Illustration

The Good and Bad Side of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

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.

Illustration

What Are You Looking At?

Leo Burnett ad agency made clever use of negative space to communicate Fiat’s Don’t Text and Drive message. Those who focus on the large alphabet letters often miss the silhouetted image in the negative black space. It’s a matter of perspective and where your attention is centered: On the letter “R” or the girl with a balloon? The “F” or the bus? The “N” or the dog? The subjects in the negative space are hiding in plain sight, but you have to be alert to see them.

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Illustration

Comic Book Depiction of Volkswagen Emergency Brake System

Anyone who has read an action comic book knows what a cataclysmic impact looks like. Splat! Pow! Blam! Swoosh! Clouds of dust, explosive rays, stars. Adam&Eve DDB London worked with illustrator John Rogers to demonstrate how Volkswagen’s City Emergency Brake system can avert disaster by using a comic book illustrative style and visual sound effects. It certainly beats the more realistic approach of showing blood and gore, police cars and the message “don’t let this happen to you.”

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Packaging

Branding of Dripp Coffee

The visual identity system for Southern California-based Dripp Coffee Shop is intriguing for what is fixed and what is flexible. Designed by Turner Duckworth San Francisco and London, the Dripp branding system centers around a hand-drawn script logotype which angles upward. The rest of the visual content is structured within a grid of color blocks with minimal flat-graphic images. The flourished style of the letters sets the logo apart from the rest of the visual content and, by contrast, draws attention to itself. The silhouetted objects themselves can be changed to suit the product, season or event, as long as they retain the stylized look and simplified color palette of the brand – as shown in the set of posters below created by Turner Duckworth. This graphic system also accommodates changing needs and uses, including this sleeveless hot paper cup design by Istanbul-based designer Salih Kucukaga.


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Advertising

Advertising Made Complex a la Rube Goldberg

Over the year, Rube Goldberg-type devices have popped up in a diverse array of TV commercials, from a promo for the “Elementary” mystery series, an ad for Beneful dog food, and the 2003 classic “Cog” film for Honda Accord. Unlike commercials that demonstrate or tout the product outright, these get their message across in the most tangential way. There is no story line, no spokesperson pointing out product features, not even a lot of voiceover commentary. But the viewer’s attention is riveted to the commercial and the product it is trying to sell.

Just who was this Rube Goldberg? And how did his crazy inventions inspire 21st century advertising creatives to design TV commercials to market their products so circuitously? Let me introduce you. Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was an engineer-turned-cartoonist whose primary cartoon character was one Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, an inventor of gadgets that accomplished the simplest tasks in the most complicated, elaborate roundabout way. For those unfamiliar with how Goldberg started a chain reaction of copycat inventors, here’s an example. Goldberg’s cartoon above explains Professor Butts and his Self-Operating Napkin, which was activated when a) the soup spoon was raised to the mouth, pulling a string, b) which jerked a ladle, c) tossing up the cracker inside, d) past a parrot, e) causing the parrot to leap for the cracker, f) thereby, tilting the perch, g) which tipped a bowl of seeds into a pail, h) which, due to its added weight, pulled a cord, i) which ignited a cigarette lighter, j) setting off a rocket, k) which caused a sickle l) to cut a string, and m) freeing a pendulum and causing an attached napkin to swing back and forth, wiping the diner’s mouth.

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Illustration

The Iconic Images of John Van Hamersveld

A look at the art movements of the 20th century lists everything from Art Deco, Cubism and Dada to Surrealism, Op Art and Pop Art, but it often skips over the one movement that embodied the youth culture of the mid-century – the psychedelic images of the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps no one influenced that period more than John Van Hamersveld, the southern California surfer-cum-designer whose “Endless Summer” movie poster became emblematic of the sun-drenched surfer culture. Van Hamersveld, who recalls being paid $150 for the poster, took a photograph of the film’s opening scene and converted it into sunset silhouettes by reducing each color to a single tone and giving each shape a single, hard edge. Van Hamersveld went on to design more than 300 record album covers for virtually every major rock star in the ‘60s. For aging baby boomers, Van Hamersveld illustrations are as much a symbol of the times as Beatles tunes, protest marches, acid-trips and love beads. Van Hamersveld’s iconic images are presented in his latest book, “John Van Hamersveld: 50 Years of Graphic Design,” released in June.

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Illustration

Sign Painting: A Vanishing Art Form

Over the past 30 years, we have seen many professions in the graphic arts replaced by technology. Sign painting is one. Sign painting was a trade that existed in every community to adorn storefronts, banners, billboards, street signs, and buildings. The really good signs were one-of-a-kind works of art, produced by a steady hand, discerning eye, and aesthetic sensibility. Hand-painted signs revealed the pride and skill of the craftsmen. Their execution took human judgment and an active collaboration of eye, mind and hand. On a subliminal level, viewers could feel the effort of the maker. Now signs are mostly computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering. Undoubtedly, this is faster, cheaper and more uniform in quality, but like so much of our urban landscape, it lacks the warmth, soul and touch of human hands. “Sign Painters” is a documentary film (and also a book) by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon that celebrates the vanishing art of sign painting. The film is currently being shown in select locations in the U.S. and other parts of the globe. If it comes to your area, do see it.

Publishing

The Art of Book Cover Design

Designing a book cover is an exercise in balance. The image or graphic has to distill the story without giving away the plot. It has to create “shelf presence” to entice shoppers to pick up the book for a closer look. It has to avoid false advertising, but can’t be boring, even if the content is. It should give shoppers a sense of the genre – suspense, sci-fi, romance, self-help, current events – but imply that the author has a unique and fascinating take on the subject. While it is true that “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” it is also true that you can design a cover that makes shoppers want to buy the book. This video from Random House features interviews with book designers from its publishing groups (Random House, Knopf Doubleday and Crown) providing insights into the complex process of creating compelling, eye-catching and meaningful book cover jackets.

Advertising

Oreo Wonderfilled Campaign Tackles Cynicism

When Oreo launched its Pollyannishly optimistic “Wonderfilled” ad campaign recently, it chose to air it on AMC’s darkly cynical “Mad Men. ” Quoted in AdAge, Janda Lukin, director of Oreo at Mondelez International, Inc., says that the show’s adult audience is the demographic Oreo wanted to attract. “Kids already have a sense of wonder in how they see the world, but adults have to be reminded of that. The stories resonate with different people, but overall, it’s an adult campaign.”

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Packaging

Pasta Packaging with Personality

Russian design studio, Fresh Chicken Agency, developed the brand name, Italian Chef Pietro mascot, and packaging for this premium pasta brand. It’s delightfully understated yet memorable. The simple line drawing of Pietro is printed in one color on what looks like unbleached cardboard, which, in this case, suggests naturalness more than low production budget. The pasta product itself is kept the focal point with the die-cut window peek inside. Most other pasta brands are wrapped in clear cellophane so consumers who don’t remember the difference between radiatori and conchiglie, for instance, will know which is which on sight. Pietro Gala’s approach is more integral to the design and less likely to crush the dry pasta inside.

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Illustration

The Backstory Behind “Obsessions”

At age 68 when Kit left his partnership at Pentagram after 23 years to set up his own independent studio, we discussed how it would give him the luxury of doing what he wanted to do simply because he wanted to do it. Since I’m not that far behind him in years, I understood the importance of the question, “if not now, when?” Speaking for myself, when I fantasized about becoming a writer in high school, I didn’t have corporate brochures and power point presentations in mind (not that I’m complaining). Our quasi-serious venture, Hirasuna + Hinrichs Special Projects – or as Kit calls it “Hinrichs + Hirasuna Special Projects” – was intended to set aside a small portion of our time and energy to focus on the topics we found of compelling personal interest, whether it was profitable or not. We promised to take turns choosing the topic, since the things that interest me don’t necessarily interest him, and vice versa. Our first project is “Obsessions,” a series of small perfect-bound books on things that fascinate us, even though others may find that inexplicably odd. Kit’s collection of alphabet postcards, an offshoot of his passion for typography, launches the series. We also agreed that the production value must live up to our high standards – i.e., nothing cheesy. This is why it was printed beautifully by Blanchette Press on Sappi McCoy Silk.

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Packaging

Traditional Folk Art Meets Pop Culture

Here’s a new twist on an old Japanese folk art – painting kokeshi doll faces on matches. The original kokeshi figures, introduced a couple centuries ago, were inexpensive souvenir items that visitors to the onsen (spa) villages of northern Japan would buy to give to friends back home. (Even in California, we used to have a half dozen kokeshi, along with snow globes from New York, native American trinkets from the Grand Canyon, and seashells from Hawaii – don’t know what happened to any of them.) It’s the kind of gift that would merit a T-shirt that read: “Grandma went to the onsen and all she brought me was this wooden kokeshi.” Kokeshi dolls were distinguished by their simple rectangular torso, lacking arms and legs, and their enlarged round wooden heads, minimally painted to indicate eyes, hair and maybe a mouth or nose. (Think “Hello Kitty,” who is also missing a mouth.)

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Motion Graphics

Moleskine Introduces Color

For decades, Moleskine has been renowned for its little black notebook that artists, designers, and writers carry with them everywhere to capture their first inklings of brilliant ideas. Other brands offer notebooks too, but only Moleskine, in iconic black with its external elastic band and ribbon bookmark, signals that you are an authentic and serious creative type. So, Moleskine’s announcement that it is releasing its notebooks and planners in four bright colors, in addition to black, is newsworthy. Insecure creatives may be reluctant to buy a color other than black.

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Posters

Spontaneous Quiz: 85 Years of Oscar Picks

UK-based graphic designer Olly Moss collaborated with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Gallery 1988 to create the official “85 Years of Oscars” poster for the 85th Academy Awards, which will be held February 24th. Asked to incorporate a reference to every single Best Picture winner over the last 85 years, Moss managed to personify the lead character in each of the statuettes. Click on the poster to enlarge the image and see how many Oscar winners you know. If you are like me, some will come easy and others will stump you until you learn the answer, and say “oh, I get it!”

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