An Opine about Design

Week No. 06

21 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Survive Creative Highs and Lows
Turning ideas into products is an emotional and financial roller coaster.

How ThoughtMatter helped an arts centre find its way in a new neighbourhood
When arts centre Tacoma Arts Live moved to a new area, a brand refresh and new wayfinding were urgently needed. Design studio ThoughtMatter explains how it went about it.

Designing the Designers for a More Regenerative Future
Why I am launching The Design School for Beautiful Business

The Message An Undifferentiated Firm Sends

Why clients often undervalue graphic design (and how to persuade them otherwise)
Many clients don’t fully appreciate what graphic designers can offer them. Leading practitioners explain why and offer advice on the way forward.

Showcasing illustration work: how to create your best portfolio
Putting together samples of your work for art directors, editors, and others might sound straightforward, but many illustrators find it anything but. We share some tips from the Creative Boom community on presenting your illustrations in the best possible light.

A great article about my pal Kevin Brady and Highway 9 Consulting


A terrific illustrator

How to Be Creative on Demand
Creativity feels like an inexplicable miracle when it arrives. We may never be able to isolate all the variables that generate it. But there are ways to reliably create the conditions to make creativity a more predictable occurrence. The first thing you should do is think about the problem you’re trying to solve — let it marinade — and then walk away from it. This first round of effort is less about solving the problem than about priming the pump. It is after this step that the unconscious work begins — the work that draws from a fuller complement of mental resources, experiences, and creative connections. While that problem sits in the back of your mind, follow your curiosity. The key is to pay the price to create a rich experience with these sometimes pointless amusements. It’s often tempting to ignore these whimsical thoughts, but you do so at your creative peril. Begin collecting and organizing the experiences and information you’re taking in. Try to do something that doesn’t interest you daily — you never know what will turn out to be useful, including engaging in uncomfortable conversations. Finally, when the creativity hits, stop what you’re doing and work. Honor these moments by writing; don’t ignore these impulses.

An Instagram post on DJ Stout


Week No. 05

The DixonBaxi Way 

When good is no longer good enough
by Tobias van Schneider

In defense of design tropes
Bolt’s controversial rebrand is a good reminder of why clichés exist in the first place.
by Brian Collins

On The Evolution Of Creativity And Creative
Ad Industry Icons David Droga and Nick Law Share Their Perspectives

Rajiv Surendra will make you more creative in 2023

The 12 Insights Solopreneurs Need to Hear in 2023
Everything you want to know about working for yourself, finding clients, and creating work-life harmony

Although a few years old, still some of the most amazing animation you’ll see.

Week No. 04


4 Trends All Small Business Owners Should Be Aware of in 2023

Here are four trends shaping the small business landscape to be aware of as you implement your plans throughout the year.

101 design rules from Collins

Musings, ramblings, and principles that I’ve shared with my team and randomly on Twitter. Reminding yourself of the principles that ground you is simply a good practice. Here are mine.

You are what you believe yourself to be

What’s the difference between a hunter-gatherer ancestor charging into a pack of buffalo versus a writer trying to publish their first book? There is no difference. They are both driven by an evolutionary bias that enables us to give it our all: self-delusion.

To be creative, practice

I didn’t consider myself creative until my mid-twenties. I played sports my entire life and failed at school. What has helped me—and continues to—is to look at creativity as a daily practice. To do something repeatedly until I change who I become.

Culture, care and typography

[This is a long post, it would have been a podcast, but it doesn’t really lend itself to audio.]

‘Language is looking up’: The place of words in branding

Words matter. Conscious or otherwise, they permeate everything we do. On our screens, in our brainwaves, words storyboard our lives. So why, when it comes to branding, are words often overlooked?

Michael Roderick on getting people to talk about you when you’re not in the room

A few interesting ideas in this podcast


Brilliant lesson from Dave Trott

CARIN GOLDBERG (1953–2023)

Graphic designer Carin Goldberg (1953–2023) passed away this week, leaving behind a stunning body of work. Cooper Hewitt’s collection includes over two dozen of Goldberg’s book covers, book jackets, and album covers. Created in the 1980s and ‘90s, these portable works of art were designed for viewing in a bookstore or record shop. Goldberg infused each one with its own emotional power—from vigorous splashes of form and color to delicate layers of type and image. Her husband, architect Jim Biber, remembers Goldberg for “her genius, her humor, her taste and her smiling apparition.”

Forskningsrådet by ANTI

2022 was, let’s say, an interesting year for Forskningsrådet (The Norwegian Research Council). The public institution, which provides public funding for research and innovation across a wide range of fields, usually operates without controversy or intense public scrutiny. This changed in September 2021 when Norway held its national elections and got itself a change of government. And along with that, a new overseer for the council, the incoming minister of research, Ola Borten Moe.

Engineering vs. Design

I am fortunate enough to live in a community with parks scattered throughout the area. There are a few like this one that sports small waterfalls. On pretty spring days, you’ll find an endless stream of people lining up to take pictures on the rocks or in front of the water.


Except for all that damned electrical equipment plainly visible from the street as you pass by.

This got me thinking.

This picture clearly demonstrates the difference between engineering and design.

You can tell this was an engineered solution. I feel certain it meets all the codes for the county and is easily accessible for repairs or maintenance. The placement is (I’ll assume) a logical one. Maybe even one that saves a little money. But this ugly mishmash of electrical boxes is right in front of the waterfall spoils the beauty behind it.

A designed solution takes greater care of what this park is all about: Capturing the beauty of southeast Texas. I’m confident a designed solution could have met all the county codes and specs without interfering with the waterfall, making the total experience of the park that much richer.

Think about this next time you go to, or are working on, a website. How many sites are perfectly engineered but lack any aesthetics? How many developers let the engineering overshadow the user experience? With a little care, could you make a site tightly engineered while still making it beautiful?

Ratcliff Creative is an independent design consultancy specializing in big ideas to connect people with brands.

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