Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top 10 of 29 Things Designers Should Know

I am a proud member of the Australian Graphic Design Association. Recently they posted this article, "29 Things Young Designers Should Know" by Doug Bartow, principal of id29, who previously published his list of 29 Things in HOW Magazine. If you are like me, 29 seems like a long list. I'm sorry to say, but I like my lists in multiples of five, and preferably a nice round 10. So with all due respect of course to Doug Bartow, here is his list, lightened.

The Top 10 of Doug Bartow's 29 Things Young Designers Should Know:

(In reverse order for dramatic effect, with sketchbook images from the past 10 years)


People you work with and for will make your blood boil from time to time. Whenever possible, be a pro and take the high road. Avoid burning bridges, as people change jobs more often than they did a generation ago. Your paths may cross again in a much different situation, and having a good working history together will make rehiring you easy. Apply this to your online persona as well. Anonymous jabs are petty-be better than that.


Be confident in yourself as an author, designer, photographer, creative. Don't work in a particular personal style. Rather, develop a personal approach to your creative work.
Your commissioned work should never be about you, but it can certainly reveal your hand as the designer. As your work becomes more well-known, you will get hired for exactly that. For your personal work, don't be afraid to tell your story. No one else is going to do it for you.


Develop ideas. Write them down, edit them, share them and elicit a response. Poof! You're a design author. Read design blogs and participate in the discussions. Have an opinion. If you find yourself spending hours a week contributing to other designers' blogs, consider starting your own. The cost and effort for startup are minimal, and the opportunities are diverse.


One piece of advice I give young designers looking to fill out their portfolios is to find the best local arts organization with the worst visual brand identity or website and make a trade. They get some great design work, and you get creative control and real-world projects in your book that other potential clients will recognize.


One of the biggest benefits of a formal design education is the lessons learned in the crit room defending your work in front of your instructor and peers. If you can articulate your ideas and design process in that hostile environment, learning to do the same in client meetings usually comes easy (see No. 21).


Technically, Elvis is still the king, but for the sake of this argument, let's put an emphasis on the message, and consider design as a plan for delivering it. The most effective and memorable visual communication almost always has the right mix of form and content, regardless of medium. Good design can engage a viewer, but interesting content will keep them reading, and thinking, past the headline.


What are you really good at? Contrast that to the skill sets that could help you advance at the workplace. Could your studio benefit from having an in-house photographer, web programmer, video editor or screen printer? Follow your bliss and get the additional training you need to expand your talents and, ultimately, your role at work. Now, does the studio come to a grinding halt when you're home sick for a day? Congrats. You're indispensable.


Founded in 1914 in New York City, AIGA is the professional association for design, representing more than 21,000 professionals, educators and students with 65 local chapters (find a chapter near you) and 200+ student groups. AIGA supports our efforts at the chapter and national levels through the exchange of design ideas and information, research, innovative programming and as a source of inspiration. If you're missing that sense of design community you had in school now that you're in the professional world, AIGA will help reconnect you for life.


As a designer, listening to your ideas being questioned and your hard work being ripped apart isn't usually very pleasant. However painful, though, constructive criticism of your design work is the most effective way to grow as a visual communicator. Remember this when you leave the crit rooms of design school for the boardrooms of the corporate world. Build a network of friends, co-workers and mentors you can use to collect feedback on your work. Online sites (heavy with anonymous commentary) are not an acceptable substitute for this discourse. 


You don't need to be prolific at drawing to benefit from keeping a small book in your bag or back pocket. Ideas tend to arrive at the strangest times, and being able to record them on the spot will help you remember them later. When you fill a book, date, number and shelve it. Soon your bookcase will be a library of your best thoughts and ideas.

About the Author:

Doug Bartow is a principal and design director at id29 in Troy, NY, a firm he co-founded in 2003. He is the former director of design at MASS MoCA, and serves on the board of the UPSTNY chapter of AIGA as programming chair.


About the Editor and Illustrator:

Jonathan Blackwell is Design Manager at Ensemble Partners in Sydney, Australia, a firm he joined after graduating from the Australian School of Business in the AGSM MBA Class of 2010. As a member of AGDA his Design Whitepaper “Graphic Design Thinking: Innovative Advantage” was recently chosen among the top 20 to be exhibited in poster format at AgIdeas International Design Week in Melbourne, where he will be on site Monday May 2, 2011 from 2pm - 4pm to answer questions.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pray for Japan: How To Survive Earthquakes

These are the words of an email forward regarding Doug Copp, Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI).

Before/after images of the Japanese Tsunami are from

Say a prayer for Japan.

Thanks, Jonathan

>>> forwarded message >>>

It seems like a good time to review this information – Pass it on!

Simple advice for surviving earthquakes.

Forget everything you've been trained to do during an earthquake!!!
Boy! Is this ever an eye opener. Directly opposite of what we've been taught over the years! I can remember in school being told to, "duck and cover" [deadly!] or stand in a doorway [deadly!] during an earthquake. This guy's findings are absolutely amazing. I hope we all remember his survival method if we are ever in an earthquake!!!


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries...

I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn't at the time know that the children were told to hide under something.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the "triangle of life".

The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the "triangles" you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.


1) Most everyone who simply "ducks and covers" WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake... It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different "moment of frequency" (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway... The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.
Spread the word and save someone's life... The Entire world is experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

"We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly"

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did "duck and cover," and ten mannequins I used in my “triangle of life" survival method.

After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions, relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the "triangle of life." This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA, Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.