Designers Block

Artemy Lebedev
§ 162. Designer’s block
February 16, 2010


Let’s run a simple experiment. Try saying out loud without pausing all the words you know (or ask a friend to do that). The first ten words would be no problem. Then you’d start looking around and naming things in the room—perhaps ten more. Then you’d be able to recall a handful of peculiar words from the back of your vocabulary. And then you would run out of words and stop.


If you were to describe in your own words any known phenomenon, you’d have no lack of words. One person would give a good description, another might do worse—that would determine each performer’s skill level. But none could get stuck for words in the middle of a simple narrative.


Designer’s block may only occur if a designer deliberately aims to create something original and extraordinary.


There is no way to think up an original and extraordinary design—it can only come as a result of pursuing a given task. In the same way running down a list of words is different from making a narrative.


Designer’s block is the dead end of a pointless journey.

"Even no order is order"

“There is an exercise I had students do. There would be two tables in a room, and we would videotape what went on. One table would be piled with junk, and the other table would be vacant. The instructions to the students were to move the junk to the table and organize it, and we would observe their ordering system. There are so many ways to organize things, but it’s so basic to art—how do you put a structure on seemingly random information? […] Even no order is an order.” John Baldessari curates the first “Ways of Seeing” show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Listen to Baldessari’s interview with assistant curator Kristen Hileman.


Can I be green and surf the net?

Every time you go online you increase your carbon footprint. Is it possible to be a green surfer?

o Lucy Siegle
o The Observer, Sunday 28 February 2010
o Article history

Somewhere in California (and soon to be in India and possibly Iceland) there are vast tracts of hulking warehouses containing thousands of energy-guzzling servers – it's farming, but not as depicted in The Archers.

Server farms provide the network to transmit websites. They are powered by electricity, predominantly from coal-fired power stations. Add in the energy required to make your PC in the first place and computing is responsible for 1bn tonnes of CO2 each year – more emissions than aviation. In pollution terms, using t'internet could be your equivalent of an Arkwright mill at full throttle during the Industrial Revolution.

Last month some headlines suggested that a Google search generated 7g of CO2 – the same as making a cup of tea. This left the eco-minded home worker in a real quandary: I chose the cup of tea. Later Google corrected this to 0.2g per search. But still, it all adds up.

The latest research suggests that you create 20mg of CO2 per second per visit to a website. The more whistles and bells on the site the higher this gets – up to 300mg of CO2 per second for one with video content. Running an avatar in Second Life uses more electricity than a live person in Brazil. Ask yourself: is this watt necessary?

Employ a spam filter, too. In 2008 an estimated 62 trillion spam emails were sent globally, creating the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3.1m passenger cars.

I know what you're thinking: what's wrong with a reference book? Well, US academics remind us that driving a mile and back to the library produces 100 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a web search. Remaining ignorant is carbon free.


Posted this on my other blog Programcessing this had made me think about me as a designer.

Karsten Schmidt from Etapes on Vimeo.

Use Graphic design as a tool

Grégoire Alix-Tabeling
the “Territoires en Résidences” project

“I am developing “communication design” during my master in the RCA. After a graduation at the ENSAD in Paris I decided to focus on the investigation coming before any brief for graphic design, and use graphic design as a final tool if necessary. A communication designer should be working in collaboration with all types of creator as designers, scientist and politics in order to extract a brief of a situation or a specific context. The “Territoires en résidences”is the perfect example.

Temporary internet explores the idea of how impermanence can be surprisingly meaningful in this context; with each unique visitor, the site destroys a part of itself and will eventually become a blank white page. The idea is that the site constantly exists in a state where it cannot be archived or experienced in its current form except in the very moment.

Some more good advice...

Especially this bit

Butcher's paper is your friend

Lay it around your desk as you work. Take notes, draw little diagrams. Draw screen mock-ups. Pin them on the wall. They won't get lost like pages in your notebook if they are visible in your workplace. Additionally, your process and progress will be visible to other teams.

Colour Theory

#1 It Affects your Mood


Most of us have a favourite colour or prefer some colours over others. This is because can affect our moods so we surround ourselves in the colours that have a positive impact on our mood.

Red can boost your energy, yellow often makes people feel happier, and blue is proven to bring down blood pressure and slow your heart rate which is why it is often associated with being relaxing. If you combine the happiness of yellow and the relaxing feel of blue you get green, a very pleasing colour for many people.

Mental health units are known to use pastel tones on their walls so that patients feel calm, happy, and relaxed. Walls that are beige with a pink tint combined with mint green floors are a popular combination as it is said to create a soothing, harmonious and calm area. At the other end of the spectrum, literally, schools tend to user bright colours that appeal to children.

When choosing colours for your next design it is important to consider how they will combine and sit with the other elements on the page and what impact that will have on the mood of your audience.
#2 Colours Communicate Invisibly

Wassily Kandinsky was one of the first pioneers of colour theory. A renowned Russian painter and art theorist, he is often considered the founder of abstract art. Kandinsky believed the following colours communicate the following qualities:

* Yellow – warm, exciting, happy
* Blue – deep, peaceful, supernatural
* Green – peace, stillness, nature
* White – harmony, silence, cleanliness
* Black – grief, dark, unknown
* Red – glowing, confidence, alive
* Orange – radiant, healthy, serious

#3 Colour has Cultural Significance

Different colours mean different things in different places. This is extremely important for designers to know because without an awareness of the cultural significance of a particular colour, you risk offending your entire target audience.

Purple for example is a colour of mourning in Thailand. In western culture however, it is associated with royalty, luxury, wealth and sometimes magic. The brand colour for Thai Airways is purple. On first glance this seems like a huge error on their part because as mentioned above, purple is a colour of mourning in Thailand.

It is most likely however, that the Thai Airways website isn’t aimed at locals but at tourists, therefore if westerners view the site and see purple it will associate Thai Airways with values such as luxury and comfort.

Other examples are:

* In western cultures black is a colour of mourning
* In Japan however it is a colour of honour, with white the colour of mourning
* Red in the west represents danger, love, passion
* In India it is a colour of purity, in China it is a colour of good luck and in South Africa it is a colour of mourning
* Yellow represents courage in Japan, mourning in Egypt and hope in the West

#4 Colour can be Inspired by our Surroundings


We live in a colourful world, a world that acts as the perfect inspirational trigger for design. The best thing about looking to the environment for design solutions is that the palette is always changing, from autumnal oranges to cold winter blues. So where better to look than out of your window, take in the colours and then apply them to your designs.

Drawing inspiration from nature for your designs also makes you look at the world differently. Normally we whiz by from place to place but you notice the finer details and undiscovered gems when you actually stop to take it in.
#5 Colour has Political Associations


Individual political parties are associated with one colour or another. Depending on whom your audience is, this might prove to be valuable information when designing.

The association between political parties and colours isn’t a new connection but it is often taken for granted. In the UK for example the following pairings exist:

* Labour – Red
* Conservative – Blue
* Liberal Democrats – Yellow
* The Green Party – Green

If a colour is representative of a political party then the values and behaviours that the party is known for can be suggested through the use of this colour.

* Red is often linked to socialism and communism
* White has links to pacifism and the surrender flag. In contrast to this, black is a colour that is used in conjunction with anarchism.
* Working class Nazism is associated with the colour brown as the SA were known as the ‘brownshirts’.

A design with one of these colours as the dominant shade may well hint at a right wing or a left wing preference or at extreme behaviours.
#6 Religion can be Linked to Colours


As with politics, colours are representative of certain religions. So as not to unintentionally offend anyone through your designs, some examples of these colour/religion associations are:

* Green is considered to be the holy colour of Islam
* Judaism is represented by the colour yellow
* In Hinduism, many gods have blue skin
* White is linked to peace across many religions

Again this may only be necessary information if you are designing a site that has specific links to religion but it also emphasises that a thorough knowledge of your audience is a fundamental part of the design process.
#7 Age Affects People’s Colour Preferences

Colour expert Faber Birren carried out many studies into this area and in his book Color Psychology and ColorTherapy, he states that for both genders, blue and red “maintain a high preference throughout life”. He found that yellow is popular with children but as become move into adulthood it shows less popularity. Birren found that “with maturity comes a greater liking for hues of shorter wave length (blue, green, purple) than for hues of longer wave length (red, orange, and yellow)”

Another factor that influences people’s colour preferences is that throughout their life there will be social and cultural changes and this can directly impact on their favourite colours. Some knowledge of what colours certain age ranges prefer can be valuable for designers. If you were designing a website for a toy store or a children’s TV channel, then knowing they prefer bright colours and yellow in particular would help with your design decisions.

Likewise, if you designed a website for a charity whereby the audience was to be the older generation then blue, green or purple might be ideal, based on Birren’s findings.

7 Steps for Systematizing The Design & Build Process

Some good advice

Don’t Make The Switch

Most freelancers start freelancing part-time and stick with it while holding a full-time job. The key reason for this is to make sure there is a regular income you can count on. However, many freelancers get so excited about “being their own boss” and “choosing their own hours” that they end up making the switch without adequately planning their finances. The first and foremost thing that you shouldn’t do while starting out as a freelancer is quit your day job prematurely. This is one of the most repeated points and the reason is simple: you need to make sure your freelance business can support you before you quit your job. If you are new to freelancing and just starting out, hold on to your day job for months, and in some cases years. Do not quit your day job unless you are 100% sure you can earn a living solely on your freelance income. If you find it difficult to manage, take a look at this article for a few tips for freelancing with a full-time job.

Don’t Give Into Temptation

When you start freelancing you’ll see that there are a lot of temptations to deal with. You might want to setup your home office with new computers and furniture just to make it look cool. Heck, you might be doing it just to get yourself seen on Gizmodo. Whether it’s the new gadgets, thousand dollar ergonomic chair or another monitor, make sure there is a legitimate need before diving into these expenses. Keep those temptations in check, it’s better to hold on to that money just in case your freelancing income takes a nose dive next month. That’s the thing about freelancing, sometimes you never know. Hold on to temptations and spend only on things that are a must for you to run your freelance business. Do not give in.

Don’t Be Too Friendly or Personal

This is another one of those things that many new freelancers get sucked into. A new freelancer usually gets excited when landing their first client and may feel that he/she needs to be extra friendly. Friendly is good, but over friendly isn’t. Many new freelancers get a little too comfortable with their clients and may share personal problems among other things. The client might stay while the contract lasts, but a lack of professionalism may eventually drive them away. As a freelancer, you should be friendly but a relationship is always better as a client and freelancer. Do not wreck the client-freelancer relationship by being too personal.

Don’t Forget To Create a Plan

Just because you will be working from home, setting your own hours, and without anyone to answer to doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan for your business. Many freelancers start out great during their early years as freelancers and then fail later on because they didn’t create a plan. Make sure you have a detailed plan that will give you an idea of how you will grow your freelancing business down the road, how you plan to land new clients, and so on. This is one of those critical things that your freelancing business will depend on. Do not forget to create a plan for your freelancing business. Just like any other businesses, a plan for freelancing is a must.

Do Not Procrastinate

Procrastination is a freelancer’s biggest enemy and should be avoided at any cost. As a freelancer you have the luxury of choosing when and where to work, and although this is one of the best outcomes of freelancing, it can also be one of the biggest challenges. Make sure you stay clear from procrastination. I have personally seen many freelancers lose out on some of the biggest gigs simply because they procrastinated and the job was either not completed on time or was not up to what was promised. Do not procrastinate, and make sure to get ahead in the game by doing things when they needs to be done.

Bigger than Barry.

I have been doing the designs for Bigger than Barry in Leeds.

Picture 3








Addicted to the internet

Maybe I need to go to reStart 'an internet addiction recovery program'. I love the internet no denying it, so I took the test and apparently there is 'possible abuse'.
Its also a place for 'Treatment for internet, gaming, texting & video game excessive use'. Maybe its just a place for the mtv, blogging, social networking generation then?

I want to see this film

ART & COPY Trailer from ART & COPY on Vimeo.

Romain Laurent

Some really interesting work from Romain Laurent especially the tilt photography.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

I decided to make a fully functioning font yesterday. I wanted to take elements from some of my favorite fronts. Avenir, belwe mono and the dazed and confused font.
I wanted to make s sleek font using circles and lines with a low x height. I don't kow what to call it yet , its not completely finished as I haven't done any numbers, which I would like to do.

Creative Writing with Charlie Dark

Last Saturday I went to a creative writing workshop, I went with the intention to help me get in the mood for writing my dissertation. The workshop leader was Charlie Dark a dj/musician/poet/writer. It was a 4 hour workshop where we had to write about our favorite place, then refine it, then perform it. It was a creative writing workshop but it kind of became a confidence and networking workshop. I do feel a bit less scared about writing because I always associate writing with school work and essays and exams and I'm not good at it, but the workshop freed me up a bit to be a bit more comfortable. But one of the most important things that came from it was to be confident when presenting your work full stop. He said you have to be confident becuase if you come across badly when presenting your work all that time that went into your work would have gone to waste. He also said that if you want anything done do it yourself, makes sense.

Better late than never...

A bit late but here are most of the business cards that I picked up over the graduation show period. The reasons why I picked up the cards were either that I liked the persons work or their business card was attractive or unusual.

The blue ones on the right were the standard Brighton business cards and on the back they had individual circular stamps that represented them.

This is Camberwell's fold out deck of cards book with each card being a different student.
These are mostly from RCA some amazing things going on there.

Life in the UK.

Recently I have come across a couple of people that have taken or are taking the Life in the UK test, to gain British citizenship. In order to become a UK citizen you have to pass the 24 question test on subjects like these::

Migration to Britain

Children, family and young people


The regions of Britain

Religion and tolerance

Customs and traditions

How the United Kingdom is governed


Services in and for the home

Money and credit




Travel and transport

Looking for work

Equal rights and discrimination

At work

Working for yourself

Childcare and children at work

And answer them in the time limit of 45 minutes. Once you pass that you have to attend a ceremony where you sing the national anthem and get accepted at a British citizen.

Well I want to take this and create my own test of brithishness a test of what I perceive as British culture being a mixed race person among thousands of others.