Sunday 30 January 2011

Prince William and Kate's Commemorative Royal Wedding Items

Today I have come across the designs for Prince William and Kate Middleton's commemorative royal wedding items. I have to say i am impressed with simple and clean design as opposed to past tacky monstrosities! The team behind the designs are dhub and here is what they have to say:

Dhub, the London design agency, wanted to create a modern and significant brand that celebrates the forth coming Royal Wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince William. 
The first question that begs to be asked is; ‘Why has the Commemorative Royal Wedding items have to be so traditional and dated?’

After trawling through the various horrors, to some fun tongue-in-cheek versions on the Internet, we thought it would be good to take a more intelligent and sympathetic design approach.

The Royal family has changed shape and form over the years and in 2011 they appear as a totally different force from the previous years of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. The Royal family are now a global phenomenon, the press allow the public to see them in a more down to earth and human light, no longer will the Royal family be regarded as elite, they are representative of traditional British culture, but there lies the failing of the current design approach to the celebration of the Royal Wedding this year. British culture is now about opportunity, energy, creativity, youth, style and perfection.

To reflect current culture the designs for the Commemorative plates and mugs had to be simple and effortless in their delivery. We stripped back historic impression of the Royal and considered what they stood for in our eyes and created a set of design communications that portrayed this vision.

We started with their names, we all know them in the public eye and media as Kate and William (or Wills), so immediately we had two key letters to play with; K and W which are strong enough to stand alone. We then needed an iconic graphic that captured what they are and stand for within British and Global culture.

They are modern British Royals. Simple, yet creative crowns were developed to reflect the marriage and their status while remaining modern, striking and iconic. The design collection utilises a series of graphics, including British symbols and colours to deliver the creative, youthful and vibrant message.

The end result? A set of designs that take into consideration the Facebook generation, popular culture and modern design. This delivers a brand that identifies with and is relevant to the 20th century man folk.

Little white Lies Magazine - Black Swan Cover

I recently had the pleasure of watching the film The Black Swan and I thought it was fantastic! It is a step away from the usual dance film, instead of an unprivileged youth making something of themselves through the medium of dance, the director opted for a wonderful psychological thriller! The film focuses on the theme of under studies and what it takes to stay on top. It is in cinemas now so GO WATCH!

Anyway this post is in regard to the magazine Little White Lies and their special on the film. I was particularly taken with the front cover which features the beautiful Natalie Portman in illustration form. I later found out that the illustration was sent to David Carson himself to do the type treatment WOW! The result sees some black foiled type spread over the whole cover; an unusual take for the magazine, where the 'issue' title usually plays second to the main illustration. I like the fact that with a portrait of a face as obviously magazine-friendly as Portman's, the type directly subverts the image, and the ruffled feathers echo the psychological state of Portman's character in the film.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Graphic USA – an alternative guide book

Graphic USA: An Alternative Guide To 25 US Cities (£19.95, Cicada Books) is a guide book with a difference. Rather than being put together by journalists and specialist researchers, the suggestions of where to go and what to see.  Each of the 25 cities covered in the book are provided by an image maker who lives there, who also illustrates his or her city's chapter....
The book has been designed by Joana Niemeyer at design studio April and edited by Ziggy Hanaor at Cicada. 

"The concept behind the book is that people who work in the graphic arts, and who have an offbeat aesthetic to their work will often seek out the unexpected and inspirational elements in their environments that one wouldn't find in most travel guides," explains Hanaor in her introduction. "The recommendations in this book are the personal favourites of the individual contributors... For the most part they do not include the bucket list recommendations that most tourists feel they have to tick off. They tend to reflect the alternative, independent culture that is bubbling underneath the city, feeding into its public persona, but not immediately apparent to the visiting outsider. Not all the suggestions may be your cup of tea, but hopefully for those who are part of an alternative scene themselves, they will tap into a common urban approach and will open up a different view of the city that you can dip in and out of as you desire. It's kind of like a friend writing down their hot tips for each place."
The Chapter on Denver, Colorado is by illustrator and designer Gwenda Kaczor

Alex Harrison (also known as Alex Warble) provides the illustration and the insight to Memphis, Tennessee (above and below)

Thursday 27 January 2011

Skins Season 5 Animation

Tonight the pilot episode skins season 5 kicked off. i am glad to say that Skins has finally returned to more believable and realistic story-lines, season 4 was getting a bit silly! The pilot focused on a young girl named Frankie who is a bit of an outcast and had rough time at her old school. In her spare time Frankie makes animations using a drawing mannequin. It really is quite impressive and something different to add to the mix of drug taking and copious amounts of alcohol!

Sunday 23 January 2011

Favourite logos: looking past the obvious

A while ago I did a post about Creative Review asking its readers to nominate their favourite logos. The Creative Review team have said they received a lot of votes for the classics of the genre. But the exercise also threw up some less celebrated but still worthy contenders. 

For a special issue in April, Creative Review will be putting together a list of the 25 greatest logos. Last week,they asked readers to nominate their top five. Among the Apples, FedExs and V&As, readers also drew attention to some forgotten classics and little known favourites.

One reader put forward the 1974 New Zealand Commonwealth Games logo by Colin Simon (shown top). The mark cleverly combines the 7 and 4 of the year, the NZ of New Zealand, the Union Jack and even an X for the tenth games. Read more about it here

There was quite a bit of support for Raymond Loewy's New Man ambigram from 1969
Alan Fletcher's Lucas Industries mark was also noted
and don't forget David Gentleman's 1968 British Steel logo

Alan Clarke nominated, among others, the Leica mark

the 1968 Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch railways) logo by Gert Dumbar and Gert-Jan Leuvelink for Tel Design had a lot of fans

On a very different plane, 'Fidalgo' suggested Santa Cruz skateboards' Screaming Hand by Jim Phillips

Over three hundred people have voted so far but the Creative review team are still asking for more so head to their site and vote!

Saturday 22 January 2011

CMYKilla's spoof multiwindow music video

Recently I have noticed a trend in multi-window music videos and so have the bloggers at creative review they have written an article about it here. So I thought I would post about this spoof music video created by internet comedy site College Humor which features Photoshop tip-meister, CMYKilla...

Unfortunately I cannot seem to find on YouTube (the one I had planned to use has been removed). So as soon as I find one I will post it up.

Friday 21 January 2011

New Huggies Advert

Agency: JWT, New York; Exec creative director: Walt Connelly; Creative director: Richie Glickman; Creatives: David Suarez, Daniel Gonzalez; Director: Fredrik Bond; Production company: MJZ

Fredrik Bond has directed this distinctive spot for Huggies nappies, which demonstrates that babies might be cute, but they are also pretty destructive.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

The Environmentally Harmful D&AD Annual- Creative Review

This morning I came across this wonderful article by Mike Dempsey from the Creative Review team. He makes some good points about D&AD's sheer lack of thought to how wasteful and environmentally harmful their annual publication is.

In 2007 D&AD sent out an oversized pizza box containing a bright yellow satin flag brandishing their logo. It was given to a variety of D&AD members around the world. They were asked to do something snazzy with it. A selection of the results was to be featured in the 2007 annual. The whole idea rather incenses me because of its utter waste and I felt the need to protest. This was my response to D&AD’s request…

Needless to say my little effort didn’t grace the pages of the annual nor was my protest acknowledged by D&AD. But thanks to Creative Review it found a cyber audience and started to whizz around the blogosphere. I mention this because I have been thinking about the future of the D&AD Annual.  

Apart from the first catalogue style annual in 1963 I have every copy of the D&AD Annual. I still treasure many of them. But as much as I love books, over the last decade the D&AD Annual has, to my mind, become redundant as a vehicle to best record the year’s creative highlights in this digital age...  

You had to buy the annual in the early days. Later it was given out free to members but you had to collect it from D&AD. Later they organised a free delivery service. For those of you who are members of D&AD you will be well aware of the rapid increase in size of the annual over the past ten years. This reflects not only the new areas of design but now includes the growing international entries. 

Last year’s edition of the annual weighed in at a hefty 3kg. It was delivered to me at a cost, I guess, of around £20 by one of those smartly dressed UPS drivers.

I signed for it, reached for my still trusty scalpel and slashed my way through the dense cardboard protective packaging and it’s inner plastic shrink-wrapping. It left my studio floor full of debris and me holding the annual fearing a hernia under the weight. There followed a cup of coffee and a ten-minute thumb through – something I’ve done for the last two decades.

Then the tomb was snapped shut and added to my bookshelf, taking its place chronologically with its predecessors. There it will stay in quiet serenity. It was the sight of the discarded packaging and the weight of the annual that got me thinking about the sheer effort and expense to deliver this bibliographic extravaganza to my door.

Here is the DNA of the 2010 D&AD Annual…  

On top of all that it travelled 10,000 miles (it was printed in China) to reach me. And all I do is give it a cursory glance as most of the images are too small and lack detail. Then it’s on the shelf with its old buddies. I am sure I am not alone in this casual act.  

We are now very well bedded into the digital age (no longer ‘new media’) with its ever-increasing advances. And with a new D&AD president in office, and importantly, the first from a digital background I would like to pose a question. When is D&AD going to address this issue? 

Sunday 16 January 2011

Comedy Central Rebrand 2011

In an interview with Motionographer the designers behind the new logo said that the Comedy Central logo was not the result of a logo redesign assignment, but an invitation to solve some of Comedy Central’s core business challenges. A part of the brief said, “They had a solid reputation with great shows, but the shows were not being attributed to the network and they were not getting as many young viewers as they wanted.”
You can watch an interesting video about the logo design here
The most interesting part of this project is how they got to the solution. They explained, “Comedy itself is super social . . . they were not behaving socially, they were a tv station that just talked to you, one person at a time. The old paradigms of viewing times, etc, are not how consumers interact today.” In a way they were able to look back in a media neutral way and make the decision. “We should start with digital, start with the digital presence and build around that.”
So the team at the Lab invented a branding device that they felt could live in any medium. Alicia explained “the idea of this packet” which would shorten the distance between the viewer and the channel by delivering a packet to the audience through digital media, leveraging social functionality to connect the right comedy to the right audience. The goal, Alicia said, is for the packet to “behave as an object that you could share, and the object would retain branding while being screen agnostic”. This lead to a discussion on how Comedy Central could become more visible outside of the television screen: on the street, in advertising, online, on mobile platforms, tablets and smart phones. Hal cited one of the biggest challenges, “How do we get our identity to travel along with these clips that end up on YouTube?”

The solution kept restating itself. “Being screen agnostic was something that just we kept going back to them on.” thelab’s solution included pages of web, tablet and mobile design comps with new navigation models demonstrating how a viewer might find the packets of content they’re looking for and what was trending, tagged or even popular amongst friends. As this structure became clear, they needed a way for viewers to identify them.

In their pitch, thelab created the comedy mark as a branding device. The C is derived from a slide carousel of “packets” viewed from above, not unlike the Kodak Carousel Projector. This C becomes the playful center of a 3d explosion of screen caps and colors in a muted palette with elegant typography. When the action rests, the flat gothic round c, is met with a second C at the same line weight to form an incomplete circle, resulting in a c surrounded by a larger backward C. In its final representation, the mark looks not unlike the © symbol with a chunk cut out of the left side. The new symbol works in a similar spirit, effectively attributing and tagging every content packet as Comedy Central’s wherever it appears.

From the creative:
“We Should Explain, Our logo has changed. No longer do you see the big buildings and globe, that quite literally said, COMEDY CENTRAL on top of it. Please welcome the new mark. We affectionately call it the COMEDY MARK. It works WAY F*CKING better than that other one we had. Big building-y globe, you served us well, but we moved on.
Thanks, Comedy Central”

Saturday 15 January 2011

Five tiny illustrated comics from B.ü.L.b Comix

B.ü.L.b Comix in Switzerland newest creation is a set of five tiny concertina comics (each measuring just 35x45mm) - by Andy Rementer, Lloyd Dangle, Rutu Modan, Chihoi and Alexandre Joly – housed in a suitably tiny box...

B.ü.L.b Comix has actually been producing tiny format (as well as larger format) comix since 1996 - with each set being printed in just two spot colours with 22 pages or panels. Each of its  Box Set releases is stamped with a letter of the alphabet. This new one is W – box set A was published back in 1997. "Only 3 letters to go, a countdown to the end of our publishing adventure," says B.ü.L.b's Mathieu. "Yes, we've been running B.ü.L.b comix since 1996, without any grants and supporting the local printers. B.ü.L.b comix is non-profit making, we don't get paid, we give books to authors and all money is reused to release new books. DIY freedom!"

Here's a look at the comics in the new W box set:

Friday 14 January 2011

A big blue cockerel for Trafalgar Square

The next two commissions for the Fourth Plinth in London's Trafalgar Square will include a bronze figure of a boy on a rocking horse by artists Elmgreen & Dragset and a large ultramarine cockerel (above, in case you missed it) by Katharina Fritsch...

Berlin and London-based artists Elmgreen & Dragset will unveil their sculpture, Powerless Structure, Fig. 101 in 2012; while Fritsch's sculpture, Hahn/Cock, will appear in 2013.

The German artist is well known for her dense, richly coloured pieces and the cockerel apparently references the animal motifs that appear in modernist art and symbolizes regeneration, awakening and strength. 

I personally am not a fan of the cockerel sculpture, I do not think that the cockerel represents anything that the artist is claiming it to and I am adamant that the sculpture is neither aesthetically pleasing or worthy of being showcased in Trafalgar Square (although worse pieces of art have been put on the plinths in the past). 

Wednesday 12 January 2011

What are your favourite logos? - Creative Review Issue

Creative Review's forthcoming April issue is going to be a bit special. Dedicated to the art of logo design, it is going to include a definitive list of the 20 greatest marks ever created. And the Creative Review team are looking for it's readers nominations.

In order to compile the list they are going to canvas the expert opinion of designers, academics and critics who will ultimately help to come up with 20 of the world's greatest logo designs.

For the first stage Creative Review would like to throw it open to their readers to gather opinions. So go to the Creative Review Blog article named "What are your favourite logos?" and simply nominate your five favourite logo designs of all time and tell them why.

The Creative Review team will use all the information gathered on the CR blog as a starting point for further discussions with their expert panel.

CR April will include the list of the 20 logos, plus a detailed study of the top five marks; including the story of how they were made, who designed them and exactly what it is that makes them stand out.

Monday 10 January 2011

25 Years of Pixar

A little while ago I had the pleasure of watching a documentary called Pixar: 25 Magic Moments on BBC3. It was entertaining viewing and showed fans how Pixar started, how the animators storyboard, and information about favourite characters. I would highly recommend watching this documentary which should still be available on BBC iPlayer.

Thursday 6 January 2011

Starbucks Unveils New Logo

US coffee giant Starbucks has unveiled a new identity created by its in-house design team and studio Lippincott. It centres on the Siren logo and does away with the words "Starbucks" and "coffee" altogether...

The 'Siren' figure has been part of the Starbucks identity since the company launched in 1971 and this latest redesign ties in with their 40th anniversary. The new logo essentially takes the Siren out of her ringed frame (see previous iterations of the identity, below), changes the background colour to Starbucks green and removes all text – perhaps a nod to the fact that the company now sells a range of other products in addition to coffee. 

The next step was to bring in a "more sophisticated stroke width and spacing and a smoother line flow." The Siren's hair and facial features were apparently also refined.

The question is, in light of last year's most infamous logo debacle could the new Starbucks ever 'do a Gap'? I very much doubt it. Despite the dissent already emerging on the company's website from largely negative commenters – not to mention the need to monitor their 1.1m followers on Twitter – one thing that stands out is that Starbucks has ensured the big reveal is shown in context; on a paper cup.

It sounds obvious, but when the Gap identity announced itself to the world online, it was the same old decontextualised jpg that people were posting, emailing and generally taking apart. Starbucks has already countered the 'you have to see it in the flesh' argument by simply showing it in the way most people will engage with it. And doesn't it seem all the better for that?

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Rio 2016 Olympics logo: a closer look

Before getting in to the logo, perhaps a bit of context would be useful. It's no use designers pining for another Otl Aicher, a master designer handed almost complete control over the visual identity of a major international sporting event: those days are gone. To create an identity for such an event today, particularly the Olympics or World Cup, is to enter into a process that is torturous, endlessly frustrating and enough to test the patience of a saint.It is a process, moreover, that flies in the face of accepted wisdom regarding what is neeeded to produce strong, distinctive, memorable design. There will be no single, clear, consistent decision-maker. There will be a multitude of competing interests to satisfy. And the very nature of the mechanism for even competing for the job in the first place will be so Byzantine and time-consuming that it will put many of the most talented and most suitable design studios off even getting involved.

But get involved they do and so any design studio that can make it out the other side with even a half-decent end result deserves praise for endurance, bottle and endless patience if nothing else.

And so to Rio. On New Year's Eve, in front of nearly two million people the world got its first look at the emblem designed for the 2016 Games. It was created by Rio-basedTátil, whose other clients include Walmart and Fiat.

Tátil's online case study (interesting that they are allowed to discuss the project given the restrictions imposed by the London organisers) talks through its strategy for the Olympics logo. The challenge, it says, was "to represent the Passion and Transformation of a city and an entire country, and project these values to the rest of the world.

A brand that must express unity. Inspire achievement and optimism. Avoid clichés and present Rio de Janeiro as the site of the largest sporting event in the world - to its very own Cariocas, and to athletes and people around the world."

It began its research by mapping out "several Rio 2016 planets ... each one with multiple references, concepts, trends and articles."

The idea was to root the identity in the essence of Rio's Cariocas – its citizens. "We were born from a mixture of ethnicities. We warmly embrace all ethnicities, faiths and generations. We share our sky, our ocean and our happiness with the world. This human warmth, which is part of the Carioca nature and the Olympic spirit, is shaped by the exuberant nature of a city that inspires us to live passionately and carefree, and loves to share and engage with others."

This led Tália to a graphic device that would (literally) depict people joining together in an exuberant, joyful way.

Colour choices were led by the Brazilian environment: "Yellow symbolises the sun and our warm, vivacious and happy nature. Blue expresses the fluidity of the water that surrounds us, and our easygoing way of life. Green represents our forests and hope, a positive vision that inspires us to go even further."

To all this is added a rather neat, abstract reference to a Rio landmark, Pão de Açúcar or Sugarloaf Mountain, the shape of which is mapped by the logo.

Although presented initially in 2D form, the logo device was, apparently conceived as a three-dimensional form as this model illustrates.

Beneath the graphic device, Rio 2016 is picked out in a bespoke brushscript typeface - the default option for international sporting events de nos jours. Some commenters on our original story claim to see the word 'RIO' in the graphical device as well, though it's not immediately obvious.

The Rio logo comes in the wake of London 2012 and so comparisons are inevitable.London tore up the Great Sporting Event Logo Handbook. It almost willfully disregards the accepted way of these things: no overt geographical reference to the home city, no 'welcoming, joyful' attitude, no rounded, friendly organic shapes. It almost dares us to like it. And for many it remains an unmitigated design disaster.

Rio, on the other hand, seems to have gone too far in the other direction. If London is all bared teeth, Rio rolls over and wants us to tickle its tummy. Each organising committee requirement is present and correct: happy amorphous dancing people of the type seen in so many logos before (and, yes, as also seen in Matisse), soft edges where London is jagged and city landmark front and centre (though, I admit, I wouldn't have recognised the Sugarloaf unprompted). But the Games don't just belong to the organising committee, they belong to the citizens of the host city and, by extension, to the world.

I have no nationalistic agenda here - for all its daring the London logo remains damn ugly and I have yet to see it used happily by a third party nor brought to life in any dazzling manner. It's not a question of whether one beats the other. And I can't comment on whether it says 'Rio' - I've never been there - but it certainly says 'Logo for major international sporting event'. Yes the Sugar loaf reference is clever, but the overall effect is disappointingly familiar. Perhaps it will fare better when animated or turned into public art, but in 2D form it's just a little banal and forgettable.