"TEDxPortland approached Wieden+Kennedy to create a unique and memorable identity for their event, the first of its kind in Portland. W+K Studio designers Sarah Hollowood, Steve Denekas, Ken Berg, along with myself were tasked to art direct and design their entire identity from scratch. Our brief was simple: Crossroads. We decided to use a lenticular-effect as the unifying aesthetic for the identity. It was a simple and effective solution to our brief; it uses the motion of the lenticular to create a visual crossroad. The adaptability and versatility of the aesthetic we developed allowed us to easily translate it into different mediums ranging from print, to interactive and motion design".
Max Bill - Five Decades May 19th - July 30th 2011 Annely Juda Fine Art
Architect, sculptor, painter, typographer, draftsman, curator and professor… a beautiful exhibition spanning five decades of work from the 1930s to the 1980s. Really great to see the works of Max Bill in true scale and colour. Go see it!
Above: Max Bill - Drei gleichgrosse farbteile (three same sized colour parts) 1959 oil on canvas 120 x 120cm (diagonal: 170 x 170cm)
Great talk by Mule Design's very droll Mike Monteiro from the San Francisco / Creative Mornings presentation series. It’s refreshing to watch a whole talk dedicated to the equally as important, yet rarely openly spoken about, side of our business. I’m sure every designer out there can relate to many of the predicaments that Monteiro and his side-kick lawyer, Gabe Levine, discuss and advise as to how best remedy. Though there’s no creative work to indulge in, I found this talk both interesting and entertaining. I’d really like to see more presentations like this focusing on the business side of the design industry.
Seems I’m a bit late to post this but it’s too good not to! For the run up to Christmas 2010 Love Creative got into the festive spirit by sending out and flyposting hundreds of QR code Advent Calendars. It’s a perfect example of digital media working within a traditional medium such as the printed poster campaign. Love avoid the predictable trappings of skeuomorphic digital design with great irony and wit. An effective minimal layout and graphic interpretation of the traditional Advent Calendar that replaces the familiar perforated windows with codes - in this case the hidden treats included video, music, competitions, prizes and tips!
More great stuff from Matt Pyke. I’m not sure how to regard this work besides its beauty.
For Esquire, Pyke created a series of extraordinary “voice sculptures,” each of which answers the burning question: “What does the word esquire look like when you say it out loud?” By recording four individual voices, each representing a different accent, and using a program to map out the acoustical peaks and valleys, Pyke was able to demonstrate how we all have a unique relationship to this magazine, even down to the way we say its name.
Volume 4, from 1977, of Herb Lubalin's typographic magazine U&lc is now available to download for free from Fonts.com. Love these ads for Alpha Comp which feature in two of the four issues that constitute U&lc Volume 4.
More: see my previous posts on U&lc here and here.
The Movie Titles Stills Collection site, unsurprisingly, does exactly what it says on the tin. Despite the uninspiring title, the site is a great online typographic archive of stills from the opening and closing sequences of hundreds of films. The films are nicely organised in chronological order and split up into batches of decades dependent upon the film’s release date.
Unlike some similar sites the archive focuses on how the movie’s title is typographically displayed within the film itself. As the films are displayed in date order it is interesting to see re-occurring typographic treatments, such as extruded letterforms or gradient fills, which were obviously en vogue at that specific time. As with any fashion these styles come and go, replaced by the next popular treatment.
It is also interesting to see typographic inconsistencies in how a film’s title is displayed within the film compared to how it is visualised in it’s marketing and advertising collateral. For example, the Goodfellas title within the film (shown above) uses red all-caps Helvetica Bold. Whereas on all marketing material and much more famously; white title-case Bodoni RRCondensed Black is used. I’ve recently started watching my way through the whole of The Sopranos for a second time and once again, despite the ‘r’ both being represented by a revolver, the typefaces used are very different.
Undoubtedly the Movie Titles Stills Collection is a great inspirational resource, especially when working on motion pieces involving type which I’ve been doing recently. However, given that the whole site is concerned with titles and how they are typographically displayed the site’s name and logo just doesn’t do the content justice.
Volume Three of Herb Lubalin's typographic magazine U&lc, including all four issues from 1976, is now available to download completely for free from Fonts.com. Wish some of these T-shirt designs were still available!
I have nothing but respect for the tactile, time consuming and physical nature of creating a piece of design using letterpress, not to mention the history and foundation that it forms in this industry.
It’s always cringeworthy to see Mac created work that tries to imitate this look and feel. Especially the use of textured letterpress ‘styled’ typefaces which show, when a particular character is used multiple times, completely unrealistic identical imperfections. Just with stencil typefaces; this has always bothered me.
On the other hand though, I think letterpress use can quite often be guilty of ‘style over substance’, with no decent conceptual rationale to why this medium is best suited for a job other than ‘it’s what we do’. This is where I think tradition gets in the way of relevancy and the interesting results of a process where the designer and printer are the same person occur. I also feel there is an assumption that because a piece of work has been created using letterpress that it is of high quality. Yet, I’m often disappointed, imagining the same piece using a standard printing technique and how my opinion of it would inevitably alter.
Fortunately, here comes two interesting pieces of contemporary letterpress news - one piece from England and one from Scotland.
Firstly, from the New North Press in Shoreditch, east London comes news of Reverting to Type; ‘an exhibition of contemporary letterpress practitioners, showcasing how a centuries-old craft is being reinvented for modern day usage’. The show has contributions from a global list of designers and opens on the 10th December. Not sure about the enthusiastic abundance of typefaces in the show’s flyer above or if it successfully communicates ‘contemporary letterpress’ but am looking forward to seeing the array of work on display nonetheless.
Secondly, comes Impressive Print; a self-promotional piece from Glasgow Press which I received through the post last week. Designed in collaboration with local designer Kerr Vernon, the old school card cassette box contains 6 cards, each graphically representing a different tune. The 6 cards also show off different printing techniques which Glasgow Press offer on a selection of GF Smith's Colorplan stock.
Impressive Print is limited in edition so get in touch with Glasgow Press soon to guarantee your free copy. See more images at Kerr Vernon's site.
Around this time last year I was working in Manhattan for a couple of months in the lead up to Christmas and fortunately the studio was a short walk up the Bowery from the new Gallery at The Cooper Union college. The show that was on at the time was Lubalin Now, which presented a very comprehensive retrospective look at Herb Lubalin's work thanks to the Lubalin Center Archive at The Cooper Union. Accompanying Lubalin’s pieces was a well curated and largely typographic collection of work by some of today’s leading practitioners, who had quite apparently been inspired by Lubalin’s legacy and approach to design. Lubalin Now is, without a doubt, the most inspiring and enjoyable graphic design show that I have been to.
I’ve found Lubalin’s work inspiring since I first discovered it but seeing his thought process and sketches at Lubalin Now makes me look at his work in quite a different way. I can especially appreciate now how conceptually strong and incredibly crafted and refined the majority of his work is.
This year I’ve started collecting Avant Garde magazine which was one of Lubalin’s many collaborations with publisher Ralph Ginzburg. Lubalin was the art director and the magazine provided a platform for his playful typographic experiments to be freely expressed. He once said of his envious position:
"Right now, I have what every designer wants and few have the good fortune to achieve. I’m my own client. Nobody tells me what to do."
Only 14 issues of Avant Garde were released, running from 1968 to 1971, and so far I’ve managed to track down all but the first five.
So as you can imagine; I was very excited to discover this week that U&lc Magazine (Upper & lowercase), another publishing venture by Lubalin this time focusing on typography, is to be gradually digitally re-released in it’s entirety by fonts.com. Every month from October 2010, starting right from the very first issue, they will be providing links to freely download one volume of U&lc (which works out as a year’s worth of the magazine). The pages above can be found in the first volume here. And November’s batch of downloads can be found here.
Now, having scanned 9,000 pages of the 26 years of U&lc, I wonder if the generous people at fonts.com fancy doing the same with Avant Garde?
Click here to view images from the Lubalin Center Archive by Justin Thomas Kay
Following on nicely from my second from last post are these Terror Danjah E.P sleeve designs which nicely compliment the album artwork that references David Pelham's 1974 book jacket designs for J.G. Ballard. The album ‘Undeniable' is now on Spotify so check it out here. And if you’re reading shortly after posting there’s a free album launch party, featuring label boss Kode 9, happening tonight at East Village in Shoreditch.
Other exciting Hyperdub records news is that I recently discovered that nearly all of Burial's released material is now up on Spotify to enjoy here (just ignore the first heavy metal album which I’m pretty sure isn’t by the same Burial). Included on Spotify is a new Burial tune called 'Prophecy' which I hadn’t heard before and was released earlier this year on the 'Nu Levels' compilation.
Now what about that unreleased material? I really want to hear a third Burial album.
Regular readers of Something Standard would probably have picked up by now that I am a huge fan of the novelist J.G. Ballard. I’ve recently started reading the only novel of his 18 he wrote which I have yet to read: 'The Wind from Nowhere'. This also happens to be his first novel, written in 1961, which was apparently written in 10 days and then later disowned by Ballard. Because of this, re-prints nowadays are scarce, so to get my hands on a copy I had to purchase the above 1974 edition from eBay.
I really like the artwork by Penguin designer David Pelham to this edition of 'The Wind from Nowhere' and Ballard’s 2 subsequent novels and 1 short story collection. All four books deal with natural-disasters which act as catalysts to bring the protagonists together. The consistent horizon line in these cover designs and the single object’s interaction with this nicely tie the four together as a set. The designs also successfully reference Ballard’s own influences such as surrealist painters Dali and Tanguy, who had created dream-scapes using plains which formed the basis of their scenes and the surface where additional elements were formed.
I recently discovered the above cover design to a 12” by dubstep producer Terror Danjah, which clearly references Pelham’s 1974 book jacket designs. It seems appropriate that a mostly sub-urban musical genre often described as being 'Ballardian' should reference the work of a man who also existed in and frequently wrote about this environment. Especially so if you look at the music of Burial, who I am also a big fan of, and the fact that he is on the same label (Hyperdub) as Terror Danjah.
I’ve yet to hear the music which this artwork packages but there’s no doubt that the irony that Ballard, who had little interest and time for music, will continue to be a big influence for many musicians, just as he was for the likes of Joy Division's Ian Curtis and many others.
P.S. Does anybody know who created the Terror Danjah cover design?
“There are few pieces that represent the typographic and design spirit that illuminated that moment of history, and certainly none on a scale as ambitious” Milton Glaser
Go to this show but don’t make the massive assumption, as I did, that you’re going to finally see in person Lou Dorfsman's original 'Gastrotypographicalassemblage' (I was wondering how they were going to fit it in the small Kemistry Gallery). Instead, on display is a half-size photograph of the typographic masterpiece which has been developed from a shot taken the day it was unveiled at CBS in 1968. I was disappointed not to see the original, though it was still great to see in detail the typographic mastery of Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase.
However, I’m sure that experiencing the piece in the flesh is completely different; especially witnessing how the light and shadows fall over the three-dimensional white-on-white typography. You’re given a small taster of what this would have looked like by a reproduction of the 'Eat, Drink and Be Merry' portion of 'Gastrotypographicalassemblage'. And as the current season of Mad Men progresses it would have been great to have seen a design relic from the same era.
The show also features print work, utilising beautiful layouts and compositions, by Lou Dorfsman which were created during his 40 years as Creative Director at CBS.
Don’t sleep on this.
Lou Dorfsman in 1982, standing before the 'Gastrotypographicalassemblage' that he created for the CBS cafeteria.
During early August of 2008 I was lucky enough to spend an intensive week studying under legendary designer Milton Glaser as part of the annual summer workshop he does at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
One morning Glaser came into the studio and said that the night before he had gone for dinner with the equally as legendary Massimo Vignelli. I can’t help but be amused by the thought of these two suave and successful design pensioners wining and dining in uptown Manhattan. Apparently the waitress at the restaurant had asked both Glaser and Vignelli what it was they did. Glaser said to us that after careful consideration Vignelli had replied: "we fight vulgarity". I’m not sure why this resonated with me but I remember at the time thinking about this a lot.
I hadn’t contemplated this statement for awhile until I was reminded of it when Vignelli reiterated it in this great short film on his life, his work and the principles which guide both of these.
Perhaps the reason Vignelli’s words resonated with me so much is because, at its most simplest form of explanation, this is what I’m likely to spend my working life doing. The quote has even more weight when it is Vignelli declaring them; he and Glaser have spent most of their lives on this crusade.
Reassuringly, there is no formulaic method of achieving this endeavour; Vignelli and Glaser, despite being from the same generation and similar backgrounds, are very different designers. They both fight the same fight but executionally their work is almost complete opposites: Vignelli’s output is often minimal, clean and geometric whereas Glaser’s is often loose and expressive. Vignelli is an ambassador of modernity whereas, as I learnt on the course, Glaser despises it.
I also learnt on the course that Glaser has never touched a computer and has no intention of doing so. In stark comparison, and perhaps representative of his modern ideals, Vignelli clearly embraces digital technology as his use of the Apple iPad in this film demonstrates. It’s great to see that Vignelli is clearly an Apple advocate. His New York subway map doesn’t look bad on the iPad either.