B–Log

The B–Log won't keep you long; everything not essential to the point will be deleted. Because, after all, the B–Log is written by a graphic designer. Graphic designers love reduction.

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Blog Post 03 – 07.11.2019

In Defence of Stretchy Letters

Typography Illustration for Lucas Bells Graphic Design Blog Post

Image: A screenshot of lettering being manually stretched in photoshop. Motion blur has been added to the bottom of the "B" to increase the epic drama of rule-breaking.

"Don't stretch your letters,"was one of the first take-aways I had from my design education. We were taught that designers do not grab text by the anchor-points and pull, and that lettering is not to be molded, like clay; it is to be pasted, like a sticker.

I, like my peers, subscribed to this rule, and used fonts right out of the box. Our designs were neat and tidy, and everything was going well, until I realized that not everyone plays by the rules, and stretchy letters save lives.

The most practical example of stretchy letters is on our roads. It took a while before I started to notice, but the arrows, symbols, and letters on our roads, are actually two to three times the height we expected them to be.

Most of the time, the things we read are on still, flat surfaces at eye level, like a book or a computer screen. But when we take that surface, place it at a low angle, and drive over it at 50 kilometres an hour, we can't read anything. That was the problem which lead to the innovation of stretched road lettering.

The width:height ratio of  road lettering is intentionally skewed vertically to maximize the visible surface area from low angles. People rarely notice this detail because, from the angle of the oncoming driver, the letters look normal, and perfectly legible.

In these circumstances, the functionality of the lettering has been prioritized over aesthetics. And although this wonky formatting may not follow the typographic rules prescribed by design instructors, it helps get the right message across quickly and clearly–something designers and design teachers will agree is very important in any piece of design.

Clear messaging on our roads means that drivers will know, in advance, that they should change lanes because the lane they are in is “bus only”, or they should change course because they're about to turn the “wrong way” down a one-way street.

This increase in road safety is thanks to the person who decided that things would be a little better if the letters were stretched taller.

To all of the designers breaking the rules in the name of functionality and safety, I say:

Tilt your screen flat to continue reading legibly. █

Blog Post 02 – 05.01.2019

The Modern Logo

Logo Illustration for Lucas Bells Graphic Design Blog Post

Image: This is a custom designed hat that my partner Alexa gifted to me. I always wanted a red hat with a little logo on it. How would your favourite logo looked stitched onto a hat? Would it be possible? Do you think whoever designed this logo considered it being stitched to a hat one day?

The modern logo is a hard-working piece of design. It is a performer. It is a storyteller. It is somewhat of a travelling salesperson–a good-looking, well-spoken salesperson who works 24 hours a day, all year. A logo is undoubtably one of the most important resources a business can have. But (other than good-looking) what does the modern logo need to be?

I believe the modern logo needs to be three things: versatile, simple, and evocative.

Versatility is key for all logos in our modern, digital age. The modern logo is seen on digital and print products of all shapes, sizes, materials, and textures, from jumbotrons and smartwatches to city busses and shoe inserts. Design has never before competed in such a vast arena. A logo needs to perform flawlessly in every situation it’s asked to be in.

Simple logos help ensure versatility; the more detail a logo has, the more likely it is to run into problems down the line. A detailed logo may look good on a computer display, but one day that logo may be screen-printed, sculpted into a sandcastle, or crunched down into a little favicon (~6mm2). Less detail in the logo means less detail being missed or misinterpreted by our machines.

Logos can just be beautiful marks, but they can also tell stories. Designers use visual language to add underlying meaning to their designs: triangles evoke power, squares evoke precision –and so on. Tailoring how a logo reads is sometimes disregarded in favour of achieving a popular aesthetic. But loading our logos with meaning is worth the effort. Logos must be designed to evoke the right message, on our behalf, when we are not present to speak for ourselves.

A versatile, simple logo that evokes meaning is a graphic triumph, and it’s a lot of work. To reach this goal, designers must curb their visual biases, and, instead, focus on the practicality and functionality of their designs, asking themselves, “is this going to work?” in every step of their process.  In our modern age, a logo can not get by on good looks, alone. █

Blog Post 01 – 04.15.2019

Manifesto

Design Illustration for Lucas Bells Graphic Design Blog Post

Image: This is a 14"(d) plastic drum head. It was used as a canvas to test paints and practice brush techniques while painting a pair of much larger drum heads. I love this drum because it illustrates the time one spends failing at something before finally conquering it.

The B–Log is the ‘B-Side’ of a creative practice. It’s the slow jams, the deep cuts, and the stuff that fills the other pages of a sketchbook.

It's an artist’s reflections an epiphanies. It's short stories about creativity and its parts. The B–Log is a seemingly essential addition to my creative practice, I realize, because it no longer suffices to simply create things and move on.

The B–Log is curated for graphic designers and the like. It's for anyone who fancies a reflection about a font, rounded boxes, logos, or.. you get the point.

The B–Log won't keep you long; everything not essential to the point will be deleted. Because, after all, the B–Log is written by a graphic designer. Graphic designers love reduction. █

Are you searching for a designer? Say hello, any time.