Mencken on the Irish identity

American writer H. L. Mencken, while describing George Bernard Shaw as “an orthodox Scotch Presbyterian of the most cock-sure and bilious sort”, had this to offer on the Irish:

The true Irishman is a romantic. He senses life as a mystery, a thing of wonder, an experience of passion and beauty. In politics he is not logical, but emotional. In religion his interest centers, not in the commandments, but in the sacraments.1

This might help to explain the Irish fascination with being seen to do things, rather than doing them. We shall observe the rituals of customer service, for instance, but not the commandments.

  1. From ‘The Ulster Polonius’ in ‘Prejudices: First Series’ by H. L. Mencken 

Watercolour map of Galway

With apologies to water-colourists: this is a useful and interesting tool, from dataviz specialists Stamen Design, which can create images from maps in a variety of styles.

Digitally generated watercolour map of Galway using Stamen Designs map to image tool

A call to designers

From Ben Pieratt, of svpply:

Your personal logo is bullshit
Your employer is bullshit
Your studio is bullshit

I remember reading that post by Ben Pieratt. He was setting up at the time. I thought he made a lot of sense, and wished him well.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that svpply was acquired by eBay. His post makes even more sense now.

The Amish don’t wear chinos

Because they’re Amish. They have a well-defined look. Instantly recognisable. You know this. You just know this.

So why is it when you think about your website, or a new brochure, or putting up a new sign, you want to “jazz it up”? You want to buy it chinos. Or a new hat.

Don’t do that. Know the rules of your identity, and stick to them. You will become instantly recognisable.

This will not happen overnight. But it will never happen if you treat everything you publish as a chance to try on a new look.


Religion, sport, transport and education have their own signs and symbols, rules and uniforms. So do you. CONTINUE >

Early morning in Oranmore, County Galway.

Down with graphic foofaraw

I may have a new favourite word:

Although it’s laid out like a print magazine – but without all that graphic foofaraw – it carries none of the legacy costs of a print publication.

Philip Elmer-Dewitt writing for Fortune about Marco Arment’s new venture, The Magazine.

Identity design detail

Detail of a graphic identity I’m currently working on for an engineering consultancy.

Detail of an identity design by Larry Hynes.


This seemed like a suitable, if bombastic, image with which to launch this new site. CONTINUE >

Sunrise over the Maamturk mountains, Connemara.