An archive of visual dialogue.


A vintage image
Previous Theme
Next Theme

this all started with bearskinrug and i talking about the difference in 1. seeing and 2. reading text, i mentioned katherine mccoy at cranbrook in the early 90’s related to layered, expressionistic design. for more on this read her essay: american graphic design expression

so this is what we’re going to try and do…textual exploration, addition and subtraction. the idea is the start with a word or words and then respond to words by altering, adding or subtracting with other letters or words. make a literal communication change but also use typography to change the feeling and inferred meaning.

compositions can use letterforms, symbols and text. no images this time. we’ll try to say something else besides the literal text read. if we can string along a conversation with the associated words, excellent. if we pull multiple reads and layered messages..mixed messages… of both seeing and reading text, that’s success. if it can be done in a not-so-cliché way (ex. the word cold with snow collecting on top or the word child written in crayon), bearskinrug and mrshape will be happy.

20 years ago, March 13, 2003

Alrighty. I’ll just see that essay…

Then I’ll begin reading it…


ha! actually, it’s reeeeaaaallllyyy long (sorry!)..the last 4 paragraphs are great…


Nice concept, nice start. I’m really looking forward to keeping up with this one. ::cowpiesurprise licks lips::


maybe i am missing something… the only word i see in this first imag is “sex”… maybe im just horny… what does it say?





i think i like bharper’s read better :)

the attempt was to have you see abstract letterforms before reading “see text”…the good news is people have picked up on the x, which i thought might be the most difficult to read…

>> now edited, thanks..


i wish there was a way to edit previous posts..i get typing so fast i keep adding extra words..aggh..


There is a way to edit previous posts. Click on the pencil icon that appears in your comment box. (make sure you’re logged in first…)


Here ya go, mrshape…

20 years ago, March 14, 2003

Wow, nice adaptation of the original. I love how the new type morphs out of, then back into, the old. Splendid.


damn, that’s sweet bearskin….


That’s some nice designologuing guys.

At this early stage it has everything I’d imagine an ideal designologue to have: an intelligent concept, continuity from one image to the next, zero design clichés or Photoshop filters, and thoughtful desciptions accompanying the images.

Hope that doesn’t put too much pressure on you guys ;D

20 years ago, March 15, 2003

Here you go, mrshape… (pass proverbial baton)

20 years ago, March 17, 2003

Mrshape - I have a question? Do you think this image is in line with the theme? After posting, I am beginning to think it lacks multiple reads. Perhaps if it said ‘complete’ instead of completion. Also, if I had used a more progressive font than the italic. any thoughts?


progress more progressive? ;) i think aesthetically the letterforms for the word progress is a departure from the visual language of the conversation (but that’s progress right?)…maybe if the p had also been italic it would provide a visual ‘bridge’ from the serif to the italic?


A good suggestion - I did try that though. I felt the Caslon italic sat poorly within the roman letters. But that’s a subjective call, i guess.

No, I’m more concerned with going away from the theme. But I shall concentrate on not deviating in my next post. In the meantime - I await your reply!


oh..we need to have some fun.

progression? …digression. it happens in any conversation. i wanted to celebrate the new elment and make it a central part of the new image. while caslon italic has now taken control of the center of the board..everything else is now in flux.

20 years ago, March 20, 2003

more mixdemessxaging…

20 years ago, March 21, 2003

Where are the comments when people DON’T like something? Not even cowpie has a suggestion?


I think it’s that whole “Mama always said if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

I think my only complaint (hey you asked for it ;D) with the latest one is that while there is a certain degree of chaos in your image it’s not as chaotic as it would be if the separate units didn’t all share the same horizontal baseline.


Alright, bearskinrug, I’ll try to do this with decidedly less profanity, scatological “humor,” and threats of personal assault than I would in person.

The introduction of sans-serif to this designologue is conspicuous, particularly because it is upside down, which forces the viewer to scrutinize its appearance that much more so they can read it. It is a heavier weight and smaller point size than the existing serif face, which makes for an awkward combination. I think it might have been better integrated had it been a thinner typeface, with some incorporation of the gradient texture.

I understand that the series of 1s is intended to typographically depict the “great, sprawling avenue paved with nails,” but the excess of 1s stretching to the horizon seems more concerned with accurately portraying the “great, sprawling” than it is with serving the greater good of the image. Kill it or find a more subtle way to use it.

For me, those are the two main things working against this image. I think it was a cool idea, but a challenging one, and so the execution’s ambition exceeded its reach.


Now that’s what I’m talking about! Cold, hard criticism!

Inman, good suggestion - I can see where you’re coming from. But I was less trying to support the chaos of digression, as trying to return to a previous path we’ve digressed from (which would logically be order). Either way, I did that poorly…

Cowpie, the introduction of the san-serif was also to hint at a path we’ve digressed from. I can see your point about how it could have read better with the san-serif ‘p’ (the ‘d’ in digression).

And the 1’s? I agree I could lose them. They hurt more than they help.

My intention with this thing was to get people to take this thing in photoshop and flip it over, physically taking a digression (as it is now,) and returning to the conversation (the upside-down san-serif). I think that kind of distracted me from its design problems. I probably should have spent a bit more time tweaking. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Thanks gents. Keep the feedback coming - I’m MORE than willing to put up with criticism - if I lay a turd in your front yard, I want you to yell at me for it…


i have to say i have struggled with this response. i didn’t like the repeating 1’s (nails) in img 06. i felt they were out of place visually, that they distracted from the playful sans serif type…so i wanted to work with them…see what they could do. i am very interested in critique here…

20 years ago, March 24, 2003

It’s funny how I suggested the 1s in Image 6 might work better in a more subtle fashion, yet your anything-but-subtle take on them works well, albeit due in part to the subtle variations you introduced. What I’m still not crazy about, though, is the way they recede in size and tone to the right. On a much, much larger scale, the pattern created would probably be interesting, but within these confines, it is still problematic and distracting.

I very much like the 1/i juxtapositions to the left, but the dots not immediately associated with any letterforms feel extraneous.


You’re a brave man, mrshape! I apologize for sticking you with the i’s, and applaud you for working with them! While I agree with cowpie’s point that the i’s descending in size and tone is tough to swallow, I do like the fact they form nails of their own coming out of the right-hand side. The MIX is a good continuation of your style (mixing and matching pieces to form new words). I’d have to say I agree with cowpie about the dots, also. Why are they there?

What’s interesting - and let me know if you agree, mrshape - about the sole use of type is that I often found myself trying to force typographical elements into a role normally designated for image (especially for myself - I think you’ve done a nice job of it). Sometimes this doesn’t work. Sometimes it does. This different solution set for design problems… does it render my previous standards for a layout invalid? Who knows…

Okay. Hope that’s good enough feedback, mrshape… Now I’ll begin thinking about image 8…


wow. this is by far my lowest rated image :)

it’s okay though, the i’s were fun to play with. and the ratings aren’t taken personally here. certain visual tricks can always be used to produce positive ratings, but how would we push things or take risks in new directions? :) i agree with you brskn that if the rating is going to be sub-3 we can only benefit from knowing why it is that way. thanks for your thoughts cowpie. keep’em coming kids.

the dots are actually a carry over from img 05..where the dots form an things were much more in flux and i thought that the dots could provide that personality without saying it. they could certainly be excused as fluff but try to picture the img composition without them..the type is much more playful in juxtaposition to the dots around it. without the dots it takes on a more serious tone wich i did not want. it is true however, that the dots do not stick literally with the established ground rules (though they are derived from the i)…

looking forward to the conclusion…


I see your point about the dots - you’re completely correct - they ARE necessary. That’s what’s interesting about working with just typographical elements - you need to find new solutions to repair old design problems.


what I didn’t notice before (until I started on my reply image) was that the dots are legitimately there to make the ‘i”s in mix.

I like this designologue…I’m learning a lot from it…


Well mrshape, it seems you’re quite the chef!

20 years ago, March 25, 2003

ha! thanks bearskin..let’s do another dsnlg soon…this time it’s your turn for the recipe…


Triumphs, pitfalls, simplicity, complexity, ratings across the board, risks galore, and all in grayscale. The makings of a solid designologue. You kept us guessing throughout; good work, gentlemen.