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Michael Lester, Behance

The World's Smallest Portfolio Isn't the Only Cool Thing This Designer Has Done

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Michael Lester, Behance

Sometimes, simple is better, and the buzz surrounding Michael Lester's minimalistic—and very tiny—portfolio is a testament to just that. In response to a design brief asking enrollees of jelly London's 2015 D&AD New Blood Festival event to create an innovative way to sell themselves to prospective clients, Lester, a London-based graphic designer, made “The World’s Smallest Portfolio.”

The portfolio is about the size of an average postage stamp—just 24 millimeters wide by 19 millimeters tall—and features old, new, and in-progress pieces. But rather than shrinking down his work to fit the tiny dimensions, he distilled each piece into a single image and corresponding sentence to demonstrate his skills as "an ideas-driven visual communicator." Lester's portfolio—which won jelly London's Making Your Mark brief submission contest—can be seen in part on his Behance page.

In an interview for jelly London's blog, Lester explained his inspiration, saying that he wanted to see how small he could get his portfolio while still demonstrating his style and without losing each piece's primary message.

Even from this tiny portfolio, it’s obvious that Lester has a defined aesthetic. Each image—regardless of the project—looks like it could belong to a cohesive collection. “I think one thing that is always present is a slight childish quality," Lester tells mental_floss in an email. "I drew from a very young age and have always been obsessed with childlike creativity.”

This wasn't Lester's only 2015 D&AD success. Lester won a Graphite Pencil for D&AD’s New Blood Awards in recognition for his submission to the Envision Yourself in 10 Years Time brief from WeTransfer. His project, "Hire (The Future) Me," “invited people to hire me for free, but for 10 years’ time and for skills that I’ve yet developed,” Lester writes. So he built an interactive website where clients can book him for the future, and then “receive a hand signed I.O.U ticket” to hold him accountable.

In the technology world, so much can happen in 10 years. In 2005, YouTube was launched, Microsoft introduced the Xbox360, and people still used the iPod shuffle. So what will happen to graphic design by 2025? “I think right now we are seeing a range of ways to make work. At one end there’s the cutting edge technology driving forward,” Lester explains. “But there’s a drive for tactile things too. I think in 10 years' time, we will know how to bring these two ends of the spectrum together more naturally."

But even as technology changes, good graphic design—and especially advertising—will still require effective storytelling. And Lester’s prepared to give the future all he’s got. 

[h/t Ad Week]

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iStock
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Food
The Surprising Reason Why Wendy's Serves Fast Food's Only Baked Potato
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iStock

For an industry that prides itself on convenience and indulgence, a fiber-rich pseudo-vegetable that’s hard to eat on the go and isn’t deep-fried seems like a curious addition to a fast food menu. Yet Wendy’s has been selling baked potatoes for nearly three decades—11-and-a-half ounces of pure, unpeeled spud, drowned in your choice of toppings.

According to Thrillist writer Wil Fulton, who spoke with Wendy’s vice president of culinary innovation Lori Estrada, the chain first got turned on to the foil-wrapped food in the 1980s, when nutrition experts were (erroneously) touting low-fat diets for weight loss. Eager to embrace the trend, Wendy's viewed a plain potato as a popular alternative to sliced, oil-slicked fries.

The hysteria over fat may have disappeared, but the collective consumer appetite for the potato did not. Estrada says she believes many of them consider the 270-to-480 calorie (depending on toppings) carb dump a meal unto itself, and that some enjoy piling on cheese, bacon, and other burger trimmings for a tasty and inexpensive dinner.

So why don’t you see baked potatoes at other franchises? Estrada speculates that the logistical issues are a turnoff. The potatoes are cooked from a raw state in convection ovens, which could necessitate new equipment and ample prep time. With fries still the king of sides, franchisees may not think it’s worth the hassle.

Wendy’s is undoubtedly happy to have the market to themselves: The chain sells 1 million tubers a week.

[h/t Thrillist]

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LaCroix
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Food
The Secret Ingredient That Makes LaCroix Water So Irresistible
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LaCroix

The distinctive Technicolor cans of LaCroix sparkling water are an increasingly popular sight in stores and on kitchen tables around the country. (If you're old enough to remember the Snapple phenomenon of the 1990s, this is like that—just bubbly.) But as The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, few of the beverage's loyal fans have any idea what it is they're drinking.

LaCroix comes in a variety of flavors, from tangerine to coconut. The can label, however, is cryptic, listing "natural flavors" as part of the ingredients. Their website discloses only that "natural essence oils" are involved, which sounds like LaCroix should be applied to your hair and then rinsed off.

A look at the nutritional information for LaCroix water
LaCroix

As it turns out, that's not too far off. According to The Wall Street Journal, these "essences" are naturally produced chemicals that are manufactured by heating up fruit or vegetable remnants until they make a vapor, then condensing them into a clear concentrate. They're used in a variety of consumer products, from shampoos to ice pops.

LaCroix was unwilling to confirm the Journal's claim, protecting their manufacturing process in a manner similar to Coca-Cola's famously secretive treatment of their recipe. They do state that no sugars are added, but that may not be enough to protect your teeth: Carbonated water and citric acids can combine to create a lower pH, which has a detrimental effect on tooth enamel. Like most everything that tastes good, these flavored waters are best enjoyed in moderation.

[h/t The Wall Street Journal]

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