When designers and artists pick up self-help articles, many aren’t interested in learning to improve their InDesign and Photoshop skills. They just want to be reassured that their creative angst is normal. They want to know that they are not alone in their procrastination, self-doubt, and fear that their work is derivative and not original. That’s why we got a chuckle out of this comic by ilustrator Grant Snider, who lives in Wichita, Kansas, and is a practicing orthodontist and maker of web comics. His cartoons have appeared in publications across the U.S.
First hearing that masked terrorists gunned down four French cartoonists in Paris yesterday seemed like a bad Monty Python joke. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. The brutal terrorist attack on the offices of the French satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo” left the world shaken. The immediate reaction from editorial cartoonists and illustrators around the world was to express their grief, anger and insights with the most powerful weapon they had– their pen.
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In the realm of classic comic book heroes, there is Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, the Green Lantern …and Tintin the baby-faced boy reporter. A comic strip introduced in 1929 by Belgian cartoonist Herge (Georges Prosper Remi), “The Adventures of Tintin” relates tales of a Belgian teenager with a round head and a dorky quiff hairstyle who is dispatched by a youth newspaper called Le Petit Vingtieme (the Little Twentieth) to file investigative reports from hot spots around the world. Unassuming and good-natured, Tintin gamely goes wherever he is assigned, taking his little fox terrier, Snowy, with him. His travels often put him in the midst of political upheaval in the land of the Soviets, the Belgian Congo, China, Chicago, Latin America and elsewhere, and in trying to get to the bottom of a mystery, he is forced to deal with ruthless special agents, diamond smugglers, Al Capone gangsters and other villains who want to run him over, shoot him, torture him, kidnap him and feed him to crocodiles.Tintin and Snowy deal with each encounter without fear and get themselves out of each jam through quick-thinking action and sometimes through sheer dumb luck. What has kept Tintin so beloved over the decades is that he isn’t presented as an egotistical super human like Spiderman and Wonder Woman, but as an average young man who doesn’t seek out danger but doesn’t run from it either. In Brussels, Tintin and Snowy are honored with a life-size bronze statue, and they are even commemorated on a euro coin, which is legal tender in Belgium. An unlikely action hero, Tintin is probably the most admired fictional Belgian in recent history.
Lufthansa Airlines came up with a fun way to get consumers to pay really close attention to their online “Passengers on Tour” promotional campaign. It turned each advertisement into a “Where’s Waldo” – like game, inviting viewers to find the Lufthansa tourist(s) in each picture for the chance to be entered into a raffle for daily and grand prizes. Lufthansa’s Munich-based online marketing agency, Plan Net, commissioned 14 illustrators from around the world to capture the attractions and excitement of 14 specific destinations that the airline serves. With so much to see and so much going on, each picture begs to be explored from edge to edge. The campaign took its inspiration from German “wimmelbilder” (hidden object) books, children’s picture books teeming with details, people, animals, and things. Each image features dozens of vignettes of everyday scenes that are connected by the shared environment. The Lufthansa ads took the meaning of hidden objects literally by inviting viewers to click on the Lufthansa tourist in the picture. Choose right and you’re in the daily raffle. The more often you play, the greater your chances in the grand raffle – incentive to keep coming back to look at all 14 ads.
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When Adobe Illustrator was being released back in 1987, skeptics abounded and the designers who would most benefit from the vector graphic software were most leery that it would destroy the profession. Adobe co-founder John Warnock remembers, “Everybody said, ‘You’re going to ruin good design because now anybody can do it.’” But Warnock believed differently, “The cream rises to the top. The creativity is in the designer. The creativity is in the person who uses the tools.” This brief documentary by Terry Hemphill and produced and directed by Ami Capen looks at how Adobe Illustrator transformed the world of design, so much so that younger designers today can’t fathom what it was like to work with leaky Rapidograph pens, rubdown text and other labor-intensive tools. That’s history recounted by aging designers who want to describe the hardship they endured and how lucky today’s generation is to live in the age of digital graphics.
If cats were 13th century cartographers, this is probably how they would map out their known world. Or so it is suggested in this series of print ads for Whiskas pet food, created by AMV BBDO in the UK and illustrator Dave Hopkins. The vintage-style maps were drawn from a cat’s perspective, with feline significant names given to landmarks in the Living Room Plain, the Garden Outback and The Kitchen Valley. Ottoman Overlook, Settee Ridge and Magazine Mound are key features called out in the living room. Toaster Volcano, Sore Paw Crossing stove zone, and Shelf Highlands are marked in the kitchen, and in the garden, the area beyond the Great Wall is labeled “Here There Be Monsters” with two unfriendly dogs stationed nearby. The compost heap is named Pew Gardens. The sepia-toned maps are a delight to study, and they are presented with confidence that viewers are sophisticated enough to know the Whiskas brand and a fair amount about typical cat behavior. The only real branding in the ads is the Whiskas name in its familiar logotype set in a shield that vaguely looks like a silhouette of a cat’s head. The signature purple color of Whiskas packaging is completely absent.
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To promote the seventh and final season of the “Mad Men” series, AMC asked the acclaimed Milton Glaser to design a poster that encapsulated the late 1960s. Set in a New York advertising agency, the popular TV drama spans the decade of the Sixties, beginning with the Eisenhower-Kennedy years when women wore bouffant hairdos and sweater sets with pearls and men wore grey flannel suits and hats, all the way through to the youth-obsessed counterculture era of mind-altering drugs, mini-skirts, bell-
Without a strong concept, illustration is just glorified doodling. The same can be said of design as well. Those entering these professions need to exhibit more than technical skill; they need to engage their minds and imaginations to get at the crux of the story they want to tell.
I was reminded of this while watching Craig Frazier’s video. A prolifically talented illustrator who still sketches thumbnails with pen and ink and cuts his final image out of rubylith film, Craig explains. “If there is anything magical about making illustration, it happens at the sketch stage. That’s when the idea comes out of the pen. The DNA of the illustration exists right in the sketch. If it is not there, it is not going to show up later on.”
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Show Us Your Type is a design project created by Neue, a thrice-yearly online magazine that focuses on two things that the Neue founders say they “adore” – typography and cities. Each issue is about a different capital city, and designers are invited to submit their interpretation of the chosen city through posters that are primarily typographic. It is interesting to note what each artist sees as iconic of the culture. To look at a broader selection, go to showusyourtype.com.
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Sometime during World War II, graffiti of a man with a long nose peering over a wall and the message “Kilroy was here” began popping up in the most unlikely and often dangerous places. It was boldly hand drawn on rocks and trees on the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific, painted on the side of warplanes, on U.S. troopships, Army jeeps and bombed out buildings. The little Kilroy man became the logo of American GIs, and a way to taunt the enemy that there was no safe place to hide. The more remote and inaccessible the location, the more likely a GI would paint the graffiti to announce they had been there first.
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Explaining its views on coffee, illy argues “If coffee is experienced with all five senses, the very objects that hold coffee should please the eye.” Given that brand philosophy, the Trieste, Italy-based coffee company sought to elevate the humble coffee cup “to meld the sensory pleasures of coffee and art.” In 1992, it commissioned renowned architect Matteo Thun to design what is now the iconic illy espresso cup. From there, illy asked some of the world’s foremost artists to use the white ceramic surface as a canvas for their original art. The illy Art Collection was born. Over the past two decades, some 70 artists, including such contemporary masters as Robert Rauschenberg, Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel, have contributed to the collection. The cups and saucers in the illy Collection can themselves be appreciated as works of art worthy of display in galleries and exhibitions.
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Wine packaging is steeped in tradition and sometimes unfounded biases, and connoisseurs are quick to form opinions about the quality of wine inside by the bottle’s shape, color and design. The cork versus screw cap debate, for instance, has been going on for well over a decade. So, it will be interesting to note the wine-drinking market’s response to Paperboy, packaged in a bottle made entirely from compressed recycled paper. UK packaging producer GreenBottle teamed with California wine producer Truett-Hurst to unveil the world’s first paper wine bottle. It is being sold in Safeway supermarkets on the West Coast now, with plans to offer it across the U.S. soon. London/NY-based agency Stranger & Stranger designed the Paperboy label graphics, which were printed with natural inks.
GreenBottle reports that the paper bottle, with a liquid-tight insulated plastic bladder inside, has a carbon footprint that is one third of an equivalent glass bottle. The bottle is feather-light, weighing about an ounce when empty, thus reducing shipping, handling and energy consumption costs. Despite its lightweight, Paperboy bottles are said to be rigid and strong, and ice bucket safe for three hours. Sounds good. Now let’s see if wine snobs can get past the fact that they’re drinking a brand sold in a paper bottle.
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Corona Canada is going all out to celebrate the Day of the Dead (Dias de los Muertos), an annual Mexican holiday (November 1 and 2) commemorating the lives of loved ones who have passed away. It has just issued special limited edition designs for its tall-boy cans, further extending its “Live Mas Fina” (Live the good life) campaign launched in March. Toronto-based design agency, Zulu Alpha Kilo, created the concept and design for the marketing promotion, which features artwork inspired by Day of the Dead sugar skull candy treats. Illustrated by Jenny Luong, the decorative skull artwork integrates a line of text that urges people to live life to the fullest.
The Canadian Day of the Dead campaign encompasses more than special packaging. Zulu is promoting the Day of the Dead design in out-of-home and print ads, magazine inserts and on social media. In addition to giving out tear-away posters at select locations across Canada, Corona is staging a social media contest that offers fans the chance to win a numbered, limited edition silkscreened print of the sugar skull posters. The Day of the Dead Corona cans are available in stores across Canada for one month only.
Picking the most recognizable icon to represent a city can be daunting, especially for a multi-faceted place like San Francisco. There are so many famous landmarks, cutting-edge industries, and innovative happenings to choose from, that settling on only one symbol doesn’t do justice to the vibrance and diversity of the Bay Area. So, San Francisco-based designers Primo Angeli and Stapley-Hildebrand chose not to choose. Instead, they packed as many icons as they could into a mosaic to create a new brand identity for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. The “C” logo is meant to denote the Chamber, the city and the community. To reflect the Chamber’s key mission, they added the tagline “Our City, Your Business.”
A wandering elephant has been the brand mascot for UK-based Williamson Tea since the company began tea farming in Assam, India, in 1869. India, then still part of the British Empire, used trained elephants as farm animals, much like the West used horses and mules. Until the advent of farming machinery, Williamson too relied on elephants. When the family-owned business moved its tea farming operation from India to Kenya, it kept its elephant logo, but changed its profile from an Asian elephant to an African elephant, which has bigger ears and a concave humped back.
To this day, the wandering elephant remains an important emblem in Williamson’s brand identity program, reminding consumers of the tea grower’s exotic history. Springetts Brand Design in London built on this tradition by featuring ornately decorated elephants on luxury-edition “tin” caddies. Each tin is color-coded to reflect the type of tea inside. More than just an eye-catching marketing ploy, the elephant tin containers are highly collectible, and are themselves charming works of art.
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Every year the Indianapolis International Film Festival invites local designers and illustrators to create a poster for select movies, which it uses as a build-up to the festival. The posters are then exhibited at the Indy Film Festival and sold as limited edition prints. Lars Lawson served as designer and illustrator for this “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” poster, along with contributing artist Monty Sheldon and Timber Design. Not only did Lawson capture the character’s strange split personality, he managed to draw the typography so that it reads “Dr. Jekyll” from one direction and “Mr. Hyde” when turned upside down.