Why We Need (TO BREAK) the Rules

Posted in Design with tags , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2010 by Nicolle Marie

As Peter Bilak once quoted, “Right and wrong do not exist in graphic design. There is only effective and non-effective communication.” Peter Bilak is graphic and typeface designer responsible for designing mail stamps for the Dutch Royal, he teaches typeface design at the Royal Academy of Art, and he also contributes regularly to international publications. So, I have to say I’m with him on this one. In school, designers are provided a set of design guidelines which were set into place to assist aspiring designers. BUT they are not rigid, punishable-by-death, career-killing, commandments. If you don’t have confidence in your skills, if you want to design boring pieces, if thinking outside the box haunts you… just stop reading this and stick to these guidelines like gum on a sidewalk. Seriously, stop reading; go back to Facebook.

Rule #1: Use fewer fonts. This rule is important because you have to keep everything consistent. If all your sub-headings are different fonts, you will confuse your reader and probably lose them altogether. However, fonts can be used to establish hierarchy in your page. Bigger, bolder fonts that are closer to the top will be perceived as being the most important, while smaller and finer fonts will be perceived as being secondary. You also wouldn’t want to write a whole paragraph in Arial Black just for the sake for keeping it the same as your header; it would be difficult and annoying to read. For example, check out this poster:

This follows all the rules, but its so boring that I don’t really want to even read it. My eyes glazed over and I fell asleep just then. This next one, however, uses MANY fonts, and it looks amazing. Even though you can’t read everything, you get the idea instantly. You get the message. It creates an emotional response.
Pretty cool right?

Rule #2: Avoid center alignment. This next piece avoids center layout like its the plague. Here we see right alignment, left alignment, and even justified text. It follows the rule, but its still ineffective. Just because a design follows all of the rules doesn’t mean it is effective.

The following design uses all center alignment, but it still rocks. Because the graphic is symmetrical, any other alignment wouldn’t be as effective.

Rule #3: The more white space, the better. This next magazine advertisement has LOTS of breathing room, so that means it’s great, right? Not so much. It’s a snooze fest.
A lot of magazine ads from the 80s and 90s featured a BIG photo and little teeny tiny text at the bottom or thrown over the top of the image. If your design starts to looks like this, try doing some creative thinking exercises. This design uses only a pinch of negative space, but the small amount that is used really adds to the piece. This artist breaks the convention of using negative space to point to the focal point; instead, the negative space IS the focal point.

These are just a few examples of graphic design guidelines and how to break them. Don’t let anyone tell you your design is wrong because you used 3 fonts. Like Bilak says, there is no such thing as right and wrong; there is on effective and ineffective. If those 3 fonts helped to establish a hierarchy in your piece, added visual interest, and satisfied your client, then it was an effective design. As a designer, it is important to understand the rules so that you can break them gracefully. So, go forth and kill those guidelines, crush them, kill them, turn them upside down, invert them, erase them…but only as long as the result is a creative and effective design.


Inspiring Food Logos

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 by Nicolle Marie

Hey! The Thanksgiving holiday has inspired me to share these food logos with you. Bon Appetit!

Great color scheme + a great abstract marriage of tsunamis and sushi = logo love.

Jacob Cass designed this clever logo.

Happy Thanksgiving to Jerron Ames for designing this cute logo.

Mmmm… This makes me thirsty. Designed by Sergey Shapiro.

Great color scheme.

This mark is for a catering company based in Raleigh, NC, City of Oaks. Designed by Coalmarch.

Malika designed this logo for a high-end sea food restaurant.

I love the clever design made by using letters.

Really cute and simple is the way to go.

This design is clean and super fresh.

This logo was design by IamJack3. Won’t that melt?

A fruity O designed by Myco.

This is a school project by JNilsen for a company that sells food prepared from scratch with home-grown ingredients.

Cute and delicious.

A baking goddess brings a touch of Parisian chic with swirly tresses and cupcakes, cherries and hearts entwined in her gorgeous hair. Designed by Iboi.

Simple, abstract, and it looks really classy and tasty. Nice work by Sec87.

October 2010 Desktop Wallpapers (Bye Bye September)

Posted in Design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2010 by Nicolle Marie

Hopefully these October wallpapers will help you leave September behind.

“Liquifly October 2010 Calendar,” by me. I created this in Photoshop with the help of several stock resources. To view the original sources, click the image. (There is also a version sans calendar) link
Liquifly Wallpaper by Nicolle Marie

“October” by Crillix. I appreciate the gradients paired with simple black outlines and a chilling jack-o-lantern face. link
October Wallpaper by Crillix

“October Snow” by Crazytyler29. A nice scenic photograph on your desktop wallpaper has been proven to reduce stress. link
October Snow Wallpaper by Crazytyler29

“October” by Johnnybg. I love abstract wallpapers, and this one is great for fall. link
October Wallpaper by Johnnybg

“October” by Camxso. This photograph is chilling. It makes me want to look over my shoulder… link
October Wallpaper by Camxso

“Evil Clown” by PurePoison. I really, really, really don’t like this wallpaper and won’t use it because there is just something about clowns that irks me; just way too scary. link
Evil Clown by PurePoison

“Mysterious Forest” by Five-G. This image is peaceful and unsettling at the same time; is that possible? link
Mysterious Forest by Five-G

“Think Halloween” by Zefhar. I don’t really like the Curlz font, but the pumpkin/Apple idea is brilliant and makes up for it. link
Think Halloween by Zefhar

“Pumpkin” by eEub. I like to have dark wallpapers on my computer because it makes the icons stand out. Those who like it dark, download away. link
Pumpkin by eEub

“The Pumpkin House” by Gutalin. This house is so cute! And perfect for an October wallpaper. link
The Pumpkin House by Gutalin

“Pumpkin Castle” by MiG-05. Ooooh, now that is scary good! I love dark wallpapers and the bright burst of color on the pumpkin adds a focus. link
Pumpkin Castle by MiG-05

“Gaia Wallpaper: Candy Space” by Pepper-tea. I love love love the amount of detail the artist put into this wallpaper. I had this on my computer for quite some time. link
Candy Space by Pepper-tea

“Halloween Happy” by Enjeru. Awww look, its a cute little demon bunny foo foo. link
Halloween Happy by Enjeru

“Halloween” by Fusioneuphoria. I found another abstract wallpaper that uses fall-inspired colors. You’re welcome. link
Halloween by Fusioneuphoria

“Oblivion” by AKAcorn. Again, this is great because it is dark. But its creepy too! I promise you won’t have bad luck if you download it. link
Oblivion by AKAcorn

Find October calendar desktop wallpapers on Smashing Magazine.

Creative, Inspiring, Mind-Blowing, Life-Changing, Super Fantabulous, Jaw-Dropping, Crazy Awesome Photomanipulations

Posted in Design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Nicolle Marie

Are you excited?! I have some really sweet photo manips for you to feast your eyes upon. I’m in the process of creating a really sweet photo manipulation to call my own, so I decided I would share some of my inspirations. Enjoy!

The liquid effects are perfection. “Made in Spain,” by He1z. link

I’m melting! This is a really stunning advertisement for Pierre water. link

Tree-man, can you really walk? link

This is “Thundersnow,” by Alexiuss. I love the way the sun lights the tree on fire. link

Awww… it’s cute – I want one! “Zebrafrog,” by Oilcorner. link

Platinum Conception. The pink elephant in the room, er… the uh giant octopus. link

Alberto Seveso is hugely inspiring when looking for great photo manips. link


Vrooom vrooom chirp squeak. “VWBeetle,” by WaltervanSanten. link

TankCrab also by WaltervanSanten. link

“Blue Makeup,” by Jmlan. This piece is really inspiring for me. I wish I could find a tut on this. link

“Electric bird,” by Hansomoto. I love the creative use of randomly combined elements; like a hot chic and antlers. link

By Alexandre Szewinski. I love the complexity of the design with the simple background. link

“Imperium,” by 15fathoms-counting. I really love how all these photographs blend together perfectly. Very believable. link

“Look Through My Eyes,” by Rgquarkup. I really appreciate the use of color and shapes with this photograph. link

Thanks so much for reading!
Please visit my graphic design portfolio at NicolleMarie.com

Business Card Eye Candy

Posted in Design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by Nicolle Marie

I am in the process of designing new business cards for Alley9 Creative Studio, so I thought I would be nice and share some inspirational business cards with you all.

Any card made from wood and has cut-outs is automatically awesome link

Cute! link

Great colors and shape. link

Sweet! link

Lovely yet simple illustration. link

Choosing the right texture is key. link

Very consistent style and typography choices. link

Love love love. link

Nice cutting effect on the edges. link

Cute die-cut. link

This totally rocks. link

Who said pop-ups were for kids? link

Fresh and tangy. link

How sweet is it? link

Beautiful. link

Thanks for reading!
Check out my portfolio

Unique iPhone/iPod Touch Wallpapers

Posted in Design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2010 by Nicolle Marie

Having things that your friends don’t makes you cooler. Seriously. I found these unique wallpapers for you so you can be cool. Your welcome.

“Listen” by j3concepts. link

For those of you who like it dark. link

Be the hippie. link

This is uber cool. link

This is beautiful. link

Really neat design. link

Chic. link

Ah! iPhone monster! link

Psyeriously Psychedelic! link

Dreamy. link

Inspiring Print Design

Posted in Design with tags on March 25, 2010 by Nicolle Marie

Stuck on a design or just looking for some inspiration before you begin? This variety of print pieces will help you out for sure!

Beautiful design by Dario Berardi…

Simple, yet detailed and complex work by Joao Cesar Nunes

Clean and modern! By FIRMA

Elegant, detailed, beautiful, flowing, eyecatching. By Si Scott

Professional, clean, and a business card any designer would appreciate. By Maxime Quoilin.

Don’t forget that letters and words can be design elements too.

Cover design that uses color and repetition really well.

Absolute perfection. Check out the use of negative space.

Thinking outside (or is it inside?) the box.