1. Air Safety Cards are Pretty/Make a Water Landing Seem Plausibly Survivable

    While typically the law-abiding sort, I am only a human, meaning that I am a twitching bundle of nerves and idea juice that leaps and shivers in reaction to the stimulation that comes beaming in my sensory portholes.  As such, I find myself unable to be anything less than a criminal when confronted with an airline safety card.  Something about their bland universalism, firm guiding arrows and t-square born graphic design makes my palms itch, my hairline sweat and my zipper lower.  On my in-flight carry-on, that is.

    In accordance with it’s primary purpose, the internet is there to let me know that I’m not alone in my criminal deviation.  Even outside of the aviation memorabilia/ex-pilot nostalgia parts of town, there’s plenty of straight up freaks for airline safety cards.

    • All Safety Cards has about 30 safety cards from European and Russian airlines.  Some good variety in the design there but certain universal elements (blank stares at disaster, a minimum of decoration or detail) remain.  The scans are a little small so don’t expect to be able to read the text or use these for your dirty little Photoshopping binges.
    • Cabin Safety International actually makes the cards and offers collectors the opportunity to buy them legitimately.  They have a pretty extensive sample section on their site and a request page for ordering.
    • Planespotter’s archive has over 16,000 scans in their collection with contributors worldwide keeping it current.  However, the scans seem to be mostly small and of medium quality, giving you the look and feel but none of that close up daily drama of burning plane land.
    • If you’re looking for a big ball of analog safety card pleasures, can’t go wrong with Design for Impact: Fifty Years of Airline Safety Cards, a look at the design elements of the genre in a standard art book format.  Currently selling for as little as six bucks used over at Amazon.
    • And there’s the obligatory Yahoo group for airline card collectors.  You’ve got to join to see any of the good stuff, unfortunately.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something about Airtoons, a webcomic that tacks the necessary captions on to the graphics we know and love.

  2. Dollar Store Design

    moveablestickNo, this site hasn’t morphed into an Engrish rip-off.  I’ve just been spending a lot of time in dollar stores lately.

    Haunting the aisles of the cheap and easily broken, one begins to pick up on certain design tropes prevalent in goods sold at or near the amount of a dollar.  With the caveat that I am still a young grasshopper when it comes to big-city bargain hunting in the modern five and dime, I will attempt to sketch out some observations on national trends in decoration for products cheaply manufactured.

    Now nothing says cheap like retro styling. In the above label for a ‘Movable Stick’, note the overall 70s vibe.  Warm colors.  Soft focus clip art.  Wavy rainbow lines.  And dig the simplistic logo for Min Long Craft that nearly screams “Owner/Operator/Creative Director”

    I find the sum effect pretty reassuring of a half-assed product at a price low enough that I won’t think twice about splurging on a rolling pin when I don’t even have curtains on my windows yet.  (Dear neighbors: The human body is a beautiful, natural thing.  Especially mine.)

    Even better:


    The subtle clash of elements here is fantastic.  An American flag design with a discreet but readable ‘MADE IN CHINA” and the bold fiery letters of XIAN JIAN on the blue starry field delivers a one-two punch of easy irony.  Drop-shadows, serifs and a lovely gradient matte behind the cryptic product title let you know that when this designer works a pirated copy of Illustrator 4.0, its hard to see the mouse from all the steam coming off the man’s hands.

    A nice tight row of bolts keep things nearly topical (this label comes from a variety pack of nails) and finishing it off with the polite and reassuring ESL slogan gives the whole proceedings that Asian flavor that keeps one coming back to the dollar store.

    A subject for further study is whether there is a national style to cheap product package design.  I’d venture yes, having fed on bottom of the barrel Israeli sesame cookies, cheap Turkish milk crackers and allegedly Durian flavored sandwich cookies from Thailand through various jobs situated next to 99 cent, dollar and 100 yen stores.  More musings on this subject to come.

  3. Carl Jung's The Red Book

    Last week the New York Times published an article by Sara Corbett on Carl Gustav Jung’s unpublished The Red Book entitled “The Holy Grail of the Unconscious.” Corbett’s article covers all of the story from how Jung created the book to its secrecy and ultimate shelving in a safe so there is no need to repeat it here. 9780393065671-3

    The book is the outpouring of Carl Jung’s exploration into his own psyche. The few who have read it said they either read with bated breath or felt it the ramblings of a psychopath.

    The illustration and typography of the book from scans looks amazing, as in these full color scans of The Red Book. Reminds me of the Voynich manuscript— a mysterious illustrated work from the Renaissance filled with peculiar imagery.

    Though unlikely to live up to the hype of those who have read it, The Red Book promises to be a substantial work by one of the twentieth century’s great minds.

  4. Raw Materials: Free Stock Photos & Textures

    The Internet is full of places for finding those stock photos of overly happy women working customer support and businessmen striking a deal for serious business. However, maybe you need an image or texture for your blog, reference, design work, or art work.

    Fortunately there are plenty of places online for free stock images and textures. Always make sure to check licensing as perhaps an image is free but might require permission or may not be available for commercial use.

    One of the oldest resources for free stock images. Relatively recently acquired by Getty Images many budding would be stock photographers cut their camera and illustration chops here.

    A growing gallery of images some with restrictions and some without. Many of the images are out of focus or require some Photoshop tuning, but the range is stunning.

    A great collection of images for reference, remixing, or backgrounds. The images tend to be less people based than stock.xchng and focused towards artists and designers.

    Mayang’s Textures
    I’ve used this site for years for creating 3D textures, backgrounds, and textures. The images are high resolution so are ideal for creating seamless tiles. The limit is 20 images per day, per IP address. You can buy a DVD for a mere $40 USD containing all the images if you hit the limit often.

    CG Textures
    Like Mayang’s, this site is designed and organized primarily for use as textures. The images are primarily of flat textures such as rust, steel, and organic fauna.

    It’s no secret that Flickr has many, many images– but many of them are vacation shots or drooling babies. Those vacations shots can be useful sometimes– like this quite elaborate use of a vacation shot in the film Iron Man. Just make sure its okay to use the image according to the creator’s wishes.

  5. Raw Materials: Social Networking Bookmark Icons

    Scouring the web it was hard to find social networking icons that were not 3D Boxes, bottled shaped, or otherwise irregular. So as the cliché goes sometimes if you want a job done you have to do it yourself. These basic logo icons for Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Twitter, and Delicious are suitable to use as is or modify for a more custom look.

    Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Twitter, and Delicious Icons

    Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Twitter, and Delicious Icons

    The file is a vector EPS version 3.0 file so it should open in most graphics programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Inkscape and many more. They will be used as part of a redesign of this very site (coming soon). If you find these icon logos useful let us know!