homework: icons

A homework assignment for Corporate Identity. More where this came from.



Over the Christmas holiday Lisa and I drove to (hometown) Raleigh, NC. We got on I-95 and I noticed the type changed between Savannah to Charleston. I did some looking and found out the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is set to replace all guide signs on roads with this new type. Its called Clearview. (wiki) Check out FHWA's statement and guidelines for use of Clearview here (officially approved Sept 2, 2004).

I also found a great article on the New York Times about the replacement of Highway Gothic to Clearview, read the article here. (below: Highway Gothic, left; Clearview, right) 
photo Don Meeker

Clearview comes in 7 positive contrast styles (that is light text on a darker background) and 6 negative contrast styles (that is dark text on a lighter background).
Conceptual applications
Another great blog post at cartype.com about Clearview.

Buy the Clearview family at clearviewhwy.com or here at Terminal Design.
Designers attributed with Clearview: Donald Meeker, James Montalbano, Christopher O'Hara, Martin Pietrucha & Philip Garvey



I don't own any guns & I'm not a big fan of Andy Warhol. I do, however, like colors.



"When confronting technology, most of us are poorly-informed spectators, seemingly incapable of understanding an esoteric realm of lasers, micro processors, gene splicing and cruise missiles. This inability to understand technology and perceive its effects on our society and on ourselves is one of the greatest, if most subtle, problems of an age that has been so heavily influenced by technological change." —Rudi Volti
via Josh Bielick


branding an iPhone app

Sometime just before the summer last year (2011), I was contacted by Nick Cox of EverydayType to create the identity and user interface for an app concept he was thinking of. It was going to be called Archetype and it was a typographic reference for the iPhone, something with two simple features: 1) to act as a dictionary for typographic terms & phrases and 2) to give users visual references to those terms, to offer diagrams and illustrations. The current list of terms exceeds 200 and the diagrams number over 75.

The difficulty in creating a brand was the fact this app is centered entirely around typography. The identity needed to be typographic while maintaining certain iconic elements for scalability. The color palette was a tender subject because typography is generally black and white, especially in the context of an educational atmosphere.

Initial sketches for the typography of the logo, spanning years and years of typographic history. I tried to incorporate the classic blackletter with the infusion of pixels to hint at the span of typography from calligraphic to digital (top). I did the same with Garamond: transforming the letters into a bitmap grid (bottom). A little Caslon in there as well. And of course there is Helvetica, Akzidenz-Grotesk & Gotham for the cliché, engineered Swiss options. I even tried a few swash characters with Sauna.

The color palette for the brand that will extend into the interface of the app and of course the website.
The color palette also took on a small texture in an effort to create a more comfortable user interface on mobile devices. With that, I applied a 2% monochromatic, uniform noise patter on all color instances.

Knowing where the mark was going gave me the chance to explore the diacritics and they placement. However, at this point some of the diacritics are clumsy and improper.
The final mark as one color, greyscale and full color.
Final mark with diacritic animation.
A small set of icons—still a work in progress. 

Thats all for this post. I should follow up soon with either a post on design the interface and applying to brand or something larger: announcing beta testing for the final, functioning app. I'm really excited with how far this is come up until now, and how its maturing into something really special.


Orwell Rolls in His Grave

My Media Literacy Theory class is really interesting. We're geared towards heavy reading of philosophy and essays on theory along with documentaries and times of discussion and conversation. We watched this documentary the other day about media publication and selection. This video comes in at a mere 3 hours and one minute. Its worth it at least to skim through it and hear some of the points of view.

Orwell Rolls in His Grave "Could a media system, controlled by a few global corporations with the ability to overwhelm all competing voices, be able to turn lies into truth?..." This chilling documentary film examines the relationship between the media, corporate America, and government. In a country where the "top 1% control 90% of the wealth", the film argues that the media system is nothing but a "subsidiary of corporate America." Director: Robert Kane Pappas



My buddy—and illustration extraordinair—Brandon Loving asked me to help get his site up and running. I pitched in a little work and he got me a nice collection of things in return: some sweet deer antlers and two corncob pipes. Thanks dude!
Check out his blog here and his new website, brandonloving.com.



coming soon...


Marian (Commercial Type)

I don't often—if ever—post work other than my own. In this case, I'm absolutely floored at the work Commercial Type has put out. Today they announced the release of their newest type family: Marian. This family is so thoroughly researched and so well designed. Here is a quote from Commercial Type.
"Marian is a series of faithful revivals of some of the greats from the typographic canon: Austin, Baskerville, Bodoni, Fournier, Fleischman, Garamont, Granjon, Kis and van den Keere. The twist is that they have all been rendered as a hairline of near uniform weight, revealing the basic structure at the heart of the letterforms. Together they represent a concept: to recreate the past both for and in the present.Stretching over a period of nearly two and a half centuries from the mid sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century, they represent a period when the serif typeface as used in book typography was the dominant style. From the high Renaissance of Granjon and Garamont through to the Scotch roman; all the styles are represented: old style, transitional, and finally the modern. Meretriciously researched from original sources, together they represent a concept album of cover versions of the standards of type design.
Reduced to almost a whisper, Marian is a typeface that requires care in use; it can only be in larger sizes, at 60 point and above. It is not a workhorse typeface, more a thoroughbred that can only perform under very specific conditions. Its distinctiveness and elegance, and its mixture of the modern and the classical make it an irresistible choice when used with care.
Faithful to the originals, Marian comes with small capitals in all nine roman styles, with lining and non-lining figures, with swash capitals (1554, 1740, 1800 & 1820), alternate and terminal characters (1554 & 1571). And like the hidden track so beloved of the concept album, Marian is completed by a Blackletter based on the work of Henrik van den Keere." —Commercial Type 

Each weight is $80 and the full family is $600. (My birthday is in March.)

Click here for a larger image of the type.


more icons

I've made so many icons recently. This is just a small set.
Probably many more to come...


Six Tips to Perfect Your Portfolio — HOW Design

A lot of times articles on how to craft and perfect your portfolio really aren't crafted or perfected themselves. I think HOW Design magazine has done a great job with six simple steps that each make a valuable point with only a simple paragraph a piece. 
I'm posting this for others and myself equally. 

As a graphic designer, your portfolio remains your primary branding and self-promotional vehicle. To help you craft a well-rounded collection of work samples that packs a serious punch, The Creative Group recently released a new guide, Creating and Presenting a Powerful Portfolio.
The information is based on surveys of advertising and marketing executives, as well as insights from creative thought leaders and our staffing teams who interact with hiring managers daily and have a keen sense of what employers look for when reviewing portfolios. Here is some advice from the guide:
1. Start Strong, End Strong.
Open with your best work. Your lead sample should not only highlight your design talent but also serve as a conversation starter about the skills you bring to the table. The items that follow should fuel further discussion about your core strengths. End with a bang by making your second-strongest piece the last one the reviewer sees.
2. Don’t Put Style Above Substance.
In a survey by our company, advertising and marketing executives said the most common portfolio mistake is including work that doesn’t show value. Provide context by labeling each piece with the client’s name, the project’s objective and your role in developing the finished product. Most important, make note of positive outcomes, such as increased sales, greater brand awareness or cost savings. Simply put, play up your problem-solving prowess and ability to boost the bottom line.
3. Show the Right Number of Samples.
You want hiring managers and potential clients to gain a good sense of your creativity, technical expertise and range. But you don’t want to overwhelm them. It’s best to feature seven to 10 samples in a hard-copy portfolio. You can include more samples in an online version, as long as the navigation is intuitive and the pieces are well organized.
4. Tailor Your Materials.
You’ll do a better job of connecting with prospective employers if you customize your content to their needs. Review your target company’s website, paying close attention to the sections that provide background on the organization and its main products and services, case studies, and recent news. Follow the firm’s social media feeds and tap your professional network for additional insights. Once you’ve done your homework, add relevant samples or reorganize your book to emphasize your skills most pertinent to the opportunity.
5. Display Professional Polish.
Regardless of how impressive your projects, a cluttered portfolio full of worn samples will cause hiring managers to question your professionalism. Make sure all samples are free of tears, smudges, folds and extraneous marks. Protect fragile pieces with plastic covers and carry odd-shaped or bulky items separately. In addition, always bring copies of your resume, references and client list to job interviews.
6. Finesse Your Presentation.
Finally, when presenting your portfolio, remember the importance of spotlighting both your design skills and interpersonal abilities. After all, if you can’t sell yourself, an employer won’t believe you can sell concepts to clients. Help yourself by practicing and fine-tuning your pitch. Rehearse in front of a trusted colleague, mentor or friend, and solicit honest feedback. Was your pitch compelling and concise? Did you effectively communicate the value of each piece? Did you maintain good eye contact and project confidence and enthusiasm? A trial run will help you identify potential stumbling blocks, calm jittery nerves and gain confidence.
Read the full article here. Authorship is credited to The Creative Group.


icons for an app

A small set of icons for an app I'm working on. Might have to rework some of these or create new ones, but this is the set so far.


Manufacturing Consent

They who put out the peoples eyes reproach them for their blindness.  —John Milton, 1642

"The classic Canadian documentary Manufacturing Consent based on the Noam Chomsky/Edward Herman book by the same name. Explores the the propaganda model of the media." 
This runs a healthy 2 hours and 47 minutes but is worth the time. I watched the better part of my first day of my Media Literacy Theory class. This class promises to be a though provoking
Noam Chomsky is an American linguist gone philosopher and activist. This documentary breaks down the "thought control in a democratic society" and the "necessity of marginalizing & controlling the public" through media. That is, the manufacturing of consent.
Around 35 minutes in, Chomsky breaks down this process by filters that propaganda is sent through on its way to the public, a Propaganda Model:
  • Selection of Topics
  • Distribution of Concerns 
  • Emphasis
  • Framing of Issues
  • Filtering of Information
  • Bounding of Debate
and further still by
  • Determine
  • Select
  • Shape
  • Control
  • Restrict
  • [in order to] Serve the Interests of Dominant Elite Groups
Check out the rest of the documentary and the rest of Chomsky's positions, perspectives and opinions. But be careful, this was released in 1992 and the overall cinematography is dated, to say the least.


blog header

My wife recently started her own blog, chronicling our life in Savannah and her  experiences with cooking and crafting. She asked me to make a header for her blog, called "this little blog of mine".
Taken into Illustrator
Colored to match the blog
Check out the full header and read her blog at lisayow.com


some sort of "about" photo

Something along the lines of a photo for the about section of my new website. Sort of like the personal icons I posted not long ago, also on dribbble.


bagel delight

Just playing around with the idea of lettering an upright italic with occasional swashes & ligatures. 
for the bottom one I changed the exit stroke of the "l" in bagel to imitate the "t" in delight.


Personal rebrand case study

Recently it became very apparent that I needed to reevaluate my personal brand, portfolio, extensions and website. (I even gave myself away with a post a while back.) A good portfolio should always be maintained and kept recent, professionally and personally—so now is the time to update myself.
So I began the considerations for how to introduce my name. I don't go by any sort of moniker, just "matt yow", always. With that I decided to explore single marks for the letter M to possibly sit above my name. I'd previously used Supria Sans for my logotype, I loved the simplicity.
Previous mark:
M explorations:
I followed up on the mark explorations by extending the mood and brand to icons. This is a small set of icons displays my character and personality. These may never be put to use but their creation helped develop the direction for goals on color, shape, & form.
This opened up the color palette to a solid set of blues: neutral but confident. Alongside the blue is a simple series of greys. This is a limited color palette but opens up options for arrangement and layout within site design and print collateral. I edited some of the CSS of this blog to include the blues:
::selection {background: #3AAFBD; color: #FFF;}
::-moz-selection {background: #3AAFBD; color: #FFF;}
That is the middle, minty blue. This bit of style is also included in the CSS of the site (re)design.
Highlight text and the selection will appear this specific blue—rather than the default pale blue.

I also needed to create small elements for final application—specifically some sort of image for an about section of my site's (re)design. I have a few good photos but decided to go with a more stylized version of myself. I might lean towards using a basic photo in the end, but this is still a great mood-setter for the brand and personality.

In keeping with the style of the icons and the personality, I went with the profile (bottom right), with the laurel leaves. Still seems kind of self absorbed but it received fairly positive feedback on dribbble. I'm still playing with the idea of this application or using a photograph, a bit more to the point.

Of course supporting typography is a large part of the brand as well. Part of my decision was based on the fact that my brand will mostly be on the web. Print collateral will most likely never extend beyond a basic resume or business card. So in regards to a web safe font I went with Open Sans. (see the font here.) From Google:
Open Sans is a humanist sans serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson, Type Director of Ascender Corp. ... Open Sans was designed with an upright stress, open forms and a neutral, yet friendly appearance. It was optimized for print, web, and mobile interfaces, and has excellent legibility characteristics in its letterforms.
To maintain simplicity and straightforwardness I decided to use only two weights of the full family (consisting of five weights). I'm using the regular (400 weight) and the extra bold (800 weight).
I should also point out that I've switched to Open Sans on this blog recently as well.

For additional typography, for print and for images on the web, I'm going with Eames Century Modern by House Industries and Freight Sans by Darden Studio. Each family has plenty of variation in weights for use across many platforms with allowance for hierarchy and colour.

With the palette arranged, the icons set out and the mood established, I honed in on the mark itself. I decided to abandon the idea of a single M mark and just moved towards making my name look good. The final product is a logotype of custom type design.

Now time to live up to it and publish my new website with new projects and updated material. I'm working with my good friend Josh Bielick to get the site up & running. I'm sure I'll make some noise once the site goes live but check back for updates periodically. And this blog header will change with the site launch to synchronize the rebrand.