THOMAS QUINN

About this site

My friends call me Tommy. I'm an artist/designer living in Chicago. This is where I post some process images, some finished designs, some music, opinions, and other stuff.

Posts I like

More liked posts

When I was given the opportunity to design the cover (and interior) of the new 826CHI book "The Windows Reflect Anything", a collection of stories by Chicago high school students, I knew I wanted to incorporate two things: a literal reference to the title of the book, and hand-drawn typography. Originally I was hoping to combine the two by putting some piece of hand-drawn lettering in a window and staging a carefully taken photography, but time and logistics just made that too difficult. Instead, I decided to do the two things separately and combine them later.

The photo was a result of an afternoon walking around Wicker Park, to have the photo be someone relatively close to 826CHI. After taking dozens of ugly photos along Milwaukee Ave, I ended up taking the photo of the reflection of a CTA train window with myself and the 6 corners artist lofts in the reflection.

The lettering was a little more complicated. The final product wasn’t too far from my initial sketches, but it was discovered after I had finished my first comps of the cover that I had been given the wrong title for the book, and I had to change my lettering from saying "The Windows Reflect Anything to "The Windows Reflect Everything. Unfortunately, that meant I had to lose the interlocking W and A from my earlier version, which was a bit disappointing, but it allowed me to add some different type styling. As a result I had to adjust the W in Windows and draw a new lower half of the cover. I kept all of my previous lettering that wasn’t affected and drew the final word within the same space as the original drawing, then combined the two drawings on the computer. Adding some coloring and laying it over the photography was the final step.

Stop by The Boring Store at 1331 N Milwaukee Ave to see the book, and lots of other not-boring things.

Main view View from across the museum. Michael C. Place on the left, Marian Bantjes on the right. Head on view

I recently completed this new anamorphic typography installation for the Chicago Design Museum, a pop-up museum set up in downtown Chicago through the month of June 2013. Anamorphic typography is a spatial experience in which an arrangement of letters look perfectly set from a single point within a space, while looking wildly distorted from any other perspective.

My installation was in amazing company, as this year’s ChiDM exhibition featured the work of Wolfgang Weingart, Marian Bantjes, John Massey, and Michael C. Place, as well as a number of amazing local designers. It is truly worth the effort to get there if you are in the Chicagoland area.

Helvetica Logos Poster Helvetica Logos Poster Detail

My Etsy store is now launched to sell the posters pictured above. The “Best Things” poster is available in both black and white for $25 and is gold foil stamped. The Helvetica Logos poster is offset printed in silver ink and is $20.

The “Best Things” poster is something I had the idea for years ago. It is an expression of the uneasy relationship I have with branding, and the fine line between communicating the values of a brand and selling a dishonest image. The logos used are:

T Mobile, H&M, Internet Explorer / Beats by Dre, Electronic Arts, Sony, Twitter / Texaco, Hasbro, IBM, Nintendo 64, Gucci, Sega / iPhone (iPod, iMac, etc.), New York Times / Louis Vuitton, Zippo, Ford, Dell / Acura, Toys R Us, ESPN, Netflix, Chili’s, Starck / Toyota, Hewlett-Packard, Tropicana, NY Yankees, General Electric, Subway

The Helvetica poster is a demonstration of the lack of creativity in using helvetica in branding and the ubiquity of helvetica in general. If the variety of brands shown in the poster all use the same general identity, how could it possibly express much about any one of them?

I’m happy to announce that I’m part of the Re/View exhibit in this year’s Chicago Design Museum pop-up exhibition. I’m doing a new anamorphic type installation, which you can see a pre-paint glimpse of above (Can you read what it says from the painters tape alone?). The other ChiDM exhibits this year are insanely good: Marian Bantjes, John Massey, Michael C. Place, and Wolfgang Weingart. The museum opens up on June 1st at Block 37 (108 North State Street, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL). Check out the Chicago Design Museum site for more information: link. High-res

I’m happy to announce that I’m part of the Re/View exhibit in this year’s Chicago Design Museum pop-up exhibition. I’m doing a new anamorphic type installation, which you can see a pre-paint glimpse of above (Can you read what it says from the painters tape alone?). The other ChiDM exhibits this year are insanely good: Marian Bantjes, John Massey, Michael C. Place, and Wolfgang Weingart. The museum opens up on June 1st at Block 37 (108 North State Street, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL). Check out the Chicago Design Museum site for more information: link.

How To Fix Twitter

Anyone who works in a creative field knows that sometimes having complete creative freedom can make your task much harder. Having some restrictions help shape your task, and give you a problem to solve. Twitter’s 140 character restriction works in the same way. By limiting your space, Twitter forces you to choose your words wisely. However, there are a few likely unforeseen issues that the 140 character limit has caused, and I’d like to propose a solution.

First, the URL issue. The character restriction has created a whole internet cottage industry of URL shorteners. Sites like tinyurl and bit.ly exist almost solely as a way to give the Twitterer a few more characters to work with. What I would propose would be to allow users to create html links. Allow people to highlight a few words of their tweet and turn them into a link.

So a tweet liks this…

Would turn into this…

It’s a small change, but in many cases it would give you an extra 20 characters to work with (Twitter automatically turns any non-shortened URL into an abbreviated 20 character version).

The other issue I have with Twitter is the inconsistency in retweeting. The official Twitter method is to either retweet without comment, showing the original users icon with an indication of who is retweeting it. The other option is to “quote tweet” in which it puts the original tweet (and twitter handle) in quotes with your comment following outside the quotes. The big problem with this is that if the original tweet is longer than 60 characters, once you add in the original twitter handle, you barely have any characters left to comment. Other programs format retweets in the following way: [retweeters comment RT: @originalhandle {original tweet}]. The issue with this is that it forces you to read the follow up comment before the original tweet, and it doesn’t do anything to solve the character count issue. Additionally, this gives the original tweeter a little less credit in your feed because followers of the retweeter don’t see the original user’s icon or full name.

I would propose that Twitter make a consistent retweet style that doesn’t link retweet comments to the original tweet, so you are able to write a full 140 characters, no matter what the length of the original tweet was. Just visually link a retweeted comment to the original tweet. Like this…

This method gives everyone their due exposure and lets users write more than 15 characters when commenting in their retweet.

These aren’t new problems to Twitter, and I doubt nobody on their team has thought of these solutions, so I don’t have high hopes for a change. I have a feeling they like the strange Twitter world they’ve created, with bit.ly and hashtags and RTs, but I think it would really improve the experience.

Lastly, follow me on Twitter: @tqvinn

Behold, the power of tumblr! I started this tumblr less than 9 months ago, just filling in old posts from my previous blog. My anamorphic typography post caught the eye of someone in charge of the #design tumblr tag and spread around tumblr in a way I never would have imagined. Yesterday, it passed the 40,000 likes/reblogs mark. Thanks to all of you tumblrers! High-res

Behold, the power of tumblr! I started this tumblr less than 9 months ago, just filling in old posts from my previous blog. My anamorphic typography post caught the eye of someone in charge of the #design tumblr tag and spread around tumblr in a way I never would have imagined. Yesterday, it passed the 40,000 likes/reblogs mark. Thanks to all of you tumblrers!

Loading next page

Hang on tight while we grab the next page