When it comes to looking for the latest crime novel by your favorite best-selling author, fans don’t want the mystery to begin in the bookstore, so publishers sprinkle graphic clues on the jacket cover to lead shoppers to the writers they want. The covers, shown here, are by designer Peter Mendelsund, associate art director at Knopf, for the Jo Nesbo series; design firm Richard, Brock, Miller and Mitchell (RBMM) for the Dick Francis horse-racing murder mysteries, and designer Michael Stirrings for the Sue Grafton alphabet murders. In such cases, the cover design “brands” the book as part of a series, and signals the likely appearance of recurring main characters — e.g., Nesbo’s detective Harry Hole and Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone. Familiarity sells.
Steve Frykholm is rare among in-house graphic designers, who tend not to make a career in one company for fear that they may become stale and repetitive. Frykholm joined Herman Miller in 1970, and has produced an impressive graphic communications portfolio for the celebrated furniture maker over the past 45 years. Back when financial annual reports were the design showpiece for most companies, all eyes were on Herman Miller to see what Frykholm came up with. Inevitably, it was something wonderful, fresh, and engaging. Frykholm established a graphic brand for Herman Miller that didn’t emphasize the repetition or placement of the logo, as much as meeting the company’s reputation for bold, original design. So, it is not that surprising that the silk-screened posters that Frykholm produced for the annual company picnic over the past 20 years have been included in New York’s Museum of Modern Art permanent collection. This brief video was produced by Dress Code, a New York-based production company. Read More »
Columbus, Ohio-based Danielle Evans, who goes by the firm name Marmalade Bleue, pursues a quirky design genre – food typography. She uses food ingredients to create very ephemeral letterforms, such as in a “Food for Thought” video for Target stores.
On her Marmalade Bleue blog, Evans explains how her approach differs from others who have used food ingredients as a writing medium. “Food type had been used sparingly as one-offs in the past, all of which utilized the materials incidentally without applying a typographer’s touch,” she says. “The novelty of food as lettering trumped the presentation and legibility of the forms. I chose to apply my background in illustration, sculpting, and painting to create letterforms with dimension, play of light and edges, and happenstance flourishes with personality.”
Describing her methodology, Evans adds, “Rarely do I use typefaces or fonts to influence my work, instead I rely on the materials to dictate the best course. I’ve chosen a symbiotic relationship with my materials, suggesting rather than forcing their direction. Lettering allows for incidental flourishes and ligatures associated with calligraphy, the true nature of my work.” Intriguing and beautiful. Read More »
More than 3,000 mourners came to the rural Japanese village of Kinokawa last weekend to pay their final respects to Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station, the last stop on the Wakayama Electric Railway line. Tama was elevated from stray cat to stationmaster in 2007, at a time when the regional rail line was $4.7 million in the red, forcing the layoff of all employees at Kishi Station and leaving the stop unmanned. Reluctant to evict the charming calico cat that hung around the station, the railway’s president announced that he was appointing Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station — a position that included free housing in the ticket booth, her own litter box, and an annual salary paid in cat food. For her official duties of meeting and greeting passengers, Tama was outfitted in a tiny custom-made stationmaster cap and cape.
What started out as a playful marketing ploy to raise awareness of the railway’s plight quickly turned into a media sensation with tourists from across Japan and around the world flocking to the village to see Tama at work. Train ridership increased significantly, and Kishi Station itself became a tourist attraction.
The railway’s management capitalized on Tama’s appeal and developed an extensive line of souvenir items bearing a cartoon likeness of Tama, including T-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, and even a full set of dining room furniture featuring carved silhouettes of cats. In 2009, Wakayama Electric Railway rolled out a train car decorated with cartoon images of Tama, and redesigned the exterior architecture of Kishi station to resemble a cat’s face. Read More »
The flag gate, above, was created for the 1876 American Centennial, and is now housed in the American Folk Art Museum in New York.
In honor of America’s Independence Day, also know as the Fourth of July, we have created a brief quiz to test your knowledge of Stars & Stripes history. For those of our readers not based in the U.S., we will handicap you two free answers. Good luck! Happy Fourth.
1. Who designed the American flag?
a. George Washington
b. Betsy Ross
c. Thomas Jefferson
d. Francis Hopkinson
2. The Star Spangled Banner, America’s most famous flag, has how many stars and stripes?
a. 13 stars and 13 stripes
b. 15 stars and 13 Stripes
c. 15 stars and 15 stripes
d. 18 stars and 13 stripes
3. What year was the Stars and Stripes adopted by Congress?
4. Is it illegal to burn the American flag?
c. On occasion
5. On what date are new stars added to the flag?
a. January 1, after a states’ admission to the Union
b. June 14, after a states’ admission to the Union
c. July 4, after a states’ admission to the Union
6. How many stars are on the flag that has flown the longest over the United States?
This crime story has all the makings of a wonderful BBC Masterpiece Theatre episode. The real-life tale of passion for typography and revenge began in 1916 when an elderly gentleman walked onto London’s Hammersmith Bridge after midnight and began tossing tiny metal pieces of the font used exclusively by The Doves Press into the Thames River. This destruction of typographic art was perpetrated by printer/bookbinder, T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, to keep the font out of the hands of his former business partner, Emery Walker. Both leaders in the Arts and Crafts Movement, Cobden-Sanderson and Walker co-owned the renowned Doves Press, revered for creating exquisite fine arts books set in Doves type. In the contentious process of dissolving their business partnership in 1909, the two men fought bitterly over the rights to the Doves font. Rather than see Walker gain ownership, Cobden-Sanderson laid a plan to make sure that the font could never be used again. Over a period of about six months, the then 76-year-old Cobden-Sanderson set off each night under the cloak of darkness with bits of Doves font hidden in packets and pockets and surreptitiously sprinkled about a ton of the metal slugs and matrices onto the Thames. In all, he made about 170 trips from his bindery to the bridge to avoid arousing the suspicion of passersby.
In this short film by Tom Beal for BBC News Magazine, type designer Robert Green picks up the story a century later and recounts his obsession with recreating Doves accurately and his heroic effort to rescue the sunken metal type.
As of this writing at 3:05 p.m., June 24, 2015, there are 25 declared Republican candidates and 14 declared Democratic candidates for the 2016 Presidential election. Of course, the count is still in flux, with about a dozen other wannabes rumored to be exploring entering the race. Shown here are the logos of the declared candidates who have logos (many don’t). Based strictly on their logos and nothing else, which candidate communicates “the right stuff”? Has anyone’s logo changed your opinion of his/her qualifications?
Recently Bloomberg Politics reporter Ali Elkin asked designer Sagi Haviv, a partner in legendary New York design firm, Chermayeff & Geismar @ Haviv, to critique the graphic brands of the then-current slate of Presidential candidates (now outdated). His critique is on the video below.
Disclaimer for U.S. voters: The brand identities of the 2016 Presidential candidate, shown here, do not in any way reflect the preference of any @Issue staff member for a particular candidate or logo. Apology to non-U.S. @issue readers: If you don’t know anything about half of these candidates, don’t feel out of touch. Neither do a lot of Americans. Read More »
By the time that you look at this photograph of a paper bridge, you won’t be able to see it in real life anymore. As is often the case with environmental art, the paper bridge that spanned a mountain stream in the UK’s rural Lake District was meant to be a temporary installation. A sharp contrast to the natural landscape, the poppy red paper bridge was so startling and surreal to see that people found themselves looking anew at their surroundings and consciously thinking about the wondrous view.
Conceived by British environmental artist Steve Messam, the paper bridge is a remarkable feat of art and engineering, made without glue, nails, screws, or structural support out of 22,000 sheets of red paper, provided by one of the UK’s oldest paper manufacturers, James Cropper. The structure itself was designed by Peter Foskett who combined the laws of gravity and the pressure between the sheets of paper to build a form strong enough to bear the weight of human and four-legged hikers. Commissioned by the UK’s Lakes Culture for its Lakes Ignite project, the bridge is one of a series of temporary installations to appear in the Lake District National Park through 2015. The paper bridge remained in place for ten days in May, and was then dismantled to be recycled back into paper. Read More »
TheAtlantic.com has been running a series of charming infographics on topics ranging from hairstyles in the 20th century to the history of weapons over the ages. Created by Jackie Lay, a designer, illustration and art director for The Atlantic Magazine, the brief animated timelines combine flat-graphic illustrations with one inconsequential element in the picture showing subtle movement. A wisp of hair gently moving out of place. A cloud slowly passing across the sky. Steam lazily curling up from a hot cup of coffee. The movement isn’t part of the storyline, but it entices the viewer to pay closer attention. It carries the viewer into the next frame. Without that almost infinitesimal movement to grab the viewer’s interest, the image would be what it actually is: A still illustration. Animation doesn’t always have to be a full-blown Pixar-like extravaganza. Sometimes a little movement makes all the difference between stagnant and intriguing. Read More »
To get the humor in this visual pun by PES, the acclaimed motion graphics artist, it is best if you speak English. Sponsored by Lipton Iced Tea, the video centers around a homophone – meaning a word that sounds the same as another but has an entirely different meaning and spelling. Example: Flower and flour. In this case, PES based his pun around the homophone “mussel,” the shellfish that tastes great grilled and dipped in lemon and melted butter, and “muscle,” the body mass that men flex to flaunt how buff they are. It’s a clever visual pun, but only if the word for “mussel” and “muscle” are phonetically identical in your spoken language — otherwise, you’ll chuckle and wonder what that’s all about.
These typefaces won’t make you as psychoanalytical as Freud, or as brilliant as da Vinci, or as artistic as Cezanne, but they may allow you to channel their creativity while you work.
Harald Geisler, a typographer based in Frankfurt, Germany, raised funds through a Kickstarter campaign to underwrite turning Freud’s handwriting into a digital font. P22 Type Foundry in Buffalo, New York, is also creating digital fonts inspired by the handwriting of famous thinkers. His latest Kickstarter appeal is for developing an Einstein font, as explained in the video here. Read More »
In a marketing campaign created by Y&R, Sao Paolo, Brazil. Ironage, an isotonic sports drink made in Brazil, targeted athletes who constantly strive to exceed their own personal best. In addition to print ads featuring athletes, Y&R promoted the brand strategically in places where customers were most likely to congregate – namely, gyms, parks, and health clubs. There, they introduced vending machines, dubbed “Pulse Machines.” Consistent with the brand’s slogan “Keep Moving,” the machines read the customer’s heart rate with each use. The higher their heart rate, the bigger their discount on a bottle of Ironage. The Pulse Machine challenged the competitive spirit of these athletes and turned them into word-of-mouth promoters of the brand as they compared their pulse readings. Read More »
This ad campaign for The Art of Shaving Barber Spa, by ad agency BBDO New York, presents several key marketing messages in a single image. Caressing hands shape and give loving attention to every type of beard. The brand name itself “The Art of Shaving Barber Spa” implies that its men’s shaving and skin care products and shaving services are high-end and exclusive. Its wares are not cheap disposable razors that you buy by the dozen at Walmart.They are luxury items sought by men who go to aestheticians for a trim and wear subtly scented aftershave. Interestingly, Proctor & Gamble, which owns The Art of Shaving brand, isn’t named anywhere on the ads. The maker of snack foods, detergents, toilet paper, disposable diapers and teen-affordable beauty products sold in supermarkets, P&G knows that its reputation won’t add cachet to this line, but make it seem more ordinary. Read More »
The Moscow Metro is getting a wayfinding facelift, with a new custom font, pictograms, and maps. Created exclusively for the Moscow Department of Transport, the overall program was developed and directed by UK/US-based City ID, with the typeface and pictograms designed by Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams of the London-based studio, A2/SW/HK, with UK designer Margaret Calvert as type and pictogram consultant. The Cyrillic script was designed in collaboration with Ilya Ruderman.
Replacing a hodgepodge of fonts and styles implemented over the decades, the new signage is standardized around a custom font called Moscow Sans, which has letterforms for both the English and Russian Cyrillic alphabets. Accompanying Moscow Sans is a full set of universally recognizable pictograms.
Simple and modern, the new signage brings uniformity and clarity to the wayfinding system. Equally important, the signage doesn’t clash with the amazing interior architecture of stations built in the 1930s by some of the USSR’s leading architects and artists. Referred to as “Stalin’s people’s palaces,” the early subway stations are worthy of being museums, with art that includes bas-reliefs, friezes, bronze and marble statues, stained glass windows and lots of mosaics. The styles of the stations range from Baroque to Classicism to Art Deco. The new signage fits right in. The program is being implemented in all Moscow stations during 2015. Read More »
Finished drinking that Coke? Don’t throw away the empty bottle. Turn it into a pencil sharpener.
Coca-Cola knows that the downside of drinking lots of Coke is the litter that results from trashing the empties. Coke wants consumers to give the bottle a second life, either through recycling or repurposing. To promote this idea, Coke turned to ad agency Ogilvy & Mather China to come up with another use for the bottles. The agency developed a 2nd Lives kit that contains 16 modified screw-on caps that will turn empty bottles into bubble blowers, whistles, paint applicators, squirt guns, pencil sharpeners, baby rattles, hand weights, condiment dispensers, spray bottles, drums, and other functional tools and toys. To start, Coke gave away 40,000 2nd Lives kits to customers in Vietnam. Coke’s 2nd Lives initiative extends the bottle’s usefulness and, hopefully, the bottle will find its 3rd life in a plastics recycling plant. Read More »
Tintin, the adventure-loving boy reporter comic character created by Belgian cartoonist Hergé in 1929, is jetting around the world in style lately. Brussels Airlines has dedicated an entire Airbus A320 to Belgium’s most beloved ambassador. Tintin’s special livery is disguised as Professor Calculus’s famous shark submarine from the “Red Rackham’s Treasure” album, with Tintin and his dog, Snowy, shown flying the aircraft. The plane’s interior continues the cartoon theme with images of Tintin and Captain Haddock on the rear cabin wall.
The choice of Tintin as a promotional mascot is a natural for Brussels Airline. Tintin is renowned throughout the world and very Belgian. The Tintin livery project is collaboration between Brussels Airlines and Moulinsart, owners of the works of Hergé. The Tintin design will be featured for a year.
Explaining its campaign strategy, Brussels Airlines stated, “As a company, our goal is bring people together and to make travelling a pleasure. Tintin is the ideal travel companion to help us do this: Adventurous, ambitious, friendly, and naturally curious.” Read More »