Incite by Design

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


Applied Arts - the website

Applied Arts Magazine, one of Canada’s largest design magazines, recently redesigned their website. I will agree that it was due time that Applied Arts step up to the plate and update their online presence, seeing as how the website was quite dark and hardly reflected the aesthetic of the magazine. The redesign was carried through their long time developers/design firm, Graphica Design, located in Montreal. Graphica is, and I quote, “a design studio that combines the best of online management consulting, user-focused design, online brand management, and leading edge technology.” They are a one-stop-shop, providing multimedia, graphic design, web design and web hosting.

The use of white, instead of the old grey tones is definitely an improvement, and much easier on the eyes. The over all gradated background and drop shadows are a step too far in the techy-web 2.0 direction for a magazine that prides itself on and is mainly a premium print magazine. The style is moconduciveive with an online newsletter or multimedia company. This may be intended to extend to the multimedia areas of the design industry, utilizing the medium it employs itself. They may well be in their own right to head down that technological road, but my initial reaction, as a graphic designer, was not a single sound but, a squishing of the face.


Metropolitan Ice Cream

Last week, Thursday May 4th, Astral Media Outdoor held their first ever 'My Toronto' design competition for billboard space around the city for the month of May. The winner, entitled 'Metropolitan Flavour' - as an aside Metropolitan is the name of an existing ice cream sold in Toronto - belonged to a team of three OCAD students. The ad included an ice cream cone with a multitude of brightly coloured scoops and a label which resembled the city of Toronto logo. The tag line in pink to the lower right-hand side, metropolitan flavour, is clever but unfortunately not readible from a distance. While the ice cream imagery is eye-catching and a good choice when dealing with subject matter representing people/cultures, it is the only element that is seen when driving by. The accompanying text, is too small and fine for the function of a billboard. I however, may have been driving try too fast. See them for yourself on the following billboards across the GTA (from East to West):

- 213 Main St. (North of Gerrard St. E.)
- Lakeshore Blvd. E. (West of Carlaw Ave.)
- Sunlight Park Rd. (West of Broadview Ave.)
- 190 Lakeshore Blvd. E. (West of Sherbourne St.)
- 59 Richmond St. E. (West of Church St.)
- Duncan St. & Nelson St.
- 1071 Yonge St. (East of Rowanwood Ave.)
- 523 Adelaide St. W. (East of Bathurst St.)
- 204 Spadina Ave. (South of Sullivan St.)
- 3055 Bathurst St. (Bathurst St. & Lawrence Ave. W.)
- 1093 Queen Street W. (East of Lisgar St.)
- Gardiner Expressway (East of Atlantic Ave.)
- 1176 Bloor St. W. (East of Brock Rd.)
- Shaw St. & Dupont St.
- 361 Symington Ave. (South of Adrian Ave.)
- 30 Weston Rd. (South of Gunns Rd.)
- St. Clair Ave. W. & Weston Rd.
- 2150 Albion Road (South of Steeles Ave. W.)
- 777 Kipling Ave. (South of Norseman St.)
- Clark Blvd. & West Dr.


Fetish Objections?

Do you lust over rows of wooden letters? Do you take a guilty pleasure from the movable type hiding in your closet? When you choose a home, is the accommodation of a some-day press, (like a medieval torture device) a consideration?

Do your loved ones beg you to purge part of your library? Have you constructed a philosophy around the object of the book? Do you breathe deeply its scent? Fondle its paper discretely? Delighting in its obscene pallets and textures?

I’m afraid then, that you may indeed be a bibliophile. But not to worry, there are others like you, others who delight in the paper, type, printing and construction of the handmade book. So indulge, and know that you’re not alone.


Tender Love and Care

New Official Logo

Former logo for TLC, used from 1992-2006, with the Life Unscripted tag added in 1999

The Learning Channel, TLC, which carries a variety of informational and reality-based programming, has been owned by Discovery Communications since 1991, the same company that operates the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, as well as other learning-themed networks. Some have said that the movement towards the misnomer of “Tender Love and Care” has set it up as more and more of a female-oriented network, as most shows aimed at male audiences (such as Junkyard Wars) are increasingly rare, and tend to come on after daytime hours.

The network has launched a new look and promotional campaign, dropping the Life Unscripted tag as of March 27, 2006 and going with the new theme “live and learn”, trying to turn around the network’s reliance on decorating shows and reality TV. Unfortunately, as they went through this process, they inadvertently stubbed themselves in the toe. The direction of the rebrand is anything but more educational in nature. They took a tried and true logo, and applied a shiny button veneer which only adds to the “pop culture” claims, not necessarily improving credibility. Although, yes, it is perhaps more scientific/technological in style, it will have to be backed up with new programming.

Current critics, especially academics and the channel’s original audience, conclude that TLC no longer has much of anything to do with learning, and is yet another sign of “the dumbing down of [American] television” and both a cause and symptom of “the dumbing down of America”. Many of whom have now categorized TLC programming as “infotainment”, have stopped watching the channel altogether, and moved to PBS, National Geographic Channel, or to Discovery-owned digital networks.