Symbolic Logo

Week 5 of the online Design History course we were studying cross-cultural symbols. As an activity we were to create a logo for a company that shipped freight internationally. I am not yet proficient with whipping a logo out in just an hour or two, but I see this as more practice. The idea was to use symbols that would be understood across cultures and language barriers. I was going for shipping over sea, air, and land. We were to do 3 thumbnails and then create a logo from one of them.

Now that I look at it, I see that I sort of morphed it into something new. Still got an A (he is not grading creativity… just understanding of the concepts we are studying.)

Social Messages

While the ground classes were locked down because of the ice storm, online was plowing ahead. However, fear of losing the internet pushed me to race through my homework and get it in early just in case!

This assignment was to create a magazine cover that addresses a social message. I went for one close to my heart, homeless teens in Indianapolis.

While the photos were not my own, I did change them to be less photographic and I rendered the Indy skyline in Illustrator using the pen tool. I also added a bit of timely humor with the final bullet point. This was done quickly and I can see several things I would change, but the only suggestion the teacher had was that there was too much empty space a the bottom. My mind was seeing Psychology, Medical or topic magazines as an example, as opposed to Martha Stewart, People, etc., and they have more “white space”.

Here is the project overview: Garvin_W4A2_Report

And the final layout:

Ice Storm!!!

The first week of Feb. I think we had an ice storm that beat all within living memory. It also closed down school for a few days, which gave me my first break this quarter. It was a hugely welcome break, but I ended up working harder busting up ice on the driveway. We had 6 – 8 inches of sleet/ice on every level surface. This stuff was hard as rock. My brother was even able to drive a tractor on top of it!

The most harrowing part was using a mallet to bust 4 inches plus of ice off of Lainey’s new Lexus. It makes me shudder even now and has made me determined to tear down my studio in the garage so she can bring the car inside next winter. All three of us worked hard on the drive just to clear a path. Then it snowed. The sky just kept on giving.

That ice stayed around and was a hassle for 2 weeks before unseasonably warm days (50 – 65F) worked their magic on it. If it hadn’t, the piles would have stayed until Spring!

Week 3 Field Trip

This week the field trip was to choose a poster at

I chose Rosie the Riveter and learned much more than you might imagine! This poster actually has some very interesting facts surrounding it! This research may be the moment where I fell in love with posters in relationship with art history. Fascinating!

J. Howard Miller (ca. 1915–ca. 1990)
Westinghouse for War Production Coordinating Committee
We Can Do It!  ca. 1942
55.9 x 43.2 cm (22 x 17 in.)
National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Retrieved from:

Rosie the Riveter – even though she was not originally an icon of my era, I grew up very familiar with this particular image of her because it was re-discovered in the 1970s and then given the title of “Rosie the Riveter”. Something interesting is that the woman whose photo was used in this photolithograph only worked at a factory for 2 weeks and then quit to find a job at a counter in a store for safety reasons. She also did not know she was the woman in this poster until much later in life and then insisted that she was not really Rosie when people would call her that. She lived into her 80s signing posters and happy to have been an unwitting part of history.  She passed away in the final week of 2010.

This poster was originally used by Westinghouse to encourage women to work in the factories and support the war effort.  In 1970 it was resurrected, called “Rosie the Riveter”, and became an icon of the feminist movement.

The style looks like it draws its influence from the “Poster Style (Plakatstil)”. It uses flat colors and is simplified in style. This style was starting up in Europe prior to the war and was a fresh look following the flowing lines and detail of the Art Nouveau posters.

Incidentally, the real Rosie was painted by Norman Rockwell for the Saturday Evening Post to commemorate the women helping with the war effort. She was a real riveter and her feet are on a copy of Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography/ideology.

Retrieved from:

The Boston Globe.

Week 3 Web Quest

The Harper’s Illuminated and New Pictorial Bible – a huge event in printing mentioned in our reading caught my attention so I looked up more information about it. This site explains it and shows some pictures.

Here are some more photos:

Fonts In Use –

This is a fun site that allows you to look up a typeface and then see examples of where it is used and other pertinent information. Since we are studying and using Helvetica to design in my Adv. Typography class, the author’s rant on the boring design of Helvetica caught my attention:

How Stuff Works: Stone Lithography –

This is a wonderful demonstration of how stone lithography is created. You can watch a master lithographer at work to see the whole process.

The Artists –

A site for anyone interested in art movements and artists. You can search by the artist’s name or the movement for more information.

For example, if you search for “art nouveau” then you get a listing of artists in that time period. It is a very good reference site.

Just for the fun of it:

Typography for Lawyers:


The Design History class has been studying posters and this week we were to design one that announces a social event. I used my own photography and manipulated it in Illustrator.  I then sampled the photo colors to make the background. We were not being graded on creativity, rather if we can get the information across clearly and concisely.

Field Trip – Bodoni Typeface

Typography by Alex Smith

Image retrieved from

For my online typographic Field Trip, I chose the above poster, which uses the Bodoni typeface . Bodoni was designed after the work of Giambattista Bodoni, an 18th century typographer. I like the typeface and decided it would be interesting to learn more about it.

Image retrieved from

For one, it is definitely a readable, Modern, serif type. There are many versions of this typeface as typographers have reworked it over the years. Some versions of it degrade when used in body copy, but there are a few fonts that can be used in body copy as well as headings, posters, etc.

We are all used to using Times New Roman, so in comparison, this serif typeface is smaller and more condensed. When analyzing the font you can see there is a distinct difference in the serifs with the Bodini serifs being crisp and direct, more flat (slab) and without brackets. Also the ears remind me of Pluto’s ears!

Funny, but now that I have made that association it has stuck in my head. Doesn’t the ear on the “g” above look like Pluto’s ear below? They may have even used a version of Bodoni in the text of Pluto’s name. Even though the O is fatter, it still looks pretty close, even as it is styled. Now I am going to be looking at Disney characters to see if they derive some inspiration from typography.

I think this typeface is saying “I am easy on the eyes, clean and crisp. What you see is what you get, no surprises.” It is a very up-front typeface.  This would be used in a design that is meant to be easily read and understood with no hidden agenda. Advertising is a good use of this typeface.  You might be surprised at how often you’ve seen it and never realized it. As an example: Bodoni has been used in posters such as the one for Mamma Mia!

Magazine Layout

Since this week was about typography, we were required to create a magazine layout consciously using type.  I could not help it, it was such fun creating my calendar a few weeks prior, that I reached into the work I had done with the vintage children’s books and went from there. So if this looks familiar, it is because it is similar to one of my calendar pages and plays off the book “The House that Jack Built” from The Gutenburg Project (a site I have fallen in love with!) However, it was not a previously created homework piece! I want to be very clear on that!

For a full description of the project, feel free to click on the pdf link:


Web Quest – Typography

This week’s topics were lettering /typefaces and one of my favorite type foundries has to be Hoefler & Frere Jones. I have researched and written a paper on them in the past. For those of you who are not designers, you might be surprised to learn that the computer generated text you read is usually a very expensive font designed at a type foundry.  That font was paid for by the software company in order for them to include it in your package for your use.

Some of those typefaces (a collection of fonts in one family) are inspired by old, hand rendered type from centuries ago and others are more recent such as Arial and Helvetica. There is a whole fascinating history around the topic of typography and it can be mesmerizing how typography impacts history (or maybe that is just the geeky graphic designer in me showing up.)

Hoefler & Frere Jones:

This is a professional type foundry. This is the type of company you would hire if you were setting out to create a brand for your own company. They have designed fonts specifically for brands such as Martha Stewart Living, Wired, and President Obama.

I especially like the numbers fonts they put out such as the Greenback, based on the look of our American dollar. They also suggest a font that goes well with it, as if you are choosing a wine to compliment your dinner!

You can even test drive their fonts. Example:

Expect to pay for a font from them if you want to keep it. Numbers alone is $129 for a single computer user, but you can price it out for up to 50 users.

Font: a single style in a typeface such as what you are reading here.  Another font using the same typeface would be Times New Roman Bold. You thought you were just making the lettering darker, but in fact, you are using another font!

Typeface: a collection of fonts in one style such as Arial: Arial bold, Arial italics, Arial Narrow.

Right or wrong, these terms are often used interchangeably and I find myself guilty as charged.

Web Quest – Vintage and Retro

One of the things we do in Design History each week is a search for good online links that relate to that week’s lecture material. Those I find interesting I will include in a post each week.

Graphic Design from the 1920s and 1930s in Travel Ephemera

This is an online gallery of a personal collection of travel ephemera. It is an astounding group of images by a person who has spent nearly 20 years collecting old posters and travel related pieces as he has traveled around the world. What I find very fun about the site is the joy that the creator obviously feels in the world of old ephemera. It is an amazing site I would recommend bookmarking for future reference!

Smashing Magazine: Celebration of Vintage and Retro Design

Smashing Magazine itself is something I recommend to any designer who wants to keep up with current trends and design related content.  However, this is a wonderful writeup with excellent photos of vintage and retro design. Some of the designs in this particular collection are more modern, but reflect a vintage style. It is a “celebration of retro and vintage design — ads, illustrations, book covers, pins and posters from 1920-1980s.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Egyptian section

I love this location for an overall research location with a historical background. I love art and I love history and this site has been tremendously helpful when I am looking for a specific timeline or image examples from an era or people group such as the Egyptians.  It covers a lot of ground including Asia.

They also have a resource link list that is helpful: