Pantone 17-1462

the term ‘signifier’

Today in my inbox, I got the feedback sheet for my last Business Practice for Artists and Designers class assignment, which was an analysis of four case studies. I thought this comment was slightly odd:

“I particularly liked the term ‘signifier’ and your use of it.”

I’ve never had anyone comment on a particular word that I’ve used on the assignment feedback sheet (as opposed to a comment directly under the word or something). So yes, I found it strange. Is it strange? I mean, I only used the word once so it was as if he’s read my essay and thought ‘of all the thousands of words, I want to single out this one…’

[In case you want the context, this was the sentece: Lister came to understand that an artist’s work does not exist in isolation, but rather, is marketed and sold as a signifier of her “ideas, concepts, skills and reputation” (Lister, 2003). ]


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Target 168: Eurovision

the logo is a fricken hourglass! - no pressure or anything...

the logo is an hourglass - no pressure or anything...

Jeepers! Ok, so I signed myself up for Sticky’s Target 168 challenge, the idea being that you have 168 hours to make a zine (whilst concurrently living your life). The theme is Eurovision, and each participant has been assigned a country in the Eurovision final, the brief basically being “to make a zine about your country and/or Eurovision.” For full list of rules click here.

In addition, to prove that you made the zine over this time (Tropfest-style) you have to somehow include a newspaper-clipping announcing the winner of Eurovision (including the date) into your zine.


What country did I get? – Croatia

What do I know about Croatia? – nothing.

Stay-tuned, and you’ll see the results on Thursday! – I’m a little worried, but very excited!

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Two Colours for the Price of One

black image printed on yellow stock

black image printed on yellow stock = genius!

I got this Open Studio invite to Detour Design in the mail yesterday after I got home from the Mollerup talk, I’m really excited about the event because of how well the Studio Pip & Co ‘studio access’ event went, and also, because its always interesting visiting studios and seeing how they work (both in terms of process, and also the physical space set up.) And also (but wait! there’s more!) because Abra Remphrey (the director of Detour) is always really nice and says ‘hello’ when I see her at AGDA events.

But the reason for this post was because of how great I found the invite. I sat at the kitchen table for ages staring at this invite.

Why? Because it’s a one-colour job! It’s black printed on yellow stock! GENIUS! Now, I do a lot of black+white jobs at work and I’d never thought of that – and its one of the most striking b+w printed invites that I’ve gotten in the mail. I’m so impressed.

You’re probably scratching your head trying to work out why I’m so excited. But I don’t know, this sort of ingenuity makes me so much more excited than things that have a zillion colours, die-cuts, and foil stamps etc. (not that those things aren’t cool too). Haha… I guess I’m just naturally stingy…

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Not on Rex Manning Day!

Its Per Mollerup Day!

It's Per Mollerup Day!

Yep, sorry, no Rex Manning, but Professor Per Mollerup came to talk at our uni today, which was exciting. Drew was particularly excited. =P

So, the lecture was on the topic of wayshowing; ‘Wayshowing enables Wayfinding’ and the 9 normal strategies people undertake to find their way:

Professor Per Mollerup’s 9 Wayfinding Strategies

  1. track following – following signs. (enhanced by signs and guidelines.)
  2. route following – when you have all the information to begin with and you follow the route based on information given. (enhanced by on-route identification signs, landmarks and transparency ie. that you can see fare into distance)
  3. educated seeking – eg. looking for milk in the remotest part of the supermarket because that is where milk is normally kept in that area of the supermarket. (enhanced by organisation as per usual.)
  4. inference – eg. looking for your seat in a stadium, if you see D1, D2 and D3 you can infer the location of D4 even though you cannot see it. (enhanced by logical sequences.)
  5. screening – there is limited screening which is when you look for something and you stop when you find something that satisfies your need (eg. looking for a petrol station, you stop at the first petrol station, not the cheapest one) and then there is total screening which is when you look at everything to find the optimal (eg. if you’re looking for the best cafe in a town, you would check out all the cafes and then settle on which one you think is best). (enhanced by recognisable patterns, transparency and accessability to areas.)
  6. aiming – you can see where you need to be, and you direct yourself in that direction. eg. if you’re in Paris looking for the Eiffel Tower, you would keep walking in that general direction until you reach it. There is also indirect aiming which is if you have a general idea, such as if you knew your hotel was close to the Eiffel Tower, you would go to the Eiffel Tower and look for hotels in that area. (enhanced by transparency and landmarks.)
  7. map reading – pretty self explanatory (enhanced by coordination with signs, descriptive names.)
  8. compassing – working out the general compass directions based on observations. The photograph we were shown were of trees which had grown in a sort of blown over way, and Per said that Denmark (I think?) had strong Westerly winds so you could work out that the way the trees had blown over would be west. (enhanced by compass directions in names eg. North Adelaide or South Road.)
  9. social navigation – I think what Per was saying about this one was that you can work out where you need to go based on the movements of the other people around you, for example, it is easy to work out where the entrance is at a stadium before a big game because that’s where all the people would be. (enhanced by transparency – so you can see the movements of the people around you.)

If you ignore this advice, and avoid signs, landmarks, transparency, avoid organisation as per usual, avoid logical sequences, transparency and accessability, if you avoid descriptive names, compass directions, if you ignore Per Mollerup, “you will have the recipe for a good maze!” (So do as you’re told! – ok, he didn’t say that bit…)

An interesting point that Professor Mollerup made regarding map reading was related to ‘You are Here’ (YAH) maps, where the viewer assumes that the top part of the map is in front of them and the bottom part of the map is behind them (assuming the ‘you are here’ spot is in the middle somewhere), but there is also a map-reading assumption that the top of the map is North and the bottom South. Hence, where possible, it would make sense that YAH maps should face South, to simultaneously satisfy these two assumptions.

He also spoke about airport signage, and that black on yellow is one of the strongest colour contrasts (which is why it is used for HAZARD signage), and also mentioned several times the need for the typeface to have “good space economy” (which is why Helvetica is actually bad for signs), and that his resulting airport signs have a really wide viewing angle, such that you can be at a 10 degree angle to the sign, and it is still legible.

Per concluded his talk with the Einstein quote which has been adopted by a lot of the design industry: ‘do things as simple as possible, but not any simpler.’

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3. Design is about doing what you love.

from Walking with Dinosaurs stage show

from Walking with Dinosaurs stage show

‘If you love dinosaurs make a career out of building life-size animatronic dinosaurs. If dead things fascinate you, learn to make jewellery out of dead things.’

from ‘5 Things I learnt about design at agIdeas.’ For the entire post, visit the AGDA suite7 journal

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AGDA talk: Kevin Finn

Tonight was an AGDA talk presented by Kevin Finn from Finn Creative who quit his job as Creative Director at Saatchi Design in Sydney to set up a studio in Kununurra WA (where?) testing his theory that with the advances in technology you could set up a design studio anywhere.

Well, apart from being a stand-in on the set of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia (due to the dual coincidences of (a) his resemblance to David Wenham, (b) Australia being shot in Kununurra at the time), he also scored the gig of the SBS rebrand. Yes, SBS! He said that he went in thinking he had nothing to lose, and with no chance, but ended up getting the job because (1) they wanted to work with a single person studio, (2) they wanted someone from a remote area, (3) he had experience working with Indiginous communities. So whilst it seemed like being CD at Saatchi would have been a better position to get the client, it was his mixture of right experience, in the right place, at the right time that landed him the job.

Kevin also is the founder of Open Manifesto a journal which publishes critical writing on the topics of graphic design and visual communication. Contributors include Noam Chomsky, Milton Glaser, Steven Heller, Peter Saville, and loads of noteworthy people. The cover of the journal lists the contributors for that issue, and reads like a who’s who of graphic design – not bad for an Australian journal, eh?

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All Items (531)

Google Reader stats

Google Reader stats

36 blogs x 8 days = 531 unread blog posts. That’s what I was faced with when I finally opened Google Reader today after a week off at AGIdeas.

After 4 1/2 hours, I’ve finally gone through them all and boy do my eyes hurt! Next time I go away, I have to make sure I have internet access!

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Oh my goodness…

Oh my goodness…

I just got this email. I won’t say who its from in case they get embarrassed. (well, I’ll check with them first before I say). But wow. I feel so chuffed! I mean, of course it would have been great to actually win, but it’s really good to know that I was at least ‘in the mix.’ Aww… I feel all warm and fuzzy.

Hi Anna, I was one of the speakers/judges at AGideas this past week. I felt compelled to email you to let you know that your work impressed many of the judges, including me. And although you didn’t win, I have no doubt you were bloody close! So, if you were at all discouraged, don’t be, your stuff kicks some serious ass and I’m pretty sure you won’t need any help in getting where you want to go with your work.

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AGIdeas Day 3

list of speakers: Werner Jeker, Stephen Banham, Robin Eley, Julia deVille, Monster Children (Campbell Milligan & Chris Searl), Trevor Choy, Luca Missoni, Soap (Bradley Eldridge & Ashley Ringrose), Tony Prysten, Tony Gorseveski, Jane Prior (Foxtel), Mark Landini, Harry Pearce (Pentagram)

one of Robin's awesome illustrations.

Robin Eley – Robin’s talk was pretty similar to his AGDA talk, but it was a great talk, and his work is just incredible and so it was a pleasure to see it again. This time, he opened with a montage of cute baby portraits – playing with crayons, and opens with ‘had my parents had the foresight to photograph me as a baby, I’d like to think that this is what I’d look like’ Classic! And again, his story showed that if you’re prepared to put in the hard yards, and do the hard work, you’ll succeed, because ‘the good guys always win. It’s that simple, and it’s that difficult.’

Tony Prysten – Tony’s talk was also really interesting. Something hilarious (but so, so true) that he said, was that you have to be enthusiastic about design, but ‘being enthusiastic isn’t writing ‘I love typography’ on your CV, it’s doing 50 projects for all your friends: that is being enthusiastic about design.’

A sample of Harry Pearces typographic conundrums

A sample of Harry Pearce's typographic conundrums

Harry Pearce‘Design is difference? Over the past week, I think I’ve learnt that Design is Friendship.’ So he had me from the start. His work for Witness was excellent, and he said many really heartfelt things that really made me feel proud of being a designer. Although, he did overshoot his talk, and had he stopped a bit earlier, I think he would have gotten a standing ovation (a la Richard Seymour’s closing talk last year), but, (like Lord of the Rings III) he sort of didn’t end, and then the actual ending was a little awkward. Which was a shame, because Harry’s talk was excellent, definitely a fitting ending to AGIdeas.

… and with that, design christmas is over… until next year.

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Studio Access: Studio Pip & Co.

there was even a running sheet.

there was even a running sheet.

When I got to Studio Pip & Co, I walked in, peeked around the shelf/pinboard and the first person I see is Matthew Remphrey! I sort of did a double-take, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking ‘no, I’m in Melbourne. What?!’ And then I thought, ok, Matthew Remphrey and Andrew Ashton must be friends, and Matthew must be here to hang out. Although, it turned out that Matthew was in fact, one of the many ‘ring-ins’ (as Andrew put it) he had invited along to help facilitate the activities he had organised. That’s right! They had organised activities!

I was impressed that rather than invite us round and just show us a show reel of their work, Andrew and Sarah had put some thought into the event, and organised four different activities for us to do in groups. The night, which was supposed to end at 8pm, ran over-time (and then some) and we finally left (after each group had only completed three stations), at 9:30pm.

Making – I thought this station was called ‘making’ but I think it was actually called ‘marking.’ Either way, in my head, this will always be called ‘making.’ The idea was that they provided us with a whole pile of blank card-stock, and using only black paper and ink, we were to make black-and-white cards. It was a lot of fun making blobs and generally feeling the freedom of first-year-ness come back. Photographs of our efforts are on Studio Pip & Co’s blog post of the event.

Work – At the work station, they basically had samples of their work laid out on a bench, and Andrew talked about them and answered our questions. It was so nice to see, touch and hold their work in real-life (after seeing photographs on their blog). It was also really great to see how level-headed and modest about their work Andrew was, and at one point he mentioned his wife was a nurse and that it kept him really grounded about graphic design because “people die in her job.” That’s probably one of the most insightful things I’ve heard in a while, and considering I’m AGIdeas, that’s a pretty big call.

Process – At the process station, Sarah was at her computer and showed us the process of how the work behind the 2008 Melbourne Fringe job and the new advertising for Jardan furniture.

We didn’t get to do the fourth station, which was brainstorming ideas for their new blogsite.

Thanks to Andrew and Sarah for having us, and thank-you to their ring-ins for, well, being rung?

The Ring-Ins: Sandy Hill, Matthew Remphrey, Paul Garbett, Simeon King, Tony King

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