W. E. B. Du Bois’ Hand-Drawn Infographics of African-American Life

Infographics are, to me, one of the more perfect intersections of art and science. To graphically represent complex data in a novel, visually exciting way takes real talent – even in this era of scripted, programmatic data analysis. Which makes these hand-drawn infographics by pioneering author, sociologist and activist W. E. B. Du Bois all the more remarkable.

Among his many other talents and interests, Du Bois must also have harbored some graphic design ability, because these graphics are, in my opinion, prime examples of the artform. They were created for his groundbreaking work, “The Exhibit of American Negroes”. According to Du Bois, they attempted to show “(a) The history of the American Negro. (b) His present condition. (c) His education. (d) His literature.” I think they achieved this goal, and much more.

You can read more about Du Bois and see more of these infographics at The Public Domain Review.

Pentagram and the Case of the Forgotten Typeface

From Fast Company, via Web Designer Depot’s WebdesignerNews, the story of Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, an unusual branding assignment, and a lost typeface by one of the greats of type design.

Particularly for something as multi-faceted as a university, typography can be a way to create visual coherence across various schools and other parts of the institution. In the case of Syracuse, the hunt for the perfect typeface also unearthed an unlikely connection between past and present, and between the academic world and the rich history of type design. When Bierut and Jesse Reed, his associate partner at the time, discovered a typeface linking the university and the famous early 20th-century type designer Frederic Goudy, it set into motion a typeface excavation that resulted in the central element of the new school identity.

Read “Pentagram And The Case Of The Forgotten Typeface” by Meg Miller at Fast Company.

Designing the graphics for the Harry Potter movies

MinaLima (Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima) is the design studio that designs all of the graphics, signs, newspapers, decrees, posters, labels, maps, book covers, and packaging that you see in the Harry Potter movies.

“One of the best things about working on the Harry Potter films was being able to try out so many different styles, from Victorian letterpress to modern design,” says Lima.

They also worked on the Fantastic Beasts movie. You can follow their work on Instagram and purchase prints of their work on their site.

Via kottke.org.

Hating Comic Sans Is Ableist

I, personally, don’t really have a problem with Comic Sans, per se. My problem is when it is used inappropriately, as any font can be used inappropriately. But this story, by Lauren Hudgins, really got me thinking about fonts, in general, and Comic Sans, in particular, in a different way.

It is the story of Hudgins’ sister, Jessica. Jessica is dyslexic, and reading materials using Comic Sans is one of the ways she copes with this disability. It turns out that the irregular shapes of the characters in Comic Sans make it uniquely suited for use by dyslexics, as it is easier to distinguish individual letters and parts of words.

The irregular shapes of the letters in Comic Sans allow her to focus on the individual parts of words. While many fonts use repeated shapes to create different letters, such as a “p” rotated to made a “q,” Comic Sans uses few repeated shapes, creating distinct letters (although it does have a mirrored “b” and “d”). Comic Sans is one of a few typefaces recommended by influential organizations like the British Dyslexia Association and theDyslexia Association of Ireland. Using Comic Sans has made it possible for Jessica to complete a rigorous program in marine zoology at Bangor University in Wales.

From The Establishment (via Metafilter).

The Freelance Contract

When working as a freelancer, having a legal contract that outlines the scope of work, establishes milestones to be met and makes clear what your compensation will be is not just a good idea, it’s a must. Usually, when you freelance for a company, they will have a contract that spells these things out. If they don’t, you will want to have one ready, for their protection as well as your own.

The Freelance Contract, a joint effort of the Freelancers Union and AND CO, makes it simple to draw up a professional contract in minutes. Just fill in some basic information about yourself and your client, answer some simple questions, and you will have a legally-binding contract. The result is editable and extensible to your needs, and features electronic signature capability. Perfect for designers, developers, photographers, writers, consultants and content creators.

The Myth of Apple’s Great Design

I am almost certainly in the minority here, especially among my designer peers, but I have been off the Apple bandwagon for years now and have never felt more free.

I was reluctant, at first, to leave the comfortable embrace of the cult of Jobs. But it was, at the core of it, a financial decision. I needed a new computer, and I would have loved to have gotten a new Macbook, but I simply could not afford it – not even a pre-owned one. Continue reading