As you know, I am a huge fan of the Computer Arts Collection, a series of themed guides for creatives. The one reason I keep going back to these issues is that while they are beautifully designed and overflowing with amazing inspiration (much of which I’ve never seen online), there’s never a case of all style and no substance. They dig in deep and always manage to provide glimpses into current industry trends, studio tours, peeks inside real campaigns, suggestions for processes and even a talent directory in the back. In the age of Pinterest, I want more than just pretty pictures. I want to understand how those pretty pictures were created and that’s where Computer Arts delivers.
Today I wanted to give you a peek inside of Issue 5, which focuses completely on photography. Though I don’t consider myself to be a photographer (I know how to get what I want out of my basic DSLR but I’m very point-and-shoot in my process) I feel that it’s so important to be aware of what other industries are doing since there’s more crossover than ever these days. This weekend, we had a guest speaker at The Blogcademy named Lisa Devlin — she’s been a professional photographer for 20+ years and listening to her share her tips made me want to step up my game. Flipping through this issue, I’m now paying more attention to lighting and composition. Sometimes we just need that little push.
While I have loved all the issues I’ve managed to get ahold of, this release is perhaps the most visually stunning. With photography, it’s just easier to push boundaries sometimes. As I’ve mentioned before, these issues aren’t cheap but they’re so worth it — with very few ads, they’re less of a magazine and more along the lines of a softcover book. It feels good to learn about how folks outside of my industry take in the world through their cameras. I believe that we all have something to teach and in return, there’s always something new we can learn.
To get your hands on the Computer Arts Collection, go here for further information.
“Branding is about driving a big idea. It’s not about telling untruths — it’s about honing in on a brand’s core truth, and amplifying it.” — Steven Owen, Creative Director of Heavenly
By now, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a huge fan of the Computer Arts Collection, a series of six in-depth guides jam-packed with information from key areas of the global design industry. Topics covered include graphic design, typography, illustration, branding, photography and advertising.
Any of us can hop online and spend hours online doing endless image searches (and I often do), but what makes this branding issue so valuable is that it digs deeper, way beyond the surface level of aesthetically stunning graphics and delves into the design process and strategy. Since my main focus is as a brand designer, this issue was especially insightful — I particularly enjoyed the breakdown of micro branding trends (Branding Influences) because although I’ve come across a lot of the images before, seeing them distilled into specific movements gave me a focused sense of what’s striking a chord in the industry.
And at a larger scale, I found the macro trend of simplicity in branding to be fascinating. Over the last few years, there’s been a real sense of cutting out the excess visual noise and distilling a brand down to its core elements in an effort to relieve consumers of the completely overwhelming number of choices and social influences they’re constantly inundated with. Think about it: when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we often reach for what seems the most simple, honest and familiar.
Perhaps the most important area this issue touched upon is the current state of the branding industry. With brands now needing to work seamlessly across multiple platforms, it’s imperative for designers to be more informed than ever about how these pieces work together to create a solid, unified experience.
Finally, the real standout of this series is that each issue features a studio project. A leading design studio reveals their full creative process behind a project and you get to follow along, from the brief to the outcome, including video diaries. I thought this would be especially helpful for design students who are wondering what it’s like to work in a studio environment. Having worked in many, I know how different each studio can be depending on the size of the team, the size of the client and the overall corporate culture so getting glimpses of how different studios handle a project can really help all of us hone our process further.
To get your hands on the Computer Arts Collection, go here.
Lately, Swedish illustrator, writer and graphic designer Olle Eksell’s iconic eyes, which he designed for Mazetti’s Cacao seem to be popping up everywhere I go online. Eksell’s work ranges from wacky to geometric but no matter the style he was working in, the outcome was always thoughtful and precise. When Eksell came to the U.S., a close friendship developed between him and Paul Rand that lasted throughout their lives. He participated in international exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the Biennale in Venice and continued to work until his death in 2007.
The Eyes poster was printed in 1999 for his exhibition at the Form Design Center in Malmö, Sweden. Though best known for his design and illustration, Eksell also penned the classic Design = Ekonomi.
I’m always on the lookout for fresh visual inspiration — and with the permeation of Pinterest and Tumblr it gets harder to find exciting, provoking imagery that hasn’t been reposted everywhere. Veer, long one of my favorite sources for purchasing fonts, has launched Veer Ideas, a Tumblr full of stunning photos and type. The mix of compositions and colors really gave me a creative jolt — this collection doesn’t disappoint.
When ScotchBlue Tape invited me to take part in their D.I.Y. creative challenge, I was both honored and flattered but I’ll be honest here: my mind when blank when it came to dreaming up a project. I’m used to spending my days designing behind the computer but feel like a fish out of water when it comes to handcrafting most things — luckily, this is Joey’s strong suit! He started his own line of skateboards last year and we’d often talked about collaborating on a design but it was one of those projects we never seemed to get around to. We quickly realized that this was our chance to finally make it a reality!
To get started, I built out some inspiration boards to give Joey and idea of the direction I wanted my design to take. Pinterest is great but I thought it would be WAY more fun to curate my ideas on cork boards. I knew I wanted the design to be geometric, have at least one pop of color and include my old standbys, type and stripes.
These are the supplies that are needed:
• Blank Skate Deck. Joey carved mine himself (see above) out of reclaimed wood from a furniture shop that was 9 ply but you can pick up a blank deck at most skate shops.
• Print-outs of Design. We printed out my design in three 11×17 inch sheets (black and white is fine on normal paper) that were then taped together as a stencil.
• ScotchBlue Tape. The thinner width was especially awesome for knocking out our stripes.
• Spray Adhesive: You’ll need this to affix the paper stencil to the tape. We used a 3M version.
• Spraypaint. We used Krylon brand with a gloss finish in black, white and yellow (see above) and finished with a clear coat to seal it.
• X-acto Knife. You’ll need to cut out the pattern so you can spray paint the design.
• Prep: Joey cut this deck out with a jigsaw himself, measured and drilled the holes for trucks and sanded it to a smooth finish. If you purchase one from a skate shop, the holes will already be drilled.
1. Start with a base coat of spraypaint (we used white) and let it dry for a full day to make sure it isn’t tacky.
2. Cover the entire bottom surface of the skate deck in ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape.
3. This is the surface that the stencil will be cut out of.
4. Cover the entire taped surface of the skate deck in spray adhesive.
5. Next, affix the stencil to the tacky surface and cut off the excess.
6. Cut out the black portions of the stencil using an X-acto knife. Remember to cut through both the stencil AND the painter’s tape. The stencil and tape are affixed together so peel both off to reveal the painted surface.
7. All black portions of the stencil should be removed EXCEPT for the A.
8. The first coat of black spraypaint is applied. The A was masked over with ScotchBlue Tape because we were going to apply a different color to it later in the process.
9. Remove the rest of the stencil.
10. This is the result.
11. Peel off the A section of the stencil and SAVE IT!
12. Create a fresh, inverted circle stencil.
13. Use paper and ScotchBlue Tape to mask the entire skate deck with exception of the circle and a single stripe (these are the areas we want to make yellow).
14. Spraypaint the yellow sections. Let this dry for a few hours to ensure nice, crisp edges.
15. Remove all paper and tape to reveal the yellow. Then, replace with the A that was set aside earlier. Mask off everything that should NOT be black. Apply one final coat of black paint and let this dry for a few hours.
16. Once surface is dry, remove all masking to reveal your final design!
Joey wasn’t quite finished yet, though. Before I took my deck out for a spin, he applied grip tape to the surface and sliced out my trademark cross symbol. The perfect finishing touch! Get creative here — you can cut out anything in the grip tape you can dream up!
I loved my finished design so much I put it on display in my office. Nothing beats a piece of functional art! If you have any questions at all about the process, please let me know in the comments and we’ll do our best to respond! And if you make your own skate deck design, let us know — we’d love to see it!
This post is a collaboration with ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape. Visit Scotch Blue Tape on Facebook to learn how to win rad stuff and check out the other participants’ projects in the gallery. All concepts and designs within this post were created in partnership with Joey Maas.
Hello! I'm Shauna, the Creative Director of We Are Branch, a boutique design studio. I am also a co-founder of The Blogcademy. This is my lifestyle blog, which has been going strong since 2007. I'm obsessed with shoes and llamas. Read more…
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