Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
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After nearly seven years of blogging, Speak Up has ceased publication. While this may not be a remarkable amount of time in the world of print and online publishing, the intensity with which we — founders, authors and readers alike — undertook it made it seem as it had been decades. For a thorough description on the reasons to close Speak Up, you may read this post, so as not to take much more space here. This web site is a bare-bones version of the archives for quick and easy perusal of more than 1,600 posts — a replica of Speak Up, as it was on closing day, can be found here, and at any point you can add “as-it-was/” after “speakup/” to the URL to see the original version. Comments on both sites have been closed.

To the right you will see all of our categories with a brief description of what you may find. Above it you can access all archives by month, category or as a laundry list of everything, and you can still search the content.

Below are some highlights from our time spent blogging. In somewhat chronological order.

We hope all this helps maintain the legacy of Speak Up frozen in digital time and that it may be of some use to passersby. Thank you all for your continued support and interest.

Bryony and Armin
Principals, UnderConsideration LLC

On March 25, 2003 UPS announced that, after 42 years of service, it would do away with its bow-tied logo designed by Paul Rand in 1961. In return, Futurebrand gave UPS a glossy shield. The design industry, in return, was vociferous about the change and Speak Up served as one of the most prominent platforms at the time to voice the discontent. From that moment on, reviewing corporate and brand identity changes became a staple of Speak Up. Ironically, this theme and the ensuing conversations about logo changes — that, for the most part, were rarely in favor of the new design — irked many Speak Up readers the wrong way and some complaining ensued. In October of 2006 we launched Brand New, a site devoted to corporate and brand identity redesigns with full-time critiques of logos. Twice ironically, Brand New is now our most popular and trafficked web site.

In 2003, Emigre magazine changed its physical format to pocketbook and its content to writing and criticism. Co-published with Princeton Architectural Press the first issue in this format was titled Rant, an acknowledged provocation to challenge young designers and writers “to develop a critical attitude toward their own work and the design scene in general.” It worked. A lengthy discussion on Speak Up, representing the new generation, ensued with passion. And retorts from young and previously unpublished designers and writers printed in the following issues of Emigre demonstrated there was indeed a fire to be lit.

Speak Up T-shirtA SWIRLY T-SHIRT
Towards the end of 2003, as the AIGA National Design Conference in Vancouver approached, we held a contest to design a T-shirt for Speak Up. With a modest 39 entries the public voted and selected the design of then relatively unknown Marian Bantjes (surely you know her now!). Printed on American Apparel in shiny silver metallic, many of us paraded in our Speak Up t-shirts at the AIGA conference and acted like a clique. It was awesome.

Around the same time as the T-shirt contest, we figured it would be a good idea to pile on the editing, design and production of a little booklet with the best comments of the year. As you may imagine, sorting through all the comments was intensive, but fun in its own right. Among the first round of comments we found one from Kenneth FitzGerald that urged designers to “stop being sheep.” And so was born a four-year run of little booklets that we self-funded and sold. All four can be seen here.

seriouSeriesWHY SO SERIOUS?
For some reason we decided it would be a good idea to organize small events that would be more intimate and conversational than your typical Thursday night lecture. We named them seriouSeries and turned to our friend Rick Valicenti to lead the first one in Chicago. Funny story: Michael Bierut, on a business trip to Chicago the day of this first event, dropped by at the end of the day after all his meetings, he brought a bottle of Glenfiddich whiskey and was as entertained by Valicenti as the rest of us. It was great. And so were the other four with some amazing guests.

With the basic premise of designing a two-color poster based on any piece of text whatsoever from the archives of Speak Up, we enlisted judges Art Chantry, Ellen Lupton and James Victore in 2004 to each select a winner from the 153 submissions we received. A fourth winner would be decided by popular vote. Once all selections were made we printed a few hundred of each with Intermark 7, one of the finest silkcreen printers in Chicago and sold the posters online and through Veer, who sponsored and championed the contest quite energetically. You can get a blow-by-blow account here.

Design Thinking at Portfolio CenterDESIGN, THINK, WRITE
During the Winter 2005 quarter at Portfolio Center in Atlanta, GA Bryony conducted a long distance class, called “Design Thinking,” with ten students looking to their design thinking on. Bryony coached them through the process of formulating an idea and then realizing that idea as an essay. Design students need to write more, and this was one way in which we found we could encourage that. All ten essays can be accessed from this page.

Way back in the remote year of 2005 we did our first volume of Quipsologies and for the next 93 weeks we added one more volume until January of 2007 when we spun off Quipsologies into its own blog and opened it up to user contributions. It has been a nice evolution for good ol’ Quips.

In 2006 the design team — Luke Hayman, Chris Dixon and John Sheppard — at the amazing New York magazine approached us with the idea of doing a contest for their weekly feature called “High Priority” where they recommend the top five things to do in the city and is always guest designed. We received nearly 200 entries, which you can see here and along with the aforementioned team we selected a winner to be published in the year-end double issue. Unlike previous contests, we and New York were accused of asking for spec work and exploiting our audience. A sign that the good faith tide for Speak Up had turned.

We conducted various interviews and posted enough bundles of images over the years, but the best combination of these two elements was an interview with Rodrigo Sanchez, art director for the supplement publications of the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. One of his tasks is designing wildly varied covers for their entertainment supplement, Metrópoli. The interview conducted in Spanish and translated to English was accompanied by a gallery of a mere 50 of the hundreds of wonderful covers Rodrigo has art directed.

Bloggers live for traffic spikes, whether it’s a spike of 300, 3,000 or 30,000 hits in a day, the sense of statistical accomplishment is undeniable. These are some of the biggest traffic draws that we can remember: “This is historic times.” George W. Bush, April 20, 2004 / The Hardest Working Presidential Candidate Logo / 8 Minute Abs / Dark and Fleshy: The Color of Top Grossing Movies / The Powerbook! The Powerbook! The Powerbook’s on Fire!

For better or for worse, Speak Up amassed nearly 43,000 comments. There is no point of comparison, so you will have to take our word for it that it is a big number. These are three that topped the 200 mark: VH1: Behind the Logo [229] / certifiable [256] / London, How do I Hate Thee? Let me Count the Ways, 1, 2… 2012 [326]

Surely we could go on forever with this list, and perhaps we will add more of those colorful modules as time goes on and we remember other things. Or perhaps you would like to suggest something? We will keep a speakup [@] underconsideration [.] com address active if you have any suggestions or even questions.

At this point we would like to thank one more time all the authors, guest editorial-ists, commenters and lurkers for making Speak Up a vibrant community during its run.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
One of the biggest perks of running a design blog was that we, and some of our authors, received complementary review copies of dozens of great design books. Truth be told, we sure earned them, with plenty of reviews.
Browse Book Reviews Archives
Speak Up was only as useful as its authors and devoted readers made it to be, and when we banded to discuss the business aspects of design great advice was given and relatable stories were told.
Browse Business Archives
Perhaps “critique” was the basic modus operandi of the blog, with everyone critiquing everything relentlessly, but these archives are as vivacious as a good classroom crit.
Browse Critique Archives
Since Speak Up attracted eager students and weathered teachers alike, sprinkled with a heavy dose of professionals, education matters constantly proved worthwhile.
Browse Design Academics Archives
While the writing on Speak Up was generally short and to the point, every now and then the authors flexed their theoretical, analytical and grammatical muscles to engage in some more considerate writing.
Browse Essays Archives
Funnily enough, the early interviews with some of the industry’s heavy hitters was what gave us plenty of credibility and attention. After that, it was just fun to poke other people about your own curiosities regarding their work.
Browse Interview Archives
A fleeting experiment trying to bring together the Speak Up community, with a journal traveling around the nation for each participant to modify. Started well. Never finished.
Browse Open Space Archives
This category was added late in the life of Speak Up. At some point we figured that somewhere between essays and off-the-cuff opinions lied a space for, well, reviewing stuff.
Browse Review Archives
All sorts of announcements can be found here, reading this category alone substantially covers the life and times of Speak Up.
Browse Speak Up Announcements Archives
From the skimpy amount of archives you would thing there were never any trends on the web but, as it turned out, we were more preoccupied with other things and web wasn't our area of expertise.
Browse Web Trends Archives
Over the years we made an ever-growing list of recommended design books. There was never any shortage of content for this section.
Browse Book Recommendations Archives
A brief and limited attempt at coordinating our audience to read one book at the same time and then discuss. It kind of worked.
Browse Book Club Archives
Whatever we say about this category will not make it justice to the impact it had in the industry. From the moment UPS said bye-bye to its Paul Rand logo, Speak Up became the de facto destination for discussions on branding and identity. It eventually became part of our downfall, but that’s another story.
Browse Branding and Identity Archives
For a short period of time we attempted to do exclusive business articles for Speak Up with Chicago-based designer Steve Liska leading the charge.
Browse Business Articles Archives
Every now and then it was interesting to turn our attention to a specific firm or designer and see what others thought.
Browse Designer / Design Firm Profile Archives
Ah, “discussion.” Wow, did we discuss. The majority of Speak Up’s most heated and followed conversations can be found in this category.
Browse Discussion Archives
Ah, “discussion.” Wow, did we discuss. Plenty of the most interesting conversations can be found in this category.
Browse Hardware / Software Archives
Mostly it was battles of supremacy between QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign with some Apple lovin’ thrown in for good measure.
Browse International Archives
As the name implies, this is where we threw anything we couldn’t figure where else to put, including the original Quipsologies and later their weekly summaries.
Browse Miscellaneous Archives
Poor printing category, only six entries in almost seven years.
Browse Printing Archives
This category became famous for the “Logo Smackdowns” where we all shared our logo glory. It was fun, until our hosting provider tried to shut us down because the amount of images was consistently crashing their server whenever a Smackdown was in progress.
Browse Show & Tell Archives
Despite some other amazing blogs and forums covering this topic in depth we never shied away from getting awfully geeky with typographic subjects.
Browse Typography Archives