Jason Keisling




The Right Answer: Learning How to Think

Category : graphic design, problem solving, quotes · No Comments · by Jun 11th, 2014

From Chapter 1 of “A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative” by Roger von Oech:

“Children enter school as question marks and come out as periods.”–Neil Postman, Educator

Much of our education system is geared toward teaching people to find “the right answer.” By the time the average person finishes college, he or she will have taken over 2,600 tests, quizzes, and exams. The “right answer” approach becomes deeply ingrained in our thinking. This may be fine for some mathematical problems where there is in fact only one right answer. The difficulty is that most of life isn’t this way. Life is ambiguous; there are many right answers–all depending on what you are looking for. But if you think there is only one right answer, then you’ll stop looking as soon as you find one.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher put a small dot on the blackboard. She asked the class what it was. A few seconds passed and then someone said, “A chalk dot on the blackboard.” The rest of the class seemed relieved that the obvious had been stated, and no one else had anything to say. “I’m surprised at you,” the teacher told the class. “I did the same exercise yesterday with a group of kindergartners, and they thought of fifty different things it could be: an owl’s eye, a cigar butt, the top of a telephone pole, a star, a pebble, a squashed bug, a rotten egg, and so on. They had their imaginations in high gear.”

In the ten year period between kindergarten and high school, not only had we learned how to find the right answer, we had also lost the ability to look for more than one right answer. We had learned how to be specific, but we had lost much of our imaginative power.

An elementary school teacher told me the following story about a colleague who had given her first graders a coloring assignment:

The instructions said: “On this sheet of paper, you will find an outline of a house, trees, flowers, clouds, and sky. Please color each with the appropriate colors.” One of the students, Patty, put a lot of work into her drawing. When she got it back, she was surprised to find a big black “X” on it. She asked the teacher for an explanation. “I gave you an ‘X’ because you didn’t follow the instructions. Grass is green not gray. The sky should be blue, not yellow as you have drawn it. Why didn’t you use the normal colors, Patty?”

Patty answered, “Because that’s how it looks to me when I get up early to watch the sunrise.”

The teacher had assumed that there was only one right answer. The practice of looking for the “one right answer” can have serious consequences in the way we think about and deal with problems. Most people don’t like problems, and when they encounter them, they usually react by taking hte first way out they can find–even if they solve the wrong problem. I can’t overstate the danger in this. If you have only one idea, you have only one course of action open to you, and this is quite risky in a world where flexibility is a requirement for survival.

An idea is like a musical note. In the same way that a musical note can only be understood in relation to other notes (either as part of a melody or a chord), an idea is best understood in the context of other ideas. If you have only one idea, you don’t have anything to compare it to. You don’t know its strengths and weaknesses.

For more effective thinking, we need different points of view. Otherwise we’ll get stuck looking at the same things and miss seeing things outside our focus.

Process of designing my logo.

Category : graphic design, problem solving, typography · No Comments · by May 22nd, 2013

When designing my logo, I began by listing objectives and stating the message I wanted to communicate in order to brand myself. I wanted to convey problem solving since design is about constantly seeking ways for improvement and seeking problems to address. I began brainstorming different ways to convey problem solving in my logo. I wanted the logo to remain simple and versatile.

1

2

3

283 sketches later, I came up with the idea of using the puzzle piece in the counterform of my name. I began working with different puzzle shapes and sketching different ways to accomplish this idea.

4

5

I then began working on the computer and testing different typefaces, spacing, and colors. I explored making the puzzle piece more significant and also more subtly. Since one of my goals was to create a logo that was simple and versatile, I decided to make the puzzle piece less emphasized.

6

After choosing the color and typeface, I converted the type to paths and began customizing the letters for the final result:

logo_2013

A simple way to improve Facebook’s mobile user experience.

Category : graphic design, problem solving · No Comments · by May 17th, 2013

2013-05-17 12.54.27

I received this invite to a friend’s birthday brunch today. There are several aspects of Facebook’s mobile app that could use improvement, but here’s an easy one: Adding not only the date, but also the day of the event. June 9th is nearly a month away and I had no idea what day that falls on. Many people plan schedules based on the day. One might work Monday-Friday, or play kickball on Wednesday, or sit at home googling cat pictures on Thursdays. I am usually working during ‘brunch hours’ during the week so I had to close the FB app and open my calendar app to make sure that June 9th is on a weekend.

Below is a better option that makes the process easier for the user without changing the overall design. Sometimes even the most simple changes can make design significantly more effective and it’s this attention to detail that can turn a bad design into a good design, or a good design into a great design.

fixed


New personal challenge in the works

Category : graphic design, typography · (3) Comments · by Apr 20th, 2013

I’ve began a new project and personal goal, which consists of hand-lettering a vocabulary word every day for a year. The goal is to improve my lettering skills while simultaneously learning 365 new words.

I was inspired by a project called The Daily Artifact, which was a personal challenge by Corey Fuller, a friend and former teacher of mine, to create a drawing, design, photograph, doodle, etc., every day for a year.

My plan is to sketch a word daily and then at the end of each month, choose one of the sketches to create finished type on the computer.

Here are the sketches from the first three days:

ingratiate_4-20-13

splinetic_4-19-13

censure_4-21-13

Fresh Impressions on Brandmarks (from a 5-year-old)

Category : advertising, graphic design · No Comments · by Apr 9th, 2013

Practical Typography

Category : graphic design, typography · No Comments · by Nov 13th, 2012

From Chapter 6.2 of Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Choose typefaces that suit the task as well as the subject

You are designing, let us say, a book about bicycle racing. You have found in the specimen books a typeface called Bicycle, which has spokes in the O, an A in the shape of a racing seat, a T that resembles a set of racing handlebars, and tiny cleated shoes perched on the long, one-sided serifs of ascenders and descenders, like pumping feet on the pedals. Surely this is the perfect face for your book?

Actually, typefaces and racing bikes are very much alike. Both are ideas as well as machines, and neither should be burdened with excess drag or baggage. Pictures of pumping feet will not make the type go faster, any more than smoke trails, pictures of rocket ships or imitation lightning bolts tied to the frame will improve the speed of the bike.

The best type for a book about bicycle racing will be, first of all, an inherently good type. Second, it will be a good type for books, which means a good type for comfortable long-distance reading. Third, it will be a type sympathetic to the theme. It will probably be lean, strong and swift; perhaps it will also be Italian. But it is unlikely to be carrying excess ornament or freight, and unlikely to be indulging in a masquerade.

A great idea to simplify items we carry.

Category : graphic design, problem solving · (2) Comments · by Nov 10th, 2012

goodbook5_back

goodbook5_detail

goodbook5_open

theGOODbook™ 5 is a leather wallet, iPhone 5 case and sketchbook all in one.

Designed to consolidate the many items we carry in our pockets everyday.

Handcrafted in Portland, Oregon USA.

A great video on design process

Category : graphic design, problem solving · No Comments · by Nov 1st, 2012

2012/09 Tom Foulkes & Michael Johnson from CreativeMornings/London on Vimeo.

“I’m Thinking Arby’s…”

Category : graphic design · No Comments · by Oct 5th, 2012

…should reconsider their new logo design.

Arby’s recently updated their logo for the first time in almost four decades. A logo is a company’s identity and what helps a company distinguish itself from other brands. A logo should be memorable, distinctive, and appropriate to the company’s purpose and target audience.

1004_arbys_630x4201

The new logo has several issues:

Will easily be outdated: A good logo will last over time. The new Arby’s logo is restricted to current trends and in several years will be about as stale as their sandwiches.
Unnecessary visual elements: Only one barb is needed. There should be a strong element that attracts the viewer’s eye and is memorable. If a logo utilizes more than one barb, they often fight for attention and create tension within the logo. In this case, there is the hat and the slicer-appostrophe (I think it’s supposed to be a slicer, anyway). The apostrophe is minimal and is overshadowed by the hat, so it really isn’t necessary. It could have simply been left unaltered (without the white streaks) and the logo wouldn’t have lost anything.
Poor relationship between type and image: The 3-d hat does not relate to the 2-d typeface. Also, the modern typeface doesn’t pair well with the older southwest-style hat. Imagine wearing an old western cowboy hat with an 80’s jumpsuit. I actually posted a blog months ago with a “typographic puzzle” where one matches shoes with the typeface that fits them.

Here are what some other designers are saying about the new logo:

Bloomberg Businessweek asks four design professionals—99designs’lead visual designer Kyle Lin, Little Red House’s design partner Michelle GambleRivington Design House’screative director Brion Isaacs, and Pratt Institute’sGraduate Communications Design Department adjunct professor Graham Hanson—what they think about Arby’s new, digital-looking logo:

Kyle Lin: Overall, I think it’s a vast improvement from the “before” logo. It has youthful, casual appeal. I like how they brought in modernized aspects of their older branding in updated ways. The new apostrophe’s supposed to represent a meat-cutting blade, which works well with their new positioning. Gotta love the hat.

Michelle Gamble: The old logo had charm and familiarity. This lacks charisma. The hat tries too hard to be an app and has no relationship to the logotype, apart from color. Without the name recognition, the logo evokes more of a “tech” feeling.

Brion Isaacs: The 3D effect has no place in this logo and looks forced and is executed poorly. Sucks. It seems like Arby’s is trying too hard. The whole glossy thing is so out of touch. There’s this retro throwback now, which is kind of cool. The old logo was familiar and classic; it’s a nice piece of Americana.

Graham Hanson: The typography of the old logo evoked Western themes and consequently “paid off” the stylized and simplified cowboy hat/lasso. Now you have what are really abstract shapes with typography that provides no visual cues. The unique essence of what set Arby’s apart from other fast food has been lost.


http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-04/what-do-pro-designers-think-of-arbys-new-logo

How well do you know your typefaces?

Category : graphic design, typography · No Comments · by May 5th, 2012

Here’s a fun game to test your knowledge of fonts. I’m currently ranked #4 for daily high score (not all time). http://www.deep.co.uk/games/font_game/