Design Archives (20 posts)

Two Women Running on the Beach

If you’re in Toronto before Aug 26, 2012 then check out the Picasso exhibit at the AGO. It features 147 works, my favourite being Two Women Running on the Beach (The Race).

As an added bonus I spent a bit of time looking at some Canadian art by The Group of Seven. I can’t wait to get back up to Georgian Bay to take some photos where these artists spent a great a deal of time.

Posted in Design and Observations at 4:44 PM

Hillman Curtis

I was saddened to learn that Hillman Curtis passed away last week at the age of 51. Cancer.

Hillman Curtis and Erik Spiekermann are the two designers I admire most. In 2003 I had the opportunity to meet Hillman Curtis when he was in Toronto giving a lecture. He signed a copy of his book for me, we chatted for a minute and I’ve been inspired ever since.


Be prepared to reinvent yourself

A month ago Hillman uploaded a video onto Vimeo in which he says a designer should “be prepared to reinvent yourself” as he has done throughout his career. He made the transition from musician to graphic designer to web designer to filmmaker.

Hillman’s books and films have been a huge inspiration to me over the years and he’ll be missed.

Posted in Design at 11:49 PM Is In The Web Designer’s Idea Book

The Web Designer's Idea Book

I forgot to mention this earlier but is featured on page 50 of The Web Designer’s Idea Book: The Ultimate Guide To Themes, Trends & Styles In Website Design.

Author Patrick McNeil liked the retro design style of and included it in his chapter of retro designed websites. His book provides plenty of design inspiration with its collection of various design styles, themes and types. I often find myself looking at books and magazines like this before designing a new website. is also feature on McNeil’s site, Design Meltdown which contains a lot of great examples of web design styles.

Posted in Books and Design at 8:44 PM

What is Your Hardware Software Setup?

waferbaby has a series of interviews that asks various people about their hardware and software setup. I love this stuff!

I’m always curious what tools other designers, bloggers and artists are using to do their work. It’s a great way to discover some really useful apps.

My Hardware

All of my work is done on a Macintosh Dual 1.8 GHz PowerPC G5 with 2 GB of RAM. For storage I have two internal hard disks (150 GB, 500 GB) and 3 external hard disks (1 TB, 500 GB, 120 MB). I’m using a 23” Apple Cinema Display and some Edirol speakers (MA-20D).

An Apple AirPort Extreme manages my wireless network and shares my HP Colour LaserJet 2550L laser printer.

For photography I’m using a Canon 5D with 3 Canon lenses — EF 50mm f/1.8 II, EF 17-40mm f/4.0 L, EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L. An Induro tripod and ball head keep things stead and a Lowerpro backpack keeps my kit organized.

When I’m not in the office I stay connected with a 16 GB iPhone 3G.

My Software

For email I’m using Microsoft Entourage with SpamSieve to keep my inbox clean. Web browsing and development is done in Safari. I also use the Safari Tidy plugin to validate pages. NetNewsWire is my feed reader of choice.

I code everything with BBEdit, check my CSS with CSSEdit and FTP with Transmit.

TextExpander saves me a lot of time with text/code snippets. Yojimbo is another utility that gets used constantly to store bookmarks, notes, images, serial numbers and more. Everything is tagged and very easy to find when I need it.

1Password manages all of my passwords and fills out my online forms. Default Folder X improves the Finder and also saves me a lot of time. Cocktail and Disk Warrior handle file/system maintenance while Time Machine and SuperDuper! manage my file backups.

Adobe Photoshop CS3, Illustrator CS2 and InDesign CS3 handle design. Microsoft Office handle my documents and spreadsgheets. Final Cut Studio takes care of my video production and On2 Flix Pro encodes all of my video files so they are ready for the web.

Miscellaneous apps include xScope, DVDpedia, Xtorrent, FontDoctor, and TVShows.

If you’re looking for more great utilities then have a look at Merlin Mann’s Desktop Tour.

Posted in Design and OS X Software and Web Development at 12:00 PM

More Retro Ads

Welcome to BOMBIPPY.
The Weird news from all over the globe website has a nice collection of retro ads that I haven’t seen before.

Where would we be without Gillette and their safety razor?

My favourite from this bunch of ads is the one for ‘prompt control of senile agitation’. I think I’ll send my father a bottle of Thorazine. That should calm the old man down for a little while.

The Tipalet cigar ad is amusing in a ‘Mad Men’ sort of way. Had I know that I could “hit her with tangy Tipalet cherry” cigar smoke and have her follow me anywhere I would have started smoking Tipalet when I was a youngster. Too bad they didn’t advertise in the comic books back then.

Posted in Design at 10:52 PM

Vintage Advertising

WellMedicated has 50 Inspiring Vintage Advertisements. Great list. I love the Volkswagen ads.

Posted in Design at 10:16 PM

Photoshop CS3 for Photographers Tour

On June 16 I’m going to attend the Photoshop CS3 for Photographers Tour at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I need to get out of the home office and learn something new, anything.

Posted in Design and Photography at 5:34 PM

Tear-off wine labels

Oxford Landing’s South Australian Shiraz sports a tear-off label to help you remember the name of the wine. Brilliant package design. More info and a couple of photos at website.

Posted in Design and Food at 5:54 PM

Type usage in Pixar titles

Thunder Chunky has an interesting interview with Susan Bradley of Pixar in which she discusses title design for Pixar films and previous projects.

Posted in Design and Motion Graphics at 11:37 PM

Staying Motivated

A List Apart has a great article on Staying Motivated. If you are a creative professional and you’re struggling with with the daily grind then Kevin Cornell’s article may have has some great tips for you.

Posted in Design at 7:21 PM

Fonts by Last Soundtrack

I forget where I came across this link but has some excellent, free fonts for Windows and Mac OS X. Have a look at some of the grunge fonts by Last Soundtrack and bookmark the page.

Posted in Design at 1:18 AM

2012 Olympics logo

2012 Olympic Games Logo
I thought I was being a little hard on the redesign of the Toronto Star newspaper when I described it as ugly.

I have no comment on the logo for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. John Gruber at Daring Fireball has a pretty strong opinion of this logo. I like Gruber’s opinion.

Posted in Design at 3:40 PM

Ugly ROM, Ugly Star

Last Monday the Toronto Star launched a redesigned print version of their newspaper. The best word I can think of to describe this redesign is ugly.

They made some small improvements to the typography (increased the point size and leading to make it easier to read) but the headlines and layout look cumbersome and unappealing. The recent redesign of the Globe and Mail newspaper was a huge improvement. The paper looks more contemporary whereas the Toronto Star looks more antiquated. My 75 cents.

Tomorrow the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) unveils the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal — one of the ugliest architectural projects of our time. Architect Daniel Libeskind created the mixture of glass and metal that juts out of the ROM. I think the whole thing looks cheap and ugly.

After looking at a dozen projects by Libeskind I can say that I just don’t like his style. I prefer the look of The Gehry Tower, London City Hall, or the brilliant 30 St Mary Axe in London.

Posted in Design at 10:29 AM


The documentary film Helvetica will be getting its Canadian premiere in Toronto at Hot Docs (April 19-29). It’s at the top of my list of films to see at this year’s festival.

I’ve been hearing bits an pieces about the film on various design sites for the last year. I just watched a short clip of the film on that features Erik Spiekermann. It looks very promising and should be inspiring to anyone who is a designer that works with type.

Posted in Design and Movies and Web Design at 2:32 PM

Top Ten Stock Photography Cliches

Forty Media has an amusing list of Top Ten Stock Photography Cliches. I’m guilty of allowing some clients to use a few cliche photos in the past.

Posted in Design and Photography at 9:32 AM

Screenshots of Office 2007

Jensen Harris’ blog has quite a few screenshots of the upcoming Office 2007 user interface. There are also a few screenshots at Microsoft’s website.

I don’t know. I’m not crazy about the design at all. I just find that it looks clunky. It’s not really fair to judge an interface without actually using it but when I look at these screenshots I feel uninspired. What do the rest of you think?

Posted in Design at 8:40 PM

CNN Redesign

I love the redesign of the infographics for CNN International news. A firm called KEMISTRY in the UK did the work. The clean, simple, uncluttered graphics are a nice change from the distracting graphics that have become common on news channels.

You can see samples of the new design on the KEMISTRY homepage or just watch CNN International.

Posted in Design at 10:13 AM


If you’re a design professional and you use Adobe Photoshop on OS X then you have to do yourself a favour and visit creativebits—your daily fix of graphic design and OS X.

Posted in Design at 9:41 AM


allcity is a London-based design firm that creates some amazing movie posters for the UK and international markets. Their website is full of examples and design notes.

allcity also designs DVD covers and creates animated menus. Check out their showreel for more.

Link via Newstoday®—a great resource of links to interactive design, motion graphics, design books and more.

Posted in Design and Movies at 9:49 PM

The Birth of a “Maga-paper”

I’m not sure how I missed this but the Toronto Star did a major redesign of its Sunday paper so that it looks a lot more like a magazine. There is a great case study at with before and after visuals of the newspaper, I mean magazine.

Posted in Design at 2:24 PM