Tip of the Day: How to Kern

By Michael Mulvey on July 22, 2014 4:59 PM

Yesterday I gave away my kerning secret on Twitter and it seemed to resonant with a few people so I thought I'd share it here.

(if you had a proper graphic design education, this isn't a secret)

How to kern a word:

1) From the beginning of the word, look at the first three letters; cover the remaining letters if needed (as you become a kerning Jedi, you won't need the blinders)

2) Do these first three letters look evenly spaced from each other? If not, expand or contract the spacing between the letter (s) in question

The controls in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are very similar:

3) Now move to the next letter to the right and the 2 letters following it. Repeat Step 2.

4) Continue this process until you finish kerning the word

Bonus tip: Round letters like 'O' and 'B' need the letters next to them more tightly kerned on the side(s) with round edges. This is to compensate for the illusion that letters with rounded edges are farther away than letters with flat/perpendicular edges.

Mo' Data, Mo' Problems

By Michael Mulvey on July 22, 2014 11:01 AM

Om Malik on Big Data:

Facebook's emotion-driven-engagement experiments are tiny glimpse of what really awaits us: a data-driven and alogrithmic future, where machines make decisions on our behalf, nudging us into making decisions. As I pointed out in my recent FastCompany magazine column, the new machine age is already underway, unseen by us. "It is not really just a human world," said Sean Gourley, cofounder and CTO of Quid who points out that our connected world is producing so much data that it is beyond human cognitive abilities and machines are going to be part of making sense of it all. So the real question is what will we do and what should we -- the technology industry and we the people do? From my perspective, we need to start with the raw material of this algorithmic future: data. Whether it is a billions of photos that carry a payload of emotions, relationships and location data, or status updates announcing the arrival of a new one or those searches for discount Prada shoes or a look-up about a medical condition -- there is someone somewhere vacuuming our data droppings and turning them into fodder for their money machine.


Automation of our society is going to cause displacement, no different than mechanization of our society in the past. There were no protections then, but hopefully a century later we should be smarter about dealing with pending change. People look at Uber and the issues around it as specific to a single company. It is not true -- drones, driverless cars, dynamic pricing of vital services, privatization of vital civic services are all part of the change driven by automation, and computer driven efficiencies. Just as computers made corporations efficient -- euphemism for employed fewer people and made more money -- our society is getting more "efficient," thanks to the machines.

We live in a post now, ask questions later world.

Soft News

By Michael Mulvey on July 22, 2014 8:26 AM

From BGR this morning:

One of the main features Windows 9 is expected to offer users is the return of the Start menu, which Windows users are anxiously waiting for, and Myce has obtained new screenshots showing it. Initially expected to arrive in Windows 8 Update 2 that's said to launch on August 12, the Start menu is now said to only be ready next year, when Windows 9 "Threshold" is released.

So this is where we've gotten to with Microsoft rumors. Outside of the massive layoffs, the only exciting product leaks involve a nearly 19-year-old software feature—the Start Menu.

Contrast this to Apple, where everyone is expecting a new wearable device this fall, and competitors have been scrambling to launch their own versions (regardless of how half-baked they all are), a new, bigger (thinner?) iPhone is expected and everyone was blown away at the number of new software announcements at WWDC 2014 for both OS X Mavericks and iOS 8.

Maybe next decade, Microsoft.

In Defense of Generalists

By Michael Mulvey on July 21, 2014 2:26 PM

via Tim Ferriss

The Backwater Gospel

By Michael Mulvey on July 21, 2014 12:07 PM

I was at a bar this weekend and The Backwater Gospel was being projected on one of the walls. Beautiful animated short.

Weekly Exhaust Ep. 9: El Gato Duerme Sobre el Mono

By Michael Mulvey on July 21, 2014 6:00 AM

This week Michael and Bryan discuss creative habits, inspiration, dreaming in black & white, phone etiquette in cinemas, recording vertical phone videos, the simulated universe, Grand Theft Auto & super hero movies. They also want to remind you Rocky lost in the first movie. The episode opens with the exhaust from a 1971 Chevelle SS 454.

Weekly Exhaust, Episode 9

Kickstarter: Cabin Charger Case

By Michael Mulvey on July 18, 2014 10:37 AM

I have to say, this is a sharp looking battery case.

Scratching My Kitsch Itch

By Michael Mulvey on July 18, 2014 9:37 AM

There's new digital prints up at The Combustion Chamber.

I have an addiction to old, kitschy illustrations I find on matchbooks and in tiny ads in the backs of old magazines from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Making these prints is part of my therapy.

On this day in 1967 John Coltrane died.

By Michael Mulvey on July 17, 2014 3:03 PM

One of my favorites by Coltrane, Song of the Underground Railroad:


By Michael Mulvey on July 17, 2014 2:31 PM

—Chinese/Russian/Native American Proverb (so says the Internet)


By Michael Mulvey on July 17, 2014 10:16 AM

Now, there is the matter of the mob mentality who, yesterday, got all riled up about two things: 1) The new icon looks like the logo of Automation Anywhere and have claimed it was ripped off, and 2) the new icon looks like every sexual reproductive organ in the male and female anatomy. To the first claim: had you ever heard of Automation Anywhere before yesterday? Right, didn't think so. To claim that DesignStudio or Airbnb copied or stole the logo is idiotic. It simply points to the fact that neither logo is highly original in its shape and that it's possible that out of the millions of companies out there designing logos for themselves to arrive at similar solutions. To the second claim that the logo looks like testicles, a vagina, a butt, a penis, and an asshole -- all already dutifully illustrated in this Tumblr (NSFW) -- seriously, how old are y'all, 13? Grow up. It's a fucking "A".

—Armin Vit on the new Airbnb logo


By Michael Mulvey on July 16, 2014 1:05 PM

Airbnb has new branding by DesignStudio.

It's fun, fresh and really dig it.

Former NYTimes.com design director, Khoi Vihn disagrees:

I can't pretend to know what went into designing the Bélo, but the end result is surprisingly tone deaf. This seems like a case of a still young startup that wants to assign meaning to its stratospherically successful brand so badly that it has quickly gotten in over its head. The story that Airbnb tells in order to contextualize its new identity seems similarly hamfisted and overly self-important to the point of satire. Airbnb is successfully disrupting the tremendous and staid lodging industry, but it's hard to imagine this particular combination of pomposity and message mismanagement from say Holiday Inn.

Khoi wouldn't have to "pretend to know what went into the design" because DesignStudio documented the process behind their work. I particularly like how the logo forms an "A" from two b's facing in each other. It also looks like an upside-down heart.

Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one (I do, Khoi does).

If Airbnb had crowdsourced a shitty logo over the weekend, they'd be getting chastised for putting to little effort into their branding. For Khoi, they've done too much. You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't.

Personally, I live by the gospel according to Andy Warhol: "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."

The same goes for design.

Sahara Bodoni

By Michael Mulvey on July 16, 2014 9:01 AM

I've been binging on display typefaces lately. I think it has to do with having jumped back into print design over the last few years.

My latest find? Sahara Bodoni.

I spotted it on this old Barbara Walters book cover (see below) posted over at Brain Pickings.

What a gorgeous typeface.

Barbara didn't look too shabby back in the day either. Reminds me of Anne Bancroft from The Graduate.

Weekly Exhaust Ep. 8: GIF Has a Hard G Cause It's Graphical

By Michael Mulvey on July 16, 2014 7:19 AM

This week Michael and Bryan discuss how age affects HRT (Hangover Recovery Time), LeBron James, Microsoft's lack of strategy, Windows 7, GIF having a hard "g" and the fact that Bryan's computer gremlins have been with him since college. F!ck those gremlins.

Weekly Exhaust, Episode 8

Hell Hath Frozen Over

By Michael Mulvey on July 15, 2014 3:25 PM

Apple and IBM Forge Global Partnership to Transform Enterprise Mobility

Microsoft, you can move forward with those layoffs. Keep up the innovation.

[For you kids who didn't know, that guy in the picture is Steve Jobs, the founder and former CEO of Apple computer. He's giving IBM a big fuck you.]


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