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Recent happenings


Variable Fonts Are Coming!

September 16, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   , ,  

Sara Cannon at Range:

There is a lot of buzz going on in the typography industry. It’s all about the introduction of Variable Fonts into our ecosystem. It’s being developed jointly by Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. […]

But as Tim Brown mentions, we have a long way to go. We need designers to make and offer variable fonts, rendering engines that can show the fonts, browsers and design software to support the rendering engines, and ways for people to design with these new fonts. Even though the world is not quite ready for variable fonts, designers should certainly be excited about the future.

I was excited about Multiple Master Fonts in the 1990s, too. Like OpenType Variable Fonts, they were to provide a way to create the perfect font width, weight or optical size to fit a designer's needs. Unfortunately, MM Fonts didn't gain any traction from font designers who preferred to sell fonts in prepackages styles. Or, from software companies who found it difficult to incorporate the features into design software. Or, from designers themselves who found it simpler to pick the a readily available style than to muck about adjusting and creating a new style in separate software.

I can think of terrific uses for this new technology, from adjusting a font's width to match a headline's length to fine tuning a font's weight to match different type sizes. But if OpenType Variable Fonts are to succeed, it will require everything to come together including font selection, price, and ease of use.

Technology and the Art of Maps

August 22, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   , ,  

Technology has changed publishing. And I’m not just talking about digital magazines or layout software or printing equipment. I’m talking about the what and why of its content. When I created a map for a magazine 15 years ago, for instance, it was extremely detailed. Every road was named, cross streets were included (at a minimum) and a detailed key was a necessity. This was the “style” because publishers expected readers to actually use the maps for navigation.

BMWMM32-mapsI remember discussing the elements of one map with a motorcycle magazine editor. Since some riders would tear out the page (or even photocopy it) to place into the clear pocket atop their tank bags for navigation, the map’s overall dimensions had to match the tank bag while the markers and text had to be easy comprehend at a glance.

Technology has changed that style, however. Today, editors expect a reader looking to follow a route will enter waypoints into their GPS. Maps have therefore become illustrations to accompany the story. They are simplified since readers are just using them for additional context as they read through article.

Which brings me to a couple of maps I created for the Fall 2016 BMW Motorcycle Magazine. You can see on the Oregon map just how simplified maps have become. The route is shown intersecting various cities and places but there are no other labels or crossing highways. Even the key is distilled down to a basic state polygon with a box to show scale.

The second map takes up most of a page and shows the terrific journey along the entire length of Africa. It’s an epic odyssey and I wanted the size of the map to reflect that. Of course, the African continent is pretty large and the route from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa is mostly on it’s eastern edge so much of the map would be blank. Rather than waste this space, the unvisited countries were filled with images from the trip to create an interesting visual.

How Cool Is the Art Direction on These Ads from Mercedes-Benz?

August 15, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

mercedes-benz-lightingFrom Digital Synopsis:

Mercedes-Benz in Mexico has come up with two brilliant print ads to promote their Intelligent Light System that provides 60% more visibility on the road. The ads feature silhouettes of a cow and a deer standing in the middle of the road at night. The headlights of the Mercedes behind them are so bright that they create an “X-ray vision” of the insides of the animals.

Beautiful, funny and memorable ads that get their point across with a minimum of art. Excellent.

It's a fine line though, which other companies need to keep in mind. These types of ads can be taken too seriously and then you run the risk of not delivering on your "promise."

What Everyone Gets Wrong About What's Wrong With The Newsstand

August 8, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

D. Eadward Tree at Publishing Executive:

For magazines, a subscription sale is far more valuable than a single-copy sale. A subscriber can be renewed (at higher rates), sold other subscriptions, signed up for newsletters, and lured to events. And her name can be rented to other publishers and marketers. (Shhh, don’t tell.) […]

There are many reasons to distribute copies for retail sale, and most have little to do with actually selling copies. One of the main benefits of newsstand distribution is finding new subscribers for a magazine, both from newsstand buyers and newsstand browsers.

Beyond Helvetica: Type is hot

August 8, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

Lucia Moses at Digiday:

Type is hot. Fonts are a booming business, as evidenced by a rise in font studios, independent designers and demand by brands and normals alike. Blue-chip companies like Ford and Citibank as well as storied publications like The Atlantic are commissioning custom fonts in search of a unique look. […]

At least 203 new type foundries were established from 2004 to midway into 2013, compared with 126 the previous decade, according to a census by Typographica, a reviewer of typefaces.

If you've been using the same font for a while, or simply chose a font because you happened to have it on your computer, now is a great time to check out your options. There are some really great typefaces out there from the unusual to modernized classics.

Print Ads are Trackable!

August 8, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Ryan Dohrn at Niche Media (an event coordination company):

Are you tired of hearing that print ads or offline marketing is not trackable? Me too. In nearly all of my ad sales training workshops I hear sales reps say that is one of the most common objections from advertisers.

So, here is the answer.

If you're looking to track the results from your print ads, Ryan has a few suggestions.

Blade Runner

June 23, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Dave Addey at Typset in the Future:

After studying Alien in intimate detail, it’s time to look at the typography and design of Ridley Scott’s other classic sci-fi movie, Blade Runner.

Another great film and another great examination of typography — the why, where and how it was used is great for helping us as designers self examine how we're using type today. There's also a lot of discussion of the movie itself for film buffs.

The Iconfactory Turns 20!

June 23, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

20 Years!

This page marks a milestone in the life of our hobby turned business. We've been pushing pixels professionally for twenty years!

To celebrate, we've pulled together new products, special offers, and unearthed a slew of historical artifacts. We hope you have fun exploring our last twenty years as we look forward to what's next!

Those tiniest pieces of computer art have changed so much in the past 20 years! There's also an archive of their site redesigns which does a good job showing how the web in general has changed.

When Old School Is Out-of-the-Box: Print Magazines as Content Marketing

June 13, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Yvonne Lyons writing for Business 2 Community:

Everyone is publishing: blog posts, white papers and eBooks, content in email marketing and marketing automation, posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Online, we are drowning in content.

The amount of content we are bombarded with is so overwhelming and repetitive that some savvy brands are rediscovering a more traditional path to engage “eyeballs.” They’re going back to print magazines. In fact, about 36 percent of B2B marketers use print magazines, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 survey on content marketing efforts. […]

All of these “brand publishers” say that offering quarterly or monthly magazines helps them connect more deeply with customers, establishes thought leadership in a more meaningful way, and distinguishes them from competitors. Other reasons companies cite to launch print magazines include:

  • Fostering a sense of membership and boosting loyalty
  • Reaching audiences that enjoy the tactile experience of reading a magazine, which people spend more time with, and keep for longer periods of time
  • Allowing customers to escape digital overload
  • Standing out in mailboxes at a time when the amount of direct mail has dropped dramatically
  • Increasing revenues when linking magazine content to digital platforms

The Old-fashioned Facts on Magazine Media We’ve Been Waiting For

May 30, 2016   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

David Pilcher at the FreeportPress discusses the Association of Magazine Media's Factbook 2015:

Yet when the MPA came out with their 360 Data approach late in 2014 to include digital readership and engagement, some felt the association was confusing the issue by focusing more on audience metrics rather than circulation. MPA’s Mary Berner defended the decision, calling print ad metrics anachronistic in this omnichannel environment.

Publishers, meanwhile, lamented the fact that the MPA no longer provided those “anachronistic” print-only figures like ad-page sales, circulation numbers and newsstand sales. The MPA got the message; their Magazine Media Factbook 2015 is stamped in big red letters “PRINT MAGAZINE FACTS ONLY” and those facts are looking pretty good.

According to these 2015 print-only facts, the magazine industry is vital, far-reaching, and remains a powerful consumer influencer. A few highlights from the report demonstrate the truth of this:

  • The number of U.S. consumer print magazines is higher now that it was 10 years ago
  • Several leading digital businesses have launched print magazines in the last few years
  • The top 50 marketers reported spending close to $7 billion in print magazine ads
  • Print magazines consistently rank first or second in reaching influential consumers / 855-MORR ART / 303-432-2922
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