Omatic Design

Creative, branding and other delights

Neat Matches

BACK IN THE days of more prevalent smoking, they took some serious care with their matches. These are from my private collection. Yes, I have a private collection of matchbooks. They’re cheaper than shoes. Leave me alone.




In the basement, EVERYONE.

This is where the nuances of design and typography come into play. In addition to the eighth sin of messy packaging design, this apparently is the cereal of serial killers. I’m struggling to find one element that is consumer friendly, especially for the consumer who just woke up. Will you come out of the shower and see “KRAVE” spelled out in the steam on your mirror? Go to the terrifyingly repetitive website to learn how this breakfast treat is going to eat your tongue.

Et voila Shanghai!

C'est lui!

MSSR. SPIELBERG has managed to bring Tintin, the clever boy reporter, his sodden nautical buddy and his precocious dog to the big screen. It comes with great reviews and middling box office receipts, but Steven is not going to be eating ramen.

I haven’t seen it yet. It doesn’t look like the Tintin I know. I also haven’t been to a 3-D movie yet because I resent the idea that I have to wear glasses to see something. So I’ll just sit here grousing like a 120 year old man and wait for my vision to fail.

In any case, Tintin has always been an overseas phenomenon, even being translated into Esperanto for the three Esperanto readers out there. I picked up on the magic when I was euro-comics-crazy kid. I made my first purchase of a Tintin hardcover (in French) at a garage sale. It’s to everyone’s credit that they made the effort to bring his adventures to the pop-drunk American public. It might be pissing in the wind, but props are due. I highly recommend you check out the comics. They’re pure delight.

This is a photo of a tray. Why the hell I bought a Tintin tray when I arrived in Paris and hauled it in a backpack all over Europe is a subject of conjecture the world over, but I still have an awesome tray that you envy. Admit it.

I’ve a deep adoration of Hergé’s creation. It’s nice that they’ve made the effort to bring him here. I guess I gotta go see the movie.

Beyond Disturbing

I’ve no idea what point is being made here. This is Photoshop gone awry. Apparently, it’s about meth head pedophiles in a 90’s sitcom. “Eh oh!”

Trademark Violation

Please. If any of you are good citizens, call the authorities. This fiend has no sense of typography.



Oh, Look!

It’s an ad for Facebook.

The Comcast Experience

OKAY. In terms of consistency—of actually working—Comcast’s service is the equivalent to the weather or perhaps a game of craps. Or the lottery. This fact is well known and deservedly and fairly embraced. While not a person, Comcast is a corporation, deemed a citizen by law. A contemptuous, monopolistic, inconsistent entity with nobody to call them out.

Comcast, you’re a booger head and I have no qualms making such a cruel statement, you booger head.

Comcast, this may seem sadistic, but I fantasize about tying you to a chair. Just a couple of hours so we have time to talk and share experiences. It’s no Reservoir Dogs moment, I promise. No need to call the authorities. I got more on you than you got on me.

It starts with a noogie. I’ll follow by serving you with a nice flat iron steak with a small organic greens salad with a balsamic dressing on the side. Then I’m going to walk away for an hour and leave a martini on the floor just out of your reach. I’ll then meander in and punch you in the neck. I’ll then tweak your nose but then I’ll give you a piece of the best Swiss chocolate. I’ll pull out nose hairs. Then you get a nice facial. Was that okay? Then I’ll wait a couple of minutes to give you a frontal wedgie.

Now you know how I feel. I have to reboot my modem almost everyday. Service is so awful, I run out of English and have to use swear words from other languages. God forfend you were a utility, where peoples’ lives depended on your service. You have no brand, no loyalty, no anything with the exception of sometimes working and being hated by your customers. And, boy, they hate you.

See ya never.

Which Advertising Experience Would You Prefer?

Consumer choicelessness.

ALL APOLOGIES, but what dimtwit came up with this? Actually, sorry, sorry. That was harsh. I’d like to retract the “apologies” part.

Hulu is the great promoter of this misguided model. Why would I give shit? And why would I have a preference when I haven’t seen the damned spot? Or even, as they assume, not know the product?

The forced interactive nature of this kind of advertising is garbage, designed only to get metrics. We The People don’t care what you’re selling unless we care about your brand or have had a meaningful introduction to it. Having a choice-less choice is no way to engage us. What do we do? We click the first option and spew swear words that tell Dodge to suck it.

The stop/start, very controlled and controlling nature of interactive has created a multi-brand monster. This monster comes and wakes you at 4 a.m. with a shoulder massage and then says, “Oh, am I bothering you? Tough shit. Does this feel good? I didn’t really want an answer.” And it’s a lousy massage.

Not much of an advertising model, this. It’s a great model for angering your potential customers however.

Alleged Consumer Choice, meet Duress and Lost Business.

Bathing With Barney

The end is nigh.

A COMBINATION of outsider art, faded pop culture atrocity and copyright infringement from rural Oregon. It is without context or reason. This is why it’s awesome.


IT’S FUNNY, but not all that funny. I’ve been in an inordinate number of meetings where the proposed color theme for an a brand identity has been shot down based on the client’s preferred sports teams. Simple as that, there’s no way we can use those colors. It would be an insult to God and Man should we use anything that might remind three people of the Norwegian Fancy Pants or the Chicago Whatzits. Oh no, that looks too much like the curling team from Omaha. And I hate Florida’s International Cribbage Consortium so yellow and tan is now the colorway of the Devil.

This is of course arbitrary horse flop. A personal allegiance to another corporation’s colors superceding your own interests in a world of limited color combinations is, shall we say, a little thin. But it comes with the game.

Here in Oregon, we have the U of O Ducks, a green and yellow armada if there ever was one. The colors are sacrosanct and I’ve been kicked in the shins for ever introducing anything approaching the combination. Ducks fans are legion. I once had a bitter client say I couldn’t use anything that whispered of the colors because her husband was such a Duck’s fan that it compromised their marriage.

Now we have a new team in town, anointed The Portland Timbers. It’s some alleged sport called “soccer” where things get kicked around and men run a lot. It’s also all about green and yellow. How this colorway got through is a mystery to me. It’s perfect for the Northwest, mind you, but it seems to have mystically circumvented regional prejudices.

I grudgingly admit I have to do a brand identity double take when I see their ads.


Dude. Wrong way.

ONE OF THE BENEFITS of doing illustration on the side is the random fun project that pops up. In this random case, for Random House.

A little while back, a piece of my stock art was used for a young adult novel entitled Powerless. Shown is the reference edition I was sent from the publisher so I could get up to speed. I’ve been commissioned to do the sequel, [title redacted]. See? FUN!

I have some enjoyable weekend reading and a glass of iced tea ahead of me.

Fluff Post

Yo mama says you ugly.

CONGRATULATIONS to The Huffington Post for being among the most trafficked sites on the intertubes. Additional kudos for being among the most ill-designed and experience-free denizens of the Wild World of Web 2-Pointless.

Every time I bring up the site, it blasts me with some kind of alarming looking headline that turns out to be just a typographic hammer to the head. The rest is just a nightmare of tags, icons, garbled layouts and intrusive advertising. It seems that what passes for design these days wouldn’t stand up to a freshman design school crit even even if you bribed the teacher. As for the quality of journalism…well, I’ll let a journalist blogger handle that side of the coin.


The casualty of making information the only focus will be design and craft. The Tools seem to have won, and I’m not calling anybody names. It’s the Tools—the software, the code, the Internet itself—that take precedence over design. It’s beginning to feel like someone just threw down a bunch of Scrabble squares in front of me and walked away. An associate of mine calls design vs. the tech “the tail chasing the dragon”. I would have thought it had caught up by now. Instead, kontent is king and we face what I consider an experiential dumbing down of our media intake. It used to be that information would come in a considered form, designed to concepts of substance, communication and even beauty. Design, at its core, is about “user experience” to embrace the parlance of our times. We all know what it is and why it’s important. Now we’re fed balderdash. It’s based entirely on an engineer’s concept of functionality, a flawed theory of information deployment and—in the end— utterly devoid of,  or embracing, humanity. It simply can’t be defended from where I sit. BUT: anyone is welcomed to try and I’ll be listening. I don’t use strong words without expecting blowback.

This has been another Lone Voice in the Wilderness Report. Thank you for your kind attentions.

Practical Nudity

I HAD BEER with some friends the other day. The couple with us had taken a little weekend jaunt to San Francisco and landed in The Castro, where the weather is fine, so are the lads and things are all-a-hangin’ out in the sweet breeze. After passing three north-to-south nudified denizens strolling around wearing only flip flops, the she-side of said couple had something to say about that. 

“How does this work? Where are their keys? Where are their fucking wallets?

That’s us Northwesterners for you. ‘Round these parts, you can feel free to wag your orangutang wang with no judgment, but you’d better be practical about it.

And, really, it was a mystery. How do you get it on with public exhibitionism and get back into your apartment or buy bananas? In a meaningful little bit of online serendipity, I came across these flip flops.

Flip floppin'.

Mystery solved: “ArchPort Flip Flops with Hidden Storage. Never worry about lost keys, cash, or credit cards when you don’t have any pockets! The YogiStash contains compartments in the soles, suitable for carrying credit cards, identification, cash, keys or other items. Originally designed for trips to yoga so that you don’t need to carry a wallet or purse, and perfect for anytime you want your hands free on cruises, poolside or walking the boardwalk!”

Her concerns have been allayed but now replaced by worries that sunscreen isn’t being used.

The Person With The Fantasy Beast Whatzit

Are you single?

MOVIE TRAILERS are a banal art for the most part. You feel like you’ve gotten the entire bloody plot as explained by a bunch of nose-pickers. But when one becomes famous, one gets leverage and power to subvert the game.

It’s nice to see something clocked to one of the most musically violent songs made more violent by Mssr. Reznor and Mssr. Fincher. Even if you’re familiar with the books or the movies, this looks to be a very necessary Americanized remake.

And a mean one, if I’m getting the gist. I’m on the edge of my seat.

Texas Monthly Rolling Road Show


These popped into my consciousness after a quick guilty pleasure trip the Apple movie trailer site. Designed by Jason Munn, they’re of the recent and wonderful revisionist/redesigned genre of movie posters given high profile. They were commissioned for the Texas Monthly Rolling Road Show. There’s no huge committee of executives behind them, no huge amount of money at stake to kill good work, no conventions of contemporary movie marketing. Just posters that pay homage to the greats in a compelling voice.

(It’s inspiring a little A Clockwork Orange fantasy where Web-Two-Point-‘Osers are forced to spend long sessions looking at their own sites to calm them down. But that’s just me.)

The rest can be seen here, but oddly not on the official site.

Menu To Day!

MY DAYS of being a craphound are over. I no longer am some twenty-something designer coolster (if I ever was) saving every weird little piece of Japanese candy packaging, tree bark or random aesthetically delightful tchotchke in the hope of creating a physical environment of creative inspiration. I’m just not into collecting things no mo’.

That said, I do have some things. Things that tell a story. Things that come with a story. Things that transport me to a different place and time. Things that have a profound if unknowable history. Things that tap into the romantic side of my mind and create poignant worlds. Things that I just look at and—gosh darn it—they just make me happy.

What we have here is a menu. A gosh darned fine one if I might say.

The story: I was walking by a commercial restaurant supply joint in Northwest Portland where they deal with a lot of used equipment, the inevitable afterlife of failed restaurant ventures. I came upon a craphound’s delight by the loading zone, obviously from some demolition job. It was a large pile of detritus bound in institutional plastic wrap and destined for the dump. Rusty metal, wood debris and this old menu board. It was saturated in decades of grease and grime. I convinced one of the employees to slash the plastic so I could liberate this piece. He kindly did so, eyes rolling.

It’s a pre-fab all-metal specimen with hand painted type of the brushed-serif variety in a style common to the twenties or thirties. Of course I can’t be sure of this, but that’s part of the beauty of it. I don’t know where it came from and I honestly haven’t tried to find out.

I gently pulled out and cleaned off each slat (some have different offerings on the backside) and the board itself, gave it a hosing off in the backyard and allowed it to dry in the summer sun for fear of rust. I’m a fiend in the kitchen so it always stays mounted directly next to the stove. It makes everything feel somehow whole, as if I have a benevolent culinary ghost watching my back as I sear onions.

The minute I saw it, I realized it a piece of history. How many people looked this board? Where did it hang? Did anyone actually get the stewed prunes? And, look, it has Baked Salmon. This is only something you would see in the Northwest. Every dish is a story. It offers simple meals at fine prices and an egregiously misspelled insult to Hungary. I see fedoras. Unfancy suits and worn shoes. This is the romantic side of it. It’s probably a Depression-era menu from hard times for people looking for a square meal.

I hope you all left whatever establishment full and happy.


HAVING A FATHER who has made it through colon cancer, I will not deny that a colonoscopy can save a life (You rule, pop). I fully embrace and promote this important but not wildly popular check-up. I am however finding it particularly odd the current bevy of advertising from hospital chains that promotes what I am led to believe is the most embarrassing and invasive of procedures.

“HELLO, COLON,” greets the newest colorful out-of-home and on-the-highway campaign in a too familiar tone as if they wish to be buddy-buddy with my innards. I’m certain the copywriter giggled with glee to have sold such a preponderance of vowels and ‘L’s.

“GET OVER IT,” demands one terse campaign. “GO FUCK YOURSELF,” thinks one offended viewer, responding to snide contempt.

These are standard advertising manifestations in response to subjects that are considered awfully personal-like and discomfiting to a broad target audience. The obvious intent is to break through that “ooky” barrier and either pummel the viewer or disarm with (supposed) casual humor. Because, really, we can only become aware of the most important issues of the day when they’re cloaked in clever adspeak.

Who funds these lame campaigns? The for-profit hospitals? A well intentioned government grant? Your colon? Considering the state of the country’s health system and the amount of money spent on marketing, this comes across as opportunistic and highly suspect horse flop. It’s also an obvious marketing trend. Pick your disease/condition/issue and hop on the bandwagon.

Coming to your local billboard soon: “COUNT YOUR TOES.” You might be missing one, dummy.


Thank you, Samsung. Good luck with your iPad killer.


THIS IS my wee vanity project and an outgrowth of the illustration style I developed way back when. A little existential meandering by way of anthropomorphic buffoonery. Ladies and gentlemen: NiftyCo.