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Virtual Masterpieces

Turn your computer screen into an ephemeral masterpiece with Color Field Paintings, a web-based project of digital artist Michael Demers. Disable your pop-up blocker, choose a color scheme, and then click to generate a series of color tiles that are generated randomly based upon parameters established by Demers. Look sharp, because each three-part painting exists for only about ten seconds. We’re partial to the one that creates color tiles based on “Where,” a 1960 painting by abstract expressionist painter Morris Louis. On the go? Demers has also created a Color Field Paintings iPhone application.

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#DesignChat

Make the most of your time on Twitter with #DesignChat, a weekly real-time conversation among creative types from around the world. Founded earlier this year by Chicago-based designer Ryan McGovern (who tweets as @hupajoob), the Twitter-based chats take place every Wednesday at 8 p.m. CST and last about an hour. McGovern moderates the weekly discussion on video at mashable.com/chat. “DesignChat was born from the notion that we have the most powerful communication tools available ever, and I’d like to see designers and creative types make use of them,” he explains. “Some of us workhorses often forget there are others out there like us that might have interesting opinions about design and how we fit into the rest of world.”

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Infectious Design

Creativity is contagious. A group of South Dakota middle school students learned this firsthand when they spent the day learning about advertising, design, and…swine flu. The staff of McQuillen Creative Group in Aberdeen, South Dakota recently welcomed students from nearby Holgate Middle School for a day of interactive activities to introduce them to the worlds of design and advertising. Their challenge? To get the word out about the H1N1 virus. “Kids got to experience logo design, graphic design, photography, image manipulation, marketing, concepting, and video production,” MCG president Troy McQuillen tells us. Along the way, they produced a series of posters based on a “street smarts” theme and ended the day on a high note by recording a catchy flu jingle. “The song is an audio reminder of things to do to avoid the flu.”

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American Artifact

In 2004, Merle Becker quit her corporate television job at MTV to pursue a growing fascination with rock posters. Soon, she was traveling across the country interviewing artists such as Stanley Mouse, Art Chantry, and Tara McPherson. “My initial intent was to find out why so many artists are drawn to doing rock posters,” says Becker. “I also wanted to tell a clear story of the history of the art form.” The result is American Artifact, a documentary that has been making the festival rounds and premieres in New York and San Francisco later this month. The film chronicles the rise of American rock poster art, from the “skeleton and roses” posters created for the Grateful Dead and the birth of silk-screening to grunge and the off-kilter whimsy associated with contemporary bands. “It is my hope that this film causes people to see ‘lowbrow’ art in a different way,” notes Becker, “as beautiful pieces of art that are also valid statements about the cultural changes that America has seen throughout the years.”

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Ampersand Fans, Unite!

San Francisco-based graphic designer Stephen Gose has a thing for the ampersand. “I think it is often the most attractive character of them all,” notes Gose on his blog, The Ampersand. Created in May 2008 as an attempt “to give this humble ligature the respect it deserves,” the site is a chronicle of ampersand sightings, whether on signage, book covers, tote bags, jewelry, cookies, pet cemetery gravestones, or a polo shirt worn by a waiter in the Galapagos Islands. Photos snapped by Gose and submitted by readers from around the world reveal backwards ampersands, graffitti ampersands, treble clefs masquerading as ampersands, and permanent ampersands—the freshly inked “&” tattoos of die-hard fans.

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DIY Moleskine

Whether you’re entering a competition, sketching for a library of the future, or just taking notes, Moleskine has made it easier than ever to customize its notebooks. The company has developed MSK, a range of free online content that offers printable templates for contacts, calendars, and original associations of images and text—all in sizes designed for pasting into Moleskine notebooks. It’s a handy way to create and insert ruled pages, ensure that you have blank pages on hand, or even transfer your blog from digital to analog format. Select the “Wizard” tab to print out any blog post in MSK format.

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There's Nothing Funny About Design

Our highly unscientific survey of designers’ summer reading revealed rave reviews for David Barringer’s There’s Nothing Funny About Design (Princeton Architectural Press). In his first collection of essays, the writer and self-taught graphic designer takes on topics ranging from Chip Kidd and blood-soaked DVD cover art to his father’s business card collection and why drug names overdose on the letter “X.” The take-home message: there’s a whole lot that’s funny about design, including Barringer’s update of the Kubler-Ross Model, “Nine Emotions of the Working Designer,” which comes in the section of the book devoted to the business of design. “I used it as a funny way to advise young designers today, but I let the form evolve into something stranger, part fiction, part philosophy, some of it contradictory, poetic, satirical,” he said. “You should laugh at some parts, shake your head at others, but at some point nod and think, ‘Yes. Exactly.’”

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There's Nothing Funny About Design

Our highly unscientific survey of designers’ summer reading revealed rave reviews for David Barringer’s There’s Nothing Funny About Design (Princeton Architectural Press). In his first collection of essays, the writer and self-taught graphic designer takes on topics ranging from Chip Kidd and blood-soaked DVD cover art to his father’s business card collection and why drug names overdose on the letter “X.” The take-home message: there’s a whole lot that’s funny about design, including Barringer’s update of the Kubler-Ross Model, “Nine Emotions of the Working Designer,” which comes in the section of the book devoted to the business of design. “I used it as a funny way to advise young designers today, but I let the form evolve into something stranger, part fiction, part philosophy, some of it contradictory, poetic, satirical,” he said. “You should laugh at some parts, shake your head at others, but at some point nod and think, ‘Yes. Exactly.’”

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Comic Sans Relief

We find Comic Sans terribly depressing, but is there change afoot in the status of this typographical albatross? Signs of backlash to the graphic design community's longstanding Comic Sans disdain are evident in Veer's Comic Sans Love T-shirt. Created "to convey the mixed emotions Comic Sans evokes," the shirt features a detailed drawing of the human heart -- "ventricles, valves, and veins" -- comprised of letters set in various sizes of Comic Sans on a "snug-fitting" American Apparel T-shirt. Veer's pumping irony will set you back $22, a small price to pay to tell the world that you heart Comic Sans -- even if you hate it.

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Cool Tool

Want a writing utensil that can help you beat the heat? Look no further than the Museum of Modern Art, which is doing a brisk summer business in fan pens. Emblazoned with the MoMA logo, each cherry red retractable ballpoint pen is tipped with a battery-operated fan. The museum's store describes the fan as "finger-safe" and includes an AAA battery with each pen. At the push of a button, whatever you're writing or drawing becomes instantly cooler.

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