Roots of All in the Family Tree

It’s been over eight months since I started at Fathom full-time. I’ve been having a great time working on a lot of interesting client and personal projects—a few are still under wraps, but hopefully they will be released soon. One personal project that was particularly enjoyable was finished in late November. All in the Family Tree came from my obsession with TV reruns and TV show spin-offs from my childhood. I posted about my inspiration on the Fathom blog, but I thought it would be nice to show some of the process that led me to the final result.

Spin-Off Sketch DetailFirst, I found a few sources that outlined a majority of TV spin-off shows of all-time. Totally Useless TV Trivia, Wikipedia, and IMDB. I started plotting out shows by seasons (on-air) and Nielsen ratings.

Spin-Off Sketch DetailNext, I looked at where the spin-off show began and mapped it’s Nielsen ratings on the Y axis. Although this was an interesting exploration I didn’t feel like it did the best job illustrating my idea.

Spin-Off Sketch DetailI realized it was more important to focus on the cast members, and see what characters broke out of the original show to create the spin-off.

Spin-Off Sketch DetailThe TV show All in the Family was particularly interesting because it spun off so may shows, and successful ones at that. Most spin-offs usually tank.

All In The Family logoI started to look at the All in the Family logotype and see if I could imbue some of the character of the nostalgic letterforms into the visualization. I started to create a dot matrix pattern from the logo. I thought I would make each dot one of the characters from the show and then connect it to their spin-off.

Then it hit me. It was right in from of my face. All in the Family, Family Tree? That’s it! All in the Family Tree. Inspired by this new name and the autumn leaves, I started sketching.

All In THe Family Tree finalEach leaf represents one character from the show. Each color group represents the cast within the show. Hovering over the leaves reveals the name of the actor, their title, and if they have a connection to a spin-off show. Some gems like Sally Struthers appear in more than one show. See if you can find the others here Enjoy!

3.0 Next Stop

For two years, I’ve commuted to Grad school from Boston to Providence by rail. The initially redundant trip has become a peaceful, productive and integral part of my creative process. Today I’m headed home, thinking about a conclusion for my thesis. The train tracks whizzing below me are an endless ribbon, a mobius strip, taking people by the thousands where they need to go. I see the continuation of my design career as an endless ribbon also—countless permutations of my own methodology that I grappled with, explored and unpacked in this thesis. I plan to “look closely,” and absorb the inspiration that is all around me, all around us, using different media as input and output, and blurring boundaries between mediums to create what will become known as 21st century design. The end of this book is just another stop along the way. All Aboard.

The next stop begins (6.11.2012) when I start my new full-time position at Fathom.

Thanks for reading. My entire thesis is outlined on this blog (starting at 0.0 Abstract and ending this post 3.0 Next Stop). Look for new work soon. Cheers, James

the name game

A long list of names I’ve been toying with for my thesis. I think—I mean I know—I like where I’m at, I think…

Current title: 4/15

Please Keep in Sight
A Graphic Design Methodology

Active Passenger
A Graphic Design Methodology

Form Dialogue
A Graphic Design Methodology


An empirical method through the lens of graphic design

Alternative list:
active awareness: everyday graphic design
bit by bit
blink. slice. shutter. capture
design conciseness
designing something out of everything
discovering everyday
every unfound day
extra-ordinary: a closer look at the everyday
fleeting flicker
fleeting glimpse
form. transform. reform
frame by frame
fresh eyes: seeing design for the 1st time everyday
from still to moving and back again
how do you stay aware when life moves by so fast?
in plain sight
integration transformation/translation
making something out of everything
moments between moments
narratives of the everyday
new morning: ordinary through the lens of extraordinary
observation conveyor
obviously ambiguous: graphic design in the everyday
present-mind design: awareness of the everyday
static kinetic design
stillness in motion: graphic design beyond the printed matter
transformation communication: capturing the ephemeral of the everyday
unfound: everyday graphic design
unique ubiquité
visual journal