Thursday, September 30, 2010

Definitely maybe (Show and Tell)

It's already Thursday. Time to get it in gear and post last week's show and tell. For this assignment I picked two examples of definition: one visual, one verbal.

The visual piece is a recent Classic ad (above, left). It's a really simple idea that communicates extremely well. The shape of the container is instantly recognizable as a sauce jar, and inside are the whole ingredients that Classico wants its audience to recognize. (Notably absent is the huge shaker of salt -- but this isn't the place to start railing against the American sodium addiction.)

The second piece takes the opposite approach. Rather than defining the product in images, this ad for a Chevy Traverse defines (above, right) the product in four words: "Neither mini nor van." What does that tell the audience? On its face, the message shows us that this vehicle isn't small and it's not a van. But since there's a comparison to a minivan, it implies that this vehicle is in a competing class. It says, "Hey, in the market for a family van? Check this out crossover because it's better than a minivan. Maybe it's bigger. Maybe it's cooler. You'd better look into it."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Used to Be My Playground...

Say it with me now: "Sorry, not tonight. I've got class in the morning."

Hello Saturday class, goodbye Friday social life.

For anyone else who's at their computer this evening, here's a compilation of some cool logos you might enjoy:

Might even remind a few of you of 502...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Be Evil

Google came up a few times during Saturday's brainstorming session. The company's an innovator for sure, having expanded greatly in the past few years while rolling out prominent new apps such as Docs and Voice. But there's another aspect of Google's techno-ascendency that's stolen the spotlight an awful lot lately: public mistrust. Many people are just a little uneasy that Google has become so deeply entrenched in their digital lives.

I recently stumbled upon this slick motion graphic, which does a great job of summing up public paranoia of the search giant. But even apart from that deeper message, it's a lesson in the power of simple, well-planned imagery to convey an idea. It's also a precise illustration of the depth of Google's brand. So regardless of whether you think Google's a good witch or a bad witch, there's a lot to take away from this one.

(And now, a gripe: The narration takes a few grammatical missteps. So, bonus feature for the editors out there... see if you can catch the flubs.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Will Write 4 Food (Show and Tell)

I know a guy who hunts for wild mushrooms. He even offered to take me with him once, which is apparently a huge gesture of respect and trust among mushroom pickers because the location of a man's 'shroomin grounds is a closely kept secret. But then he told me I'd have to wear a blindfold until we reached his sacred spot in a remote forest -- the prospect of which, quite frankly, gave me the willies.

I never did find out if he was kidding about the blindfold. While I'm about 99% sure he was a legitimate mushroom hunter and probably wasn't planning the perfect murder, I didn't push my luck. My vague interest in tromping around in the dirt for an afternoon was far outweighed by my extreme interest in not spending eternity there.

Maybe that's in part why I was drawn to this Bon Appetit article as my example of good food writing. Chalk it up to curiosity fulfilled, but the piece peels back the blindfold (so to speak) on mushroom hunting -- an activity that most people know exists, but few ever take part in.

When I think of food writing, I generally think of an analysis of an ingredient, a review of a restaurant or a description of a meal. But this article is a telling of an experience, and an obscure one at that. It's entertaining and unexpected.

This story even gave me a creative lead on my concept for our first project, by demonstrating food writing doesn't have to be simply a recipe or a nutrition table.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

B.Y.O. Blog

There's fashionably late, and then there's crashing the door at 2 a.m., complaining that all the beer and Cool Ranch Doritos are gone while everyone else is passed out on the living room floor. I'm not yet sure which category I fall into, but I do know this: it's Thursday night, I've finally arrived at the Pub Design blog party, and there are a LOT of cars in the driveway already. But I made it. Hope I didn't miss all the fun.

First, a little housekeeping: If you've just stumbled in from somewhere else on the Internet, this is my blog for a graduate course in Publications Design. If you're one of my PBDS classmates, please un-read the previous sentence because it doesn't apply to you.

So what's the big idea here? This blog is about the confluence of picture and prose -- presumably, the reason we're all in this program in the first place. It's where I'll post inspiration and rumination on writing and design, but more importantly, it's where I'll discuss the thing that I believe makes all us creatives tick: the ability to work a blank slab of nothingness into something beautiful, meaningful, or, at the very least, entertaining.

And sometimes I'll even treat you to ham-handed attempts at metaphor (see above). Lucky you. Now how about those Doritos?