Designer Jeff Sheldon on How He Stays Inspired

Via Jocelyn K. Glei’s excellent newsletter, Jeff Sheldon tells us how he stays inspired and comes up with new ideas. He breaks it down simply at the beginning:

It’s about always being aware of things around me, both online and offline, and filing them away for future reference.

Later in the article he goes into detail about exactly how he goes about his creative process. A good read for creatives or anyone who sometimes has trouble with creative block.

Read “How I Stay Inspired and Come Up With New Ideas” at ugmonk.com.

The Interface Design of Rogue One

One of the things that keeps people coming back to the Star Wars franchise is how real it all looks (except for the prequels, which don’t count). Everything has a casually worn, actually used look that makes it easy to inject yourself into the Star Wars universe – it’s all so familiar, yet alien.

Andrew Booth’s agency BLIND LTD was tasked with creating the user interfaces for  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (as well as for The Force Awakens). Since Rogue One dovetails into A New Hope, the interfaces had to jibe with what we first saw in 1977, while also appearing fresh. I think they nailed it.

Read “Check Out These Hi-Res Shots of Rogue One’s User Interfaces” at Wired.

The Evolution of the American One Dollar Bill

I have always been interested in the design of paper money. The craftsmanship and artistry that goes into banknote design is admirable, and the anti-counterfeiting features are interesting to learn about. If you know anything about paper money around the world, you will be aware that U.S. currency is quite drab and dated compared to some. This short video traces the history of the American dollar bill, and shows that although it has always been something of a design trainwreck, it has shown occasional bursts of beauty (and a surprising amount of color) at times. The backs of the bills hold particular interest for me, because it seems like there is where the most interesting stuff happens, design-wise.

As interesting as this may be, there are many countries whose banknotes are far more colorful and stylish. Makes me wonder why the U.S. can’t, or won’t, change.

How The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Changed Album Cover Design Forever

From Open Culture, a short examination of the history of album cover design, and how the Beatles changed it.

Their evolution from the teenpop “personality cover” to the broody and surreal is self-evident, from Rubber Soul’s groovy band shot and psychedelic lettering toRevolver’s take on Aubrey Beardsley, courtesy of Klaus Vormann, “The Beatles were leaders in expanding an album cover’s function from a marketing tool to a work of art in its own right.” Then we come to Sgt. Pepper’s, and the shift is cemented. The album cover’s designer, Peter Blake, explicitly thought of the cover as “a piece of art rather than an album cover. It was almost a piece of theater design.” And the band themselves had a direct hand in its creation. “We all chose our own colours and our own materials,” noted McCartney.

Similarly, this video by NerdWriterEvan Puschak (also referenced in the Open Culture piece) explores this phenomenon:

You can read the entire Open Culture article here.

An Art Deco Eastman Kodak Store

I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought I would repost this item from before the blog reboot. It’s been edited a bit to make more sense in this context.

While most people above a certain age know how Kodak once dominated the film photography world, few are aware of the fact that the company operated Kodak-branded retail stores all over the world for many years.

Featuring a wide array of Eastman Kodak cameras, films and accessories, these often opulent establishments were something like their era’s version of the Apple Store.

I stumbled upon this Art Deco beauty while roaming around downtown St. Louis early one Sunday morning. Judging by the style of the architecture and logo, it dates from the 1920s or ’30s, but seemed to have held up remarkably well. The interior looked as if it had been vacated the previous day.

And although the photographic giant that was Kodak no longer exists, this building lives on in restored splendor as the Thaxton Speakeasy, an ‘underground lounge’ and event space. The gorgeous cobalt backlit letters are gone from the facade, but the “EKC” logo remains, as does much of the original interior woodwork and art.