The American Institute of Graphic Arts, better known as AIGA, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. That’s a remarkable milestone when you consider that graphic design didn’t really exist as a profession until the 20th century. Before that, printers and commercial artists handled such tasks. Interestingly, graphic design owes its rise in part to the First World War, which started in 1914 and set off a scramble for army recruitment and war bond posters. This accelerated the production of posters (and demand for graphic artists) as governments sought to rally citizens to support the war effort. The First World War also happened to coincide with the widespread adoption of offset lithographic printing, which enabled mass production of affordable pulp novels, magazines, packaging and other paper-based media.The graphic arts industry was suddenly born. Today there are more than two million graphic artists and designers in the U.S. alone.
The Maribor Theatre Festival is the oldest and most prominent theatre festival in Slovenia. In recent years, it has evolved into an international event with symposia, and foreign guests, producers and performances. The festival has been the scene of exciting arguments, thought-provoking insights, unexpected reversals, and controversy. If the bold graphic identity designed by Nenad Cizl for the 48th Maribor Festival is any indication, attendees can anticipate works of equal originality and drama. Cizl explains that the visual theme for his art is intended “to address the attitude of Slovene politicians toward culture.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
It is hard to say what will happen to the penguin logo when Penguin Books and Random House complete their merger, announced in October, but I can’t imagine that the pudgy little bird won’t survive. Founded in the UK in 1935 to bring well-designed quality paperbacks to the market, Penguin Books made the flightless bird its trademark from the start. The first penguin was drawn by designer Edward Young, with Gill Sans specified for the typeface, and covers showing three bands of color used to organize titles by genre – orange for fiction, dark blue for biographies, etc. Typographer Jan Tschichold modified the logo in 1946 and redesigned some 500 Penguin books and also wrote a four-page design manifesto, “Penguin Composition Rules.” In 2003, Pentagram’s Angus Hyland tweaked the penguin logo some more.
Ireland’s creative community came up with an interesting way to let off steam and help a local charity at the same time. They invited their colleagues to design posters featuring some of the crazy comments and requests their clients have made over the years. Organized by Dublin-based agency, Mark & Paddy, the Sharp Suits project drew the enthusiastic participation of art directors, designers, illustrators and other ad agency types. The “Creative Catharsis” posters were exhibited at The Little Green Café, Bar and Gallery in Dublin and sold for 10 euros a piece, with proceeds benefitting the Temple Street Children’s Hospital of Dublin. We suspect that the project equally benefitted the artists who alleviated their stress by gleefully quoting their clients, and an appreciative audience that identified and empathized with the subject matter, taking heart in the fact that they weren’t the only ones who had to endure such “helpful” critiques of their creative effort.
Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, has founded another company – Public Bikes. To introduce consumers to his new venture, Forbes recruited 27 world-renowned designers and illustrators to create art posters around the concept of “public.” All of these posters are being gathered into a book called “Public Works,” sold as individual posters, and shown in exhibitions slated for San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
Forbes, an avid biker, urban dweller and environmentalist, explains the impetus for his Public Works project was to bring greater attention to the critical issues of public space, access and livability of cities. “In recent decades, our cities have been evolving from manufacturing and industrial centers into cultural hubs,” Forbes says. “The 20th century movement that encouraged people to leave cities for the suburbs has now been reversed. For the first time in our history the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and this trend appears irreversible….People choose cities for what they offer: connections with people, ideas, stimulation, opportunity, creativity, and diversity. Our public spaces should facilitate these connections, not stifle them.… We believe that more of our urban streets and sidewalks should be reclaimed for walking and bicycling, and that our public spaces should be developed for better human interaction and conversation.”
In the UK, CBS Outdoor has been trying to convince advertisers to think outdoors in the city by running an in-house branding campaign on buses, trains and the London Underground. Called “Outdoor by Name, Urban by Nature,” the strategic ad series features animals and birds made up of silhouettes of familiar regional landmarks in the UK. The ad running in London, for example, depicts Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, Wembley Stadium and other urban icons. Citing data from ONS and TGI surveys, CBS Outdoor says that “87% of urban respondents have seen Outdoor advertising in the last week.” This is nearly double the number of city dwellers who are exposed to ads via newspapers and radio.
The Tate Britain in London is now showing the official posters of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which kick off their opening ceremony tomorrow evening. As the host city, London commissioned 12 leading contemporary artists to impart their own unique visual perspective to the Summer Olympics – interesting, but in some cases, quite obtuse.
Speaking of up-close-and-personal and really getting into the music, here’s a print ad campaign for the Berliner Philharmoniker. Designed by Scholz & Friends Berlin, with photography by Mierswa Kluska and art direction by Bjorn Ewers, these images were shot from inside the musical instrument using a macro lens. The wind pipes of the pipe organ gleam with wondrous complexity. The violin’s sound holes filtering in exterior light make the space look vast and architectural, like a medieval theater. The flute is beautiful in its simplicity. It’s a whole new way of appreciating music.
With London-based Israeli illustrator Noma Bar, viewers have to look at his work at least twice — once to see the image in the positive space and again to see how the shape of the negative space creates a whole other picture. That’s the way Bar likes it. “Most of my images are not immediately obvious to readers. Most of them require a second reading or take a minute to interpret.” Irresistibly drawn to making viewers do double-takes, Bar extended this approach in another direction on the cover of Wallpaper* magazine, painting in 3-D and incorporating real objects.
Bar was commissioned by Wallpaper* , an international authority on cutting-edge design and style, to create eight newsstand covers for its Global Design issue, one for each of the world’s top design territories –Germany, the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Belgium and Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark). Tony Chambers, Wallpaper* editor-in-chief, says, “Bar entered a new dimension just for us. His cover designs are, in fact, room sets, painted in a three-dimensional studio space and integrating actual products from each of the territories.”
Canal+, the French television network and film production company, promoted its familiarity with every aspect of the filmmaking business, in every genre including porn, by creating a detailed flow chart of the process. Developed by Euro RSCG, the Canal+ infographic/advertisement is fun, fascinating, a great primer for novice filmmakers, and a convincing argument for why filmmakers would benefit from Canal +’s knowledge and support.
A UNESCO resolution called for 2011 to be observed as the International Year of Chemistry, with conferences, symposia, lectures, expositions, fairs and art exhibitions that focused on “the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind.” UK-based graphic designer/illustrator Simon C. Page (who created the incredible prints for the International Year of Astronomy 2009) was brought in to develop a poster campaign.