Wednesday, May 2, 2007


If you have dabbled in Flash at all, you'll loved this:

Friday, April 13, 2007

My excuse for not attending class on Saturday, April 7

Apologies, Aiden deserves better press.
No full-face shot has surfaced that doesn't include a pacifier or inappropriate parts of anatomy. By the way, this may not be a definition but it certainly is an illustration of joy. Also, Mary didn't think about what he'd be like as an old man, but she did say she thought about what he'll look like in three years, in overalls asking for a cookie.

An example of Definition?

Cooking up “architectonics”
THE HIGHFALUTIN’ TERM for “the form and the shape of the thing” in nonfiction writing is architectonics, which Norman Simms, in his anthology The Literary Journalists, defines as “the structural design that gives order, balance and unity to a work, the element of form that relates the parts to each other and to the whole.”
Jon Franklin, the first writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, likens the architectonic part for the writing process to getting ready to climb a mountain. “Structuring is the art of planning and analysis, of hiring Sherpas, accumulating equipment and buying tickets,” he says in Writing for Story. “It is the antithesis of dream, as unartful as anything the writer does. Yet it is absolutely necessary to his survival.”
Another Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Rhodes, has observed, in The Literary Journalists, “The kind of architectonic structures that you have to build, that nobody ever teaches or talks about, are crucial to writing and have little to do with verbal abilities. They have to do with pattern ability and administrative abilities—generalship, if you will. Writers don’t talk about it much, unfortunately.”
Seeing, sorting, seeking threads—these are the skills that architectonics demands. In building structures, the nonfiction writer must both separate his materials and find commonalities among seemingly disparate elements.
Though comparisons to architecture and even military strategy are more colorful, it’s maybe easiest to understand architectonics by thing of cooking. I like to cook, particularly spicy Cajun dishes that flirt with inedibility, and I think cooking appeals to me in part because it’s like writing. First you assemble the ingredients—onion, chicken breasts, and so on—just as when you write an article you must first gather all your research. But you wouldn’t just dump all the onions or all the chicken you’ve got in the kitchen into your pot any more than you’d put every quote in your notebook into an article. No, the cooking begins with selection: so much onion, this many chicken breasts, just enough cayenne pepper. And you don’t add all the ingredients to the stew all at once. In making a good gumbo, for example, there’s an order to every ingredient: Some of the onions go into the hot, penny-colored roux right away; others are added later, to preserve more of their individual onion identity. Finally, there’s a certain style in how the dish is served. You don’t just holler “Come and get it!” and slop the stuff into the first dish, bowl or coffee mug that’s at hand. With gumbo, you mound a cupful of rice and then carefully ladle the stew on top and all around. With an article, you try to serve up a pleasing presentation that will entice the reader to take that all-important first bite.
Sounds delicious, you’re probably saying, but what’s it have to do with structure? Seems as though by the time it’s served, the onions and chicken and such are all just gumbo, and the diner seeking structure would have about as much luck as hunting polar bear in a bayou. That’s the point precisely, of course: to blend the ingredients so skillfully into a larger whole that collectively they become something more delectable than a teaspoon of this or a cup of that. You don’t want the reader to see the structure any more than the chef wants the diner back in his kitchen. The process is organized and highly disciplined; the product is pure gumbo.

Fryxell, David A. Structure and Flow. Cincinnati, Ohio:
Writer’s Digest Books, 1996. 6-7.

Friday, March 30, 2007

New JibJab Cartoon

There's a new JibJab cartoon, What We Call the News. The cartoons are so funny and they make their point. I'm impressed by the still animation. I wish I could do that and I wish I was capable of that pithy commentary.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Inspiration

My daughter Mary was the inspiration for choosing maternity jeans for the Description brochure. I snapped this picture a couple of weeks ago at her shower.

She is due today and she just called after her doctor's visit. Aiden isn't ready for his debut, maybe in a week or so.

Recently, Mary grumbled to her girlfriend Amy that she felt practically planetary. Amy offered to drop small objects in Mary's vicinity to see if they would begin to orbit.

I don't think my sense of humor was nearly this developed when I was her age.

Analysis: Description. Ah Maternity Jeans

A roll fold with five panels seemed like a good solution to showcase maternity jeans. It introduced, and progressed images and copy supporting the notion that maternity pants can fit well, be attractive and comfortable throughout a pregnancy and afterwards. The goal was to keep the images, copy and type very clear and clean, but pretty.

In the first iteration, some of the wording was too blunt. The challenge was figuring out how to deliver a clear message softly. The design of the jeans addressed the needs of the audience—women who are interested in looking good during their pregnancies but to whom comfort is a real issue. I wrote the copy to educate women in their first pregnancies about how their shapes change and to inform women who are in a second or later pregnancies about the particular discomforts the design of the jeans relieves.

The rounded logo was created to look as if it just took a breath and there was room to do so comfortably. A sans serif font, Myriad Pro, supported the simplicity of the design and looked good with the logo. The illustrations, created to support the copy, show a woman progressing through her pregnancy wearing Ah jeans, showcasing the three items making them comfortable: The soft band (in the primary illustrations), the adjustable tabs and the bit of elastic in the front seam (in the little circles).

A split complement seemed like a natural color choice for this mailer. Washed denim blue was the obvious first choice with soft rose and gold colors completing the palette.

I worry that the flier might appear too simple. It meets the assignment, solving the challenges: don’t use a standard brochure format, describe the product to the target audience. I could have created a more sophisticated design, but I think this design would be very effective.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Compare and contrast analysis for articles on real estate fraud written for Vanity Fair and Esquire.

Target audience for Vanity Fair is 39.8 years old with a median household income of $67,626.00. 30.6% are professionals or in management. 37.6% graduated from college. 77% are women, 23% are men. Esquire’s media kit states that it is a magazine for men about men’s interests and passions. The target audience for Esquire is 44.3 years old with a median household income of $59,713.00. 60.5% are professionals or in management, 33.8% graduated from college. 63.2% are men, 36.8% are women.

Vanity Fair is personality driven, focused on human interest. Esquire is about getting the job done and doing it correctly. Esquire writers spend a lot of time defining what “correct” is but Esquire is frequently playful and tongue-in-cheek. Vanity Fair writers are more serious. Both write to an informed audience.

In the Vanity Fair article, focus remained on human tragedy and the blindness of greed. The bad guys preyed upon people unused to confidence games, duping them out of their savings. The article is sympathetic to the victims but the final paragraph suggests a little homework and a lot less trust might have saved the victims much unhappiness. The article was written to a group with a solid liberal arts education. Words such as debacle and esoteric seemed appropriate.
Esquire readers are more proactive. The Esquire article did not focus on any individual, rather, scenarios illustrating typical real estate scams were delineated. A sidebar listed ten tips for avoiding real estate fraud, a typical device in Esquire.

Vanity Fair’s layout is open, with lots of white space, captions are in distinctive red boxes with drop shadows. Type is set gracefully with plenty of leading. In my final design, I decided to leave the red boxes out. Only the standing head got a red box. The pull quote was in type only slightly smaller than the headline. and there was one image for the headline and one on the second page. The article was very tightly gridded. Approximating the Vanity Fair fonts, I used Futura for the captions, Bodoni BE for the headline and Garamond Premier Pro for the body copy.

Esquire was also on a very tight grid. Because of the lines used in the layout, the grid is quite a bit more evident. The colors are a progression from black to red signifying money loss. [This was an Amy suggestion and I really liked it, thank you.] I chose an urban chic color scheme also influenced by the prominent colors in the photos and limited the color pallet to four colors. Running the headline and the deck at a negative leading ratio is one of the devices used frequently in the magazine. I approximated the type using Caslon for the headline and Bodoni for the body. All sans serif type is Helvetical Neue.

The final was a struggle. It was fairly easy defining the styles of the two magazines and following their formats. Finding my own voice while respecting their design proved quite a bit more challenging.