Years ago last century when I was communications manager at a forest products company, my boss used to call Kit Hinrichs “that gray designer” because he always managed to use 402 Gray in every job he designed for us. Then Kit outgrew his gray period and developed a fondness for 032 Red, which to him is the most wonderful red he’s ever seen. He didn’t use it on everything, but you knew he loved it. Now he is passionate about 123 Yellow. Never try to engage Kit in a discussion about using 035 Red instead of 032, or try to sneak it by him. He’ll know. The guy’s color perception is like a dog’s sense of hearing. Very keen and nuanced.
Read More »
When it came to designing a graphic identity for the city of Porto in Portugal, one visual symbol wasn’t enough. Porto-based design firm, White Studio, brainstormed what made Porto memorable and unique, and asked people on the street how they viewed the city. No two answers were alike. White Studio concluded, “We felt we needed to give each citizen their own Porto. We needed to show all of the cities that exist in this one territory….It became clear to us that Porto needed to be much more than a single icon, much more than a single logo. It needed complexity. It needed life. It needed stories. It needed personality.”
The designers also needed a way to create a single unified look that would serve as Porto’s one graphic identity. The answer came in the decorative blue ceramic tiles seen throughout the city for centuries. The line drawings and illustrations on the tiles depicted visual stories about Porto’s history, landmarks, and natural surroundings. That inspired White Studio to create 70 pictograms that represented Porto and its people. The pictograms were designed to fit on a grid that could be combined into a network of images or used individually. The logotype itself is a simple blue sans serif against a white background within a blue boxed border. The beauty of this visual system is that it allows elements to be changed out frequently and still be recognizable as Porto’s graphic identity. It works.
Read More »
Sadly, the sight of a homeless person holding a hand-scrawled sign asking for spare change has become all too familiar in cities around the world. Barcelona-based Arrels Foundation and The Cyranos McCann ad agency found a novel way to respond to such handwritten appeals. They created Homelessfonts.org to market typefaces drawn by the homeless in Barcelona to businesses for use in advertising and packaging. In different workshops, volunteer design professionals led homeless participants through various typographic exercises, which were then scanned and converted into usable fonts. The fonts are being sold on the Homelessfonts.org website, and collected funds are being used by Arrels to offer shelter, food, and social and health care services to the indigent in Barcelona. Arrels reports that about 3,000 homeless are currently in Barcelona, 900 of whom actually live in the street. Type design is an unusual charitable fund-raising initiative, to say the least, but it has given Arrels the resources to care for nearly half of the homeless in Barcelona.
When you think about it, a cupcake is just a tiny cup-size cake, but for decades, it was thought of as just a treat for children. Serving cupcakes at a wedding or formal reception, say, would be viewed as gauche. In the 21st century, however, cupcakes have come of age. They come in “mature” flavors like chai latte and cost about what a small cake would. Public perception of cupcakes is changing, and Petits Gateaux, a cupcake boutique in Canada, is repositioning cupcakes as an elegant, sophisticated dessert suitable for grand occasions. Montreal-based creative agency Pheromone developed this print ad campaign for Petits Gateaux, pairing cupcakes with romantic and celebratory moments.
This Pepsi Max commercial has almost nothing to do with its soda products, but if its purpose is to get people to watch, it succeeded. London-based creative agency Harriman Steel constructed this Pepsi Max promotional stunt to celebrate the New Year. They did that not with the usual New Year’s fireworks but with an explosion of ping-pong balls and mousetraps. As a symbolic gesture, they set up 2014 mousetraps and 2015 ping-pong balls, using one to trigger a chain reaction of snapping traps and ricocheting balls. One ping-pong went like a hole-in-one down the center of the Pepsi logo, and set off a festive confetti-like rain of balls in Pepsi’s signature colors of blue, red and white. Except for one Pepsi Max can on a shelf in the “background,” no product was shown. But the spot was fun to watch and there was no doubt that it came from Pepsi.
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.
Read More »
This poster was created by Spanish artist Xabier Ziriklain for Nordic Surfers Mag (NSM). The publication targets those who prefer “to surf the wild and raw north where the sea is rough and you need a thick wetsuit to survive in the arctic climate,,” according to the online plug for Nordic Surf’s film festival In Sweden. NSM’s slogan is “No palm trees.” Surfing in frigid Scandinavian waters while dodging glacial icebergs is a sport that involves a different kind of endurance than riding the waves in balmy Hawaii. Just getting in the water takes steely courage. Ziriklain, a mechanical engineer turned artist, is a cold water surfer himself. His collage of a fish wearing a shark fin (or is it a surfboard?) on its back is delightful – a little fish living out the larger-than-life fantasy of swimming with the sharks.
Every New Year’s editorial cartoonist depict the passing of the old year by drawing pictures of an elderly bearded man, dressed in a robe and carrying a scythe and often an hourglass. Who is this geezer and why is he resurrected by the media at the start of every new year?
The ancient Greeks called him Chronos (the root of “chronology”) and the Romans knew him as Saturn, son of Uranus (Sky Father) and Gaea (earth mother). In the middle ages, he was thought of as the Grim Reaper, but now we simply call him Old Father Time. In all of these myths, he symbolizes the inexorable flow of time, both its destructive and constructive effects. But even as his physical vitality dwindles, like an inverted hourglass, it is replenished with serenity, wisdom and the awareness of being part of a continuum. That is the gift of time. Happy new year.
How familiar are you with brand and generic names? Probably less than you realize. Some revolutionary trademarked products have achieved such market dominance that their name has become synonymous with an entire category of product or service. Particularly for breakthrough products, consumers spontaneously use the pioneer brand name generically, even when referring to later entrants in the field. Occasionally companies lose their proprietary rights to a trademark if they let competitors use the name as a common “descriptor” of a category of products and not linked to any one brand. At that point, the word can no longer be registered, a phenomenon known as “genericide.” In other instances, the trademark owner decides not to renew registration and simply lets the trade name expire.
This quiz challenges you to identify whether the name is: 1) trademarked (registered to a specific company), 2) generic (never trademarked), 3) genericized (once trademarked but now a common noun) or 4) former TM (trademark allowed to expire). Answers after the jump.
Read More »
For decades, ignorant art directors have perpetrated a big lie, reinforcing sexist stereotypes and insulting females everywhere. They have portrayed the gender of Santa’s reindeer as male, assuming that only male reindeer have antlers and the strength and endurance to haul a jolly fat man and a sleigh filled with gifts from the North Pole to all parts of the world all night. Actually, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the opposite is true. Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen are all reindeer girls. The Department of Fish and Game knows this for sure because although both male and female reindeer sprout antlers every summer, the male reindeer shed them after they have mated, usually by Thanksgiving. The female reindeer keep their antlers until after they have given birth in the spring. Hence, all of Santa’s reindeer drivers are ladies since they are the only ones with antlers in December. Had art directors been more thorough in their research, they would have figured this out, and they would have known that Rudolph’s (or Rudi, as she is known to friends) glowing red nose is not a facial deformity, but a stylish fashion accessory.
For the past 13 years, Kit Hinrichs has been indulging his fascination with typography by creating the “365” calendar, featuring 12 different typefaces, one for each month of the year. What makes him happy (in my opinion) is viewing each letterform as its own little sculpture — whereas combining characters into words and sentences distract from seeing typography as its own art form. For the 2015 calendar, Kit asked his design staff to nominate fonts that intrigue them and assembled a mix of traditional, avant garde, serif, sans serif, display, and script faces. Then for the 13th straight year, he cajoled me into writing the text. The 365 Typography Calendar for 2015 is now available for sale via Amazon, major U.S. art museums, and from Studio Hinrichs. The calendar comes in two sizes: 23” x 33” (58.5cmx84cm) for $44 retail and 12”x18” (30.5cm x 45.75cm) for $26 retail. Design professionals, particularly, love this calendar and display it prominently to prove their “street creds.” Order now.
Created by Wieden & Kennedy London and directed by Dougal Wilson at Blink, “Lurpak Cook’s Range: Adventure Awaits” is the latest episode in a series of commercials that expose home cooks to the exhilarating universe that they have been yearning to explore. This 60-second epic journey opens to the majestic strains of the soundtrack from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and closes in tightly on a mysterious landscape of bumpy cauliflowers, gnarled ginger outcroppings, an artery of pomegranate kernels, and membranes of flaky bread.
It’s bold. Challenging. Heroic. It’s all about butter and cooking oil! This ad for Lurpak, maker of premium Danish butter and cooking oils, is intended to inspire and encourage intrepid cooks to venture forth and discover new culinary frontiers, secure in the knowledge that Lurpak butter won’t let them down.
Winner of a 2014 Cannes Outdoor Advertising Award, this Corona Extra billboard campaign feels like a high school science project on steroids – e.g., drop a raw egg from 30 feet without breaking it, make a rocket that can shoot across a football field, build your own fog tornado. In this case, Corona and its ad agency Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago came up with a way to put a real crescent moon on top of a Corona bottle billboard.
It was all very clever and fun in a geeky way. The idea involved showing an open bottle of Corona Extra surrounded by the moon in its different phases. The beer bottle itself butted up to the top edge of the billboard. By calculating the angle of the moon at a specific geographic location, the time that it would be in its crescent phase, and other measurements, the creative team could precisely predict when the moon would rest on the bottle top like a wedge of lime. Such calculations, however, are typically beyond the ken of “right brain” advertising people, so they turned to experts at top universities and planetariums for help. The consensus was that on June 14 and June 15, 2013, the crescent moon would be positioned over the bottle top shown on the billboard at 15th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan. The historic lunar lime event was publicized online and via social media and created such a buzz that spectators came out specifically to witness the moon hovering over the Corona bottle. Such an occurrence is even rarer than a lunar eclipse.
Aurora Vinicola, the biggest winemaking cooperative in Brazil, took a direct approach to recommending wine pairings in these print advertisements created by the agency Dez Comunicação in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Photographer Pedro Minanez and illustrator Miagui Imagevertising did some “photoshop” collaboration to suggest that when poultry, fish and beef are served with the right wine, the occasion becomes even more delightfully festive.
Read More »
Fresh on the heels of last year’s titillating Kmart Joe Boxer pelvic jingle choir comes this holiday’s belly-beat encore. Avoiding some of the flack they took for featuring handsome young men who looked like they were hired from the Chippendale chorus line, this year ad agency FCB/Chicago chose a not-so-buff, beer-belly cast dressed in Joe Boxer pajama bottoms. Instead of naming the spot “Show Your Joe” like last year, the sequel is called “Jingo Bellies.” Either way, the commercials are funny, and a refreshing change from the usual cloyingly wholesome holiday ads showing loving couples in ski sweaters drinking hot chocolate by a roaring fireplace.
Read More »
Now in its second year, the Tusk Conservation Awards single out individuals who have done outstanding environmental conservation work throughout Africa, with particular focus on protecting endangered species and their threatened habitat. The prestigious honor includes a monetary contribution of £30,000 and £15,000 to support the goals of the winning projects. What the fledgling award didn’t have, however, was its own graphic identity. For that, London-based The Partners stepped up and provided their creative talent pro bono.
Read More »