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Archive for the ‘Design’ topic

The Ephemeral Nature of Design

Last Friday, Bert asked me to name a few cool projects we had created recently. My mind drew a blank. Not that we hadn’t made anything cool, far from it. It’s just very rare to ever look back. Once a project is delivered, we’re usually already too busy working on the next one to sit down and contemplate on our achievements. As they say over here: Out of sight, out of heart.

For the past fifteen years, I have, as a graphic designer, worked on all kinds of internet projects. And if there is one thing I understand, it’s that a lot of what I create is ephemeral. Some of the designers I know never wanted to make the switch to digital, because when you design for print, you at least have something substantial that you can touch and feel at the end of the day. With digital, everything remains virtual. Add to that, I work in a fast paced sector and much of what I create will soon quickly become outdated or obsolete.

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The Nchiwe Map


There are still some finishing touches to be done on the Pangaea Expedition site before it is ready for prime time. But in the mean time, I’ve finally completed the Nchiwe Map. It depicts the settlements of the Nchiwe civilization some 75 thousand years ago. Creating it was one thing. Exporting it to a 90×60 cm image was another matter. It was a real test in patience. Now I’m investigating which services are best suited to sell it as a poster. Lulu seems to offer the best quality prints at 300 dpi. That’s a 10800×7200 pixel image (77 mega-pixels). I’ve heard a lot of good reviews about the site. But while they may be great for books, the whole process of purchasing posters seems rather complex and not always very clear. Another problem is the fact that they offer the posters in three different formats. But for some reason, they don’t share the same aspect ratio. So if the buyer doesn’t choose the intended format, he’ll get a trimmed version instead. In the case of the Nchiwe map, choosing a smaller format means bye bye New Zealand (Aotearoa on the map). And Lulu doesn’t offer the publisher the option of only selling one particular format instead of all three.

The other alternative is Cafe Press. Their shop is more polished and clearer to use. At least you know exactly what you’re purchasing. My only doubt is the quality. While they do except 300 dpi images, they seem to prefer 200 dpi ones. Does this mean that they are printing it at max 200dpi or are they rightly assuming that for photo enlargements, up-scaling it beyond 200 is useless? I guess I’ll just have to purchase my poster and do a quality check before I actually start selling them.

Update: Looks like my choice has been made for me. I just got a mail from Lulu. They will soon no longer be offering posters for sale.

The History of Visual Communication

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

From cave drawings to computer design. The History of Visual Communication sums up several thousand years of design with a few nice examples. It doesn’t focus on art history itself, but in fact how graphic design has evolved as a way of communication and how it has been influenced by its time and technology at had.

There are some nice examples such as the evolution of alphabets, the printing press, poster design, cartography and so and on and on. It’s probably impossible to classify everything, but it’s a good place to start if one is looking for some inspiration from the past.

T-shirts with the god Shiva print