Dry transfer lettering and the human touch

Dry transfer type

From the graphic design history archive… Anyone remember doing advertising or editorial mockups using dry transfer lettering? Or the fact that mockups were expected to take several days. Not hours.

At the university where I received education in the art of design, I spent a lot of money purchasing packets of dry transfer lettering and Pantone triple nib markers. And I spent a lot of hours in the design studio developing the skill of paste ups and thumbnail layouts.

As I designed a multi-page layout project recently I could not escape the fact at how fast I was able to pull it together. The hand drawn layout thumbnails and non-repo blue line paste ups were not part of the process. Nor were there long days of sketches, dummied text, paste ups, Photostat machine, rubber cement, T-squares, proportional scale wheels and other essential pre-digital design tools.

Fortunately for me, I entered the world of advertising and marketing during the digital revolution in design. The design process for the multi-page layout project was exclusively digital — from concept to completion.

Instead of paging through thick, expensive design journals and other trade publications for color palette and typography and font inspiration, I visited a couple websites like Design Seeds[3] or Font Squirrel.[4] The color palette choice and font and photo selections were quick. That is the nature of the fast-paced environment of production work for a graphic designer.

Yet, last Thursday when the printed product arrived and I reviewed the freshly-inked pages, I was disappointed. The final printed product lacked the essence of human touch. At no point did my hand every touch the page. Everything was created by digital proxy. I can see the difference. Most designers see the difference. A careful observer may also see the difference.


[1] Image originally posted: August 8, 2014. https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2014/08/08/dry-transfer-lettering/
[2] It is a challenge to purchase the old style triple nib markers. Here is one source: AOE Artworld.

[3] Design Seeds: https://www.design-seeds.com/

[4] Font Squirrel: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/

Why share your work in social networks?

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

“Why share our work in social networks?” was a question recently asked on a professional forum. My reply: two reasons: 1) promotion and 2) personal brand. It was a Malcolm-Gladwell-Blink response and I clicked the “add comment” button without much thought (which is not my usual practice). My thoughts still linger on that question, “Why…?”

A few months ago I came across a few articles asking the question “Does social media promote or enable narcissism?” [1] [2] The article that impacted me most was from a source I never read. In the post, the author, Dodai Stewart, reflects on piece in The New Yorker and her comments are stinging and self-revelatory.

Just look around: Between Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, the whole ME ME ME thing has swept the nation. Here are MY thoughts, MY pictures, MY shopping wish lists! We call it sharing, but it’s just egoistic self-indulgence, usually. LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I WANT. But wait: Enough about me… what do you think about me? [3]

Hm, narcissism and self-absorption. Herein rests the lingering thoughts of a week or so ago.

As a professional, promoting my goods, services and whatnot help to grease the gears of capitalism, right? Conventional wisdom (or at least American business wisdom), purports that if consumers are not aware of your product/service, customers will not purchase from ME. So, I am advised by business owners and other professionals to promote MY skills, services, products, etc. And not only that, I need to establish MY personal brand (so that consumers can be more emotionally and psychologically invested in the products/services I provide).

Maybe social networks are not promoting narcissism and self-absorption as much as one might think. There may be a greater systemic issue that only social networks magnify.

NOTE: [1] Tara Parker-Pope, “Does Facebook Turn People Into Narcissists?,” New York Times, May 17, 2012 accessed January 2, 2013 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/does-facebook-turn-people-into-narcissists/ [2] Steve Tobak, “Social networks and the narcissism epidemic,” CBSNEWS Money Watch, August 29, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57502035/social-networks-and-the-narcissism-epidemic/ [3] Dodai Stewart, “Self-Absorbed Is the New Normal,” Jezebel, June 26, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://jezebel.com/5921468/self+absorbed-is-the-new-normal.

Three ways for authors to promote their new book

This is obvious, but essential. Connecting with a local bookseller is vital to promoting your book. Most booksellers see your book title listed in their wholesale catalogs. All you need to do is remind them it’s there and then see if they’ll host an event. Be sure to contact the bookstore’s event coordinator, not the store’s book buyer. The PR  & Events Coordinator schedules store events like readings and book signings and is the best point of contact for a newly published author.

Consider non-bookstore venues. Schools, public libraries, or other venues may have suitable audiences for your book title. Don’t just assume that your audience only buys books at Barnes & Noble. Libraries are great places to read. I’ve read in various locations including a tavern, café, ballroom, art studio, church and several other places. One author I know had a reading at a chocolate shop. Be creative with your events.

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. are great tools to promote your book. If you don’t have an account, you’re already behind. Be authentic and approachable on these sites. If you sound like you’re a pushy salesperson, you’ll lose your audience. Share with your social media audience the same way you approach your book reading audience. Make converts from social media followers to book buyers.

The (read) sky (between) is (the) falling (lines)

AdAge.com opens an article with these dismal facts:

Newspaper ad revenue fell almost $2 billion in the third quarter for a record 18.1% decline, according to new statistics from the Newspaper Association of America. What’s worse, newspapers’ online ad revenue fell for the second quarter in a row.


In another, companion article titled “Huffington Post More Valuable Than Some Newspaper Cos.,” AdAge.com offers this regarding blog value versus newspaper value:

The [$100 million] funding means Arianna Huffington’s news blog is now considered more valuable by its backers than quite a few publicly traded newspaper companies…


The irony is that The Huffington Post “rarely provide original content” (to quote myself) but “select and repackage… information.”

In a CJR piece by Robert Kuttner with an urgent deck that reads “Newspapers have a bright future as print-digital hybrids after all — but they’d better hurry,” he writes of an interview with a 21-year old colleague. In their conversation he attempts to establish an argument in defense of the printed newspaper. Mr. Kuttner writes:

By now I was feeling very last century. And then Ezra… handed me a trump. You have one thing right, he volunteered. The best material on the Internet consistently comes from Web sites run by print organizations.


My take away is this:

  1. Newspapers that don’t adapt to the print-digital hybrid should go the way of the buffalo.
  2. Newspapers that embrace the print-digital hybrid should do so quickly and reorganize as a news organization using the full depth of the new media platform. After all, newspapers are content providers who have been relying on a single (print) platform too long.
  3. The Huffington Post is funded. In a little known interview, the publisher of World magazine made the following statement:

As public companies that do most of the news-gathering cut back on their investments… We see an opportunity to increase news resources in the non-profit world. We may be looking at a paradigm shift in this industry from for-profit news-gathering to non-profit news-gathering.

Weekend review

Another reason not to visit Disney: Fingertip biometrics at Disney turnstiles

Open society: largest data breaches

If it looks like a moleskine: “stylish little pocket notebook”

Book Design Review’s latest: Kate Christensen Wins PEN/Faulker

And finally, from Seth Godin:

“So, there’s plenty of bad economic news floating around. From the price of oil to Wall Street to bailouts to the death of traditional advertising.

Which is great news for anyone hoping to grow or to make an impact.”


Quote: Modern art is a disaster area…

Quote: Modern art is a disaster area…

(via Room 116) Link