Weekly Inspiration:

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My weekly inspiration this week happens to continue both my trend from my first photo essay, craft beer, and my previous inspirations, logos. Among the detailed designs of bottles, this box stood out. Despite the fact that it lack the complexity of most boxes, it manages to be in your face. There’s no questioning Elysian’s message. It’s right there. Corporate Beer Still Sucks – a message many craft breweries are pushing, but few are bold enough to say it in the way Elysian has.

While I like the idea, I wonder if it couldn’t have been executed better. For example, I cringe at the misaligned text. At the end of the day though, my only question is not whether they succeeded in getting their message across (they did), but whether I’d want to be seen drinking a bottle of beer called Loser.

 

Letterform Project

In school, you’re constantly trying to meet a word count for every paper you write. When you’re concerned about getting the last 1000 words finished, it’s easy to lose site of just how powerful individual letters can be.

For our Letterform project, we were asked to depict 4 concepts using only three letters. I was worried I’d have trouble coming up with designs. I didn’t think it’d be possible to depict an entire concept like unity with only three letters.

The key for my designs was to focus less on the letters themselves, but the shapes and feelings they represented. A sans serif X is very boring, serious, and monotonous and reminded me of static. The letter O could be transformed into a ring to indicate unity, and the letter C could be used as a curve.

The exercise itself was a lesson in thinking outside of the box. When it comes to design, you can’t think too literally or you will miss out on creative opportunities.

Photo Essay #1

For our first photo essay, I figured what better subject to pick than craft beer. These days what’s on the outside of the bottle is just as important as what is inside. I headed to Corridor in Laurel, where I was presented with no shortage of interesting uses of typography. Some were better than others at conveying their message. Some didn’t seem to know what their message was in the first place.

How Many Fonts is Too Many Fonts

Lots of fonts doesn’t have to be bad. DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus branding pulls it off. The beer to the right, however, fails miserable. In fact, I struggled to figure out what was going on. I’m still not sure what the name of the beer is.

Using Typography to Illustrate Concepts

Typography All Around Us

Walking around Corridor was fun, but typography is everywhere, and I found plenty of cases of cool typography just walking around my neighborhood. It turns out Relay has a lot of very cool signs both historical and for advertising.

 

Weekly Inspiration: Living, Learning and Growing with Gaiam

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I wanted to continue my weekly inspiration posts with a theme – logos. This week a local yoga studio happened to be having free classes, so naturally, I happened to see the logo for Gaiam, a maker of yoga products, multiple times. They also happen to make a meditation app I use on my phone.

According to their site, Gaiam is a fusion of “Gaia” (a term for mother Earth) and “I am” – a term perfect to describe the company’s mission that incorporates awareness and preservation of the earth and all its resources.

The logo is yet another great example of how something simple can have a very strong message behind it.

Tracing Fonts

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This week, one of our assignments was to trace fonts. I started with Comic Sans and found myself questioning whether it might be a cruel joke tracing such a mocked font, but as I continued, I started to notice the nuances of each font. I found the serif fonts easier to line up, but much harder to trace. Tracing the sans serif fonts wasn’t that much easier. Despite their simplicity, there are small details which make or break the font. For instance, Helvetica’s font has flat ends for all it’s letters, whereas Futura combines both. We see most of these fonts on a regular basis, but sitting down to trace them was a worthwhile exercise in paying attention to the details that go into making them.

Keyform Assignment (v.1)

The initial design process began during our first class. During class, we broke into groups and were tasked to come up with designs using dots that represented six design concepts:

  • Contrast
  • Harmony
  • Asymmetry
  • Tension
  • Movement
  • Rhythm

With the designs created, we shared our designs with classmates to get feedback to revise our initial designs. Some concepts were easily recognized (such as harmony). Others like movement and rhythm were more difficult to identify, and some were identified correctly, but for reasons other than what was intended (e.g. tension). Below you’ll find both our initial designs and revisions based on feedback. (Notes on the feedback we received can be found here.)

The Keyform assignment is a logical progression from the design process started in the in class activity. Using key forms, the goal was to recreate the concepts above along with three new concepts (two of which were of our own choice):

  • Scale
  • Depth
  • Balance

My rationale for the above designs are included from left to right, top to bottom below:

  • Asymmetry – When sliced vertically, the two halves (two keys versus three) will be unequal or asymmetric.
  • Harmony – Eight separate keys are shown interacting as one to form a circle. Additionally, the design of the key was selected due to it’s vine-like nature to represent the harmony that one finds in nature.
  • Rhythm – Rhythm is defined as a strong repeated pattern, and is depicted here by the alternating of keys in a repeated pattern.
  • Balance – A single key is depicted balancing on the point of the key below it.
  • Scale – Five identical keys are shown in decreasing size from top to bottom.
  • Contrast – Two identical keys are flipped vertically and horizontally to depict contrasting forms.
  • Movement – The keys are slanted and moving downward on the page to represent keys sliding or moving down the page.
  • Depth – Identical keys are presented in decreasing size from left to right to give the appearance of three dimension or depth.
  • Tension – Taking inspiration from the in class assignment, the idea of two opposing sides (two against one) is intended to depict tension.

 

Weekly Inspiration: The Stories Behind UMBC50

Given that I’m only 26, it may come as a shock that I’ve spent nearly 26 years at UMBC, but I actually have spent most of my life on campus. It has truly become my second home, and at times I fear I may never be able to leave, but I digress. This weekend, UMBC celebrated their 50th anniversary, so it seems only fitting that my weekly inspiration be UMBC’s UMBC50 logo.

UMBC's 50th Anniversary Logo

UMBC’s 50th Anniversary Logo

For such a big milestone, the logo is relatively understated. Yet, despite its simplicity, it manages to convey a myriad of stories and messages. First and foremost, you notice the school colors – black and gold. They color the walls, sidewalks, and everything in between on campus, so a logo wouldn’t say UMBC without them. You’ll also notice the classic UMBC logo above the mentions of both grit and greatness, two attributes UMBC has begun proudly touting about the members of its community.

A sense of community is above all what students, faculty, staff, and alumni seem to return to when discussing what UMBC means to them. Behind the colors and words of the logo, its the sense of community that manages to shine through UMBC’s 50th anniversary logo. For those of us at UMBC currently and those that have walked the sidewalks in the past, the logo brings back our own memories, but also connects us to all the other memories made at UMBC during its 50 years – memories of graduations, conversations with classmates, parking woes, and never ending construction – stories that surprisingly seem to transcend beyond what years you were on campus.

I look at this logo and in so many ways it captures UMBC. It’s small and unassuming, much like the campus at first glance, but it also captures UMBC’s grit, the perseverance to aspire for greatness over the years that has allowed UMBC to rise to the top of lists dominated by much more renowned schools.

Above all, the logo captures a feeling that’s hard to describe unless you’ve been to UMBC, but step onto campus, and you feel it immediately. To convey that in such a simple logo is inspiring.