Thursday, July 31, 2014

Grand Central Market Turns Into Foodie Destination

One of the few remaining institutions that survived the yuppification of downtown LA is the venerable Grand Central Market.  In recent years, when downtown was synonymous with "downscale", the big warehouse-sized hall on Broadway was decidedly low-rent, a hodge-podge of stalls selling fruit from the Central Avenue produce market mixed in with lunch counters and taco stands.

But now that urban pioneer trendies have claimed all of downtown as their own, the Grand Central has quickly reinvented itself as a haven for foodies and upscale customers seeking the finest and freshest in cheese, meat, coffee and exotic foodstuffs. If you close your eyes, you could imagine yourself transported to the chic-est market emporia of Portland, San Francisco or Seattle. Traditionalists may mourn a certain gritty authenticity that the old Market had in spades, but as a shopping destination, the new version seems destined to grow and prosper.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
DTLA Rising

Link to Article:

Excerpt: "A lot of positive attention has been showered on Broadway lately, especially near 9th/Broadway where some of the most exciting developments in LA have happened over the last year with the opening of Ace Hotel and esoteric high-end retailers we thought would never open in Downtown LA in a million years (i.e., Acne Studios, OAK NYC, Aesop, Tanner Goods, Austere, etc). But the revitalization of Grand Central Market at 3rd/Broadway is just as exciting and acts as the northern anchor to Broadway’s amazing come back. (Now we just have to fill in everything in between.) Over the last year, Grand Central Market has gone through an incredible transformation by adding a slew of new and exciting food stalls that makes the historic food hall from 1917 one of the coolest culinary hot spots in all of Southern California.
Since June of last year, no less than 10 new food concepts (see pictures below) have been added to Grand Central Market in addition to three original 'pioneers' that opened in early 2013: Sticky Rice, G&B Coffee, and Valerie at GCM. Now, visiting Grand Central Market is a culinary experience mixed with a wide variety of diverse food options. There is now an exciting energy in the air filled with an ever increasing diversity of new Angelenos coming back to the city from the suburbs.
As a result of all these new food concepts attracting a larger swath of Angelenos from afar, Grand Central Market has added dinner hours from Thursday thru Saturday closing at 9pm. As the immediate area continues to revitalize in the coming years adding more new restaurants and shops, obviously more people will be coming to Downtown LA, which will allow Grand Central Market to extend dinner hours every day of the week."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Marketers Find Out What You See in Ads with Eye-tracking Heat Maps

When a company lays out a print ad, or shoots and edits a commercial, they know what they want and are trying to assure that you look at and notice.  But intentions and reality can be far apart.  To test what consumers really look at in marketing, visual heat maps that follow and lay out the movement of readers' eyes tell a very different story.

It turns out that the biggest indicator of what you notice in an ad depends on your gender.  Men and women perceive ads far differently, and may or may not notice the product in the ad at all! It's also a major fail in the auto print ad below where readers scan the ad text and skip looking at the Porsche the ad is selling...

Hunter Communications Original News Souce:
Business Insider

Link to article:
Eye-Tracking Heatmaps

Excerpt: "
They say the eyes tell all. Now thanks to eye-tracking technology we can tell what they're saying. Tracking eye movements can give us fascinating insights into advertising and design and reveal a few things about human tendencies.
We've picked out some of our favorites below:

Everyone focuses on Scarlett Johansson's face in this Dolce & Gabbana ad.

scarlett johansson ad

In this package of meat, people look at the meat right away. Then, they read the label and check out the sticker.

This one shows the differences between men and women. Men spend more time looking at the woman, while women read the rest of the ad.


Notice how the men are not looking at the shoes at all.
heatmap 2

In this viewing of The Last Supper, people are looking at Jesus and the apostles. The eyes also seem to naturally fall on that space between two of the back windows.

Grocery shoppers are mostly looking for prices.

This is a gaze plot. It shows how people are checking out a shelf full of shampoo.

No one seems to care about this Porsche. They'd rather read.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Email Newsletters Get a New Lease on Life

In the cacophony of texts, social media, and the internet that people increasingly access on their smartphones, there is one old-fashioned technology that not only refuses to die, but is flourishing.  Email newsletters (that deliver subscribers targeted information that they have already expressed an interest in) are becoming an essential tool in filtering out the background noise of TMI.  When you get a subscriber email of content you know you want to read, it's almost a relief from the overload of information, misinformation, and disinformation that clogs our bandwidth.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Bloomberg, Fast Company, The New York Times, Politico and many other news organizations are finding that they can grab attention — and readers — in the inbox.

How can that be? With social media, mobile apps and dynamic websites that practically stalk the reader, how can something that sometimes gets caught in a spam filter really be taking off?

Newsletters are clicking because readers have grown tired of the endless stream of information on the Internet, and having something finite and recognizable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos. In fact, the comeback of email newsletters has been covered in Fast Company, The Atlantic and Medium, but I missed those articles because, really, who can keep up with a never-ending scroll of new developments? That’s where email newsletters, with their aggregation and summaries, come in. Some are email only, others reprise something that can be found on the web. At a time when lots of news and information is whizzing by online, email newsletters — some free, some not — help us figure out what’s worth paying attention to.

There are some significant countervailing trends, of course. Young people love to text, send instant messages and use Snapchat more than they like using email, and Facebook paid as much as $19 billion for the text service WhatsApp as a bet that email may be on the wane.

Then again, MailChimp, which sends all manner of business-to-consumer emails, is adding more than 10,000 users a day — people who send mass emails and newsletters — according to executives there. The company, founded in 2001, says it sends over 400 million emails a day.

Publishers seeking to stick out of the clutter have found both traction and a kind of intimacy in consumers’ inboxes.

If you think about it, what may seem like a very retro movement — what’s next, faxes? — has relevance in the modern media environment. Increasingly, news is a list that appears on your phone. Whether it’s Twitter, your Facebook stream or a mobile app like NYT Now, news shows up as a list of links. The Drudge Report is nothing more than that, and the site continues to melt publishers’ servers when it points to something.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

An email newsletter generally shows up in your inbox because you asked for it and it includes links to content you have deemed relevant. In other words, it’s important content you want in list form, which seems like a suddenly modern approach.

It helps that email, long dismissed as a festering petri dish of marketing come-ons, has cleaned up its act. Gmail, in particular, has stamped out a lot of spam and segmented the inbox into personal, social and promotional streams that make email much less a mess than it used to be.

It can be valuable real estate. A Quartz study of 940 global executives found that email newsletters trumped the Internet and mobile apps as a source of news.

It makes sense. My personal digital hierarchy, which I assume is fairly common, goes like this: email first, because it is for and about me; social media next, because it is for and about me, my friends and professional peers; and finally, there is the anarchy of the web, which is about, well, everything.

With an email, there is a presumption of connection, of something personal, that makes it a good platform for publishers. Newer email newsletter outfits like TinyLetter, which MailChimp owns, are simple, free and easy to use. TinyLetter has over 100,000 users who reach 9.3 million subscribers, and it has had an increase of 15 percent in the number of newsletters sent in the last year."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Cheaper Ways to Learn a Language

Sure, you can learn a bit of tourist French with a Pimsleur course (for a few hundred dollars) or Rosetta Stone computer programs (a few hundred or more).  But the explosion of internet resources means that the cost of intensive language study has come way down, and has gained some of the fun and addictive qualities of video games.  The New York Times has passed along some of the newest and most enjoyable ways to learn a second or third language without breaking the bank.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "

To learn a new language travelers often turn to time-tested solutions like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur or actual classes with native speakers. Yet a number of new, creative and often more affordable tools are aiming to help you rattle off 'table for two' and 'how much does this cost?' in no time.

Will they get you through the most complex grammar? Not necessarily. But beginners are likely to appreciate these fresh approaches — especially if you’ve had difficulty sticking with traditional language-learning programs. At the end of this column I’ve also included some free tools to supplement your lessons.

CHINEASY This book by ShaoLan Hsueh, who grew up in Taiwan, the daughter of a calligrapher, aims to help people read Chinese characters by associating them with simple, colorful illustrations. For instance, one meaning of an open square with two little tabs at the bottom is 'mouth.' To help you remember that, the book shows the character (a square with tabs) in black with white teeth and a red tongue inside the square, as if a mouth is stretched wide open. You can see how Ms. Hsueh’s system works by watching an excellent instructional video under the 'films' tab on the Chineasy website. The Chineasy book ($24.99; available online for less) recently arrived in United States stores (I recommend watching the video before delving into the book), and a second volume is in the works. You can also learn by visiting the Chineasy Facebook page, which offers daily lessons. The basic idea is that once you learn about a dozen “building block” characters, you can begin combining them to create more complex words and, eventually, sentences. As you might expect, learning Chinese characters is not lickety-split. Some of the illustrations easily call to mind the characters; other require more imagination. But if you’re a visual learner, this book — probably one of the prettier language-learning tomes you’ll encounter, with illustrations by Noma Bar — is worth a try. Information:

DUOLINGO This free app and website is among the most effective language-learning methods I’ve tried, because the lessons come in the form of brief challenges — speaking, translating, answering multiple-choice questions — that keep me coming back for more. When you answer incorrectly, you lose a red heart. Lose too many hearts and, like a video game, your lesson will abruptly end and you’ll have to start all over again. If you successfully complete a lesson — available courses include Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese — there’s fanfare and you can proceed to the next lesson. The more lessons you complete, the further you level up. You can also acquire virtual currency that allows you to buy extra hearts or bonus skills like French pick-up lines. Additionally, you can go back and refresh what you’ve learned with beat-the-clock quizzes. There is a lot to soak up in each few-minute lesson, but the gamification aspects encourage practicing. That never happened to me in high school Latin class. The app is particularly helpful because it allows me to study while commuting (too bad Wi-Fi is spotty on subways). Duolingo has been around for a few years, but it recently became one of the first apps compatible with Android Wear, the nascent Google operating system behind smart watches including the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch. Information:

LINGUA.LY This free online program teaches by immersing you in news, sports and entertainment articles written in the language you want to learn. And the list is long: English, Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, Czech, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish and Chinese (both simplified and traditional). Let’s say you’re using the desktop version. When you encounter a word you don’t know, double-click on it. For example, the headline of a recent article in French read: 'Miley Cyrus a un nouveau chien et cette fois elle compte le garder!' Clicking on the word 'cette' brought up a pop-up box with two translations: the pronoun 'this' and the adjective 'that.' At the same time, the site provided an audible pronunciation, and the word was added to a master vocabulary list that could be studied later. Click the “practice” box over that vocabulary list, and you can test yourself. Along the way, some of the images that appear next to the definitions may make you smile. For instance, when I correctly selected “expensive” as the definition of 'cher,' a photo of Cher — as in the 'I Got You Babe' Cher — appeared. And it’s hard to beat the 'congratulations' videos that appear when you successfully complete a practice session, including one that shows Elaine from 'Seinfeld' dancing and waving her arms over her head. You win points for adding words to the vocabulary list, reading articles and successful practices. In April introduced an Android app and plans to introduce an iOS app in the fall. Information:"

Monday, July 21, 2014

World Cup ALSO Featured New Custom Nike Fonts

Dutch away jersey Crouwel font
Now that the World Cup is over and the winners are crowned (yay Germany) we can take a look back at some of the innovations you might have missed during the hoopla of the games.  One of them is pretty great.

Nike worked with two renowned typographers, Dutch Wim Crouwel and English Neville Brody, to come up with distinctive fonts for the home and away team jerseys for the major World Cup national teams.  Here is a look at their fine work, and a discussion with NIKE about the process to design beautiful but functional type that met all the requirements for placement and readability on the team uniforms.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Design Boom

Link to article:

Excerpt: "designboom spoke to stu mcarthur, design director at NIKE football to learn more about about the process…

designboom: how are fonts assigned to each team?
stu mcarthur: we design unique fonts for the best NIKE teams as an extension of the ‘pride’ elements of each kit design. the fonts are created with a focus of being culturally relevant, as well as playing a role in completing the kit’s overall design. functionally, we are also looking to improve legibility for the spectators at home and in the stands.

DB: when are external typographers brought in to help?
SM: it’s not something we usually do but with this summer’s tournament, we wanted to extend the national pride elements of the design and this felt like a great way to do that. working with neville brody on england’s font was a huge honor – he’s one of the best living british typographers and he’s a huge football fan. in terms of the typeface for the dutch kit, wim crouwel is a friend of NIKE and has been working with us on some other projects, so it felt natural to bring him on board.

DB: how do you justify the cost and time of developing a new custom typeface?
SM: for each federation this is the pinnacle moment for their players, fans and everyone carrying that country’s passport! we see this element of the design as a vital piece of the team’s storytelling.

DB: what criteria is used to strike a balance between originality and legibility?
SM: this is where you earn your wages as a designer, firstly the font has to be original & relevant, does it resonate with the country or team? does it fit with NIKE’s overall direction? we want to create a beautiful unique font that resonates with the players & fans alike. in the case of the dutch typeface we followed wim’s modernist typography rules, focused on spacing letter shapes purely to be legible while also creating a modern look. this style has been a modernist (and a niche) discussion in the dutch graphic world for the past six decades.

DB: what FIFA regulations do the typefaces have to meet in order to be used?
SM: we have to meet certain requirements in terms of the stroke widths, colors, legibility and so on – the rulebook is quite thorough but it never proves too challenging to the process.

DB: what’s your favorite NIKE typeface?
SM: we are very proud of the england and holland typefaces but my personal favorite is the one we worked on for france. a stylized version of ITC avante garde, which fits the character of the french team perfectly. the font is wider than usual, so the first time we used it on the new marinière (away) shirt we had to anticipate the width of the letters to ensure each player’s name would fit in a straight line across the shoulders while vertically staying between the hooped stripes on the shirt."


Thursday, July 17, 2014

LA Will Have a New Sky High Attraction

The West's tallest building, LA's US Bank Tower
Los Angeles has not had any tall building with an observation deck to observe the distant views, a la the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower.  Of course, we can easily climb to the peaks of Runyon Canyon or take a shuttle to the Griffith Park Observatory, but it's not quite the same thing as stepping into an elevator and being whooshed to a glass-lined observation floor or outside deck where the city stretches out at your feet.  

The plans for the massive new Wilshire Grand Tower will include just such a floor, and even an infinity pool 700 feet above the ground.  But Angelenos and tourists won't even have to wait for 2017 when that skyscraper is finished to have the rooftop view experience.  The US Bank "library tower" at Pershing Square is getting a top floor makeover that will include a restaurant and observation deck on its 69th and 70th floors, and it could be ready by the middle of 2015.

Hunter Communications Original News Source: 
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "U.S. Bank Tower, the tallest building in the West, will soon have an observation deck and sky-high restaurant catering to visitors to downtown Los Angeles.

The deck, the first of its kind in Southern California, will provide visitors with a sweeping view of Los Angeles, stretching from the hills of Glendale to Catalina Island.

The 72-story skyscraper, completed in 1989, will remain an office building, the owners said Tuesday, but it will get about $50 million worth of improvements, including a makeover of the lobby.OUE will instead try to capitalize on the tower's height to make it a busy tourist attraction like the Empire State Building in New York and the Willis Tower in Chicago, both of which are more than 100 stories tall.

The top floor of U.S. Bank Tower is to remain offices for rent, but the 71st floor below it will become home to a restaurant. The space once occupied by executives of First Interstate Bank has 18-foot ceilings and 360-degree views of the Los Angeles basin.

The 69th and 70th floors are to be connected by a interior stairwell and made into an observation and meeting space. The 69th floor already has terraces that will be opened up to form outdoor viewing spaces. Visitors can see past Long Beach to Santa Catalina Island on a clear day.

OUE anticipates that the observation deck could attract 500,000 people per year, each of whom would pay around $25 for entry."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

See LA When It Was Wide-Open Space

1905 View of Hollywood From Laughlin Park (Los Feliz)
Los Angeles is the definition of a world megalopolis, a densely developed metropolitan area of over 4800 square miles.  Yet a century ago, what is now criss-crossed by boulevards and superhighways was covered with meadows, groves and ranches.  It's striking and a bit disconcerting to see how recently the streets of Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles were little more than cowpaths.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to article: 
When LA Was Empty

Excerpt: "Over time, the growing city spilled into the surrounding landscape. Meanwhile, a devastating drought that began in 1862 and lasted through 1864 crippled the ranching economy, and more intensive agriculture retreated into the former grazing lands. Pastures became bean fields and orange groves -- a process that only accelerated with the arrival of new technologies like groundwater pumping, concrete pipes, and refrigerated train cars. Cooperative enterprises like the Anaheim Colony in present-day Orange County provided a model for making irrigated agriculture work. Providing a variety of microclimates and soil types, the Los Angeles Basin and its adjacent valleys became home to a diverse suite of agricultural uses. By the 1920s, Los Angeles County was ranked first in the nation in the value of its agricultural output.

Los Angeles kept growing. It did so in part by expanding outward from its historic core, rolling west toward the sea, but it also sprouted offshoots. First along the steam railroads, then the interurban lines of the Pacific Electric and finally the freeways, suburbs sprang up amid the countryside. Many of the most dramatic photos of an emptier Los Angeles show new settlements like Hollywood or Beverly Hills -- now familiar to much of the world through popular culture -- as rustic country towns. Eventually, the surrounding countryside disappeared as the suburbs and city merged into one metropolitan agglomeration.

The process reached a fevered pitch in the years immediately following World War II. From 1945 through 1957, subdividers carved 462,593 separate lots out of agricultural land in Los Angeles County. By the end of those thirteen years, nearly all of the San Fernando Valley had become urbanized, and the master-planned city of Lakewood had risen from the bean fields north of Long Beach -- an event D. J. Waldie chronicled in his classic memoir, 'Holy Land.'

Some communities resisted. Between 1955 and 1956, for example, three along the zig-zagged border between Los Angeles and Orange counties incorporated to fight encroaching urbanization: Dairy Valley (now Cerritos), Dairy City (now Cypress), and Dairyland (now La Palma). Within a decade, however, even those proud cow towns had adopted new names as real estate developers made dairy owners irresistible offers. Among some viewers, these photographs showing vast swaths of emptiness where urbanization reigns today may inspire nostalgia for a lost, Arcadian past. But they also provoke pertinent questions about Southern California's urban development and city dwellers' relationship with the natural environment. Does the open countryside pictured here, for example, represent a lost opportunity to create a comprehensive system of parks and open spaces? Have Southern Californians become less informed about food production since agricultural enterprises moved to far-off places?"
North Hollywood in 1909

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Could the Future of Retail Dining Be Vending Machine-Powered?

In the 1940s and 50s, modern dining took on the shape of the Automat, a cafeteria-style restaurant where various dishes were available behind little glass doors in vending machines.  That innovation soon fell from favor, but a 21st-century variation on that theme may be the next thing in fresh food fast!  Computerized vending machines are springing up that serve everything from Sprinkles Cupcakes and Jamba Juice smoothies to hot pizza and fresh toasted burritos. Can immediacy and convenience trump counter ordering and the amenities of a restaurant location?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "'There is a lot of innovation happening in vending machines,' said Omar Khedr, industry research analyst at IBISWorld. 'It's occurring in niche markets like organic foods, propelled forward by access to new technology and convenience.'

Sprinkles Cupcakes is installing its 'Cupcake ATM' at all 16 bakeries around the country. L'Oreal tested a vending machine in New York during the holidays that scanned a shopper's outfit and recommended complementary makeup. San Francisco start-up Momentum Machines is making a device that cooks up customized burgers with no help from human hands.

Such vending extravagance is driven by consumers with increasingly picky tastes who still want convenience on the go. The boom in mobile and Web-based shopping also has trained customers to browse and buy with no help from salespeople or waiters.

'It's a case of technological innovation at an affordable price,' said Christopher Salyers, author of "Vending Machines: Coined Consumerism.' 'The Internet has only proliferated this worldview of pay-and-click consumers.'

Long before McDonald's, coin-operated vending machines served pies and sandwiches to armies of harried workers. But the U.S. has since fallen behind Europe and Asia, where futuristic machines offer a vast array of goods including gold bars, eggs and live beetles. In Japan, automated kiosks sell heads of lettuce after growing them under artificial lighting.

Innovations are now driving a renaissance in U.S. self-serve kiosks.

After five straight years of decline, revenue for the U.S. vending machine industry is poised to rise and hit $7.7 billion in 2019, up nearly 7% from $7.2 billion this year, according to an IBISWorld report. Experts say 2014 marks the comeback of the sector after years squeezed by budget-conscious shoppers who opted for value over vending convenience.

Denis Koci said he spent five years developing the technology for the Burritobox, which offers warm burritos on demand. His Los Angeles company, the Box Brands, rolled out six machines this year in the Southland and in August will start franchising nationally in places such as colleges, Koci said.

Diners can pick between options such as hand-rolled vegan fajita burritos for $3.65 and add sides such as guacamole and sour cream. Soon the boxes will toast the burritos and also offer warmed chips with salsa. The products are heated inside to 195 degrees Fahrenheit before popping out.

Koci said he was inspired by the 'Star Trek' television series, on which a machine called the replicator made meals on demand.

Within six months, the company plans to roll out Pizzaboxes that bake pies to 800 degrees.

'The goal is to do what they do in fast food restaurants inside a machine,' Koci said.

But to succeed, companies will have to overcome doubts about the quality of vending machine fare, analysts said."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hong Kong Sees the End of Its Neon Past

New York's Times Square, The Strip in Las Vegas, and Tokyo's Ginza district are all famous for their blazing neon signs.  But Hong Kong has long been defined by neon signs for everything from hotels, temples, businesses and restaurants.  Now that LEDs and digital signs are cheaper, less vulnerable and labor-intensive, the era of neon signs in the Asian metropolis is drawing to an end.

The end of that era of thousands of neon signs lighting up every neighborhood in Hong Kong also corresponds to a new visual art and culture museum opening with an online interactive exhibition to examine and display the connections of Hong Kong's cultural life to its neon past. M+ has collected submissions of photos, art, and essays about the neon of Hong Kong over the last three months, and now will leave the full collection online as a display and tribute to its era.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "For years, Hong Kong’s neon signs have played bit parts in its cinema, providing a soaring red backdrop for a rooftop romance in Clifton Ko’s 1986 “Devoted to You” or backlighting the blonde wig of a mysterious Garbo-esque figure in Wong Kar-wai’s 1994 'Chungking Express.'

Now the signs are starring in their own show online.

They are the subject of the latest pop-up exhibition by M+, Hong Kong’s new visual art and culture museum, before the museum opens its physical doors in 2017 as part of the West Kowloon Cultural District, now under construction.

This is M+’s seventh pop-up show, but its first online. Running until June 30, it is a tribute to neon signs and their place in the Hong Kong cityscape and imagination, from their heyday in the 1970s and 1980s to their fade-out in the last decade as LED signs took over.

Posted to NEONSIGNS.HK, and updated continuously, it showcases M+’s ambitions to blur artistic disciplines and to be global as well as local. The website includes photos, essays and slide shows by writers, artists, photographers and academics living and working in Hong Kong. A 12-minute video, 'The Making of Neon Signs,' features interviews — in Cantonese with English subtitles — with longtime neon sign makers and takes viewers into their workshops.

There is also an interactive map where users can upload pictures of neon signs and their location, as a sort of public documentation project of the vanishing craft." 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Photoshopped Beauty Takes 40 Different Forms

Unretouched Esther
It may seem a little contrived, but the results sure are interesting!  Reporter Esther Honig searched out 40 Photoshop artists for hire in 25 countries around the world from Indonesia to Ukraine, and gave each of them the same unretouched photo of herself.  Her instructions were "make me look beautiful".

The results say a lot about different cultures' standards of what idealized beauty should look like.  And quite a bit about Photoshop skills around the world (or lack thereof).

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Huffington Post

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Honig found that individuals from every country applied a distinct perspective on beauty to her image. She was surprised by the degree to which a country's cultural values could show up as aesthetic preferences. Specifically, an image she received back from Morocco was 'a bit of a shock initially.' She told The Huffington Post via email, '[It] definitely highlighted my own lack of cultural awareness. Of course, someone from a country where the primary religion is Islam might elect to add a Hijab to my image as that aligns with their own cultural customs. For me it really added depth to my project by touching on the concept of religion and custom, not just aesthetics.'

Seeing her image manipulated in so many dimensions had a profound impact on Honig's own self-perception. 'I voluntarily sought out this opportunity and was pleased with how it turned out, but it did make me more aware of certain things like the uneven tone of my skin which was touched up by nearly every editor,' she said. 'I’ve watched my image subtly soften with filters and cloning brushes as well as radically transform with splicing, stretching and re-angling that completely restructured my face. Seeing some jobs for the first time have made me shriek.'

Honig is reluctant to draw a 'moral of the story' from the project, which is ongoing. 'Flipping through the collection of Before & After, one may spot trends in models of beauty that represent each designer’s culture of origin, but that is entirely based on our interpretation,' she said.

Still, the project dispels the myth of a singular beauty norm. As Honig wrote on her personal website: 'Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more elusive.' "



United States

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bic Aiming to Create a Universal Handwriting Font

It could end up being really cool, or it could be nothing but a publicity stunt.  Bic, the gigantic penmaker, has set out to crowdsource a new handwriting font.  The font will be averaged from thousands of hand-drawn letters submitted to their website via users' cellphones.

The Universal Typeface Experiment is aiming to create a new free casual handwriting font that can replace the dreaded Comic Sans for such applications as party invitations and signs.  So far the project has amassed over 8000 handwriting samples to utilize.  

Hunter Communications Original News Source:

Link to article:

Excerpt: "In yet another crushing blow to Comic Sans, pen-maker Bic is currently soliciting handwriting samples from anyone on Earth who wants to participate in its Universal Typeface Experiment. The goal is to create a universal font that will presumably supplant Comic Sans as the go-to typeface for amateur designers making birthday cards, lunch room signage or business cards for toddlers.

If you want to submit your own chicken scratch, you can head over to the website and join the 8000+ people who’ve already contributed to the project."