Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.


Loopy cursive impossible to master?

All I have to say is, it's about time!

Rewriting handwriting
Some say italic is the answer to America's illegibility

By Lisa Ryckman,
Rocky Mountain News March 13, 2006

Every young kid suffers through the loop-de-loop of cursive handwriting, a bumpy and sometimes traumatizing ride.

By adulthood, though, most people have abandoned the torturous exercise for a slapdash mishmash of printing and script that ranges from barely legible to completely incomprehensible.

"We have a national affliction, and it's called cacography - that means 'illegible handwriting,' " says Barbara Getty, handwriting expert, former elementary-school teacher and co-creator of a method she believes can solve the problem. "That's why we're a 'Please print' nation. Nobody says, 'Please write in your lovely cursive handwriting.' "

Having worked with the handwriting-challenged, I am delighted to see cursive writing come into question.

The one thing that is missing from the analysis is the psychological reasoning that influences poor handwriting. Since we associate illegible cursive with the most successful (doctors, lawyers, politicians), I wonder how many of us practiced making our signature look like a busy doctor's from an early age -- equating illegible cursive with the wealthy professional who simply cannot be bothered with lovely penmanship.

Thanks to Design Observer for the link.


Like the throws of a drowning man…

Quark has done it yet again. A mere six months after their last rebranding was launched, they have released yet another new logo (designed by SicolaMartin).

The 09/05 logo was met with great trepidation by the design community due to its lack of originality. Now, I’m speculating here, but is this what prompted the redesign?

Every month more designers move over to InDesign, leaving the previously unchallenged QuarkExpress behind. We are attracted to the usability, cost-effectiveness, familiar key commands, an interface that doesn’t look like it predates the internet, and more seemless integration between our other Adobe products. I imagine the 09/05 logo was part of a marketing decision to help gain back (or keep) their clients through the multi-page layout wars.

Now, since the audience it was designed to keep are condemning the logo, a desperate attempt to really speak to their users emerged. Enter six months later, with a gradient mess. It looks like they are really targeting Mac users (the primary platform of the design community) with the buttony layered blob they’ve ended up with. Little do they know that the gradient aesthetic went out with the G4 cube.

Ironically, even if the logo had been the most amazing thing since Tibor Kalman, the program is what I’m interested in. Having recently surfed the forums for a solution to a very simple, very common problem (scroll to bottom), I discovered a myriad number of other basic issues Quark has still failed to address.

Perhaps instead of ugly logos they might try improving their software.

And one last thing, I’d like to see them try to recreate their new logo entirely in QuarkExpress. Now that would be fun to see.

(Thanks to Creative Pro for the topic)


The harm that blogs can do

I was reading through my vault of blog posts from the past week or two, and a well-known blog caught my eye with the mention of an ad put out by a large organization. The ad shown was in very poor taste. The image and copy selected belittled an otherwise serious issue. I was personally appalled as it happens to be one of the organizations I support.

After thinking about the ad, I decided to send it over to a colleague who works for a chapter of said organization - just to get her reaction. And as I went to the blog to retrieve the posted ad, I noticed that the previously appalling ad had been replaced with the actual ad, which I am happy to say is much less offensive. Rather it is kind of dull -- or beyond notice.

I was glad to have done another read through of it before I sent it off to be analyzed. The error may be small, but in the big picture dynamic of how blogs can be destructive, it's significant.

Think of it this way, professional writers working as freelancers or as employees have a liability factor to contend with. Whether it come in the form of job loss or legal bills, professional writers are held accountable.

Enter random bloggers with lots of readers...

No matter how innocent the information appears, concern should always remain with the accuracy of the information behind given. Like gossip gone berserk, bloggers have a lot to learn about accountability and accuracy. Have your fun and be vocal, sure. Just make sure you have the facts first.

As for this situation, said organization should expect a visible apology and retraction from said blogger.


Question of the Day...

What colour is obsession?


The Holy Grail - A List Apart

A List Apart, a very good web resource, for discourse and other interesting tidbits.


Ten Reasons to go to the Bahamas

In the spirit of the upcoming warm temperatures forecasted for later this week, I thought I would use the tried and true email forwarding format to present How to Tell if You're a Designer Who Needs a Vacation:

1.You get cranky if you have to access a menu item with your mouse, because you can't remember the key command.

2. You're idea of a great Saturday night is tweaking the font you're working on

3. You find it increasingly difficult to communicate with people who don't know the terms "Majuscule", "Style Sheets" and "Pica", (

4. You're working on a construction-paper craft with your niece. You make a mistake and reach for command-Z

5. You call your wife by your client's name, and your client is a man.

6. You see someone wearing a great shirt on the subway, and you wonder what Pantone colour it is.

7. When taking a group photo of your family, and you realize you are trying to kern them.

8. You find yourself composing an angry email to the producers of Jeopardy because you noticed they use dumb quotes (or hatch marks) rather then proper quotes.

9. The only things you've eaten in the last week have been finger food, so you can keep working.

10. You really have to go to the bathroom, but you just need to finish writing this blog first, then you need to call a printer. You'll go right after ripping that .pdf. Or maybe as soon as you're done those cover concepts...