Fili & Thorn & Charles : Legends, Swans, & Dorks

Spencer Charles was hand-lettering signs at a Whole Foods in Salt Lake City when he heard Louise Fili Ltd was hiring. She invited him to New York for an interview. Fili and Charles clicked. A month later he was living in Brooklyn.

It was 2012 when Charles began working for the legendary Louise Fili, whose New York design studio specializes in book design, restaurant identities, food packaging, and “all things Italian.”

Including, apparently, amore. For Charles, landing a job at Fili’s studio was a dream come true … but that was just the beginning of his dreams come true. While working there, he’d meet Kelly Thorn … and marry her.

Meanwhile, Kelly Thorn was finishing at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She, too, had heard Fili Ltd was hiring. “I lugged my giant portfolio case to her studio, and that’s when I met both her and the guy who’d become my favorite dork, Spencer.”

As their work relationship grew romantic in 2014, Charles left Fili to freelance. By 2015, Charles and Thorn were married and working together as Charles&Thorn. Read the rest of the story here.

Thinking in Icons

Icons have become such a ubiquitous way of life for most of us, that we don’t often think about them. And the point is, we shouldn’t, unless they misguide us or leave us confused. In Felix Sockwell’s new book, Thinking in Icons, he walks readers through the process of designing icons and the subtle nuances that can make or break the design.

“Icons affect our daily lives, similar to typography. It’s something we don’t take much notice of until it’s wrong,” Sockwell says. “For instance, in Penn Station—a place where millions of commuters pass through—there’s an icon in the main hall that denotes ‘gift shops,’ showing a pipe, a gift (with ribbon), and a book. It makes no sense to most people. And no one sells pipes–you can’t even smoke outside in many New York City public spaces–but that icon has been there forever, and it probably always will be. I find strange pleasure pointing out odd things like this to people. It’s one of the reasons I’m no longer married.”

He’s also fascinated by the evolution of some icons, such as the “share” icon. “It started out clunky, within a box and with rounded edges. Now it’s a 3D arrow, and it’s quite effective,” he notes. “A lot of mistakes turn into good, useable icons. My book is an honest conversation about how icons are used, designed, conceived and understood. Designing icons isn’t a sexy or even known practice within the profession. Most designers take it upon themselves to either use an old system or tweak things to feel new or proprietary. I’m more interested in the bigger steps and mistakes that lead to workable solutions.”

And he shares it all in the book, admitting in the introduction, “Ninety percent of the work shown within these pages is completely fake—drawn up in the sidebars of actual assignments. Some of them are redrafted explorations, staged buffoonery cloaked in optimism.” Even so, you get a front row seat into the thought process, and the many considerations that go into a simple mark. To see two projects featured in the book, click here.

 

Save

LogoLounge’s Superstar Panel of Judges Announced

It’s on! The competition for LogoLounge 10 is heating up and the judging panel is hotter than ever. The breadth of the work done by this group of international judges encompasses the largest swath of name brand identities under one roof … err … website, including Facebook, Apple, WalMart, eBay, The Today Show, Patagonia, Nike, Mac Cosmetics, Gevalia, and Verizon, just to name a few.

Normally eight judges comprise the panel, but this year LogoLounge founder Bill Gardner upped the ante to ten, because he’s expecting more entries than ever before. “Some folks don’t realize that this competition is probably the single largest and most competitive with 25,000-30,000 entries historically,” he notes. “We decided it would give each entry more scrutiny if we expanded the panel, and with this the tenth anniversary, pushing the panel to ten was a natural.”

The judges this year include:

 

“We’ve always been fortunate to have strong judges, often with name brand value, to guide us to the very best of our submissions. This year, we’re introducing a digital version of the book that will have dramatically broader distribution, so we went back to a few of our past jurors,” Gardner says. “These are designer favorites the industry loves, and we also reached out to a new generation of superstars with amazing talents.” The make-up of the panel is a good blend of designers and illustrators with broad skill sets like typography and letterforms, symbols and marks, conceptual to illustrative, and boutique to international. This diversity ensures a compelling selection of designs.

Several of the judges have been featured in past LogoLounge books. Gardner has noted that Felix Sockwell, was subscriber No. 1 to LogoLounge.com, and also served as one of the first judges. Von Glitschka has also judged before, and his work has been featured in nearly every LogoLounge book as well. “It was ten years ago that another designer picked up a LogoLounge account and submitted about 50 amazingly crafted marks. Seems like the judges loved him too, and picked close to half of his work for the book,” Gardner recalls. That person was Aaron Draplin, and he has been a LogoLounge supporter ever since. Gardner adds, “He is one of the most genuine individuals I’ve ever met, and deserving of every success he’s earned.”

It’s no accident that the best logos in the world end up in the book because the people selecting them know what comprises a great logo design and how it will resonate with its intended audience. No one walks into a LogoLounge book just because they submitted. It’s a healthy competition where only the strong survive.

As an added bonus this year, LogoLounge is teaming up with HOW, which will feature a sampling of the top-rated selections in its Summer issue. “We’re excited to share the best logo entries with the HOW audience, and discuss the merits of why these logos work so well,” Gardner says.

Save

A Duo of Glitschkas

Von Glitschka has been in the logo trenches for more than 20 years. His illustrative logo solutions are as varied as his clients—from local brewers, pubs, and mechanics to national artisanal brands, sports monikers, and software companies – and no doubt you’ve seen his work right here at LogoLounge over the years. We’re thrilled to have him as one of our esteemed judges for LogoLounge 10. In addition to designing logos, he also does lettering, patterns, characters, and icons, and he has authored and illustrated several how-to books on creating vector-based art.

Although he’s done quite well on his own all these years, he took on a partner of sorts last year when he hired his daughter, Savannah, as a full time designer and illustrator after she completed the two year design program at Chemeketa Community College. Here we talk to him about going from a solopreneur to working with his daughter.

Was it an easy transition?

While she was going through school, I’d hire her on a freelance basis to work with me on some projects, and it worked really well. She helped in the exploration on the Dungeons and Dragons brand mark I did, and she helped me create all the art for my Take and Make book.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Save

Jennifer Sterling Finally Gets the Last Word

Having lived and worked on both coasts, Jennifer Sterling knows a thing or two about cultural and political discourse in design. Her illustrative typographic renderings have produced praise and ignited loathsome critiques from her peers.

She experienced a profound backlash in the early 2000s for her design of the now infamous 2001 AIGA 365 Annual. No designer has ever taken such a public beating for their work as she did. And she never responded. Until now.

That catalog sent designers into a tizzy. Today, I doubt anyone would raise a brow. Sterling did what she did best: She created typographic and textural images to create meaningful discourse and showcase the work as it was meant to be seen. But, perhaps she was ahead of her time. People didn’t get it and the reaction was visceral and harsh. Today that book would be a precious keepsake, and anyone featured within would be honored.

It seemed as if Sterling—then in San Francisco—dropped out of the design world, only to re-emerge five years ago in New York. That’s not quite the case. She has continually worked, but she intentionally kept a low profile. She was never looking for the spotlight, but it found her in the ugliest of ways. Despite that, her love for design never wavered and she continued to work with clients like Adobe, Aveda, Gilbert Paper, Hillary Clinton, and more. Her work has been included in the permanent collections of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Museum Fur Kunst Und Gewerbe, Hamburg, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Here, we talk to her about her passion for design and typography, and we let her have the final word on that book she designed more than 15 years ago. Read the interview here.

I Love My Hair!

Andrea Pippins’ eclectic, and joyous new coloring book celebrates the natural beauty of the afro. But the book has a more important message: Embrace your own identity. Celebrate who you are.

For years, Andrea Pippins’ embrace of her natural locks has demonstrated to her friends and admirers that the natural afro is the way to go. Fun, frilly, doodles, and intricate coils blended into words in funky letters are the key ingredients to this joyful celebration of individuality her new coloring book. The book is a concept that has been marinating in her mind for many years. It is much more than your off-the-shelf doodle book: It delivers a visual and powerful statement about why women of color should embrace their identity by celebrating those things that make them unique.

Pippins’ idea for this book began while working on her MFA graphic design thesis at Temple University. “Our thesis topic was Social Awareness,” she recalls. “This inspired me to focus on the revival of the natural hair movement at the time. I was intrigued by the black beauty industry and the amount of money black women worldwide spend on hair care. My book grew from this fascination and my research into the subject.”

At that moment, Pippins had been natural for seven years, and she loved it. She wondered how the hair products industry would change if more black women embraced their natural coils and went natural as well. How would product makers respond to demand? How would they market natural beauty to African American women? How would that affect the perception of African American women and afro wearers everywhere?

Pippins began to explore these questions visually, and soon after, elements of her work became art prints and T-shirts that she made available on her website. There were many buyers. Random House published the coloring book  I Love My Hair this past November. Read the rest of the article here.

pippins collage

Michael Bierut: Design is a Sacred Calling

Michael Bierut’s How to Use Graphic Design to … (Harper Collins) is a compilation of a remarkable 35 year career in graphic design. Bierut has been a partner at Pentagram New York for 25 years, and before that he worked for the famed Massimo and Lella Vignelli, at Vignelli Associates. He is a past president of AIGA and he cofounded Design Observer. He says, “It was curiosity that led me to join Jessica Helfand, Rick Poynor, and the late Bill Drenttel in creating Design Observer. Writing about design was a way for me to think about the work we designers do, why we do it, and the effect it has on the world.”

In fact, his book, takes a deep look at his design journey and his life. Bierut’s frank commentary on what it takes to become a good designer is honest, compelling, and humbling as he shares his insights and his work, including his beloved collection of sketchbooks (more than 200 to date). There are more than 36 projects featured from start to finish that span his career and speak to the remarkable influence his work has had in the world.

TCG: What skills do you believe are most pivotal to graphic designers today? 

Michael Bierut: I’ll just assume you know all the necessary software programs. The most important trait is curiosity. Can you get interested in the subject matter behind what you’re designing? Can that interest sustain you over the course of the project? Most importantly, can you tap into your enthusiasm as you search for design solutions?

Read rest of the interview here.

BIERUT_HOW_TO_ANGLED

Sketch a Doodle Do

Artist Gemma Correll‘s quirky worldview is captured in the pages of the thousands of sketchbooks she has always kept close at hand. A lifelong doodler, her sketches and musings have led to a successful career as an illustrator and cartoonist.

In grammar school, her teachers couldn’t stop her. “In school, teachers would give me old notebooks books to draw in to prevent me from doodling all over my classwork. At home, I filled old notebooks with stories and comics and illustrated diaries,” she says. The childhood habit became her life’s work, bringing smiles and inspiration to thousands.

Her work is narrative based, using humor and clever wordplay. An astute observer of the world around her, her doodle books for art book publisher Walter Foster include techniques and prompts to guide users. Ostensibly, the subject matter of her doodle books are about cats, dogs, book worms, foodies, fashionistas, and tree huggers—things dear to her.  Her pugs, Bella and Mr. Pickles, both are featured prominently in her doodle books and Daily Diaries. Read the rest of the article here.

DF2.DoodlingForCatPeople 17