Michael Bierut: The Primitive Power of Logos by john cheng

Great Design Indaba interview with Michael Bierut on the Primitive power of logos. This is definitely a must watch.

The award-winning graphic designer decodes why the simple shapes of a logo can have such great impact . “Design can be a lonely thing,” says Michael Bierut in the second part of this exclusive Design Indaba interview. “As you acquire that skill [in design] you are actually making yourself less normal than regular people.” Designers are sensitised to things other people don’t even notice, he says – the way the curves of a typeface echo each other, for example, or the subtle changes in a logo. Though the work of the designer is social because it requires the user to make sense of it, there is an element of solitude to the design process. “Because you are always in your head,” says Beirut, “and you don’t know what effect it’s going to have until you do it.” We tend to fixate on the power of logos in today’s hyper-aware consumer culture, which Bierut is quick to disarm. “I don’t want to overemphasise logos in the world. I think that if you act with intelligence and integrity and consistency you’ll develop a brand. Whether you are a person or a non-profit, a small organisation or a giant corporation.” What he does think of as particularly interesting about logos however, is the meaning that gets instilled in them over the course of their usage. “What’s fun about logo design, what makes it so interesting, why it holds so much power for all of us is that there is something very primitive about it,” he says. “Many of them are such simple marks. They are not much further evolved than hieroglyphics, or marks on cave walls from millions of years ago.” What happens with a logo, explains Bierut, takes place only partly in the symbol; the rest we do with our minds as we connect the symbol to all the associations we have with what it means. “What’s interesting, particularly about that kind of telegraphic communication is that it it is inherently participatory.” It is this interactive and social quality of design work that lends the profession what Bierut can only describe as “a kind of magic”. In Part 1 of this interview Michael Bierut talks about the process of writing his new book, How to: Use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, and (every once in a while) change the world, in which he looks back on his life and career in a series of amusing and interesting How to’s.

Creative Mornings: Ben Chestnut Co-Founder of Mailchimp by john cheng

This is a great Creative Mornings talk with Ben Chestnut, Co-founder of Mailchimp. A must watch, in my opinion, for everyone.

Mailchimp Founder Ben Chestnut speaks on one of the most poignant topics of all time, quitting your job to do what you love. Ben Chestnut at CreativeMornings Atlanta, December 2011. Free events like this one are hosted every month in dozens of cities.

Aaron Draplin Designs a Logo by john cheng

Aaron Draplin of Field Notes was asked by Lynda.com to go through the process of designing a logo. I love his process because this is pretty much exactly how I work. I always encourage new up and coming designers to use pencil and paper rather than going directly into the computer and mocking things up.

Be sure to watch until the very end and get Draplin's bits of advice about freelancing.

Watch more like this at lynda.com/vimeo. Most logos aren't designed in fifteen minutes, but most designers aren't Aaron Draplin. Aaron's a Portland fixture by way of the Midwest, the owner of Draplin Design Co., and an advocate of "blue collar" design: design that works. Here he takes our logo design challenge, creating a dozen iterations of a logo for a fictional construction company. Not inspired? Just wait. Watch as he sketches, brings his ideas into Illustrator, and tests and tunes the different iterations. The logos Aaron creates prove design can elevate any company or brand. Along the way, he provides tips for freelancing, finding inspiration, and providing clients context for logos that won't just live in PDFs.

What Makes A Good Leader? by john cheng

Simon Sinek asks in his TED Talk; What makes a good leader? In his talk, he explains what makes a good leader and why. He explains the concept of leaders taking risks and caring for the group, while at the sacrifice of themselves, in order to maintain the well-being of his followers. There are many leaders in this world, but just because someone holds the position of authority doesn't mean that they are good leaders.

So why is it that our culture is so contrary to this concept? Why do we celebrate modern day leaders who sacrifice others for their own personal gain? The goal here however is not to answer why, but to instill the concept of what good leadership is in ourselves. Once that concept is instilled in our hearts, when the torch of leadership passes to us, we will look to bring others up before ourselves instead of the other way around and become the good leader that we once so desired to follow.

Un-Private Collection Series by john cheng

Takashi Murakami photo by Chika Okazumi; artwork © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Takashi Murakami will be in conversation with Pico Iyer at the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles. This is going to be great! Who wants to go with me?

Thursday, May 29 | 8 p.m.
Orpheum Theatre
842 Broadway, downtown Los Angeles
General admission tickets: $12


Disney 3D Prints Any Object as a Speaker by john cheng

Disney has always been on the forefront of innovation, in my opinion, to improve it's parks and create a better immersed experience for their clientele. 3D printing is definitely one of those tech innovations that is on a boom right now and Disney is using it to their advantage on many levels.

One of these studies includes printing any object as a speaker. Disney has developed a a 3D printing technology that can prints an entire surface of an object that will emit sound. That would mean any object that is created can essentially "talk."

You don't need to ask experts to speculate why Disney would think of creating such technology. Think about all of the Disney characters out there that can now be printed and talk to their consumer base directly without visible speakers or strategically placed speakers. The object itself can now be the speaker! Pretty cool if you ask me.

Stefan Bucher by john cheng

Last night I had the opportunity to attend Roski Talks with guest Stefan Bucher. There were so many things that he said about his life experience as a designer/artist that completely resonated with me.

One of such things was a question that he posed to himself wondering whether or not he wanted to just be a graphic designer. This is a question that I find myself pondering everyday and I think as a result, it has pushed me to try different things. Just the mere fact that another designer who is far more established in his career, felt the same way as me, was very assuring and encouraging.

Greed control was another topic he touched upon. To be able to assess a project and have the ability to say no based not on how much money it can make you, but based on well you can design that specific project. He moved forward to say that it is not a power game and not about being an entitled designer, but instead understanding how much control you have over the project to get the best possible product. To make it even more clear, he illustrated that more greed = bad work. As greed increases and money becomes your motivation, the quality of work decreases, but of course only in the context of discretionary. If you have bills to pay, a family to feed, that is a luxury that cannot be afforded sometimes. However there are moments when it is possible.

The last bit stuck out to me was his take on producing work. There may be time and time again where you spend hours upon hours on a project only to get a "meh" result versus other times where you spend 15 minutes and get the most brilliant solution. There should be no shame in the amount of time spent on a project. Its a difficult concept to grasp, but to make it more clear he alluded it to folding a paper crane. You may one day fold a paper crane in 2 minutes and it is the most perfect of paper cranes, however that crane was benefited by 10 years of folding prior to that. The only reason why you were able to create the brilliant piece of work in 15 minutes is because of all the time and effort you placed into your craft for however many years prior.

Ass to chair adhesion..
— -Stefan Bucher

This concept was a good lead to move further into work ethic. Always be producing work, because if you wait for inspiration to come, it never will. You have to sit and work and create on a schedule for those ideas to flourish. Sit down and make sure the, "ass to chair adhesion," forms. You're already sitting there, you're not gonna get up now, so just make work!

Thank you Stefan Bucher, you are a great inspiration to me!

Roski Talks: Stefan Bucher by john cheng

Another Roski Talks is fast approaching! Be sure to drop by USC Roski School of Art and Design on April 1, 2014 at 7pm.

Stefan G. Bucher is the man behind 344lovesyou.com and the online drawing and story-telling experiment dailymonster.com, which has spawned the wildly successful Monster Maker iPad app.

He is the author of several books, including "100 Days of Monsters" and "344 Questions—The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment." He has created designs for David Hockney, Judd Apatow, and The New York Times. He designed the titles for the motion pictures "The Fall," “Immortals” and “Mirror, Mirror” by director Tarsem.

His time-lapse drawings appear on the Emmy-award winning TV show “The Electric Company." He recently designed the Blue Man Theater at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, and in December of 2013 Saks Fifth Avenue adapted his illustrated book “The Yeti Story” into animatronic holiday window displays for their flagship store on Fifth Avenue.



USC ROSKI SCHOOL OF ART AND DESIGN // 850 West 37th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0292


Remembering 2/28 by john cheng

On February 27, 1947 an anti-government uprising in Taiwan began and was violently suppressed by the KMT-led Republic of China government. A massacre of civilians began on February 28, 1947, predominantly those of an educated background. These civilians were dragged out of their homes and publicly executed. This day, "marked the beginning of the Kuomintang's White Terror period in Taiwan, in which thousands more vanished, died, or were imprisoned." On this day, February 28, we remember the tragedy that was 2/28 but this was also the day that triggered the movement towards an independent Taiwan.

All cultures all have their own painful histories but there is no point in holding grudges, however, it is still important to remember moments in our past that help shape our future.

Watch the spoken word below about the story of a woman's experience in watching her husband be dragged out of their home to be murdered and then raising their daughter on her own, performed by my very own mother. 

Placing down this single stem of lily, unable to let go of the remembrance of you.

My youth, like the pure white bud about to blossom, was crushed.

The morning, two months into our newly married life, gunshots disrupted the quiet Taipei roundabout streets in springtime.

Between the hospital and meetings, back and forth you went and rarely had time to see me.

That night, our bodies found comfort as one. The valley mist, felt like a blanket, embracing us.

The comforting moist, warm air made us breathless, not wanting to open our eyes.

Suddenly, the door forced violently opened, At gunpoint, soldiers dragged you away.

Not even allowing you to change your clothes...by our bedside...only one slipper was left behind. 

That same night...I washed your body for the very last time.

From your bare pale back, to the blood-spattered bullet shot, sits a deep, deep endless hollow wound, will forever be engraved in my memory.

Not a single tear fell. Despair left my heart cold as ice, my eyes dried as wood. 

My voice with no sound to be found. Fear constricted me…My heart will no longer be able to sing.

In an endless dark night, not knowing, a tiny seed quietly began to grow inside me…

The baby arrived prematurely on a typhoon night... “Ah….. it's a girl!”

Your father heard the news... disappointed, he shook his head and walked away. My family urged me to remarry…

It was arranged, the baby at one month would be sent away to be cared for by strangers...

In the middle of the night, the baby cried...I carried his child by the window, as I watched her contently nursing on my breast and slowly falling back asleep.

My tears running down my ears,  I knew I could not bare to let her leave my side.

At the moment, I realized…..“this baby is the Cross that I must carry, she is the testament of our love,

she is the only hope in this desolate life,  the only joy left in this sorrow filled life.”

Fifty years, flowed by like the strong river waters...
My youth, like a washboard I grinded through, during midnight needle threading I wedged through ... 

Our daughter is slowly growing up. And just like you...through her eyes, she is able to see what is right and wrong. And always has her own opinion...

As a young child, she would come along with me to wash clothes for people.    
The man selling molasses candy would always gave her some to eat.

One day she asked:
 “Could you please marry the man selling molasses candy? Then I will have candy to eat every day…”

And she continued...and whispered gently, “that way…..I will also have a father to love me…”

Our daughter grows up, and is nothing short than having a son. Like her father, she became an obstetrician. She opened a practice, started a family, had children and settled abroad.

Although I miss her very much, she is still my greatest comfort.

I still choose to live at the same house at the bottom of the hillside.

Fifty years later, I walked into the town square, stood by the monument that you so bravely shed your blood for.

For the first time, I am able to weep again…
In front of many witnesses, I can freely and fearlessly cry out for you.

For the first time, I am able to stand with my back upright, straight as an arrow. These fifty-years of turmoil...I held my head high...

The years of long awaited justice has finally arrived; Our sacrifice is not an evidence of crime, but a testimony of the justice that will be forever remembered in our history.

Like a torch that lights up, shining towards the land before dawn.

Placing down this single stem of lily, unable to let go of the remembrance of you.

Our youth, like the pure white buds, blossoming on our beloved motherland, even if we are crushed, there are no regrets.


溫暖ê溼氣hō͘͘ 咱強欲絕氣
Tùi白siak-siak ê腳脊phiaⁿ
驚惶束ân我 ê 聲帶
Tī無盡磅 ê 暗暝
恬恬 tī我ê腹內發芛
囡仔 tī風颱暝早產出世
呣甘 kā 伊抱離開身邊
是絕望中獨一 ê  ńg 望
苦痛中上大 ê 歡喜
我ê青春 tī thoah板頂面noá過
對半暝針線 ê 孔縫 nńg 過
凡事有家己 ê 判斷
細漢伊 toè我去替人洗衫
賣麥芽膏 ê定定送互伊糖仔
「你及賣芽膏 ê 結緍豈好
無輸hō͘ 查甫囝仔
猶是我上大 ê 安慰
徛 tī你拍拚有份 ê 紀念碑
久年聽候 ê 正義這霎才到
咱 ê 犠牲呣是罪證
是歷史永久 ê 見證
親像點著 ê 火把
照過天光前 ê 曠野 
囥bē落對你 ê 思念
開 tī久長所疼 ê 土地
受 at-折也無怨悔 

Hackschooling: New Era of Homeschooling? by john cheng

I have my doubts about home schooling but I have to admit that this video of 13 year-old Logan Laplante made me think out of the box a bit about conventional education vs a hackschooling approach.

I think the approach that Laplante and his parents have taken is approaching education with model that allows the child to learn based of his interests and apply basic subjects accordingly. In my mind, traditional home schooling isn't as effective because it is as if you were going to a regular school except you are sitting at home and have no peers to collaborate with. Than again I'm naive in this respect because I have not experienced it first hand, but if we alter the way we approach home schooling according the model that Laplante has explained during his Tedx talk (btw...this is a 13 year-old giving a tedx talk, they have to be doing something right), it may prove to be beneficial.

Marshall Goldsmith by john cheng

As a part of personal professional development, City of Hope invited Marshall Goldsmith as one of the keynote speakers that I was fortunate enough to attend. He is a great speaker and had many great case study examples and suggestions of good practice for leaders as well as just life in general.

During his keynote, I jotted down a few things that really stuck out to me. Check them out!

Help more, judge less.
— Marshall Goldsmith
When we say “thats great, but...” it creates the notion that there really is no such thing as ‘great’...
— Marshall Goldsmith
Leadership is not about me, it’s about them
— Marshall Goldsmith
Be happy now!
— Marshall Goldsmith
Don’t get caught up with chasing “what I dont have” to the point where i miss out on “what I do have.”
— Marshall Goldsmith
Have fun, life is short!
— Marshall Goldsmith
If you have a dream, go for it! If you don’t do it now, you wont do it when you’re 45 or 65
— Marshall Goldsmith
Go for it! You may not win, but at least you tried...
— Marshall Goldsmith

Overall I really enjoyed his keynote and I will do my best to take into considerations the best practices of leadership.