December 3, 2018

Cooper Black—and other Chicago hometown typefaces

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 1:49 pm

This weekend, I attended a wonderful lecture at the Newberry Library called Chicago Style: Typography and the City. The last time I was at the Newberry, it was the mid-90s and I was writing a paper about Sumerian cuneiform writing for my Art History class at Columbia College of Chicago. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be back, as well as to experience this short (but thorough) history of Chicago typography design.

Presenters Paul F. Gehl (Curator Emeritus at the Newberry Library) and Tanner Woodford (Executive Director at the Chicago Design Museum) shared highlights from Chicago’s history of typography design, including these examples from the Newberry Library collection:

Cooper Black type specimens

Oswald (Oz) Cooper is the designer of Cooper Black, the most popular and largest-selling advertising typeface of the 1920s and 1930s (and still often used today). He drew and redrew the letterforms hundreds of times, showing just how much work goes into creating a really good typeface. Cooper Black started a trend of black type, which is a heavier weight than bold.

Will Ransom designed the typeface Parsons in 1918 when he was freelancing for Chicago-based department store Carson Pirie Scott & Co. (known by locals as Carson’s). This typeface was created exclusively for Carson Pirie Scott, and was released for public use in 1923.

Tempo typeface specimens

Radiant typeface specimens

Scotland-born but Chicago-based designer Robert Hunter Middleton created the typeface Tempo in 1930. At the time, printers viewed it as an American face—however it was actually modeled on the German-originated Futura. Middleton designed many other popular fonts, including Radiant.

During the discussion, Paul reviewed these historical typesetting terms which are often confused:

  • Typeface: the design of the letters
  • Type: the physical object (i.e. a piece of lead type)
  • Font: the collection of physical objects

Many of the Chicago-designed fonts are still in rotation in the design world, proving the longevity of good design.

Want to learn more about Chicago typography and design? Head over to the Newberry Library and Chicago Design Museum.

September 26, 2018

25+ free (or low-cost) design resources for nonprofits

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 3:08 pm

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

When I present my branding and marketing workshops to nonprofits, I inevitably get asked the question: “Is there any way we can do some of this stuff on our own? (preferably for free or not a lot of money!)”

Well, with a little bit of digging, plus my own huge list of resources (I’m a research junkie), I put together this list of free or low-cost design resources for nonprofits and higher education.

Fonts

Fonts are intellectual property, so they must be licensed before you can use them, so I don’t recommend downloading free fonts unless it’s from a reputable site that sells fonts (see below). Most font sites offer free fonts or inexpensive bundles, which is a great way to test drive fonts and build your collection.

Always make sure you have licenses for the computer(s) you are using your fonts on, and don’t share them unless your license allows usage on multiple computers. Read Monotype’s guide to font licensing for more info.

Stock Photography & Illustrations 

Just like fonts, images are intellectual property. Never—I repeat—never use an image that you “grabbed from the web” (i.e Google Images, blog posts, etc.) I have personally known colleagues who have been threatened with legal action for using an unlicensed image. It’s no joke.

Always make sure you have a license appropriate to the usage you need, or choose royalty-free. See my quick overview of stock photo usage, or head over to StockPhotoRights.com for more in-depth information.

Also, if you are using images from a free stock photo site, just remember that lots of other people are also probably using that same image. So save it for social media or other casual usage, and use licensed stock photography (or even better, hire a photographer) for images that are more critical to your organization’s branding and marketing.

Cision has curated a huge list of websites with images that are not protected by copyright laws and/or in the public domain (i.e. historical images, images created by the federal government, etc.)

Design Templates

Of course, I would always encourage you to hire a graphic designer (hint, hint) to design identity and marketing materials for your organziation. But I totally get it: sometimes timing and/or budget just doesn’t allow for it. In that case, I’ve given my stamp of approval for using a template from one of these sites.

Design Learning

My clients at smaller organizations often ask how they can learn design basics or related applications. The resources below are perfect for diving into a design topic or application.

I also offer onsite design and branding workshops that can be tailored to your needs. Reach out to me to learn more or schedule one for your organization.

Graphic & Video Editing

Images and video are crucial for getting noticed in print and social media. For important organizational marketing materials (identity, brochures, reports, event invitations, etc.), I do suggest working with an experienced graphic designer. But for editing a photo on the fly or creating a social media video, these sites make DIY fast and easy.

Did I miss something? Let me know so I can add it to the list. And be sure to bookmark this page—I will update it as new resources are available.

Stay tuned for the rest of my series, Free (or Low-Cost) Design & Marketing Resources for Nonprofits, as it becomes available.

June 18, 2018

Recap: A to Z of Design blogging challenge

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

For the last 4 years, I’ve been participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge—a daily blogging challenge during the month of April.

Last year, I started a series called A to Z of Design (including basic design terminology for non-designers) but work/life got in the way and I never finished it. So this year, I restarted the series and I’m happy to say, I finished it!

Read the A to Z of Design and learn design basics—everything from A (alignment) to Z (zip)!

See my past A to Z blogging series’, A to Z of Being a Mom in Business and A to Z of Branding.

April 19, 2018

A to Z of Design: Q is for quote

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

A to Z of Design: Q is for Quote

A pull quote is a quote or excerpt “pulled” from the main text to set it apart or highlight it in some way. Pull quotes are usually styled differently (i.e. bold, italic, color) and larger in size to stand out from the body text. They are commonly used in magazine and brochure design.

A pull quote may be a sentence that has been removed from the main text, or one that has been repeated for emphasis.

Personally I’m a big fan of pull quotes, especially in blog posts. They help to keep the reader’s interest and move the eye along the page.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 17, 2018

A to Z of Design: O is for orphan

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

An orphan is a word or short line of text that appears by itself at the top of a column (i.e. when a paragraph flows onto the next column). Similarly, a widow is a word that appears by itself at the bottom of a text block or paragraph.

It’s always a good idea to manually adjust a text layout to avoid orphans and widows as they can distract the reader and create spacing issues.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 16, 2018

A to Z of Design: N is for negative space

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

A to Z of Design: N is for negative space

Also called “white space,” this refers to the areas of a design that are empty, or don’t contain any design elements. Negative or white space gives a design “breathing room.” Using adequate negative space allows design elements to stand on their own, prevents a design from looking cluttered, and helps to guide the viewer’s eye successfully around the design.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 14, 2018

A to Z of Design: M is for monochrome

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

M is for monochrome

Monochrome refers to a design that only uses one color, or shades of one color. A grayscale (or black-and-white) design is considered monochrome, as well as a design printed using one Pantone color (see example above). Monochrome designs are sometimes chosen to keep printing costs down as only one ink color (and related printing plate) is required.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

 

April 13, 2018

A to Z of Design: L is for leading

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

L is for leading

Leading is a typesetting term that refers to the vertical space between lines of text. Leading is measured from baseline (the line the text rests upon) to baseline and is calculated in points, i.e. 12 point leading. Leading is used to avoid letterforms from touching and to make text more legible, especially in large blocks of type. The term leading comes from the early days of metal typesetting when small strips of lead were inserted between lines of type.

See all of the A to Z of Design posts here.

April 12, 2018

A to Z of Design: K is for kerning

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

A to Z of Design: K is for kerning

Kerning refers to the space between characters (letters, numbers, etc.) as well as the process of adjusting that space to make words more legible or pleasing to the eye. Most fonts require at least some kerning to avoid awkward gaps or spaces. These gaps are more apparent in larger text such as headlines.

Kerning is more art than science. A designer usually adjusts a word’s kerning by sight rather than specific measurements. Bad kerning is usually a designer’s biggest pet peeve.

See kerning in action in my Kerning Design Demo:

April 11, 2018

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