January 28, 2016No Comments

The Vignelli Canon


I feel that it's a good idea to take pointers from a guy who has done an incredible job of designing basically everything. From graphic design, to fashion, architecture, furniture, kitchenware and more, Massimo Vignelli has revolutionized the way in which we think about "design," and how it can live in every aspect of our day-to-day lives.

I recently watched the documentary, Design is One, and took away a lot of great insights that I hope to implement into my own design process.

Design is not art. It serves a utilitarian purpose. Although Massimo made what some would consider to be "art," he definitely did not see it as that. For him, there is an underlying structural formula to everything he created. His design work was the result of a tried and true process involving a rigid grid system to determine the spacial relationships of different elements in his compositions. His aim was to visually communicate in the most effective way possible, and to create products for ease of use. It almost seems like the beauty of the objects he created was a side effect. I find that pretty fascinating.

Leave your ego out of it. The task of the designer should be iteration to society, not to their own ego. The ego should be happy when you have done a job that is useful to everyone.

If you can't find it, design it. Pretty self-explanatory. We are surrounded by ugly things, and sometimes the best solution for this is not to settle, but to make an effort to make things better.

December 22, 2015No Comments

Swiss American


Lately I've been reading about the pioneering designer Josef Müller-Brockmann and his systematic, Swiss approach to design. His strict adherence to a grid and firm understanding of content hierarchy created beautiful and astonishingly effective means of visual communication.

One particular story I enjoyed was his collaboration with Paul Rand. In 1966, Brockmann was the design consultant for IBM in Europe, which was around the time that Rand created the new (and current) IBM identity for the American side of the business. Rand was tasked with implementing the new brand across all branches of IBM and creating an overall style guide for the entire company to follow. This was a particularly difficult challenge, because different countries had different styles they liked to adhere to, and most found Rand's style to be brash and too unrestricted, and therefore hard to effectively follow.

In order to remedy this situation, Rand met and collaborated with his European IBM design counterpart, Brockmann, to learn about his theories and applications of the rigid and efficient Swiss grid system. Paul's bold, Brooklyn-born style along with Brockmann's diligent and efficient Swiss grid system helped shape a new era of design with the mass implementation of IBM's identity. It remains a pinnacle of a successful, effective, systematic visual communication to this day.

I really enjoyed reading about this, because it shows that even the titans in the design industry have room to grow and learn through collaboration. I also love the idea of Rand's bold and vibrant design sensibilities being put into a reproducible context through the smart system of Brockmann's grids. Pretty inspiring stuff.

November 13, 2015No Comments

Thoughts on Design


While I do enjoy reading quite a bit, the subjects I tend to gravitate to aren't very educational in nature. It's mostly sci-fi and fantasy novels about space exploration, time travel, intergalactic spaceship battles, etc etc. I've recently decided to start peppering some non-fiction books into my reading list so that I can start learning and growing more, especially in the field of design.

The first book I've chosen for this endeavor is Paul Rand's Thoughts on Design (probably something I should have read long, long ago. But better late than never, right?). It's very short, but full of insights on effective use of visual hierarchy, color theory, typography, the successful marriage of type, shape, and form, and much more. It was also a great reminder of the power the designer has on the viewer in terms of where to look, what to learn, how to digest and what to do with the content presented to them.

Overall, it is a book full of commentary on the basic principles of design, and it's been a great and refreshing read.


October 30, 2015No Comments

Sun Structures

I discovered Temples' Sun Structures album only a few months ago, but it has quickly gained a position as one of my top 10 favorite albums ever. I am forever grateful for bands like this, who apparently just decide to sit down and say "Ok, let's write some music tailored specifically to the tastes of this dude named Colin. Never met him, but I found him on Twitter and he seems like a cool guy or whatever."

So very nice of them.

October 6, 2015No Comments

Project Apollo Archive

I just came across 10,000, 1,800DPI, unedited original images from the Apollo missions on Flickr. For the foreseeable future, this is now where I will be spending a large amount of my spare Internet time.


Mankind has accomplished some pretty amazing feats in its existence, but our endeavors into space will forever be a source of awe for me.

Apparently, more images will be added over time. You can track progress on the Project Apollo Archive Facebook page.

October 1, 2015No Comments

Tools of the Trade

I've been wanting to try the 53 Pencil for quite a while now, but haven't had anything with a touch-screen big enough to warrant its purchase. Then one fateful day about a week ago, I upgraded to the iPhone 6s and got a really good deal on an iPad. Rejoice, for now I wield the mighty walnut deliverer of digital sketches.


Overall it's great. It works with all of the Adobe apps on iOS (Draw, Brush, etc.), along with the 53 app. It's nice and pressure-sensitive, and it feels great in your hand. Obviously it's easier to use on the iPad, but the experience on the considerably smaller-screen phone is still really fun.

I'm looking forward to utilizing this for a variety of projects; from logo sketches to site wireframes to print ads.

And for stuff like this:


September 17, 2015No Comments

Design & Space

"And so it came to pass; Two of Colin's greatest loves would physically come together to form a perfect union."


Recently, I had the pleasure of being a funder of the 1975 NASA Graphic Standards reissue on Kickstarter. It features the iconic "worm" logo and instructions on its application to all of NASA's various spacecraft, apparel, and more. It's been a long time since I've been so excited about a book.

September 11, 2015No Comments

No No No

Beirut released their new album a few days ago, and I've had it on repeat ever since. The single "No No No" is particularly good:

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