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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

Vintage Book Covers

Posted by Alex

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I was exploring the depths of my basement the other day and came across these books. My favorite is the first one, but I think they all have something interesting going on. (I remember the Animal Farm cover from Scott’s post a while back.) The typography of each cover is worth noting — especially the beautiful implementation of the lowercase Carousel on the “Secrets of Health…” cover! The ampersand in particular is pretty amazing. As much as I love Bodoni and Didot, Carousel has a few extra twists that make it more exciting to me.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t live in a design centric city; all the used bookstores were plundered long ago of anything with cool design at work. It is a rare occurrence that I find something worth buying at even the most remote vintage bookshop. Got out here too late!

Apologies for the iPhone photos — it was all I had at the time and I couldn’t pass up the chance to snap some shots. Also worth noting is the price of some of these…when was the last time you paid 25c for a book?

Said the Computer to the Specialist

Posted by Alex

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Said the Computer to the Specialist is a new book by Tom Rowe. It’s a collection of illustrations of analog recording equipment and long extinct super computers. Very stylish if you ask me. I would love to see some typography going on though — could really make some of these pieces. Nothing crazy, just some interesting titling to introduce some variety and that extra level of visual interest. Either way, some terrific illustrations.

Production is limited to 50 signed/numbered copies, so better act fast if you’re interested. Availible for purchase through Nobrow press.

via The Silver Lining

Siggi Odds

Posted by Alex

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Icelandic artist Siggi Odds is amazing. I think it’s great that he takes time to describe a little background for his projects — each description is perfectly concise and provides just enough context for a better understanding of his artistic choices. Not to mention the work is terrific. I would love to see what he’s been working on recently — if his older work is any indication, he is probably doing some pretty incredible design. Keep an eye out for updates on his site. Hopefully see something new soon!

via The Strange Attractor

Color Management: A Field Guide

Posted by Alex

Color Management: A Field Guide
Whether you are designing for print or for the web, making the leap from what you see on your computer screen to the outside world can be a tricky process, fraught with unpredictable changes and unexpected results. The web is full of information regarding color management and sifting through it can be very overwhelming. Contradictory opinions abound and it can be difficult to find reliable sources of information.

Over the last few months, Scott and I have been researching this topic extensively. With the addition of the new Epson 9900 to the studio, we wanted to be sure that our printer workflow was optimized and producing a consistent output. With the help of Kirk Economos of Meridian Cyber Solutions, we have implemented a color management system that works for us. Below we have tried to aggregate this knowledge into a simple and useful guide, designed to help you ensure your studio is set up correctly. It is not intended to be the end-all article on color management by any means — but it’s a good place to start if color management isn’t something you have previously implemented or considered.

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Design Magazine Overview

Posted by Alex

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As much as I love my Google Reader, I still prefer to get my design fix in printed form. In addition to providing the necessary dose of inspiration, magazines usually include insightful commentary and design criticism. I love this sort of writing on design and it seems like the best place to find it is still in the “unplugged” land of printed media. Additionally, with each one you get an actual piece of design to hold in your hand. It’s easy to forget how cool this is if you’re used to bouncing from blog to blog. After the jump, I’ve put together an overview of a the major players in the design magazine realm. Check out the list!

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Branding Strategy: Names

Posted by Alex

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If you’re like me, you have piles and piles of notebooks filled with half-baked name ideas for firms, bands, and the like. When I was in college, I think I went through about 30 pages of (truly) terrible names before settling on something for my former band*. Basically I’ve never really perfected this technique. Whether it’s for a new band, new client, or my own (eventual) design studio, it is always a long and arduous process to think of the perfect name. (Herein lies the problem — looking for the “perfect” name is often the creativity killer for me.)

My process generally starts with a pencil, thesaurus, dictionary, and my iTunes playlist (pieces of song titles have served me well). It’s worked in the past, but for a recent project, I decided to try something new. I based my exploration off of Josh Levine’s useful chart that divides naming styles into six categories. You can see the chart above for examples and read the full descriptions here. I tried to go through the list three times, thinking of a potential name for each category on every rotation. What ended up happening was I thought of about 30 names in the metaphorical category, avoided the descriptive, and thought of one or two for each of the others. After about two hours I had my name, at the bottom of my metaphorical category list.

Of course, my normal process is not unlike this most recent one — but the added structure and formulaic approach really seemed to help me in this case. I just hope to be able to replicate it in the future. I would recommend giving this chart a try if you are looking for new brainstorming techniques. Just switching things up is really all you need to spark something cool. I’m sure everyone has their own strategies and I’d love to hear some if you’ve got them!

*Crazy story actually — the name I eventually decided on (Running Lights) was the same name my Mom had sent me in response to my plea for suggestions. We had thought of the exact same name, on the same day, without any direction or communication. I told this story to my band mates and that was that — how could we go with anything else!

ISO50 x Epson 9900

Posted by Alex

As Scott mentioned, the ISO50 studio recently added the hulking Epson 9900 to its arsenal. We purchased the printer through Kirk Economos of Meridian Cyber Solutions, and he was on hand to help us set things up and make sure everything was working properly. I filmed the set up procedure and a trimmed down version is displayed above. Many thanks to Kirk for helping out! If you are in the market for a large format machine or other print supplies, we would highly recommend the guys over at Meridian.

In case it doesn’t come across on screen, this is one serious machine. I’m used to working with the much smaller R2400 and there is really no comparison. It’s been pretty exciting to have the ability to output such massive prints with the 9900. We had a few color profile and paper issues initially, but everything is working smoothly now. Look for a detailed post about color management and calibration next week.