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Sketches, exercises and an RPG character

Some of my older posts only have small images. This is one of those posts, sorry about that.

stylish guy with hat

Angry looking guy

Liked the linework in this guy

Young man with sideburns, stalin-mustache and a hat

RPG character (Mage: The Ascension)

small person holding orange ball

Skeleton with a bathrobe

classy skeleton


Liked the movement in this guy

The ethical guideines of design organizations, pt 3/3: outside our sphere

«Everybody else’s tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strike is toasted»
– Mad Men

(part 1, part 2)

The cliche is that you can’t trust advertising because it’s all lies. There are laws against that sort of thing these days, though — and the most efficient of the shady PR and propaganda have always been dishonest in more subtle ways. The organizations differ quite dramatically on this point, while Grafill doesn’t even mention the idea of misleading advertising, AIGA has a very clear point saying that professional designers «communicate the truth in all situations and at all times» and «represent messages in a clear manner in all forms of communication design and avoid false, misleading and deceptive promotion.»

But we still see ads implying that Coca Cola is healthy because it’s «all natural ingredients», and other ads that even get close  to lying. In spite  of this, David Butler is quite happy in his role as their vp of design. Butler seems to be closely associated with AIGA — and has plenty of beautiful words to tell them about corporate responsibility, words that they’ve recorded and published on their website — you’d almost think they consider him a professional designer.

The problem may be that the guidelines are there, but in AIGAs case, there are no sanctions for members who break the rules.

The Coca Cola Company also never apologized for mining the groundwater from under draught-stricken Indian peasants and selling them toxic sludge as fertilizer — which brings me to the question, should designers be associating themselves with this sort? Even the purely brand-building ads of young, hip, attractive people drinking Coca Cola, helps maintain the facade of a really shady business.* Take the example of Boot-boys (a Norwegian neo-nazi group) if you’re not comfortable writing off Coca Cola as evil — designers obviously shouldn’t be uncritically accepting work from just anyone.

There may be plenty of excuses saying that it’s someone else’s responsibility, these excuses exist at every link along the commercial chain: the CEO of Coca Cola can say his main responsibility is to his shareholders, individual customers can say they don’t have time to find all the relevant information about every product they buy, and so on. The fact that everyone has an excuse doesn’t mean that no one’s left responsible, it means that we all are.

Speaking of toxic sludge; both AIGA and Grafill are unambitious when it comes to the environment, merely suggesting that designers should be responsible with their use of resources — DDA is surprisingly far ahead here, in fact demanding that it’s members work towards a sustainable future, recommending support of UN Global Compact, which also adresses corruption, labour standards and human rights, hopefully the others will come along soon.

What about the users?
The products of designer are allways made to be used by users or seen by an audience — but none of the guidelines mention this with a single word. The debate is there though, Paul Nini writes on «I would argue that our single, most significant contribution to society would be to make sure that the communications we create are actually useful to those for whom they’re intended», before sketching out some guidelines about including users in the creative process, treating them with respect, accommodating physically challenged users and not being manipulative.

Here are some relevant points from TASAs guidelines:

«21. Members should treat with respect the participants of the research and protect their welfare and privacy. This should encompass a respect for the inherent dignity and the rights of persons, and a commitment not to use a person only as a means to an end. Treating participants with respect may involve the protection of groups, communities or organisations to which participants belong.»


«30. Where participants are very young, incapacitated or a member of a particularly vulnerable population, the research methods and instruments should be appropriately designed and if necessary, modified, to protect the ethical rights of, and ensure the physical, emotional and psychological safety of participants»

For designers I think these could be helpful, not only to the research phase of our creative process, but also in out attitude towards our users and audience.

* For the record, Coca Cola and David Butler are just examples, I’d include more, but I’m trying to keep this short

The ethical guidelines of design organizations, pt 2/3: Within our sphere

The design organizations all have what seems like a well developed set of guidelines for dealing honestly, discreetly and smoothly with clients and employers. In addition to requirements for maintaining a high level of competence.

All of this this makes sense from a purely selfish perspective, this is much of what makes an organization’s reputation among potential employers. This reputation is good for the survival of the organizations and can be profitable for its members, if they can wear their membership (or even better, Grafills «Authorized Membership») as a badge of competence. These things don’t merely make you look good, they make you look like a good investment.

For similar reasons, the guidelines do their part to keep designers from being undervalued and underpaid by their clients. They have clear guidelines for what kind of competitions the members are allowed to join and how clients and employers are allowed to pay them for their services, including, on AIGA’s part, a point specifically forbidding spec work.

They also all forbid their members from taking credit for work that’s not theirs or taking the credit alone when not appropriate. This also includes plagiarism and the like.

"You are a Comic Sans Criminal but we're here to help you"

From, a site that «rehabilitates» people who use the font MS Comic Sans inappropriately.

That’s not to say that there’s no idealism here (or that there’s anything wrong with self-interest in and of itself) — a lot of this can also be explained as showing the value designers place on good work. The internet is filled with designers writhing in woes about all the ugly and unusable stuff that fills our daily lives, longing for a shinier and more beautiful world.

Part 3, outside our sphere

The ethical guidelines of design organizations pt 1/3

Graphic design reaches a lot of people, in some really powerful and subtle ways — so it makes sense that you’d need an equally powerful discussion of it’s application, with an appropriate sensitivity to the subtleties of the matter.

Compared to, for example, working at a nursing home — the rewards for a conscious, wise and clear approach to ethics aren’t as obvious in design. A lot of the good or bad you can do, is done to people you’ll never meet, to the environment or in influencing more abstract social entities (like fashion, politics, etc) — so it’s harder to work just by your gut feeling alone, but while medical ethics is one of the biggest fields in applied ethics, design ethics doesn’t even have a wikipedia article*.

Graphic designers have responsibilities to their users, to the environment, to their colleagues, to their customers as well as to other people and creatures who are otherwise affected by their work, including future generations — so how do we approach these responsibilities?

I’ve had a look at four different sets of ethical guidelines: the ones of AIGA, the Danish Design Association (DDA) and Grafill; the Norwegian organisation for graphic design and illustration (their ethical guidelines are not on their website for some reason yes they are, sorry about that). I’ve also had a look at the ethical guidelines of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) for comparison on some relevant issues.

*at the time of writing, anyway

Part 2, within our sphere.

Drawings, cheramics-museum-tourist-photos and more!

Time for an update, do let me know if this post is too long. My calligraphy teacher was kind enough to take me along to Boesner — a huge shop with all kinds of artists materials (tenk deg Malepaletten i størrelse Binders), suffice it to say, I’ve spent close to 1500kr here on materials so far and I’ll probably be spending some more.

Some of my older posts only have small images. This is one of those posts, sorry about that.


pipette and ink, background has been cleaned a bit in Photoshop

two drawings

drawings made with my new lead holder

also with lead holder

Billy Connolly, looking very serious

It’s not a good drawing of Billy Connolly, it looks like him, but on stage he’s a lot more crazy-looking. I just discovered him the other day; he can be very funny, but does occasionally seem to fall in to the trap of going for a cheap applause by shouting «HAY GUYS I HAVE SUM PALITICUL VIUSE» (only with lots of swearing, but this is a family blog). Not that this is unique to him of course, it’s like an entire genre, just look at George Carlin, and with him it’s not only occasional — but I digress.

drawing of dude with no head

I got a new mechanical pencil as well

I had something to say about these photos, but I forgot:

two very different buildings

one traditional building next to a more strangely decorated one

lots of clocks in a park

probably an art project, notice how they all have the same time

I don’t usually take a lot of pictures when I’m out and about, but yesterday I visited the Hetjens Museum of ceramics, and I took a whole bunch. Here’s some of what I saw:

disc-shaped porcelain thing

it’s a potpurri-UFO from some time around 1800. For those who don’t know, the 1800’s were smelly times, and potpurri was part of the effort to have the nice smells overwhelm the bad ones.

a wobbly shaped vase and a bowl

The Jugend style is one of the weirdest ones out there, I need to let it influence me more

roman god getting drunk with some toddlers

hey kids, don’t hang out with Bacchus, he’s a bad inflence at your age!

a big plate in blue and gold

a beautiful plate with some calligraphy

a bull and a wagon

probably from around 1000bce around where Iran is now

a pot that looks like a dude

hello, how are you

small guy with a spear

most of the pictures I’ve shown are European pieces, but that last one was African and this one is South American, they had Chinese and Arabic stuff as well, but my cell phone camera didn’t like the lighting

Ny illustrasjon for studvest

Tegning om forurensingen på Danmarksplass i det siste

Tegning om forurensingen på Danmarksplass i det siste

Hensikten var originalt at folk og biler skulle være tegnet som de så ut som klumper med eksos. Resulatatet ble overarbeidet, tror egentlig jeg bare skulle tegnet hele greien kjapt med kull – men jeg synes det ble pent også, så da fikk det heller være. Nesten litt Mønksk.

Some of my older posts only have small images. This is one of those posts, sorry about that.

Some calligraphy and tourist photos

Had my first calligraphy class here yesterday. It went very well, as it turns out, my teacher, Alexandra Remmes, was educated as a graphic designer here in Düsseldorf, and has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator and as a creative director. She’d recently been to Herrmann Zapf’s 90th birthday(turns out he’s still going strong).

The class seems, in theory, to be about teaching me the english «foundational hand» — a basic carolingian script that can be written without twisting the nib. If you study the letters you’ll see that the nib is never supposed to be at anything but 45 degrees. This may not be as challenging as Diwani, where the most difficult part was the part of the letters where you’re supposed to twist the nib.

Some of my older posts only have small images. This is one of those posts, sorry about that.

Here’s some of my work so far:

When I mentioned that I’m studying visual communication, she immediately started telling me about wider applications of calligraphy. When she heard I’ll be having an expressive typography class later, she also seemed to have some thoughts about that. I have high hopes.

Otherwise, as I’m writing this, I’m doing my part as a tourist by sitting atop the local pointy tower, (mer…)

Noen tegninger før jeg drar til Tyskland

Reiser til Düsseldorf i morgen, så her er noen tegninger. Forhåpentligvis får jeg nok av ting å blogge om der også.

Some of my older posts only have small images. This is one of those posts, sorry about that.

Et råtnet halloweengresskar, tror jeg fant bildet i nærheten av heeby jeeby comics


gjorde noen tegninger hvor jeg overdriver hånda, denne ble ganske bra synes jeg

Ganske fornøyd med strekene og stoffligheten i hodet her, resten er en annen sak

En nisse, jeg likte karakteren, men tegningen ble litt slurvete

Fyr fra et rollespill, tegnet uten referanse

Fant en side med yoga-tutorials, genialt for krokier

til sist en litt freaky fargelagt klovn

More discoveries

Discovery one: This is a German doll from the 1600s:

A Journey Round My Skull has a long post with some fun old toys — how about some «comic figures with space inside to hold a bird which in its struggles gives to the figures all kind of motions»? That and more here: Apes on a horse and more toys from the void

Second discovery: Testosterone in four acts:
this episode of a Chicago public radio show includes an interview with a man who lost all his testosterone for a while, a former woman who had massive testosterone injections and more information about this notorious chemical: This American Life

Discovery three: Warren Ellis has a Twitter feed, where he shares stunning insights and uses a lot of bad words: