I am a type fanatic and always on the look out for new typefaces. Can you predict what the new trends for typography will be this year?
Designer, New Jersey
The Economy slowly picks up this year and the usage of system fonts such as Courier, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial, and Tahoma will slow down in the first quarter.
As budgets slightly move by spring we see an influx of new Serifs coming from Europe sweeping from the East and over to the Scandinavian countries.
By the summer temperatures rise world wide and the new Serifs become curvier and the Sans starting adding more body.
Designers will become more and more tired of the ongoing austerity plans of governments and as a reflex will use bolder, fatter, thicker weights and extreme sizes.
This trend will splurge over to the East coast and all across the States and the year will end with the great discovery of a new typeface that appears to be ‘Blacker than Black’!
HOW TO BECOME A FAMOUS GRAPHIC DESIGNER
I am about to graduate and I really want to become a famous graphic designer. Can you give me some advice before I start my career?
This is a very common question and there is no easy answer so I took the liberty to consult Professor Powers who has experience in this matter. The following list is an indication of just a few things that will guarantee you success.
Change your family status: Become a footballers wife or become a daughter of a famous hotel owner
Think big: Steal large – this always makes the headline news
Reintroduce streaking in a different context other than the football field: maybe your next presentation
Discover something new: land or species
Find a cure: just save as many lives as possible
Change your name: Four letters and slightly Swedish always works
Change your attitude: self centered, egotistic and pretentious preferably all at the same time
Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer
Accessorise: iphone, ipad, ianything
Communicate: Twitter like crazy and if you have nothing to say just retweet and retweet again make sure you are on top of that list. And of course don’t forget all other platforms. I think faxing is also coming back.
And don’t forget your first project will define your design style. We recommend you design and publish a retrospective book about your life and design career as soon as you graduate.
DESIGNER NEW YEAR RESOLUTION
I am considering to quit my Facebook and Twitter account, do you think I will be completely out of touch with what is going on in the design world?
Creative Designer, Rotterdam
A friend of mine recently became a vegetarian but funnily enough she still knows what a cow looks like.
HOW MANY TWITTER FOLLOWERS DO YOU NEED
Currently I have 528 Twitter followers, do I have enough to be considered a successful designer?
Dear Media Social-lite,
Jesus only had 12 and look where it got him.
What do designers do when they are over 60?
Graduate, San Francisco
They start a Bed and Breakfast in the south.
MALE VS FEMALE DESIGNER
I was wondering if there are obvious differences between male designers and female designers?
Design Writer, Amsterdam
Of course, females tend to wear pink and males light blue.
WHAT IS COOL DESIGN
I really can’t tell when I look at a piece of design whether its cool or just badly designed. Do you have any tips that I can at least make sure I am on the right track.
Dear Confused Designer,
Look at it this way. Its your summer holiday on the coast of France, and you are enjoying your second Martini in the late afternoon as you gaze at the bikinis passing by. Two weeks later the holiday is over and you are back in your studio flat, and you make yourself a Martini just to remember the good times, and you stare out of the window into the neighbors back yard at his underpants waving back at you on the washing line. How does the drink taste now?
LEADER OR DIRECTOR
I have been promoted and I can choose between 2 titles Creative Leader or Creative Director. Which one do you think carries the most weight and gives me the authority that I need.
For you I would definitely pick ‘Leader’, this title can bring you a long way, such as ‘Leader of the Gang’, ‘Leader of Industry’, ‘Leader of the Country’ to eventually ‘Leader of the Free World’.
Whats the difference between using a cliché idea or stealing an idea, as both ideas have been done before?
Stealing is using someone else’s good idea in a bad way. A cliché is using someone else’s bad idea in a good way.
CHANGE THE WORLD WITH ONE POSTER
I completely oppose the current government. As I am a graphic designer I would like to design a poster to voice my opinion, but I have a feeling it will have no real effect.
Can one poster really change the world?
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito.” -African Proverb
Why are most corporate identities for large corporate businesses dark blue?
Blue is a very good colour because you can’t see the dirt.
HOW LONG SHOULD I WORK IN A DESIGN STUDIO
I have been working in a design studio for 3 years, and a few of my colleagues that started at the same time as me have already left. How long do you think one should work in a studio before they start changing jobs?
Junior Designer, London
Working in a design studio is like living with your parents at some point you just know you have to move out.
WRITING THE DESIGN MISSION STATEMENT
Do you have any tips or guidelines on how to write and what to include in my mission statement for my design studio?
Creative Director, San Francisco
Here is a list of ten ready made statements that may inspire you to write your personal design mission statement.
We believe in design excellence.
We solve complex problems with highly creative solutions.
We love to design.
We are committed to our clients.
We provide quality design in a professional and distinct manner.
We continually challenge the boundaries with highly innovative solutions.
We achieve excellence for our clients because excellence makes us happy.
We invest in talent, because it is our most valuable resource.
We further our clients ambition using our creative powers.
We don’t settle for good, good is not good enough.
You can either take one statement from the list above or mix and match as you please.
SEARCHING FOR AN IDEA
I have just started working in a prestigious design studio and have been briefed with a new project. But its been a week and I have been struggling to come up with an idea. Do you have any tips?
Clueless Designer, New York
There are hundreds of ways to come up with an idea, such as sketching, researching, reading, looking, registering, brainstorming, staring at a blank piece of paper, staring at the screen, thinking of clichés, thinking of opposites, Google, over exaggerate etc… You could also go for a walk during lunch and if you haven’t come up with an idea by the end of lunch time just keep walking.
THE CLIENT DESIGNER
Recently one of my clients while giving me the design brief also included a sketch that he had made to go with it. The sketch also specified typeface, colour and style of design. I was in such shock when I received this that I didn’t know how to react – I am afraid if this happens again and I say something it will be extremely rude. How can I tell him in a polite way that I am the designer.
Designer in Despair, Greece
I think you have answered your own question. But as an alternative see this as a great opportunity. Next time you have too much work and need a freelancer you can always call him.
WHY ARE MALE DESIGNERS MORE FAMOUS
Why are male designers always winning all the awards, why is it always men giving talks at design conferences, and why do they tend to be more well known than the women designers.
My father always complained that he never won the lottery and couldn’t figure out why his best friend would win regularly. So finally he asked him, what was the secret to his success. His friend replied with a question ‘Do you buy lottery tickets?’ My father answered ‘no’. If you don’t play you don’t stand a chance to win.
PICK A DESIGN STUDIO NAME
I am looking for a name for my new design studio. I am ready to start but I can’t decide what name to pick. Do you have any suggestions?
The name you pick will instantly define the type of studio you have.
For example there are several categories you can choose from:
One to four letter words or initials
(most common with the young and upcoming studios)
Words longer than four letters – either a noun or an action
(also quite commonly used by the hip and trendy if they can’t find a four letter word)
Your last name
(either you are a one person studio or have a large ego or have no idea)
More than one last name or very long initials
(if you think you will go into advertising this could be one for you)
A descriptive sentence
(if all else fails)
After you finally decide on a name you will have to immediately buy your domain name, don’t worry if your name is already taken just add studio or buro or design to it and your problem will be solved!
I am a senior Brand Consultant and although I have been working in the field for years my parents still don’t know what I do? I have a feeling the older they get the less they understand. How is the easiest way to to explain it to them?
Consultant, San Francisco
In your particular case, I would stand directly in front of them and speak very slowly and extremely loudly.
I’m having a relationship with a very attractive man at work. I think we’re both falling in love. Problem is: I think he is an awful graphic designer. I mean, who’s using Blur nowadays anymore!?! Should I tell him and build a proper relationship on honesty and trust? Or should I just keep it as a meaningless sexual fling?
Designer in Love, London
Dear Design Lover,
Keep it as short as possible, judging from your letter and your knowledge of type trends, this could ruin your reputation. In the case that you have no will power or its far too late when you read this, I suggest stick it out, I am sure the Blured trend will return sooner than you think.
All the fonts I have, I either downloaded illegally or copied from friends or previous companies I have worked for. Do you think its a problem if I use them?
If your mission as a designer is to ensure that type designers are malnutritioned and badly dressed, then there is no problem.
HIP AND TRENDY DESIGNER
I am the 30plus type, hip and trendy graphic designer from Amsterdam. I have designed several typefaces of which some have been published. As of late I seem to encounter a lot of problems with legibility. Everybody presented with my typeface designs complains that they cannot read them. Of course I could change it and make my designs more accessible for the greater public, but I do not want to loose my reputation as a hip and trendy designer. Should I just ignore the criticism?
May I remind you that illegible typography was hip and trendy 15 years ago.
TOO MANY TYPEFACES
Every time I start a new project, I always spend time looking for a new typeface. The more I search the more I find, there must be millions of them out there, choosing has becoming harder and harder and its taking too much of my time. Do you think there are too many typefaces?
Designer in search of a typeface, The Hague
With this answer I will have to quote type designer Cyrus Highsmith ‘Do you think there are too many people in the world?’
WHY DO DESIGNERS WEAR BLACK
Every design conference or award ceremony I attend in any country the majority of designers wear black, including myself. Every designer I know wears black on almost every occasion. Why is black the universal uniform for designers?
Designer dressed in black, London
The advantage of designers wearing black at conferences or at any other occasion is that you can easily distinguish between designers and clients. Which can give you a head start if you are looking for new opportunities.
I am a budding graphic designer and have been running my own studio for the last 3 years. A year ago I received a magnificent commission to design the commemorative book for the National Dance Theater. This has been such a great opportunity as the Dance Theater is known internationally and it attracts hundreds of followers every year. And what was even better in the initial briefing the director made it very clear that I had complete freedom and to quote him directly he said ‘I want this book to win every design award, I want this book to be remembered for centuries’
But to my biggest disappointment since my first sketch I have made nothing but changes. Every week I receive a new alteration – Change the concept, change the size, change the typography, change the images, change the colour, change the paper. It has changed from commemorative book to Ikea catalogue (and that’s not even the idea), what shall I do?
Don’t all designers strive for change. You can also change, change the client.
I work in a design studio and I feel my colleagues are not critical enough when they design or when I ask their opinion about my work. 9 out of 10 times they say it looks great, they don’t even make a comment on the colour, they just love everything I do and although I know I am rather talented, should I say something?
Great Expectations, The Hague
If you didn’t have colleagues like that you wouldn’t be so perfect.
I am working for a design studio which attracts a lot of interesting clients both in the cultural and corporate field, which also makes it quite hard to leave as the projects are exciting. But ever since I started working there I have never received any credit for the work I have designed. All the work is always signed with my directors name and even though my designs have received several awards I still don’t receive credit. I am extremely angry, how can I change this?
Uncredited Designer, London
For your information a few years ago when your director was still a designer, he sent me a very similar letter.
I HATE HELVETICA
I think I might be developing a real allergy for Helvetica. I have tried practically everything. I watched the film, bought the mug, the t-shirt, the note pad, and the only time I can remember using it was when it was the corporate typeface of a company I used to work for, and that was bad enough. I just can’t warm up to it, and I find it very hard to talk to anyone about this, I would loose all respect from friends and colleagues. Please help!
Dear Sans Serif Connoisseur,
I’m glad you wrote. Hating Helvetica must be terrible. It seems like something you have no control over. The fact that you have acknowledged your problem and have seeked for help is already proof to your level of intelligence and willingness to change. You can now take the next step forward. Start with using Akzidenz-Grotesk, and after a few months make the big step.
I am working in the design industry for the last 7 years. I set up my studio 3 years ago and I have a steady flow of interesting clients. Every year I win at least 1 award or at least receive a nomination and I even have work published in a few magazines. Even though everything seems to be going fine, I have complete doubt. Every time I look through a design magazine or book and see the work of famous designers, I know deep down that I will never reach their stature, I will never achieve the creative excellence these designers have achieved. I am seriously doubting if it is worth to continue my profession as I will never be good enough.
You are the best judge of yourself, and if you say you are no good you must be right. Therefore take your suggestion and stop immediately. Sell the business. Get rid of the clients. Maybe keep a couple of business cards as a souvenir.
I keep dropping the studio pens in my bag, it has become a sort of automated action. To my surprise I seem to have acquired a large amount over time without even noticing. Is it OK to steal the studio pens, if I am not actually conscious of doing it?
Dear Pen Pal,
I hope you are not referring to Wacom pens?
My son has just applied to an Art school as he wants to become a designer. I’m very unhappy as I’d rather he choose for a proper and lucrative career such as an investment banker or corporate lawyer. Design is all very nice and ‘creative’, but I can’t have my son growing up to become a penniless bohemian. Could you please suggest some arguments I can use to change his mind.
Thank you, A concerned mother
Dear Loving Mother,
Immediately submerge yourself in the subject of ‘Design’ by reading every magazine and book you can get a hold of. And with your determination you will be a ‘Design’ connoisseur in less then a month.
Encourage your son as much as possible to choose for ‘Design’. Give him tips on what he should read. Come up with ideas with things he can design. Just simply shower him with your knowledge!
You will notice a change in him within the next couple of months.
I recently came to the conclusion, that I am addicted to Googling myself. It started with my promotion to Senior Creative, in a nationally known studio then 2 years later I was approached by an international studio to become an Associate Director and since 3 weeks I have been offered Partnership, which means my Google entries have soared. In 5 years I went from 12 entries to 24.200. I am in the top 50 designers with the most entries and I know because I have Googled all AGI members. But I have a feeling all this is getting out of hand. I Google myself at least 3 times a day and if I see my entry numbers decrease by even a couple I start panicking and sometimes it crosses my mind to change jobs in order to increase the entries. I think I need a solution to my Google addiction.
Partner, New York
Why don’t you try Yahoo for a change.
A WINNER MENTALITY
I am 43 years old and a very talented designer, my whole family gives me tremendous support and are great admirers of my design work. This gives me the push to send my work every year to national and international competitions, but I never win, why is it that none of the judges see my talent?
Star Designer, Milano
Dear Mr. Talent,
Why don’t you try getting your mother to be part of the jury, she seems to have the talent of being very convincing. Has she ever considered talent spotting as a profession?
We have been invited alongside another 5 other studios to participate in a pitch for a cultural client and have been given 2 weeks to make a proposal. Time seems to be flying by and now we have 72 hours left till the presentation. So far we have loads of sketches, with millions of ideas but none seem to jump out at you. I am getting more anxious by the minute, just the idea of having such a great opportunity to do something for the arts makes me more nervous to the point that I really have no clue how to solve this, and knowing that the other studios pitching are some of the best in the country makes me even more worried.
Creative Art Director, Amsterdam
A cultural client has asked for a pitch with 6 design studios might be cultural but is definitely not cultured.
NEW BRAND IDENTITY
I am designing a new brand identity for a European mobile company which has recently been bought over by a Global IT Company. In the brief it states that they would like a completely new refreshing and creative look with a slight hint of the style elements of the existing Global IT company. Do you think that I should only keep the same typeface and symbol or should I also keep the colour blue?
Designer, the Netherlands
In your case definitely keep the colour blue and if you dare to take the creative risk, you can add a splash of lime green.
I am working in an internationally renowned design studio for the last four years as a senior management creative project leader and focus on brand managing. I work very closely with my team but lately I have noticed, I have a tendency to work too closely with the young junior designer. For example he seems to have trouble with the short cuts on his key board, and as a senior management creative project leader I feel responsible in teaching him these basic facts. But the more time I spend with him I fear I am finding him slightly too attractive and spend too much time lingering over his long lean fingers than concentrating on the short cuts. Is there any tip you can give me so that I can concentrate on my job?
Senior Management Creative Project Leader
Dear Senior Management Creative Project Leader,
I suggest you literally concentrate on the short cuts – if you shorten your job title to ‘Leader’ that will at least get the message across that you are not interested in teaching him keyboard short cuts.
Recently I have joined a design studio. The studio attracts a mix of cultural and corporate clients giving it a healthy balance. There is also a great design team to go with it and the freedom to design is more than encouraged by the management and the clients. This is the ideal studio but embarrassingly enough there is one flaw, along with all the freedoms we have, also included is ‘The freedom of speech, discussion, group meetings, planning, rearrangements, approval by all. This leads to 80% discussion 20% design. I have discussed this numerously that there should be more design and a little less conversation, but no one seems to find a solution.
Designer, the Netherlands
You have just wasted 25 minutes of your time, writing and sending this letter, while you could have spent your time designing. Its a choice.
I am currently working in a design studio and have taken up the position of the Senior Creative Designer. So far I have completed six months and the longer I work there the more clear it is that I am the only creative person in the studio. I am surrounded by the mundane.
To describe the situation:
Lunch conversations include subjects such as TV game shows.
The word concept has been mentioned twice in 3 months.
Nobody has heard of Johan Perkowski let alone John S Border.
And to top it all up they still use Quark Xpress!
Do you think I can find a studio with designers that are more creative than myself.
Senior Creative, Paris
Dear Senior Creative
HEAVY WEIGHT DESIGNER
I have been working in the design industry for the last 12 years. My current position is designer with limited responsibility and have changed jobs 3 times so far. Every time I change studio, I seem to gain a few pounds. I have come to the conclusion that if I change jobs again I will gain a further 5 pounds, I am now hesitating to take the chance of taking a new job in a very prestigious company.
A designer with 12 years experience would be expected to have a senior position, I think it is about time you apply for that senior creative job which requires numerous meetings. Leaving and entering the building several times in a day might help you in alleviating those pounds.
What do you predict is the latest trend in typography, is it still the underlined all caps serif look or do you think there will be a 180 switch to all lower case sans.
Anonymous, Bern, Switzerland
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journeys undertaken by many birds. This includes movements of varied distances which is made in response to changes in food availability, habitat and weather.
An in depth course on Bird migratory patterns will give you the answer you are looking for.
CREATIVE MUSICAL OUTLET
My colleagues at work have the worst musical taste ever, it is the same music we played at High School… its soo eighties. And not only do they play music incredibly loud but they sing along at the top of their lungs. I have complained several times, that it hinders my creative out let and I can’t think clearly with such passe music. And to make it worse they try to encourage me to sing along with them.
Music lover with taste, USA
Just because you didn’t get laid during your high school years it doesn’t mean you have to hate the music.
Last week I was asked to go to a presentation with my boss on behalf of my colleague who had fallen ill. As I was not part of the design team that had originally worked on this particular presentation, it was my first time to have a look at it while my boss was presenting. To my great shock I thought the presentation was hideous, the spacing was appalling, the typography was crudely placed, to say the least it was a mess! And to top it all up as my boss was stretching out to point to the screen presentation I noticed his zip was undone and a glimpse of his purple boxer shorts were peeking out. I was devastated and was really not sure how to catch his eye in order to indicate his sorry state!
What is worst is that this seems to be a habit as rumors in the studio suggest. How do you think we can put an end to this?
Designer in distress, UK
I suggest you keep quiet. This might be the secret strategy that your boss employs in order to distract his clients from having a good look at his poor presentations.