Graphic Design

Studio 360

Imagine Your Next Vacation Destination: Kepler-186f

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory imagines exoplanetary travel for leisure with these vintage-style posters.
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Studio 360

Existential Progress Bars

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A graphic designer turns tedious progress bars into existential questions.
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Studio 360

Layer Tennis Is a Graphic Design War – Watch the Latest Battle This Friday

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Layer Tennis combines the confusion and misinformation of the game Telephone with jaw-dropping feats of Photoshop skill. 
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Studio 360

A Digital Terarrium For Your Desktop

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This graphic artist's self-contained animations are the digital equivalent of a snow globe. 
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Studio 360

Judging a Designer by His Covers

Friday, August 15, 2014

When Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out, it didn’t look like any other book of its kind. That’s thanks to Peter Mendelsund, whose uncluttered book jacket designs are irresistible, and always come from his deep engagement with the material.

Slideshow: A Selection of Mendelsund's Covers

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Transportation Nation

Vignelli, Designer of Famous Subway Map, Defends His Version Over These Others (IMAGES)

Friday, December 21, 2012

More than iconic, the New York City subway map is a coat of arms for a way of life. It's a tool for 5 million riders a day. It hangs in the Museum of Modern Art. And, occasionally, it changes.

The most recognizable edition remains the most controversial. Designer Massimo Vignelli's clean modern lines and bold colors changed the branding of the subway in 1972 and elevated the map to the level of modern art. It also distorts geography. His map lasted just seven years before confused passengers convinced the MTA to replace it. Vignelli still staunchly defends his design, and in doing so, has offered some choice observations about other versions.

We present some of his comments to you, as recorded during a talk Vignelli gave earlier this year at the New York City Transit Museum.

1939 system-wide NYC subway map

1939 Version:

“There’s too much information. The greatest thing about the London map, if you’ve ever seen it, is that they stick to the subway, the underground. Therefore, there’s no reference to above. In New York, they wanted to put everything. It was too much.”


1958 system-wide Subway Map

1958 Version:

“This is more a diagram, but again the details are very fragmented information. You see, all these boxes here, they fragmented the legibility of the line. The express [train] they made in a different way. So it’s too much going on...It could be simplified...Fragmentation is a disease of people that do not know how to design diagrams.”


1979 map, which replaced the Vignelli map:

“This is the map that came after our map. If you have to have abstract geography, why do you have it in any case? Why [sic] have it at all?

"And look at here [pointing to curved path of train line at lower Manhattan]. Who cares if the subway has to make a [turn] like that? I’m going, we’re all going, from Point A to Point B. How we get there is the conductor’s problem, not mine.”


Updated version of 2008 map, circa 2010

2008 Subway Map

“We belong to a culture of balloons. [The designers] grow up with comic books, and this is what happens. There’s balloons all over the place. It’s ridiculous.”

1972 "Vignelli" subway map

His own map from 1972:

“Every line a different color, every stop a dot.”

When the NY MTA hired Vignelli to develop a new plan for subterranean navigation, he was tasked with streamlining the wayfinding process for riders and bringing New York into the future.

Train routes were straightened into neat angles to make a tidy diagram out of the actual snarl of criss-crossing tunnels. Forty years later, graphic designers still laud Vignelli's map as a triumph.

However beautiful, it is geographically abstract, bearing only inadvertent resemblance to the actual street grid above.

For example, the Vignelli map portrays the 50th St stop on the Seventh Ave line, now the 1 train, to be west of the 50th St stop on the Eighth Avenue line, now part of the C and E, confusing New Yorkers with hardened mental pictures of the city in their mind and sending tourists wandering westward into Hells Kitchen hunting for non-existent subway stops. Just seven years after it was released, the MTA replaced Vignelli's “diagram,” as he calls it (because maps only represent geography) with a more traditional map.

But, Vignelli is back in the subway diagram business. With the help of a new design team, he created “The Weekender,” a digital interactive subway map directly inspired by the 1972 hand-drawn diagram.


"The Weekender" digital subway map

 2012 “The Weekender”

“It doesn’t make any sense to print a map anymore. In a digital era, a map should be a digital map. All this information could become alive at the moment. So basically, The Weekender... will, should, become the regular map for all the stations. No more printed map. Printed maps are a trap for tourists.”.

“The blinking dots... are terrific. When you think actually, that there’s all this work in subway all the time, you get an idea of the complexity of the job, and what it means to run a transit system. It’s great. It’s a passion.”


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The Leonard Lopate Show

Guest Picks: Chris Ware

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cartoonist Chris Ware was on the show to talk about his graphic novel box set Building Stories. He shared his guest picks with us.


Transportation Nation

Here's the New NYC Taxi Logo

Thursday, August 23, 2012

T is for (new) Taxis in New York City. (Photo by Caitlyn Kim)

New York city is giving taxis a new look. There's the taxi of tomorrow set to roll out next year, but even the motley mix of sedans and SUVs out there now are getting a new paint job. And when they do, the city's yellow cabs come back more yellow  and as this picture captures, with a new logo, fewer words, and more to the point. JFK airport gets a mention right on the door.

Here's a side-by-side comparison. (Or, top-by-bottom comparison?)

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The Brian Lehrer Show

End of War: Milton Glaser's Process & Re-imagining Peace

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Milton Glaser, renowned graphic designer and author of the new book In Search of the Miraculous or One Thing Leads to Another, discusses his new book about his creative process--and helps us launch a new project: Re-imagine the Peace Sign--as part of our End of War series.

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Financial 411: New York City's Design Sector

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A new report finds that the number of jobs in graphic design, architecture and fashion in New York has increased 75 percent since 2000. We'll talk about why these fields are poised to grow even more.

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Studio 360

All By Myself

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bob Paul is a graphic designer and painter who's been working in his attic since quitting his very first job. He doesn't need anybody else, because he doesn't care what other people think. His son, producer Richard Paul, also works alone, but doesn’t like it. Richard asked Bob about the ...


Studio 360

All By Myself

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bob Paul is a graphic designer and painter who's been working up in the attic since he quit his very first job. He doesn't need anybody else, because he doesn't care what other people think. His son, producer Richard Paul, thinks that solitude like his dad's is almost addictive: ...


Studio 360

Design for the Real World: 2-Sizes-Fits-All Graphic Design Matrix

Saturday, November 06, 2004

After a divided election like 2004, it’s tempting to think that we live in an extremely polarized country comprised of red states and blue states. Graphic design is supposed to simplify complex issues into comprehensible terms, but have we fallen into a trap by embracing a 2-sizes-fits-all graphic design ...


Studio 360

Design for the Real World: Album Covers

Saturday, November 04, 2000

Graphic designer Michael Bierut on the art of record album covers.