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.

 

Confidence is Overrated: Debbie Millman’s Road to Success

As the voice and founder of the Design Matters podcast, Debbie Millman has interviewed designers, authors, musicians, photographers and entrepreneurs learning not only the secrets of their successful journeys, but also the failures and rejections they’ve experienced along the way. Her keynote for the upcoming HOW Design Live Conference, which will be streamed live here on Creative Live, is called, On Rejection: A Cautionary Tale of Dreams, Hopes and Rejection. In her talk, she draws from her own experiences of rejection and despair through revealing and sometimes hysterical anecdotes.

Here, we asked Millman about how vulnerability and courage have played major roles in her successful creative journey, along with the disappointments and missteps along the way. She holds nothing back. Read full post here.

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Hand lettering by Debbie Millman.

A post I wrote made this list!

Top 75 Design Blogs and their Best Articles

Best Design News & Stories

Do you want to stay on track in the world of design? Our “Best Design News & Stories” category includes topics such as graphic design, web design, illustration, film, photography, and more!

1. Creative LiveCreativeLive brings the world’s greatest experts directly to you! This blog empowers you to unleash your potential by featuring workshops in photography, video, design, business, audio, music, crafting, and software training – for free. For example, you can participate in real-time classes from the world’s top experts. Plus, you can directly interact with instructors.

Best post: Drawing for Graphic Design: 6 Exercises to Sharpen Your Skills | by Emily Potts.

Drawing for Graphic Design

When talking about drawing for graphic design projects, we’re very often talking about a digital process. We’re so used to sitting in front of our computers, plugging away at pixels in Photoshop and Illustrator, that we sometimes forget to step away, grab a pen or pencil, and just draw. Here, we provide six simple drawing practice exercises that revolve around drawing for graphic design. These were pulled from Timothy Samara’s book on that subject. Timothy teaches Graphic Design Fundamentals at CreativeLive and his exercises will help you get started, and hopefully, breathe new life into your work.

1. Positive/Negative

This study trains the eye to tell form from space and pick out different levels of value.

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1. Choose a simple object to draw. This can be just about anything you’ve got lying around: a cup of coffee, a pair of scissors, or a desk chair should do nicely.

2. Instead of trying to draw the object itself, draw the negative space that surrounds the object. Define the shape with contoured fields of color rather than lines.

3. Now the actual shape of the object should be defined, so go in and add details using pencil or a lighter charcoal to create different values. Add each level independently, beginning with shadows. In each iteration, increase the number of levels between black and white. See five more exercises, here.

Lettering for Beginners: A Guide to Getting Started

Lettering for Beginners: 5 Tips to Get You Going

From street signs to chalkboard menus to national ad campaigns, hand lettering is everywhere. But it’s also intimidating for those of us who are just getting started. It takes practice, so luckily we have two lettering experts, Annica Lydenberg and Roxy Prima, to give us some tips to get started.

1. Choose Your Pens & Pencils

Having the right supplies will help make hand lettering easier, but you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on pens and pencils right away. There is an extensive range of devices, depending on what kind of style you are going for in your lettering.

Pencils: Mechanical or Lead In

Prima notes, “I like to use mechanical pencils because they always stay sharp. My favorite is the Koh-l-Noor Mephisto Pencil.”

Lead in pencils can be hard or soft, ranging from 6H (hard) – 6B (soft), with HB being middle of the road. Lydenberg says, “I typically sketch at first with lighter pencils—meaning harder lead—and then move on to softer lead, darker pencils, once my design has taken more shape.” Take a look at this pencil hardness guide for reference. If you’re just starting out, you can grab just about any drawing pencil set from your local art supply store. Read rest of article here.

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Roxy Prima

Amy Nicole Schwartz: Making Great Work & Building Community

I was first introduced to Amy Nicole Schwartz and her work in a shotgun approach, along with a couple thousand designers attending the AIGA Conference in New Orleans in October. She was one of seven contestants in Command X, AIGA’s own reality game show that plays out during the conference. The contestants are given design assignments each day to complete and then present the next day. They are judged by an esteemed panel onstage, but the audience ultimately gets the final vote, eliminating contestants each round. Schwartz’s quick wit, great design solutions, and seemingly boundless energy helped her survive, and ultimately, snag the coveted title. I was impressed by the way she composed herself throughout the competition, and even moreso when I learned that she is creative director at Cards Against Humanity (CAH), one of my all-time favorite games. Read rest here.

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5 Ways to Pay It Forward this Holiday Season

In the spirit of holiday giving, we asked several creatives to tell us how they give back to causes they are passionate about. Whether it’s donating money, time, or belongings, every little bit matters to those who are in need. We hope their stories inspire you to pay it forward this holiday season and all year long.

Create Art for a Cause

Salli S. Swindell has taken part in an annual event for the past 15 years called the Christmas Stocking Competition, which is held at The Grey Colt in Hudson, Ohio. The event rallies artists, crafters, and DIY’ers to create a handmade stocking using any medium or materials. The stockings are revealed at a preview party in the shop, and then on display in the window the following week. “People buy raffle tickets to win a stocking and the proceeds are all donated to a local cause,” Swindell says.

About 60 stockings are submitted each year garnering an average of $6,000. “The preview party is such a fun and festive event. It’s amazing how creative people get with their stocking entries. Over the years I’ve seen carved wooden stockings, garlands made of clay stockings, every kind of fabric and stitching, and even an evening gown in the shape of a stocking! Many of us here in town start thinking about our concept in the summer. It’s a super cool event that connects the community in a creative way and helps a local cause.”

Read the full article here.

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Lettering and Calligraphy: How to tell the difference

In recent years, lettering and calligraphy have experienced a resurgence in popularity. These two art forms have a strong kinship and are well worth exploring. You’d be well advised to understand their differences before listing them in your portfolio, though.

Martina Flor and Giuseppe Salerno challenged each other a couple of years ago to a competition of sorts. They created a site called Lettering vs Calligraphy, and each day they would create a letter—Flor, a letterer and Salerno, a calligrapher— “to explore the capabilities of the two technical approaches.” Here, they discuss the finer points between the two practices and talk about the competition and recent projects.

What is hand lettering and how is it different from calligraphy and type design? 

Martina: Lettering is essentially drawing letters. While type design focuses on creating a full alphabet that works in all its possible combinations, lettering often deals with just a word or phrase. These are drawn for a particular use and no fonts are involved.

Lettering and calligraphy have a doubtless relationship. However, the different nature of each (lettering is drawing, calligraphy is writing) has an impact on the artwork. While lettering often imitates the spontaneous movement of writing, it is the result of careful decision-making. It is the product of determined calculation on how that curve or shape should look. In this sense, lettering and type design are design-related disciplines, whereas calligraphy stands on the side of art. Read the rest of the article here.

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Martina Flor’s lettering, left; Giuseppe Salerno’s calligraphy, right.

James Victore: Conquer Cliches and Create Posters That Say Something

We see posters everywhere, but truly remarkable ones are rare. Here, James Victore shares advice on how to bend clichés to create memorable poster designs that matter. 

Design legend James Victore does not mince words. “People think graphic design is a visual art and it’s not; it’s an idea-based business and the visuals are just the teaspoon of sugar that we use to get these ideas across,” says Victore, who recently taught a CreativeLive course titled Bold & Fearless Poster Design.

“My own work isn’t pretty,” says the acclaimed and influential designer, author and activist.  “People don’t buy my work because it matches their furniture.” Read the full article here.

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Poster design by James Victore.