Chris Baker Likes to Fuck With People

Chris Baker is a social media Shaman. He solves complex issues, like replacing photos of your friends’ babies on Facebook with cats through his app Unbaby.me, or offering you ridiculous things to buy while under the influence with the Drrrunk Shopping app. He even co-authored The Elements of F*cking Style (a parody of the very dry Strunk & White grammar usage guide for writers), as a helpful guide for all of our “dull” friends who don’t know the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Let’s face it, we’ve all wanted to hide some of our friends’ babies from our feeds, and scream at others over their atrocious grammatical offenses, but we don’t. That’s the beauty of Baker and his collaborators. They don’t just think it, they do it and in a big, hilarious way. He is behind some of the funniest apps, games, and websites in recent years such as GOP Arcade, M. Knight School, and Operation Troll the NSA. Baker has also managed to create insightful dialogues with projects like Seeing Eye People, which dispatched volunteers throughout New York City to guide people too distracted with their phones to look up while walking, and reframing the question around whether or not it’s a choice to be gay.

Baker left the agency life a couple of years ago to become a freelance writer and creative director, and to pursue the projects he’s most passionate about—the kind that cause controversy and make people literally laugh out loud (We don’t use LOL here).Why did you drop out of high school, and how pissed were your parents?

I grew up in an insane school system in south Florida, surrounded, then, mostly by people who would years later come to inhabit the Azazelian-like Florida Man creature we’ve all come to know. Getting out of there was a great move. My parents were not amused.

You’ve worked for a lot of big branding agencies including BBDO, CP+B, and RG/A. How were you able to land those gigs without a high school diploma?

All that matters is your portfolio. Unless you’re working in the finance department, no one cares what your story is. Read the rest of the interview here.

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Marc English is Always Going Off the Beaten Path

Whether he’s teaching, designing, or hitting the road on his motorcycle, Marc English never takes the prescribed route. No, he likes to distance himself from the tried and true, sticking to his gut instincts and following his muse.

English has become widely known in design circles as an eccentric with an appetite for adventure. He’s crisscrossed the U.S. on his Triumph Bonneville, meeting new people, sketching, speaking, and always searching for the best piece of pie. Here he talks about his journeys, people he’s met, things he’s seen, and his role in design.

What exactly are you up to these days?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been beating this expression into the ground, when folks ask what I’m up to: “As little as possible, and I don’t even start that till noon.” The truth is, I’m doing what I’ve been doing for the last thirty years: living life as best I can, with design and education paying the rent. Just more than a year ago, I was speaking at a conference in Palm Springs, and the name of my talk was “The Career I Never Wanted,” as I have never wanted to work for myself. Always wanted to work for someone older, smarter, more talented, that would take me under their wing. Life doesn’t always work the way you’d like, so I’ve had to suffer the consequences of my choices.

At the Boston HOW Conference of 1994, the late Gordon McKenzie, then creative director at Hallmark, spoke movingly about life in design, acknowledging the safest one can be is in an underground bunker with no windows or doors. I liken that to any number of dead-end design gigs — I’ll let the reader fill in the blanks as they see fit. On the other hand, Gordon said the most free one can be is in free-fall from an airplane without a parachute. I’d say that to a degree, I’ve been in the latter category, and after having my own gig for 23+ years, am lucky enough to have not yet hit ground. Before I hit, I’d like to find an equilibrium and halfway point between the two. Read the rest of the interview here.

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Jessica Hische on the Art of Procrastination

If it seems like design darling Jessica Hische’s rapid ascent in the design world came easy, she’ll be the first to tell you that she worked her ass off to get where she is today, pulling all-nighters pursuing her passion. And she’s still kicking ass and taking numbers.

Known for her illustrative hand-lettering, Hische has worked for an impressive roster of clients including Starbucks, Wes Anderson, The New York Times, Target, Tiffany & Co., and Samsung. Last year she released her first book, In Progress, for Chronicle Books, which details her exacting process for drawing type. Part information, part inspiration, part eye candy, this is a fun romp through her sketchbook and how she approaches her projects.

Always one to share (or as she says, “over-share”) on her website, Hische offers great advice when it comes to creative burn-out, getting paid, and being productive. Here, we talk to her about her penchant for procrastination and how it’s actually benefited her over the years.

You’re a self-described procrastinator … in fact, you’ve coined the term “procrastiworking.” What does this mean, exactly and how bad are you?

To me, procrastiworking just means putting off the work you’re supposed to do by working on something else [that is also productive / challenging creatively]. It doesn’t always mean putting off work until the last minute—sometimes I procrastiwork by hopping around on different projects in a single day (when I start losing steam on one, I’ll work on another, assuming I don’t have an immediate impending deadline). Sometimes it means rearranging my schedule so that I can fit in passion projects. When I am really fired up about a personal project, I work on it during the work day, and work on client work in the evenings (because I know I HAVE TO stay up to finish it, because of a deadline, versus the personal work).

I do it quite a bit. But the thing that’s odd is that the more I do it the more productive I am. I’m probably more likely to hit a client deadline and make great work if I have bounced around on a lot of things in the process of getting there. Read the rest of the interview here.

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Marty Neumeier on the Transformative Branding Industry

You could call him the boss of brand thinking, with six notable books on the subject and more than 45 years of experience in the design field, or you could just call him Marty—which is what he likely prefers. Branding is under his skin, part of his DNA, and it’s something he constantly thinks about, and rethinks, as consumer habits change.

How did an Art Center drop out become such an enigma in the world of brand positioning and strategy? Well, as you’ll learn here, through hard work, intuition, and failure. Seven years ago he sold his brand design think tank, Neutron to Liquid Agency, where he serves as the Director of Transformation. In this role he helps companies transform themselves through brand strategy.

Neumeier recently updated his bestselling book, The Brand Gap, and retitled it The Brand Flip to account for all the changes that have happened in the past 13 years since the book was released. But he believes the core ideas he communicated in the original still hold true, as he explains below.

How did you become such an expert on Branding?

I’ve been thinking about branding since design school at Art Center. I love the aesthetics part, but surely it’s not important to anybody unless it connects with a business result. It took me a long time to connect the dots and the role for designers to be strategic thinkers.

Back in 1970, a booklet came out called Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, and it was a little orange booklet you could stick in your pocket. I read it, and was like, “Oh wow, this is what we have to do.” It’s better than all that advertising stuff that had come before. This is solid, logical stuff. I started thinking about the designer’s role in creating a position for a company vs. the competition. The more I thought about it, the more I was able to sell that to clients. I’d say, “I know what you’re trying to do, and this is who you want to be. You need to make some changes, and this is how I can help you.” That was the start of my branding career, but it was a long-time coming. Read the rest of the interview here.

Ti Chang: Designing Desirable Products for Women

In the past few years, a sexual revolution of sorts has been happening globally, with female designers leading the charge in developing beautiful and functional products in the adult toy industry, specifically for women. One of them is Ti Chang, cofounder and lead designer at Crave.

For decades, men were the primary product designers in this industry, and it showed. There seemed to be a catchall design in women’s products—large, pink vibrators that didn’t always deliver the punch they promised. The designers overlooked one vital point: All women do not derive pleasure the same way. There was also a shameful stigma attached to the purchase of such products, which were usually sold at seedy adult toy stores.

Thankfully, the landscape has shifted tremendously, with women leading the way. They are designing better products made with safer and more comfortable materials, sold at retail and online shops that are now socially acceptable for women to peruse. Here we talk to Chang about how she and her business partner sold their first Crave product via Crowdfunding, and her journey into designing pleasure products for women.

Chang studied industrial design at Georgia Institute of Technology where she received her BS, and she earned a Masters in Design Products from Royal College of Art in London. She worked with large consumer brands such as Goody and Trek, designing the Ouchless Hairbrush for the former, and a tandem bicycle for the latter, among other things.

What inspired/motivated you to design intimate products for women?

There has been such a dearth of well-designed products for women, not just in sex toys but in general consumer products, and I decided that I wanted to help change that. Women should not have to put up with bad sex toys. Read the rest of the interview here.

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The Many Sides of Robynne Raye

If you know anything about Robynne Raye, you know that she’s outspoken, passionate, and a fierce advocate in the design community. As cofounder of the now legendary design studio, Modern Dog, her poster designs have been regularly lauded in industry publications, and the firm’s tongue-in-cheek package designs for Blue Q (among other clients), put them in an enviable position among their peers. For more than 25 years, Modern Dog was at the top of their game.

Then from 2011 to 2013, Robynne and her partner, Michael Strassburger, became embroiled in a copyright infringement case against Disney and Target. It nearly bankrupted them financially, and broke them spiritually. (You can read about the case in Robynne’s own words, here and here.) Fortunately, they persevered and the big corporations settled, but the firm was fractured and displaced, and Robynne and Mike were exhausted. Although Modern Dog still exists, it’s now a part-time venture for the principals, who have since taken on new roles. Read the rest of the article here.

Design by Robynne Raye

Design by Robynne Raye

Timothy Goodman & Jessica Walsh: Being Vulnerable on a Public Platform

What happens when two designers set out to do a social experiment that reveals their vulnerabilities and insecurities? They publish a book, get tons of media coverage, and Hollywood comes calling with a movie deal. Then they start over with a new experiment.

Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman are well respected designers who have plenty on their professional plates already—Walsh as partner of famed Sagmeister & Walsh, and Goodman as a prominent designer, illustrator and art director. Both are based in New York city, and they teach at School of Visual Arts, as well. In 2013, 40 Days of Dating started as a personal exploration where Walsh and Goodman exclusively dated each other for 40 days, following a set of self-imposed guidelines including attending couples therapy, an entire day of holding hands (even in the bathroom), and a romantic weekend get-away. The entire experience was documented daily, with each recording their thoughts about each other and what they were feeling each day. This was the most real, reality program we’ve ever witnessed, and highly addictive. During the experiment, Goodman was asked by a friend why he was doing this, and he said, “I really believe it’s testing my capacity for intimacy.” That intimacy was ultimately viewed by more than 15 million people worldwide. The two didn’t become a couple, but they have remained close confidants and co-conspirators, and Walsh found her happily-ever-after with someone else.

Their latest project, 12 Kinds of Kindness, again took them way out of their comfort zone as they explored their own personal struggles in the past and how they dealt with them—and are still dealing with them—as well as how they respond to unwanted behaviors in others. The description on the site, says, “Two self-centered New Yorkers, often focused on what’s ahead instead of what’s around them, created a series of 12 steps as a way to become kinder, more empathetic people. As a resolution, they practiced this for 12 months.” Here, we talk to Goodman and Walsh about their motivations with each project, why they keep doing them, and how they feel about publicly revealing such personal experiences. Read the rest here.

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Logo Design Lessons from 5 Summer Blockbusters

It’s that time of year, when the summer blockbusters are released to much fanfare with overblown, Hollywood budgets. But with so many movies hitting the theaters at once, it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to see. Fortunately, you can usually judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a movie by its title treatment and logo design. Here, along with Matthew Jervis, we discuss five movie logo treatments and how they stack up in the frenzied Hollywood landscape. We’ll ponder why some logos work and others don’t.

Ghostbusters

One of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer, Ghostbusters, has come a long way, featuring an all-female cast in this remake, but one thing hasn’t changed at all: the logo. Devised by designer Michael Gross and Brent Boates more than 32 years ago, the logo has not been cleaned up, touched up, or tweaked in any way. Its genius in its simplicity. Read the rest here.

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How to Build a Better Brand from Four Experts Who Know

Brand-building is key to any successful business. Design plays a critical role in the development and evolution of a brand over time. Here, we ask four branding experts about the factors that influence brand success and why. All have taught branding workshops that you can watch for free during Branding Week, June 20 to 24 on Creative Live.

Meet the Four Branding Experts

Megan Auman is a designer, metalsmith, educator and entrepreneur who has built a multi-faceted business around her passion for great design and sustainable business. Her eponymous jewelry line is sold in stores across the U.S. and online. Her designs have been featured in Design Sponge, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light and more. In her class, Brand Your Creative Business, you’ll explore what makes your business a unique brand and find ways to share it. You’ll learn about implementing a brand strategy and growing and protecting it.

April Bowles is a writer, creative business consultant, marketing strategist and photography dabbler. She wants to live in a world where artists and makers adore their blogs, write with confidence and know how to get their unique work in front of people who love it—and scramble for their credit cards because they just “have to have it.” In Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Successful, April will help you cultivate a deeper confidence in your product through developing a more nuanced understanding of your brand.

Stanley Hainsworth is founder and chief creative officer of Tether, a design and branding agency in Seattle. Prior to founding his own agency, he worked as creative director, defining and reshaping the stories for Starbucks, Lego and Nike. In his class, Branding Essentials for Designers he’ll talk about the role stories play in developing a strong brand identity and how to create a strategic roadmap for sharing a brand story with the world.

Lewis Howes is a lifestyle entrepreneur, high performance business coach, author and keynote speaker. He hosts The School of Greatness podcast, which has received millions of downloads since it launched in 2013. His newest book, The School of Greatness, provides a framework for achieving real, sustainable, repeatable success. His class, Start Your Profitable Podcast & Build a Brand, will show you how to start a podcast that makes money and grows your brand.

Learn from the Branding Experts

HOW: What’s the difference between a brand and a set of branded elements?

Howes: Your brand is the feeling people get when they interact with you or your work. It’s how they remember you and what they say to someone else when describing you. Your brand elements are just the visual representation of that feeling.

Bowles: A brand is all the marketing and communication you do to differentiate your business from the competition. Branded elements like a logo or business card are pieces that help to make up your brand.

Hainsworth: A set of branded elements are the badges and the delivery mechanisms for a brand. A brand is a thing, but it’s also a feeling, a movement, a passion. A brand puts a promise out into the world, “if you interact/experience/try our product or service then you will…”

Auman: Simply put: Emotion. A brand is an emotional connection repeated over time. Brand elements are one signifier of those emotions. The challenge in branding is that it’s very difficult to build an emotional connection simply through the elements we traditionally associate with branding. The emotional appeal comes from the product itself, the stories a company tells, the experiences customers have with the company (both online and off), the experiences customers have with the products, and even the way a company is represented in the media. Read the rest here.

 

Clear Winner: Jonathan Selikoff, Letterpress Artist

Designer, typographer, and letterpress artist Jonathan Selikoff started his studio Vote for Letterpress in 2010 because he had to.

Selikoff wanted to buy a Vandercook press to add to his weekender print set-up in his garage. “I found one in Ithaca, but there was a catch. It came with a Heidelberg Windmill, a manual paper cutter (old-school guillotine), and a lot of wood and metal type. After checking with the boss (my wife, Lauren), we decided that I’d just buy it all and open up a shop.”

That is the moment when Selikoff’s avocation became his vocation. Today, his letterpress shop includes a Vandercook, a flatbed cylinder press, and a Heidelberg Windmill automated platen press (see this marvel of German engineering here).

Selikoff’s letterpress habit began when he was a 12-year-old boy attending summer camp. “At camp we made stationery using a tabletop press,” he recalls. “I loved it. The seed was planted.” His formal education began at Emory University in Atlanta, where he majored in history. Between his junior and senior years there, he won an internship in the art department of Atlanta Magazine. The experience attracted him to graphic design. After graduating from Emory, he enrolled at Portfolio Center/Atlanta (Miami Ad School and Portfolio Center recently merged). His years there, he says, “were transformative.”

While studying at PC, Selikoff’s fascination with “old school technology” grew. “In art school, a bunch of us loved to visit vintage goods shops around Atlanta. I’d poke through whatever type or printing stuff they had, and ended up buying things I found interesting.” These treasure hunts were the beginning of a fantastic library of objects and letterforms he’d later put to use on the letterpress. Read the rest here.

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Design by Graham Clifford; Hand lettering by Wells Collins; Letterpress by Vote for the Letterpress.