Beautifully Briefed 24.6: Summer of Win (Mostly)

In this installment of Beautifully Briefed, let’s take a look at some great posters, great print items, and great photography. Plus, an update from Adobe’s continued campaign to lose friends and attract government attention. Fun stuff!


Back in September, I mentioned Archinect’s Get Lectured poster series. They’re back with the Spring 2024 winners, including these two faves:

ELAC lecture poster design by Tashfiah Ahmed.
Lecture poster from the University of British Columbia; designer not listed.

Great examples of design in a often difficult category. See the rest.

Architecture Photographs by Hélène Binet

While we’re discussing architecture, let’s talk about a Dezeen post that caught my eye: photographer Hélène Binet has a new book out, adding to her long career capturing the old-school way — using film.

“A Sentimental Topography by Dimitris Pikionis, landscaping of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece.”

This series captures shadows and light with exceptional talent, including the above, where she’s praised for “captur[ing] in a single image the tactile and textured presence of tectonic form, both in built and natural environments.”

“Staircases in Sperlonga, Latina, Italy.”

I love the softer shades of gray than shown in the previous image, and both this and the image below demonstrate a deep understanding of architectural expression.

“Kolumba Museum, Cologne, Germany, by Peter Zumthor.”

Read the post from Dezeen, see more examples of outstanding work on her website, or buy the book with 170 photographs, essays, and more.

2024 Audubon Photography Winners

This is Colossal posted about this a day before my Audubon magazine showed up with these prominently featured, and they’re all winners.

Wild Turkey, Female Bird Prize Winner, by Travis Potter.

Bird photography is a difficult skill requiring patience, perseverance, and specialized gear; those who excel at it deserve recognition. Plus, there’s this:

Audubon’s climate science report Survival by Degrees reveals that two-thirds of North American birds are threatened by extinction from climate change, including species featured in this year’s Audubon Photography Awards like the Blackburnian Warbler, California Quail, and Sedge Wren.

Forster’s Tern, Professional Honorable Mention, by Kevin Lohman.

Check out the Colossal post, or see the full story at the Audubon website.

Special Bonus #1: Kottke points us towards the Siena 2024 Drone Photography Awards. “Look! Up in the sky! It’s … another contest!” Good stuff nonetheless:

“Jiashao Bridge” by Sheng Jiang, China.
PRINT 2024 Awards

The annual PRINT awards are out, featuring — natch — great items in print, including items like the Smithsonian’s annual report and a Naked Trails brochure. Here are a couple of items from the book design category:

Jacket design by Robin Bilardello.

Author sketch and lettering by the author. Also, let’s get the . . . :

Cover design by Milan Bozic, with illustration and typography by Lauren Tamaki.


Special Bonus #2: Hoefler & Co. brings us Typographic Doubletakes: “While good typefaces have prodigious families of carefully related styles, some of the best typography builds unexpected relationships between unrelated fonts.”

Left: Chronicle Hairline + Landmark. Right: Vitesse + Gotham.

Their blog refreshes as you scroll in more ways than one — enjoy.

Left: Mercury Text + Ideal Sans SSm. Right: Whitney + Operator and Operator Mono.

Special Bonus #3: Kottke points us to a LitHub post arguing for adding full credit pages to books acknowledging everyone who worked on them. “How lovely it is to be seen and appreciated.”

Adobe “Too Easy to Hate,” Say Users, Employees

Adobe continues to score big with the public — in the best Boeing style, a formerly-great company has put profits before users and employees. While successful from the shareholders’ point of view (record profits, again), some are . . . upset. PetaPixel:

Just over a month ago, an Adobe exec called AI the “new digital camera.” Simultaneously, an Adobe marketing campaign chucked photographers under the bus, and not for the first time, which caught the attention of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). At the very top of Adobe, there is a concerning and frustrating lack of understanding about art and the people who make it.

Even “exasperated employees implored leadership to not let it be the “evil” company customers think it is;” while that might be a stretch — “ignorant greed” is a better description — either is not a winning look.

The latest was a terms-of-service update that many saw as a rights grab, allowing the company to use users’ work to train its AI services. While those have been amended, the seemingly clear language — “We’ve never trained generative AI on customer content, taken ownership of a customer’s work, or allowed access to customer content beyond legal requirements” — comes from a company that has lost the trust of users, making those words just that — words. Time will tell if they are truth.

But there’s more: Adobe’s just been sued by the FTC (via PetaPixel, Pixel Envy) for hidden fees and difficult cancellations:

“For years, Adobe has harmed consumers by enrolling them in its default, most lucrative subscription plan without clearly disclosing important plan terms,” the lawsuit alleges. “Adobe fails to adequately disclose to consumers that by signing up for the ‘Annual, Paid Monthly’ subscription plan, they are agreeing to a yearlong commitment and a hefty early termination fee that can amount to hundreds of dollars. Adobe clearly discloses the early termination fee only when subscribers attempt to cancel, turning the stealth early termination fee into a powerful retention too that [redacted] by trapping consumers in subscriptions they no longer want.”

I’m actually glad for this, as I wasn’t aware that my $60+ monthly fee is a payment on an annual plan. (Ug.) Not too big an issue — I actually feel like there’s decent value in the plan and will continue to subscribe for the foreseeable future.

But I’d also be lying if I said I’m completely satisfied with our business arrangement: alternatives are few and far between. While Adobe does not have a monopoly legally or technically, in the publishing industry at least, they are, for all intents and purposes, the only game in town. It would be nice if they would at least demonstrate a modicum of respect for their users.