Thursday, April 21, 2011

Typography of Rome & A Happy Birthday to You!

Offset Type Stand near the Pantheon, 2009
Buon compleanno Roma!!! Happy Birthday Rome!!! Dear gosh look at how many wonderful birthdays we are celebrating this year! We have the twins to thank for finding this city over 2, 763 years ago today! If you don't know the story, here's a little synopsis of the ancient drama: Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of Rhea (the daughter of Numitor/ niece of Amulius -- the latter wanted her to become a Vestal Virgin in order to attain the family wealth). After the twins were born, Amulius left them to drown in the river. The two little tots were soon found by a she-wolf who cared for them (hence the she-wolf is the emblem of the city). Once older, they eventually killed Amulius so that their grandfather Numitor can restore the throne. Wanting to find a new city of their own -- that's when all the real drama began. Romulus favored to build on the Palatine Hill while Remus the Aventine Hill. Well, now there's no other way to put it -- bang bang, Remus is dead. Now you know why it's named ROME and not REM. Got it? Yikes.

 Now back to type....

: It consumes the world we live, without us even knowing it. Look around you, besides you, even under you -- you'll find it. It's everywhere. It's beautiful. Please appreciate it? I'm not sure why I'm so emotional these days, but it really breaks my heart knowing that some, well actually most people (dare I say it) -- do not care about type.  My duty to the world from here on in is: TO CONVINCE THEM OTHERWISE!

I begin with Rome: where everything is more beautiful (partially bias oops). It by no means, is a design city -- but there is a personable quality about the signages that is quite remarkable. What am I talking about? Okay for instance, the local restaurants who still have their menus in hand written type and it somehow, in some strange way -- remains lovely.  Or what about the graffiti you hate to love? But it's so prevalent you cannot let it go unnoticed, like I said, even if you hate it.  Or better yet, the small time shops whose daily specials are hand written on the chalkboard near the store front? Am I the only person getting emotional right now? Does anyone find these treasures as sweet and beautiful as I?  If not, then everything in this gosh damn society is devalued.

Below are some photographs I took and have selected for this entry from my "Let's remember how happy I was in Rome" file. Sorry in advance if you feel like you are experiencing, first hand, my weekly Roman nostalgia sessions.


Ponte Regina Margherita, 2009


Piazza del Popolo, 2009

"Il futuro non e' piu' quello di una volta" -- "The future is not what it once was" 2009

Villa Borghese, 2009

A presto!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Said It Alright?....We're Graduating....

Fellow classmates -- this may be the bluest few weeks of my life so pardon my sad face around campus. Why so serious? It's getting closer and closer to that month I once used to adore! May...Not only is it May...But May 2011. Do you want to know what I feel about May now? MAY THE DAY NEVER COME! Do you remember being a freshman? Convinced you had all the time in the world? That four years would never pass? That you already had it put together - that there was nothing else  you could learn? Now— all I can do is laugh and look back while asking if anyone, ANYONE, has a time machine I can borrow? No cash in return but I can make a mean tiramisu...What do ya say? Yah yah?

The point I'm trying to make is: I am not prepared to graduate and I'm not sure if you are either. I began to research a book called "Never Sleep: Graduating to Graphic Design" by G. Dan Covert and Andre Andreev -- and it seems to be pretty helpful while coping with graduation; along with little tips and advice to help you get along the way.

Let's be strong, together.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Move it!

Outside the museum looking extremely dorkish as usual!

This weekend was the first time I've stepped foot into the Museum of the Moving Image since kindergarten (also since it's renovation). I'm sure the only condition that has changed since 1995 is haven grown sufficiently taller -- otherwise, the experience was quite the same. I WAS LEFT IN COMPLETE AND UTTER AWE. In moments like these, I am proud to be an Astorian -- home to diversity, good eats, wonderful parks and lookey here -- the arts!

"The Museum of the Moving Image is currently the country's only museum dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of the moving image in all its forms." Located right in the heart of Astoria (Nearby locations: Silvercup Studios, Studio Square, Kauffman Theaters, Frank Sinatra School & etc.) the museum has attracted an audience from all over the city and boroughs. It is perhaps the most unique space I have ever visited. Prestine white walls, tall ceilings and mini theaters all throughout make you feel as though you are part of another universe -- precisely how a film makes you feel. On the second floor you'll find everything from the real live mask used on Ms. Doubtfire, small films by Charle Chaplin, miniature Star Wars action figures and eighteenth century costume design garments -- it truly is a place where everyone can enjoy. "It offers an engaging, highly interactive core exhibition, programs of contemporary and classic films from around the world, discussions with leading figures in film and television, a unique collection, inspiring educational programs for learners of all ages, stimulating changing exhibitions, and groundbreaking online projects."

18th century costume design, snapshot with my mobile phone

Find out more for yourself by visiting

36-01 35 Avenue
Astoria, NY 11106
718 777 6888
Tue-Thu: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fri: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sat-Sun: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mon: Closed

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Favorite Font Alert: Pistilli Roman

ATTENTION TYPE LOVERS: I know you categorize people according to typefaces -- I just know you do. I have wonderful news for you, with a simple quiz you can figure out which typeface actually suits you best. (Come on it's fun...) The website is pretty legitimate and well -- it's made by Pentagram. We just learned about Pentagram in class and if you recall anything at all about Pentagram then you remember Paula Scher is a partner at Pentagram. Now who doesn't trust Paula Scher? Only Fools.

Take the quiz yourself -- you'll get a kick out of it.

For the curious curiouser, my results came in as the following:
Maria Gambino is Pistilli Roman: Emotional, Assertive, Traditional, and Disciplined

Till next time

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Illy truck driving in Astoria, 2011
Illy  Coffee -- my favorite. Illy Packaging -- also my favorite. I know, I know....I too see the trend in Italian design: throw in a red box, slab in some text -- voila! Just hear me out: Italians really do have a way with slogans and well in the end, the products pretty much outweigh all! Illy is a quintessential example of this: good, clean, fresh and fun design! Walking to the subway this morning, I was taken back by the magnitude of this illy truck you see up top. I couldn't let it slip away so I waved to the driver, asked him to stop the truck and stole a picture from my phone! I'm a sucker for pretty things -- and this, this was a pretty little monster truck. 

Some other fun slogans/design from illy include:

Subway add downtown -- how can you not love this? Get it? "Rome" the streets of New York! Heee hee hee!

Subway, 2011

Miss illy -- Creative Director at Barney's New York, Simon Doonan, took the current food culture theme and worked with illy on their window display using recycled tin and coffee to create the greatest holiday showcase thus far! Miss illy -- you go girl!

Miss illy, 2010
Till next time,

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Boys of Type

Last night I attended a panel discussion sponsored by The Type Directors Club called TYPE RULES. The event was held at NYIT's Manhattan Campus where a lengthy discussion about oh I don't know -- this little critter called: TYPE -- seemed to raise eyebrows (or in Matteo's case, moustaches).

Amongst the panelist were the young fellows whom, after hearing them, I like to reference as The Boys of Type: Matteo Bologna, Roberto DeVicq, Jesse Ragan and Aaron Carambula. Each designer brought his own personality to the table expressing his process, thoughts and passion for typography. They are incredibly passionate but are equally different in their approach to design, aesthetic, process, theory, experience and personality -- especially personality, however. Let's just say these are the sort of spots that make the lady bug more beautiful. Essentially, the night truly was a remarkable one (when on the subject of type).

It was great to see and witness with my own eyes that people exist apart from our little type community here at school, who have made a career out of their interest in or -- relationship rather -- with type. These boys are extremely serious about their letters, if you know what I mean...I found that especially true with Jesse and Aaron -- in fact Jesse is a type tutor/professor and Aaron is one of his students in the program called  Type@Cooper. Matteo -- well Matteo began telling us that when designing, he works straight from the computer -- and never draws. Jokingly or not, this set the tone for his entire "demeanor" which constitutes of him being: funny as hell, blunt as hell and overall -- extremely Italian. Roberto, in the same likeness shared a bit of Matteo's lose ended approach to design (I found) but with a little more care and compassion to the work (rather than Matteo making most of the work seem like "oh this is just another business deal". Don't get me wrong, we all need that quality in us, it's what pays the bills -- thought what I am saying is that a healthy balance is more appropriate. Now on the subject of equilibrium: can you imagine if all their personalities were combined into one person -- HOLY SHERINS! (Name of my Typography Professor Sophmore year)...what a typographically beautiful world we would live in!

Video of the talk soon to come!

Till next time,

For more info check out:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Hi! Paula Scher right?...Um, Hey did You Know We Recently Became Friends on Facebook?"

My signed copy of Make it Bigger accompanied by espressolino

Freshman year of "art school" (sorry that always sounds so pretentious) -- I can remember Professor Frisco getting ready to tell us about our next assignment, the very same day we handed the previous one in. "Now for this next assignment, you're going to receive a name of an artist who I feel suits your style best. You will be required to design a book, d.v.d, case and..." As he went on about the topic -- I remembered thinking "Oh brother, none of these people do anything with their own hands anymore! I can't even open this Photoshop nonsense! What the heck am I going to do?!? " Another moment passed and Professor Frisco announces: "Maria - you'll be assigned Paula Scher -- she has a hand quality touch I think you'll appreciate".
Atlas of the World Maps & Paula Scher

Cigarette poster for AIGA Raleigh chapter, 1994

Bang! It was love at first "type". I was so happy to have a female designer. Not that it mattered, but at that time I was curious to know what kind of people the design world consisted of. From what I could observe, the answer seemed governed predominantly by men. Now why do I love Paula so much? Take a look at her maps of the world and cigarette poster. Her attention to detail, ability to marry fine art with design, along with her bold bad ass courage to put her name on a cigarette to tell you HEY WATCH OUT I"M COMIN' TO TOWN -- now that's why. What a tough cookie she is and I love it! Everything about her is admirable -- even her flaws. After watching a video on Paula recounting "the citi bank tale", I came home and told my parents about a designer who drew the logo on a napkin, walked into a meeting, and basically said "this is it".  My father's response was "Just eat your dinner". I knew early on, that I should aspire to be something like her -- whatever that means. Any who, I researched all I could, visited every Barnes and Nobles/Borders in he city in order to purchase her book Make it Bigger (which at that time, was only sold at the Borders in Columbus Circle), read it cover to cover,  spent most of my time trying to recreate whatever was in that book, and continued along with my days being forever influenced by Paula...

Copy of Make it Bigger on my bookshelf

Three years later -- On November 1st, 2010 I attended an AIGA event at FIT where Marian Bantjes presented her new book "I Wonder". The event began with an introduction by Paula Scher. Now don't get me wrong, Marian Banjtes is fantastic -- her work speaks for itself -- but to be honest, I was too overwhelmed from the idea of Paula being there. Ooops? I brought out my copy of Make It Bigger, left the doors at FIT and soon heard her voice directly in front of me (okay maybe this wasn't so coincidental, and your point?). I dragged my friends along until I built the courage to leap on over, tap her shoulder and say "Hi! Paula Scher right? Well I know this event was about Marian and all, but, well, I was hoping you would be here to sign my book. (While agreeing and signing)...Um, hey did you know we recently became friends on Facebook?" She laughed, we chatted, it was lovely....

Same deal -- Autographed copy of Make it Bigger with espressolino
I can now die happily.

Till next time,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Google Fools You

Photograph from film Helvetica

Helvetica -- The font you hate to love (Yes, that means you Elisabeth -- To those of you who are unaware, I happen to adore Helvetica while other companions of mine share different feelings about the oh so versatile type face). Moving along, here's one more reason to hate it (well not hate it... hate is a very strong word, how about we say here's something to get you all grumpy over?): Google straight up fooled you today. How? Just type in "Helvetica" into Google.

Screen shot of Google April Fools joke

Substituting the world's most functional font -- Helvetica -- for the world's most horrendous font -- Comic Sans -- had to be one of the funniest moments in Google history. How very sweet. NOT! We should all tell Google that bing is looking mighty fine these days (not really)..but you get the gist. April Fools!

So if you:

A.) Are laughing right now -- laugh on (I still have yet to recover)...
B.) Have no idea what I'm talking about -- then we can't be friends
C.) Good bye
D.) I guess you can redeem your friendship by watching this

Till next time,

Thursday, March 31, 2011

San Pellegrino Swapping Dresses -- oo la la

Photographed on my kitchen counter

Perhaps the tastiest, most refreshing and lovely water packaging company that exists (in my opinion) is San Pellegrino -- a mineral water brand that adds just a tad bit of carbonation when produced (made in San Pellegrino, Terme, in the Province of Bergamo, Italy). We store this sparkling water by the case at home and several weeks ago I came across a particular design which was unfamiliar to my knowledge of the brand. It looked as if the pattern was an intricate quilt—truly beautiful. I saved the bottle -- thought nothing of it. Ironically enough, today I read about a partnership between S.Pellegrino and Bvlgari. When I read it, I performed the whole talk in my head scenario "Bvlgari? Well why in the world? I wonder if the other bottle I found...Oh...Make sense now". The bottle I stumbled upon however, was an exclusive one made in partnership with the Italian clothing brand Missioni. This special sleeve was designed by the folks at Missioni and it proves to be just as sleek and just as beautiful as the Bvlgari bottle you see below. From dress to dress, this sparkling water brand is continuously going through diva transformations, especially when teamed up with Bvlgari on the limited edition bottle -- clearly stating they accept Bvlgari's invitation to mark the luxury jewelers 125 year anniversary.

For more info on this post check out:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jeez Louise -- Who Made You So Fabulous?

According to Emerson --
"Every artist was first an amateur."

Thankfully right? Although that may be true in most cases, something happened when the design gods made Louise Fili -- she just may have been born fabulous, or something like that. Really, I have only familiarized myself with her work within these past 6 months, however. In these 6 months, I feel like something has drastically changed in my design aesthetic. I'm going to sound really strange right now but the only way I can describe it is in the following manner, now close your eyes:

It's spring.
You're lying on the grass and the sun is warm and the breeze feels good.
Baskets are beside you and they're filled with cheeses and white wines.
At the moment, you're eating 2 scoops of pistacchio.
And when you're done -- you'll have two more.
Every so often, children in white apparel skip by and tell you a joke
about your face looking funny or how they're responsible for
painting the sky such a pretty blue.
Oh and I forgot to mention, the sky is just the prettiest blue!
You welcome the silly-ness, the playfulness. 
You're in feel good mode.
Your boyfriend is playing Here Comes the Sun on his geee-tar.
You're happy and life is good.
You see lots of colors -- sometimes it's soft pinks and other times it's deep reds.
Stacks of poetry by Walt Whitman and Napoleon are by your feet.
Oh hey by the way, you're bear foot.
You'll start reading after you've had a total of 9 scoops.
It never gets cold and it's always warm.
Always happy.

If you don't believe me, just have a look for yourself.

And so, every time I view her work -- I feel this way and as a result, it becomes evermore beautiful. Her style? Refreshing. Her detail? Most admirable. Did I mention her love of that beautiful, beautiful country called Italy? Can I just faint now? She is wondrous in all the ways that one can be. I had the privilege of learning about her through a Professor* who told me I should consider looking through her work if I love design and Italy. Looking back, it's been both a blessing and a curse -- a blessing because the work is out of this world -- and a curse because I browse through it so much, her blog might as well become my homepage.

A presto,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Doodle While You're Lost - ba ra ba ba ba ba ba!

I know you've done it too -- Gotten off the wrong subway stop. As a result you take the next stop. Go back several stops. Only to find you've been on the wrong line all along? Mercy. I'm guilty as charged. Yesterday I took the wrong train coming home from the Cooper Hewitt Museum while being engulfed in a rather engaging conversation with a friend.  All you need is an interesting plot and my ears are glued. Time? Who cares about the time! Until your friend's gone and you're the one stuck in Queensbridge -- with nothing but a bag full a beads, a 4 inch sketchbook and a few pastels at hand.

Here are a few skecthes inspired by Sonia Delaunay dearest while taking an extra lengthy train ride home. The sketches are quite adolescent but I do believe they carry a playfulness so greatly influenced by the beloved Sonia. Enjoy! -- Or not.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Patterns, Colors and Shapes - Galore!

"Pssh -- who can do homework when there's a bead show in town?" My girlfriends and I dedicated the morning to rummaging through the aisles of Manhattan's annual bead show at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Thousands of jewels, bangles, beads and embroidered goods flooded the space. We couldn't think of any other way to top off the afternoon than taking a little visit to the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum for a viewing of Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay.  The work of the French-Ukrainian Sonia Delaunay can only be categorized by this: a swift movement of colors frolicking amongst geometric shapes. Oranges, reds, blues, yellows and greens categorize her abstraction. See below.

Pattern designs, 1928–30

To have witnessed the museum's second floor entirely dedicated to textile swatches -- is beyond me. Certainly there were sketches, clothing, curtains and paintings among the swatches but the real thief, that which stole the show, were the swatches themselves. I encourage each and every one of you to view her work. NOW. Her sense of pattern, negative space and color compatibility is what made Sonia wise before her years. Or maybe just her later years (Gossip: She married a gay German man by the name of Wilhelm Uhde for the sake of connections -- aka he owned an art gallery -- aka he wanted to keep his homosexuality on the hush hush. Through this marriage she gained popularity in the art world). Note how I mention HER years and HER work --  because yes, that's right -- for decades Sonia was better known for being the wife of painter Robert Delaunay than an artist herself. (Gossip: Comtesse de Rose often visited the Uhde's gallery and sometimes brought her son -- Robert Delaunay. Sonia met Robert Delaunay in 1909 which led to love which led to a divorce between her and Uhde -- how scandelous!). Love it!

'm wishing summer will come already! Sonia won't your paintings come to life?

For more information on this blog post check out:

Till next time,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Italy -- America Adores You

Well because she is so fantastic, Rizzoli International asked graphic designer, typographer, lover of Italy and recipient of greatest female designer award on the Marissima blog -- Louise Fili -- to design the covers for Romanzi d'Italia, a series of ten amazing novels in honor of Italy's 150th anniversary! I have only read excerpts from 3 novels in my Italian Literature course-- but really, they should be read by all! Here they are:

 Le ultime lettere di Iacopo Ortis by Ugo Foscolo (with a preface by Paolo Mieli), Le mie prigioni by Silvio Pellico (Luciano Canfora), I promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni (Andrea Riccardi), Le confessioni d'un italiano Ippolito Nievo (Sergio Romano), I Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga (Gustavo Zagrebelsky), Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (Giovanni Belardelli), Cuore by Edmondo De Amicis (Pierluigi Battista), Il piacere by Gabriele D'Annunzio (Angelo Panebianco), I VicerĂ© by Federico De Roberto (Giovanni Sabbatucci) and Piccolo Mondo Antico by Antonio Fogazzaro (Ernesto Galli Della Loggia). Each volume is sold for 12 Euros.

Check out the interview in Italian! **Sorry English speaking people!**

Ps. Worthy post about the beloved Ms. Fili -- soon to come!

A presto,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Buon Compleanno Italia

Poster I made for the 150th Anniversary -- Inspired by 1949 Olivetti Poster -- Giovanni Pintori

One hundred and fifty years ago today marks the unification of Italy. Today we celebrate the anniversary with waving flags, assorted sweets and a darn good orchestra orchestrating the national anthem. What we often forget is that the idea of a "united Italy" came fairly recently and Italians sometimes fail to regard themselves as "one" people. Thankfully today, we can proudly celebrate this beautiful country* (correction: some of us can proudly celebrate). Buon compleanno darling. Let the haters keep hating...

Please watch this beautiful video. Go ahead, be inspired or cry your eyes out. The type on the little boys soccer jerseys indicate the date of Italy's unification -- how sneaky, how clever, how beautiful.

Yesterday, during our History of Visual Communications class we observed propaganda art from all over the world; Germany -- London -- Russia -- U.S., etc. The idea of nationalism and zeal involved into serving ones country was inadvertently forced upon its people. In some way, I feel like this sweet and subtle video serves as the antithesis of that -- however, it still implies the same gesture of pride, nationalism and love for one's country. 

Till next time,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You Can Help

A poster I designed today for the cause, 2011

Hi everyone. I know the norm of my posts discuss food or social events, however. Tonight—tonight we need to buckle down and be serious. I'm not sure if you've noticed but, Japan's current situation is gruesome. Each day, thousands and thousands of bodies remain missing while more than 450,000 people have been displaced. The joy of being alive is short lived while survivors are now facing scarcity of food, water, medicine, and electricity. There is a risk that even worse is yet to come.

You can help in more ways than you think.

A call to all designers: create a digital poster or flyer and publicize through facebook, twitter, blogs or on campus. We have the power to educate. People need to be aware about the severity of the current situation in Japan. Use your skills and do something worthwhile, but more importantly, DONATE NOW. A dollar, ten dollars, one hundred dollars—anything. Imagine the world a family and Japan your brother. Help your brother. There is only so much rescue and relief workers can do to operate the toll of deaths and prevention.

I intern for a company called "caseable", which specializes in customized laptop cases. We are donating 25% of our sales from the Japan Relief Sleeve to the Red Cross in order to support the great efforts of the rescue teams. If you are interested in purchasing a sleeve please go to:

Sleeve I designed for caseable, 2011

Here are some trustworthy organizations worth donating money to.
For more information on this post and related topics, check out:
"Millions face worsening crisis in quake-hit Japan," Reuters, March 14, 2011
"Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise," The New York Times, March 14, 2011
Till next time,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday!

You've heard the expression before: 40... it's the new 30? Well, I'm not sure who is responsible for this nasty little lie but, it's exactly that: a lie. People, (including mermaids), should embrace their 40s! Especially when you're Starbucks. Happy belated birthday to YOU!

PS. I love your new logo.

Let's talk about this. The new Starbucks logo lacks text and to some people, that may not seem like a big deal, but to a designer, it really is. Lesson one in any marketing or design scheme: it's all about the brand name. It should be the most apparent piece of text on the package. I remember while designing sustainable wine boxes for a graphic production class last year, my Professor would pull the whole "Well if this is my company, WHY is my name the smallest text on the box? I love my company. Now make it bigger." Starbucks on the other hand, well, it's being quite the rebel. Maybe it's their ego or perhaps they really are trying to take a minimalist approach to their design. Either way, in  lieu of the well known "Starbucks" text, stands (well, floats right?) a poise little mermaid with long long locks and a sweet little smile.

Do I think it's a bold move? Yes. Do I hate it? No. Do I love it? Well duh. It's refined, it's fresh, it's more stylized and simple but not boring—not boring is key. You can dislike it all you want but change is in my opinion, part of a company's growth. I know many people are considerably frusutrated with the look because it's not familiar to them, however. I've got news for you Debbie Downers: The coffee hasn't changed. So cheer up. Enjoy a cup. Enjoy your life. They even have little petite sized sweets for you thrifty weight watchers too! Rock on Starbucks (though I will admit, I'm NOT the biggest fan of your coffee).


For more info on this topic and more, check out:

Till next time.