Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Initial thought for major project...

For my major project I would like to develop something linked to Costa Rica.
I have two initial ideas that I’m researching to see which one is more valuable to pursue:

1. Create an identity for export products coming from CR to be sold in the UK. I have noticed that some countries export their products under one identity (representing the country); this gives their products an added value and a coherent visual image. I’ve been to the major grocery stores in London, and have had a hard time finding products from Costa Rica, this may be because their packaging and visual identity is not clear enough. Also, the majority of the products exported into the UK, will be packaged into another brand (Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and other brands). I think it would be very useful for my country to export products under one identity or brand that represents where they are coming from and that states clearly it is a product from Costa Rica. The branding and packaging should be very appealing to the consumer and should be able to compete with the products that are already being sold here.

2. Being in the UK I have realized that not many people know a lot about Costa Rica, and all it has to offer. It would be very interesting to create a tourism campaign for people who are interested in travelling to consider CR as an appealing destination. But, I wouldn’t like to make a typical tourism campaign, but something very different that would emphasize some interesting qualities of my country. For example, CR is a very environmentally friendly country, and preserving nature is a big issue, I know in the UK people are starting to become much more aware of these issues so, maybe developing some ideas like this one would be appealing to travellers. It would be a very good way to inform people about my country and all it has to offer, this will help people become more familiar with the place, and consider going there.

I think either one of these ideas would be very beneficial for me and for Costa Rica. It will also be very useful for me when I return back home; I can actually try to get either of these campaigns to become a reality.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

My Top 10


And it is here to stay! Sustainable Design could be THE biggest challenge designers are facing right now. We can contribute to this change by really being conscious of our designs, the materials we use, its purpose, and most important you should always ask yourself: Where is this going to end when it’s no longer wanted? This are just a few o the simple and basic things you can start with. I think the world really is in desperate need of a change and it starts with us! So get out of that chair and actually do something! And here are a couple of interesting sites that could be useful: The AIGA Center for Sustainable Design http://sustainability.aiga.org/, it is a site dedicated to providing designers with information about sustainable business practice, and will help you incorporate sustainable thinking into your professional life. Also, Project M http://www.projectmlab.com/ is an intensive summer program, made to inspire young designers, photographers, writers and creative people that the work they do can have a significant impact on the world. It’s good to know designers are taking actions in sustainable design, and it’s great to know they are doing it now! So I suggest that all of us do it, each in its own way, but do SOMETHING! Don’t just wait for others to do it!

I’ve learned that research is a crucial part for developing any project. I’m not saying that before coming here I didn’t research, it’s just I’ve learned new ways to do it, while being here. To look in the odd places, to use different resources and to write down ANYTHING that seem interesting or appeals to you…you never know how useful that could be. Also, researching something specific, I’ve found the most amazing websites that had nothing to do with my topic :P, I don’t know how this happens but I blame my short attention span, whatever it is, it really comes in handy: you get tons of new resources!

3. F-U-N
The minute you start taking things too seriously is the minute everything starts going wrong. I believe we are blessed to work in a profession where you can actually have fun and be spontaneous and creative! I’ve learned that the best designs are produced when you’re having fun! Also, RELAX, stress can only bring more stress and things just start going wrong. It’s one thing to work under pressure, and another to be stressed all the time, because you can’t think straight. And BTW I‘ve learned this the hard way! So relax yourself, don’t over think, don’t take yourself too seriously, and most important of all, have fun.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! This is the only way you will truly learn. Finding a solution to problems and fixing mistakes is what makes you grow and really use your mind. It will definitely make you wiser! And I’ve learned that everyone makes mistakes, sometimes, and also, sometimes thing just go wrong. It doesn’t matter if you work by yourself or if you are part of a big studio; everyone fails and makes mistakes. The important thing here is to know how to fix them and to learn from them.

Success is nothing if you can’t share it! I’ve learned it’s really important! Share your knowledge with your peers, with people who don’t know some things you might. Inspire people to change, to work, to create. Teach, talk, help! And, share with your community, GIVE BACK!

I’ve always known you can’t (or at least I can’t) design without inspiration of some kind. But while being here I’ve learned to find inspiration in the weirdest places, or the places or things you’d never think of. Seriously! Now, I believe more than ever you have to keep an open mind, and let ideas flow into it without judging or over thinking where they are coming from. Do you really care? Just be thankful that they’ve landed in your brain. (But NEVER COPY inspire yourself from other people but don’t copy them.)

This is exactly part of the fun I was telling you about! This semester I’ve learned to experiment and play with designs, with ideas and with type. Some interesting ideas have come from it, some very useful solutions as well. Creative thinking just gets bigger with experimentation, you know how it is, one thing leads to another, and when you realize it you have so many ideas you don’t know which to choose. So don’t be afraid to play and experiment, really, don’t take yourself so seriously!! :) (I have to keep repeating this to myself)

As life, design is a process. Of course I already knew this, but what I’ve learned is to document it, to demonstrate it visually. It is a great way to see how you’ve improved, how you’ve developed and idea, your process of thinking. Not just in design, but in life, I think its important to have records of what you do, things that are happening in your life and people that are in it or maybe now are out of it, because we learn from everything, and that makes us who we are at the present. One of my favourite songs has a part that says “I know sometimes I look back, but it’s just to know where I’m coming from” This is exactly what a design process is!

“I’m a good designer, I’m a good designer!” no wait “I’m a great designer!” just repeat that to yourself, without being arrogant! When self-doubt appears things just go wrong. I’ve learned you shouldn’t doubt yourself so much! And remember your ethics while doing your job, I think this will make you not only a better person but a better designer, and have a clear conscience, which is always good!

In Critical Debates I’ve learned or lets just say I’ve proved my theory that you will gain a lot by watching movies and tv. You will learn new things, not only about your own career, but of the world, art, people, the possibilities are endless. This will give you a better understanding of what is happening around you. Use this knowledge wisely! And, WATCH MORE TV!! :P

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Prize Winning Ads & Ethics

I think the main role of advertising is to persuade customers to purchase or consume a certain brand, product or service. Ads deliver a message to a target audience, and this audience will respond to it, most of the time it will be in the way the advertisers intended and wanted.

Most of the advertisements we see these days are designed so people can increase the consumption of a product / service. Ads use very powerful and persuasive messages to get to their potential costumers, and use every major medium (tv, newspaper, radio, magazine, billboards, amongst others) to deliver it. But, in addition to selling a message, advertisements encode cultural values and social ideas. And depending on your point of view it is a positive or negative component of our society.

It is difficult for us to separate ourselves from advertisement, not only because we see it everyday, but also because we are part of it, we help create ads, messages, ideas; we help persuade and influences the audience. This is where ethics come in, in the WAY you get to people. Is it a negative or positive message? Is it lying or telling the truth? Is the product really that good or are we just boosting its qualities to sell it?

I think it is important to be able to be a great designer, participate in big and important ad campaigns (if that’s your thing) and still hold on to your values, be ethical. People sometimes will do anything to sell a product, and there is nothing more disappointing than buying something you really wanted and was promised to be excellent, and finding out it really isn’t. It was a lie. This has happened to all of us.

Ethics are a big part of our everyday life, and ads, but for some people it is not as important as for others. Some people really don’t care about sending the wrong message to the audience or about deceiving people, even in the smallest way.

In Costa Rica we have a big problem with our big ad agencies. Most of them don't create campaigns based on their clients’ needs, but with a different thought in mind. They create huge and important campaigns with the purpose of winning a prize at the end of the year for their "wonderful, creative, and innovative ideas", (which the client is happy with because his campaign won, and seems to forget that it doesn't meet the real needs for his product). This leads to lying, or maybe lying is a strong word, “stretching the truth”, building up your product to something it is not, and creating advertisements with your best interests in mind, and not the clients’.

This is the biggest problem we are dealing with in CR. This is not ethical; they compromise the clients’ needs for their own popularity. And they enjoy winning these awards so much, that a “war” between agencies can be expected depending on the results. This is 3rd world mentality, and it is such a pity. Luckily in these couple of years smaller studios have been evolving and creating really exceptional and valuable designs. Hopefully this will continue, so we can break the cycle of designing to win awards and we can embrace our ethics back.

At the end of the day we are all consumers, we all buy, good and bad things, we all believe some messages all the time, or most of the time. So I think it’s just a matter of thinking where YOU want to be in advertising and design, and how far you would go to sell a product/idea or to win a prize.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


In the early days, packaging’s role was essentially practical; it helped the efficient distribution of the merchandise and presented the products in an attractive manner. These days these basic functions still play an important role in the form and the functioning of packaging, but, there is a lot more to be considered into packaging.

The basic role of the package is to protect the product, and bring information from the producer to the consumer. A package has to stand out from the rest of products in the same range, because research shows that consumers are unpredictable and 70% of their decisions are made at the point of purchase. This is why it’s important for packaging to be not only functional but also graphically appealing, so consumers can differentiate them from their competition.

These days, not only aesthetics are important, consumers have become more environmentally conscious, making producers look for different alternatives in packaging that is appealing and environmentally friendly.


A carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, an organization or product. In other words, it is the footprint or mark we are leaving behind in the planet. You can calculate your own carbon footprint these days, there are many websites that will ask you a series of questions and determine the amount of contamination you are producing as an individual. The mitigation of carbon emissions through the development of alternative projects, such as renewable energy and reforestation, are one way of managing the carbon footprint.

One of the most important things about green packaging or sustainable packages is understanding not only material choices, but energy use, afterlife issues, social impact and consumer perception issues. Company’s implementing eco-friendly actions are reducing their carbon footprint, using more recycled materials and reusing more package components. Also, sustainability really impacts design decisions, because it focuses all the attention on the issue of the product’s manufacture, its raw materials, production process, transportation, retailing, usage and disposal, and environmental impact. And, clearly, recycling affects packaging design because it influences the choice of materials, for the package.

Designers can play a really big part in supporting the environmental issue, by trying to influence their clients’’ choice of materials into recyclable options.

Some examples of creative and innovative package design:

Speedo Fast-Skin suit

Strawberry flavored milk 

Coca Cola Light special edition
479 Popcorn
Vitalize drinks

Monday, 2 March 2009

Conscious Design!


Canadian based design studio that work mostly with charities, non-profit organizations and green minded businesses, organizations and individuals. They believe that creativity has a very big power for change and that strong design can move people and get results. They are not just environmentally conscious, they are also focused in spreading a message that is a catalyst for change. They only work on projects that are environmentally and socially responsible.

They create all kinds of graphic materials and websites, awareness campaigns and fundraisers. They are very environmentally friendly, printing their projects in recycled paper, using vegetable based inks and special printing techniques including waterless printing. 

And are strong believers in using the web to communicate, because it requires less printed materials.
Their projects have one common goal: positive change

UGANDA TOY CAMPAIGN Website created for a toy drive campaign benefiting children in Uganda.


Luba Lukova is an internationally recognized artist and designer baqsed in New York. She creates posters that have been exhibited around the world and have won awards, such as World's Most Memorable Poster award at the International Poster Salon in Paris. Her art has been included in the The New York Times, Time, and The Nation.

I am focusing on a series of posters she did called Social Justice 2008. In these posters you can see how the artist represents metaphorically and with the use of symbols, themes like peace, war, ecology, immigration, and privacy.

These are some of the posters:

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Not just selling coffee...CSR

For this task, I decided to investigate about Starbucks, and their Corporate Social Responsibility. For the last few years they have been focusing a lot in the coffee farmers, their farms and crops, and their communities.

They believe that
building a better community and having a sustainable environment and crops, result in better relationships and better products.

They have encouraged their exporters, coffee farmers and cooperatives to become
Fair Trade Certified, this way, ensuring that this product is well paid and that there are high social and environmental standards applied in the farm.

Also, they contribute to worthy causes in the communities where they do business, like addressing
children’s literacy, poverty alleviation, and the environment, to name a few. They contribute with different resources to support young social entrepreneurs who are seeking to change their local communities. This empowers and creates a positive felling not only for the farmers but in the place they live in.

They spent over $1.5 million (in 2007) investing in coffee-growing communities. The funds were used to pay 50 projects located in 11 countries,
benefiting more than 50,000 local farmers, their families and community residents. They also work with several alternative-financing organizations that make loans to coffee grower associations so they can wait and sell their crops for more favourable prices.

Starbucks also invests in programs designed to
strengthen local economic and social development. They work in collaboration with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have the experience and that are experts in working with farming communities, this way, they help these farmers & communities improve their capacity to consistently bring their highest quality products to the market. These efforts involve from introducing farmers to better farming practices, to environmental preservation, also, they give out scholarships and education programs.

For example, in the UK Starbucks linked up with the National Literary Trust to create the Reading Communities partnership, so that schools and libraries are joined together by through a love of reading, also they have created a partnership with CARE International UK (one of the world’s top three aid agencies, fighting poverty and injustice in over 70 countries and helping 65 million people each year to find resources out of poverty); they are raising funds to support water resources, education and learning and sustainable agriculture projects in two villages in Ethiopia.

This is kind of social responsibility also applies to
designers. I think it is important to help out in the place we live in. Creating pro bono work that will help and strengthen our communities and getting involved in making them better places, and creating awareness to social issues by integrating them with designs.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Am I Moving?!

In the last few years it has been proven that graphics don’t need to be static and fixed. Designers are making images float, move, dance and jump, amongst other many unusual forms. They’ve given design speed, timing and transformation. This has opened a whole new area for designers to use their creativity.

Motion Graphics are a very big part of the design industry these days. They can range from logo animations to music videos. They are in the advertising market, television, music industry, cinema film credits, and even fashion. They are a part of our graphic culture.

We can observe it has grown a lot from the days of just creating film credits in motion (Saul Bass was a pioneer in this area in the 50s and 60s). Technological innovation is a key aspect in creating motion graphics, and with so much new software available these days, it’s easier to create more advanced and cutting edge animations and moving graphics.

In researching different studios, I found that there are common trends: the use of very bright colours, the fluidity of the motion has improved, 3D graphics are being incorporated more and static flat images are being used less every day and there is much more movement of the camera. Also I’ve noticed that the 80’s graphic style is making a comeback in this area.

There are so many motion graphic studios, and I have to say they are all very good. I picked a few that I liked the best:

- PEPPER MELON is a creative studio based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They are a relatively new company, starting their work in 2007. They are a team that integrates directors, animators, character designers, industrial designers, visual effects artists and writers. To me this is very important because this way you can understand your client’s needs more comprehensively and you may have a better final product because of the collaboration of all these different professionals. You can check out their website and see their work, most of it is designed for MTV or VH1. http://www.peppermelon.tv
This is their Reel for a few of their work:

- BOOLAB is a production company dedicated mostly to motion graphics, animation and other visual techniques. It is based in Barcelona, Spain, but has been represented in USA, and Canada by PSYOP (see description of this studio below), and has created different projects throughout Europe. They use a lot of illustration in their work. You can see the reel below and also their website to view more: http://www.boolab.tv

- PSYOP is very big in the motion graphics world, with studios in Los Angeles and New York. Its name is derived from the US government’s psychological operations, and its slogan is: “Persuade, Change, Influence”. They do projects for some big names like: Coca Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s, Nokia, Starbucks, etc. As well as for some very renown artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sheryl Crow. They use a lot of hand illustration and photography that is later interpreted as a moving image. Their work is brilliant and their website is definitely worth checking out! http://www.psyop.tv/

This Coca Cola ad is one of the most recent projects:

And this is an animation made for MTV HD:

In this industry, 3D is definitely the future. Although it is already happening, it will increase and will be made better. It is expected that 3D design will be more manageable in post-production software, so that 3D graphics can be easily handled and all using one program,

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Around The Barbican Art Centre

For our second task, I chose the new wayfinding system designed for The Barbican Arts Centre.

The Centre has been refurbished, and now has a new look: much more modern and fresh. This includes its environmental sign system, designed by Cartlidge Levene and Studio Myerscough, who won the Design Week Award in 2007 in Wayfinding and Environmental Graphics, for their work throughout the Centre.

This system has a really bright and graphic feel, and it gives the building a completely new look. It’s been created it to improve the navigation around the Centre. They have designed large graphic signs in deep orange that
guide the public throughout its different areas. It is clean and simple, and the orange colour is a great contrast to the building’s neutral tones. It’s designed to flow and integrate with the architecture of the Centre. It gives the space a more vibrant and modern look, very appropriate to the artistic setting of this building.

It is easy to understand, with simple directions, it uses a legible type in colours that contrast with the bright orange. Big signs are built into the building’s shapes, indicating the public where they are or where to go.
They also designed a visitors map to make it easier for the public to navigate through the Barbican, continuing with the visual language of the building’s signage, using the same type, colours, and big signs. The design is simple so the person reading it can find his way easily.

In its weaknesses, some people might think that this signage system is very overpowering and invasive, but I think it is a very good complement to the architecture of the building, and the Centre’s whole concept. And has given the Barbican new and more friendly look.

Visitors map