Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday Top 5

7,000 death metal logos? That’s like 1,850,000 spikes!
Vice brings us a brief interview with Christophe Szpajdel, a designer who specializes in creating logos for death metal bands. He says he’s designed more than 7,000 of them in the last 20 years. I don’t know what’s more scary: that he made that many, or that there have been that many death metal bands.

Peter Callesen
Amazing paper sculpture. [via Jenny]

HP computers are racist
The face tracking feature of the HP web cam will not recognize or track black faces. Or, as Dezi (sp?) puts it in the video, “The HP webcam does not pick up negroes.”

MPG Stickers
Get good mileage? Get a custom MPG sticker for your vehicle. Our 1996 Honda Civic DX still gets better mileage than practically any other “modern” car you can buy today in America, including the so-called “fuel-efficient” ones. We love our Hondog.

A Troubling Story of SFPD Bias Against Bicycle Riders
“...As I tried to get information from three SFPD police officers on the scene of the crash, two of them showered me with unadulterated disdain for bicyclists and pedestrians. One officer said she thought bicyclists and pedestrians are always at fault in crashes and that they are stupid for not watching out for drivers. She was very upset with cyclists running red lights. She told me the bicyclist was at fault in this crash without any knowledge that a witness was saying the opposite...”

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Chip Kidd and James Ellroy: A Mutual Appreciation [via Zeldman]

Alternative Press Expo this weekend!
Sadly, their site kinda sucks, and doesn’t give even a glimmer of how cool this event is. Here is my description of the cool stuff I saw at the 2007 event. I went last year too, but I never had time to write it all up.

Lunch Bag Art
Each day this dad makes a new piece of art for his kids.

365 Days of Dudes
Each day artist Andy drew a different character.

Zack Kim
Super Mario Bros. theme on two guitars.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Thursday Top 5

Sk8face: The Evolution of Skateboard Art trailer (explicit)
Mostly for Jason A. [via Gary L.]

Robocop Rap
The entire movie Robocop retold as a rap, in 10 minutes.
Visualize how much sugar is in the fruit, veggies, drinks, and snacks you consume.

Cheap. Cheap.
Twitter may have paid $6 or less for their birdie graphic.

You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice
Great blog chronicling designs that have been ripped off.

The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Top 5+1

I first wrote about this band in 2005 when Sony music was threatening them and shut down their website. Beatallica does live mashups of Beatles and Metallica songs, done in the style of Metallica. It’s pretty awesome. They have a bunch of videos on their site if you want more.

Where creativity comes from
Don’t drink it! It’ll blow your head off!

We Are All the Machine
I posted this a couple years ago. But it’s still awesome.

“Organic” vs. “Natural” Food
It pays to know the difference between “organic” and “Certified Organic.” Your “All-Natural” breakfast is probably not in the least bit sustainably-made. There is no government regulation on most of the healthy-sounding terms food distributors are allowed to put on their products. In other words, it could be totally legal for Hostess to claim Twinkies are a “natural food.” is now free
United Feature Syndicate is finally offering all its comics, including years of archives, for free at This includes editorial cartoons, The Born Loser, Monty, Dilbert, and 50 years of Peanuts. They have reportedly also updated their RSS feeds to include the actual comics, instead of just links to them.

Daytum facilitates the counting and communication of daily data, allowing you to track and display any metric, from bird-watching statistics to the concerts you’ve attended.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Top 5+1

The Making of Little Big Planet
Alex Evans, Co-Founder of developer Media Molecule, visited the Wired Store to talk about the creative process that led to the making of Little Big Planet, and the way the game has unleashed the creativity of players.

Christoph Niemann on coffee
Pretty funny; I had a similar late start at drinking coffee, although I’ve always been a caffeine fiend. You should spend some time perusing his excellent illustration portfolio, especially Gallery 6.

Chip Kidd
Chip Kidd is possibly the best modern designer of book covers. He’s prolific and I’m sure you’ll recognize at least a couple of the covers in this short profile video.

A reality check. They’ve got a great website. This should be an interesting campaign to watch.

Please Don’t Divorce Us
Proposition 8 was a travesty that makes me ashamed to be a Californian. If you don’t know any families who are affected by this, it may be difficult to imagine what it feels like to have your human rights infringed on this way. The Courage Campaign’s community photo pool on Flickr attempts to put a human face on the controversy with moving portraits of those affected by Prop 8. Please consider a donation to the Courage Campaign.

Watch out Microsoft, here comes the iTable
It’s not a Mac and it doesn’t run OS X (it runs WindowsXP, meh) but it’s a lot less expensive than Microsoft’s Surface.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Factor Design studio tour

Factor Design has consistently produced exceptional work over the years, and I’ve been a fan for a long time. They have offices in Germany and San Francisco, and last night they hosted a studio tour for AIGA members in SF.

I chatted with five or six members of Factor’s team, including owner Jeff Zwerner, trying not to sound too much like a fanboy as I told him how much I liked their work. They had an impressive slideshow of their stuff rotating on all the computers in the offices and projected large on one wall. Zwerner gave an interesting historical overview of how Factor came to be, and they also showed a fantastic video they’d just finished (he said it’ll be on their website soon; I’ll link it then).

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Notes from AIGA Compostmodern 2007 (part 2)

Last January I attended Compostmodern 2008, a green design conference presented by the AIGA SF.

I’ve already written about Boisset Family Estates and DeLoach Wines (“The environmental impact of the wine industry”), and CleanWell hand sanitizer and soap (“An alternative to normal antibacterial soaps”) (which I use and heartily endorse), but I hadn’t had time to write up some of my other notes and impressions.

My pocket journal (an ultra-thin Moleskine) is where I jot down such things while I’m out and about. My electronic journal (this here blog yer lookin’ at) is where I save those things for posterity, and share them with others. So here are a few ideas I heard speakers talking about, which made impressions on me:

Self-Indulgent Design
Designers practicing “self-indulgent design” is equal to driving a Hummer. Examples: Elaborate, unnecessarily long brochures, annual reports, and the like which often contain just three words per page and use fluorescent or metallic inks, plastic sleeves, and other wasteful and nearly impossible to recycle materials.

Low Rate of Paper Recycling
Still only 50% of paper is collected for recycling, and whether all of that actually gets recycled or not is another story. Yet 35% of the waste going to landfills is still paper! C’mon people! I can hardly believe that it’s still so difficult for people to just have two separate containers near their desk, and to be mindful of which one gets garbage and which one gets paper. This is not rocket science. A child can do it. And often, children do it way better than adults.

Electronic Design is Wasteful Too
One big eye-opener for me was something I already knew, but that I hadn’t really processed completely (or maybe I just didn’t want to admit it to myself): Web designers aren’t really polluting and wasting less than print designers. We think of the web and electronic design as a more pure and less wasteful design process, bypassing the pesky problem of deforestation for the pulping of our paper and the nasty chemicals used in the printing process. But in fact, always-on web servers and storage for videos, PDFs, and other files is not free. Servers = energy consumption = oil drilling, coal burning, even *yikes* nuclear energy (and waste). And let’s not forget that servers and hard drives go bad within a few years, all those cellphones and other nifty electronic devices we’re designing iApps for become some Third World country’s e-waste problem (and those countries’ poverty, environmental, and health problems eventually become our problem).

And here are a few links to things I heard about or saw at the conference:
PG&E started a huge publicity campaign a year or so ago under the laudable banner of “Let’s Green This City.” A group of citizens has formed the Green Guerrillas Against Greenwash to unmask the $10 million publicity campaign as mere greenwashing, and offers San Franciscans an alternative in the form of Proposition H.
An independent (not owned or sponsored by any paper companies) database of information that designers and printers can use to specify paper stocks. It’s a paid service ($19.95/mo. or $158.40/yr.), and I haven’t paid for it, so I don’t know how good it is. They have some free paper, printing, and environmental information available too, but you can’t access the paper database without paying for membership.

Encyclopedia of Life is a new project that intends to harness crowdsourcing techniques to create a vast online resource of information about the Earth’s 1.8 million known species.

The Designers Accord
“A global coalition of designers, educators, researchers, engineers, and corporate leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact.” I joined earlier this year.

Core77 / BusinessWeek Design Directory
I’d seen a couple times before, but hadn’t bothered to list myself until this year. In participation with the Designers Accord, you can search the directory exclusively for firms/individuals who have certified that they’ve adopted the accord.

Freedom of the Press
In the gallery I observed a single display copy of Freedom of the Press, a newsprint publication by Brian Ponto and Lindsay Ballant. In excellent culture-jamming style, in 2004 they commandeered newspaper racks in New York and inserted their own newspaper with stark observations on American politics and how Americans get their news.
A satirical nod acknowledging how many people (including me) view carbon trading: “Cheatneutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and not cheat. This neutralises the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience.”

Compostmodern 2009
Saturday, February 21
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Duffy & Partners

Duffy & Partners has long been one of my favorite firms. They’ve put out some fantastic work over the years, including one of my all-time favorites, the Knob Creek Whiskey bottle (seen below). I bought a bottle years ago just to put on my shelf, to admire and take inspiration from it. Unfortunately, one night a friend opened the bottle and started pouring drinks from it, not realizing I was keeping it for less practical purposes.

Duffy has a new website which showcases their high-quality work very well. It also gives a good insight into principal Joe Duffy’s M.O., which really sees the client as collaborators in the creative process, from the very start, before pencil has even been put to paper. This is central to my design process as well, so I'm drawn to this company on many levels.

They’ve included some videos on their site too, one of them featuring a few of their clients. I was struck by this comment by Andy Wyatt, CEO of Cornerstone Capital Management:

“We had an idea of what we wanted for our website, and frankly if we would’ve gotten what we wanted, it probably wouldn’t have worked as well. We needed to let go of the reins a little bit and bring in a professional.”

This is the kind of client every designer wants.

Wyatt cut to the core: “Do what you do best, and hire the rest. And let them do it, when you hire them to do it.”

When one is looking for a designer, it behooves one to have this attitude. You may know what you want, but it’s best to hire talented professionals and to let them simply do their jobs. Of course, it’s also best for you to hire a creative team that will collaborate with you, as Duffy does.

But if you had to have your pancreas operated on, you wouldn’t seek out the best medical professional in the field, and then presume to tell him/her how to do his/her job. You’d work with the surgeon to ensure s/he was getting all the relevant information about your medical history, what outcome you were looking for, and what risks you were willing to take.

It’s more useful to recognize expertise in others, invest trust in that expert’s skill, and let them work unfettered to bring your project to the best result in the end.

Whether it’s your pancreas or your new logo.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Updated an old post about Alternative Press Expo

I had done the first half of this post, but hadn't completed the second half. So here it is, if you're into art, design, comics and such niftiness. The update starts about half-way down the page.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

The creative economy

American Public Media's Marketplace reports that America's artists collectively make $80 billion a year. Nearly two million citizens consider themselves artists by trade, from architects to musicians and designers to filmmakers, making up one of the largest classes of workers in the U.S.. Their average income is just over $34,000 a year, which doesn't seem very high, but is actually higher than the U.S. median.

Listen to the Marketplace segment (2 min.) or read the transcript.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008


One of the photoblogs I like the most is Absenter, by Chicago designer Naz Hamid, who also designed one of my favorite online publications, Gapers Block.

Naz stopped updating Absenter a while back (I think he primarily uses his Flickr stream now), but I went through every photo again this afternoon. I always liked the way the background color for the title card at the bottom changes to a hue picked from the day's photo.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday top 5+1

Chuck Norris approved
Well, now I know who I'm voting for.

Pierre Henry "Psyché Rock"
Listen for the origin of the "Futurama" theme song.

Jim Houser interview
A typically conversational Fecal Face interview with illustrator Jim Houser. The best part is the ton of pictures of his home/workspace.

The Small Stakes
I have this Death Cab for Cutie shirt I really like, and it was designed by Jason Munn, who has churned out some amazing posters and designs over the past five years from his Oakland studio.

Consumer Consequences
An interactive game that asks, "What would the world look like if everyone lived like me?" You may have played games like this before (sometimes it's more like a quiz), but this one is notable in that it allows you to compare your answers at the end to other people's, including some American Public Media personalities. Thanks to Ynnej for the link.

"Here's to San Francisco Values!"
By a certain Julia.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Green Design: Designers, studios, and ad agencies that work with environmental groups and green companies

I have a reputation for working with environmental nonprofits, so I still frequently get requests to do graphic design for green groups or companies. Unfortunately, I’m usually too busy.

Sometimes they ask for referrals. So I finally compiled this list of other designers and firms that have worked with environmental groups. I’m including a few advertising and PR firms too, since green groups can almost always use some expertise in their publicity campaigns, plus those firms usually have designers on staff too, or work with freelancers.

I can’t vouch for all of these. Some of them I’ve only heard of through the grapevine, but some of them I’ve met and really been impressed by. I hope you find one you can have a fruitful relationship with.

UPDATE 11-01-08: I’ve collected some new green design resources over the past year, and I’m adding a few new design firm listings to this post. Interviews with seven of the companies listed below are available at GDUSA’s website, from “Going Green” in the October 2008 issue.

I also thought I should list some organizations and resources for designers (and clients) who are interested in sustainability issues as they pertain to the graphic design discipline:

AIGA Center for Sustainable Design


Design21 Social Design Network

Design Can Change

The Designers Accord

Graphic Alliance

UPDATE 11-28-07: Innosanto from Design Action turned me on to a few more companies that specialize in design for social change, and I found a few others on a site called renourish.

a5 Group Inc.
size: boutique
location: Chicago IL, St. Louis MO, and Grand Rapids MI
clients include: Green By Design, Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Environmental Protection Agency

Agami Creative
size: boutique
location: Richmond, VA
clients include: Campaign Earth, 8Jax Communications

size: boutique
location: Aotearoa, New Zealand
clients include: The Sustainability Trust, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority

Another Limited Rebellion
size: boutique
location: Richmond, VA
clients include: Vegan Action, Richmond Green Party, Center for an Urban Future

Eric Benson
size: boutique
location: Champaign, IL
clients include: Whole Foods, MADD, Toyota

Big Think Studios
size: boutique
location: San Francisco, CA
clients include: Bluewater Network, San Francisco Food Bank, United Nations World Environment Day, Center for Biological Diversity

Celery Design Collective
size: boutique
location: Berkeley, CA
clients include: Elephant Pharmacy, The Natural Step, Alameda County Green Building

The Change
size: boutique
location: Chapel Hill, NC
clients include: Fair Trade Resource Network, Higher Grounds, Sierra Club

Conscious Creative
size: boutique
location: Berkeley, CA
clients include: In Defense of Animals, VegNews magazine, San Francisco Dept. of the Environment, Marin Environmental Film Festival

Core Industries
size: boutique
location: Brooklyn, NY
clients include: 1% for the Planet,, Volkswagen Carbon Neutral Project

size: boutique
location: Melbourne, AUS, and London, UK
clients include: Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenbuild Expo, The Fair Trade Company

Design Action Collective
size: boutique
location: Oakland, CA
clients include: United States Social Forum, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Craigslist Foundation, Rainforest Action Network

Design for Social Impact
size: boutique
location: Philadelphia, PA
clients include: Environmental Fund for Pennsylvania, The Nature Conservancy, Recycling Action, ForestEthics

size: boutique
location: San Francisco Bay Area
clients include: Compassionate Cooks, Terrain magazine, American Cancer Society

Digital Hive Ecological Design
size: boutique
location: San Francisco Bay Area
clients include: Institute for Environmental Entrepreneurship, WholeSoy & Co., Canal Alliance, Greener World Media

size: boutique
location: Phoenix, AZ
clients include: Phoenix Department of Health and Sustainability, Earth Accents, Valley Forward EarthFest

John Emerson
size: boutique
location: New York, NY
clients include: Amnesty International, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops, Human Rights Watch

Fenton Communications
size: large
location: New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
clients include: Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Marine Conservation

Fibu Design
size: boutique
location: San Francisco, CA
clients include: National Conversation on Climate Action, PG&E ClimateSmart, Media Fund, Help America Vote Act

Firebelly Design
size: boutique
location: Chicago, IL
clients include: Sustainable Chicago, Awakening Organics, Midwest Wind Energy

Free Range Studios / Free Range Graphics
size: boutique
location: Washington, D.C.
clients include: Amnesty International, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy

Green Team
size: boutique
location: New York, NY and Tasmania, AUS
clients include: Environmental Defense, World Resources Institute, National Geographic Society

Mark Bult Design
How could I not include myself?
size: boutique
location: San Francisco, CA
clients include: Amnesty International, Anne Frank Center, Bay Area Earth Day, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition

Metropolitan Group
size: boutique
location: Portland, OR
clients include: Charles Darwin Foundation, National Park Foundation, The Wetlands Conservancy

size: boutique
location: New York, NY
clients include: EarthAction Network, Not In Our Name, Good magazine, The Nation

Palatal Collective
size: boutique
location: Kansas City, MO
clients include: Pharos Project, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Girl Scouts of Mid-America Council

Public Media Center
size: large
location: San Francisco, CA
clients include: Earth Island Institute, Greenpeace, Foundation for Deep Ecology, Oceanic Society

size: boutique
location: New York, NY
clients include: Ready366 only launched in February 2008, so their client roster doesn’t really include anything indicative of their focus on sustainability. I list them here with the hope that I can update this post again in the future, with real-world examples of their stated mission of helping companies make consumer brands more earth-friendly.

Rizco Design & Communications
size: boutique
location: Manasquan, NJ
clients include: Corbis, Huntington's Disease Society of America

Roughstock Studios
size: boutique
location: San Francisco, CA
clients include: East West Herbs USA, Mission Arts Foundation, Search For Common Ground

Studio 7 Designs
size: boutique
location: Victoria, BC
clients include: PESCO Environmental Solutions, Juniper Tree, UN Golden Chapter

T-LUX Design
size: boutique
location: Los Angeles, CA
clients include: ’Licious Dishes, Pacific Edge Magazine

size: boutique
location: Oakland, CA
clients include: Natural Heritage Institute, Strategic Action for a Just Economy, Urban Strategies Council

Underground Advertising
size: boutique
location: San Francisco, CA
clients include: Environmental Defense, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Greenbelt Alliance

Vivace Design
size: boutique
location: Montreal, Quebec
clients include: Tori Amos, Liberal Party of Canada (Quebec)

Willoughby Design Group
size: boutique
location: Kansas City, MO
clients include: Hallmark, Kansas City Zoo, Women's Political Caucus, Sheridan's

Got one to add? Contact me.

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