Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots. SOURCE:

You’re likely unfamiliar with the spherical viral particles that are the Coronavirus even though, in the span of 18 months, its siblings and cousins have killed almost 3 million people world-wide. But the spikey-ball “beauty shot”, illustrated to bring COVID-19 to the public’s attention, has now become nearly ubiquitous.

What is beautiful? How do we learn to make beautiful things?

While there is no one formula and our tastes and preferences are largely based on what surrounds us, there are some tried and tested ways to learn how to make beautiful things.

One of these is to look at and consider examples of form that has been shaped with careful, thoughtful intent.

The visible shape or configuration of something.
A particular way in which a thing exists or appears; a manifestation.

You can do that by looking at lots of different examples of painting, architecture, sculpture, photography, ceramics…

The following is my 7 minute acceptance speech for the Design Educator of the Year Award, presented by the Registered Graphic Designers (of Canada) at the Design Thinkers 2019 Conference.

I have spent the last twenty years studying design. After three degrees, 16 plus years as a design professor, over a decade as a design consultant and design researcher, I’ve come to the following conclusion.

Designed things hold these three characteristics:

First, every designed object is a position, making every design decision a political act.

Second, design is significant — designed objects are far from frivolous because they contribute to…

At least five accreditation levels exist for design. A certificate is a non degree-granting program of study, lasting from a few months to a year. An associate degree is a two-year degree at a college or university, while a Bachelor’s Degree extends design study to four years and can result in a BA, BFA, or a BDes degree. There are also Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (MFA), and Master of Design (MDes) degrees. For the MA, degree requirements include completion of a research or theoretical study (and lead to teaching at a K-12 level)…

We’ve developed a series of questionnaires for new projects (often new clients) to help establish a foundation of understanding — of them, their business, venture, company, or project. Answers to these questions are meant to help us figure out what the client needs and expects from a finished design.

Below I share with you the first of our questionnaires, specifically for logo design.

section 1.0 YOUR BUSINESS

  1. What is the name of your business?

2. Describe in one sentence your business/service. (Difficult but vital!)

3. If you are not a new business start-up — what are the reasons you want a new logo?


but it’s still theft.

I’ve been a graphic designer for almost 20 years and, for the last 15, I’ve been a design teacher. While doing my first design degree, part of my classroom experience was to work—in competition with my classmates—on client projects. It was typical for all of us to pitch a completed project, with one selected by the client for execution. Sometimes the “winner” was given a small stipend (my highest reward was $150 for an identity system, logo, and brochure collection). Most of these clients were cash-strapped not-for-profits, though one of the competitions had us paint a ceiling panel for a…

I’ve spent the last 10 years asking myself if a doctoral degree is worth the effort. There was a brief period — when I finally got my parchment — that the soul-crushing doubt subsided. It was delicate joy of “Not That Kind of Doctor” shirts and updated business cards — mass produced and temporary.

My PhD studies spanned my mid 30s. I had always wanted one, the way some folks covet a volvo or a home-full of cheruby cheeks. If I got one, I would mean something. There would be a sudden, unquestionable significance to my existence. …

How do you create presentation slides that keep the audience captivated while helping you focus on the key points of your presentation?

While tips on how to create better PowerPoint slides abound, they tend to repeat the same set of vague instructions:

  • cut down your written content to one point per slide
  • create consistency by using the same sans serif fonts and colours throughout
  • use high-quality images
  • size text for viewing at a distance
  • limit the use of colours to ones that create contrast and emphasis

These, while useful, don’t address many of the roadblocks of designing with both text…

A Christmas Story, 1983.

Designers are trained to identify needs and solve problems. To quote Simon, we “[devise a] course of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”. And, when it comes to holiday gift giving, there are many crappy situations that could use better solutions.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Framily (friend / family / chosen family) shows up with a perfectly-wrapped gift in hand. You have nothing.
  2. That hastily-chosen bottle of Merlot isn’t met with a level of joy you had imagined.
  3. Your best friend is allergic to everything but 24k gold, is a vegan / amateur Canada’s Next Top…


A new social media aggregate—Onto—is poised to redefine your view of digital popularity. It automatically aggregates your entire online existence into one place, creating beautiful visual overviews of your social standing. The data comes from every online service where you or your posts have received a rating, including FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, and Tinder.

Our population has now passed the 7.6 billion mark. We are living in a ubiquitously cross-global culture and an often-toxic online environment. …

Milena Radzikowska, PhD

Design wizard. Feminist. Loves Die Hard.

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