Armin Vit investigates color trends in popular movie posters (via information aesthetics). When I first skimmed the article (skipping the words to look at the pictures), I assumed the author had written a program to look at each pixel and graph the color frequency; however, upon reading the text, I learned that this intrepid designer had created the frequency graphs by hand based on his impression of dominant colors, which is arguably a more accurate approach. (Is there any truly great designer who is not obsessive?)

“…a movie’s theatrical poster is only a very small part of the larger marketing and hype machine that turns movies into spectacular blockbusters, but as part of a whole, they are fairly representative of the “image” of any given movie. So, as an exercise in color trends, and to see if any significant pattern emerged, I decided to break down the colors of 25 posters — the top 5 of each MPAA category.”

“it is nonetheless telling that black is the color of choice in movie posters. Chalk it up to contrast if you want, but also don’t forget how many of our clients are afraid of using black, as they usually deem it scary, gloomy, heavy or depressing — and people that wear black are either mourning or designers caught in a time warp of the 1980s”

This is old news, but I just listened to an interview with Jenny Lam from Jul 6, 2006. It’s about her designs for Vista, but she talks a lot about her design philosophy, which she describes as “smart meet beautiful.” The interview was quite long, but there are some nice nuggets of truth and a peek at this designer’s inspiration.

She talks about creating distinctiveness, emotional connection and a brand. “Branding is not just about putting logos everywhere. Branding is an end-to-end experience… We don’t own the brand… Our users own it. They define the perception of it. We can just influence it with the products we build and the service we give them.” She describes adding animation, as “adding a nice touch to make it alive.”

When asked what inspires her, she speaks of her design heroes, getting together with creative colleagues, and doing design outside of work too. She highlights one of her heroes, Bruce Mau, who she describes as more of a philosopher. She recently saw an exhibit of his in Vancouver called “Massive Change” about how design can change the world, even save lives. I love hearing about how people are inspired.

She’s now at Jackson Fish Market, a small design firm in Seattle.

Charles Miller describes how engineers express the level of difficulty of solving a problem (via Ron K. Jeffries). He has some great descriptions of each level of difficulty, which I found quite accurate:

* Impossible
* Unfeasable
* Non-Trivial
* Very Hard
* Hard
* Trivial

I’ve added “straightforward” to my language, which describes trivial problems that will still require some time to implement. I find it helpful in talking to non-engineers and to other engineers who might argue with my characterization of a given problem as “trivial.”