Navigating the Design Desert: Avoiding Camel Conundrums in Graphic Design

“A camel is a horse designed by a committee,” a witty phrase often attributed to the creator of the iconic Mini, captures the essence of the delicate balance in design collaboration. While it humorously suggests that too many cooks spoil the broth, it doesn’t discount the value of diverse perspectives. In the realm of graphic design, where creativity thrives on a mix of ideas, finding harmony amid differing opinions is an art in itself.

The Camels Speak

Now, before we inadvertently offend the camel community by likening them to design mishaps, it’s essential to recognize the strength of camels in their own right. In defense of these resilient creatures, one can almost hear them retort, “Let’s see how long your beautiful horse lasts in the desert!” Here lies the heart of the matter—context matters. If your goal is to design a creature to conquer the scorching desert heat, then hats off to you. However, if your vision was a sleek, four-legged racehorse, and you end up with a humpbacked marvel, well, you might be in need of some design intervention.

Striking a Balance

Acknowledging the importance of feedback and diverse opinions in the design process is crucial. The challenge lies in maintaining a delicate equilibrium, ensuring that the cacophony of voices doesn’t drown out the clarity of the design objective. A singular, guiding voice is the rudder steering the ship through the stormy seas of creative collaboration. It’s not about stifling input; it’s about channeling it effectively, much like the way a herd of camels moves cohesively across the vast desert landscape.

Surviving the Desert Heat

If, in the course of design, you find yourself aiming to create a desert-ready creature, consider the camel as a mascot of endurance and adaptability. Harnessing the strength of individual elements, be they hooves or humps, and blending them seamlessly is the key to success. Perhaps the lesson here is not just about avoiding camel-like outcomes but learning from their remarkable ability to thrive in challenging environments.

Silence Isn’t Golden

While the saying goes, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee,” it doesn’t imply that silence is the solution. People generally don’t like to say nothing; after all, it’s human nature to contribute and engage. In the realm of graphic design, fostering an environment where everyone feels heard and valued is vital. It’s not about muting voices but orchestrating them into a symphony that produces a harmonious design.

In the ever-evolving landscape of graphic design, the analogy of a camel designed by a committee serves as a humorous reminder of the challenges inherent in collaborative creativity. Embracing diverse perspectives, respecting the strengths of each element, and steering the creative ship with a steady hand ensures that, in the end, you don’t end up with a camel when you were aiming for a horse—or vice versa. After all, the desert of design is vast, but with the right blend of creativity and collaboration, your creation can endure and thrive.

Illum – a logo design classic

Illum-bag

This photo is copyright of Illum

Illum stands as a pinnacle of sophistication within the heart of Copenhagen, asserting its position as arguably Denmark’s most esteemed department store. Since its establishment in the 1890s, Illum has weathered the transformative storms in the retail landscape, emerging unscathed amidst the demise of many counterparts in recent years.

The store’s branding is a testament to exquisite design and meticulous execution. Functioning as an umbrella brand within its expansive confines, Illum seamlessly integrates some of the world’s most renowned and exclusive fashion and beauty labels—a feat that demands exceptional finesse in branding strategy. Throughout the vast expanse of the store, various brand elements subtly reinforce the unique Illum experience.

Notably, in the cosmetic and perfume department, each world-famous brand occupies its designated section, employing a consistent white-on-black branding scheme, mirroring the overarching Illum umbrella brand. This careful orchestration creates a harmonious ambiance that aligns with the brand identity while avoiding visual clutter, as logos peacefully coexist without competing for attention. The absence of colour in these sections ensures that individual brands stand out in their distinctive ways, allowing customers to navigate the space effortlessly.

The design and branding extend beyond the products themselves to the very carrier of the shopping experience—the bag. A remarkable fusion of minimalist aesthetics, environmental consciousness, and a touch of class, the white-on-black design serves as a mobile advertisement, contributing to the brand’s visibility on the streets. This thoughtful approach reflects Illum’s commitment to not only elegance but also environmental sustainability.

The brilliance of the design team is evident in every aspect, from the seamless blend of modernity and heritage to the strategic use of black and the clever incorporation of the double ‘l’ in the logo. The success of this element of the design is paramount, as any misstep in the execution could have compromised its integrity. The fact that the name and location of Illum are iconic to the Danish audience mitigates any minor concerns about legibility, emphasizing the design’s effectiveness within its cultural context.

In conclusion, Illum is not just a department store; it is a masterpiece of design and branding. The current iteration of its logo stands as a design classic, embodying a perfect balance between contemporary aesthetics, historical reverence, and practical functionality.

About Illum from the Visit Copenhagen website.

Just to be absolutely sure, this is NOT sponsored content. I am not connected to Illum in any way, or the design of their branding, this is purely a designer’s appreciation of some great design. Yes, I have spent way too long just staring at the shop’s signage, analysing and appreciating it. I’m a designer, it is what we do!

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Password protection and learning from The Office

As a web designer of around 20 years experience I have dealt with a lot of websites, a lot of clients, and in turn a lot of passwords. Sometimes I require a password from a client to gain access to something, with some ‘interesting’ passwords, and password habits shared with me.

There is a lot of advice out there on the web on password best practices, but experience has taught me, I still need to Google it for clients, and read it to them, and check they have done something to change ‘password123’. And come back several months later to check again.

If you are one of my clients, or former clients, reading this, I am of course not referring to you. You were brilliant!!

However the sitcom The Office, I am British, so by law I must refer to it as ‘The US Office’ to differentiate from the original, cover it superbly in the above brilliantly crafted 1 minute 40 seconds ‘cold opener’.

Password best practice

  1. Don’t use the same password for multiple logins. If a hacker gets hold of one, they can then access everything.
  2. Don’t make it easy
  3. Don’t make it short
  4. Use a mixture of characters
  5. Update regularly
  6. Don’t go ‘it’ll be fine, why should I listen to web professionals?!’
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Why Milton Glaser’s iconic I ❤ NY design is so good

 

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By Milton Glaser – Extracted from http://www.iloveny.com/gtc/GTC_Sponsorship_and_Contract.pdf, Public Domain, Link.

 

A look at why Milton Glaser’s iconic I ❤ NY design is so good and still resonates.

At its core, Milton Glaser’s design is an exceptionally good idea, delivered with the utmost simplicity, which in turn is timeless.

The font is designed to balance the heart icon and vice versa. One element is angular and monochromatic, filling 75% of the design, balanced in the other quarter with round edges and high impact use of colour.

The font is used that way not to be fashionable at the time of the design’s launch, but to reflect the original concept, to replicate the wood carved graffiti of someone declaring their love for someone anonymously, hence the initials for the city. The choice of font was never in fashion, so never goes out of fashion. It has never dated.

Simple, powerful, clever, fun, original, much copied but never bettered. Perfect for New York in the 1970s and beyond.

I am not going to criticise the 2022 update. It is too easy to be negative and unfair on the individuals involved when the brief isn’t public, and ultimately it lead me to love the original even more. Here’s to Milton Glaser! miltonglaser.com

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Danish Design: The Beauty of Minimalism and Functionality

Danish-design-classic

Denmark is famous for many things, including its delicious pastries, innovative cuisine, cycling culture and the whole Viking thing. But one area that perhaps sets it apart from other countries is its reputation for design. Danish design is renowned worldwide for its minimalistic, functional, and sleek aesthetic. The style is both understated and elegant, with a focus on form, function, and quality. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at Danish design, its history, and some of its most famous practitioners.

A Brief History of Danish Design

Danish design has its roots in the early 20th century, when a group of architects and designers founded the Danish Design School in Copenhagen. The school was based on the principles of functionalism, which emphasized the importance of design that was both beautiful and practical. The school quickly gained a reputation for producing talented designers, and by the 1950s, Danish design had become an international phenomenon.

One of the most influential figures in Danish design was Arne Jacobsen. Jacobsen was a prolific designer, known for his minimalist furniture designs, particularly his chairs. His most famous design is the Egg Chair, which he created in 1958 for the lobby of the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The chair is a perfect example of the simplicity and elegance that characterizes Danish design.

Another important figure in Danish design was Hans Wegner. Wegner is best known for his furniture design, particularly his chairs. His most famous design is the Wishbone Chair, which he created in 1949. The chair is made from wood and features a distinctive Y-shaped backrest. It is considered a classic of Danish design and is still popular today.

The Characteristics of Danish Design

Danish design is characterized by a number of key features. One of the most important is its focus on function. Danish designers believe that form should always follow function, and they prioritize the practical over the ornamental. This means that Danish design is often very minimalistic, with clean lines and simple shapes.

Another important characteristic of Danish design is its emphasis on quality. Danish designers believe that good design should last a lifetime, and they use only the highest-quality materials and manufacturing techniques. This means that Danish furniture, for example, is often made from wood, which is durable, sustainable, and easy to work with.

Finally, Danish design is known for its attention to detail. Danish designers believe that every element of a design should be considered, from the overall shape to the smallest details like the hardware or stitching. This means that Danish designs are often very precise and refined.

Arne Jacobsen

My favourite Danish designer is Arne Jacobsen. Designer of ‘the famous chairs’, as well as furniture and products, he also was an architect, with a quite phenomenal body of work. If you are visiting Copenhagen I’d recommend popping into the Royal Copenhagen Hotel (it keeps changing its name, currently Radisson Royal Copenhagen) either to stay, or for a drink, as the foyer area features his Swan and Egg chairs, and has a very elegant 1960s chic Scandinavian feel. Just opposite the main Copenhagen train station (Hovedbangården) and Tivoli.

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If you feel like a little tour by bike a half hour to the norther outskirts of Copenhagen, or take the train to Klampenborg Station, you can visit Bellevue beach. The lifeguard towers, kiosks and apartments opposite the beach were designed by Arne. About a 15 minute walk towards Copenhagen there is a fantastic petrol/gas station designed by him too. Just a beautiful piece of design.

Famous Examples of Danish Design

There are many famous examples of Danish design, from furniture to architecture to everyday objects. Here are just a few:

  1. The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen – The Egg Chair is perhaps the most iconic piece of Danish design. Created in 1958, it is a perfect example of the simplicity and elegance of Danish design.
  2. The Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner – The Wishbone Chair is another classic of Danish design. Created in 1949, it features a distinctive Y-shaped backrest and is still popular today.
  3. The PH Lamp by Poul Henningsen – The PH Lamp is a design classic, created in 1925. It features a series of concentric shades that diffuse the light, creating a soft and warm glow.
  4. The Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon – The Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous buildings in the world, and it was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. The building is a perfect example of the simplicity and elegance of Danish design.
  5. The LEGO Brick – LEGO is perhaps the most famous Danish design of all. The company was founded in 1932 and has been producing its iconic plastic bricks ever since

The Danish Design Museum link.

The Visit Denmark website (the official tourism website for Denmark) has a great page linking in to different design elements if you are visiting the country.

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Football illustrations and designs for Brønshøj Boldklub

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It has been my immense pleasure and privilege to create some designs and illustrations for the football team Brønshøj Boldklub this season. Brønshøj BK are currently in the fifth tier of Danish football.

Brønshøj is one of the ten regions of Copenhagen, and is where I reside. Established in 1919, Brønshøj BK had their peak in the early 80s when managed by the great Ebbe Skovdahl. Ebbe would go on to great success with Brøndby becoming their most successful manager to date, and would become manager of Aberdeen, the city I am from and team I support. (as well as Brønshøj).

As well as the first team Brønshøj have more than twenty teams from under 13 boys and under 13 girls up to an over 70s senior team. An incredibly important part of Brønshøj’s identity and very important to the Brønshøj region.

Brønshøj Ishøj fodboldbronshoj-allerod bronshoj-union

brønshøj Verner illustration

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Video and motion graphics communication

Video and motion graphics communication is a great way to get a message over to clients or customers. It is very helpful as a designer for showing a brand development, presenting work in a short time span where I as the designer have control over what is shown, plus the sensory experience of movement and sound together with the visuals create a full on design experience.

I work with video text and animation to create unique solutions for my and my client’s needs. Video adds extra dimensions to a presentation and works particularly well on social media, plus brings the power of Youtube’s search engine. (The second most used search engine in the world behind it’s sister site Google).

Below are a few examples of my work.

NoLesLaw presentation from Iain Cameron on Vimeo.


The Eyesea introduction video ‘Shock n awe’.

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How to get good at Photoshop quickly

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If you wish to become a good designer, skills in Adobe Photoshop are essential. Here are this designer of many years tips for how to learn Photoshop quickly. You don’t become a successful designer by Photoshop alone, but you need to be on very good terms with this tool.

If I were to go back and start again, how would I go about gaining those Photoshop skills?

There is no cheat way, there is no easy way, it’s an enormous piece of software that can do an awful lot of things, but you can do your best to not waste time along the way.

There are two specific things I would consider doing every day. One is through learning, the other through practice. The first is to do a tutorial on Photoshop on Youtube every day, and the one for practicing your skills as you learn is to post something you make with Photoshop on social media several times per week.

Learn Photoshop through tutorials on Youtube

I would start with looking for something you want to learn. A specific thing you want to know about, based on a piece of design you have seen, or something you wish to express yourself with, and search for it on YouTube.

This roughly splits into two types of video. By tool, or by specific effect. For example, ‘How to use the pen tool in Photoshop’, ‘How to use the patch tool in Photoshop’ or by style ‘How to make a pop art portrait’? ‘How to make a soviet style poster in Photoshop’? etc. This will build up over time to give you a very broad understanding of Photoshop, and in getting used to using Youtube to solve problems as you meet them.

A social media platform for your art to get you fast and comfortable

For social media, consider starting an Instagram or Facebook page on a subject you are passionate about. Niche works well on social media. A football team, a sport or athlete, a band, a film franchise, an author, a game, a celeb, or maybe reimagine film posters. Something you love, something you have a good knowledge of, or wish to know more about. Ideally something unique, but doesn’t have to be.

What the social media page does for you is get you in the habit of publishing your work regularly and quickly. When working on a design job for a client, or student project, we as designers can get very precious. With our own output, we can speed up the process, experiment, and gain valuable experience quickly. You can always delete something you don’t like later. It can be #workinprogress or #justlearning.

You will pick up another skill, a clear understanding of managing a social media business page. Always something to add to a CV, an extra bonus for a potential employer.

This will get you fast in setting up a document. Not being too precious, and saving your work for the web. It becomes second nature.

Find yourself some inspiration to follow on Instagram. www.creativebloq.com/photography/graphic-designers-follow-instagram, www.delightfull.eu/graphic-designers-to-follow-on-instagram.

I think these to actions together will help you to learn Photoshop quickly. It won’t be easy, but will build up over time. As the ancient Chinese proverb says ‘To become at one with Photoshop, one must at first have worked your ass off’.

Here is my article on whether Graphic design is worth studying. www.iaincameron.dk/is-graphic-design-worth-studying.

Iain Cameron is a freelance graphic designer and web designer based in Copenhagen. Here is my portfolio. www.iaincameron.dk/design-portfolio.

 

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WordPress or Wix a web designer’s opinion

wordpress-or-wix

For anyone considering a new website, WordPress or Wix may well be a question you are facing. I have worked on a couple of Wix sites for clients recently. I am a WordPress web designer of over a decade, my bias is obvious, but I am being truthful with my opinions. I recommend you search for other opinions before making your decision.

WordPress or Wix a web designer’s opinion?

If you are completely new to creating a website, my first bit of advice would be to accept that whether you use WordPress or Wix or another solution, a considerable chunk of time will be needed to put it together with a steep learning curve, irrespective of what Wix’s marketing says. You may greatly enjoy that process, you may find it deeply frustrating, or a bit of both.

What is best for your website, Wix or WordPress? The simple answer is I honestly can’t see a single advantage with Wix at any level.

In fact I would say the changes WordPress has made in the back end for creating new content, with the Gutenberg Editor than was launched in late 2018, makes WordPress considerably easier and more user friendly. It is probably thanks to Wix and other web builders for that development, pressurising WordPress to up it’s game.

What is the technical difference between WordPress and Wix?

WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System), as are Drupla and Joomla, while Wix is a website builder, as are Squarespace, Weebly and Shopify. And what is that difference for a non web design person? Not an awful lot. With a website builder you also get hosting, simplifying the start of the build, on the other hand you are also tied to them, and you can’t scale up.

How difficult is it to start a WordPress website from scratch?

There are a number of component parts that sound complicated but really aren’t. You need to purchase web hosting from a web host (a place on the internet your website ‘lives’), you need a domain name (www.yourcompanyname.com) and you need it set up for WordPress.

There are lots of web hosts out there. Names you have probably heard like GoDaddy, Bluehost, and Siteground. I use one.com. I began using them in 2008, have never had any problems, I believe their price is reasonable and their 24 hour chat service is a great back up. There is a security in being with a large hosting company. This IS an affiliate link for one.com. If you use it, we both get 100 DKK back on the deal.

I will now talk you through getting started in WordPress on one.com as of 2020 

Start with the name you want. There is a search engine that offers you the chance to see if your desired name is available.

finding-a-domain-name

Purchase the one you want, then you will be prompted for hosting. (the place your website ‘lives’ on the internet). The cheapest option will be fine, and purchase. You are two steps into the three step start.

Number three is to log into your new account via the Control Panel on one.com’s website, and find the large button ‘One click WordPress’.

1-click-wordpress

And you’re off! You have your own WordPress website on your own domain. The beginning of a professional website with all WordPress offers. Everything from creating pages to controlling menus to changing themes and adding plugins is available on YouTube.

Is WordPress worth learning in 2020?

Absolutely. It’s 35% of the internet, up 15% since 2015. It’s still developing. It’s still being updated. Tutorials are all over YouTube. Do it.

Why is Wix so ubiquitous?

Wix is so ubiquitous because of their marketing. Their marketing is very, very good, and they are keying into the often confusing start up process for a web design for people with no web design knowledge. Why is there no WordPress advertising? WordPress is open source. It’s free to use and maintained through altruism, albeit the altruism of companies that do very well out of selling WordPress related products.

Good luck, go for it, Google and YouTube are your friend.

Iain Cameron is a Copenhagen based web designer.

after-podcast

The aftermath of being a guest on a podcast

So I did it. I got through a podcast as a guest. You can read of my pre-podcast concerns here. It was okay. The world didn’t end, albeit most of it is now on lock down…

And here’s the Podcast.

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after-podcast

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