We recently ran across this post by Alissa Walker for Good.Is about an artist/motorist named Richard Ankrom who got fed-up with the dangerously confusing wayfinding signs splitting the 5 North onramp from the 110 Freeway to Pasadena. The lack of a 5 North overhead sign often caused drivers to wave their hand frantically to be allowed to switch lanes at the last minute and motorists who were cut off to wave their finger in an upward motion to express their annoyance.
In a bit of public service performance art, Ankrom used his hands more constructively and crafted his own freeway directions. The altered signage, which Ankrom put up in broad daylight in 2001, was appreciated by commuters like Alissa, but was not recognized as phony until Ankrom leaked his prank to local newspapers. That’s how it came to the attention of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which is in charge of freeway signs. Despite Ankrom’s confession, he wasn’t charged with defacing public property because, afterall, how is making something better and safer a crime? For the past eight years, Caltrans let Ankrom’s doctored sign stand. Then recently it removed it, and replaced it with an official sign that looks like Ankrom’s.
Passersby in Amsterdam did a double-take as they walked by post-holiday curbside trash heaped high with the usual plastic garbage bags, assorted discards and… a Mini Cooper cardboard packing box with a red ribbon still dangling off the side. The brainchild of Ubachswisbrun/JWT agency, the Mini Cooper guerrilla “advertisements” were strategically placed throughout the city. It left people to wonder if the popular tiny hatchback was really small enough to be shipped in a box and possibly even fit under a Christmas tree. The white stick-on label on the side of the box provided the sales message – a 99 euro a month finance deal. Except for the black outline drawing of the Mini on all sides of the box, the actual product was nowhere to be seen.
New Zealand’s iconic Auckland Ferry Building, an Edwardian Baroque-style structure built in 1912, has become the site of spectacular 21st century light shows, using architectural mapping and interactive projection technology.
A creative collaboration of Inside Out Productions, YesYesNo, The Church and Electric Canvas, the Ferry Building light show turned the audience into the performers by taking their body movements and amplifying them five stories high. The installation used three different types of interactions – body interaction on the two stages, hand interaction above a light table, and phone interaction with the tracking of waving phones. Six scenes were cycled every hour for the public.
Produced with the support of Telecom and the Auckland City Council, the four-night event was a great way for Telecom to position itself at the cutting-edge of technology and a great way for the city to bolster tourism and civic spirit.
This was a decade when everything as we knew it became obsolete, from newspapers and fax machines to analog TVs and dial-up Internet connections. Like Midwesterners say about the weather, if you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes, it will change.
It struck us as appropriate when Design Army, a creative firm in Washington D.C., emailed out a screensaver clock for its season’s greeting. Forget a calendar, that’s too slow. This clock rolls out the time in hours, minutes, seconds and 1/100th seconds. As Design Army says about its gift of time, “make every second count.” Our sentiments exactly. Don’t blink, you might miss something important.
This advertisement for City Harvest was filmed entirely on an iPhone in a single shot. It was created and produced by The Mill NY, in collaboration with Draftcb, a New York City marketing communications agency.
The ad was made to support City Harvest, which collects over 270,000 pounds of excess food from restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, manufacturers and farms daily and uses it to prepare and deliver over 260,000 meals per week to community food programs in the New York City area. The apples in the video represent the amount of food wasted in New York City every day. City Harvest states that it is the “world’s first food rescue organization.”
The recent publication of Peter Richardson’s “A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America” evokes memories of when San Francisco dominated pop culture and counterculture.
The 1960s gave birth to what became known as “the San Francisco Sound” (the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, Santana and others), the hippie movement, vocal anti-Vietnam War protests, and some ground-breaking magazines including Rolling Stone (1967), Berkeley Barb (1965) and later Mother Jones (1976). The magazine that preceded and influenced them all was Ramparts.
Founded in 1962 as a Catholic literary quarterly, Ramparts soon became the muckraking voice of the New Left when Warren Hinckle took over as executive editor and Robert Scheer joined as managing editor. Noam Chomsky, Seymour Hersh, Hunter Thompson, Eldridge Cleaver, Christopher Hitchens, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, Susan Sontag, Erica Jong, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jann Wenner, and Adam Hochschild were just a few of the noteworthy writers who contributed to the editorial content.
Tokujin Yoshioka, who created shop designs and installations for fashion designer Issey Miyake for 20 years before starting his own studio in 2000, communicated the essence of the Hermes brand with utmost simplicity in this window display for Maison Hermes in Tokyo. Only two props filled the display area – a black-and-white image of a beautiful woman projected onto a monitor and a hanging Hermes scarf. Each time the woman appeared to blow gently on the colorful scarf, it swayed in response. Ethereal, poetic and uncontrived, the scene is devoid of anything that would detract from appreciating the ultra-silky elegance of the scarf.
For the past three years, Johnson Banks in London has done a year-end clean up by recycling their old magazines and passing them along to friends and clients in the form of Christmas greetings. This year the UK design firm ram-punched the shape of a snow man. A tip they passed along is that Design Week “punches brilliantly.” It could be the weight and uniformity of the paper that cuts clean, the vibrant ink holdout on the sheet, or good design karma projected from the magazine.
In a year when more than 100 major newspapers and nearly 500 magazines have reportedly folded in the United States alone, it is interesting – if not reassuring – to note that some publications are striving to reinvent themselves. The 18-year-old Worth magazine, acquired by Sandow Media in 2008, has adopted a new revenue model, along with a new tagline “The Evolution of Financial Intelligence.” Now published bi-monthly, Worth has become a controlled circulation magazine, mailed free to a database of 110,000 high-net-worth households in major markets. It offers no subscriptions but sells a limited number of individual copies at $18.95 per issue primarily at select newsstands in private airports. In addition to the sale of advertising, the magazine essentially relies on thoroughly vetted wealth advisors to underwrite the publication in exchange for the opportunity to write articles in the leading advisors section of the magazine.
When James Theophane Jr. was asked by his employer Lost Boys, an interactive marketing firm in the UK, to come up with a Christmas card, he thought of the 50 or so mobile phones discarded after the agency went through a company-wide upgrade.
That inspired the constructions of a gigantic mobile, with each phone programmed by computer to sound a single tone that together formed a choral arrangement. The interactive sculpture hoisted at the entrance of the Brick Lane studio can be enjoyed by anyone visiting the live stream and tapping out his/her own jingle on the onscreen keyboard.
We love student assignments because the parameters are loose enough to let the imagination run free – no client demanding that the piece “work harder” at branding or asking to see the metrics to prove that the design solution had the desired effect on the target audience. They are unbridled creativity, pushing the limits of personal talent and skill. So, when we ran across some animations done by 20-year-old Matthew Young, a graphic and communication design student at the University of Leeds in the UK, we were charmed by his innocent storytelling. “Colin the Umbrella,” completed in a week, fulfills a creative brief to celebrate the ordinary by making it seem extraordinary. Young’s story line has the undercurrent of the soul-searching angst of a young person searching for a meaningful purpose in life — and a sad ending.
Euphemisms – substituting a positive description for a negative one – have been a device used by marketing and advertising writers forever. For example, apartment ads that can only promise that it is “clean and sunny” are a sure sign that the place is cramped and drafty with a fresh coat of paint. If it says “in an up-and-coming neighborhood,” you know it’s a dump in a dumpy area.
Corporate writers will try to soften the blow for shareholders by talking about a “challenging” year, when “disastrous” might be a more apt description. Marketing writers will look for ways to turn a perceived negative into a positive. Some politicians and scam artist will say anything short of an out-and-out lie.
Lately doublespeak has become a universal language, so we thought we’d provide a brief glossary of what the terms really mean.
Design, particularly graphic design, is not a profession that most inner city kids consider, partly because many don’t know that such a profession even exists. In fact, the whole notion that somebody had made design choices about the size, color, typography, etc. of a simple sign comes as a revelation to some kids. Jessica Weiss, a student in the nonprofit Inneract Project program, explained her surprise. “I just thought, oh, someone wrote this sign. Someone wrote that sign. No, it had to be designed.”
This is exactly the lesson that Inneract Project founder Maurice Woods hoped to pass on. Woods, a senior designer at Studio Hinrichs in San Francisco, started the program in 2004 when as a graduate student in a University of Washington’s Visual Communication Design class, he got the assignment to “Use Design to Try to Change the World.” Drawing from his own experience growing up in the violent teen-gang and drug-plagued town of Richmond near San Francisco, Woods wanted to help young adolescents expand their awareness of the career options open to them.
The new HBO comedy series “Bored to Death” created by novelist Jonathan Ames is about a fictional writer named “Jonathan Ames” who hires himself as a private detective. For that kind of story line, the opening title sequence had to reveal a lot of background information – namely that the show somehow involved a novelist, fascination with words, a central character who lived a “noir” fantasy life, and a comic book quality. Tom Barham, title sequence director for Curious Pictures, found a way to weave all of this into the opening sequence by animating typography and using it to carry viewers from scene to scene and letting characters interact with letterforms as they walked across the page. The “flashlight” effect with darkened edges of the book also created a nice noir touch.
In an interview with artofthetitle.com Barham explains, “I wanted to do a combination character and flip-book animation to move the Jonathan character from location to location in a book format. Additionally, since the characters were made from text contained within the book where they exist they needed to move and interact with each other as if they were emitting or leaking letterforms or words.” The title sequence uses words from Ames’ original story and illustrations by comic artist Dean Haspiel, who is also the basis for the Ray Hueston role, played by Zack Galifianakis.
Since last spring illustrator Craig Frazier has posted a new drawing online each week, inviting @Issue readers to submit a caption to explain what’s going on. Readers emailed him more than 8,000 captions during the course of his Drawords project from places like Slovenia, Paris, Dallas, Scotland, Estonia, Milwaukee, Australia, San Francisco and Trenton. “The project has been a testament to the power of the Internet to create a forum for worldwide participation on a single creative endeavor,” he says. Craig personally reviewed every submission to pick the week’s winning entry and “almost selected” winners. “I looked for wit, subtlety, surprise, and particularly insight into the drawings that I, frankly, didn’t see,” he explains.
For us, Craig’s project proved that when designers and writers bring their own unique perspective to a topic, the result can be more imaginative, quirky and stronger. Interestingly, the frequent similarity between “almost selected” entries also showed us that certain themes are universal and that humor and wit know no cultural borders.
Drawords is now available in book form at www.craigfrazier.com. In thanking readers for their entries, Craig adds “I hope this project brought a moment of frivolity, if not creative challenge, to you – I know it did both for me.”