Saturday, October 30, 2010

This is Halloween in Typography

I saw this video on YouTube called "This is Halloween in Typography."  Halloween fonts are cheesy and overly dramatic, and I love them!  I thought this video was great because even the fonts that are not Halloween-themed fit because of color choice and placement.  And the song has been stuck in my head for a few days now.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I had to change the fuser on the printer at work the other day.  I didn't know what the fuser was.  It turns out that the fuser is an important component of the printer as a whole.  I still don't know why, but the printer won't work without it.  So I opened the fuser box in our supply closet and examined the instructions.  There was not a single word printed on the instructions.  There were, however, ten pictographic illustrations which led me through the process of replacing said fuser.  At first, I was baffled.  I thought, "What do I do?  I need words to tell me how to proceed!"  But I was wrong.  Not a single word was required.  I read the pictures, did as they said, and successfully replaced the part without a single bout of confusion.  Hooray for pictographs - the instructions of the future.  I googled instructional writing and found that it's well on its way to becoming an obsolete form of communication.  Why read about how to do something when you can simply mimic an easy to read series of graphics?  It really was much less stressful and time-consuming than I thought it would be.  As it turns out, the future is now.

My Favorite Words

My favorite word is superfluous.  I like that it's spelled SUperFLUous but it's not pronounced that way.  It's also a much more fun way to say "too much."

I enjoy words that are better ways to say something easy such as penchant (better than "I like"), vice (better than "instead of"), adjacent (better than "next to"), and verbose (better than "using way too many words.")

I appreciate indulgent and excess probably because I enjoy being self-indulgent and living in excess.  Plus, I think that s's and x's are pretty.

J's, k's, z's, and q's are also pretty.  So I also like juxtapose, cognizant, oblique, and kitchy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

50 Spectacular Type and Text Artworks

Check these out.  I wish I was clever enough to design something like this myself. Maybe by the end of the semester.  I love words, but until I started this program I really was only concerned about the connotations of words, which is the main purpose of words I suppose.  But ever since last January, my first semester at UB, I see words in my head as pictures.  Fuzzy, vague, half-colored pictures, but images nonetheless.  As someone so fond of words, how they sound, how they flow together, the pictures that they paint, I'm rather disappointed in myself for not realizing this art form sooner.

I went to the grocery to buy some bread, a case of Mountain Dew, and a copy of Swimsuit Nerds.

I spend at least a few hours of each work week complaining specifically about engineers who try to write.  Engineers are smart people.  Very smart.  I suppose that's why they feel it's a-okay to disregard every basic rule of the English language, sacred rules that I learned to live by long ago.  Don't get me wrong - I probably ask hundreds of questions each month about the proper way to word this or punctuate that.  By no means am I an expert.  However, after reviewing document after document with the same blatant mistakes and the same awkward phrasings, it tends to wear on one's soul.  Here's a brief description of what I deal with regularly.

Call To Action

This is an ad for, an online sewing community from the October/November issue of Bust.  I don't think it works that well for a half-page ad just because it's not large enough.  It's outlined by tiny thumbnails of clothes and accessories that people have sewed but the reader really can't see any of them clearly enough to be impressed.  I probably wouldn't have stopped on this ad if I weren't looking for a call to action.  Anyhow, it clearly states that "BurdaStyle is a place for people who sew or would like to learn."  The steps are numbered one through five.  Whoever made this ad gave you step by step instructions on how to get into the sewing world - pick your pattern on, download PDF and print at home, assemble the pattern, sew up your project, and share with the community and check out other projects.  The message not only encourages you to visit the website, it encourages you to sew, share, and sew some more.

Daniel Johnston

My sister is a huge fan of Daniel Johnston.  I'm already quite certain that you're uncertain about who Daniel Johnston is.  I was first introduced to his music through the soundtrack to that movie Kids that came out in 1995.  His music was awful.  He can't sing and the percussion on most of his tracks sounded like someone just banging on an upside down garbage can.  And not in the street cool, make you want to dance, go-go upside down garbage can kind of way.  More in the wow this guy can't afford a drum set kind of way.  However, after listening to my sister rock out to bad song after bad song, I grew fond of Daniel Johnston.  And when I saw his artwork, I liked him even more.  I saw him live last year and was shocked to see him in person.  He's a 49-year-old overweight man who shakes uncontrollably behind the mic and his voice still cracks.  He's adorable.  His artwork is the physical manifestation of his music.  It's bad.  But so good.  Daniel Johnston is proof that you don't have to be good at what you love to practice what you love and make people love you for it.

787 Cliparts

I thought clip art was cheesy, lame, generic, and used as a last resort.  Well, that might all still be true for the most part.  But check out this video from Oliver Laric.  He edits together 787 clip art images of people (the worst category of clip art) to create a visually stimulating minute-long action video.  Very clever.  I'll never look at clip art the same way again.

Friday, October 15, 2010




This is an Absolut Vodka campaign.  These four ads were actually all found next to each other in the same magazine.  Each are similar in that they depict beautiful models in sexy clothing looking dramatic.  The bottle of the particular flavor for each ad is featured in the lower left along with a cocktail, whose recipe can be found in the top left.  The unmistable "Absolut" logo is at the bottom of each page with a scripted "Cocktails Perfected." The scenes in each ad have a strange, retro feel to them.  They are different in that each one highlights one specific color, a color closely associated with each respective cocktail.  Green for the tonic and lime cocktail, pink for the cosmo, red for the Bloody Mary, and orange for the orange crush.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life Leaves Spaces For You To Create In.

I like this American Express ad that I found in the October issue of GQ.  The purpose is to promote "ZYNC from American Express, the Card you can build by adding Packs that are filled with bundles of rewards and benefits, to help you enjoy more of the things you're into, and get more out of them."  Some of the Packs to choose from are restaurants, travel, music, style, personal finance, or charity donations.  The graphic shows snapshots of varying lifestyles and how each can be interpreted as a blank canvas.  I was immediately drawn to this collection of pictures; they are all visually eclectic and each effectively portrays a specific type of individual.  But they are all similar in that they all are blank and dying to be personalized.  It works for me, and incidentally, it also works for the ZYNC Card.

And here's another piece from this campaign for music lovers.


Okay, okay.  I give up!  I have scoured over my grammatical desk references and random cheat sheets from my entire undergraduate career.  I've Googled, I've Yahooed, I've even Asked Jeeves.  "Its'" is never okay.  I'm not okay with this because I just know that there's some very specific instance in this universe to which "its'" will lend itself useful one day.  I will patiently bide my time until this special instance makes its way into my life.  I will let "its'" rest in peace until this day.  But when that day comes - I will let you and everyone in the world know that "its'" lives.  I am very much looking forward to this day as I have spent entirely too much time on this curiosity as it is and nothing would be more satisfying at this point than to one day, confidently and correctly, use this silly little word previously shunned by the world, ignored and left for dead until I victoriously resurrect it and its glory.


You probably have seen these water splash ads for the Schick Hydro Razor in magazines and in commercials.  I found the boxing one in the September issue of Rolling Stone.  The ads show a man partaking in typical masculine activities - getting pummeled in the face during a boxing match, heading a ball at a soccer game, getting smacked with a bo staff, , or playfully wrestling with a woman in bed.  In each of these instances, the man is not hit in the head with a leather ball, a sharp blade, a gloved fist, or a sexy pillow. Rather, he is met with an invigorating blast of hydrating liquid.  The concept here is linking masculine activity with smooth, refreshing hydration.  The Schick Hydro Razor can offer you one while you're enjoying the other.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Johnny Walker

Most whiskeys taste the same to me, but I attended a scotch tasting last weekend despite my immature palette.  And I really did learn a thing or two about the differences of each label (black, red, gold, green, and blue.)  I liked the green label best, even better than the exorbitantly priced blue label.  I was intrigued to learn the history of the bottle and label designs as well.  Johnny Walker whiskeys have been sold in those iconic square bottles since 1860 because they are less likely to break when being shipped.  In the 1930s, Alexander Walker created Swing - a gold colored whiskey that comes in a bottle shaped to swing back and forth to accommodate the rocking of the sea, balancing on a convex base.  Alexander Walker (Johnny Walker's son) registered the renowned slanted label in 1877.  Although  a simple alteration, this made the brand stand out against the competition at this time and promoted buyers to distinguish the blends from one another by the color of the label.  The Striding Man (shown left) was one of the first globally established advertising icons.  He represents the Walker spirit of progress and forward thinking.


A neologism is a word or phrase that is becoming more commonly used but has not been accepted into mainstream language yet.  These probably will never be adapted into mainstream language, although I may incorporate some of them into my personal vernacular.  I especially like ignoranus, foreploy, and sarchasm.    

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a  hillbilly.
5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

The  Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

 And the winners are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.
6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Verbal Definition

I found this example of verbal definition in the October issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray.  This is a description of milkshakes around the country - Nashville, New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia.  They all sound amazing, but my favorite is from Philly (on the far right.)  "The Caramel Apple Pie Hot Milkshake is a slab of warm pie sinking into a vanilla shake, draped in hot caramel and served with a spoon and a straw for mixing, eating, slurping and licking clean."  This description defines the product distinctly (and tastefully) using strong, enticing verbs.

Visual Definition

I found this example of visual definition in the October issue of Real Simple.  This is an article titled "What's Really Aging You?"  The subtitle explains that your skin is fragile, like these tulips that are in vibrant bloom at the beginning of the article. The caption explains that they were shot over a period of 40 days, showing the deterioration of the delicate bouquet which signifies the withering of your physical youth.  Although we once may have been robust, strong, and beautiful floral specimens, we can eventually look forward to developing into droopy, wrinkly, empty bits of shrubbery.  Fortunately, unlike these tulips, your skin regenerates itself as fast as every 28 days.  So I guess there is a silver lining.