Illustration

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

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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.

Photography

Wanted: Famous Soles

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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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Publishing

Modern Classics, New Covers

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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

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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

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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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Humor

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.

Posters

Proposed 2012 Olympic Transport Posters

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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.

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Awards

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.

Book Excerpt

Empathy: Standing in the Shoes
(or Lying on the Gurneys) of Others

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Editor’s Note: In his new book, Change by Design, Tim Brown, CEO of the celebrated innovation and design firm IDEO, steps back from focusing on creating elegant objects and beautifying the world around us, to examining design thinking itself. The best designers, he says, match necessity to utility, constraint to possibility and need to demand. Most people are “ingenious at adapting to inconvenient situations that they are often not even aware that they are doing so,” Brown claims. “Traditional research techniques such as focus groups and surveys, which in most case simply ask people what they want, rarely yield important insights…Henry Ford understood this when he remarked, ‘If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.’” This is an excerpt from the chapter where Brown talks about three mutually reinforcing elements of any successful design program – insight, observation and empathy. We asked to present the section on empathy.

It’s possible to spend days, weeks, or months conducting [ethnographic and behavorial] research, but at the end of it all we will have little more than stacks of field notes, videotapes, and photographs unless we can connect with the people we are observing at a fundamental level. We call this “empathy,” and it is perhaps the most important distinction between academic thinking and design thinking. We are not trying to generate new knowledge, test a theory, or validate a scientific hypothesis—that’s the work of our university colleagues and an indispensable part of our shared intellectual landscape. The mission of design thinking is to translate observations into insights and insights into products and services that will improve lives.

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Typography

Entrepreneurial Design:
Turning a Passion into a Product

The Pentagram 365 Typography Calendar now celebrates its tenth year, prompting us to ask its originator Kit Hinrichs what drove him to create this now popular product.

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What was your inspiration for the calendar?
I’ve long been an admirer of Massimo Vignelli’s iconic Stendig calendar, introduced in 1966. It’s classic Helvetica typeface is boldly graphic, contemporary and easy to read. If I may speak for Massimo, it was “Perfetto!” Yet as someone who loves and uses type, all kinds of type, I felt there was room for a wall calendar where the typography was in more than one face. So many people, designers included, have no idea who designed the beautifully crafted typefaces that are very much a part of our everyday life. I wanted to enable people to become more aware of type as a designed object.

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