider how our designs can be reused, how to make them recyclable and fit to compost. We should also think about how the designs are to be distributed, use efficient packaging and keep it minimal, how it is transported, and warehoused. Finally, think about how you product will be manufactured, plan for minimal trim waste, try to use recycled materials, and design for green printing.

We have all heard of sustainable scorecards from previous guest speakers, here is a scorecard that Celery Design Collaborative, a green and sustainable design firm, uses to quickly assess materials.

Picture 3.png

DESIGN FOR DISASSEMBLY
What makes a quality product? I'm sure durability is high on the list, as well as appealing design, but I'm almost positive that being able to easily disassembly it isn't on your list. When we design we don't think about our product breaking or the possibility of it quitting on a user, so we usually only plan on how it will be manufactured, not how it will be taken apart. Alex Diener author of Afterlife: An Essential Guide To Design For Disassembly writes that we should consider the future need to dissemble a product for repair, refurbishing, and/or recycling.

DFD2010-Glide_DfD.jpg

Since we live and have grown up in a throw away culture, something that arose in the 50's due to the rise of consumerism, cheap labor, and new mass production methods. The results are the bursting landfills and toxins found in product waste. These consequences are becoming more and more of a concern and today are fueling the green and sustainable movements we are all aware of.

DFD2010-DfD_diagram_sized.jpg

The How to Design for Disassembly Roadmap shows a framework of actions that can be preformed for designing more efficient products, to get a more detailed explanation of the steps and visual examples of Designing for Disassembly visit Diener's post.

CONCLUSIONS

By designing with the end destination in mind, kind of like designing with the seventh generation in mind, you will be able to produce products that can be more valuable to the users as well as environmental friendly. Along with destination designing, designing for disassembly will help you create products that users will be able to use and repair with ease, limiting user frustration and poor product interaction which will raise the perceived quality of the product as a whole.


For a preview of Green Graphic Design by Brian Dougherty click here

How awesome would it be to make sufficient money as a Freelance Designer?

This sounds amazing to all designers. Working from home, not having to listen to a boss, and making excessive amounts of money? Sounds like the life. Do some research and it isn't as enjoyable as it seems. To become a competent freelance designer requires a lot of work. Although working for yourself seems easier, laziness is out of the question.

Time flies.
Finding clients is the first step, which is a hard task to accomplish that takes much longer than you think. After finding clients working normal hours is out of the question. A constant flow of emails and calls is usual because you are the one-man team that has to take care of all phases necessary in a business. Most of this is cut working in any design firm, which has numerous clients already and have account executives to manage the funds.

Money is not always better.
Money can definitely be better as a freelance designer if you are prepared, experienced and bear high motivation. Just some things to think about if you want to become a freelancer, you must obtain your own health insurance, you cannot take paid vacations, and you will not receive a steady paycheck. Being able to depend on a paycheck is a nice feeling, especially when just getting out of school.

Awesome Opportunities.
Despite these factual pieces of information to open your eyes, we all still want this. We still all want to become freelancers. I am not saying we shouldn't or we can't. I am just presenting this information to take the advice of so many freelance designers to step out into the real world for a while and see what design firms are like. We will learn so much, mostly about things we would never know if we never tried it out. Working with people is the best thing to do in the design world. Collaborated designs are the best designs. The best thoughts come out of a group of designers.

One day we will get where we want to be. Here are 28 articles on how to get there:
http://www.thedesigncubicle.com/2009/03/28-must-read-articles-for-growing-your-freelance-design-business/

http://designshack.co.uk/articles/business-articles/how-to-make-money-as-a-freelance-designer

Before this semester, I had absolutely NO idea about how beneficial Twitter could be. The only think I really knew about it was that it was like Facebook, but only status updates. I was at the point where I REFUSED to use Twitter because I didn't need anything else, like Facebook, sucking up my time. I didn't want to spend hours, like I did freshmen year when I first got Facebook, reading other peoples' statuses. All I knew about Twitter was that Aston Kutcher and John Mayer were on it and their updates, tweets - whatever, were absolutely hilarious. And also that Tila Tequila got engaged on it? I don't know. Either way, I thought it was just some publicity stunt that celebrities used to get themselves out in the public more and get attention.

Well, so much for my not getting a Twitter account plan. When I finally opened my mind to listen to what other DESIGNER, not celebrities, were saying I realized that it might actually be a good thing. Maybe I could get my name out there and be known-not exactly like a celebrity, but as a designer, yes. So I got an account, and I've tweeted (I feel weird saying that by the way) maybe 8 times. I don't feel like I have anything important to say, I don't have very strong opinions, I don't read many important blogs, etc.

When Gwyneth Dwyer came and spoke to our class on Tuesday, I really got interested in posting more. When she spoke about how a social network could actually help me get a job, I was astonished. I never thought that something like that could help. Which got me thinking, maybe it's not a BAD thing that I haven't posted more on Twitter. I would rather be the person that doesn't say much, than has no idea what they are talking about-right? It wouldn't make me look so good if I had a bunch of random "location" posts, and mindless thoughts on there if employers were interested in me, would it?

I think a personal goal for this summer will be to educate myself more about what is actually going on in the world, rather than focusing on my life so much. And to share or 'tweet' my findings. I know this blog post is supposed to be about competitiveness, and I have sort of gone off topic- but I already know I have plenty of competition out there in the design world. This is more about my personal-inner competition, and how I can push myself to be better and think more abstractly to form my own opinions about what is going on and what will be in the future.

Oh yes, and I tried to link as much as I could in this post, thanks Gwyneth.

Print Biz Cards

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Hey guys-

I just recently got all of my business cards printed at 4colorprint.com. It was really easy and I got my cards quickly after they were ordered...about a week! Also, they cut all of the cards! TIME SAVER!

I've discovered that the notion of "fun" is an interesting concept in relation to design. Again, who has the fun...the designer or the client? Does the fun come when the designer is paid or is the design process fun? When researching fun and the environment, one company came to mind, IDEO. IDEO, as many of you already know, is a design and innovation consultancy based in Palo Alto, California. The company helps design products, services, environments, and digital experiences.

When looking at the environment, I believe the fun comes when the designer can brainstorm ideas on how to design environmentally friendly products. In Lucy's previous post, she talked about Pangea Organics and how IDEO created eco-friendly packaging for their products. The packaging was 100% compostable and biodegradable. That's awesome however there is no evidence that the process of creating the project was fun.

I'd like to look at a different project of IDEO's. For the many of you who were in Richelle's Factors of Human Perception class, you may remember this project. IDEO created a shopping cart for an episode of ABC's late-night news show Nightline. According to ideo.com, "IDEO created a new shopping cart concept, considering issues such as maneuverability, shopping behavior, child safety, and maintenance cost" (1). This project, among many of IDEO's, has taken the environment into consideration. The design of their shopping cart, comparatively speaking, is sleek and uses much less material than the current cart we use today.

ShopCart_IDEO_cd.jpg

Although the overall design of the finished product is sleek, flexible, and unique, let's take a look at the process of creating this product. Again, I'd like to believe the fun comes during the brainstorming, trouble-shooting portion of creating the product. If you'd like, please take a look at the video showing the process of these carts being created. It's incredibly entertaining! The show concentrates on IDEO's creative process, recording as a multidisciplinary team brainstormed, prototyped, and gathered user feedback on a design that went from idea to a working appearance model in FOUR DAYS.

http://www.dustinkirk.com/2009/03/10/ideo-shopping-cart/

After viewing this, it opened my eyes to a whole new world of design...the process of designing a product can be fun! Wow, what a concept! The workers at IDEO were incredibly enthusiastic about creating this product and the results showed.

Describing the product:

"The nestable steel frame lacks sides and a bottom to deter theft (and is environmentally friendly!), and holds removable plastic baskets to increase shopper flexibility, help protect goods and provide a method to promote brand awareness. A dual child seat uses a swing-up tray for a play surface, and a hole provides a secure spot for a cup of coffee or a bunch of carnations" (1).

I may have steered away from environmentally friendly design concepts, but this project and process is amazing and worth talking about! The shopping cart was never used however Whole Foods has taken some suggestions into the consideration and has changed their shopping carts accordingly. Overall, this project was slightly environmentally friendly and the process was fun and innovative.

1.) "Shopping Cart Concept." ideo.com. IDEO, n.a. Web. 27 Apr. 2010.

2.) "Ideo Shopping Cart." dustinkirk.com. Kirk, n.a. Web. 28 Apr. 2010.

Design Thinking and the River of Problems

Lets face it. This last year has been a difficult one to endure for those of us that consider ourselves idealists. Hope and change have been bogged down by the political process, and crass, bigoted individuals can now campaign on platforms that amount to thinly veiled justifications of white supremacy and religious intolerance. It's hard for some of us to listen to the rationale behind why its not okay to limit the salaries of failing bank executives to a million dollars a year. It's painful to hear intelligent people justify their reasons for not believing in the "climate change hoax". It's difficult not to froth at the mouth and blather on about how the land of the free can restrict people's ability to marry as they please. However, the most painful thing to endure is that all of this yelling and positioning and supposed righteousness has yet to yield a solution to any of these issues. Our collective approach towards problem solving has been influenced by a century of reliance on the scientific method -- as if reductive, analytical thinking is the only useful instrument in our rational toolbox - and perhaps it is this approach that has us so deeply mired in ineffective solutions. "Design thinking" is a generative, ideating approach that has effectively been used by marketing think-tanks for many years to solve some seemingly insurmountable quandaries, and it can be argued that we as a nation have something to learn from this type of approach.

Timothy Brown, the CEO of the consulting firm IDEO, has a long history of using Design Thinking to solve problems. His company has been responsible for the ideas that have culminated in the advent of things like the computer mouse and the concept of PDA's and "pocket-computers". In this video, Timothy Brown explains the process of Design Thinking during a lecture presented at MIT. The key factor in this approach to problem solving is that the process should be generative, rather than reductive. His firm employs roughly 550 people who excel in a wide variety of disciplines and they all contribute collectively to problem solving. The onset of the process that they use assumes nothing about a problem other than that it exists. Through a combination of research, brainstorming, ideation, and collaboration, the company generates a multitude of definitions of the problem, and then it begins to narrow its focus based off an assessment of what all of their brilliant thinkers have put on the table. The process encourages a cross-disciplinary approach and tends to leave political ambitions and presuppositions at the wayside.

In politics here in the United States, we have almost exclusively used a reductive approach to problem solving, the opposite of what is used by IDEO. We have a set of solutions, mores, and principles that long ago dictated a small range of acceptable solutions to our existing problems. What is left is simply a choice about which of these solutions fits best into a preferred political ideology. The result of this approach can be observed as the ideological rift in the nation today. Democrats prefer populists solutions, and Republicans prefer free-market solutions. These approaches are nearly completely exclusive of one another and the debate fostered by the two sides can be likened to shouting at a concrete slab. An analytical, reductive mentality has narrowed the range of solutions used by either party to a small set of mitigated ideas that have effectively tied politicians hands. The only changes that they can effect within the constraints of their ideology amount to what we know as government "programs".

Author Daniel Quinn uses an interesting metaphor to explain the ideology behind government programs. To paraphrase, Quinn asks us to consider a river. Imagine a wide, rushing river moving thousands of gallons of water a second. Now imagine that the river is swelling and threatening to drown a town on its banks. That's a problem, and that problem needs a solution. The reductive approach that we currently use in government would consider the river as the source of the problem, and it would attempt to stop the water by plugging it off. Under this approach, the citizens would first try plugging the river by putting big rocks in it to slow the flow of water. These rocks can be likened to government programs. A few rocks do nothing -- the water just runs around them. So the villagers add more and more rocks until the water slows significantly and the water level threatening the town lowers. This works for a while, but the rushing water slowly eats away at the rocks and the water levels begin to rise again. So, the villagers attack the river more fervently and spend massive amounts of resources to divert the river away from their town all together (another "program" targeted at the water). This works great, until the villagers realize that their crops are drying up because they don't have enough water in the water-table to sustain their agriculture, and they are presented with another dire problem, born of their original solution of attacking the source of the problem directly. A "Design Thinking" approach to this problem would be different. Everything would be laid out on the table, and the thinkers would be free to conclude that perhaps the problem was not in the river, but in the location of the town. The design thinkers would suggest that perhaps the town be moved upriver, to higher ground, where the town could flourish anew, free of concern of the river and its overflowing banks. If the town did not want to move, perhaps it could convert its houses to a new type of dwelling that can rise and float when necessary, and the flooding season becomes a sort of town celebration, a transformative tradition that celebrates life and change. Or something. Quinn's books and essays iterate this metaphor much more completely and they can be found here.

Suffice it to say that "Design Thinking" allows us to approach problems from the outside, spin them around, and analyze them completely, while an analytical, reductive approach is resistant to completely new approaches and emphasizes tweaking methods that may be tired and outdated, or simply ineffective at their core.

Instead of shouting at ourselves across an ideological chasm about which of two solutions is the best way to solve our problems, we should be re-examining the very nature of our problems. We should hit the drawing board and sketch out some wild and ridiculous ideas, some boring ideas, some implausible ideas, and maybe some good ideas, and then we should start to pick from those ideas and develop a malleable approach to solving our nation's problems consistent with what we learned through the ideation process. IDEO has attempted this on a small scale in response to climate change. Their interesting and collaborative efforts can be seen here.

Beautiful Kinds of Stress: Pinching Pennies and Building knowledge Banks


Slowdown and Load Up

During this recession, advertising has been dramatically cut from many companies' budgets, and therefore design firms suffer. Then everything, in once sense, slowed down. The process of booking a project with a client slowed to a snails pace, not because there isn't as much to do, but because of the anxiety clients have when investing money into their project. It is penny-pinching time, and decisions that once seemed somewhat methodical have become more detrimental. Those people, who were not laid off by their design firms, have taken those unfortunate people's responsibilities. Does all of this slowdown and load up result in a negative outcome? There are many positive events that occur (believe it or not) during a recession. For one thing, hardship inspires and motivates people. According to the New York Times article Design Loves a Depression, an example of this kind of epiphanic boom occurred during the Great Depression, when an early wave of modernism flourished in the United States, partly because it properly addressed the middle-class need for a toned-down life without the luxuries of servants and other Victorian trappings (1). Stress can drive creativity, but by financially clearing the air can sometimes allow this to happen more quickly. Many corporate heads should now look at what their firms really need to have in order to get their job done, and then strip what is not needed (2). This can be from printing supply choices, to gourmet coffee in the break room. Anything that is unnecessarily hard on the wallet, could maybe head out for the time being. This financial environment creates stress, but a kind of stress that can essentially develop something amazing.

Build Skills

There is stripping, and then there is building. During the hustle and bustle of a booming economy, it is harder to keep up with what is happening in terms of communication just due to how fast the pace is moving in the workplace. During this time design firms must stop, and work on broadening their social abilities. Aiga states that one of the most important things that design firms and individual designers must do during this slow economic period is to update your skills (3). Our speaker Gwenyth, director of writing services at Larsen, demonstrates practices at Larsen that all design firms should do right now concerning social media. As technology increases people's attention spans decrease. It is important to invest in more traditional ways of advertising, such as bill boards and buss banners ( which no doubt will predominantly be digital soon) , and there is nothing wrong with defending those mediums, although investing time and money in more interactive and social means of communication is becoming the main way to reach people.

Create Clear Communication

As Gwenyth said, focusing on content and ways of delivering that content are elements that should be done during these hard times. Even when you create your own identity, just know that the way you describe yourself through not only aesthetics but words can determine how many jobs you could get, and thus how efficiently you can pay your rent. So, when you are sitting at your computer, stressed about a design project, getting a job, or a job you already have, just know that that stress can very well be your ticket to success. Stripping down to the essentials, practicing humility, creating priorities, and indulging in knowledge = Empowered Design.

1. http://www.designobserver.com/observatory/entry.html?entry=7177


2. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/weekinreview/04cannell.html

3. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/how-is-aiga-helping-designers-survive-the-recession

Beautiful Kinds of Stress: Pinching Pennies and Building knowledge Banks


Slowdown and Load Up

During this recession, advertising has been dramatically cut from many companies' budgets, and therefore design firms suffer. Then everything, in once sense, slowed down. The process of booking a project with a client slowed to a snails pace, not because there isn't as much to do, but because of the anxiety clients have when investing money into their project. It is penny-pinching time, and decisions that once seemed somewhat methodical have become more detrimental. Those people, who were not laid off by their design firms, have taken those unfortunate people's responsibilities. Does all of this slowdown and load up result in a negative outcome? There are many positive events that occur (believe it or not) during a recession. For one thing, hardship inspires and motivates people. According to the New York Times article Design Loves a Depression, an example of this kind of epiphanic boom occurred during the Great Depression, when an early wave of modernism flourished in the United States, partly because it properly addressed the middle-class need for a toned-down life without the luxuries of servants and other Victorian trappings (1). Stress can drive creativity, but by financially clearing the air can sometimes allow this to happen more quickly. Many corporate heads should now look at what their firms really need to have in order to get their job done, and then strip what is not needed (2). This can be from printing supply choices, to gourmet coffee in the break room. Anything that is unnecessarily hard on the wallet, could maybe head out for the time being. This financial environment creates stress, but a kind of stress that can essentially develop something amazing.

Build Skills

There is stripping, and then there is building. During the hustle and bustle of a booming economy, it is harder to keep up with what is happening in terms of communication just due to how fast the pace is moving in the workplace. During this time design firms must stop, and work on broadening their social abilities. Aiga states that one of the most important things that design firms and individual designers must do during this slow economic period is to update your skills (3). Our speaker Gwenyth, director of writing services at Larsen, demonstrates practices at Larsen that all design firms should do right now concerning social media. As technology increases people's attention spans decrease. It is important to invest in more traditional ways of advertising, such as bill boards and buss banners ( which no doubt will predominantly be digital soon) , and there is nothing wrong with defending those mediums, although investing time and money in more interactive and social means of communication is becoming the main way to reach people.

Create Clear Communication

As Gwenyth said, focusing on content and ways of delivering that content are elements that should be done during these hard times. Even when you create your own identity, just know that the way you describe yourself through not only aesthetics but words can determine how many jobs you could get, and thus how efficiently you can pay your rent. So, when you are sitting at your computer, stressed about a design project, getting a job, or a job you already have, just know that that stress can very well be your ticket to success. Stripping down to the essentials, practicing humility, creating priorities, and indulging in knowledge = Empowered Design.

1. http://www.designobserver.com/observatory/entry.html?entry=7177


2. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/weekinreview/04cannell.html

3. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/how-is-aiga-helping-designers-survive-the-recession

Beautiful Kinds of Stress: Pinching Pennies and Building knowledge Banks


Slowdown and Load Up

During this recession, advertising has been dramatically cut from many companies' budgets, and therefore design firms suffer. Then everything, in once sense, slowed down. The process of booking a project with a client slowed to a snails pace, not because there isn't as much to do, but because of the anxiety clients have when investing money into their project. It is penny-pinching time, and decisions that once seemed somewhat methodical have become more detrimental. Those people, who were not laid off by their design firms, have taken those unfortunate people's responsibilities. Does all of this slowdown and load up result in a negative outcome? There are many positive events that occur (believe it or not) during a recession. For one thing, hardship inspires and motivates people. According to the New York Times article Design Loves a Depression, an example of this kind of epiphanic boom occurred during the Great Depression, when an early wave of modernism flourished in the United States, partly because it properly addressed the middle-class need for a toned-down life without the luxuries of servants and other Victorian trappings (1). Stress can drive creativity, but by financially clearing the air can sometimes allow this to happen more quickly. Many corporate heads should now look at what their firms really need to have in order to get their job done, and then strip what is not needed (2). This can be from printing supply choices, to gourmet coffee in the break room. Anything that is unnecessarily hard on the wallet, could maybe head out for the time being. This financial environment creates stress, but a kind of stress that can essentially develop something amazing.

Build Skills

There is stripping, and then there is building. During the hustle and bustle of a booming economy, it is harder to keep up with what is happening in terms of communication just due to how fast the pace is moving in the workplace. During this time design firms must stop, and work on broadening their social abilities. Aiga states that one of the most important things that design firms and individual designers must do during this slow economic period is to update your skills (3). Our speaker Gwenyth, director of writing services at Larsen, demonstrates practices at Larsen that all design firms should do right now concerning social media. As technology increases people's attention spans decrease. It is important to invest in more traditional ways of advertising, such as bill boards and buss banners ( which no doubt will predominantly be digital soon) , and there is nothing wrong with defending those mediums, although investing time and money in more interactive and social means of communication is becoming the main way to reach people.

Create Clear Communication

As Gwenyth said, focusing on content and ways of delivering that content are elements that should be done during these hard times. Even when you create your own identity, just know that the way you describe yourself through not only aesthetics but words can determine how many jobs you could get, and thus how efficiently you can pay your rent. So, when you are sitting at your computer, stressed about a design project, getting a job, or a job you already have, just know that that stress can very well be your ticket to success. Stripping down to the essentials, practicing humility, creating priorities, and indulging in knowledge = Empowered Design.

1. http://www.designobserver.com/observatory/entry.html?entry=7177


2. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/weekinreview/04cannell.html

3. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/how-is-aiga-helping-designers-survive-the-recession

Within a decade we've seen design for floppy disks change to usb drives, desktop computers to notebooks, boom-boxes to cd players to mp3 players, vhs to dvd to blu-ray, print to electronic, check books to credit cards etc. The list can go on and on but there are very few things that stay in a constant demand and are prominent. For us designers, keeping up with demands may be overwhelming that familiarity and little change is a welcome sign. For instance health, clothes, housing, children's wants and needs, shelter etc. Maybe I am not thinking hard enough or am too concentrated on my topic but "children" and their wants and needs are something that I know will exist and be in demand for as long as humans continue having babies.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, children have a huge buying power known as the "pester power". Most parents would rather buy a "wanted" product than deal with a child's whining, even if they are low on money. And in my opinion, priority for what is wanted goes from a child to an adult. For example when I take my nephew or niece to the store if they want something, with enough whining and puppy eyes I give in and purchase what they want while I leave behind something I want. As human beings I believe we are conditioned to want to be the cause of a smile or laughter from a child. And because of this emotion we hope to attain, the demand of any children product will always be existent.

The greatest example I have encountered where parents have spent money on a child's "wants" instead of purchasing something they need was during my trip to Laos. Laos is a third world country where indoor plumbing is a very new thing. People walk barefoot for miles to just reach clean water. Adults and children wear outfits that are too small for them. It's a place where people raise chicken and cow but have NO meat intake because to sale the animal would be more profitable. People live in villages and depend on farming for a living, if the crops don't survive, they are left with nothing to eat. So imagine my surprise when I walked into a dirt-floor house built of bamboo and found toys and children books laying around. I questioned myself, "Why buy all these things when you can't even afford to buy rice to eat?" I knew these people lived a life full of struggle to survive day by day yet here they were buying stuff their children wanted. And although there weren't many toys, a child had a toy when a parent had no shoes. Parents generally just want to make their children happy.

The design world is constantly on a move. Inventing and reinventing new and old products to satisfy our wants. People's interests shift quickly and fast. One day we were all using CD players and the next we are using MP3 players. The demand for products can hit its' peak and fall off the chart just as quickly. BUT one thing stays a constant need. The wants of a child. So as the design world moves so quickly, it is nice to know that there is some form of stability available for us. We will always know that a young child loves the comfort of a stuffed toy, nothing can replace that, not even in the technical and electronic world we live in today. With the buying power children hold, designers are sure to know that unlike VHS, boom-boxes, cd players, toys for children will never have a drastic change and always be in demand.

clocks_cropped.jpg

There's a saying in life that goes something like this: "Time is money." And if there's one thing that I've learned throughout my college career, that phrase might be it. Trying to find the time for school, work, friends, exercise - just to name a few - seems almost impossible to do. No matter what, there never seems to be enough time to do everything we want. So what does this have to do with cost effectiveness? Well, if time is money, then cost effectiveness is, in a certain sense, the same basic principle as time effectiveness. Which brings me to my point: the ability to effectively use and manage your time is something that is becoming increasingly important when trying to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

While reading up on time management, I came across a certain blog post that referenced Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This particular post referred to a concept within the book that separated time into four different quadrants

"Quadrant I: Urgent and important matters. Crises, pressing problems, deadline-driven projects. We all have these things; we've all got to do them.

Quadrant II: Non-urgent but important matters. Relationship building, planning, recognising new opportunities, improvements to your workplace, exercise, recreation. Things we know we should do but don't because they're not urgent.

Quadrant III: Urgent but not important things like phone calls, email, interruptions, popular matters, some meetings. This is visible stuff on-hand at the moment that isn't really important. It's easy to get caught up in this quadrant!

Quadrant IV: The worst of the lot - non-urgent and non-important matters. This includes trivia, spam, time wasters, distractions, non-productive activities."

If there was one "time quadrant" that you could chose to spend the most time with, what would it be? Unless you're insane, I would assume that you would chose quadrant II. Without spending time on those activities, I would imagine that life would be rather shallow. So this is where time effectiveness and management come into play. The ability to juggle the time you have available is tremendously important in making room for the activities you really enjoy, while at the same time allowing for the completion of the urgent tasks at hand. And the better you are at managing your time, the easier it is to strike a balance between these four "quadrants" of time, which in the end, hopefully add up to a healthier and happier life.

Time Management for Graphic Designers

Freelancing and Time Management

Personally, i've never been more sick of hearing the phrase "go green" than I have been for the last year or so. I believe being conscious of your impact on the environment is extremely important, and sure, there are myriad ways to reduce your impact, we all know and have heard what they are from every form of media we are exposed to. However, instead of going over how to do that, I think a more interesting approach is how that is being calculated, and how we as designers, might be able to designs in ways that take this information into account.

I came across an environmental efficiency release from Hitachi(1), I guess Hitachi was a little more popular in the late 90's and early 2000's than now, but the information is still applicable. They make electronics; cameras, computers, tv's etc. In the release, Hitachi determines the rather vague idea of being "environmental" as an equation, the result of which is "factor x"

"Factor x" = improved quality of life(up)/reduced environmental impact(down). Basically, there is a whole mess of equations and data that spit out a number that is either "good" or "bad." It's kind of confusing, but going over it is really interesting. I guess it's just nice to see that some companies are in fact taking responsibility for how their products affect the environment.

One thing that is mentioned in the release is the effort to be more efficient in production. By creating products that have different inner-workings, yet making their outer appearances quite similar, they can reduce production costs, materials, and increase recycled parts. By sacrificing some of the unique designs that might make products more easily differentiated by consumers, or appeal to a slightly larger audience, Hitachi believes they can save quite a bit of money. As a designer, it seems like a painful thought that any unique ideas or designs would be axed just to increase profit, but i guess if it means becoming more environmentally efficient while increasing the bottom line, im not sure i would have too much of a problem with it.

1.http://www.hitachi.com/environment/library/pdf/factorx_en.pdf

Road Advertising

There you are on the road all buckled up, both hands on the wheel, cell phone set to vibrate or silent, your food is still warm next to you--you just need to get home. You keep checking all the mirrors of the car, very aware of the surrounding traffic, but something catches your eye. What is that? A half naked man... yeah he's half naked! What's he holding? A beer? Damn he's very sexy. Oh? His hand is moving--is he going to drink the bee---CRASH!!

bba.jpg

We've all seen them: oversized, flashing, distracting, billboard advertisements conveniently placed on either side of the roads you're driving through. Sure, many of them are quite clever and ingenious, but is it really a good idea to have one more distraction to add to the many others while controlling a vehicle at high speed?

"Things are flashing, and you're trying to read every single sign," says a fellow driver, Skip Griswold. This is especially a problem at night when your vision is already limited as it is. Whether the billboard sign is just plain, or if it's flashing with lights, or if it's animated by video, or if the text changes after a few seconds, they're still practically making you take your eyes off the road.

As designers, we know that the more attention an ad grabs, the better the chance of people recalling it later on. Yes that is one technique. But not only as designers but as drivers as well, when should we just raise our palms and say stop? Designers should always be consciously aware that if they agree to design an ad for the roads, that it might result in accidents. And that's not even a false or exaggerated statement.

I remember previously reading one of Myhli's blog posts mentioning the hundreds of advertising children see each day (for us it's just as much.) Roads should not be one of them. Some advertising agencies claim the most amount of attention these ads grab is a second or two, and that "the fear is much ado about nothing." Others disagree. "It may not sound like much, but at high speeds, three-quarters of a second is a 'very long time.' At 100 kilometers an hour, in just one second, a car will travel 27 meters, which is over 90 feet." And that is plenty of time for someone to have slammed into a suddenly braking car.

http://www.abc15.com/content/news/southeastvalley/gilbert/story/Digital-billboards-Clever-advertising-or/HnbYU2gla0u4dxwsbmWfpw.cspx

http://urbantoronto.ca/showthread.php?3174-Highway-Video-Billboards-dangerous

Environment. Design. - these are items of debate that have come up in - well a ton of classes - especially this semester. My topic, convenience, is closely related to this debate. I want to implement as many environmentally friendly aspects into my design work as possible - but the first step to becoming a 'green' designer is being well informed on the subject matter. So, for this blog I did some research on two items related to this topic : Ink and Paper.

Paper:
What types of recycled paper are the best to use? IJ Design out of Colorado is a green website and print design company - they state "Recycled paper made from 100% post-consumer waste is generally considered the most ecological choice in recycled papers." Infact, this company has a glossary of all the types of eco-friendly paper out there - very helpful I'll add it to the resource library but here it is now: Guide

Ink:
Are there green options out there? As John Kalkowski, Editorial Director -- Packaging Digest, says in his article "When it comes to packaging, inks and substrates are married to each other. Once the two materials are bound, they are difficult to separate. But it does happen in recycling and in disposal, and the results can contribute to worsening environmental conditions."

The good news is there are new 'green' inks out there that a lot of printers are already using.

I worked on a print piece this summer for the Mndaily. When I met with Bolger , my printer, I brought up the question of 'green' inks inquiring on the price increase if I went that direction. I was surprised to learn that the only inks Bolger uses are green - to what degree I am unsure- but I was impressed by this response.

Many people believe that by implementing none-polluting, environmentally friendly products, services, and practices, the price must go up- basically that being green is opposite of making money. I vehemently disagree with that statement. There are many methods within design and within everyday life that do not have to turn out that way. This is precisely why I wanted to discuss,

"What is the price of pollution?"

At first, that seems like a lofty, unanswerable question. However, with President Obama's new Cap and Trade system, it's simply a matter of plugging in a few figures and out comes an actual number with a dollar sign. Pretty cool stuff. Business Week explains the system quite simply:

Obama proposes that companies buy an allowance, or permit, for each ton of carbon emitted, at an estimated cost, to start, of $13 to $20 per ton. (Those permits could also be bought and sold.)

Another part of how it works: It is essential that there be a set total amount of permits available; then, that number will need to go down every so often to lower the country's total pollution.

This system will not only encourage sustainable, environmentally friendly practices by reducing emissions- specifically those of carbon dioxide- but it will also stimulate the economy! Although it's quite inaccurate to say that financial gains are opposite of environmental protection, that is the belief of the vast majority of Americans so, a lot of the time, it is true- but it totally doesn't have to be. With this system, there is actual proof that people and businesses can financially succeed without paying the cost of pollution. It's really exciting.

Companies that are already implementing green practices won't be short-changed, either. They can buy up their allowance and sell it to the highest bidder, probably turning a very large profit that they can invest in more green solutions. I, and the Environmental Defense Fund, sincerely believe that eventually, businesses that use as many "pollution permits" as they can get their dirty little hands on will not be able to afford it anymore. Their customers won't be able to afford their services because the prices have gone up substantially because of the high cost of the pollution permits so they will be forced to cut their emissions to lower their prices to stay in business. It's a beautiful cycle.

(This is a similar system to the carbon tax idea and the two methods are thoroughly compared here.)

As an added incentive to consumers, most of the profit made from this Cap and Trade system will find its way back into their wallets in the form of lower taxes. I think that a large portion of the money could also be reinvested in other eco-friendly areas like creating green jobs, providing green business/automobile/housing tax breaks, making more efficient recycling systems, encouraging mass transportation..... Regardless, I'm sure the government will have no problem spending the extra profits.

In conclusion, I simply wanted to open up the discussion by including a very large, realistic example of when environmentally friendliness can actually make you money, now and in the future. Maybe start a super eco-design firm and then, by the time all this goes through, you can sell off all your allowances and make some mad cash. Now that is green.

Eco-Friendly Vs. Usability. Usability is the level of friendliness and ease of use of products and interfaces. Products should be easy to use, designed clearly, and fit the needs of the user. (1) Often companies design products without considering usability, and the users end up using only 5 percent of the features available to them, or the product ends up sitting at the store un-purchased.

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(high powered grill = not so eco-friendly)

Considering the discussion we had in class the other day about adjustable office chairs. These crazy chairs with all they adjustable parts are made for people to create the perfect chair for their body-type and become more comfortable when sitting. But, because these chairs have so many different levers and knobs, the usability of the product becomes very difficult. Many people adjust one or two levers and leave the rest. This is where the 5 percent of the features are being used. Sure there are directions to be read on how to adjust the chairs, but a large percent of people don't read directions that come with products.

Now chairs are being invented where they are made from less material and give the support people need. Usability is being considered along with the environment. There are less materials being wasted in the production of the chair, the design is easy to use, while fitting the needs of the user.

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The Aeron chair by Herman Miller is just that. It has broken the mold as well as the "rules". This chair is said to be the best selling chair of all time and has also been featured in the Museum of Modern Art. This environmentally sustainable chair was "constructed and planned to be the greenest most responsible chair ever". It is sleek, devoid of foam or stuffing and features several design elements that are very different from your average office chair.

"The Aeron chair's seat curved upwards at the edges, cradling the hips and creating a comfort pocket for the user. The lip of the seat curved downward, saving thighs from the wear and tear of eight-hour days at the desk, and increasing user circulation. The back of the chair didn't subscribe to straight lines either; it had been designed for support, curving inward to the small of the back then fanning out to the shoulders, keeping posture erect and comfort intact." (2)

The environment and usability were two of the many things considered when designing this chair. "Thinking about every aspect of the product for how it will be used to who will us it is the only way to move forward into uncharted territories in the design world". (Don Chadwick, Aeron designer)

1.http://www.greenprophet.com/2008/08/28/2082/eco-friendly-vs-usability/
2.http://www.smartfurniture.com/products/Aeron-Chair.html

Quality of personal use in web design, is very important. Our generation has taken a big leap forward in technology and most of our parents and grandparents struggle with the changes of the web. As designers, we all want our users to go through our work without asking many questions on how to use it. This is why we test our work before putting it out right away.

Some grandparents use Facebook and most of my family uses it. Facebook has made many changes since I have been on it and some of them are unnecessary.

Two weeks ago in my Types & Travels class, our professor brought up websites and asked what important qualities a site must have. Usability was the first response. He even said he had issues with the news feed Facebook added and that the rearrangement of the page layout was frustrating (1). Facebook is a great social tool, but some of its changes are pointless and users are making that known.

We, the designers, seem to know the main issues of web usability, but for those who do not know much about web design, here are the top 5 issues:

1. Content: "When you open your page in a browser, what do you see? If you've created a usable Web site, you should see 80-90% what your customer is looking for. However, with most Web sites (yes, this site is no exception), usually what your customer is looking for only constitutes between 50-60% or less of the main portion of the page. The rest is ads, confusing navigation, and extraneous graphics."

2. Page Layout: "Closely related to content is how that content is displayed on the page. While studies have shown that people are willing to scroll to read through Web pages, if they don't find relevant content quickly, they will be more likely to leave. Keep your pages clean and simple. Try removing elements, and see if your page needs them, if the page functions without them - take them out."

3. Colors: "Colors can affect the usability of your Web site. Web browsers have standard colors that are used for links (blue for links, violet for visited links, and red for active links). When you use other colors, you run the risk of confusing your customers. Also, colors of other elements of your page can affect your readers. For example, color blind customers might not recognize color coded images."

4. HTML: "The version-specific elements of HTML will automatically exclude some of your visitors. The only way to be absolutely usable is to limit yourself to HTML 1.0. According to Jakob Nielsen, "it will be a year before the majority of users will even be able to access your fancy use of new technology." The best solution is to avoid beta-level technology until it has been in use for at least one year."

5. Download Speed: "Access to the Internet may be getting faster, but that doesn't mean that Web pages should get bigger. In fact, Web usability studies continue to show that the speed a page downloads is very important. After 10 seconds, your customer has lost interest in your page, no matter how interested they were in the topic. You can't control all aspects of the download - so it's important to do what you can" (2)

The importance of how a website functions and is presented is huge and if you want your customers to return to your site, follow these simple steps. If they can't use your site, they will not stay.

Bad websites will help you avoid creating your own bad site. Here's a link to get you started: http://www.manolith.com/2009/08/25/worst-website-designs/

(1) Bill Moran - Types & Travels Discussion - 4/16/2010

(2) Top 5 Most Important Web Usability Issues
http://webdesign.about.com/od/usability/tp/aatpwebusable.htm

(3) 20 of the Worst Designed Websites In the World
http://www.manolith.com/2009/08/25/worst-website-designs/

While reading an article on "Designing for the Elderly", I just found a snippet that sums up a lot of what I've said in my other blogs. Here it is,

"In a time that people are getting older and older, many over 65 have the physical and mental capacity of people that are twenty years younger, engage in demanding professional endeavours and personal activities, and would hate to be called 'elderly'. They might have a different time horizon than younger people but they are not less able.

An additional issue is that many of the problems that some elderly face are not unique to them, but also affect e.g. the disabled, parents with strollers, young children, people who have temporary health problems, caregivers, etcetera.

Rather than narrowly focusing on the elderly, a broader 'designing for differences' approach can help make sure that everyone can use certain products and access certain services. This also has a social advantage: people don't feel excluded. We therefore advocate a social and enabling approach of 'designing for social inclusion'."

Designing for the elderly isn't just about designing for the elderly! It's about designing for usability for all. It sort of defeats the purpose it it becomes designing for just one group. We need universally usable design that everyone can access, use, and enjoy.

Also, design-for-the-third-age should be design for everyone because the elderly don't want to feel excluded or singled-out! No one likes to feel babied, coddled or treated like they're incapable. And that's what a lot of design-for-the-elderly does. Aging is a personal, life-changing, often unpleasant thing. People identify themselves with the products they use, what they wear, and what they do. And telling older people they have to buy bulky phones with big buttons, wear ugly, orthopedic shoes, and generally use "old people things" is sort of like telling them who they're supposed to be. And nobody, especially the baby-boomers, likes being told who they're supposed to be.

People want to express who they are, not how old they are.

So, here's the important stuff.
1) Design-for-the-Third-Age will be REALLY important, REALLY soon.
2) Design-for-the-Third-Age is a misnomer. So don't think of it that way. It's more like Usuable-Design-for-All.
3) Usuable-Design-for-All will be REALLY important, REALLY soon.


satorialist-3.jpgcool_old_man.jpg07stah__09wtawp.jpg3051643022_a621db31e2.jpg

As I sit down to write this blog I had just taken out my recycling this morning. I feel that it is only fitting that I am writing about the personal aspect of recycling and recyclability. I think throughout these blogs I have blurred the lines a little bit between recycling and recyclability. However, I think it is hard to separate the two and claim that one is independent from the other. Without the recyclability of a product there would be no recycling and on the circle would go. So that being said, I am going to focus this post on recycling and we can do personally in that realm of life and of design.

The first thing that I think when I think recycling is cans and bottles - glass, plastic and aluminum - and paper. But there are so many other products that can be recycled and reused in various ways. I did some digging and pulled a bunch of facts regarding what we can do as individuals to help recycle and "go green" and what can and does happen as a result of or recycling (or the lack thereof).

This is a cool graphic representing what our trash is made up of. Notice how much of it are things that could be recycled.

in_trash.jpg

Bet you never thought of recycling your water. Well here are a few ways that you can:

*If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion dollars per year!

*The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month.

*Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.

*A full bath tub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons.

If / when you own a home there are a lot of simple ways that you can help save energy:

*Improperly sealed/caulked windows can account for up to 25% of total heat loss from a house.

*If every household replaced its most often-used incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, electricity use for lighting could be cut in half.

*Today's dishwashers are about 95% more energy-efficient than those bought in 1972 -- your old dishwasher may be costing you more money in energy bills than it would take to buy a new one.

As designers, paper is a huge issue with misprints, proofs, reprints etc. Here are some things we can do at home and think about as we enter into the workplace:

*Each of us uses approximately one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products per year.

And as designers I'm sure that number is higher. However, paper is a material that has high recyclability and so there is a lot of good news:

*Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity -- enough energy to power the average American home for five months.

*More than 56 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. during 2007 was recovered for recycling -- an all-time high. This impressive figure equals nearly 360 pounds of paper for each man, woman, and child in America. [I would like to think that number is even higher in 2008 and 2009.]

* Recycled paper can also be made into paper towels, notebook paper, envelopes, copy paper and other paper products, as well as boxes, hydro-mulch, molded packaging, compost, and even kitty litter.

We all drink soda or use things that have metal or aluminum in them once and awhile. Here is what recycling those products can do:

*Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to make the material from scratch. That means you can make 20 cans out of recycled material with the same amount of energy it takes to make one can out of new material.

* When you toss out one aluminum can you waste as much energy as if you'd filled the same can half-full of gasoline and poured it into the ground.

*Americans throw away enough aluminum every month to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.

* More than 50% of a new aluminum can is made from recycled aluminum.
*The 36 billion aluminum cans landfilled last year had a scrap value of more than $600 million. (Some day we'll be mining our landfills for the resources we've buried.)

If your daily products don't come in metal or aluminum they come in glass or plastic. Here are some facts about those materials:

*Glass never wears out -- it can be recycled forever. We save over a ton of resources for every ton of glass recycled -- 1,330 pounds of sand, 433 pounds of soda ash, 433 pounds of limestone, and 151 pounds of feldspar.

*If every American household recycled just one out of every ten HDPE bottles they used, we'd keep 200 million pounds of the plastic out of landfills every year.

Styrofoam is a very unnecessary evil.

*It is un-recyclable- you can't make it into new Styrofoam. The industry wants you to assume it is- don't BUY it!

*Each year American throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups, enough every year to circle the earth 436 times

These few facts about junk mail just make me sad:

*If only 100,000 people stopped their junk, mail, we could save up to 150,000 trees annually. If a million people did this, we could save up to a million and a half trees.
*The junk mail Americans receive in one day could produce enough energy to heat 250,000 homes.

This last one is something that we could definitely consider often as designers. Especially if we end up having any influence over packaging some day.

*$1 out of every $11 Americans spend for food goes for packaging.


If you're wondering what things can/should be recycled here is a pretty good list. Obviously the bins are specific to a location, but this will at least give a good idea of what should be going into the recycling.

recycling_table.jpg

For more facts and information visit:


http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html

For my last post, I would like to talk about biodegradability from a personal standpoint. Our deteriorating environment, harmful non-biodegradable products in every day items, and proper waste disposal are issues we must each individually face. How we go about dealing with these issues is a personal choice.

I personally do care about our environment but don't always know what I can be doing to help out. I can handle simple tasks such as not polluting, recycling, and using less water/electricity. I still feel as though I am harming the environment. I did some research and found a very helpful book. Its called "GreenGreenerGreenest" it talks about many every day objects and activities and the effect they have on the environment. They then provide three different sets of solutions to the problem. There is a green section that is very easy and cheap to do but still better for the environment. There is a greener section that suggests things that are even better but might require more work or sometimes more money. Then they provide a greenest solution that is the best way to handle the problem.

There is another site called "use-less-stuff.com" that can has some helpful tools and interesting links. If you can get by their logo without vomiting, it provides some good stuff. It actually led me to this article on "reusable bags" that actually reveals that walmart's new blue bags that I last blogged about, actually only use one third recycled plastics and last half as long as their original, black, recycled bags. So the moral of reusable bags is to just reuse whatever bag appeals to you. Just that fact is helping the environment, not the fact that you are buying a wal-mart reusable bag.

There are a lot of resources out there to help you and me become more environmentally friendly, its just a matter of putting in some effort. I know I am leaving this class much more aware than I came in. Now I only hope that companies "cough, cough, apple" start making their computers to last longer than three years so I don't harm the environment as much and don't spend my life broke.

Hello fellow seniors + Richelle and Jenny. Biodegradability isn't all maggots, worms, flowers and sunshine. There is almost always a financial concern tied directly to the next "green" idea. It is easy for people to say: "just get rid of that plastic wrap", "don't use those chemicals", or "use less of that". Yet we all expect to continue living our same lifestyles. We have grown attached to our products and services. We also have come to expect a certain price range and availability for these products. If one company tries to change its ways to be more "green" by decreasing the quality of the product, or increasing the cost, (two common results of doing so) most consumers will simply choose to buy from a different company who can offer the quality and price they are accustomed to.

We live in a capitalist nation where companies and people get rewarded for generating profit, not for having good values. It is very unfortunate, but it's the truth of the matter. If I personally had my way, I'd eliminate currency all together. In an ideal world we could all live in a harmonious community where we all help each other out because it's what we do. We would be a single class living for the well being of mankind as a whole. Unfortunately, this would greatly decrease graphic design careers...

...And back to reality in 2010. Since companies need to see profit from changes they make, making biodegradable products and packaging isn't always at the top of their list. One step that many large companies have taken is the idea selling reusable bags. Here: you can see that Walmart is selling a reusable bag for 50 cents.

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This should reduce waste created from grocery bags. Positive step? Yes, but it was still influenced by money. First of all, Walmart probably makes money on the bag its self. Secondly, they will save money by reducing the number of grocery bags it buys. The only real point here is that financial issues go hand in hand with biodegradability. If you go again to the site I referred, you will see halfway down the second paragraph where it talks about how much the government pays to take plastic bags to landfills. This once again raises the question in my mind, why doesn't the government step in? Since people and companies only seem to be moved by money or punishment, why doesn't the government mandate an extra tax on costumers who don't bring a reusable bag? Not only would this be environmentally responsible of our government, but it would also help contribute to the costs associated with removing our waste.

As graphic designers and creative individuals, I feel like we can help think of new ideas that can generate profit and are environmentally friendly. As we venture out into the world of professional design, we shouldn't just sit quietly designing in a corner. Always keep your creative hat on and try to find ways that you can assist the environment and your company.

In addition, there are many things you personally can do in regards to biodegradability that can actually help you save money. For example, I recommend growing a garden of your own if you can. This saves you a ton of money. Seeds are incredibly cheap and produce a lot of vegetables. This would also help reduce energy waste it takes to ship grocery store vegetables to you. On top of that, your garden could act as a compost pile where you can dump your biodegradable items. Please stay tuned, in my next blog I will be talking all about biodegradability from a personal aspect and things you can do.

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"biodegradable polymers"
this link discusses the increasingly popularity of biodegradable polymers. Much of it has to do with its cost continuing to go down at the same time standard thermoplastic prices have been increasing.

Norman Nadeau is no stranger to renewable energy.

The 40-something financial adviser has devised a way to power almost his entire house by renewable energy systems he's installed in his own front yard. In addition to this, he hopes to use the fecal matter of his pet alpacas as fuel for a series of power generators.

Clearly, he's no stranger to inspiration as well.

In an article published in the Hartford Courant, and republished on PressDemocrat.com, Norman's story, along with others in the state of Connecticut, go to show that these energy revolutionaries don't do it all for the money, but rather to "show the world it can be done."

Nadeau's story is truly inspirational because his love for energy-focused science is the result of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He set out on a path that lead to self-sustainability, and ultimately a happier, healthier lifestyle. He had little knowledge on the subject prior to his diagnosis, and claimed that it compelled him to stay awake and scour the Internet "for every piece of information on renewable energy systems."

A similar story is unfolding in our Interactive Design II class.

While not at all related to health conditions, we have been tasked with redesigning a the website for World Class Initiative, an organization devoted to encouraging young adults (12-17), to get more involved in alternative energy sources. In our group specifically, we are designing a page around a wind belt known as the "Humdinger." Overall, the project aims to get parents and educators alike to participate in such projects with their children and students to create a larger understanding of renewable energy.

It inspires those young adults to use their time, not playing video games or watching the MTV, but rather for doing their part to make the world a better place, environmentally speaking.

And if there's one thing I've learned about inspiration, it's that if you aren't inspired, the work you do won't inspire others. And when it comes to the earth, inspiring others is something that absolutely needs to happen.

__________

"Environmental Inspiration" on PressDemocrat.com
Vibrant Life
The Humdinger Windbelt
World Class Initiative
Somewhat unrelated: Environmental Advertising Inspiration

When we, as designers come across a problem we want to find a solution that is as simple as possible for the user. The solution we come to should be effective and easy to understand, this means that the designer must look at all aspects of the problem to make sure that all aspects are addressed in the end result. This can be quite a task when designing in a broader social sphere. Trying to take into account the situation of the people involved, and their daily challenges, is extremely difficult. I found a great article on this topic, here:

http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/design_thinking_for_social_innovation/

The article addresses the issues that came with the design of a water treament facility in India. The treatment center provides clean water, and does this well, however, people still do not use it because of some overall design flaws. The treatment center requires a person to use a five gallon container, which when filled, is very heavy for one person to carry. The treatment center also requires a monthly punch card for five gallons a day, but many residents in the are feel like they are overpaying because most of the time they do not need five gallons.

It's interesting that the designers who were comissioned to build the water treatment facility did a great job in the builging, and construction, but the design was very poor in relation to the way people use it. The deisgn needed to be efficient and apporpriate for the region, it was not, and it was deemed not a succesful endevor.

If there would've been someone who observed the daily habits, and interacted with the people who would potentially be using the treatment center, these problems could have been avoided. This is why a designer must consider all aspects of the problem and address them in the solution, or the entire process will have been for nothing.

As someone who is looking to hit the job market seriously for the first time, I am kind of nervous. The recent economic upheaval is definately one of those factors but I also have concerns about my role as a designer in the field. I feel as though the places that are hiring are not willing to bring in someone who is not a 'Jack of all trades'. Companies seem reticent to spend the money to hire someone who is more focused on one aspect of design than another. Of course they want someone to do it all, and they want to be financially efficient, it makes perfect sense, but the design suffers. I came across a really great blog entry about over specialization vs. being able to do it all, here:

http://www.nikibrown.com/designoblog/2009/10/14/jack-of-all-trades/

There were some good responses, and I found that although being able to do many things moderately well would be good for a freelance designer, finding a serious job with a company serrious about design may require that person to be more focused on a specific area.

It seems that being efficient in a financial sense, regarding design, requires some insight into what you really want to do. As a specialized designer focused on one area, you may be able to serve larger clients with a specific need, and complete the requested projects with exceptional results. However, as a designer who is a 'Jack of all trades' it is possible to do more work for more different clients, but work may be unpredictable and the quality of the project may not be as high. I found another blog where this question is addressed here:

http://www.guerrillafreelancing.com/jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none/

And it seems that many people are concerned about knowing many areas of design but not mastering any of them. Some of the comments are insightful, and as a designer it is reassuring that many people have the same issues

Looking at affordability and design in a social context is really an investigation of how different groups of people define what is affordable and how the marketplace reacts to and influences those decisions. Our cultural definitions of affordability are constantly evolving. Changing gas prices, for instance, provoke a wide range of reactions, but rarely do they result in a major drop-off in consumption.

Our most recent speaker, Will Davis from Target, provided some excellent insight into some of the decisions companies make with regard to the consumer perception of affordability. In particular, Target and other companies use focus groups when determining how pricing affects purchase decisions. As Mr. Davis pointed out, the introduction of higher-priced lines to one area of the store affects customer perception in several ways. Beyond influencing the customer's overall impression of the store (in this case, by differentiating Target from other low-priced retailers), the higher-priced items set their neighbors in sharper relief, giving the customer the impression of greater value at the lower price-points. This can serve to increase the final cost that a consumer finds affordable. In simpler terms, the ten-dollar Maybelline [insert cosmetics product here] looks significantly more affordable next to a thirty-dollar Jemma Kidd product, and this contrast may cause the consumer to purchase the Maybelline over an even lower-priced alternative.

This kind of decision by Target is one that is made very carefully. By including more expensive options in their lineups, Target can give their customers a more upscale, luxurious impression of the company, and this may cause them to shop at Target more frequently. Include too high a price-point, however, and Target risks tarnishing its image as a low-price retailer. Finding the balance between these two points is the kind of difficult decision companies make when considering consumer's impressions of affordability.

Sources:
Will Davis, Target Corp.

This was a video I found about designers who got laid off from ad agencies and the effect that it has had on their lives for the better.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/120840/lemonade

As the economy has been buckling down there are less jobs out there (paying jobs) than probably could be hoped for. With all the people getting let go and the ease of use of design programs, there is a lot of competition in the marketplace. It may not be entirely crazy to assume that some people will start out or may eventually become freelancers. We have talked somewhat about pricing in class and what to pay attention to so I would like to select some sites and possibly reiterate what we have talked about.

Hourly rate. How do you come up with an hourly rate? It actually takes a lot of research and planning on your part to decide how long projects are going to take. It is made easier if you have experience in knowing how long projects take but it is more than just making that awesome brochure or radical poster. You need to think about business calls, writing up proposals and invoices, meetings...ect.

Are you going to be printing? According to About.com, if you are then you should charge "typical to add an extra 10-20% onto what the printing will actually cost. This is your fee for any additional time involved in dealing with the printer."

You also need to remember to charge one-time costs such as having to buy a certain font or a certain kind of paper than will add to the expense.
There are basically four things people need to think about when pricing out projects: these are salary, overhead, and profit.

People should also think about who should they accept as clients. Should we accept anybody that walks in the door? Do we really need to put up with sticklers just for their money or should we hold our clients to a certain level of professionalism? Is it really ever ok to turn down a client?

I think that is something that needs to be thought about when we all start to venture out on our own. Is it better to have the money or to set a personal standard? I think it definitely depends on the situation but it should be noticed that not accepting everyone as a client can portray people in a positive light at times.

Lastly, the internet strongly suggest if you are going to freelance you need to have professional business programs. If you want to be professional then be professional and fork up the dough for those expensive programs in Best Buy. It will save you a ton of time and keep you organized. They say a lot of people justify not buying it because they don't feel like a professional company really or it is too expensive. Bull pucky the internet says.

Just do it.
http://www.allfreelancework.com/articlelehavi.php
http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/freelance/a/pricing.htm
http://www.allfreelancework.com/start.php
http://designm.ag/freelance/starting-freelance-business/
http://articles.sitepoint.com/article/interview-freelance-designer


In my last few posts I have brought up the fact that today's technology can push awareness through expedient information dispersal and gorilla marketing. The marketing campaigns that I have mentioned all have an underlying fact; the product, service or idea that they are trying to raise awareness for is in some way interesting or engaging. The question that can then be raised is how can one use the technology of today to raise awareness and change within topics of little to no public interest.

The financial mess that the US has found itself in, has helped to shine some light on just how financially irresponsible many Americans are. An alarmingly small number of people have an understanding of the connection between the financial actions they take and the consequences of those actions, immediate or future. The key to bridging the knowledge gap is by appealing to the basic human reward response (1.)

Cognitive science has been clarifying human motivation for decades, and although psychologists have not agreed on one overarching explanation, all consent that motivation is key to understanding how and why humans act as they do (2.) Humans are hardwired to engage in goal-oriented activities (3.) we get pleasure from it, which in turn drives us to continue and expand the behavior (see addiction (1.)) How does this all relate back to financial awareness, or awareness in general? Well, if you turn learning into a goal-oriented activity, with tangible or artificial rewards, you can play to human's native response and not only engage them, but also encourage them to continue.

I strongly advise everyone to take ten minutes and watch the following video:
http://www.ted.com/talks/jesse_schell_when_games_invade_real_life.html

While Jesse Schell's vision of future connectivity may be a little extreme, it just points out that the fantastic and relatively unexplored medium of goal-oriented, game-inspired learning, could be applied to every aspect of your life and encourage you to not only further your knowledge, but be a better you.

Any person who has tried to learn or teach themselves something that is intrinsically boring or complicated will tell you that it is typically an unpleasant activity. Ask any person if they would rather read a booklet about home mortgages or play/watch a game/film, I assume they would choose the later. When ever, if ever think-tanks and investors turn their attention from making money, to making a better society, we could possibly see an implementation of Mr. Schell's ideas. After all shouldn't learning be a fun?

1. Bozarth, Micheal A, http://www.addictionscience.net/ASNreport01.htm
2. Alpay, E. "How Far Have Cognitive Theories of Motivation Advanced Our Understanding of the Motivation to Learn?"
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivation

So, what is Ownership on a personal level?

Well, I'm fairly certain that it encapsulates everything regarding ownership I've talked about so far - protecting your work through patents, copyrights, etc (financial), staying environmentally conscious (environmental), and working towards bettering "human society" (social).

So where does that leave us? Most of the discussion I've raised is about how we as designers and personally make decisions regarding our ownerships. It seems like discussing personal ownership just rehashes all of those things.

Therefore it is VERY IMPORTANT that you read all of pervious blog posts!!!!


Really just kidding.

Read more if you want

I think Matt Wenger raised an interesting question in his blog post, when he asked if marketing green products is a self-defeating activity. With all advertising methods, some energy and materials are wasted, however, if you change your ultimate goal from marketing to awareness, one is able to find a myriad of relatively green means of showing product to the general public.

One means of raising awareness for your product, in an environmentally responsible way is at the point of purchase. With great and unique design a product can differentiate itself and bring attention to its environmental conscious at the same time (1.) Any designer who has walked through a co-op or health food store can attest to the fact that overall packing design for organic foods is poor. Organic foods typically try to play up a folksy quality while blending into the surround products. At a traditional grocery store, where organics make up only a small percentage, these folksy, plain designs make many organic products even more invisible. This is not to say that all organic and earth conscious products have poor designs, and fortunately many companies are starting to warm up to the idea of packaging their products in a dynamic way.

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6a00d8345250f069e201310f8ec18b970c-550wi.jpg

Another approach to raising awareness and creating hype for a product is through guerilla marketing. With a gorilla campaign, the intent is to raise buzz around a product or serve by an unconventional approach which often engages users in a "game," event or situation (2.) Blu Dot Furniture of Minneapolis preformed an excellent example of this style of marketing.

http://vimeo.com/8202858

Why is this strategy greener? There is of course waste in materials and some energy use, but overall, most of the energy spent is by interested parties who involve themselves in the "game." After some initial users experience the guerilla marketing campaign, it is likely to fly around the web being featured or mentioned in numerous blogs and websites. Finally, if your gorilla marking campaign is successful and unique, rational news stations and news sources may cover it, extending the awareness to a group that never actually interacted with the campaign (3.)

These two means of information dispersal are relatively cheap in both resources and energy compared to the billboards, commercials, and retail design used by some to market their "green" products. I hope that this trend towards environmentally conscious living continues and expands, but to do so it needs to find success and profitability now. The balance between ethics and consumption is a tricky scenario, and only time will tell if people are willing to make sacrifices to see its success.

1. Lee, Presten D, Specialization: a designer's key to success in the future, http://graphicdesignblender.com/

2. Miriam Webster Dictionary

3. Kim, Amy Jo, Design Strategies of Successful Communities

Will Davis, the Partnerships and Negotiations dealer for Target, was one of our recent guest speakers in class. One of the interesting information that he stated and caught my attention was the issue with security at Target. After hearing him talk about all of the things that go through negotiating partnership and cooperative plans with businesses, the design processes of promoting products, and the self-image that Target is lucky to have, in a way, what he said did not surprise me as much as I thought it would. Basically, Will Davis told us that someone could literally get away (until later) with walking into one of the Target stores, pick up a product probably regardless of size, and walk out without paying and without being stopped. He explained that the reason this would happen is because Target has already developed for itself an extremely powerful image and by getting security involved right away in the store may create a panic or fear of shopping in the store.

I've never thought of that but it doesn't surprise me that Target would see to act with such behavior. And they're probably not the only ones. Big and popular stores that have gone through a process of developing a friendly, caring, and safe image (thanks to design, crew, popularity, and success), are forced to keep those qualities in mind even in tough situations such as with the issue of theft. (Of course, the store would have everything caught on camera and so the issue would be resolved eventually, but not during the present. ) But they also have to worry of wrongfully accusing someone for it, which then would be even worse for the company.

Perhaps it is a psychological issue though that we'd prefer to not be aware that there are thieves in store and perhaps ultimately this links to the issue of money. Target has such an attractive image that by making their shoppers aware that a theft had just occurred, it would ruin it and hint or impose that their products might be too expensive, thus leading to people wanting to steal. I read up on article that explained even further that at Target "only a very small number of people per store have the authority to stop shoplifters. Therefore even if someone steals an item in the presence of a security guard ... Target does not authorize the guard to stop the shoplifter."

I'm curious as to if someone actually agrees that by witnessing a thief being caught on the spot in, let's say, Target, would they feel scared, unsafe, or assume the store is overpricing their products? I've previously experienced a similar situation two years ago but it was in a JC Penney inside a shopping mall. Two girls were in the process of stealing a few jewelries, attempted to walk out of the store, but only to be stopped by a woman employed there. Since then I've only been to JC Penney twice.
Regardless, I do feel that it's ok that companies such as Target would react in such a way. What we don't know, won't hurt us, right? (Maybe.)

Sources:

1) Guest Speaker: Will Davis
2) http://www.620wtmj.com/shows/jeffwagner/45156192.html

Being aware of the world's natural resources is evident, but as a designer it is also necessary to be aware of how to do this. So many people desire to go green, but in reality do not achieve this. This entry is to help understand this green phenomenon and how to start facilitating these important efforts.

"If the world's natural resources were evenly distributed, people in 2050 will only have 25% of the resources per capita that people in 1950 had." (Ferraro-Fanning, Angela) As we all know, graphic designers use numerous amounts of paper everyday from printing off color swatches, printing mockups, drawing, catalogs, etc. I could go on forever, but since this is already part of our job we should be aware of other options we can use. Many people do not do their part because they think it is overly expensive and additional work, which is not necessarily accurate.

Are you green in your personal life style? It is essential to start here before becoming a green designer. When working on your current or next project, take into consideration of the excess paper used. As an alternative of printing off trials and trials, strive to analyze it on screen until you believe it's nearly finished. Scraps of computer paper lying around are efficient for printing on both sides when it entails things of less importance, such as directions, emails, etc. Although it is obvious that it is necessary to print as designers, it is also vital to consider how much we are printing. After the paper has no significance place it in the recycling bin; not the trash can.

Influencing your client is the next step in becoming a green designer. There are various ways to initiate this. Instead of printing a million postcards and misusing funds to mail, send email campaigns. Emails are economical for you and your client. Also, it is confirmed to attain better results through effortless online sign up or registering process. Online catalogs are another option to start saving resources. The majority of computer friendly people appreciate online stores because it saves a lot of time and catalogs are usually not at hand. Lastly, it is clear that printing is still crucial and will remain. Alternatives involve printing on post-consumer content (recycled paper). Many clients are becoming apt to using post-consumer content to print their marketing materials. As a designer it is essential to remember that designing on post-consumer content can still achieve its' visually pleasing aesthetic. There is a book I found online, Green Graphic Design by Brian Dougherty, with some great comments about the book. Here is a comment proving that, as a designer, it is your job to influence your client,
"Few of my clients urged me to design their marketing communication materials in expensive four color, I blankly said no and suggested them to use cheap recycled packaging paper to develop their collaterals. Finally we did some fantastic designs with silk screening technology and cut color styles."

If you become really committed, another option would be to trade out your printing inks with soy or vegetable basked inks. There are a million more possible efforts, these are just a couple to get you started and aware of the earth's natural resources.


http://www.greengraphicdesign.net/

Ferraro-Fanning, Angela. 13thirtyone Design.
http://www.allgraphicdesign.com/graphicsblog/2008/05/green-graphic-design-why-and-how-to-be-more-eco-friendly/

Being aware of your social resources, assets, networks, organizations, events, and opportunities is a vital role in becoming a respectable designer. To take advantage of every part requires you initially to establish a good attitude. This has been told to us a million times, as designers, but it rings truer everyday coming closer to graduation. The unemployment rate plummeting, the design work is not enough. A positive attitude and outlook on life as a whole will take you places. An article from Articlesbase stated,
"Even if you are jobless there is no sound or required reason to remain unhappy. Your attitude governs mostly everything in life. Adversity comes and goes in the lives of people every day. Facing life with optimism and determination will enable those with a way to overcome."

By obtaining this positive attitude, you will have more inspiration and motivation to become aware of your social opportunities. Many of us have a twitter account, which is crucial to stay associated and become further informed of the design world around us. An article I found online, Making the Most of Twitter for Designers by Taylor Loran, gave a few pointers that are important for Twitter users and for any future Twitter users out there (get one now!). As a user of Twitter, it is necessary to tweet about other projects, encouraging articles, stock images, etc. that you have found and not just about your own ideas and projects. Twitter can be a great guide to network for millions of designers. By getting to know other designers and their work you can only gain knowledge. To be successful through Twitter, you must be an active member; posting often and sending direct messages once in a while. On the other hand, don't post too much and don't write consecutive unconstructive posts. This causes annoyance for many. Finally, the central key to Twitter is to not let it take up too much of your time! (I know we all get caught up and can't leave!) Keep it as a daily routine, but once you are finished move on to designing.

The last social aspect to be aware of is not the virtual world, but the actual world of design around us; from preparing for an interview to recognizing names of designers. Being able to talk about their company in an interview is impressive and you will be remembered, which again brings us back to attitude. Studying the company you have an interview for, involves a lot of positive attitude and inspiration. Here is a quote from Tom Sloper,
"If you want to move up into the studio, perhaps eventually to become a designer, you need a good attitude. It's the bright stars who get noticed. Don't just look for ways to do more... find them."
By being socially aware with a positive attitude, life will give you opportunities you weren't even aware of. Just a little inspiration and aid for everyone looking for a job out there! Good luck! ☺


Articlesbase. Attitude Plus Aptitude Equals Altitude.
http://www.articlesbase.com/motivational-articles/attitude-plus-aptitude-equals-altitude-2047970.html

Loran, Taylor. Making the Most of Twitter for Designers. Oct. 19, 2009.
http://graphicdesign.suite101.com/article.cfm/making_the_most_of_twitter_for_designers

Sloper, Tom. Lesson #9 - Professionalism and Attitude.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson9.html

Empowerment as stated before 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. There are often really good things that come out of empowerment. It helps a lot of people succeed at their jobs and in their personal lives. There are several personal empowerment programs whether they are online, in book format, or through presentations. They share strategies to become a better you, more confident and they teach you to thrive instead of just surviving. They also tell you that power is the energy created by a motivating thought or idea. (see empowerme.com and personalempowermentstrategies.com)

This is really helpful when ones intentions are good and they plan on using the empowerment to make their lives happier and healthier, but what happens when personal empowerment takes a turn for the worse?

I will be your guide in this journey, where we will take a look at an instance where personal empowerment has been twisted into a negative energy.

We have all been trained for a number of years in the field of graphic design. It is our natural instinct to be critical of design everywhere. We have been taught conventions and theories of design that have empowered us to create pieces and form opinions that use educational conceptions. This empowerment, when used appropriately provides a basis for ideation, conception, discussion and creation of great design.

Sometimes though, as seen on blogcatalog.com/blog/bad-graphic-design there are instances when this personal empowerment turns itself into a privileged feeling that allows the person to criticize the work of others negatively.

We have always been taught, since we were young, that if you don't have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all. Obviously the personal empowerment of an education led this blogger to seek out design that wasn't up to his taught standards and tear it apart. Criticism and the ability to take it is a crucial part in the learning process and that is understood all to well in any design industry. The way that one formulates the criticism says a lot about the personality and personal empowerment of the individual.


badbadbad.png
"Just wow...

Where shall i begin? The Comic Sans? The scattered navigation? Mixed fonts? Drag-and-drop styled layout? The company's name/ logo?

As I browsed this page, a few of the sub pages looked similar, however the buttons switched places and position as did the logo and content.

This, is an okay website, if it were created using Geocities drag-and-drop page designer back in 1999. But for a small company/ organization, you should probably learn the basics of Dreamweaver and make the site a bit more... professional. "

Where did this individual get all of their empowerment, who made them the Bad Graphic Design Guru, is there such a thing?

A walk through the toy aisle at Target and I constantly find myself saying "Why didn't we have these while growing up?" "What!! this is awesome!! I wish I were a kid again." Children of today have way more options than we ever did when it comes to toys. Today's toys are so much more advanced and interactive when compared to what we were offered. I mean we had pogs, beanie babies, Power Rangers, Tamagotchis, etc. While kids today get dinosaurs that roar and walk around controlled by a remote control, life size pet dogs who bark, pant and wag their tails, fake guitars that actually make music, and every girl is given the choice to pick a barbie that looks like them. One reason why toys of today are getting more unique is because the buying market that children control is so huge. Designers are constantly trying to find something that will make their product stand out to attract children. And at the same time, advertisers are constantly on the look out to make their products stand out in their 30 second commercials.

"Young children are increasingly the target of advertising and marketing because of the amount of money they spend themselves, the influence they have on their parents spending (the nag factor) and because of the money they will spend when they grow up." According to the Associated Press, in 2005 United States alone had a toy sales of $22.9 billion. The numbers are pretty staggering. I mean who would have thought that over 57 million school age children and teenagers spend about $100 billion each year of their own and their family's money on sweets, food, drinks, video and electronic products, toys, games, movies, sports, clothes and shoes."

According to newdream.org, the 'average American child is exposed to an estimated 40,000 television commercials a year - over 100 a day'. Resulting to an estimated $15+ billion advertisements directed towards children annually. So the question is why is it that the buying power of children is so great? Blame it all on the "pester power" or nag factor. My three year old nephew will watch TV and every commercial that advertises toys is followed by a "I want that. Auntie buy for me?" If I don't reply, he says "Please auntie." Over and over again until I tell him "I buy for you." According to the Center for a New American Dream, 'American children will ask their parents for products they have seen advertised an average of nine times until their parents finally give in. More than 10% admit to asking their parents more than 50 times for products they have seen advertised." That is the buying power of children.

As Barbara A. Martino (Advertising Executive) says best, "Marketing to children is all about creating pester power, because advertisers know what a power force it can be."

http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/children.html

http://www.newdream.org/kids/facts.php

http://web.archive.org/web/20061201012535/http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/11/28/teen.tweens.ap/index.html

Eyeglasses from gone from medical necessity to fashion accessory. Far-sighted, near-sighted, and those lucky 20/20 people can all choose from thousands of pairs of specs to add some fashion to their face, whether or not they need to. Embracing the design culture of the fashion industry has revolutionized the industry. In his book, Design Meets Disability, Graham Pullin poses the questions; Why shouldn't design sensibilities also be applied to hearing aids, prosthetic limbs and communication aids? In return, disability can provoke radical new direction in mainstream design. Charles and Ray Eames's iconic furniture was inspired by a molded plywood leg splint that they designed for injured and disable servicemen. All designers can look to disability for a new form of inspiration.

Design Meets Disability has seven chapters -- fashion meets discretion, exploring meets solving, simple meets universal, identity meets ability, provocative meets sensitive, feeling meets testing and expression meets information. These are followed by a series of discourses that are meetings with designers -- Tomoko Azumi meets step stools, Michael Marriott meets wheelchairs, Martin Bone meets prosthetic legs, Graphic Thought meets braille, Crispin Jones meets watches for visually impaired people, Andrew Cook meets communication aids, and Vexed meets wheelchair capes and more.

I think designing for disability is a big market that has exponential potential for growth. There is plenty of room within this industry for innovation within design. Why shouldn't wheelchairs be as sleek and modern as normal chairs? Obviously when designing for disability, function come before fashion, however there is always room to incorporate fashion into function. I haven't read Design Meets Disability but I think it would be a good read about how the worlds of design and disability can inspire each other.


http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11673
http://cripwheels.blogspot.com/2009/04/design-meets-disability-review-ii.html

Empowerment as referred to in the last post is not always a negative thing. Economic empowerment is

There are companies that are using empowerment as a marketing strategy and it makes for a great brand image boost and it shows that economic empowerment is prevalent and can be used for positive causes. Take a look at this website and browse all of the options that allow one to empower themselves while helping the cause:

empowerment.png
http://www.clicktoempower.org/

Here is the letter that they have scripted that you can send out to your family and friends to raise awareness. And Allstate cleverly has their name located at each of the click through pages. They are empowering the client while managing their brand image perfectly. This is a great way that Economic empowerment can lead to positive creativity that leads to successful marketing campaigns.

"Hello,

As gal pals, we talk about everything. Yet there's one subject that goes unsaid, but we are all impacted by it in some way. What I'm talking about is domestic violence. Did you know seven out of 10 of Americans know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence, and one in four women report being abused by a husband or partner in their lifetimes?

I am writing you to "Tell a Gal P.A.L." and talk for a change about domestic violence and economic abuse.

• Pass It On-- Tell others that economic abuse is a part of domestic violence. Talk freely about domestic violence to break the taboo.

• Act-- Take steps to protect your personal and financial safety, whether you're in an abusive relationship or not. Never underestimate how small acts, like listening, can make a big difference.

• Learn--Empower yourself with the knowledge and resources available to help yourself, or someone you know, out of an abusive situation. Visit and direct others to ClickToEmpower.org for more information.

I encourage you join me and Tell a Gal P.A.L. by forwarding this email. Also, join the conversation on the ClickToEmpower social networks.

www.facebook.com/clicktoempower

www.twitter.com/clicktoempower

Remember to Tell a Gal P.A.L. so that all women and men can freely and openly talk about domestic violence and how economic empowerment can provide a path to a safe future.

Together we can make a difference.

Your gal pal,"

Compare that to the website shown previously, night and day.

There are clothing trends, music trends, artistic trends and now more than ever, there are environmental trends. Being conscious of one's impact on the earth has never been more popular. Popular in the sense that it is a common and almost necessary change in people's lifestyles, but also popular in the sense that "being green" is stylish and trendy. But does it matter? People who were "in this from the beginning" complain about the trend-seekers hopping on the band-wagon for the next cool thing, which in this case is loving the earth. Band-wagon or not, this trend has had an incredible impact on the planet.

These days, a Prius is cooler than a Hummer; you'll be met with evil glares if carrying around a plastic water bottle and reusable tote bags are the hottest accessory. Albeit many people are approaching the green lifestyle with intentions of being seen as green, able to purchase these new eco-friendly products and somewhat adapt to a low-impact lifestyle while still retaining the comforts they are used to.

anyaHindmarch.jpg

However irrelevant this may be, I remember a small essay I did in 5th grade. I am sure I no longer have the floppy disk (!) where it was saved, but I am able to recall the general topic I discussed. This was around the time when the WWJD bracelets were popular. Kids didn't have enough money to purchase their own clothing yet, but these small and trendy bracelets were a way for them to join in with a mainstream trend. In my paper, little cynical 10-year-old me ranted about how the wearing of these bracelets is only done to be like the other kids, to be cool; not belief in the message around one's wrist. On the flip side, it could be argued that whether or not someone is actively conscious of these four letters, by having the little trinkets show up everywhere raises an awareness and possible positive change for everyone.

WWJD.jpg

This all ties back to the trendiness of being green. Does it matter if people do it to boast a fashionable and perhaps privileged lifestyle? Fad or not, at the end of the day, does it really matter what people's motives are as long as we are all moving in the right direction?

Griskevicius, Vladas, Joshua M. Tybur, and Bram Van Den Bergh. Going Green to Be Seen; Status, Reputation and Conspicuous Conservation.

Johnson, Adrian. "Has Going Green Become More of a Trend than a Solution?" M Live 28 Feb. 2009.

As I've briefing mentioned in my other blog posts--designing for the Third Age will be necessary for financial success in the coming years.

The baby boomers are starting to reach retirement age, there are 35 million people over age 65, and the "elderly" (people over age 85) is the fastest growing consumer demographic in the United States. That's big news.

So... obviously this a group where a lot of money will made in the coming years. There's a lot of them, they'll have money to spend on themselves, and they'll have the free time to spend it. So creating and designs products they will use, buy, and enjoy will be key.

Obviously, the baby boomers won't wake up on the morning of their 65th birthday and instantly have arthritis, bad eyesight and need to use a walker, and start buying only products for "old people". But gradually, over time, more of them will have changing accessibility needs. But the baby boomers are famous for wanting to hang onto their youth. They've watched their parents age in nursing homes. They've made fun of the Jitterbug old-folks cell phone, the Clap-On-Clap-Off light, and the Hoveround commercials just as much as our generation has. They don't want to feel old. Who does?

Therefore, creating things that are Third-Age accessible, but not Third-Age exclusive, will be key. According to many of the articles I've read, designing with the Third Age in mind increases usability for everyone, not just seniors. In the coming years, we shouldn't be creating special "senior" design and products. Doing that limits your demographic, and the young-at-heart baby boomers won't want to buy "senior" products, anyway. So the challenge will be designing things for EVERYONE, seniors included. That will be a more difficult task. But it will yield great, universally usable, design. And if companies want to keep the massive Third Age demographic as customers, they'll have to put in the extra effort to stay financially viable.

hover_round1.png ...and now.

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Designing for Baby Boomers and Beyond
Charmaine Jones
http://www.appliancedesign.com/CDA/Archives/9dcac4ee3d938010VgnVCM100000f932a8c0____

Accessible Design
http://www.lighthouse.org/accessibility/design/

Design is the key to maintaining a healthy environment in this world. People that have ideas with a bit of a conspiratorial slant and grounded economic theorists alike understand that it is going to be hard for energy companies to let go of the significant investment that they've made in the global oil infrastructure. We can all agree that a shift in focus away from an oil-based energy economy is essential for the health of the planet. However, the only way that energy companies will oblige is if alternative energies become profitable. Design is key for the future of our environment because design can make other forms of energy easier to produce, sexier, and more practical.
I touched a little on this topic in a response that I wrote to one of Tessa's earlier posts, and I'd like to expand a bit on what I was discussed there.
In my opinion, the most exciting new technology will be placed under the ocean. Tidal generators are currently operating in France, Nova Scotia, Ireland, and Russia, and there are many more that are being planned or tested in other regions. Unfortunately, the costs of installing the current generation of tidal generators are large, and the returns on the power are usually not seen for many years, so private businesses are reluctant to invest in the technology. This issue of hight upfront investment and a return on investment that is seriously far off in the future is the same speed bump that has slowed the expansion of wind energy farms. However -- much like wind energy -- the running costs of tidal energy are extremely low, and seeing as it's not likely that the moon will stop exerting a gravitational pull on the ocean anytime soon, it is a long-term energy source.
So how do we make these alternative energy sources more affordable to implement? You guessed it: through design. Designers and engineers are making small scale tidal turbines that will lower the ROI to about five years. That is a reasonable time for a return, and energy companies could feasibly make a huge profit by manufacturing, selling, and servicing these types of micro-generator products.
The micro-energy idea also represents something new for the economy surrounding the environment. For the first time, people can potentially build their own energy-independent lifestyles because of the recent developments in small-scale, personal energy solutions. Take a look at this company that builds straw bale houses that provide a high level of insulation and are extremely green in construction. Coupled with a solar sand battery, you have a nearly energy independent structure made almost entirely of sustainable materials. If you only have a few companies specializing in this type of construction, the effect is nominal, but if you have an entire industry based on supplying small, eco-solutions to the majority of new construction, the effect would be monumental.
The green energy industry could use more than clever and exciting product design -- it needs the mother of all identity campaigns. Things are so exciting, and are changing so quickly in this industry, but nobody really hears about it. Check out this hydrogen booster that improves performance and economy in combustion engines, or this centrifuge that cleans Waste Vegetable Oil so that it can fuel diesel engines.

I use one of these centrifuges in my own oil filtration system on a big shuttle in alaska. My hiking company cut our fuel cost by $1500 a month by recycling waste vegetable oil the first summer we tried it. Or how about these folks making electric sports cars in their garage?
These solutions are so exciting, and I feel like if people new more about the cool things happening with small, personal energy systems, the industry would be thriving. Again, the industry needs a good identity campaign, and they need it badly.
Anybody up for the challenge?

Society. Even if we say that design always ends up being perceived and reacted to by individuals, it is within society that this takes place. Changes (innovations) will always be affected by social factors. For this post I decided to choose three words to represent different social considerations of innovation: intent, feasibility, and transformation. The first is something that may be integrated into our differing design philosophies; the second is a social factor we should all consider when doing something "new", the third is a social phenomenon that will always be part of design.

Intent
What are you aiming for when designing? Experimentation is good, but society's needs are a practical counterbalance to boundless creativity. A question to think about is where we should place innovation among design priorities. Scott Berkun wrote an article backing "good" rather than "innovative", and stated:

"From my studies of the history of business innovation, I'm convinced you can beat competitors and even dominate markets without fancy tricks. All you need is the ability to make things that are good consistently, since few companies do." (1)

He points out that companies popularly hailed as innovative (Apple, Amazon, Mozilla, Google) started out simply with the goal of being better than existing competitors. From this point of view, success is "driven less by...breakthrough thinking and more by a focus on making solid, reliable, simple, good products that solve real needs people have." (1) But surely disruptive thinking is part of a designer's role. In The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier says that creatives' "thinking is often so fresh that they zag even when they should zig. But without fresh thinking, there's no chance of magic." (2) I wrote in my "personal" post that an individual could be pleased by a design's newness, but functioning well is usually more important. I think most of us have learned to begin with broad experimentation, and then focus our process towards real practicality.

Feasibility
This practicality is a basic factor in social feasibility--whether creations survive in society. Earlier in the class Dean Kamen and the Segway PT were briefly mentioned. The Segway is an interesting topic for innovation and feasibility. It is a potentially revolutionary device, and has been promoted as a way to combat urban vehicle congestion and pollution. So why isn't it more widespread after nearly ten years? Its blurring between motor vehicle and pedestrian locomotion has caused policy conflicts and restrictions, just one of many societal obstacles such a design may face. Going back to graphic design, the creation of an identity best represented by, say, animation, may not be a good direction for a brand largely represented by cheap printed packaging. If it is not seen at its best, it may not be as easily accepted. A designer must remember the stormy nature of social use when letting an important creation set sail.

Transformation
Transformation is the word I am using for the power that groups of people exert on objects, ideas, and designs, to change their uses to suit varying needs. This is society's innovation, or design by the masses. The book Design by Use explores and documents this idea, calling it non-intentional design, meaning that a designer did not specifically plan the use. "The non-intentional use of mundane objects can be observed in almost any area of life. We encounter changes of use at home, in the office, and in public." (3) An example of this is the wide range of structures and objects used as seats by people in public areas. The book also mentions the development of "emoticons" or "smileys", the result of trying to expand expression using only lines of text in contexts such as e-mail messages. These combinations of symbols have developed a whole identity that survives numerous changes of context. In my "environment" post, I wrote about Sugru, the moldable do-it-yourself product. The creation of such products gives credit to the innovation that society can produce organically. The success of different forms of social media is another example. These media tools are flexible enough to allow society to innovate and become part of the design through use.

I will remind myself of these words when working on projects in the future. I must think about my design intent, deal with the reality of social feasibility, and learn from the transformations of society, the greatest day-to-day innovator.

Sources:

(1) Berkun, Scott. "Good Beats Innovative Nearly Every Time." BusinessWeek. Feb. 22, 2010.

(2) Neumeier, Marty. The Brand Gap. New Riders. 2006.

(3) Brandes, Uta et al. Design by Use. Birkhäuser. 2009.

Minimize Agony and the feeling of defeat

I have a book titled "Never Sleep" written by the two designers who started the firm Dress Code. The book is about the gap between being a design student, and being a working professional. They write about their experiences, and how they got their first jobs, and how much they suffered through projects and eventually got sweet jobs.

Well, the title Never Sleep bothered me. To me it says more than just don't sleep, it says, only design all the time because that is all that will ever matter because that is what designers do instead of sleeping. I hear this message a lot and it scares me. I know sleep is actually a good thing, not something worth fighting against every night, even during our precious time in college. (though it can be fun sometimes, the mornings do hurt).

"Students underestimate the importance of sleep in their daily lives. They forgo sleep during periods of stress, not realizing that they are sabotaging their physical and mental health," said study co-author Roxanne Prichard, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn, where the study took place. (1)

Life is agony and stress. Trying hard is important, but I believe that stressing and agonizing and crying over design (and other things) won't help solve a problem, it will just make you feel worse. (I say this as I am staying up past one, (probably two) the third or fourth night in a row, when I have to be up at 7). Its seems unavoidable to sacrifice sleep in order to get things done, due to the desire to achieve. I'd say that high achievement is the thing that drives competition and makes us all better at what we do (which is good) but that is also tortures our soles and leaves us curled up naked in the fetal position sucking our thumbs when we feel like we aren't doing good enough.

"Social psychologists have studied what they call the impostor phenomenon since at least the 1970s, when a pair of therapists at Georgia State University used the phrase to describe the internal experience of a group of high-achieving women who had a secret sense they were not as capable as others thought. Since then researchers have documented such fears in adults of all ages, as well as adolescents."(2)

The article about the Impostor Syndrome goes on to explain how this feeling can actually be somewhat deceptive, and that sometimes the person actually does feel more confident than what they say. These individuals are driven to work harder because they don't want to be seen as a failure, but even subconsciously know that they have made great achievements, even if they just credit it to luck.

What I find fascinating from all of the guest speakers, and fellow students, and other designers and just working professionals what contributes to their sense of achievement (whether is is having a kick ass, high paying, 60 hour a week job they love, or having more balance between working and whatever else they love, even if it pays less)

I think an interesting topic to discuss is: How much do we need to suffer for our art? I do believe through suffering we learn and become stronger. But how do we minimize the self destructive habits of over-working ourselves? Can we convince ourselves that we deserve to take a break, even during times of high pressure? And will this minimizing the stress and sleepless nights counteract our efforts by creating more stress because we did not achieve what we thought we needed to?

1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160265.php
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/health/05mind.html

crosssection.jpg

A year or two ago I was standing in the parking lot of Cossetta's in St. Paul, waiting for a friend to pick me up. As I was lifting my bike up onto the roof rack of his car, I knocked over my 20oz Vitamin Water. The bottle crashed into the ground, breaking the cap and getting my delicious lemonade everywhere. At that moment, a small boy and his mother were walking into Cossetta's from the parking lot. "You need to pick that up," the boy said. "What? Oh, yeah" I said while finishing ratcheting the bike rack together. I walked around the car to see the small boy still staring at me, holding back his mother. At that moment it set in: this next generation of kids has grown up completely entrenched in the green movement.

One of the few things I really remember about learning during school was the recycle song, and an animated short about conserving water (or you'll kill all the fish). This next generation is inundated with green information from practically all fronts. One enormous component of this push is Nickelodeon's Big Green Help Campaign1. This movement is heavily sponsored by Nickelodeon and features seemingly every character from their programming. This concentration of message has churned out a miniature army of eco-police2, hellbent on recycling everything and conserving all resources.

When thinking about how militant this latest group of kids in contrast to my peers, I wonder if we have become jaded to some degree. Maybe its the blatant greenwashing3 by corporations across the board that has us a little cautious. Theres no question that many of our peers care deeply about the environment. It seems like every time we have a guest speaker, this always becomes clear. Maybe we're just trying to strike balance between using 100% post consumer recycled paper with soy based inks, and getting scolded by a 7 year old in an Italian restaurant parking lot.

  1. The Big Green Help
  2. Pint-Size Eco-Police, Making Parents Proud and Sometimes Crazy
  3. Greenwash

Personal Empowerment, Design, and Corporate Standing

Large Corporations you must admit kind of run things around here. There even was a law that was just passed that allows any corporation or independent party to support any political campaign financially through advertising or otherwise. The court affirmed, "that groups of passionate individuals, like billionaires -- and corporations and unions after Citizens United -- have the right to spend without limit to independently advocate for or against federal candidates (1). There are non-profits that are fighting against this law, such as Democracy 1, an organization who is attempting to with hold the "integrity and fairness of government decisions and elections"(2). There are always two sides of a story, but how does this law affect design, and me personally?

When I heard about this law, I thought, wow I really hope that I won't be involved with a company that supports this. Corporations that advertise their product or themselves as supporting a certain demographic of people will contradict that representation only to benefit themselves. The worst thing of all is that I doubt many people will notice the funding due to how intensely some of these corporate names are engrained into our society. This injustice empowered me to think clearly about what kind of design firm, ideally, I would support and work for in the future. Jobs are rare to find at the present moment but a law like this should not be overlooked when applying to jobs. Design is a powerful tool, and you should only produce work that fits with your morals.

Our speaker from 3M made me realize that even small improvements on a products ethical standing makes a difference. With the car caulker that he redesigned, the small changes he made that reduced chemical leakage and waste gave me hope that some corporations are investing in extensive research to ultimately reduce waste. There are corporations that are supporting design both financially and ethically: interchangeably. The bottom line for me anyway, is that the more I learn about companies and design, the more I am empowered to stand as an individual and design for good. Regardless of how idealistic I seem.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/27/us/politics/27campaign.html

2. http://www.democracy21.org/index.asp?Type=B_PR&SEC=%7B3E522118-9BCF-4129-A19D-A568670FEBBF%7D

Personal competition is quite obviously the battle to better you. Self-help books may be cliché, but I am seriously considering purchasing one in the near future. Why wouldn't I want to better myself? I don't think anything is particularly wrong with me, but I figure what can it hurt? In looking into this google-able subject, "personal competition" the first hit was a compiled list on businessweek.com that "...compiled the techniques and tales of great competitors--people, organizations, and even communities--and learned how they got ahead."

"Don't be afraid to fail, encourage your talent, and use your heart. And never be unprepared." Blah, blah, blah. We all know this. We've all heard the motivational speaker that will inspire us for a day and a half and then we'll put it out of our minds and go back to living our normal lives. But the truth is it's human nature to want more and act in a selfish way and it's not necessarily wrong, we just have to do it in a tactful manner. "People have to understand that the game really is to compete and win." Whether that competition is with your equal at work or yourself on a personal project (loosing weight, bettering your relationships, etc...) personal competition is healthy if handled properly.

The proposition I am giving myself is to better my portfolio and learn and expand from all the speakers that we have listened to this semester in both this class and portfolio class. Greg Pickman has become an awesome resource and plethora of information on how to handle new professional situations. I am going to challenge myself to keep in touch with new contacts, professors, professionals and peers that I have met in these last 5 years and use them (in a good way) to better myself and get ahead. If we all have this "bettering myself" thought in the back of our minds, I believe personal relationships will become more equal and useful in our daily lives.

http://ezinearticles.com/?Your-Only-Real-Competition-is-Yourself!&id=2641875
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/toc/06_34/B39980635competition.htm

Obama_HOPE.jpg

"Hope" might as well have been the word of the year back in 2008. The phrase of the year? "Yes We Can." Thanks to President, then Senator, Barack Obama, a whole new generation of young people were instilled with a sense of trust, positive energy, and above all, hope. A hope that we might not be in as much trouble as we initially thought. A hope that we, as a nation, were going to turn things around. A hope that wars would end, peace talks would ensue, the economy would recover, we'd have universal health care for all, and a new infrastructure on which to build a stronger, more efficient, and conservative energy movement.

According the the United States Election Project, the 2008 election saw the highest percentage of voter turnout since the 1968 election, back in 1968. 54% of young voters ages 18-24 (the largest turnout for the age group), made for 18% of the national turnout, an increase compared to past elections. If you were to ask these young people why they voted, odds are they'd say they were inspired. They had a newfound sense of hope instead of fear. A chance to be heard for once, instead of looked over while larger entities were looked after. And since 66% of them voted for Obama, odds are he had something to do with it.

Barack Obama had perhaps one of the most brand-successful campaigns in history. He wasn't just running as an individual, he was running as a movement--a larger, transient idea. The idea that young people could make a difference if they simple put their minds to it. And even in the face of conservative ideologues suggesting Obama was simply brainwashing voters, he still prevailed. Some will argue it was because of his policy, but I disagree. Yes, yes, policy is important. I know that. But if you look at the larger picture, you'll realize that Obama ran as a brand. People identified with him much like shoppers identify with their favorite retailers. If I had to draw on metaphors, I would say that Obama was the Target, and McCain was the Walmart. Let me abstract this comparison some more: Obama was the iPad--Bright, new, and useful. McCain was a piece of chalk--Old, white, and brittle.

I'm deviating a bit, I understand. But you cannot deny the influence of the Obama camp during the election. Student groups on campus lobbied for his election. Pamphlets and brochures appeared on lunch tables at both Coffman Union and the St. Paul Student Center. Dorm-to-dorm salesmen promoted his campaign. Hell, even Kal Penn showed up during the primaries. He shook my hand, asked me who I was voting for, and when I said "Hillary" he scoffed and asked me "why?" Kal, fucking, Penn.

KalPenn.jpg

Where was McCain's celebrity endorsement? Heidi Montag never showed up on campus. Just think, if Barry was backed by Steve Jobs and Apple he would have received at least 106% of the votes.

__________

Youth still inspired by Obama, but impatient for change.
Young Voters Are Stoked
Vote For Hope
CNN Election Center 2008
Pew Research Center Publications
United States Election Project
The Obama Brand: A Retrospective
The Brand Called Obama
The Obama Brand
Why The Obama Brand Is Working
How They Grew Brand Obama
Hope: An Obama-Inspired Short Film

At this current period of my life, I have to admit I haven't been to concerned with protecting the rights of my work. Mostly, because I think that nothing I design is ever brilliant enough to be stolen, and for the few things that potentially are, usually are not easily accessible.

While I'm sure there are some who have taken steps to protect their best work, my guess is that most students look at copyright from a similar standpoint to mine. As laid back and unconcerned as we all may be, it might be important to consider copyright from a financial standpoint. I think its safe to say that for most of us, the decision to follow the graphic design career path had nothing to do with the fabulous starting pay we would have. That being said, I don't think anyone would turn down a significant fortune that were to come with a brilliant design.

Confused as to what I am referring to?

Milton Glaser is a graphic designer best known for designing the easily recognizable "I love New York" campaign. Glaser, was was asked by the city of New York in 1975 to design a logo to promote tourism. He agreed, created the logo free of charge and anticipated the campaign would quickly die off.

i-love-new-york-logo.jpg

In Milton's words, he says "I did the bloody thing in 1975 and I thought it would last a couple of months as a promotion and disappear." As we all know, the campaign grew exponentially, the City of New York trademarked the logo, and Milton Glaser never made any profit from his brilliant design.

Being the respectable (and wealthy) man that he is, Milton brushes off the fact that he never made any profit from the campaign, saying that he has made so much that he never has to worry about money. But he does in say, in a passive-aggressive way, "Well I think you'd get annoyed if something you had done had been exploited by others and they made an insufferable amount of money doing it and you made none... Under those conditions I can see someone getting angry."

Consider yourself in the same situation, but without all Milton Glaser's money. Would you be angry?

Copyright is all about protection. Protection of your work, and protection of your rights to the work, including the financial rights. Milton Glaser designed the "I love New York" logo; its his vision, his creation, his brilliant idea. But because he never thought it would go anywhere, the City of New York owns his brilliant idea, and the money it makes.

Might not be a bad idea to reconsider...Are you protected?

LOGODESIGNLOVE
History of I Love New York Tshirts

What irritates you? Is it that shopping cart whose wheels won't turn to the right, that vacuum cleaner that weights 75 pounds too much, or that extension cord that's just not long enough? Maybe its just the daily tasks you can never find the time to complete? Too much laundry, no time to clean the shower? ... All of these things are burdens in our lives. There's an entire industry of designers out there who search for ways to improve the convenience in our lives-- and cash in on it -- because seriously, what would YOU pay to make your life easier?

IDEO is a company that focuses on lots of different types of design, (www.ideo.com) some of which is innovative product design. When I first began thinking about how convenience related to finances, I was reminded of that legendary video we all watched in Intro to Design Thinking:

The shopping cart video. Back in the day when I first saw this video I was amazed! I couldn't believe people were actually paid to spend their days dreaming of ways to make things better -- and then I realized how much money was behind this type of business. This company found a number of awesome ways to improve the shopping cart - all of which they patented - all of which they can cash in on when a company uses their design.

Not all of the improvements IDEO designed have been implemented in stores, but some have - the truth of the matter is these improvements cost stores a lot more money, and so these stores must decide weather an improvement in their customer's shopping experience is worth the extra money. From my experience, the stores that have upgraded their shopping carts are a lot more enjoyable ... Target opposed to Walmart ... Lunds opposed to Rainbow.

Another interesting advance is technology that has improved the convenience in many people's lives are the iRobots. These little robots are crazy expensive but for those who really don't want to be bothered with tasks such as vacuuming, sweeping or cleaning their gutters they're amazing.

Some people are willing to spend whatever it takes to make life easier. Time is extremely valuable in our society and so we demand convenience. Not all of us have robots sliding around our houses, but none of us can deny how nice it feels to have a bit of our day-to-day burdens lifted.

equality__full.png
Trying to tackle ownership in a social realm is a little daunting. How can we make sure we, as designers, help improve (or, do we even want to improve) the social realm? One of the definitions of social is "relating to human society" which can involve everything from culture to government to art, etc. It seems, again, that taking ownership in terms of social comes down to taking ownership of your actions, or owning how you act in "relating to human society."

It can then be hard to separate "social" from the other three categories as they all directly influence or are contrived by "human society." Last time I talked about how ownership and environmental intersect, specifically in terms of our waste as designers, and it seems pretty obvious that if we can take ownership of our waste (read: reduce), it will directly benefit society.

I think that the lesson we can from that post is that, overall, the best way to benefit society is to take ownership of your actions. By being cognizant of your actions easily gives yourself better moral character, which allows you to more peacefully coexist with others in the social realm.

That's a huge, philosophical topic that can easily be discussed further, but that specific discussion is not what this blog is for (although, if you are interested, I thought this [other] blog post was pretty interesting). Rather, we need to look at bettering our morals in terms of how we design.

Many design firms occasionally do pro-bono for smaller entities, usually for non-profits that are working to better "human society" (I really feel like I need to continue putting that in quotations). This is often their way of owning their moral character as a company, by offering their services for free or reduced rates to those who are working for good. I think that we as designers, free-lancers or not, can easily better our own moral characters in the same way, by offering our services (or work for companies that offer their services) for free to non-profits and social good bettererers. A good examples of designers stepping in to help is the Hopenhagen campaign, which our local talent Colle+McVoy helped out with.

I think that owning your own actions in terms of how you work in the design community itself can also help better "human society" but specifically keep our community of designers thriving. This can be as simple as volunteering for the AIGA or otherwise. Once you're a "professional" give back through mentorships. There's a lot of ways in which we as designers can give back to our own design community.

A great resource for learning about social good, and who and what is helping to "pushing the world forward," Good.is seems to come from a designers perspective more often than not.

Oh, and of course, as soon as I'm finishing this post someone comes along and writes it better than me. Check out "Design for the people is not dead"

Social media is a major tool and the quality of its content has become increasingly important.

Most, if not all of us know some of the major social media networks. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some big ones. Why do we use social media? Some uses are for individuals or companies to grow their networks, build partnerships or relationships and increase brand awareness. As designers, we want ourselves known by a wide range of employers. It's competitive out there and for most of us, social media has become the way to get ourselves out into the design world.

social-media-waste-of-time.jpg

According to Hjörtur Smárason, "If no one knows about your great product, no one will buy it. That hasn't changed... Today, people will tell. They will write reviews and others will read those reviews before buying a new product. And if another product has got better ratings, even though it's an un-advertised product and therefore previously unknown to us, we are likely to choose that product... Since people are paying less attention to advertising and more attention to social media, product quality is going to weigh heavier at the cost of the message in marketing. So marketers have to watch out more carefully not to create an "image identity gap" between the user experience and the promise they deliver in their advertising" (1). It's important to understand that until you put yourself out there with clear quality content, very few will know who you are. Do your research and learn about those who can get you where you need to be. It takes more than following a potential employer to get where you want to be. Make them interested in you by building a connection or conversation. Jason Verdelli explains this better:

"Once you have established base level connections on the social web (i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), it is time to start creating conversations. Learn more about them by reviewing their profile and develop a conversation that gets them talking. I'm sure you have heard this before, but people always like talking about themselves and when you can get them going you will generate their interest in you. Create that message or re-tweet their latest blog posts to your followers or do whatever you can to provide them with what they will see as valuable. From that point, you can converse with them on ways that they can connect you to some of their contacts and/or resources that will help you accomplish your purpose of why you are using social media" (2).

Connect, connect, connect. We all want the social web to work in our favor, but many do not know how to do it. Try Jason's suggestions and if those do not work, just keep trying. Eventually you will succeed. Research where you want to be, who can help get you there and make sure you express yourself clearly. The quality of how you sell yourself, your brand or your product is important.

(1) Hjörtur Smárason - "Product Quality vs. Marketing"
http://www.marketingsafari.org/marketing_safari/2008/05/product-quality.html

(2) Jason Verdelli - "Why is Quality more important than Quantity in Social Media?"
http://jasonverdelli.com/?p=801

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Toxicity can come in many forms, beyond waste, chemicals and fumes. As we are nearing graduation finding a job is becoming number one on our priority lists and a bad workplace can be just as toxic as hazardous waste. Your mental and physical health suffers from undesirable work environments.

I came across an article about toxic work environments, Do You Have a Toxic Job? By Anthony Balderrama on CareerBuilder.com, I started to read it thinking that it would rank the most toxic jobs you could have and why they are toxic but instead I got a much different story. The article explained the signs of an unhappy and toxic workplace and your options in how to deal with it since no one wants to quit in this present economy.

If you are a job seeker you can look for signs during your first interview. Listen to the sounds of the office, laughter is a good sign, if there isn't laughter then they shouldn't look like zombies going through the motions until quitting time. Their behavior towards the boss is an indicator as well, if they are intimidated or scared of them then you should be wary of joining their ranks since you'll be one of them.

Sometimes toxic situations aren't so clear, but if you get a bad feeling trust it. If you already have the job, think about your state of mind and behavior on the job. Feeling stressed out, frustrated, lethargy, unmotivated, and feeling like you have to walk on eggshells. The causes of these feelings may come from excessive criticism, poor treatment, and lack of appreciation. Other polluters of the workplace may even come from your coworkers; excessive gossip, extreme competition which may be mistaken for a healthy workplace motivation. Doing well for yourself and achieving excellence are great, but the best co-workers/leaders are the ones that look out for the team. Since we are expected to work as a member of a design team this would be one great tidbit to keep in mind when trying to succeed in the field.

Now that we have identified some of the toxic signs, here is what you can do about it, which isn't much. Obviously leaving the job is the best option right off the bat, but financial concerns may prevent this. Face the problem, try to find a solution with the person responsible for the toxicity, if it is caused be a single person. Vent to a friend, sharing some of your strain with another may lighten the load a bit, making it tolerable to carry on. Start looking for a new job while you tolerate the toxic one, then you can find comfort in the knowledge that you won't be there much longer. Just make sure that what ever you do that is in your best interest. It's just a job, not your life. Your job shouldn't define who you are. You should be able to talk about other things in your life besides work, because if work is all you have to talk about then you aren't living your life you are working it.

Robert Half International Inc. adds being in a dead end job as being toxic. If you aren't getting enough work to keep you busy or if it isn't challenging for you, if you are ready to move up the ladder to the next position but it is occupied by someone who shows no signs of leaving,

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if you are constantly being checked up on by your boss, if your job has become routine then you are in a dead-end job that can affect your physical and mental health it is a toxic job. You can see examples of all of these in Office Space.

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Being in the design field you should never feel like your job is routine, since it a fast paced, ever evolving career that demands change to stay hip and profitable, and from what we have been hearing from guest speakers having too little to do seems impossible. But if your jib becomes these things then you either need more responsibility, a new position, or a new job.

When quitting a job you never want to just walk out, proving that you are undependable, disloyal, and maybe even a quitter, even though that is exactly what you want to do. According to Robert Half International Inc. there are four steps to an escape strategy:


  1. Clarify your goals: try to identify your true passion, write down what you like and dislike about your current job. Research jobs that appeal to you, interview people in the field, or take classes in your interest area.

  2. Explore every option: If you like where you work but just not the job see about an internal transfer, speak to colleagues in other departments or human resource about potential opportunities.

  3. Be discreet: Try not to share your dissatisfaction or your intent to leave with your co-workers, boss, or mangers. You want to leave on a high-note, and you don't want to loose your job before you are ready to leave.
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  5. Don't burn bridges: You never know when a future employer will call your old boss for a recommendation or when you will cross paths with a former co-worker, you want to be remembered as a true professional. Being a graphic designer in the Twin cities pretty much guarantees that we will cross path with other firms and designers, competing for the same client, freelancing . . . and everyone knows someone else in the field, so word will spread pretty fast if you start burning.


A little video to leave you with:


For the first blog entry I talked about web usability and user testing. I want to go back to this topic slightly and cover the financial aspect of usability within user testing for web-based projects. When a designer begins working on a project for the web, design must be considered, but more importantly usability. User experience needs to be created and in order for any design to succeed. So, an easy way to figure out if your website is user friendly is to complete user testing.

Most people when doing anything want things done the fast way or the cheap way. This can be okay when you need to immediately improve a user interface and you don't have a lot of financial backing. One reason usability testing is not used is because of the cost, or the "perceived" cost of usability testing (1). But depending on the value of the project or the revenue it will bring in, a more expensive usability method could pay off.

The table below shows the result of adjusting a usability budget according to the discount usability engineering method. The numbers in this table are for a medium scale software project (about 32,000 lines of code). For small projects, even cheaper methods can be used, while really large projects might consider additional funds to usability and the full-blown traditional methodology, though even large projects can benefit considerably from using discount usability engineering.

Table
Cost savings in a medium scale software project by using the discount usability engineering method instead of the more thorough usability methods sometimes recommended.

Original usability cost estimate by [Mantei and Teorey 1988] $128,330
Scenario developed as paper mockup instead of on videotape -$2,160
Prototyping done with free hypertext package -$16,000
All user testing done with 3 subjects instead of 5 -$11,520
Thinking aloud studies analyzed by taking notes instead of by video taping -$5,520
Special video laboratory not needed -$17,600
Only 2 focus groups instead of 3 for market research -$2,000
Only 1 focus group instead of 3 for accept analysis -$4,000
Questionnaires only used in feedback phase, not after prototype testing -$7,200
Usability expert brought in for heuristic evaluation + $3,000
Cost for "discount usability engineering" project $65,330

Even though user testing can be expensive, it has financial benefits that are a result of the expensive service. Studies have shown that "Following a usability redesign, websites increase a desired metrics by 135 percent on average" (Jakob Nielsen, Alterbox). Websites become easier to use, differentiation from other sites is obtained, more visitors become paying customers, less support calls, positive brand image, customer loyalty, and a greater return on your website can all be achieved by taking the time to test.

1. www.useit.com/papers/guerrilla_hci.html
2.www.useit.com/alertbox/expensive-usability.html
3.simpleusability.com/services/usability/testing

website that estimates usability cost
4.www.simpleusability.com/services/usability/usability-costs

Creating financially viable work focuses on the design issues that affect the costs of distribution and production. But how is a designer supposed to have fun when they need to focus on the cost of the finished product? Why can't we just use whatever materials we want, and design whatever we feel like? When describing his job at General Mills, Brad Homan stated, "Fun doesn't make money" (1). Is this true? Does fun really not make money? Well crap! We might as well head to the nearest strip club and start dancing on a pole or start walking the neighbor's dog for some cash...cause our career isn't going to be fun, so why not work at a job that pays? Again, there are many notions of fun that we need to consider. Is the designer going to have fun during the process of designing the project at hand? Does the fun come into play after the designer gets paid for doing their job? Again, the question we need to consider is what is fun? And how do designers view fun?

Let's take a look at James Cameron's costly and complex epic film, Avatar. Avatar's official budget lies somewhere around 300 million dollars for the production plus marketing costs. James Gianopulos, C.E.O of Fox Filmed Entertainment, told CNN, "It (Avatar) is the most expensive film we've made, but now, having the luxury of hindsight, it is money well spent, so I'm not concerned about it" (2). Obviously, everyone who worked on Avatar had fun. How could you not when you're basically told the sky is the limit? With an unlimited budget and creative opportunities, Avatar is definitely an example of fun. The fun not only lies during the production of the film, but the money made is unbelievably fun too.

Now I know most design firms don't have millions of dollars to throw around for projects, but what if a similar mentality was considered? What if the owner of, let's say, General Mills, decides he'd like to spend more money on packaging cereal. He spends a significant amount of money (whatever that may be) to create a special packaging made environmentally friendly and in a different, innovative shape! Also, he decides--Heck! Let's even add a gift on the inside (which isn't uncommon, but let's make it some sort of amazing gift). What a grand idea? But where is all of this innovation coming from? It's coming from the company's pockets. Many companies, such as General Mills, don't like to take the risk of losing money. Therefore, they aren't going to try this new shaped box, or eco-friendly packaging, but rather stick with the bland, rectangular box that has been successful from the beginning of cereal's existence. So why would someone like Brad Homan want to work for General Mills? Well this all depends on what he considers fun. When listening to him speak, he was extremely enthusiastic about his job, but why? I think his mentality of simply working for a company he loves makes it fun enough! Although he made it clear he doesn't get to use his creativity in places he's ideally like to, he still loves his job. Therefore, I think for him just simply collaborating with people, learning with his experiences, and simply enjoying the process of creating a project is fun! I know this is only one instance, but it's important to see others points of views on this topic.

Overall, I think financially fun lies in many different places for many different designers. Does the fun come into play after the designer gets paid? Is the designer going to have fun during the process of designing the project at hand? How do designers view fun? I would like to end on a quote from Jeff Millikan, my photography professor. He states, "The notion of fun is an interesting thing..." (3). Isn't this true? Designers just simply need to find a job that financially supports them and their idea of fun.


1.) Homan, Brad. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. McNeal Hall, St. Paul, MN. n.d.

2.) Keegan, Rebecca. How Much Did Avatar Really Cost? Vanity Fair. 22 Dec. 2009.

Web. 5 Apr. 2010.

3.) Millikan, Jeff. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Regis Center for the Arts West

Building, Minneapolis, MN. n.d.

Financial competition is an obvious elephant in the room. Money runs our world, and if I may speak for the majority of people, everyone wants more money. Money is usually an awkward and personal subject, especially once you get into the professional field. If we could beat out our peers and coworkers for more money and sacrifice something in return, we probably all would. This blog is not going to be dedicated to that obvious fact because, honestly, I don't find that all that interesting. Instead I am going to focus on the
"competition" that goes on in salary negotiation.

The first step in salary negotiation is up to you. RESEARCH. According to about.com, research is the first step in determining how much you are worth, and if the job you are being offered is worth your time. Next is to actually get the interview, land the job and then wait for the employer to bring up the subject of salary. As stated in the article, if the employer brings up what you think your salary requirements are it's best to say "that youa re open based upon the position and the overall compensation package." The option that you have as the potential employee once you're are offered the job, is to not accept or decline the job right away. Many times "a simple 'I need to think it over' can get you an increase in the original offer'".

When a raise is in the question, it is best to also RESEARCH and be prepared to show a short presentation to your employer about salary survey information, recent performance appraisals, and anything else relevant. Another thing to consider is your employer's company policy regarding compensation, while some are limited by budget, or can only give raises at particular times in the fiscal year. In your research, be sure to determine what type of salary you are looking for and BE SURE to justify why you deserve this increase in pay. Flexibility is also an important factor when having this "competition" with your employer.

While referencing another website, askmen.com, about salary negotiation they give a list of the top 20 tips to follow during this stressful process. In the number one spot we have "show your experience and know-how". By bringing up your past experience and knowledge you are letting your employer know exactly why you are fit for the position and raise you are going for. Number three, as stated in the about.com article, is "don't ask about salary". It is important for the employer to make the first offer, and to push off any talk about salary until you have secured yourself a position in the company.

A couple final tips to close with may be obvious, but must not be overlooked. "Don't bring your personal life into the negotiation", "know your worth", "be calm and in control" and finally "prove you're the best man [or woman] for the job".

This competition with your employer or future employer doesn't have to be a nasty one. Experts say, by preparing yourself for this it will probably turn out in your favor.


http://jobsearch.about.com/od/salaryinformation/a/salarynegotiat.htm
http://www.askmen.com/money/career/36a_career.html

Over the past 10 years or so there has been this huge public drive to try to "save the environment." This has spurred companies to start adopting green practices and nowadays it seems almost everybody is "Going Green." I personally find it interesting that some people are so against big business that even when they start to "Go Green" people don't like them. Obviously since they are big business they only care about money, right? What I find interesting is people don't seem to have that same perception (or at least aren't as upset) about all the new start up companies that are all about green technology creating sustainability. If these people starting new businesses cared so much about the environment, where were they before?

"Green businesses have also been growing at a rate of about 5% annually during the last three years, Doyle says. Two particularly hot areas are global carbon credit trading, which doubled to $28 billion from 2005 to 2006, and construction and services associated with ''green buildings'' that meet industry standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Today, the green building industry is worth $12 billion; 10 years ago, it was unquantifiable."
http://www.forbes.com/2007/07/02/environment-economy-jobs-biz_cx_bw_0703green_greenjobs.html

The fact is that is what is so great about Capitalism. If you get a large enough group of people fighting for the same thing, businesses can and will change to meet your needs. If they don't change they go out of business because we the people start our own companies. Do they care about making a profit? Definitely. But its because they make profits that they can change. Becoming environmentally friendly is often very expensive and so it takes time and money to set up the infrastructure. I think we learned this from General Mills through all the research and behind the scenes stuff it actually takes to change. General Mills isn't to a point yet where I think many would like to be when it comes to being environment friendly, but just think of where they probably were 10 years ago. Think of how improved they will be 10 years from now. For huge, huge companies I'm guessing you can't change overnight. It is a process.

Where am I going with this?

Well, we do the exact same thing. Just as large corporations change and become green certified and their products become green certified, creative agencies are doing the same thing and it has begun to trickle into graphic designers as well.

The studio Traffic has a system that tracks how many trees they have saved by using FSC-certified paper and for every tree saved, they plant a tree. There are now many many classes (AIGA) that offer green design that teach professionals what to be aware of and how to take advantage of these new practices to lower costs and be more efficient. There are different sets of standards that people can find online such as the Re-nourish standard where you can fill out a form and find if that project you just did met their green standards. This is much like what Wal-Mart has done enforcing green shipping and packaging standards on the 100,000 companies that it interacts with. Granted, I believe all these companies and practices are good, but in our society, it is profitable and easily marketable to be green. It is never a negative to be green, only a positive. So to be green such as Traffic is just one more way to try to sell yourself to the customer.

I think a question we all need to ask is will we get to a point where, as individuals, we can become green certified? If so, will this not help us sell ourselves when looking for jobs or doing free-lance work?

Our job is to communicate efficiently to the public for anybody. Right now what is selling and what people like is green. Large corporations do it, small businesses do it, old, new, creative, the arts. If we become green certified individuals saying "We took these green classes and they gave me this green sticker", we do it too. I think it is a double edged blade to scoff at businesses and condemn them for caring only about money when in reality I think most people do it whether knowingly or not.

And in the end, the big question is does it really matter? One way to think about it is Walmart. They set this huge standard that is changing the way business is done when dealing with Walmart. Do all they care about is money? Possibly. But does it really matter?

The social implications of pollution are never ending and worldwide. It is unfortunate, however, that pollution rarely has the biggest effect on the polluters. I suppose this is true with most things in life, but I still think it sucks.

Once glance at this list of the US's Most Highly Polluting Facilities tells you almost everything you need to know: we burn dirty energy. Although the US burns the second most amount of energy in the world (as a country and per capita) (1), not a single American city is on the most polluted list! (2) I think that's pretty interesting but also hard to compare because most of those cities that are on the list are in developing nations that have had little or no environmental regulations, previously or even currently. I've kind of ventured off topic...

What I wanted to discuss was how pollution from around the world is being localized in the Arctic due to the natural sea and air currents. Pollutants that can be easily transported by sea and air have become highly concentrated in the Arctic circle, producing levels of toxins higher than those in densely populated urban areas thousands of miles away. (3) It is really unfair, seeing how these people are bearing the brunt of pollution that they typically had little to do with.

Not only is this affecting their air quality, but also creating high levels of permafrost and glacial melting, which is forcing them to change their way of life. An Inupiat village called Shishmaref in Alaska had to move their entire village 8 years ago because the permafrost it was built on was becoming unstable, and therefore unsafe to live on any longer- the same permafrost that has been there for 120,000 years.(4) I think it's safe to say the village members aren't the ones putting that much carbon dioxide into the air to cause this kind of melting.

Now, what does design have to do with this? Without stretching it, not much. But since we are on the cusp of joining the real world, I believe it is crucial for us as individuals and as a generation to live up to the hype of making a difference. When you really think about it, there are a lot of decisions riding on us and it is important to be as informed as possible when choosing what side to take.

1. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html
2. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1661031,00.html
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic
4. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/04/25/050425fa_fact3 This is an excerpt from the New Yorker journalist Elizabeth Kolbert's book Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

So I think I might be diverging a little from the "recyclability" topic on this one, but its something that has been on my mind nonetheless. At this point we should have all received the 2010 Census form. You probably also received a letter telling you the census was coming, a reminder postcard and maybe even a second form if you hadn't sent your form back soon enough. I know I have wondered - what's the point? Why am I getting so many paper products in the mail warning me and reminding me when frankly it seems like such a waste? So I decided to do some digging.

According to the US Census 2010 website there have been various reasons that the extra forms are sent and why they are using paid advertising as well. Surprisingly (or maybe not) it all comes down to money. When it comes to the paid advertising the Census bureau found that it reduces the overall cost spent in conducting the Census. "For every one percent increase in mail response in 2010, the census will save $85 million that would otherwise have to be spent on door-to-door follow-up with households that didn't respond. Census 2000 was the first census to use paid advertising rather than rely solely on donated public service announcements. It helped reverse a three-decade-long decline in mail response rates." Ok, so that at least answers that question. But what about all the wasted paper? (Its most likely not getting recycled, it didn't in my apartment)?

Direct from the US Census website, they say, "Years of research have shown that higher percentages of people receiving the mailed census questionnaire return a completed form after they receive the advance letter compared with those who receive merely the census form with a simultaneous request to return it. Every 1 percent of the U.S. households that return a completed questionnaire will save $85 million in taxpayer money that would have to be spent sending people out to interview households in person. The research is clear that the advance letter can save money for all of us. The advance letter is also a way for us to protect the American public from any scams that use the census to exploit people. The scam artists don't take the time, nor do they exercise the courtesy that we do, to alert the households of an upcoming request. This feature of the 2010 Census is a cost-saver in the long run." So even though it might be wasting some paper products, it is saving me (and you) money. The Census Bureau says that it costs about $1 per person for a mailed form but it costs $25 per person to send a census taker door-to-door to those that don't mail the form back.

So what does this mean to us as designers? I think that the implication of weighing costs in a project is a huge lesson that we can take away from this. Clearly performing the census is very expensive no matter what. Sure they could have forgone the extra mailed pieces and maybe spent a little less on advertising but then they would have sent out more people. While the cost of producing and mailing pieces was substantial - financially and environmentally - the cost of sending people out is much more. Not only do they (or we as taxpayers) have to spend more money but these people have to travel around somehow and the emissions from all the travel could potentially be worse than what it took to make and send mail. This is just a good reminder to me that the answer to the recycling/ environmental/green questions is not always the seemingly easy or obvious one. It is important in any project to look beyond the surface and the obvious and do a little more research before jumping into a project that may look good at the start but end up being more costly in the long run.

For the last couple of months in senior seminar, the importance of environmental consciousness is a subject that has been brought up several times. But sometimes one of the biggest struggles is to create a design that is exactly what you want it to look like as well as completely environmentally friendly. Pangea Organics is one company that took on that challenge of catering to the planet as well as appealing to their audience, all in one.

"Using the packaging to educate consumers about ecocentric skincare was as important to Pangea Organics as the way the design looked", this quote is from @ Issue: The Online Journal of Business and Design. Pangea Organics is extremely aware of the impact that cosmetics can have on the environment: the testing on animals, the chemicals, the packaging that just ends up in landfills, as well as a multitude of other harmful planetary effects. Joshua Onysko, the founder began his company making cold processed soaps in his garage, completely out of organic ingredients. He sold them at farmers markets and craft shows along the west coast and soon he moved his soaps from his garage to a 9,000 square foot factory.

When the factory had moved to a larger space, Onysko realized he needed a better package design, one that would appeal to Whole Foods and it's customers and was also made completely of biodegradable products. So he called up IDEO, the budget was small but IDEO was ready to take on the challenge of an entirely sustainable box that was also very appealing.

"The finished box is made completely from post-consumer waste fibers and assembled origami-style without glue. And it is 100% compostable and biodegradable. To drive home that point, the box fiber is even embedded with basil seeds, so consumers can soak the box in water and plant it. Onysko explains, "If you aren't planting your packaging, it is going to landfill, and there's just too much stuff out there." (@ Issue).

12_pangea-copy.jpg

pangea.jpg

Not only is the packaging and the product entirely organic and sustainable, so is the factory and most everything else. "Thinking outside the landfill" is essential to Onysko. The company aims to extend the useful life of everything it possibly can. Styrofoam and packing peanuts that come in with other shipments are reused. Unused paper from printing operations is purchased from a local printer for repurpose. Pangea Organics' manufacturing and office facility in Boulder, Colorado, is 100% wind-powered, and the interior is decorated with non-VOC paint and with carpets made from recycled soda bottles." (@ Issue)

The products themselves are beautiful, modern and completely directed towards the demographic. Onysko has taken environment and design to a whole other level and has really raised the bar in terms of other companies. Pangea Organics proves that it is possible to create a product that is entirely organic and sustainable as well as appealing and profitable. On top of everything Onysko donates part of the companies profits to help existing corporations be more socially responsible and environmentally sound.

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References

Hirasuna, Delphine. "Pangea Organics." @ Issue: The Online Journal of Business and Design .01 (2009). At Issue Journal. Corporate Design Foundation. Web. 6 Apr. 2010. .

O'Neil, Meaghan. "Meet Josh Onysko of Pangea Organics." Planet Green. Discovery Communications, 20 Nov. 2008. Web. 6 Apr. 2010. .

Onyska, Joshua. "The Pangea Institue Project Promise." . Web. 6 Apr. 2010.

The guys at Grow Interactive designed this site as a thank you to their clients and friends for the awards that they've won. They get to enjoy an interactive experience and then pick out a free shirt. While we can't get a free shirt, we can still enjoy the show. It's pretty sweet.

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