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The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
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~ Vol. 12 ~

In this late edition of Quipsologies: Many things.



The streets of Australia are a bit smarter thanks to Is Not Magazine. “it has been on display at 50 outdoor poster sites in inner-city Melbourne as well as cafes, shops, and laundromats,” writes Jeremy Wortsman, one of the founders, the purpose, he adds, is to “engage people in outdoor, communal reading, and enriching public space”. And how can you not enrich public space with Underware’s Bello?


Apple releases Tiger. Journalists release clichés.


Two Adobe items:
Adobe Stock Photo. Search and purchase from more than 230,000 Royalty-Free images from top stock photography libraries directly within Adobe CS2 applications.


Adobe Creative Suite 2 now shipping.


It took child’s play for Takashi Hashiyama, president of Maspro Denkoh Corporation, to decide who would auction his art collection. Rock, paper…


Banned from Apple. By Apple


Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Logo Unveiled.


Custom Stamps Are Back!


Cranbrook Design Relaunches.

Travel related ephemera and graphic design from the 1920s and 1930s.
Their links are good too.


Pope Benedict XVI has unique ideas about images and contemporary Iconoclasm — I call it Modernism.


Yet another reason to avoid using stock photography.

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ARCHIVE ID 2303 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON May.04.2005 BY The Speak Up Authors
Patrick C’s comment is:

CS2—So we have Photoshop 6, 7, etc. Then we get CS and everyone asks why? Why not keep with the numbering system that all software has used since we first had software? And how are they going to name next year's version? Now we know: it's Photoshop CS2! Fucking brilliant! So we're still asking why?

I could go on at length about how absolutely terrible Vancouver's Olympics logo is, but I wont. It's already been commented on at length. It sucks...ass. No need to say more. hhmmm...ok can't help it—When you have a province that was home to what some might argue was the most incredible societies in the world's history, one rich with its own art that so happens to be "graphic" by nature, why on earth would you go and choose an Inukshuk! Not to mention a terribly rendered Inukshuk. I can't even look at that bloody thing without having a seizure.

Cranbrook design needs to re-relaunch.

A friend recently showed me a magazine in which the same stock photo was used for two completely unrelated ads on opposite pages...don't use stock photography.

On May.04.2005 at 06:59 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Why not keep with the numbering system that all software has used since we first had software?

Because once you hit the double digits, people start asking "version 10!? Isn't this software finished yet? Wait...are you just releasing another version to take our money? Bastards!"

On May.05.2005 at 10:01 AM
Arjen’s comment is:

Patrick it would be more constructive and helpful if you would share your insights on why cranbrookdesign needs to re-relaunch, instead of just stating the idea.

On May.05.2005 at 10:40 AM
margot ’s comment is:

Patrick C or anyone else-

This is the first time I have seen the Vancouver Olympics logo (I know, where have I been?!? Currently not in Canada, I can assure you!) and I am very dissatisfied in my fellow Canadians!

I do not wish to add further to the already existing rantings, but I would like to read them. Perhaps one might point me in the direction of such comments?


On May.05.2005 at 11:19 AM
Patrick C’s comment is:

Margot, I have been following it on the radio and in the paper (not online) so I can't point you anywhere specific. I believe there was a big article with criticism in last Saturday's Globe.


Patrick it would be more constructive and helpful if you would share your insights on why cranbrookdesign needs to re-relaunch, instead of just stating the idea.

No problem. I see that you are looking for feedback on the site and that (unless it's a coincidence) you are one of the designers?

For reference I'm viewing the site in Firefox on a Mac.

I think my first thought on viewing the site was that it was cluttered and not well organized. Your intro paragraph (top left) is set in type smaller than the other two prominent sections (news and features). Perhaps it's temporary, but, if not, it seems it should be more prominent. You then go on to used the same size (I believe) of type in the Features and News section but give them different linespacing. The spacing between your titles in these sections, posting information, article itself, and finally comments is very tight. You then have the same colour for all the links (which would work better if there was more spacing). It leaves you having to work harder than you should to decipher things. I will say that the type size and line spacing for the text of the news items is spot-on, however.

The search feature for the News section is so far above the actual section that I initially thought it was a search tool for the entire site. The spacing in this area seems tight to me too. This area, including the log-in, seems a bit of an afterthought. I also don't see why you couldn't have the login boxes right there on the front page.

I would also say that you've handled the forum in a peculiar fashion. I have to scroll down quite a bit to see all the threads (and I have a reasonably large monitor). Then when I view a thread I'm forced to scroll even farther down (if it's a popular thread) and read rather small text crammed into rather small spaces without enough spacing separating things. Very tough to read. Not a forum I would care to use on a regular basis.

I understand that you might want the forum right on the front page, but I can't say that that works. Why not have it on its own page?

When I increase the type size just one size in Firefox the site begins to break.

Otherwise I quite like the colours and overall design and you have a lot of great articles and info.

On May.05.2005 at 11:22 AM
Tan’s comment is:

I have to agree w/ much of Patrick's assessment of the Cranbrook site.

The hierarchy of information is weak and the structure is utilitarian, meaning that it's nothing extraordinary. Allocation of space for the different sections are relatively the same, but not the same. To me, either it's clearly different, or it should be exactly the same — anything else is just sloppy design.

I do like some of the details though, but it just further points to the lack of any sort of coherent vision or purpose for the site. Features, news, and a community board is fine, but is that all there is? What about the tagline "A life without beauty is only half lived." — so how does this mantra manifest itself in the program's representative website?

Usability is ok, but it doesn't necessarily attract repeat visits.

On May.05.2005 at 12:01 PM
Maya’s comment is:

Patrick, thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback [and thank you, Jason, for noting the relaunch].

The redesign was a collaborative effort, but I'm responsible for the 'skin.' You're absolutely right to point out the type issues. It's not that we intended to make things inconsistent; this is more a product of three people working on this remotely, and certain issues not being adequately addressed for the sake of dealing with other relaunch issues. We're still deliberating over the optimal type specs, and we really appreciate your input on this.

As for the forum section: it's an attempt to foreground this content, which had its own page before. It is a bit peculiar, and you're right in noting that some topics go on for miles. Perhaps we can incorporate an anchor link to the latest comment for our repeat visitors. It's also been suggested that we break up a long topic into 'pages,' although I'm not a fan of that.

The site is [always] a work in progress; thanks for your critique.

On May.05.2005 at 12:07 PM
Andy’s comment is:

Thank you for the comments here, it's not very often we get a read from people completely not involved in the redesign.

I worked on the UI and coding of the site. I agree with the points on the spacing issues of the various blocks. Perhaps a reason for the comments about the site appearing disorganized is because spacing is not giving you enough breathing room to read. From the standpoint of how the blocks of content (login/intro area, features, news, forums) are arranged I feel this is clear enough.

As for the points regarding the forum, we did have an anchor to that section that would keep you fixed on that part of the page while viewing and clicking comments. Perhaps that should be reinstated to see if it's more useful that way. Again, comments regarding the spacing of content blocks in there is also apprecaited.

Thanks again!

On May.05.2005 at 01:33 PM
Christine Lorenz’s comment is:

Yet another question for Patrick ... do you happen to remember anything about those facing-page ads that used the same stock photo? What the photo was, or the magazine, or anything? It sounds like a fun find (although probably an unfortunate discovery for at least a couple of people involved ...).

On May.05.2005 at 04:00 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Why not keep with the numbering system that all software has used since we first had software?

Because people who own Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, and InDesign get confused: “I have version 3 of everything. Why can’t these idiots make their products more compatible?”

Why should I have to remember what the most recent number is for five or six different products? Since it is reasonable policy to upgrade all products simultaneously to avoid compatibility problems, why shouldn’t they make it easy on us by having one release number for all of them?

On May.05.2005 at 04:39 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Why shouldn’t they make it easy on us by having one release number for all of them?

Gunnar, wouldn't that be just too logical? The incrementalism is to impress themselves with their changes and so-called improvements not us. Imagine if the Wright brothers did that with the first airplanes.

On May.05.2005 at 06:44 PM
Tan’s comment is:

For versioning, a lot of software makers use the year of issue, instead of alphanumeric conventions. — Mac:Office 2004 instead of Mac:Office OSX.3.

It works if you're committed to churning out a new version every year or so, which apparently Adobe does. The only downside is that if your product is stable, and you only create upgrades every 3-4 years, the year as version convention can make it seem like your product is not up-to-date.

But Darrel is right — for most software, double-digit version designation is usually the kiss-of-death in a market full of fresh competitors. OSX is a rarity.

For the record, I think Adobe CS is a terrible nomenclature. Few people remember or care that it stands for "Creative Studio."

On May.05.2005 at 06:57 PM
gregor’s comment is:

Adobe Creative Suite 2 now shipping

I'll agree with Tan that any versioning over 10 is a kiss of death. Both Adobe and Macromedia were hip to that with CS and MX. (Tan - "CS" is Creative Suite - perhaps testament to poor nomenclature: but what of "MX" that apparently has no meaning. I think I recall the first, pre CS, publishing suite was Studio).

I'm a reluctant yet habitual upgrader. Often new features are rarely used it seems. However, after less that two weeks using the Illustrator CS2 and Photoshop CS2 upgrade, I've used new features more than with any upgrade, save the Photoshop 5.5 to 6 upgrade. Especially nice is the new Illustrator.

It's been an expensive month with Tiger and CS2.

Adobe Stock Photo

Adobe, gimme a break please, unless you reduce the cost of the applications due to revenue generated from within the application for stock purchases then it's just like ads in instant messenger to me.

But really what this"feature" points/leads to for future application development is the the all inclusive work station environment: where everything is available in the application environment and all else is obscurred outside the application environment. Adobe swalling the competion makes this an even easier feat to accomplish going forward.

On May.05.2005 at 08:08 PM
gregor’s comment is:

oops - "swalling" = swallowing....

On May.05.2005 at 10:29 PM
Tan’s comment is:

You're right Gregor, thanks.

>but what of "MX" that apparently has no meaning

It's only a guess, but perhaps it's a roman numeral — 1010? Who knows.

In alphanumeric nomenclatures, certain letters are more popular than others, either b/c they "sound" stronger or are cleared of any negative connotations when localized globally. Sometimes it's that arbitrary.

But I'm not an expert naming specialist by any means.

On May.06.2005 at 11:34 AM
Jon’s comment is:

Mark (and Patrick), I must take umbrage at your comment, "Don't use stock photography." This is elitist and ridiculous.

If your reasoning is that someone else can us the same image as you, that's because you're using royalty-free stock photography. A rights-managed license gives you exclusivity within an industry or media, over a given period.

If uniqueness is a prerequisite for your images, I envy you. I guess you never have those late-night projects where you need an image - you always have time and budget for custom shoots. Royalty-free images can come in pretty handy at 4 a.m.

And speaking of budget, doesn't it depend on what your client wants? Are they prepared to wait and pay while you hire a photographer (in the interest of uniqueness) to shoot an image of a businessman in a tie that is readily available as stock? Do you disclose all the options to them, regarding stock versus custom? Are all your clients so conceptual that they'd never use a literal, subject-driven image? Wow. Lucky you.

If your reasoning is that stock photography is inherently worse quality than custom, why do so many assignment shooters also sell stock? (Here's one example.) Do you look down your noses at them for sullying the purity of their art? Would you deny them the opportunity to use an image more than once?

Yes, if you are going to some community stock site, you'll get the work of amateurs, and the overall quality will be low. You get what you pay for, and a $3 image looks like a $3 image. But if you choose a respectable source with professional quality images, stock is a cost-effective and aesthetically viable option.

On May.06.2005 at 01:56 PM
Patrick C’s comment is:

Slow down there, Jon. You're putting a lot of words in my mouth!

A couple thoughts on the stock issue...When I was working as the sole designer at a web dev shop I was able to convince the owner to buy a CD of royalty free stock. Good quality, if a little trendy. We plugged images from the CD into a number of different projects. The summer after, a major condo project started here in Ottawa. Guess who had bought the same CD.

I read Jonathan Franzen's collected essays (How to be Alone—very good btw) and noted the cover (nice photo I thought). Two months later I saw an ad in the New Yorker for an upcoming book. Totally unrelated, but to my disbelief using the same photo!

As for the rights managed stuff...well for the price of most of that I can hire a photographer.

I do believe there is a time and place for stock and I have no issue at all with its quality. But if what you're doing is part of a campaign or if it's going into a printed piece that will be around for a while or hit a wide audience I think stock is a dodgy proposition. And I think a client needs to know that side of things as well.

On May.06.2005 at 02:28 PM
gregor’s comment is:

Tan, I read somewhere - and I think it was a Macromedia person doing that writing, that MX really stood for nothing -- just a loosey goosey metaphor for forward motion. Much like BMX (anyone know what that stands for?), it congures no words, just a emotional feeling...

John, while you have a vested interest in stock photography, you're absolutely right that stock is an asset in many cases -- budget and time being only 2 reasons (an god forbid I ever, ever have to pull another all - nighter and have to choose an image at 4 AM!!).

Whenever possible it's great to have a custom shot. In the work that I do I'm often combining custom shots (product shots on set, not in environments, with stock). Stock has been a good viable option, if not requisite in many cases.

As designers who often select the stock images used by our clients, it's also our responsibility to select unique images that are less likely to have been used in highly visible media campaigns -- and that's the hard part of stock that we can all speak to.

On May.06.2005 at 04:19 PM
Jon’s comment is:

Thanks for the more considered opinion, Patrick. That's a much fairer appraisal than simply "don't use stock". I agree there are risks, and it's up to the designer and client to balance them.

Sorry if I sounded defensive. It's hard to have one's business disparaged so offhandedly. Especiallly since in our company we try so hard to weed out the stuff that gives stock a bad name...

On May.06.2005 at 04:20 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

OSX is a rarity.

Or, rather, it proves the point. OS 10? No. OSX!

Mark (and Patrick), I must take umbrage at your comment, "Don't use stock photography." This is elitist and ridiculous.

If you're going to say that, don't post with your veer.com url. ;o)

And 'MX' stood for nothing.

Much like BMX (anyone know what that stands for?)

Bicycle Motocross

On May.06.2005 at 04:39 PM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

Jon, I've spoken about the pitfalls of stock imagery in the past. Here's a quote from one of my comments on Speak Up from December 2003:

...this kind of thinking does not take into consideration our fellow photographers and illustrators. For example, Getty Images has been buying up smaller stock photo companies. With each purchase, the Getty contract with the artist comes into play over the previous company's contract. Of course, the Getty contract allows for smaller percentages to the artist.

This is compounded by Getty's agressive marketing to larger agencies and other end users. They will go into an agency like Grey Advertising and offer a volume discount if Getty becomes the sole image supplier. This great deal for Getty is at the photographers' expense.

Another one of Getty's activities of questionable ethics is the shuffling of "home territories". Their contract allows for, let's say, a New York-based photographer to get a higher percentage from a sale made to a New York end user. Sales in any other territories result in a split commission — a 50% commission now becomes 25%. In order to get the higher commission, Getty will invoice the New York user from the London office.

I am the first to admit that I use and rely on companies like Getty for those projects which have neither the time, logistics or budget to commission photography or illustration. But, this argument is part of my ammunition when I try convince a client to hire someone rather than pay a usage fee. I pretty much always lose this fight, but at least I know I'm doing an inadequately small part for our compatriots in visual culture.

...I leave you with Mark Getty and something he once said at a PhotoExpo:

"Content is the oil of the new millennium."

My rationales for avoiding stock photography are multitude — from the ethics of agencies themselves to the ethics of personal design practice. On the latter point, I am constantly dismayed to hear fellow designers blithely mention what sounds like a casual approach to stock.

Jon, your inquiry about my clients' conceptual or financial capacity misses the point of what it means to service the client. In my mind, it means being an advocate for the client's message. If you can rifle through a few hundred stock images and convey that message, perhaps the message is too generic and you're not working hard enough. Personally, I like to ask the Passover question: "What makes this ______ different from any other?"

Following that logic, how can a photographer spontaneously take the perfect image before being given the creative brief? Unless you're doing a massive degree of photo-collage or post-production work, it seems rare at best.

Before you think I'm too extreme, I do accept that there are times where stock comes in handy. The first is as basic illustration — I'm doing a piece on auto repair and there's a reference to a wrench and oil can; I need a picture of each. Then there's the metaphorical suggestion — like the fine art images used in The New Yorker across from works of fiction, or in Harpers.

The big area in the middle is much more problematic and has a greater requirement of a designer's sensitivity to the ramifications of stock, the selection of images, and the maintenance of a network of image suppliers — a.k.a. Art Direction. And my fear is that designers in general are ill-equipped to be art directors. Art direction is a subtle art best learned in apprenticeship, and unfortunately there are so few instances in the the design press that celebrate that art.

Another reason for the growth of stock is designers' fear of taking charge over their images. Paul Rand, Lester Beal or Alvin Lustig didn't have the stock resources or equipment we do today; and if the circumstances demanded, they weren't afraid to make their own illustrations or take their own pictures. I've occasionally done work for large ad agencies where I've been paid a couple thousand dollars to set type on a curve; nothing more. They ask for the portfolio, put me through the old dog and pony, do the paperwork to set me up as a vendor...and... and... end up just asking me to set type on a curve. I'm happy to take the money, but there is a little voice in my mind wondering why the art director couldn't do it himself.

In reference to the question of why so many photographers sell stock; personally, I fear it's a deepening spiral. The financial rewards are diminishing (see above) and the commodification of images reduces their value (and the value of the photographer) in the client's and designer's mind. Consider a word you used: "shooter". I despise this word. It reduces the professional to the mechanical. Yet too many people — photographers included — have no problem with it. Still, it doesn't make it right.

Why are photographers happy when they sell stock? Because they haven't worked in months (because of the growth of stock usage) and any bit of money is a step closer to making the rent. Most of my photographer friends (who will remain nameless, but they have done some rather large campaigns) aren't working. They're writing estimates, but often get the "we decided to use stock" response.

For those interested in more information, it can be found at the http://www.asmp.org/" target="_blank"> American Society of Media Photographers and in copies of http://www.pdnonline.com/" target="_blank"> Photo District News.

Finally, I need to address the use of the term "elitist". Being elitist is not a bad thing. My function in society is to judge the value of visual, verbal, typographic, color, etc. elements in order to deliver the client's message, story, whatever. One would hope that I do so by finding the best elements and discarding the worst; by insisting on a certain level of quality, even if it's a purposeful "bad" quality. That act of judgment is the essence of elitist.

Being an elitist does not mean refusing to meet the audience halfway. Part of life is learning how to integrate one's personal taste with the rest of the world. But ya gotta have some standards!

On May.06.2005 at 05:50 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

If you can rifle through a few hundred stock images and convey that message, perhaps the message is too generic and you're not working hard enough.

That's a nice way to put it.

On May.06.2005 at 06:32 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Mark, I'm in agreement with your point of view on this. It's courageous in the face of easy design to call it like it is. Yes, it's a downward spiral for photographers and illustrators. We see so-called careers at near extinction because young art directors and big agencies find the convenient choices to be the easy. less expenive path. Content becomes pre-chewed. What does that say about the audience?
What's at risk is more than just the future of image concepting, but the slow halt of deliberated, risk taking design, in my humble opinion. One cliche is as good as another.
I see your point about a quick stock image for an obvious plug, but it's becoming more than this.
I know one illustrator -I won't name him - who quit doing the artwork to build levees in Venice, Lousiana. I admire him, but I'm sad that he quit what he loved to do what he needed to do. I called him recently, just to say hello and tell him someone cared what he was doing. He was out in the fild moving dirt to potect the remaining geography. He said he just couldn't make a living anymore doing illustration.

Getty is an image vampire. And he sucks.

On May.23.2006 at 10:20 PM