On 11, Dec 2018 | In Uncategorized | By plaidtractor
As a designer I’ve always been fascinated by the ampersand. It might’ve began as a kid, admiring my mother’s workspace and her collection of U&LC (Upper & Lowercase) Magazine. Here John Brownlee reveals its history as a unique glyph, and why it’s the darling of type nerds. I love it for many of the same reasons, particularly how it invites and inspires exploration.
One additional explanation: out of all the characters of a large family, the weirdest one is often the most interesting!
While all letters and punctuation marks look similar enough in abstract, the ampersand feels unique, like a shape-shifter that could transform at a moment’s notice. For type designers and aficionados both, it isn’t so much a character as it is a character, “usually a tirelessly entertaining one, perhaps an uncle with too many tricks,” as Simon Garfield wrote in his 2012 book, Just My Type.
On 28, Feb 2017 | In Uncategorized | By plaidtractor
Amidst all the disaster and gaffe precautions the Academy Award ceremony attends to, apparently human error prevention (while the world cliff-hangs on your next cold read) isn’t one of them. If only a graphic designer had been tasked to apply one of their most essential skills, basic typography, Warren Beatty might’ve caught the error on the spot.
Let’s have a look at the interface he was tasked with navigating, stone cold. The first (and largest) item commanding attention is the most useless: the Oscar logo. Perhaps this would be useful if a major star ‘Gary Busied’ and suddenly forgot where they were. Next, as if to avoid getting stuck in the traffic of “more words” we leap headlong into the title of the film, with no mention of category. Do they figure they’ll shed precious time unclaimed by the flashing “wrap it up” sign and play-off music? Sometimes formalities are appropriate. Particularly if the award ceremony is, you know, significant. Finally, the category the reader is announcing for is buried at the bottom in small print, italicized. For “emphasis”.
Here’s a version an experienced graphic designer would insist upon, that is if only one of the trillion or so designers in LA had been available.
Only the bare minimum is employed to ensure clarity in the event Murphy’s law barges in. Then it’s organized into a simple, intuitive hierarchy. From the top, only a split second glance is required to check the category (a sort of “you are here”). This is the “ounce of prevention” that could’ve saved Beatty, the Academy, and PwC from many pounds of embarrassment. Then the main point of focus, the film title is handed to the reader by way of its emphasis. Underneath it all (with the exception of the film title) is the beautifully invisible feature of readable, lowercase typography. Unlike the all-caps Oscar card, lowercase type recognizes we humans read the shapes of words, not the letters of words.
So shape up, Oscars, and stop giving Gaffers a bad name.
Website redesign on the way for Grantmakers in the Arts, national thought leaders in arts philanthropy
On 20, Jul 2016 | In Uncategorized | By plaidtractor
I’m honored and excited to announce that Plaid Tractor Design has been selected to partner with Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) to redesign their web presence, their most critical communication tool.
GIA is a champion of racial equity and arts education, providing valuable professional development for arts grantmakers through conferences, workshops and webinars, and research and policy work across the field of arts philanthropy. The new design will support a substantial back-end upgrade, and provide a more intuitive user experience, allowing the public and members to take full advantage of the vast resources on the site. The design process will focus on usability, illuminating their community of practice and membership resources, and advancing the GIA brand. Very excited to support this organization and their vital work in advancing the growth of arts and culture.
On 16, Jun 2016 | In Uncategorized | By plaidtractor
“Under no circumstances would I do a job for Trump today,” Milton Glaser, the legendary designer says.
In 2008, after only 2 years on the market, sales dropped 81% and only got worse from there. Several years later Trump reportedly sued the failed distillery after it closed.
“I’d say this is appealing to the lowest level of human activity,” he says. “Envy and status.”
On 21, May 2015 | In Uncategorized | By plaidtractor
One of my favorite things about designing for print media is the press check! That great smell of offset printing presses hard at it, and the first glimpse of hard work realized in vibrant, crisp detail. On this occasion it’s a new, beautiful raw cheese packaging label for Paradise Springs Farm, and printed by TCC Printng and Imaging.