History of Vehicle Graphics

In the last decade, vehicle graphics have transformed from an activity normally utilized by businesses with fleet trucks to a popular option for consumers and their cars, trucks, and SUVs. Companies have been using graphics to advertise on their vehicles for more than a century, and the first known examples of automotive advertising occurred around the turn of the last century.

How it All Started

In February of 1900, Milton Hershey became the first to use an automobile to advertise by painting his Lancaster, PA Hershey brand on a vehicle. Later, more embellished designs like Kolb’s Red Label Bread came to surface, incorporating different type faces and imagery. Originally, the only choice was to use paint, but soon something more durable, flexible, and with more design options hit the scene. Paint reigned supreme in the graphics world, and kept its exclusive place for over 50 years. But by the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s a new material began to emerge on the scene and changed the world of graphics forever: vinyl chloride.

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Vinyl for Advertising

At first, only large clients like the U.S. Air Force could afford to use self-adhesive vinyl graphics, but by the 1980’s vinyl production costs and die-cutting technology became affordable enough for small businesses to be able to letter their vehicles without paint.

By the early 1990’s, colorful die-cut vinyl had become the primary method of marking vehicles with lettering and logos for big businesses, while paint remained the choice for customizers and enthusiasts.

In the late 1990’s, new technologies emerged that allowed printing vinyl with a wide format electrostatic printer, but like die-cut vinyl before it, only the largest companies could afford to use it and its capabilities were extremely limited in design, color and image quality.

As the 21st century arrived, an advance in technology happened that not only made it possible for startups to purchase the equipment necessary to print on large format vinyl, but also to make the designs more striking than ever. With piezoelectric inkjet printers, large format graphic design software and computers that could handle over a gigabyte of data, the vinyl wrap was invented.

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Today, vehicle wrapping can be seen everywhere! The industry continues to innovate with better products, strategic printing and installation practices, and more sophisticated designs. If you’re interested in an advertising vehicle wrap for your business, contact Graphic Communications today!

 

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White Space

A strong design requires careful attention to both what’s there and what isn’t there. White space is important because it tells our brains which elements in the design are the most important. It helps us process these elements, both on their own and as part of the overall image.

What is White Space?

White space refers to the space left in between elements of your design. It is also often referred to as negative space. It is essential for a balanced and harmonious layout and without it your design would look cluttered and overcrowded. While the term used is white space, it does not necessarily mean it is white. The space may be any color or texture that represents the negative space in your design.

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Types of White Space

Passive White Space
This is the white space that occurs naturally, such as the area between words on a line or the space surrounding a logo or graphic element.
Active White Space
 This is the space left blank intentionally for better layout or structure. Active white space is often asymmetrical, which makes the design look more dynamic and active.
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Why is White Space Important?

Improves readability and comprehension

When text and images on the page are cluttered and overcrowded, it can make your design quite difficult to read and comprehend. Adding white space allows the reader or viewer to focus on the key message or design in front of them. This applies to both text and design elements. White space allows the reader to easily read and understand what they are viewing.

Highlights a key message or design element

White space is a creative and powerful way of drawing the reader or viewer to a particular element of the design. It is also a powerful way to create a certain mood or look in a design piece. It can create focus and highlight design elements by offering visual cues to which elements belong together and which are separate.

Increases visual appeal

White space creates focus, balance and reinforces quality and professionalism. It is visually appealing and creates a clean, relaxing visual effect.

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The general rule of thumb is less is more. Don’t overcrowd your design in an attempt to push your marketing message through. Strategic and thoughtful use of white space is important and will offer a more professional representation of your brand.

Rebranding

Like anything in life, brands evolve with the times as their target audience changes or they have grown to offer new services. When first starting a company it can be difficult to know exactly who your future customers will be. You learn as you go along so your brand must evolve to meet your customer’s expectations.FortyTwo

When is it Time to Rebrand?

The decision to rebrand is usually made when a company feels that their brand does not match the company that they have become. Whether it is because you are no longer reaching your target market or because your brand has become dated. 

To reach a new audience

Your current brand may not be attracting the customers or clients you want. 

Values have changed

If your brand values and overall philosophy have changed leading you to take a different direction with your company, your brand should reflect these values. 

Outdated

If it’s been decades since you have updated your brand’s identity it may be time to determine what changes can modernize your look. These changes can be minor to major.

Refresh or Total Rebrand?

If you’ve decided that the company would benefit from rebranding, it’s time to determine the scale of this effort.

A Refresh

This is a lighter and more targeted effort. A simple refresh makes sense if a specific element of the brand could use a more contemporary take, as in the logo or product packaging look dated; or if there have been developments to the business, as in new products have been released.google-logos-1998-2015-020915

Google’s logo has gone through several refreshes throughout the years, all of which are relatively minimal. 

Total Rebrand 

This is a wide-reaching and high-effort brand overhaul. If a critical part of the business has changed—for instance you’re pursuing a completely new market, targeting a different demographic, selling a new core product, or are undergoing a merger/acquisition then it might make sense to do a total rebrand.doritos

Doritos newest logo gives a more action-oriented vibe. They have been promoting themselves as ‘bold’ and this logo reflects that sentiment. 

Rebranding Process

Define

Determine if a rebranding is needed and identify the specific reasons. 

Develop

Devise a plan to rebrand. Once you’ve identified the reason for the rebrand, you need to come up with an outline of how to achieve your goal. Include projected costs and a timeline indicating important targets.

Design

Visualize the Future. Developing the design includes testing for quality and functionality of the logo, font, and icons. They are developed inconjunction with the brand statement, story, and tagline in mind. This may take some time spent positioning all the elements of the design and tweaking it to perfection. 

Deliver

Implement the brand changes. Transition your brand to the new logo, product, etc. in accordance with your established plan. Update your business cards, letterhead, website and social media profiles as needed.

Rebranding is a big decision. The decision should be made with as much care as you took when you started your company.  Though your customers are changing, they still crave the comfort of familiarity. By mindfully taking advantage of your years of experience and paying close attention to your target market, you can navigate your business into the future. 

Digital Art

Digital art can be regarded as original, creative work developed on a digital computer and created and/or presented by some form of digital technology. The term digital art extends to a wide variety of works and ways of working. Digital art can be generated completely by a computer, derived from a previously existing source, or exist as an image. Digital art is developed by using digital hardware tools such as, a mouse, a graphics tablet, or a projector and software such as, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and FinalCutPro. From a technical standpoint the term digital art might also be used to describe artwork accomplished using traditional media as in paint, wood, metal and or processes as in painting, printmaking, sculpture which are then scanned, photographed, or videotaped to make a digital replica. However it is accomplised, the term digital art is most accurately applied to artwork that has been created through computing technologies.

Traditional vs. Digital Art

Traditional Art

The term ‘traditional arts’ refers to fine arts that use the old methods for creating artwork, such as pens, brushes, clay and other tools. Although traditional arts have different techniques than digital arts, the different forms of art are still related to each other by the same concept. There are two elements that all traditional artworks have in common: It can be touched — it’s made of physical materials and It’s “one of a kind”— it can’t be copied without creating it all over again.

Digital Art

In the digital environment we don’t have wood, charcoal, or paint. Everything is the same — just in a combination of 0’s and 1’s translated to a visual form on the screen. These 0’s and 1’s can simulate any medium you can imagine. Allthough digital art is not bound by the rules of traditional art, it often simulates it to give the user something familiar and to make the whole process more intuitive for the artist. Early digital painting programs were based on coloring the pixels with a mouse, but today they offer much more. The digital paint blends naturally and can be mixed and is usually applied with a special stylus on a graphics tablet.

The History Of Digital Art

“The Era of the Pioneers” (1956 to 1986)

In this time frame are many of the earliest known experimenters in digital art. Many of these investigators were not artists by training, but engineers and scientists. It is certain that their collective visual explorations were essential to what was an emerging medium literally outside of the attention of the general public. At this point in the development of digital art the experimental writing of computer programs was central to most of the work produced during this era, as “off the shelf” software simply did not exist. Computer displays were monochromatic and computer-based printing technologies were nearly non-existent.

“The Paint Box Era” (1986 to 1996)

It is in this era of digital art that commercial software became available to the general public. The release of these applications did not create an immediate flood of graphics programs into the market, but there was a slow and steady development of consumer software that had never before been available to the non-programming public. These early commercial applications attracted artists to the field of computing who were not trained primarily as programmers or engineers. It was these “early adopting” visual artists who had the vision and the experimental fortitude to create electronic works that could be accomplished without deep programming knowledge. It is during this era that the “paint program” made its first appearance bringing with it the introduction of the pixel to visual artists. Additionally, this is a time when the first affordable computers were introduced into the market. An example of this was the Apple II computer (sold in 1976 for $1300.00 US) developed by Steve jobs and Steve Wozniak is considered by many researchers to be the first true personal computer brought to the general marketplace. Finally, this era also saw the introduction of devices such as the scanner and the mouse. In this time frame the computer became part of society throughout much of the world. The personal computer, the software, and some useful and interesting devices were now in the hands of artists.

“The Era of Multimedia” (1996 to today)

Within this era digital artists were moving deeply into new forms of imaging through the GUI (graphical user interface). The application “Photoshop” came into being in the early 1990’s and photography has never been the same. Along with the general public, artists also entered the exciting new space offered by the Internet, and interactive art, and the countless options offered by other commercialized forms of digital media became a significant focus for many creative investigations. During this period digital art became more and more of a common area of study in academic art programs, in museums, and into the public consciousness. In the early 21st century it is clear that the great expansion of computer gaming, online art forms, digital media, digital photography and videography, web design, and virtual worlds have opened the public and media consciousness in various ways and forms. Digital art in its many forms is now available to anyone with an Internet connection, and has in this way become nearly present everywhere.

How Has Digital Art Revolutionized Art?

In the 21st century digital technology has become a powerful force in nearly every part of life, from art to science, to communication, to entertainment, and to navigation. The impact of various digital tools and techniques has also spread to the art world internationally as well. Within this technological revolution, digital art has become a necessary part of some institutional and educational environments. In art culture, work made through digital means has had a dramatic impact over the last 15-20 years and will continue to make an impact for years to come.

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.

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.

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