Blame 'Best Picture' Fail at the Academy Awards 2017 on Bad Graphic Design

Last night’s Academy Awards (aka The Oscars) fail wasn’t just an error because of a duplicated envelope, personally I think it was the fault of poor design. No different from the infamous “Steve Harvey moment”.

As we all watched Warren Beatty’s hesitation to announce the winner of ‘Best Picture’ at the 89th Academy Awards, you knew something was definitely off. Faye Dunaway seemed to have been completely oblivious, no fault of her own since part of the problem was being handed the wrong envelope. However, the real problem was ‘bad design’.

Good design would’ve eliminated that colossal fiasco that was the presentation for ‘Best Picture’. All it needed was a better layout and simple adjustments in specific font size for the award category (Best Picture/Best Actress) and film title (Moonlight/La La Land).

Here’s a closeup of the design layout used versus my interpretations of how the cards should’ve been done.

The actual design used at the Academy Awards showing the real winner, Moonlight

Good design should facilitate clear communication. The reader should be emboldened to read without second-guessing what’s presented before them.

For your consideration, my design alternative that uses the same information with just slight tweaks in the layout and font size, where applicable.

Notice the order in which the information is displayed from top to bottom

Increase the font sizes for the most important information and change around the layout.

This should’ve been how the result cards looked

Here’s the result! Done! Oscars…you’re welcome.

Good design applied to the Oscar moment looks completely different


Writing Funny One-liners for a Single-frame Comic Is Hard Work

“Hit or Miss?” I lost count how many times I asked my friends that question yesterday. The jury was split. Some found it hilarious and other didn’t. The latter group wanted an explanation. Once they got one, they laughed. It sucks having to explain a joke.

I started this comic, “Jus’ fa laffs” on Facebook page back in 2009 and it had a pretty decent following of 135 people (101 are friends). Somewhere along the line I lost steam and didn’t produce a single-frame/single panel comic until now (see below).

You never know if your one-liner will be a hit or a miss
You never know if your one-liner will be a hit or a miss

I wrote in a recent blog that I was testing out the Intuos pen and touch tablet and I figured what better time to get back into illustration again. So below is one of the first comics in about three years. I must’ve written at least seven possible “funny” one-liners aiming for the classic set-up and then a solid punchline. It’s always scary to put yourself and your work out their for public scrutiny, because the truth is you want to have your work liked and appreciated.

On the flip-side, if the reviews are all negative then you know maybe you need to change your tactic, work harder and try again. Either that or the viewers just don’t appreciate great comedy! I’m not serious [a little serious]. Ultimately you need to just follow your art and eventually you’ll find a following (audience).

I’d love to hear what you thought, so feel free to like and leave a comment below.

One Basic Rule to Create a Good Marketing Strategy and Responsible Graphic Design

Bad marketing and graphic design… what does it look like? Well I think it looks a lot like this advertising campaign recently launched in South Wales, United Kingdom for the bus company New Adventure Travel. First rule: Always create ideas with your audience in mind. That’s key.

The campaign slogan plus imagery just took the wordplay a tad too far
The campaign slogan plus imagery just took the wordplay a tad too far

Always consider the current realities and societal issues. In this case gender equality and gender discrimination (sexism) are topics trending globally. Ultimately there are those who will say the campaign was a success assuming you by the cynical phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Milton Glaser is one of America's most celebrated graphic designers known for iconic logo and poster designs
Milton Glaser is one of America’s most celebrated graphic designers known for iconic logo and poster designs

However, if you want to take the high-road then craft both socially conscious and socially responsible marketing strategies and promotional material. Well-known Graphic Designer Milton Glaser (the “I ♥ New York” logo guy) once said, “There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” Keep that in mind and at the end of the day, you’ll avoid a lot of online backlash and money lost.

Don’t Use Stock Photography Unless You’ve Paid for It

Yesterday I went to a restaurant to try their food and looked up at the menu board in sheer horror! There’s nothing worse than seeing a great graphic design with the watermark ‘Shutterstock‘ over a visual component. The possibility exists that this could have been an FPO (For Position Only) that the graphic designer failed to replace before print.

An accurate re-enactment of my horror

As a designer, it is your biggest responsibility to your paying client to ensure you thoroughly review your work to eliminate errors so they get the best product attainable. If you want really good images, consider the following options:

  1. Paying for it via Shuttershock, Getty Images or iStockphoto
  2. Searching using Google Images
  3. Visit free photo sites like Flickr, Death to the Stock Photo and Stockvault
  4. Taking your own images based on your client’s needs

The latter isn’t such a bad thing, especially when you’ve just created original material.

Food photography of a delicious cheese hamburger Credit: Tyllie Barbosa Photography
Food photography of a delicious cheese hamburger
Credit: Tyllie Barbosa Photography

If you choose to go that route, there are plenty tips and tricks on photography and with smartphones only getting better and better, you don’t need to have an expensive digital SLR camera to capture great images.

So just to recap, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, use stock images with a watermark over it! It’s in bad taste and cheapens the overall look of your work. If you’re aiming to be a professional then try to be better than that mediocre, be great!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Teaser Posters Revealed

Movie Director, Zack Snyder has revealed the new teaser posters for the upcoming superhero movie ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ scheduled for release on March 25, 2016.

The movie sees Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman/Clark Kent with Ben Affleck brought into the fold as everybody’s favourite billionaire (Iron Man/Tony Stark’s being a close contender) and detective, Batman/Bruce Wayne. The plot is still unknown, but the official teaser trailer does give some degree of insight into the story. Also, we do know this is the foundation on which The Justice League movies will be built.

What we do know for certain is that these teaser posters are stellar! The colours, the textures, the effects and story behind each one is astounding to me. The level of epic with these designs is through the roof. DC Comics has a winner on its hands.

“Not too shabby!”

Superman poster with the Batman logo atop it in newspaper rough cut out
Superman poster with the Batman logo atop it in newspaper rough cut out bathed in reds and blues

“I like the overall look of the posters.”

The Batman poster features a rough cut out of the Superman logo
The Batman poster features a rough cut out of the bright red Superman logo adding contrast to the black and grey below it

Share your thoughts and feel free to pin these to your Pinterest boards. You can also find me on Pinterest via

Testing out the ‘Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Small’

This week I’m doing some tests on the Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch (small) that my wife got me as a Christmas present!

Very exciting time for me since every time I would do a digital illustration or doodle, I’d be using a mouse. Let me be the first to say that it’s the hardest thing to attempt! You basically have like 50% control over the movement and you’re kind of at the mercy of the device. Okay, so we’ve cleared the air on that.

So let me get back to telling you more about the Intuos, it sort of starts off being a little counterintuitive, but only for a short while. After several minutes of looking eyes on the screen and hands on the pen and touch pad you get the hang of it. Be sure to look up some YouTube tutorials on adjusting the settings or just mess around with it yourself using the Wacom Tablet Properties.

If you’re into creating illustrations or editing photographs, this is a nice tool to start out with. It allows you to basically have an unlimited amount of canvas, all the colours you can dream up and practically creates no waste. It’s eliminated a few steps from my old process of drawing on paper then scanning the drawing into a software like Adobe Illustrator.

Bear in mind that it’s just a tool, so it’s worthless with your talent and imagination. If you draw a horse, but it comes out looking more like a dog, the Intuos isn’t going to change that. You’ll just need to practice until you get better. So far I’ve drawn a rhino and then I spent last night and this morning working on “The Batman” (see below). Just in case you can’t tell which illustration’s mine (because I’m such a brilliant artist… kiddin’), it’s not the one on the right. It only took several hours, but the result’s not to shabby. I’m still getting use to the pen.

I’ll be honest, for a while there I was thinking to myself “Maybe you should just draw basic shapes and stick men.” But I like the flexibility of the Intuos and I can see how useful it’s going to be to me. I’m thinking about getting back to drawing single-frame comics like I use to do years ago on Facebook. This is going to make it so much easier!

Oh, and this isn’t a paid endorsement for Wacom… though I wish it was. Happy doodling!


My Rant on the White Crayon Through Meme

Ever since I was a child in the 1980s and I got my first pack of crayons and then pencil crayons, I’ve never understood why this one was included. I’d use it to try and blend colours and the other moments I’d try using it to make clouds. It just never seemed to work!

Flash-forward to my 30s and I still find it frustrating to use! Sigh. I know I can’t be alone in this! Maybe I’ve been using too many cheap pencil crayons for far too long. I might need to upgrade going forward to something like “Faber-Castell” as one person suggested.

My graphic designer’s rant for the day! Who else finds the white crayon a bit of a mystery?!

It remains one of the greatest mysteries of life
It remains one of the greatest mysteries of life

Here’s When You Use a Registered Trademark Versus a Trademark Symbol

It’ll be Christmas in less than a week and for some of you designers, your desk just got more cluttered. You’re working late at nights and up as your alarm goes off the next morning. You’re doing this all in an effort to meet your deadlines and satisfy your clients as you’ve always done. If one of your projects just happens to be a logo design, identity and branding then you’ll find this blog useful.

The question was asked by a fellow graphic designer in a designers forum and closed group, Jamaica Design Association: “Is it okay to use Registered Trademark and Trademark together?”

The trademark (or trade mark) symbol is an unregistered trademark, used to promote or brand goods. In contrast, the registered trademark ® is exactly what its name implies, a legally registered logo (mark or icon).

Typically its one or the other even if a logo has been redesigned. But in some instances, you’ll see the trademark symbol beside the tagline if it came after the logo had been successfully registered as a trademark. Only when a logo is registered with a government body (Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) in Jamaica’s case), can you display the registered trademark symbol.

In the United States, your client can choose whether they want to register their logo at the national level or at the state level. A federal registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides broader coverage but is more expensive than a state trademark registration.

It is important for you and other designers to understand the proper usage of each symbol and to also educate their clients on what is involved in getting a registered trademark for their logo.

For a bit more information*, you can start off by telling your client(s) that they should protect their intellectual property against infringement. A registered trademark may begin legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorised usage of that logo, but registration is not requirement.

Your client can also file a suit with a common law trademark. The downside of an unregistered logo is that it may only be protected within your country. If your client plans to promote brand goods in other countries then it is best to apply for your logo to be registered.

*℠ sm for an unregistered service mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand services.

Leave a comment and let me know if you found the post helpful.