Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 15: The Making of Prince of Persia

I didn’t know it at the time, but video games were one of my first exposures to graphic design. The characters, the symbols, the 8-bit graphics, the cover art, all exposed my 8-year old self to graphic design ideas before I even knew what the term graphic design meant.

Enter the book The Making of Prince of Persia. This book is a collection of Jordan Mechner‘s journal entries while he was creating the game Prince of Persia. This documented journey of bringing a video game to life is a masterclass on book design. We’ll focus on the cover only today.

The Making of Prince of Persia is an example of scale. The designer (not sure who), scaled up the 8-bit prince to fill most of the cover. Leaving enough white space (or blue space) to give the 8-bit prince room to “leap” off the cover. The designer then contrasts the large image with one small DOS font for the title and author name. The DOS font reinforces the books 80s coding theme.

This is a counterintuitive choice for a book cover, but one that works. Usually the title font is large and prominent. But the giant 8-bit leaping prince instills the feeling that this book is an adventure. A page-turning experience you’ve never had before.

The Making of Prince of Persia , and other books by Stripe Press, are designed so well I want them all. Not only for their content, but for their visual beauty.

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 14: Mediterranean Shipping Company

I’m not sure why, but the first thing that came to mind when I saw this logo was the East India Company. Maybe it was the rust on the shipping container. Maybe it was the word “Mediterranean”. But the two companies are not even close in age or stature. Still, MSC is interesting in her own right.

The Mediterranean Shipping Co is a global shipping and logistics company headquartered in Switzerland, not the Mediterranean.

Their logo is effective in two ways.

  1. It evokes feeling. The thick navy fonts of the M, S, and C feels strong, reliable. It says We will deliver your shipment across any sea. The wavy line under the M reiterates MSC‘s nautical business.
  2. It’s clear. It’s simple. It scales. The fonts are readable at any size. You can scale this logo up to display on the side of a shipping container. Or scale it down to fit on a truckers hat. At either size the logo would be readable. And you’d know for certain, this is the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 13: The Grand Budapest Hotel Book Introduction Page

Tis’ Grand

As we explore different graphic design pieces, we can’t ignore the book page layout.

This introduction page from Matt Zoller Seitz‘s 2015 book The Grand Budapest Hotel is an excellent example of contrast and framing.

First the color contrast.

You have grandma’s pea soup green (hex code: 594f20ff) located in only two places on the page. In the 1,418 – Word lettering, and the W drop cap. The rest of font color is standardish black (hex code 0f100fff). It’s enough of a color contrast to guide the eye, but not distract the reader.

My favorite piece of the layout though, is the framing.

Designer Martin Venezky uses the word INTRODUCTION to lead your eye down the page while simultaneously framing in the first paragraph. He does this by breaking INTRODUCTION vertically at the C. Of course Martin may have made that choice for an entirely different reason, but that’s how I interpreted it.

Visually this book feels like your thumbing through a cast member’s exquisitely assembled film-shoot scrapbook.

It’s a true page turner in both prose and design.

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 12: Trader Joe’s In-Store Signage

Trader Joe’s first opened in 1967. The grocery store chain has a gained a cult following by being well, weird.

One way this manifests is, Trader Joe’s hires crew members (grocers) with artistic talent to paint and letter their in-store murals and signs.

These murals and signs are unique to the specific location of the store. Each Trader Joe location customizes their interior signage based on the city they’re in.

A posted job listing for a sign artist read like this:

If you have experience in art including penmanship, working with chalk and large signage, we’d love to meet you. We can teach you the rest.

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 11: EPCOT

EPCOT opened October 1, 1982. The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow was Walt’s hope for the future of urban design. Alas Walt’s true urban design vision wasn’t realized, but the park remains a graphic design menagerie.

With every step you’re surrounded by typography, logos, icons, poster designs, and signage.

Again, graphic design plays an important role in creating imaginary worlds. EPCOT is no different. The stronger the graphic design, the more realistic the imaginary world around you feels.

BONUS NOTE: The main EPCOT font is called “World Bold”. It’s designer is Deborah Lord. She also designed all of the graphics for the Universe of Energy pavilion.

Graphic Design In the Wild – Day 6: Hyper Bike Company

I love when a company is created by a person who loves the product they’re building. It doesn’t always mean success, but at a minimum it’s a genuine attempt to improve things.

Hyper Bicycles was created in 1990 by BMX pro Clay Godsmid. It originally focused on building BMX racing frames and components. They have since expanded to mountain bikes.

Their typeface logo is an exercise in contrast. Something I learned a little about from Chris Do. From his ebook Typography Manual Vol. 1:

Go from light to bold, or from medium to extra bold when changing font weights. The key to great design is contrast.

– Chris Do

The “Hyper” font is chunky, thick, and bold, like the frame of a freestyle BMX bike. The “Bike Company” font thins out, but remains solid, like a pair of handlebars.

Contrast is king.