Category Archives: News

Siente Bellas Artes: Heart for Art

Antonio Maria Valencia, a passionate musician and composer from Columbia had a dream—to preserve the rich musical culture of Columbian music. In 1931, this very dream led him to establish a conservatory in the city of Cali that became ‘Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes’. However, this dream, Antonio’s vision and the hopes of thousands of artists, musicians and designers is in perils because in a controversial decision, the government has pulled of its financial support and funding for this very prestigious institute.

The streets of Cali are today filled with student protestors carrying slogans of disbelief with dancers and musicians who’ve also joined this ever-increasing brigade of peaceful demonstrators. In this effort of resilience, the students, teachers, their well wishers and lovers of art fight back to preserve the very existence of Bellas Artes. The student community doesn’t have much choice—the government’s decision has put the students, their teachers and the institute in a very tight spot. The decision to stop the funds that support this place could eventually result in a complete collapse of this institute. To retain this iconic institute, the students and their teachers need the government’s support and the support of the international design community.

The media is taking some interest in their story but the institute seeks the support of able organisations like ICOGRADA & AIGA who could eventually take their message on a global platform. We were contacted by Dulima Herández seeking support and this is what she had to say:

“Bellas Artes, es una universidad pública que ofrece a estudiantes de sectores populares, educación en Música, Arte Dramático y Artes Visuales (Plásticas y Diseño Gráfico). Actualmente, está atravesando por una difícil situación económica debido a que el gobierno no ha hecho los aportes correspondientes a este año y porque adicionalmente, nos debe sumas importantes por otros rubros. Sabemos que todo esto hace parte de las políticas neoliberales que buscan privatizar la educación ahondando y perpetuando la brecha entre pobres y ricos…”

Fine Arts, is a public university that offers students of popular sectors, education in Music, Drama and Visual Arts (Visual and Graphic Design). Currently, is going through a difficult economic situation because the government has not made contributions for this year… We know that all this is part of the neoliberal policies that seek to privatize education deepening and perpetuating the gap between rich and poor…

— Dulima Hernández
Faculty of Design at School of Visual & Applied Arts

Bellas Artes has had a long heritage and a rich legacy of artists, musicians and designers who’ve shared the beautiful culture of Columbia with the world. A rich diversity in the world of art, culture and design is made possible by the efforts of students and individuals who rely on a place like Bellas Artes. Everyone cannot be in the streets of Cali to show their support but the least we can do is share their message and show our support. VSUAL urges all designers, design educators, artists, musicians and art lovers to support this campaign. You can extend your support to the students and faculty members of Bellas Artes by sharing your message in comments below. They also have a facebook page that you can like and share. You may also write to the institute showing your support or send signed petitions. Detailed information about the institute is available after the protest images (click on a thumbnail open images in carousel).

Photo Credits: Elizabeth Mesa Ruiz & Chris Lozano, Cali, Columbia
Special thanks to Dulima Hernández for bringing this issue to our notice.


Departmental Institute of Fine Arts
Original Name: Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes
Founding Year: 1936
Accreditation: Institutional Accreditation or Recognition Ministerio de Educación Nacional, Colombia
Undergraduate Program
Licenciatura en Música: Five years. Studies in performance (classical, popular), composition, music history, theory, pedagogy. There is an opera program.
Graduate Program
Programme detail:
 Graduate Programme in Arts Management for a duration of three semesters.

History: The Institute offers programs in music, visual arts and drama. It was founded in 1936 and houses the Conservatorio Antonio María Valencia which forms the Faculty of Music (Facultad de Música). In addition to the professional program there are music programs in performance and theory at basic and middle levels as well as ensembles for children and interested persons.

Contact Information:
Departmental Institute of Fine Arts, Avenida 2 Norte No. 7N-38, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia.
Phone: +57 (923) 667 3371

Pentax K-01 Mirrorless Digital Camera

With a contemporary yet classic style, The PENTAX K-01 mirrorless digital camera features a 16 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS image sensor with low noise image capture and multiple aspect ratios. Additionally, it includes a bright, high-resolution 3-inch LCD with 920,000 dots and full HD 1080p video capture at 30 fps with h.264 compression (60 fps at 720p) for outstanding video capture capabilities.

Designed by Marc Newson, internationally known for designing a wide range of furniture and household items such as bicycles, cars, aircraft and yachts, his collections have been on display in The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City as well as many other major museums.

The Yellow K-01 digital camera kit including smc PENTAX-DA 40mm F2.8 XS lens is available for $799.95 USD and includes Marc Newson-designed packaging and the Marc Newson-designed camera strap.

Via Pentax’s press release:

Comic Sans Enters Hall of Fame

Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Comic Sans is a misunderstood typeface, says Ivan Belikov, a Russian born Graphic designer who moved to Chicago in late 80’s. Comic Sans is going to be recognized as the most influential typeface in the last 100 years by the Lyov  (Лёв) Museum of Contemporary Design, Potyomkin. Comic Sans was chosen over Helvetica, Din 1451 Std, Gill Sans & Gotham Rounded for its sheer versatility and ease of use.

We think Comic Sans is a brilliant typeface. We tested it with 18 different cosmonauts and they could effortlessly read the type in space. No other typeface offeres this flexibility. Cosmonauts tested the typeface in simulated Zero-G environments and could read elaborate service manuals upside down. Comic Sans is the first certified font by the Soviet Space Restoration Program (SSRP) that can be used in space. — Igoryok Basilevsky, Functional Design for Space Center, SSRP

Due to lack of fundings the SSRP program was closed in mid 2008. However, the tests conducted between 1999 & 2005 have brought some irrefutable proof that Comic Sans is actually a very dynamic typeface.

The United States is also not very behind. In 2010, Belikov started The United States of America Department for Comic Sans with a vision to promote the use of Comic Sans in all spheres of life in the US.

So far the agency has been quite effective and the typeface is spreading like a wild fire, says Belikov. The following images are testaments to the agencie’s success.

Europe is also following the trail. French designers Thomas Blanc and Florian Amoneau have sought to spark a movement that aims to bring the respect Comic  Sans has always deserved.

Just before this interview Belikov revealed that NASA might also follow SSRPs footsteps and use Comic Sans for its next space programme.

We are slightly baffled and confused but with so many powerful agencies backing up Comic Sans, we think it’s time for some  retrospection. The omnipresent font has just become omnipotent.

Our sincere thanks to Miss Dvora who was instrumental in bringing this article to VSUAL.

Dvora Kulik, Design Intern
The United States of America Department for Comic Sans
Chicago, USA recently announced their most popular fonts of 2011. The results are based on the font sales from all of their typeface categories. The list includes “Reina,” an award- winning font that was inspired by classic fonts from the 1960s, “Alana,” a script font based on hand lettering, “Hera Big,” a display font that has eight different weights and italics and “Populaire,” a font with a hand-drawn feel that was inspired by posters that were made during the May 1968 student revolt in Paris.


Lián Types from Buenos Aires and its sister foundry Typesenses have been a staple of this list for several years now, and their typefaces are becoming more intricate each year. Introduced in March, the award-winning Reina is a sophisticated and imaginative variation on the high-contrast Didone model. Inspired by the classics Didot and Bodoni, and spiced up with influences from 1960s New York magazine lettering from the likes of Herb Lubalin, Reina is up there with the most whimsical of classicist and modern-face display type. A fine toolkit and plaything for making dazzling headlines.

Calluna Sans

Calluna Sans font sample

It can be a big help to the discerning typographer when an oldstyle text face comes with a sans-serif companion that harmonizes beautifully with it, yet is different enough to add a new color to the typographic palette. This is exactly what Calluna Sans is to exljbris’s popular Calluna family. Like its older sister, the new family member respects oldstyle proportions and makes lucid statements with crisp details — but it does so in its own calm, sans-serif way. Its humanist qualities make it wonderfully readable; it comes with all the attributes needed for sophisticated typography: small caps, four numeral sets, and more.


Alana font sample

Lettering artist Laura Worthington added several beautifully made script fonts to her popular typeface collection last year, including Samantha Script and her latest offering, Rosarian. But it was Alana that outsold all her other work — one of the year’s biggest hits. Natural-looking and subtly irregular, Alana strikes a nice balance between a casual and a formal script face. Based on hand lettering, it indulges in elaborate swashes and ornaments without losing its friendly character and slightly nonchalant look and feel. We recommend OpenType-enabled design software to get the full effect of Alana’s features.


Sanchez font sample
After a string of display faces that embody the “latino” approach to type — colorful, original and a bit cheeky — Sánchez was Latinotype’s first extensive family suitable for body text as well as headlines. A confident alternative to Rockwell, this modern-day slab serif offers more personal lettershapes than most slab serif classics, and subtly rounded edges. Its success in 2011 was greatly helped by the fact that the regular weights are free — a minimal extra investment in SemiBold and/or Bold weights gives you a very affordable small family. Plus, it’s on sale through January 21 — a 40% discount!


Bellucia font sample
Belluccia was the first typeface by the newly formed team comprising lettering artist Debi Sementelli and type designer Brian Bonislawsky ofAstigmatic fame. Their joint venture Correspondence Ink was immediately successful with this lovely handwritten font — a semi-formal script with a rugged edge. Belluccia successfully mimics custom calligraphy, using the wizardry of OpenType to automatically replace letter combinations with alternate forms: ligatures, swashes, stylistic and contextual alternates. For those who work with software that doesn’t handle OpenType magic, there are separate Standard fonts that make up the styles contained within the Pro font. Check out the wonderfulFlourishesBorders and Ornaments.

Hera Big

Hera Big font sample
Brooklyn-based Lucas Sharp of the newly founded studio Pagan & Sharpmade quite a splash last year with his first typeface Hera Big. Successfully exploring the extremes of vertical stress and high contrast (think Bodoni and Didot) in a contemporary mood of playfulness and exuberance, the family members cover a huge range of weights, from Extra Thin to Big Black; gutsy ball terminals play a defining role across the family but work a bit differently in each weight. With eight weights plus italics, Hera Big provides a fine set of display fonts for many occasions.

Centrale Sans

Centrale Sans font sample
The Bulgarian studio Typedepot scored a big hit with their chic Centrale Sans. Released at a bargain price, it sailed smoothly to the number one spot in MyFonts’ Hot New Fonts list, and continues to do well. As shown by various cases during the past year, it takes more than just a great introductory discount to capture customers’ attention. Centrale Sans is a well-made sans-serif with a personal touch, adding a welcome new color to the well populated category of multi-functional, readable sans-serifs. It combines geometric cool, humanist friendliness and clear, open shapes, making Centrale Sans a good performer on the screen as well.

Burgues Script

Burgues font sample

Burgues Script is yet another monumental script face from Sudtipos. Based on the work of American calligrapher Louis Madarasz, Ale Paul’s typeface is an interpretation rather than a straightforward digitization. In order to be able to produce digital calligraphy with a natural flow, Paul had to reinvent many of the letterforms, adapting the flexibility and connectivity of the original lettering to the logic of digital machines. The digital flourishes of the prize-winning Burgues are no less dazzling than Madarasz’s hand-lettering. Burgues is a great choice for spectacular lettering — from wine bottles to tattoos.


Cassia font sample

One of the year’s nicest surprises was the emergence of the one-man foundry Hoftype, directed by Dieter Hofrichter. A veteran of the Berthold studios, Hofrichter worked with the late Günter Gerhard Lange, who was probably the most exacting taskmaster German type design has ever known and whose meticulously corrected proofs are the stuff of legend. In less than a year, Hoftype launched a stunning collection of text families — well-made, versatile and affordable — with Cassia as the biggest success. A dynamic modern-face, somewhere halfway between a humanized slab serif and an updated Clarendon, it is more individual and agile than most slab serifs. Superbly readable, Cassia comes with small caps for all weights, a wealth of ligatures and multiple figure styles.

Melany Lane

Melany Lane font sample

This year’s crop of most popular fonts has more connected, swashy scripts than ever — and yet, each is surprisingly different from the rest. For Melany LaneYellow Design Studio took the flourished shapes of traditional lettering, and added the quirks and warmth of informal hand-drawn type. The regular version is monolinear — its strokes don’t change in thickness — which gives it the feel of an alphabet drawn with a felt-tipped pen. Melany Lane comes with swashes and stylistic alternates for extra funkiness and fun, as well as 118 lovely ornaments and a free set of fourteen seamless background patterns.

Code Pro

Code Pro font sample

In September we interviewed Svetoslav Simov, the young Bulgarian designer who runs Fontfabric. An admirer of 1930s and 1960s constructed letterforms and icons, Simov has a knack for geometric alphabets with a logo-like quality. Of his 2011 releases, Code Pro did extremely well, and has remained a steady seller to date. It is a kind of ITC Avant Garde on performance-enhancing substances. Even the lighter weights have a muscular assertiveness thanks to the disciplined geometry of their glyphs. Its extreme Light and Black weights offer great possibilities for spectacular headlines, while its middle weights will work both in headlines and medium-length text settings. The demo versions of Code Pro Light and Regular are still offered free of charge.


Mishka font sample

Mishka is part of a series of pleasant script-like typefaces launched bythe Fenotype foundry, recalling hand-made pub and shop lettering. While several of the earlier fonts — fonts like Verner and Pepita Script — were mildly successful, the playful Mishka joined the year’s elite of best selling fonts. Mixing clear and informal lettershapes with a taste for the exuberant, Mishka is a pleasant upright script with a decorative touch. It offers plenty of options to customize headlines — just activate Swashes, Stylistic Alternates or Contextual Alternates in any OpenType-savvy program. Its small caps are a font within a font: an energetic set of caps that combine well with the scripts but offer a distinct style.


Populaire font sample

Brazil’s PintassilgoPrints found its groove last year, producing a stream of spirited display fonts with a playful, handcrafted feel. As they pointed out in their recent Creative Characters interview, they like the happy mistakes of hand-drawn letters, the “wrong notes” in the design — but at the same time they want their fonts to be technically perfect and eminently usable. Populaire is a case in point. Inspired by the postersmade during the May 1968 student revolt in Paris, Populaire taps into the energy of that period’s hand-drawn and silkscreened posters, while using digital font technology to offer four exchangeable glyphs for each letter. The result is a flexible font that looks as fresh and spontaneous as hand-rendered lettering.

Gelato Script

Gelato Script font sample

The mouth-watering, smoothly flowing Gelato Script lives up to its name (Italian for “ice cream”), and consequently became the year’s most successful brush script font — ideal for packaging, café menus and magazines. Influenced by both formal scripts and mid-twentieth century hand lettering, its luscious curves make it attractive to a wide audience. For expert users, it has the additional benefit of being equipped with all the amenities of meticulous OpenType programming. With 781 glyphs, this font has many faces and speaks many different languages.

Pluto and Pluto Italics

Pluto font sample

Berlin’s HVD Fonts has a knack for coming up with the right typeface at the right moment, and marketing strategies to match. Pluto’s release at an introductory offer that seemed too good to be true resulted in sensational sales; some months later, Pluto Italics all but repeated that meteoric success. As the fonts are decidedly lovely — a happy-looking, lively sans-serif family with a strong personality — it comes as no surprise that Pluto continues to sell well at the full, but still quite reasonable, price. There is little doubt that MyFonts’ best-selling typeface of 2011 has a bright future ahead of it.

MyFonts is a digital fonts distribution, location based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, selling fonts through the web site. It launched in September 1999 (during the ATypI conference in Boston), and started selling fonts in March 2000.

MyFonts pioneered a new model of font distribution, based on the long tail phenomenon: an all-inclusive inventory from which total sales can beat those of a carefully chosen collection. Every font that meets basic technical and legal criteria is accepted for distribution. Designers set their own license terms and their own prices, while MyFonts gets a 50 percent cut of sales.


Adobe Photoshop Touch lets you transform images using core Photoshop features designed for a tablet, as well as new capabilities specifically tailored for mobile design and social networking. With Adobe Photoshop Touch, you can:

  • Create new images by combining photos, choosing elements to edit, and applying filters and other effects.
  • Quickly find images, share your creations, and view comments – all from within the app thanks to integration with Facebook and Google.
  • Access interactive tutorials that can help you quickly achieve great-looking results.
  • Upload your files to Adobe Creative Cloud so that they are easy to open in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

In this initial release, Adobe offeres a core set of Photoshop capabilities designed for a tablet such as layers, selection tools, adjustments, and effects. The app tries to utilize the unique characteristics of a tablet device, for example, the ‘Camera Fill’ feature feedins a live stream from your device’s camera right into an active layer or selection.

Tablet devices are destined to become part of creative workflows and these companion Photoshop applications are just the first indications of the creativity we can expect from Adobe and our developer community. With our Touch SDK, we are going to see some astonishing new ways to keep Photoshop at the heart of the creative process no matter what the device – desktop computer, Android tablet, BlackBerry PlayBook or iOS device. —Adobe

Principal Product Manager John Nack and a team of talented engineers have delivered the goods with the goal of bringing Adobe digital imaging magic to a wide range of people. A tablet app allows us to deliver some features a seasoned professional can appreciate and an interface that gives new users opportunities to learn more. Photoshop users interested in mobile design and photo editing will have the freedom to brainstorm and create in Photoshop Touch, and then access their artwork through the newly announced Adobe Creative Cloud to take it further in Photoshop CS5. Anyone can enjoy Photoshop Touch for quick social photo compositing – that is to grab two images, remove the background from one, blend the results, and share it out with friends. In-app integration with Google Image Search and Facebook make this a seamless experience, and interactive tutorials help new users learn advanced techniques. The Photoshop Touch Software Development Kit (SDK) has also been rolled into the general Photoshop SDK.

The new Photoshop Touch app was announced by Kevin Lynch, Chief Technology Officer at Adobe, as part of a larger rollout of Adobe Touch Appsallowing creative professionals to design, edit, and elegantly present from the convenience of a tablet device. Whether you use a stylus or just your fingertip, these six powerful apps provide easy, precise control for a variety of creative tasks. Photoshop Touch would be available for the iPad in a few weeks as well. Adobe Photoshop Touch is priced at US$9.99 and can be purchased in a few days from Adobe’s Website.

Tim Cook, the Chief Executive of Apple, is all set to unveil the iPhone 5 on October 4, 2011. Till now, Steve Jobs had done this very routine at every Apple Special Event. Fans would be missing Mr. Jobs but many other over-zealous and eager fanboys have already started speculating what the latest bad boy from Apple is going to look like. We’ve compiled some of the infographics that caught our eye; these aren’t just interesting because they are about the iPhone 5 but the way precise, although speculative information, is presented goes on to show how graphic design can make empirical data interesting and visually engaging. Do leave your comments and tell us which one of these assumptions could be the closest to the actual iPhone 5.

Announced almost a year ago in July 2010, the Indian tablet that promised to break all price barriers has suffered multiple delays. Finally after many reassurances, Kapil Sibal today announced that the tablet will indeed be graspable this October. The tablet runs on Google Android, version still unconfirmed — but we’re almost certain that it won’t be shiny new Gingerbread, probably it’ll be a scaled-up avatar of Froyo, it comes shipped with 2GB RAM, a front-facing camera, 32GB hard drive, Wi-Fi, USB ports and some thrown in (free) apps. The Indian government further plans to offer the tablet to students at a subsidized price of $20, eventually selling them for as little as $10 in the future. This project is a collaborative effort of the Indian Institute of Science (IIS) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) — Kharagpur, Mumbai & Madras. Do let us know what you feel about this tablet and leave some comments below.

For over 30 years, the American Graphic Design Award competition has honored outstanding graphic design, advertising art and marketing communications. A national panel of creative professionals judges the competition. Winners become eligible to be featured in Graphic Design USA’s Awards Annual, a 300-page edition published in December. Graphic Design USA is a monthly business-to-business magazine for graphic designers and creative professionals.

SPARK Advertising received five 2011 American Graphic Design Awards, presented by Graphic Design USA magazine. The winning designs were selected from over 8,000 entries nationwide submitted by ad agencies, graphic design firms, corporate, institutional and publishing in-house departments. This is the sixth consecutive year SPARK has won awards in the competition. The winning entries are featured below.

AAF Fox River Ad Club – ADDY Poster

Elizabeth Jean’s – Apple Pie Packaging

Campaign Brochure — What Does Green Mean to You?

Menasha Corporation – Menasha Forward Sustainability Report

Human Rights now has an identity! Predrag Stakic, a 32 year old graphic designer from Belgrade, Serbia has been announced as the winner of a competition to find a logo for human rights. His symbol ‘Free As a Man’ was selected through the Human Rights Logo Competition, which began with the purpose of finding an international symbol for human rights. His entry was selected from over 15,000 submissions that were received from more than 190 countries. The logo was unveiled at a ceremony in New York organized by Cinema for Peace. The Human Rights logo will become an open source product, free to be used by everyone, everywhere, without restrictions – for the purpose of promoting Human Rights. The winning logo called ‘Free as a Man’, was chosen for its symbolic power, distinctiveness, clarity and universal applicability. The initiative was established out of conviction that a human rights logo will make a peaceful contribution towards the global spread and implementation of human rights. In order to find this logo, a global creative online competition with cash prizes and open to everyone was launched. The initiative had the support of renowned stakeholders, supporters and partners from all walks of life.

Unveiling of the Logo

Robert De Niro (Actor), Ann Curry (TV Journalist), Michael Elliott (ONE President & CEO), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia Founder), Guido Westerwelle (German Minister of Foreign Affairs), Angelina Atyam (Human Rights Defender from Uganda), Members of the Bouazizi Family (Revolutionary Tunisian Street Vendor) unveil the new logo.

No single logo can change the world – including this one. But a logo is a symbol that people can rally around — and they can change the world. – Stakic

Other Finalists

You can read the original press release and download the logo here: