Friday, August 14, 2009

Never say never ...

Ever had your mind made up that you just do not like a particular font, and there was no real justification for your disdain? Well, for a while now, I've been particularly harsh on Optima. I swore that if I could avoid using it in any of my work, I would. It always looked a bit awkward and "horsey" to me. But the other day while doing some photo research for the mag, I came across an interesting picture. It was a label for a wine bottle that immediately grabbed my attention. It was simple and clean, with beautifully set type, and it was set in ... wait for it ... Optima.

It was such a great use of the font and it worked so well within the context of the label, I had to find out who designed it. So, I got my google on and after about 30 seconds I found the winery, Ridge Vineyards. I wasn't turning up anything for the design though. After about 10 more minutes of searching I thought I'd drop Ridge Vineyards and email inquiring about the label; who designed it, when it was designed, etc. Literally five minutes later, I received an email from Kathy Martinich at the winery. She let me know that the label was designed in 1962 by James Robertson of Yolla Bolly Press. She was kind enough to send over the original design along with a memorial piece for James Robertson from their newsletter. 1962?! I had it in mind that this was a more recent design. But, most of the post World War II designers liked their stuff clean, a la Massimo Vignelli, (Don't know who that is? For the love of Pete, click that link.) and this design is an outstanding example of that. Unfettered, with a great use of space, color, and yes, typography.

So, I stand corrected. What can I say? I had only seen Optima used badly and it skewed my opinion. Many thanks to Kathy at Ridge Vineyards for sending over the label and letting me know about James Robertson. Next time I might not be so quick to write off a font—except maybe Papyrus.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I don't always like commercials, but when I do, it's because they're f-ing genius.

Surely you've seen the "Most interesting Man in the World" spots for Dos Equis by now. The ones with the gray-bearded man presumably in his fifties or sixties engaging in various Hemingway-esque pursuits ranging from bokken sparring to bench pressing Asian women at parties. The voice-over at the beginning of the commercial lets you know, "His reputation is expanding faster than the universe" or "The police often question him just because they find him interesting." "He once had an awkward moment just to see how it feels. He is the most interesting man in the world." The spot wraps up with our hero sitting at a table flanked by beautiful women. "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends."

This campaign by EuroRSCG is genius because rather than appealing to the lowest common denominator with ads showing poor saps drinking swill and trying to hook up with women, this campaign appeals to a more sophisticated crowd—interested in actually being interesting rather than feigning it in order to attract the opposite sex. They're pushing an image rather than the product—which is nothing new. It's just that this is so damn cool. The suave older gentleman, played by Jonathan Goldsmith, is brilliant. Perhaps the best thing is his actual endorsement, which is pretty non-committal. Almost in passing, he tells you, "I don't always drink beer ..." Huh? You'd better get out there and peddle that product like you mean it, buddy! Nope. He's just letting you know that as part of his general awesomeness, he happens to put down a couple of Dos Equis every now and again, and he'll do it when he's damn good and ready.

Now get out there and pilot a motorboat filled with beauty-pageant contestants by moonlight, arm wrestle a Cuban military officer, or release an enraged grizzly from a bear trap, and grab a Dos Equis when you're done. 

Twitter too ... brilliant! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Unspeakable acrobatic displays? I'm down.

Looks like Factor Films is about to drop a film in 3D—They Came From. It hardly looks sick at all ...

Friday, June 12, 2009


Yet another long gap between posts. If you're one of the 5-6 people that read this ... my bad.

Things have been hectic—in a good way. Been hard at work designing a new magazine from the ground up, and we just got the prototype back from the printer the other day, and well, I'm pretty darn excited. The marching orders were to create a magazine based on interior design, decor and architecture, break the mold in terms of aesthetics in the local market and not alienate our demographic—no pressure. The editor, Shellie Benson, and I worked our asses off on it, and again, we're very pleased with the result. Props to everyone who helped get this bad boy out the door. I'll be posting more of it on my site, but in the meantime, here's the cover ...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Apparently we're f*cked.

Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design telling it like it is. If you click play, you will hear naughty language. You've been warned.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


May 2009 will be the last issue for Best Life, as the economic downturn has claimed yet another magazine. The Men's Health spin off was only five years old—even in magazine years, that's young. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, it was one of the few magazines to actually gain ad pages last year (as compared to the rest of the industry, which saw an almost 12 percent decline). Despite this fact, the publisher, Rodale, decided the magazine wouldn't be able to weather the state of the economy.

A friend recently told me that the current economy will weed out the bad publications, and only the good ones will be left standing. I can't get on board with that notion. Not when pubs like Best Life are going under. It's unforgiving out there and unfortunately the economy isn't always so discriminating. 

So, get out there to your local news stand and pick up your favorite mag. Renew that subscription you let slide—or better yet, start a new one. I just did ...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Back from break

Holy cow. Long time since I've posted. Apologies everyone. Been very busy wrapping up a couple of projects (soon to be posted on the site) and I took a much needed trip back to Colorado to catch up with some friends and do some riding. Things that came out of the trip: I was reminded that snowboarding is a perishable skill, but still super-fun. Flying 40 feet and landing on your head in waist-deep powder is relatively painless. Grabbed a couple of beers with Eric Likewise from the Skateboard Market and Indylab will be doing some designs for their upcoming shop t-shirts. Fun. I also stopped in and visited some friends at One Tribe Creative, an agency based in Ft. Collins that specializes in socially responsible design and branding. They've got some great stuff happening, including the launch of, an eco-friendly t-shirt project that allows the consumer to give 50 percent of their purchase to global humanitarian efforts. 

Colorado Rocks.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Limited Edition

Pro skater Mark Gonzales was good enough to collaborate with The Skateboard Market and create artwork for these limited edition decks for the grand opening of their new shop. In turn, shop owner Eric Likewise was good enough to send one of them my way. Original, hand numbered art from the Gonz. Am I going to skate it? Negative. That sucker's going on the wall in my office just above Cyber Spawn

Friday, January 9, 2009

Know Your Fonts

In the mood for some font geekery? Stop by and try out the Rather Difficult Font Game. It's actually pretty tough. Not enough font fun for you? Then take the Helvetica or Arial Test and see if you know the difference between Helvetica and the rip-off artist, Arial. Send screenshots of your scores to so I can post them on the blog! 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Obama's on a Mac!

While I will strive to keep the blog politically neutral, I couldn't resist noting that Obama will be ridding the world of famine, disease, pestilence and war all from the clean and intuitive interface of a Macintosh. Apparently Biden is on board as well. Looks like he's on an Air. Nice work guys. You're off to a good start.