Category Archives: graphic design

Good design is subtractive

“Design that communicates efficiently is typically more subtractive than additive.”[1][2][3]

[1] Maybe I should have retitled this post, “Good design is subtractive. Or why I insist on footnoting blog posts.”
[2] On April 9, 2014 I discovered the clever design quote (see above) via @sheepmeetswolf on twitter,!/sheepmeetswolf/status/174587072189964288.
As a practice, I placed the quote as a draft in WordPress to review later.  Sometimes, I notice intriguing internet sparkly thingies and think these items may be of interest to readers of this blog. Rather than posting the quote, comment or idea immediately, I usually wait awhile and see if it is still relevant after a week, month or longer. Sometimes much longer. As you may have noticed already, the @sheepmeetswolf twitter link leads to  a deleted or missing account. Such is the case with a lot of web links. Source material disappears from the internet for one reason or another. So, a few years ago I began the habit of footnoting referenced material with a source citation and hyperlink. That way, if a blog disappears from the face of the blogosphere or a twitter account is deleted from the twitterverse, there is still a record that at some point in time and space I accessed the information and shared it with you. For example, the following source is for you to enjoy as it loosely relates to the @sheepmeetswolf quote.
[3] Maria Popova, “Austin Kleon on 10 Things Every Creator Should Remember But We Often Forget,” Brain Pickings, accessed August 9, 2016,

Anatomy of print advertising

Very excited about a mentoring opportunity with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee this afternoon. Last October I volunteered and really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience of graphic design with the students.

Here are my notes on the five basic elements of a print advertisement.

  1. Headline
  2. Subhead
  3. Body copy
  4. Visuals
  5. Layout

A print ad includes other components (like, color, shape, logo, etc.), but these five elements are foundational to print advertising.

A page from the history of graphic design

There was a time — somewhere around the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods of graphic design — when all pre-press art files were saved to a 250 MB Zip disk, packed into a Fed-Ex overnight envelope and delivered to a Fed-Ex pick location.

Working for a weekly newsmagazine, I was the last person to see that package and its digital content before it travelled 384 miles to the press that printed the periodical.

On one occasion I had to deliver the package to the airport due to a late breaking election story. That was before Adobe Photoshop CS arrived. And sometime between versions of QuarkXPress 4 and QuarkXPress 5.

The magazine introduced a virtual private network (VPN) in 2003. This linked the headquarters with various national offices as well as the press that printed the publication.

Soon Zip disks became novel items that were relegated to the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. Like the extinction of the Neanderthals, the Zip disk has completely disappeared from all graphic design and print production today.

Say something creative

Yes. Someone actually asked me that. The request: “Say something creative in 150 characters or less. Grab my attention.”

Here is my on-the-spot 30-second reply:

An artist may paint an image of a stop sign on canvas and it earns some interest. A designer creates a stop sign and people stop. Message delivered.

Dry transfer lettering

Dry transfer type

From the graphic design archive…

Anyone remember doing advertising or editorial mockups using dry transfer lettering? Or the fact that mockups were expected to take days not hours?