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All posts by Alex Cornell

Alex Cornell is a San Francisco-based Designer and Musician. He is a cofounder of Firespotter Labs, a Google Ventures funded startup. He has also worked for IDEO, Plancast, and many other Bay Area companies as a UI/UX and brand designer. Recently he passed over 2 million views on YouTube where he maintains a periodic online musical presence. Contact Alex: emailE=('alex@' + 'iso50.com') document.write( '' + emailE + '' ) Links for Alex Cornell: Alex's main site / portfolio Alex on Twitter Alex's Music

Kidnapping Myself on Youtube

Posted by Alex


Last year I invented an aeronautical research company called Aeolas International. Their sole purpose was to take my Youtube personality hostage and post videos of their scientific findings. Ideally people would think that this was actually happening and I would eventually become mega famous. This didn’t happen exactly as planned, but the process of diving deep into a self initiated project was terrific and something I would highly recommend. I’m excited now to get a chance to further explain the project; the motivations behind it, the process, and what eventually unfolded.

Background

Some of you may know that I am also a musician. Most of the work I have online is design related, but I also maintain a Youtube page where I mainly post covers of my favorite songs. I’ve been posting over there for about 2 years now and some videos have done quite well (150K + views). Most chill somewhere around 15K. Overall it’s been a great way to get my musical side out there and generate a fan base. An example of a “normal” pre-Aeolas video is below.

At the end of last year I decided it was time to switch it up. I was enjoying my periodic recording sessions, but I wasn’t nearly as into it as I was when I started. The market had become significantly more saturated with cover artists and I felt like I was just one of thousands of people doing exactly the same thing. Initially, I felt like I was distinguishing myself with higher quality recording techniques, but even this became relatively commonplace. After an intense brainstorming session, I decided it would be best to invent an old aeronautical research company called Aeolas International that would take me hostage. I didn’t really have much of a plan beyond that when I started.

Continue reading →

Maxim Zhestkov

Posted by Alex




I’m still wrapping my head around how cool those videos were that Jakub posted yesterday. In a similar (but stylistically divergent) vein, these clips by Russian artist Maxim Zhestkov are stunning. He’s got a few videos on his Vimeo page, the rest you have the see on his site. If you click the thumbnails above, they will link to their corrosponding video. They all remind me of the Minus the Bear “Planet of Ice” album cover, if everything went completely crazy.

Phil Ashcroft

Posted by Alex




Big fan of these paintings by Phil Ashcroft

The unknown is a space at once fascinating and fearful by mankind’s technological advances and the romantic notion that there still lies undiscovered elements to the world in which we live. A derelict hospital, oil depots, nuclear power stations, the abominable snowman; collectively these semi-surreal settings and cartoon-like motifs appear as mysterious manifestations, phenomena both real and imagined. link

via Changethethought

Qubik

Posted by Alex






Qubik Design is a graphic studio based in Leeds UK. I like everything about these pieces except the color. The layout and type compositions I find very interesting; personally I just don’t prefer the chosen hues of green, blue or gold. Otherwise I think this work is fantastic. Especially that first one! I also like how clean and organized their site is. I’m starting to appreciate this much more now as a writer; recently I’ve come upon a number of sites that are so poorly laid out I give up researching, even if the work is amazing.

Trent Mitchell

Posted by Alex





A few photos from Australian photographer Trent Mitchell. That first image is really amazing — looks more like a painting than a photo to me. I am obsessed (and terrified) of the ocean, and I love shots like this that capture the colossal power and beauty of the ocean.

The other day I was convinced I needed to take underwater shots with my new camera. Thinking an underwater housing might cost somewhere around $100, I set out to purchase one and rent a wetsuit. This, I’ve learned, was a naive assumption. An underwater housing for my camera costs approx $3500. The dream died as quickly as it appeared.

The original inspiration for this underwater mission was the work of Asako Narahashi. The idea of floating just off the coast of various beaches, taking the occasional photo, sounded pretty good. Looks like I’ll have to make due with a complicated array of ziplock bags.

Dropular Reboot

Posted by Alex


After being “almost done” for the last couple weeks (months?), the newly redesigned Dropular has been released into the wild. Dropular, like FFFFOUND and vi.sualize.us, is a social bookmarking site for images. I used it a fair amount when it first came out; I liked how clean and streamlined the design was. It was also very easy to tell how images got to the front and what the “top” image criteria was (unlike FFFFOUND, which is a complete mystery to me). You could organize the content by “most dropped” of all time, the month, etc. You could also roll over images to see quickly how many people had added it to their collection. And if I remember correctly, there was an infinite scroll, which increased the likelihood that you would spend an inordinate amount of time browsing the backlog.

I haven’t really had a chance to play around with the new site too much yet, but it’s here and ready for testing. Everything looks OK to me thus far — it’s definitely still under development, so it’s kind of hard to judge whether or not things have improved. At the moment, most of the features I loved and mentioned above appear to be gone. Hopefully they are still to come (they have stated numerous times that features will continue to be rolled out as the release progresses).

It looks like registration will soon be open for new users, so keep an eye out if you didn’t have a chance to get an account last year.

Image via Olly M (was the first thing I Dropped when I signed up last year. Perhaps an apt motto for the Dropular development team…)

Nike Music Shoe

Posted by Alex

This is absolutely everywhere on the internet right now because it is absolutely awesome. The Nike Music Shoe video features Tokyo DJ duo Hifana playing different Nike shoes via bends, bounces, and slams. Easily one of the most creative branding videos I’ve seen in a long while. The last time I got this excited over a soft sell video like this was probably Only the Brave. Talk about inspiring too. After watching Music Shoe I want to run, paint, jam, fly and do just about everything creative I can possibly do.

UPDATE: Wow. They actually were playing the shoes

The Unfortunate Omnipresence of Archer

Posted by Alex


One of the very first articles I ever wrote for this blog lamented the careless proliferation of Archer, the slab serif from H&FJ. At the time, I was specifically reacting to the unfortunate redesign of the San Francisco Chronicle. That was in February of last year. Since then, the typeface has spread itself ever further, and continues to pop up just about everywhere.

Lauren Adams wrote a article about this very topic over on the AIGA blog. She states, “Archer’s instant stardom raises questions about its appropriateness. Can a font with such a defined character properly suit so many purposes?” She goes on to point out numerous recent examples of Archer’s continued domination of the ‘friendly’ typeface sphere. I was excited to see her article, as this issue continues to bug me the more I spot those little ball terminals. (Be sure to check out the blog she mentions, Archer Alert, for recent examples of Archer in the wild.)

At the end of my article back then, I asked if “Archer was the next Papyrus” — a polarizing contention to be sure — but maybe now my question doesn’t seem so far fetched. Before you get all crazy on me, let me say again that I am a *fan* of Archer. It looks good. I have nothing against the way it is drawn and actually think that it is quite amazing (like all of H&FJ’s work). Though as Lauren states, “an elegant typeface doesn’t simply translate to universal functionality.” I would add that such a distinctive typeface shouldn’t translate to ubiquity.

Like Papyrus, Archer shares a unique personality and the aforementioned “defined character”. Just as Papyrus became the go-to font for “exotic” or “earthy”, Archer has become the easy choice for “friendly” and “approachable”, which makes its misuse all the more prevalent. The more Archer is used in scenarios where it’s vaguely appropriate, the less effective it becomes in situations where it actually makes sense. As Christopher Simmons points out in the comments over there, “In unskilled hands even a Stradivarious will only make noise”. With Archer being clumsily wielded as frequently as it is, it’s this “noise” that has rendered unbiased viewings of the typeface impossible.

So I’ll ask again and this time duck for cover, is Archer the next Papyrus? Is it just a matter of time before the next summer blockbuster uses Archer for the movie poster?