Minimalism

Minimalism is one of the most influential styles used today — from design, architecture, music, and literature. Minimalism is not about the absence of design, but it is about stripping down the design and only using the fewest elements to create the maximum effect. “Less is more” as said by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe — a key figure in this movement, is the main principle used for minimalism.

The Elements of Minimalism

Minimalism is about the return to the basics of contrast, space, organization, color, dominant visual, and typography.

Contrast: Black and white schemes are popular because they contain a lot of contrast between elements. But any high-level contrast works. Use elements with opposing forces — such as large and small text or images, or open space and a single element, or other colors with plenty of contrast.

Space: Minimalism is built on space, and while you don’t have to include massive amounts of white space, element breathability is a must. Each piece in the design must have room to stand on its own in the design.

Organization: Go back to some of the roots of minimalism and use lines and rectangles. A grid will keep you organized and your design feeling harmonious.

Color: Contrast and color are usually mentioned together in minimalist design, but are separate visuals. Color can create contrast, and it is an important part of the planning process. Rather than the two to four colors from a traditional color scheme, try to stick to a single hue in a light and/or dark framework.

Dominant visual: Dominance links directly to contrast. Dominant visuals include an image, block of text or element with surprising color.

Typography: The common usage in most minimalist frameworks is sans serif typography. Go with a typeface that has clean lines and simple strokes. If you are using type as the dominant element, consider a typeface with more personality for contrast.

Who and What Influenced Minimalism?

You can find elements of minimalism in design, art and architecture in almost any time period. The style has an almost timelessness to it that makes designers keep coming back. The roots of minimalism as we know it today can be traced to three key periods.

The first is the De Stijl movement, which began in the Netherlands in the early 1900s. De Stijl, Dutch for “The Style,” is characterized by horizontal and vertical lines and flat planes of primary colors. De Stijl was popularized by painters, sculptors, architects and graphic designers.

Second is German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He is credited with the saying, “Less is more.” His post World War I designs show his minimalist approach, using modern materials like steel and glass plates to create minimal structural framework, allowing for lots of open space.

The third influence is traditional Japanese design. The simplicity of their designs came from idea of only having what is essential. Anything not needed was seen as a distraction and was omitted. Their architecture, interior design and clothing all reflected the principals behind minimalism.

Minimalism in Modern Design

Minimalism has penetrated virtually every corner of life and is apparent all around us — from the sleek design of the smart phone we use, to the cars we drive, to the internet and websites we use, and to visual designs we see and interact with every day.

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Isotype

Isotype, short for International System Of TYpographic Picture Education, showed social, historical, biological, educational, societal, and technological connections in a “picture language,” as Otto Neurath, its creator, referred to it as. Originally called the Vienna method of pictorial statistics, he founded Isotype at the Gesellschaft und Wirtschaftsmuseum in Wien, Austria, in 1925. The team grew to a total of 25 people; it was comprised of the Data Collectors (historians, staticians, and economists), the Transformers (visual editors and conduits between the data collectors and graphic artists, the Graphic Artists (illustrators who drew the symbols and artwork), and the Technical Assistants (assisted in paste-up, coloring, and photography). Their maps, charts, and other visualizations helped people interpret complex ideas about Austrian life. Isotype’s lasting influence can be seen in infographics, computers, signs, and more.

Stylistic Attributes

The main unit in breaking down statistics with Isotype is the pictogram. An object would be simplified from its details to illustrate what its connoting. They functioned as repeatable units and indicated certain values. Gerd Arntz, who got hired at the Gesellschaft und Wirtschaftsmuseum in 1928, produced them from lino-cuts. Color palletes were limited, and they depicted certain details within the statistics. Great care was taken to ensure that the pictograms were distinguishable from one another and could be placed side by side in rows. Small variations can be made to them to give the pictograms a certain context, like a man wearing a cap of a certain industry. Perspective was not used in favor of single dimension. Their simplicity hides the labor it took in creating these pictograms.

How It Worked

Isotype’s most important feature was its ease of communication without the need of language. Economic and social events were visualized to be understood by people of all ages and backgrounds. Otto Neurath has described Isoype as a “language-like technique” characterized in the use of graphic elements. He believed that picture language was effective across a wide range of ages and that a good pictorial chart could speak as clearly to a young child as an adult. More or less was not represented by bigger or smaller symbols, but by less or more of those of the same size. Even if the content changed, viewers faced pictograms and charts drawn with the same design approach which enabled them to better understand the visual language. The themes of housing, social administration, and education were inextricably linked and many Isotype charts were designed to show such relationships.

Lasting Impact

The central themes which concerned the Isotype movement— housing, health, social administration, and education— were also taken up in later periods and in other countries. Health education, for instance, was taken up on an international front in the 1930s with the major publicity campaign to combat tuberculosis, which was promoted by the National Tuberculosis Association of America. Isotype’s pictograms reached a larger audience in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as well, and the use of pictograms in international events increased. Today we see them on phones, in airports, maps, signs, and more. The Isotype movement has also had an impact on infographics, public space, and wayfinding. Its strongest influence is seen most clearly in the field of graphic statistics.

Your Business Website

The web has allowed us to do an ever increasing amount of things online, like selling, trading, streaming content, and so much more. Its also provided small businesses a digital place to market themselves, which is active 24/7/365. Anybody can log on and check you out; people may want to see what your hours are, what kind of work you do and how well, they need contact info, etc. An effective website can increase your customer base, but an ineffective website could potentially have a negative effect.

Importance of a Website
87% of the population in the United States is connected to the internet. You’re missing out on a huge chunk of the market if you’re not on the web. A website can act as a marketing hub, displaying all business details, information about products, contact information, promotions, and any other vital information you need potential customers to know. The information you provide could lead to a visitor hiring you on. A website also gives your business a boost in credibility. Wouldn’t you be taken aback to find that a business you were considering hiring lacked a website? You wouldn’t know what you were getting into, and that would most likely have you check elsewhere. Businesses that have websites are much more credible, especially in this point in time, where internet usage is only increasing. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, a website can contain galleries of your products or services. If the work speaks for itself, potential customers may be intrigued enough to pick up the phone or drop a message.  If you don’t think you need a website, consider how customers are missing out on finding you online, and how you’re missing out on potential business. In the end, it’s really the customers that you’re creating a website for, so have keep them in mind when evaluating your own site.

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Making it Effective
It’s not enough to just simply have a website— it has to be effective so as to turn visiting potential customers into paying customers. There are general guidelines and principles you can employ to maximize the effectiveness of your site and have users take action. Hierarchy is a principle you can incorporate so it’s clear what the important elements are and what the secondary ones are. People read from left to right, and that’s how  they scan websites as well, so positioning the important information on the left will make sure it gets seen. For example, putting the logo at the top left or center is common. It’s typical that clicking on the logo takes the user back to the home page. Incorporating white space assists in organizing the web page, making clear what each section contains. It allows the eye to take a rest and makes for a neat, open appearance. The principles of design can be used to structure the site. As in print design, it’s important to use no more than three typefaces and colors. Any more and the page can have a messy look. Abiding by typical conventions like the positioning of the logo, or positioning the navigation at the top, right, or left will make users feel somewhat familiar going in and will make perusing the site easier and intuitive. Maintaining consistency is vital in making a unified website.

Time for a Redesign?
Having no website means your missing out on all the potential, but having a bad website is more of a disservice since having a bad website makes the business look bad in turn. The web is evolving at an increasing pace; it can look obvious who didn’t bother to modernize. For example, Google Fonts allows the application of a wide variety of beautiful typefaces to fit the aesthetics of any kind of website. Foregoing this feature and sticking with typical web fonts will make the site look like it was made in the 90s. If you’re not at the top when people search for your business, that can be an indication that SEO is not up to standards. Improving content and internal linking structure can boost it. The biggest indication that it’s time for a redesign, however, is having a site that is not responsive. Responsive websites are websites that can scale depending on the size of the device. More than 20% of Google searches are being performed on a smartphone or tablet, and 1 in 4 exclusively access it from those devices. A desktop site is not meant to be viewed on a mobile device, and having to constantly manipulate the viewing area to see everything will get real annoying real fast. It can be frustrating enough for a user to check out a competitor instead.

 

Typography

“Good typography is invisible, bad typography is everywhere”

Type is defined as typeset text or any specifically shaped reproducible characters. Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language readable and legible. Type is everywhere; in books, on websites, signage, vehicle graphics, marketing materials, and storefront windows to name a few. The historical and physical attributes of type are taken into account when designing for specific media. There is a lot to typography, such as the different type family classifications and subclassifications, displaying the type, and readability and legibility. These factors culminate to display words in a well designed, applicable fashion.

The word typeface refers to the collection of letterforms designed to go together. A font refers to all the characters of a specific typeface. For example, Gotham Regular is a typeface belonging to the font Gotham. The latin alphabet that we are familiar with today grew out of a combination of Greek, Semitic, and southern Italian influences. The main type family classifications have evolved since that time; Serif, Sans Serif, Script, Blackletter, and Display. They differ by their physical attributes and when they came to fruition. The two most widely used classifications are Serif and Sans Serif. Serifs have subclassifications of their own, which are Humanist, Old Style, Transitional, Modern, and Slab. The Sans Serif subclassifications are Grotesque, Geometric, and Humanist. The aforementioned type family classifications differ by the protruding features stemming from the main strokes of the letters— referred to as serifs— or lack thereof. Type style refers to the various versions of a typeface. A type style, for example, can be bold, italic, or hairline. Using certain typestyles such as bold or italic throughout text helps organize and highlight information. However, save them just for that; it’s not advised to write a paragraph in all bold or italic.SerifandSans.jpgCertain types of fonts have nuances about them that make them more suitable for certain applications than others. A pretty script typeface would be a poor choice for a biker bar, and blackletter text doesn’t jive well with hair salons. Those are extreme examples, but they illustrate how a business can get lost in translation because of a poor type choice.  Serif typefaces tend to be used for a more traditional look. The fine details of the serifs don’t always display well on screens, especially at small sizes on high resolution displays. This may change as screen resolution continues to improve. Sans serif fonts illustrate a modern look. They’re widely used on the web because they display well on screens of various resolutions. Script, display, and blackletter fonts should be used sparingly in a design. Over-use of those fonts diminish the impact that they can have; they have all the impact they need when used only once. They make great choices for headlines and are not suitable for body copy. Script fonts can be found on wedding invitations because of their formal tone. There are other types of scripts that have a more casual or fun look to them. Lots of display fonts are available to aide in creating an atmosphere in a design. Blackletter fonts can add a medieval and dark tone to a design. PoorType.jpgReadability and legibility are key when working with typography. If those two factors are executed poorly, readers will have a hard time reading, and may get frustrated and give up. Readability refers to how easily a page of text can be read and navigated and legibility refers to the ease with which a reader can recognize and differentiate between letterforms. Long lines of text cause eye fatigue, which is a matter of readability. For print, lines of text should be sixty to seventy characters per line, while with web the ideal amount of characters per line is about forty. Out of left aligned, centered, right aligned, and justified text, left aligned text is the most easy to read because the various line lengths provide a point of reference for moving down to the next line. Tightly spaced letters and tight leading also damper readability because of how text gets squished; it becomes much more difficult to ascertain letters and words. Legibility is a matter of typeface and its background. Script typefaces aren’t legible enough for long passages of text, and all caps script is even worse. Display fonts are applicable for headlines but not for long passages. Serif and sans serif typefaces are the most legible. Lower case text is more legible than all caps, and that’s because of the shapes lower case letters create. All caps create rectangles, so each letter has to be read individually to make out a word. Black text on a white background is the most legible color combination.Readability.jpg

Working With GC

You may have just gotten in business and are in need of a brand identity, or you may have a brand identity and need to project your business to further engage with your target market. Either way, helping to convey your business is our business. Vehicle graphics, signage, stationery, and design are only a few of the services we offer to do just that. Whatever medium a job calls for, your business will be seen in the same light that you’ve seen in your vision. We’ll make your message crystal clear and design it in a way that clicks.

Consultation
Every project begins with a consultation to nail down the objective. That consultation can be had over the phone, through email, or right here in the shop. It can be as easy as updating a business card or as complex as vehicle graphics. Whatever the case, that initial dialog is paramount in getting us on the same page so we can fulfill what the project calls for. Any pertinent files can be sent via email. If necessary, we can create or update current graphics from scratch; for example, a business card or logo. Once the deposit is collected, the project begins.

Design
After we have a clear idea of the project, the design process is underway. Print materials typically involve cut and dry dimensions so we can usually get going on design right away. Projects such as vehicle graphics, signage, and storefronts can’t be started without accurate pictures and measurements since we create in scale; that allows for accurate sizing and installation. A design typically goes through a series of tweaks by the client before a project is deemed ready for production. We send a preview image after every stage of development to ensure the client’s specifications are satisfied throughout the process. We don’t begin processing the order until the project has been officially signed off.

Execution
Upon approval of the design, the production phase begins. The client is notified when the graphics have been prepared. In the case of vehicle graphics and signage, an appointment must be scheduled to have the graphics applied. Vehicle graphics typically get installed in our climate-controlled bay. We can come out to your location for signage or heavy machinery application. Vehicles can be left here for as long as needed. Application takes anywhere from a half an hour to a few hours depending on the size of the job. It typically takes around four days for stationery to be prepared. We can mail or you can pick it up from our shop. We then send an invoice and wait for our chance to work on your next project.

The Art of Big Signs

Large signs are everywhere we glance. At a normal viewing distance they appear to be small. Since signs are often surrounded by visual clutter, simplicity is the key to a good design. A simplistic approach such as one image, few words, and simple typefaces, works best.

The Art Of Big Signs

Edit your message. Keep it simple, so the sign is condensed to its essential minimum. A generous amount of white space (negative space) balances a sign with its surrounding elements and sets a clear stage for the message to be seen.

Start with a short headline. Think short and simple. One to three words is ideal. The fewer the words the larger the letter size can be. This allows for the message to be read and understood quickly.

Use clear images. Good signs have images that are clear objects with little detail and distinctive silhouettes.

Design for close-up reading. Most big signs will also be seen up-close. For this distance, signs can include smaller type and more complex graphics if needed. Informational signs are for up close reading, not for attention getting. They can be designed like simple over-sized pages.

Establish a look with a series of signs. A series of signs looks best when they all look alike. The size relationship doesn’t have to be psychically identical, but they must feel the same.

Sales signs or P.O.P. signs get attention and sell at the same time. Most sales or P.O.P. (Point of Purchase) signs are seen mid-distance and at close-up range. Such signs need to succeed in making the most effective use of space, color, images, and words. These signs must stimulate the buying instinct for shoppers. A good attention getting and visually harmonious design is critical for a successful sale or P.O.P. sign.

Announcement signs are designed for quick, brief attention, and are usually seen at mid-distance and up close. Use bold letters to establish a focal point with the headline.

Way-finding signs such as large highway signs or in-store directional signs are about giving directions. Highway signs are huge so they need to be simple with a clear typeface that has a larger percentage of letter spacing (see guidelines). This adds enough air between letters to easily distinguish one letter from the next.

Indoor signs must be read easily but can be more decorative and reflect its surroundings.

Why Offer Coupons
No one can resist a coupon! Coupons can be an enticing form of advertising. They are appropriate for all businesses, especially those with special promotions during the year. Restaurants use coupons to build traffic on a normally slow day, amusement parks use them to reduce the price of admission for people who buy their tickets in advance, and dry cleaners use them to lure business. They are versatile ads that entice people to take advantage of a sale, urge them to visit a new location, or reward them for shopping in your store at any time.

Coupons can be found in newspaper ads, stuffed into customer’s bags to give them an incentive to return, on a website for people to print out and redeem, or inserted into mailed publications. The disadvantage to coupon packs are that they can get lost in the pile. A bright and intriguing coupon can help avoid this.

Coupons are great to track advertising. Different offers or different designs, in various publications, will help track the ones that are working and which ones aren’t. Be creative and find a way to use coupons in any advertising mix that can help benefit your business. Include an expiration date on all coupons. Consider all possibilities in choosing a wise offer. A coupon that offers something for free will get the people in, but they may not return. It’s better to offer something free with an additional purchase or give a 50 percent discount on the purchase of one item.

Did You Know? The latest trend for large signs is solar powered LED signs. Improvements in efficiency of today’s solar panels, both in the amount of energy they can collect and the ability to store that energy, have led to an increasing number of sign related applications including solar powered LED signage which presents a greener choice for our environment.

One Way Vision Films

These graphics are printed on a special film called One Way Vision by Clear Focus, which is a pioneer in the latest window graphics solutions. This special film consists of pressure-sensitive adhesive and non-adhesive perforated (tiny circles) window film and overlaminates. One Way Vision transforms any glass surface into colorful, eye-catching, see-through graphics and offers an affordable solution for advertising. This product results in maximum visual impact that’s not the conventional opaque signage.

One Way Vision Films
One Way Vision films allow stunning graphics on one side and a clear, unobstructed view from the other. These films are ideal for producing decals, vehicle window graphics, POP (Point of Purchase), commercial window signage, retail signage, building wraps, brand marketing, corporate identity and much more. One Way Vision films create new, innovative media space without obstructing the view. It can also enhance security issues, since it limits the amount of vision that is possible by looking in from the outside.

Benefits:
Creates new, innovative media space.
Cutting-edge graphics technology that gives advertisers a competitive advantage. Allows premium ad placement for high-profile advertising.

Features:
Reduces heat and glare from the sun.
Clear pressure-sensitive adhesive that’s easy to install and remove. Available for exterior or interior applications.

Product Overview
How does One Way Vision film work? This special film is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with up to 50% of the film micro-perforated to achieve the desired image resolution and one-way visibility. The black (non- imaged) side of the film through which people see maximizes its transparency. Lighting is the final ingredient: for optimum effect, lighting on the graphics side must be brighter than on the non-imaged side. One Way Vision film can be used for either exterior or interior mounting. Depending on the usage, these films are available with variations in the size and amount of perforation.

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Did You Know? In using One Way Vision films, bright colors (e.g., red, yellow, orange, bright green, and blue) provide the best results. Avoid using dark colors (dark purple, navy, brown, black) for backgrounds or other large areas. This is because with bright colors, the eye tends to focus on the graphics, whereas dark colors allow the eye to see through the graphics. The perforating process reduces the reflectivity of an image. We suggest increasing the image contrast by 10%-20% to compensate for this effect.