Noma Bar’s Double Take


The publication of Noma Bar’s new book Negative Space reminds us what a provocative artist he is. Bar’s editorial illustrations pare away the superfluous and cut to the bone of the idea. Using the technique of negative space, he combines a flat graphic silhouetted image with the shape surrounding it to create an illustration rich with meaning. Discovering the image within the image causes the readers to pause and contemplate the larger story being told.

An Israeli-born illustrator Bar studied graphic design and typography at the Jerusalem Academy of Art and Design before moving to London in 2001. His work has appeared in numerous illustrious publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Economist. Bar has said that the inspiration for his distinctive graphic style emerged during the first Gulf War when he was sitting in a shelter with his family. Perusing a newspaper, he happened upon the black radioactivity symbol on a yellow background, which reminded him of the dark eyebrows and mustache of Saddam Hussein. Sketching a silhouette around it, he found that it became an instantly recognizable caricature. Upon relocating to London a few years later, he included the Saddam drawing in his portfolio; its strong concept helped win him his first assignment from Time Out London.



Do You Tweet After Sex?

iPhone in Bed

Lately it seems that every webinar, workshop, conference and business publication includes advice on optimizing social media marketing, which is why we thought this study on Twitter and Facebook use would be of interest to our readers. Part of the Gadgetology Report produced by Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping site, the online independent survey sampled 771 respondents from across the United States (so we can’t tell you how the answers compare with people in other countries.) The Retrevo survey also reveals that men are more than twice as likely to use Facebook or Twitter after sex than women, and iPhone users are three times more likely than Blackberry owners (no surprise there). We don’t have any suggestions on how to calculate this into your social media marketing strategy, but some savvy marketers will understand the ramifications.

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iPhone Art Comes of Age

NYT iPhone Cover

The days of artists conspicuously sketching and painting on drawing pads or at an easel may be over. All the tools that one needs are available in a palm-sized iPhone; passersby don’t know if the person is text messaging or creating a digital masterpiece.

Artist Jorge Colombo, who used the Brushes app to create the first iPhone-illustrated cover for The New Yorker’s June 1 issue has done it again with the Manhattan skyline at night on its November 16 cover. Although Colombo arguably can be called “the father of iPhone art,” he has owned an iPhone only since February 2009 and started “finger painting” using the Brushes app after that. Thanks to Colombo and a few other pioneers, what just was a cool Internet Café “parlor trick” to amuse geeky friends a few months ago has become a serious art medium. This week’s Huffington Post is even featuring iPhone drawings submitted by readers. The variety of styles, nuances of colors, level of detail and sophistication are amazing to behold.

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Pop Culture

Beatles Postage Stamps


To mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting of Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the UK’s Royal Mail asked Johnson Banks to design a commemorative stamp. The London-based design firm conducted a sweeping audit of the masses of memorabilia surrounding the band and the cultural phenomenon that set off before concluding that “the answer was literally staring us in the face.” The Beatles album covers said it all.

In the end, Johnson Banks picked six covers to make into stamps. They explain on their website that their choices were made up of a “combination of the obvious ones like Sergeant Pepper and Abbey Road, plus ones we knew would look great small (With the Beatles and Help). Revolver was in because of its status as ‘the fans’ favourite album’ and Let It Be felt like a suitable ending.”

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Motion Graphics

NuFormer’s 3-D Building Projections

From Netherlands-based design firm, NuFormer Digital Media, comes a new way of projecting three-dimensional images onto a building exterior. Custom-designed to fit any building façade and scale up to any size, the video mapped objects are made visible by a set of powerful projectors. Without physically constructing new architecture or permanently altering the streetscape, NuFormer hardware/software technology enables users to transform an outdoor public space into a virtual yet live experience. Consider the possibilities to communicate, entertain, educate. Think of how 3-D projections can be used for advertising, product launches, conferences, concerts, festivals. This is a whole new medium waiting to be tapped.


Wanted: Famous Soles


Editor’s Note: Most assignments that come our way are driven by client objectives, with the subject, brand message, target audience and metrics for success defined in detailed design briefs. No matter how interesting, and sometimes lucrative, such projects can be, they are ultimately dictated by the client. At the end of the day, some of us like to unwind and reassert our creative freedom by dabbling in projects that captivate our interest and allow us to be as quirky and experimental as we like. Some of these self-generated projects are turned into published books and commercial products; others are only enjoyed by the artist and select friends. From time to time, we plan to feature some of these side projects, beginning with Terry Heffernan’s sole project.

Nationally renowned still life photographer Terry Heffernan has what one might consider a shoe fetish. More recently, his lust for famous soles has grown stronger.

Heffernan says it all began while touring the storage area at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, when he was shooting there on assignment. “On an old green metal filing cabinet, I saw a pair of well-worn black leather cleats with a yellow ID tag tied onto the lace,” he recalls. “I asked what that was about and was told the shoes belonged to Shoeless Joe Jackson, accused in the Black Sox Scandal of conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series. Seeing the dirt still on the cleats actually raised the hair on my arms; it was a visceral reaction. I just had to shoot it.”

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Modern Classics, New Covers


London publishing house Weidenfeld & Nicolson (W&N) celebrated its 60th anniversary by issuing a specially designed, limited edition run of nine of its best-known titles, including Lolita, The Color Purple, The World According to Garp, and The Reader. To create the covers, W&N bypassed all the best known book designers and turned to of all places an advertising agency – Fallon.

Although not a typical assignment, Fallon embraced the task with enthusiasm. Mark Elwood, creative director of Fallon Design and partner at the agency, says that Fallon saw it as “a great opportunity to showcase the department’s passion for craft and design above and beyond traditional advertising briefs.” Fallon’s entire design department and all of its art directors were put to work on the job. Ultimately they presented 30-40 cover ideas, and W&N chose the concept by senior designer Monica Pirovano.

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Design Classic

Hello Kitty Turns 35


Hello Kitty turned 35 on November 1; in human years that would make her around 150. She is still innocently cute (or kawaii as the Japanese would say) – and very rich, earning more than a billion dollars a year for licensing her image. She has got her little paws into everything, from toys to backpacks, hair clips to jewelry, writing pads to Airstream trailers, wedding rings to tattoos, assault rifles to adult massage devices, Stratocaster guitars to an Airbus jet, theme maternity hospital in Taiwan to bank debit cards. She has her own theme park, TV anime cartoon series and video games. All this for a little creature with two dots for eyes, a yellow button nose and no mouth at all. Even after 35 years, we don’t even know her name.

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Pop Culture

Marketing a Pagan Holiday


In the United States, Halloween is an $8 billion a year industry – and growing. It is second only to Christmas in terms of generating sales, and it ranks No. 1 in candy sales, topping even Valentine’s Day. Halloween is also the third largest party occasion, after New Year’s and the Super Bowl. And it is not just kids who celebrate. More than 62% of American adults between the ages of 18-24 say they wear Halloween costumes; 44% between the ages of 25-34, and 40% between the ages of 34-44.

The demographic spread of Halloween revelers gives mask and costume makers a lot of latitude. Adults tend to favor masks of the real heroes and villains in the news; teen boys go for gore and gorillas, and little girls are drawn to storybook heroines like the Little Mermaid. Celebrities rating their own mask is nearly the equivalent of being honored in a wax museum.

The reason we find this relevant to our business/design blog is that Halloween is a tribute to marketing genius. It’s not a patriotic holiday, not a religious holiday, and not an historic commemoration. Like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, it’s a “merchant-promoted holiday” devised largely to sell more products.

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The Art of Sheep Herding

This video raises several deep and perhaps unanswerable questions. Is it the secret desire of every Welsh shepherd to be a designer? How would the Hollywood shepherder pig, Babe, and his barnyard friends have handled the making of this video? What are the limits of LED technology? Do Welsh shepherds have too much time on their hands? Some of the players behind this three-and-a-half minute spot for Samsung TV are The Viral Factory ad agency and Welsh national sheep herding champion Gerry Lewis. No famous sheep were used – or harmed – in the making of this film.


Proposed 2012 Olympic Transport Posters


Graphic, minimalist and understandable in any language, this set of posters for the 2012 Olympics in London was designed by University of College Falmouth graduate, Alan Clarke. The design proposals were actually meant to brand the Transport of London, with text on each poster identifying which underground station links to each Olympics event. “My thinking behind these posters was to convey the movement and energy of the games in a simple abstract way,” Clarke explains. Clarke’s images are evocative of the visuals created by the legendary German designer Otl Aicher for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Clarke, who now works as a designer at Gendall in Falmouth, was a D&AD Best New Blood Winner for 2009.



Fast Company Celebrates the 2009 Masters of Design

Fast Company named this year’s Masters of Design: David Butler, vice president of global design for Coca-Cola; David Adjaye, architect and CEO of Adjaye Associates, David Rockwell, interior architect and head of Rockwell Group, Alberto Alessi, head of the famous Alessi Design Factory, and Lisa Strausfeld, new media design and partner of Pentagram in New York. This is a brief interview with three of the recipients. In future weeks, we hope to bring more indepth remarks by the 2009 Masters.