Over the years I’ve been able able to amass a pile of illustrations for Block Club magazine. It’s one of the things I most like about the field I work in—I get to take a piece of someone’s story and turn it into a thing. It may sometimes be heavy on the graphical side and sometimes it might be more abstract. On occasion it’s fairly straight forward. It’s always there to help push the story along. I find it interesting how we border the written words and the visual representation that accompany each story. ;)
-Tim

I am utterly in love with The Talks, a site full of interviews with some of Hollywood’s most elite mouths. People you actually want to sit down with, whose thoughts aren’t vapid, or strictly business, or just as boring as so many celebrity interviews you read. This is prime stuff. They’re conversations, honest and candid (if we are to believe; this is still Hollywood, after all), and full of life.

Its founders are two childhood friends whose work for pubs like GQ, Elle and Vogue landed them the kicks to go after heavy-hitters like Meryl, Jack (JACK!), Murray and Tyson, to name just a few. According to this Forbes interview, some of these are scraps from older interviews they’ve done, which as any editor or writer will tell you, are often the best nuggets of copy. Just because a published story doesn’t have room to fit the anecdote about your wild dalliance with so-and-so, or your true feelings about such-and-such, doesn’t mean it’s not good copy.

Find your way through this site and sit down for a read you’re not likely to find in too many places. This is good stuff.

-Ben

P.S. That the site is funded by Rolex is curious, as I had previously thought it was a Rolex promotional site, which while not a bad thing, deflating my journalistic idealism just a little. Apparently, it’s a Rolex-funded original idea from the site’s founders. Either way, smart plan for getting good journalism funded.

Images courtesy The Talk, and their respective sources.

I spent the last week of August in Paris, which was, exactly as I had dreamed: totally beautiful, inspiring and just magnifique. There are the just-dusty-enough cafés, the impeccably dressed people, the ridiculously cheap wine and the gorgeous displays of food. More than anything, I loved wandering around our neighborhood, through the winding streets of my favorite color palette (gray with hints of slightly warmer gray) passing all of the storefronts, some of them charming, some of them terrifyingly chic and some of them, well, doner kebab.
What delighted me most was how much hand lettered signage there was. I haven’t been to a city where it was quite this ubiquitous, and it really affected the feel of the city overall. Despite the differences from arrondissement to arrondissement, the lettering remained and it gave the city as a whole a sort of visual camaraderie, a certain aesthetic agreement. For better or worse (even for a lover of lettering, it’s true that some lettering is better than others), each storefront felt on an even playing field and in a time when we are bombarded with neon and metal and backlighting and “look over here! me! me! me!”, it was refreshing, understated and easy on the eyes.
I was so excited to hear that Christian Shaknaitis's Brush & Pounce moved to Buffalo recently and is doing hand painted signs in the traditional way. With so much on the horizon here, in a city that is filling up everyday, I can’t wait to see it start popping up more and more as I wander neighborhoods closer to home.
- Julie
Macintosh 128k Paula Scher's infamous Swatch ad from 1984 next to Herbert Matter's classic design.
I turned 30 this past weekend, so naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time. Looking back at the world I was born into through the lens of 2014, it really looks like ancient history (which is not exactly making me feel better about getting older). This particular anniversary also has some intriguing crossovers with design and technology that I’ve been pondering recently.
On the day that Apple is announcing its sixth version of the iPhone, it’s interesting to note that Macintosh computers also recently turned 30. Steve Jobs and Co. unveiled the world’s first mass-market personal computer, the Macintosh 128k, in 1984 via a big budget hollywood style TV commercial directed by Ridley Scott, hot off the success of “Blade Runner.” The commercial looked like it could have been a deleted scene from that famous dystopian sci-fi flick as it depicted citizens of George Orwell’s “1984”, a gray-faced society of drones, marching single file towards similarly Orwellian looking monitors to receive a light brainwashing from “Big Brother.” The heroine of the advert, a sexy metaphor for Apple’s Macintosh, rushes in to smash Big Brother’s telescreen with a sledgehammer, proclaiming that the actual year 1984 won’t be like Orwell’s grim prediction after all, thanks to the liberating power of the Mac.

There is no doubt that 30 years later, the introduction of the PC can be seen as a huge turning point in countless arenas, especially the field of graphic design. That iconic TV commercial is also rather interesting food for thought this week though as millions of people around the world are lining up to buy the latest offering from Apple, all in the age of data mining, government espionage, PRISM, targeted advertising, Google, and Facebook.
On a lighter note, here’s some snapshots of what our world looked like 30 years ago. 
-Ryan
Color is such an important aspect of creative work that it certainly surprises many when they find out that an artist such as myself doesn’t see it as it is. Being colorblind has definitely made designing interesting. (And no, I don’t only see in black and white.) What I see is like taking an image in Photoshop and turning down the saturation 15 percent mixed with selecting all the red in that image and changing it to green. 
You might be thinking, “That’s strange, but can’t you just put colors together until you find something that looks good?” 
I wish. How can someone correctly identify what colors play with each other well and what colors don’t when they can’t see those colors perfectly in the first place? Finding inspiration to pull colors together in a coherent manner can be difficult for those with a slight color deficiency. Sure, it’s easy to “borrow” colors from successful designs and make them work, but that’s not what design is about in my opinion. I don’t want to make the old work. I want to bring fresh ideas to the table. 
For me, it is all about finding inspiration in the things you love and working with the colors inherent to those activities. Pulling colors from warm summer nights with my friends around a campfire or frigid windy mountain tops at a ski resort keep my colors working together and feeling fresh. 
And hey, CMYK values aren’t that hard to remember either, right? 
-Tyler 
Image by colorblind artist Yoav Brill

Color is such an important aspect of creative work that it certainly surprises many when they find out that an artist such as myself doesn’t see it as it is. Being colorblind has definitely made designing interesting. (And no, I don’t only see in black and white.) What I see is like taking an image in Photoshop and turning down the saturation 15 percent mixed with selecting all the red in that image and changing it to green. 

You might be thinking, “That’s strange, but can’t you just put colors together until you find something that looks good?” 
I wish. How can someone correctly identify what colors play with each other well and what colors don’t when they can’t see those colors perfectly in the first place? Finding inspiration to pull colors together in a coherent manner can be difficult for those with a slight color deficiency. Sure, it’s easy to “borrow” colors from successful designs and make them work, but that’s not what design is about in my opinion. I don’t want to make the old work. I want to bring fresh ideas to the table. 
For me, it is all about finding inspiration in the things you love and working with the colors inherent to those activities. Pulling colors from warm summer nights with my friends around a campfire or frigid windy mountain tops at a ski resort keep my colors working together and feeling fresh. 
And hey, CMYK values aren’t that hard to remember either, right? 
-Tyler 
Image by colorblind artist Yoav Brill
Picking color schemes for a project can sometimes prove to be a monumental situation, and super easy at other times. A particular color scheme acts a certain way and should evoke certain feelings from a consumer. When combining colors together to create a palette of colors creates an over arching tone for the brand and helps to guide the consumer in their choice.
Now try doing this stuff for your house?!?
I’m in the midst of getting my house painted and besides finding the right people to do it for a fair price, I’d say picking out a set of colors that you have to live with for a little while is certainly one of—if not the—hardest choice in picking color swatches I’ve ever come across.
I currently reside in a home that is literally one color. The darkest, ugliest shade of evergreen I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I cannot wait until the color is gone forever but what colors to change it to?
I’ve snapped some photos of color schemes from some homes in my neighborhood and a couple I’ve found through the internets that I find inspiring. I guess I need to figure out what my house’s brand story is and move in that direction. Only thing is I’ve got one concept to present and it better work.
Fingers crossed.
-Tim
I like to check the comedy blog Splitsider for updates on various media, such as their news on SNL cast changes, The Daily Show recaps and what’s happening in late-night. It’s not only informative but funny, as one would hope. During lunch I caught this great quote from comedian Patton Oswalt, as featured in Time Magazine, on, as Splitsider explains, “why he took a break from all social media this summer and plans to do it again next year.” I know Oswalt’s work only passingly, but have seen him on many roundtable and pundit shows, too. He’s a smart guy, as you can see in this little nugget of smarts:
"Maybe it’s because this younger generation doesn’t have the demarcation we have—of a world before cell phones and then after. It was always there for them. So it’s not a novelty. And thus has less power. They don’t remember the endorphin rush of sudden connectivity, like when people my age first logged onto dial-up Internet and, after 10 minutes, sheepishly searched for their own name. Or the first time we received an email. And when those things happened on our phones? It was like the apes touching the monolith at the beginning of 2001."
-Ben
Image courtesy Boston.com.

I like to check the comedy blog Splitsider for updates on various media, such as their news on SNL cast changes, The Daily Show recaps and what’s happening in late-night. It’s not only informative but funny, as one would hope. During lunch I caught this great quote from comedian Patton Oswalt, as featured in Time Magazine, on, as Splitsider explains, “why he took a break from all social media this summer and plans to do it again next year.” I know Oswalt’s work only passingly, but have seen him on many roundtable and pundit shows, too. He’s a smart guy, as you can see in this little nugget of smarts:

"Maybe it’s because this younger generation doesn’t have the demarcation we have—of a world before cell phones and then after. It was always there for them. So it’s not a novelty. And thus has less power. They don’t remember the endorphin rush of sudden connectivity, like when people my age first logged onto dial-up Internet and, after 10 minutes, sheepishly searched for their own name. Or the first time we received an email. And when those things happened on our phones? It was like the apes touching the monolith at the beginning of 2001."

-Ben

Image courtesy Boston.com.

You, Your Operating System and Porn

Browsing through Fast Company, I stumbled upon a post all about your operating system and porn. Turns out, the device you’re (getting off) on says a lot about your stamina. Who would have thought Black Berry users have the best stamina? They spend an average of 11 minutes and 53 seconds per visit checking out their favorite videos. Fascinating! 

-Patrick

Image courtesy Pornhub.
You, Your Operating System and Porn
Browsing through Fast Company, I stumbled upon a post all about your operating system and porn. Turns out, the device you’re (getting off) on says a lot about your stamina. Who would have thought Black Berry users have the best stamina? They spend an average of 11 minutes and 53 seconds per visit checking out their favorite videos. Fascinating! 
-Patrick
Image courtesy Pornhub.
What? Hello Kitty isn’t a cat?!

So it turns out Hello Kitty isn’t a cat. Confused? You should be.

The multi-billion dollar industry that surrounds this cat animated character has had us fooled all along. Hello Kitty’s feline appearance is a “kind of abstraction,” according to its official curator at the company that owns the character. 

I’m heading to Japan, the land of Hello Kitty, this November and I’ll report back with my findings. 

-Patrick

Image courtesy Cute Overload.
What? Hello Kitty isn’t a cat?!
So it turns out Hello Kitty isn’t a cat. Confused? You should be.
The multi-billion dollar industry that surrounds this cat animated character has had us fooled all along. Hello Kitty’s feline appearance is a “kind of abstraction,” according to its official curator at the company that owns the character. 
I’m heading to Japan, the land of Hello Kitty, this November and I’ll report back with my findings. 
-Patrick
Image courtesy Cute Overload.
Block Club was just mentioned in New York Magazine and we couldn’t be more excited! 

From writer Edna Ishayik: “Get into the nouveau–Rust Belt psyche by checking out the latest issue of Block Club’s beautifully designed magazine. The branding and marketing firm employs pretty much the coolest kids in town, and its quarterly publications take on issues both weighty and fun-loving.”
 
Thanks New York Magazine! We love you, too!
 
Read the full story and all of their tips for enjoying a great getaway and summer in Buffalo.

-Block Club
Block Club was just mentioned in New York Magazine and we couldn’t be more excited! 
From writer Edna Ishayik: Get into the nouveau–Rust Belt psyche by checking out the latest issue of Block Club’s beautifully designed magazine. The branding and marketing firm employs pretty much the coolest kids in town, and its quarterly publications take on issues both weighty and fun-loving.”
 
Thanks New York Magazine! We love you, too!
 
Read the full story and all of their tips for enjoying a great getaway and summer in Buffalo.
-Block Club
As the weekend approaches, my mind—and I suspect many people’s minds—begins to wander towards thoughts of the myriad delicious adult refreshments that I could be enjoying in the coming evenings.
As a designer, beer drinker and full-time hell-raiser, the marketing of these products has always fascinated me, now more so than ever with the craft beer revolution in full swing. This explosion of micro-breweries has created an unfathomably competitive market with thousands of major players where the look of your product is somehow even more paramount than it always is in any other market. Your bottle label now has to tell a complete narrative about where your beer came from, how it was made, what kind of values your brewery holds et cetera in order to inform would-be consumers awash in a ocean of craft beer to choose from and inspire them to pick your sixer over the others on the shelf. That sure sounds like the perfect recipe for some really cool packaging design and marketing to me. 

In my opinion, one company who is really championing this idea and successfully executing it with the utmost in taste and elegance is the Spoetzl Brewery, the Texan producers of Shiner Beer. They are a long-standing player in the craft beer game with roots dating back to the turn of the century (and I mean the 20th century) but they recently had a bit of an identity crisis following some big expansion which caused them to fall out of favor with the modern beer drinker and his obsession with small craft microbrews.
In a stroke of brilliance, they hired the amazing Austin-based agency McGarrah Jessee to completely refresh their brand and rethink everything from their logo to product development and put together a fully integrated advertising campaign—totally a dream job for me (I can think of a few Buffalo breweries I’d love to have a crack at). The results they came up with are beautiful, elegant, successful and, most importantly, delicious (the Wild Hare IPA is a personal favorite). One look at any of their beers or the marketing collateral built around them and you instantly get the following facts about Shiner loud and clear: a) It’s definitely from Texas; b) It’s also somehow German (think Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz); c) It’s been around for a really long time and has a rich, proud history, d) It’s clearly not made by a corporate giant; and e) It’s super cool/hip/modern/exciting/and probably a really great beer. All that in a beer label. Now that’s good design!  

You can see McGarrah Jessee’s complete campaign for Shiner here, or you can dive right into the awesome web experience they designed for them, complete with full-frame video, gorgeous environmental product photography, and all the things that really get us hot & bothered here at Block Club. 
Prost!

-Ryan
When Tim and I give our How to Launch Your Design Career Clubtalk for students I spend a huge part of it blathering on and on about the importance of having designy side projects and then presenting those side projects to your prospective boss with the same care as your professional work to show off the above and beyond, most passionate side of your designer self. So often overlooked by students who are too busy just getting through school, or who don’t see their personal work as worthy, thoughtful and beautifully executed personal projects are one of the most effective ways to stand out in the sea of other design students vying for the job. This is especially true in a smaller city like Buffalo where everyone is from the same schools and all the same projects are being churned out one after the other.

But what about once you’re working full-time? Freelancing full-time? Suddenly creative side projects take on a whole new importance when you have a brain full of deadlines and checklists. It’s all too easy to become so drawn into the day-to-day that you lose the creative energy to make something else after the workday ends, and I’m certainly guilty of falling into that trap at times. But I’ve found that devoting the time to cultivating my personal creative pursuits and blurring that line between work and play, even on those days that it can be tough to motivate myself to pick up the pencil again at home, is one of the biggest keys to success. Not only does it sharpen my skills, it also helps to recharge my right brain, enriching the ultra-creative projects I am lucky to do at my job with new ideas and making those unavoidable days of text formatting or data merging a little easier. It’s also fun to test yourself and see just where your brain will go on its own, without feedback or deadlines.

In my creative spare time, I tend to do illustration work, which is not my strongest skill, so in doing more of it, I build confidence to try new things at work. Most importantly, it makes me feel happy, so that’s awesome.

Many of my fellow Block Clubbers have exciting and fruitful side projects that bring them happiness and help to make them even more amazing team members. And City Dining Cards basically started as a side project of Block Club, proving that you never know when a great idea for a project might take off.

So what’s your next project?

-Julie
When Tim and I give our How to Launch Your Design Career Clubtalk for students I spend a huge part of it blathering on and on about the importance of having designy side projects and then presenting those side projects to your prospective boss with the same care as your professional work to show off the above and beyond, most passionate side of your designer self. So often overlooked by students who are too busy just getting through school, or who don’t see their personal work as worthy, thoughtful and beautifully executed personal projects are one of the most effective ways to stand out in the sea of other design students vying for the job. This is especially true in a smaller city like Buffalo where everyone is from the same schools and all the same projects are being churned out one after the other.
But what about once you’re working full-time? Freelancing full-time? Suddenly creative side projects take on a whole new importance when you have a brain full of deadlines and checklists. It’s all too easy to become so drawn into the day-to-day that you lose the creative energy to make something else after the workday ends, and I’m certainly guilty of falling into that trap at times. But I’ve found that devoting the time to cultivating my personal creative pursuits and blurring that line between work and play, even on those days that it can be tough to motivate myself to pick up the pencil again at home, is one of the biggest keys to success. Not only does it sharpen my skills, it also helps to recharge my right brain, enriching the ultra-creative projects I am lucky to do at my job with new ideas and making those unavoidable days of text formatting or data merging a little easier. It’s also fun to test yourself and see just where your brain will go on its own, without feedback or deadlines.
In my creative spare time, I tend to do illustration work, which is not my strongest skill, so in doing more of it, I build confidence to try new things at work. Most importantly, it makes me feel happy, so that’s awesome.
Many of my fellow Block Clubbers have exciting and fruitful side projects that bring them happiness and help to make them even more amazing team members. And City Dining Cards basically started as a side project of Block Club, proving that you never know when a great idea for a project might take off.
So what’s your next project?
-Julie