14 December 2007

Fall Portfolio Show

Last Wednesday evening, the Art Institute of California – Orange County held its fall portfolio show. I teach the final graphic design portfolio class and am very happy for my students that are graduating. They put on a nice show and their portfolio where well designed. I would like to wish the graduates the best of luck in their next step. Remember that the secret to your professional and personnel careers is passion. Keep the passion and you will be successful.

04 December 2007

Gift Card Design

If you are looking for a designer that can assist you with the design of your gift card project, please let me know how I may assist you by contacting me.

It is that time of the year when major gift decisions must be adjudicated. Many people, $80 billions worth it is estimated last year, chose to give gift cards. That may be a shocker but did you know that is also estimated that $8 billion went unclaimed on those gift cards or expired. With that kind of profit it is no wonder you can find 100s of different gift cards. I was in my local Vons (that Safeway for the right coaster) and they have 250 choices. You name it and they now have gift cards. The California Lottery now offers gift cards and so does Goodwill. I am sure my wife would love getting a Goodwill gift card. Who said a diamond says I love you?

The design of gift cards has dramatically improved over the years. When they first started to come on the market they where nothing more then a company logo and a dollar sign. They worked but over time some how cash went out of fashion. Gift cards became the choice du jour. Designs have evolved in style to meet this huge demand. Now you can find gift cards that light up, sing to you, let you record a message for playback and have images that transform when you turn them like a 70s holographic baseball card. Target has made collectors of this “art form” over the past few years. I am sure we are all holding our breath in anticipation of how Wal-Mart will introduce a smiley face gift card that winks and tells you how much you are saving to try and top Target.

I have observed Starbucks has gotten into the action in a new way this holiday season. I was at my local Starbucks the other night using the last $1.53 left on the card that I found under the seat in my car. I glanced down and noticed that they have an offer where you can design you own personal Starbucks gift card (sort of). But we all know design comes with a cost. For paying $25 you get to customize a gift card. Here’s how it works; go online and pick from a few card options, mark it up with your coffee drink of habit, add you name and they will send you a $20 gift card in a pretty box which includes shipping. So for only $5, you can design your own gift card. What a bargain?

So fellow designers, keep up the new and innovational designs. The future is bright for gift cards. Corporate America thanks you $8 billion times over for losing or forgetting your gift cards. Remember to look under your sofa cushions for those lost cards and if you are buying for me, cash works best but I will gladly accept checks.

12 November 2007

Happy 101st Birthday Eva Zeisel

Eva Zeisel, an industrial designer that has shaped and inspired our industry turns 101 on November 13. Eva Zeisel has been designing with passion and great skill over the last 80+ years. Born in 1906 in Hungry, she studied art and pottery in her early years. Eva was one of the first to design dinnerware for mass production in 1928 with the Schramberger Majolica Fabrik in Germany.

She moved to Russia in 1932 to design dinnerware, bath fixtures and numerous household products. In 1936 while working in Moscow, she was arrested by the Stalin regime and placed in a prison camp for 15 months.She was charged with “plotting against the life of Stalin”. She was finally released due to the influences of important European intellectuals that contacted Stalin. Upon Eva’s release in 1937, she traveled to Vienna then to England. She married Hans Zeisel at this time.

In late 1938, Eva and Hans move to New York. She starts working on numerous designs and began teaching at the Pratt Institute in 1939, forming the industrial ceramics curriculum. Eva’s designs have been sought after over these many years. She has designed dinnerware and products for all the major china companies the world over in her career.

Her work is in the permanent collections of museums around the world including the MOMA and the Metropolitan in NYC and the Victoria and Albert in London. In 2005, Zeisel was awarded the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Eva’s work is available today at Design within Reach and Crate and Barrel along with many art museum stores and galleries. Currently there is a wonderful exhibit of her work at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles until December 30, 2007. Eva is still actively designing today and recently authored a book, Eva Zeisel on Design.

I believe all of us in the design community would like to wish Eva a happy 101st birthday and many more to come.

01 November 2007

FireStorm 2007

Today I would like to take a detour from the main focus of this blog. In additon to working as a designer, I have been an active volunteer / paid-call fire fighter for the past 16 years. Currently I am working as a Fire Captain with the La Habra Heights Fire Department located in Los Angeles County. I was called out to help on the recent brush fires that devastated Southern California. At this point the fires are under control but the rebuilding is just starting. My thoughts are with those that lost so much and I hope their lives can return to normal soon. To view additional images that I took during my assignments in Malibu and San Diego County please click on this link.

15 October 2007

The Art of Rock and Roll

I had the privilege to see the legendary band Genesis this past weekend at the Hollywood Bowl. It was the last night in their tour that started last spring in Europe. I have enjoyed Genesis since I was a teenage student. I expected a good show but they blew away all expectations. I was struck while listening to the many long instrumental sets, arranged and performed with the greatest of skill, passion and talent, of going to a symphony concert. The music’s arrangements where inspiring and captivating. What would Mozart have done with an electric keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums? I have to believe he would have composed music such as this full of the today’s energy. If you ever have doubted if rock and roll could be art, give Genesis a try when they tour again. This rock and roll symphony was modern art at its best.

08 October 2007

NYC Transit Museum

One of my passions is visiting cities and taking their subways. I love to observe the public design of the spaces and cars along with the advertising you find. New York is one of the best when it comes to subways. When I was in New York a week ago, I had the chance to visit the New York City MTA Transit Museum in Brooklyn. What a hidden treasure if you are into history, the development of New York and design. The museum is in an old subway station and covers the growth of the largest subway system in the country. As you enter you descend the stairs into the museum located below street level. This level is full of how the system grew and historical artifacts but the real treat is deeper down below. Descend further down as if you where to get an A train and you find a collection of subway cars that spans the last hundred years. On this platform level you can see the details in the designs of the cars. As you enter each car, you can see it as if it was brand new with every detail down to the vintage ads and maps. It seems that prime ad space in subways has been around since the turn of the century. One observation of these vintage subway cars shows the wonderful design of their periods. The next time you are in the area visit the MTA Transit Museum in Brooklyn. Your passion for design will thank you.

07 October 2007

ArtWalk Fall 2007 Los Angeles

Today was a visit to ArtWalk Fall 2007 to visit a great artist friend of mine, Mike Tracy. ArtWalk is a big open house at the Brewery in East LA. The Brewery is in an old Pabst Brewery that has been turned into work and live spaces. Mike Tracy has been showing in this space over the years and the work keeps getting better and better. One look at Mike's work and you can see his passion for creating and exploring in art. If you missed this open house, Mike will be showing at Hunsaker/Schlesinger Fine Art Gallery in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA in the coming months. You can also contact Mike for an appointment and to see more of this fine work visit http://www.miketracy.net

06 October 2007

In the beginning...

In the beginning an image was drawn. Soon after a word was drawn next to the image. Graphic communications was born. This is a start of the blog space for aNEW designs. Our goal for things to come is to spread the word of how great it is to be a designer and artist in this time of change and progress.

I have grown in my passion of all things design and art over the years. Passion is the key to creating designs that communicate the information at hand in an artistic and aesthetically pleasing manner. I will be sharing my passion with you over the time to come. I hope you we can unlock our passions together.