Some design feats deserve to be recognized. This “Birds of North America” poster by Pop Chart Lab is such a remarkable accomplishment. The aviary chart features all 740 feathered friends that inhabit North America, from barn owls to bluejays to whooping cranes and California condors. The chart includes both native and introduced birds on the continent, as designated by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It took a team of artists more than 400 hours to draw the birds in intricate detail, organize them by species and arrange them in relative scale. Included on Pop Chart’s poster are some 14 species that are on the endangered list, and that is not counting the 46 million turkeys that will meet their doom this week so we can contentedly consume them on Thanksgiving Day. Above is a picture of a turkey in happier times.
Op-ed columnists write copious essays laying out carefully reasoned arguments to support their point of view; editorial cartoonists sum up their take on current events in one iconic, thought-provoking, and often humorous image. A case in point can be seen in Barry Blitt’s new book, “In One Eye and Out the Other.” A long-time cartoonist and illustrator for The New Yorker, Blitt uses analogy, exaggeration, and irony to make people think about events of the day.
With the exception of The New Yorker’s Victorian dandy, Eustace Tilley, American magazines haven’t had any memorable mascots. The haughty fop, peering at a butterfly through a monocle, debuted on the cover of The New Yorker’s very first issue in 1925. He was drawn by Rea Irvin, the magazine’s first art director. Irvin, who also designed the New Yorker’s distinctive font, based his illustration on an 1834 caricature of the notorious social gadfly, Count Alfred d’Orsay.
The New Yorker’s icon acquired the name, Eustace Tilley, from a series of tongue-in-cheek articles called “The Making of a Magazine: A Tour through the Vast Organization of The New Yorker,” written by Corey Ford in 1925. Ad buys were slim in The New Yorker’s early years (along with subscribers), and Ford’s humorous articles published in 20 installments were used to fill pages that advertisers weren’t buying. Ford named his fictional expert on magazine-making “Tilley” after his maiden aunt and “Eustace” because he thought it sounded good with Tilley. In time, Eustace Tilley and the top-hatted dandy on the cover of premiere issue became identified as one.
Six internationally recognized artists contributed original works for this year’s NatureBridge gala fund-raising auction in San Francisco. A nonprofit educational organization, NatureBridge provides hands-on environmental science experiences to some 30,000 students and teachers annually. Their “classrooms” are six of the most magnificent national parks on earth.
Macondo Chocolate is a single origin chocolate line handmade by Kernow Chocolate Company in the UK. According to Kernow’s website, the flavor of cacao beans, like that of coffee beans and wine grapes, is affected by where the beans are grown, the regional temperature, annual rainfall, and nutrients in the soil. It’s said that chocolate connoisseurs are familiar with the appellations of cacao beans and have their preferences. Hence, Macondo Chocolate set out to appeal to their discerning taste by sourcing its cacao beans from different corners of the world, and processing each batch separately to maintain the distinct and pure flavor of their country of origin.
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When I was a toddler, my grandmother, who spoke mostly Japanese, taught me how to mimic the sounds that dogs, cats and horses make. So imagine my confusion when my kindergarten teacher asked what a dog says, and I quickly raised my hand and said, “Wan, wan.” She shook her head and asked the class, “Does anyone else want to guess?” All of the other 5-year-olds yelled out, “Bow wow” and “woof woof.”
It was then that I realized that every culture has its own impression of how animals sound. As graphic communicators, we should be mindful of this when translating a book into another language. It’s not just words that differ; it’s how sounds are heard too. Manchester, UK- author James Chapman made this point in a charming illustrated book called Soundimals, presenting 19 animals “speaking” 32 different languages.
Trust Cargo is a Latin American freight forwarder that specializes in delivering live cargo such as fresh fish to the world’s top restaurants. In print ads, created by TBWA/Buenos Aires in Argentina and illustrated by Cristian Turdero, Trust Cargo humorously stressed that its freight deliveries could be relied on even in regions of the world that are in political turmoil.
Considering GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “promise” to build a 1,000 mile border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, the ad took Trump’s words literally and re-drew a map of the Americas with a Trump Channel separating the Southern United States from Mexico.
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The making of “Loving Vincent” is truly an act of love. Everything from its Kickstarter crowdfunding to eschewing CGI in favor of painstakingly painting every frame by hand makes this 80-minute film a monumental homage to the life of Vincent Van Gogh and to fine artists everywhere. Polish painter Dorota Kobriela and Oscar-winning British filmmaker Hugh Welchman of Breakthru Films began work on the world’s first feature-length painted animation in 2011, and with an infusion of Kickstarter funding are pushing forward to bring their labor of love to fruition. In an interview with Voice of America, Kobriela says they were inspired to undertake this project after reading Van Gogh’s letter to his brother saying that “we can only speak through our paintings.”
“Loving Vincent” integrates 120 of Van Gogh’s greatest paintings into a storyline pulled together from some 800 letters written by the artist in the latter years of his life. The film’s plot unfolds through “interviews” with characters closest to Van Gogh and through a dramatic reconstruction of events leading up to his sudden and still mysterious death.
Those familiar with San Francisco’s landscape will recognize the iconic landmarks depicted on Fort Point Beer packaging. Those who aren’t will simply appreciate the packaging for its lovely minimalist design and smart, consistent execution. Designed by San Francisco-based Manual, the packaging is illustrated with geometric-line drawings of the undergirding of the Golden Gate Bridge, the rooftops of old Army barracks, the windmill in Golden Gate Park, the Ferry Building clock, the Alcatraz guard tower, and other well-known sites. Like scaffolding, the graphics form an arched frame around the Fort Point brand name, setting it apart.
San Francisco’s fastest-growing craft beer brand, Fort Point Brewery is located in San Francisco’s historic Presidio, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Presidio was originally built as a military outpost in 1776 when California was owned by Spain. It was subsequently occupied by the U.S. Army between 1846 and 1994.
The Fort Point Brewery, founded in 2014 by brothers Tyler and Justin Catalana, resides in an old Army motor pool building near Fort Point, which stands at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Fort was constructed at the entrance to San Francisco Bay just before the Civil War, circa 1854, to keep the California gold fields from falling into rebel hands — just a few historical factoids to reflect on while enjoying a can of Fort Point beer.
Creative Bloq recently ran a wonderful piece on how designers wish they could really set their fees. (This method of calculating billing rates could easily apply to anyone in creative consulting services.) Creative Bloq claims the price calculation is based on a proportional sequence postulated by 13th century Italian mathematician Fibonacci, who took the idea from ancient Indian Sanskrit mathematics. Fibonacci’s Sequence became the basis for the Golden Ratio, a way of describing the ratio between two proportions. You don’t really need to know this; we digress in an attempt to appear more learned than we are and to extend the length of this introduction to make the design look more proportional (ratio of image to text). The Designer’s Golden Rule chart, shown above, proposes setting fees based on the ratio of actual creative work you are allowed to do versus the amount of unproductive client interference. This calculation can also be called the Nuisance Factor, the more meddlesome the client, the higher the fee. Note: We took this chart from Creative Bloq, but redid the graphics because we wanted to show a proportional value-add.
The beauty of Old World craftsmanship is expressed in this Home Run King bat trophy commissioned by Nike. Featuring the exquisite lettering and design of Salt Lake City-based Kevin Cantrell and New York-based Juan Carlos Pagan, the trophy is designed with a typographic treatment that circles the entire circumference of the bat. Richmond, Virginia-based firm, Big Secret, handled production, engineering the artwork to be laser-etched around the bat’s circumference in a seamless finish.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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Designers, in my humble opinion, are a self-congratulatory lot. They constantly hold juried competitions and give themselves awards, produce publications to pat each other on the back, and freely call elder designers “icons” and “legends.” Copywriters, on the other hand, (of whom I count myself among them) never refer to anyone in the profession as a “copywriting legend” or “copywriting icon”. We don’t put out magazines reprinting the best corporate brochure text, direct marketing paragraph, or pithy headline. As a group, copywriters are usually unsung and ignored. That said, there is one designer who genuinely deserves to be called a “legend”: Milton Glaser. He is to be admired for his originality, talent, contributions to art and design, and because he comes across as a sweetie. That makes us happy to present this short video interview of Milton Glaser, put together by the New York Times.
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.