A nice set of work from freelancer Pascal Barry, with strong typographic bias. I particularly like his Cephalonia font, inspired by Greek engravings. He’s also the creator of iconoci — a set of simple royalty-free icons.
Posts by Emma:
Oxford and Brighton based Oak have a nice range of work on their new site, including branding/identity, editorial and lots of lovely art direction.
We hopped over to Dublin last weekend for Offset 2013; three days of talks and debates from a line-up of inspiring creatives. Even at first glance Offset feels a bit different from other design festivals. Its bold identity smacks you in the face challenging you to get stuck in, enthusiastically flouting the usually restrained style used for design events.
Based on this design aesthetic one could be forgiven for expecting a slightly chaotic event, but Offset is one of the best-organised events of its kind we’ve been to. On top of the seamless organisation and euphoric lack of queuing, it was fun, laid back and friendly. But above all, it felt tangibly creative. It’s easy to indulge in a bit of middle class navel gazing at these events, but this one didn’t allow any of that. It had a young, interesting buzz. It felt exciting. And the venue of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, sitting on the Grand Canal Dock, is an architectural feast that looks different from every angle. Gorgeous inside and out, the venue itself added to the inspirational atmosphere.
There were two things about Offset that really stood out for me and enhanced my enjoyment of the overall event. The first was that the second room — rather than being used for the less well known speakers, was a discussion room. This created a great breathing space from the main stage, and added pace to the day.
The second thing was the variety of styles, disciplines and personalities of the speakers butting up against each other, creating great juxtapositions. As the content and style of each presentation was quite different, it brought fresh perspectives on familiar themes.
There weren’t as many big names on the bill as in previous years, but there were some serious heavyweights, including Bob Gill, Ben Boss, Vaughan Oliver, Oliviero Toscani and Louise Fili. Our highlights from this year are as follows:
Ireland’s Laureate for children’s literature Niamh Sharkey talked passionately about the fight to get to a place worth going, gave fascinating insight into character development from a simple hand drawn line through to a 3D TV character and inspired the importance of respecting, and working for, your audience. Read more
Pick me up is back at Somerset House next week, for an 11-day feast of graphic art, design and illustration. The festival of contemporary graphic arts features loads of great artists, illustrators and designers, across a broad range of styles, processes and materials. As well as the chance to peruse and purchase original and limited edition prints, there’s a schedule bursting with cool ways to get involved too, such as live printing, talks and workshops.
Studio Aardman will be hosting a Shaun the Sheep model-making workshop, Alan Kitching a letterpress workshop, and Print Club London will be taking up residency in the studio, inviting a jaw dropping list of collaborators to create original pieces and co-create on a handmade wallpaper design. Bob Gill, Genevieve Gauckler, Pure Evil, James Joyce, Margot Bowman, Serge Seidlitz, Fred Butler, Rose Stallard, Maggie Li & Hattie Stewart will be joining them, so keep you eyes peeled to see them live at work or even better, get stuck in.
Pick Me Up runs at Somerset House from 18 – 28 April 2013. It’s Open daily 10.00-18.00 with late nights on Thursdays and entry is £8 (concessions £6) or a festival pass sets you back £15, if you’re planning on seeing lots of talks. For full info see here or for the event listings click here or list of contributors here
Emily Evans is an illustrator with a dark side. Specialising in medical illustration and teaching human dissection at Cambridge, she’s started to put her anatomical expertise to more creative use by designing products that are beautifully odd (and just a bit creepy). From her Mexican Day of the Dead wallpaper (gold ink on matt black — don’t mind if I do) to plates which feature blown up slides of human tissue, what makes this stuff interesting is the juxtaposition of art, design and science.
As well as adding layers of meaning to anatomically accurate scale drawings, she also experiments with materials, for example the Resident Evil 6 promo she screen printed in real human blood (that of the Creative Director apparently). It’s weird alright, but it’s also pretty wonderful.
We are very excited to hear the legend that is Bob Gill has teamed up with London’s Print Club to create new work in the form of a series of unique hand-finished screen prints. You can see some videos showing Bob finishing his prints here and find out more about the project on the Print Club blog. They’ll form an exhibition at the Print Club Gallery in Dalston, opening with a private view on 28th March (RSVP email@example.com ) and then open to the public until 11th April ( Mon—Fri 12—6pm).
Print Club Gallery — 10-28 Millers Avenue, Dalston London E8 2DS
We last featured Jules on FormFiftyFive back in 2011, and since then he’s been a busy boy working at Mother NY whilst populating his Tumblr with ‘sketches & things’ — a smorgasbord of visual experiments, drawings and random loveliness. Give your brain a break, and give your eyes a surprise here.
Confederation have just launched their new site, showcasing projects ranging from animation and photography to branding and packaging. A nice mix of styles too, certainly one to keep an eye on.
Photographer Bela Borsodi‘s work utilises a wide variety of techniques, injecting his fashion photography with wit and humour (plus a lot of female body parts) to create a uniquely weird and wonderful style. Check out his extensive portfolio here
Dublin’s OFFSET Festival is back again this April, with a pretty tempting lineup of 24 speakers from disciplines across design, animation, illustration, advertising and photography. Some of the most notable names include Bob Gill, Oliviero Toscani, Ben Bos, Louise Fili, Vaughan Oliver, Natasha Jen, Craig & Karl, and Sarah Illenberger. Over the course of three days they will speak about their work, ideas and inspirations and give insight into their practices and personal perspectives in the form of presentations, interviews, panel discussions and debates live on stage.
It all takes place at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre between 5—7th April, and if you’re quick you can get an early-bird ticket for €165 until March 8th.
You can also get a taste of what’s to come by heading over to the website where you can find lots of videos from previous OFFSET events.
Craig & Karl
Purpose have launched an online shop, with the inaugural offering this rather lovely and very handy A poster. Based on international paper sizes, it looks set to be the first in a range of practical but attractive posters, originally created to decorate Purpose’s artworking department.
With a limited edition of 50, it’s a snip at £20 and just in time for the purchasing season.
Art + Music + Grrrl
Kate Moross is best known for her illustrative patterns that have been applied to t-shirts, trainers, sunglasses, retail displays and advertising. Although her work is now much broader, incorporating art direction, identity, packaging and music video production, her hand-drawn, colourful and upbeat style prevails.
‘Tribal’ print | Still from music video for Jessie Ware & BenZel’s ‘If You Love Me’
She looks relaxed in front of the London TYPO12 audience and begins by telling us that she often gets asked to speak on the issue of “women in the industry”. She expresses her unease with it, seemingly reluctant to become a feminist poster girl, stating simply “I think the issue is an issue”.
She goes on to talk about how growing up in the 90s post punk / Girl Power culture was empowering. Describing punk as male dominated and heavily sexualised, she found that the American underground feminist punk rock movement Riot grrrl enabled women to embrace their own identity by removing that male lens. She was too young to experience Riot grrrl first hand being now aged 26, but did live through the capitalist version — The Spice Girls. As a teenager she rejected the traditional ‘girly’ stereotype, but loved the Spice Girls who felt fearlessly individualistic, with each band member having their own distinct personal identity (Scary, Sporty, Posh, Ginger & Baby for those unfamiliar).
Riot grrrl fanzine | Bratmobile & Bikini Kill were two prominent bands in the Riot grrl movement | the Spice Girls
From 2005 she began to experience this punk ethic through the democratisation of the internet — and primarily defunct file sharing site Limewire. Her interest in fanzines then developed — easy to photocopy and reproduce, they were key to developing her own style and in discovering punk for herself. Draw Together was the first fanzine she produced, by using an old photocopier that her Dad’s office was chucking out. This led to flyer commissions and her first paid work as a designer/illustrator. The DIY approach that Moross loved has been a strong theme through her work, and is still clearly identifiable.
An early adopter of MySpace, Moross declares it as “The biggest thing that ever happened to me”. The status and opportunity that came with knowing a bit of HTML in the MySpace era is hard to get across to those too young to remember it. She became a mover and shaker — designing other people’s pages and building a network of connections, some of whom are now music industry clients of hers. She describes that period of early internet and bootlegging software as ‘DIY utopia’.
Business Grrrl — the Punk Rock Guide to Business
So of the business model that has helped Moross turn this DIY approach into a successful business?
It’s pretty simple—
DIY. If you don’t know how, learn.
Share your skills, swap and trade.
She talks about an early advertising commission from a big brand — Sony Walkman — for which she held the phone in one hand, and took the picture with the other. For another job, Topshop commissioned her to do a mural in their store window — live. She of course said yes, and then had to figure out how to make it happen, spending two days drawing the mural live in the shop front, but not before calling Jon Burgerman to find out which type of pen to use.
Sony Walkman ad | Topshop Mural
For a Red Bull interactive billboard, she had no tech budget and very little time to make it happen. The solution? A low-fi highly interactive half-tone image of singer Jessie Ware that the public obligingly coloured in themselves.
One of the strongest themes in her work is having no idea what to do, but figuring it out and owning it. Her work isn’t slick, and her process isn’t glamorous, but her authenticity and integrity are what makes it so appealing.
Interactive billboard for Red Bull & Jessie Ware
With all this talk of punk and DIY, is Moross who now runs a successful studio with clients including Universal Records, Nokia and Adidas, a sell out? Isn’t all this corporate work very non-punk?
She thinks not. Punk wanted us to make and sell our own stuff, which is exactly what she does. She makes everything in house with her team at Studio Moross, and you can feel her hand in every project. She states that her aim was to build a studio that reflects her personality and her work — comfortable, down to Earth, interesting and friendly.
One of the greatest appeals of her work is its honesty and imperfection, and that’s due in no small part to a very hands-on, candid and positive attitude. For many people the essence of a designer is someone who makes things, but also makes things happen. The early adopters, the triers, the figure-it-outers. And she’s got all that in spades.
Being a huge fan of Vaughan Oliver for many years, it was with huge anticipation that I awaited his talk at Typo London. He didn’t disappoint.
He started off by declaring his nervousness with “I’m an anti-fucking social person” and getting the lights turned right down so we were in total darkness. Then after a few moments of awkwardness, started to explain that he’s spent his whole life going against the grain, always feeling slightly on the outside of things. The punk years were a massive influence on him — not so much the punk aesthetic, but more the attitude of DIY and an alternative to the mainstream, something you can identify clearly in his work. Studying under Terry Dowling at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Polytechnic, he absolutely hated typography, declaring a distaste for the rules and jargon that came along with it.
In the ‘80s society as a whole became more design literate, with the influence of people like Neville Brody this combined the independent record industry were a real source of inspiration for Vaughan — placing authority and creativity in the hands of the bands, rather than with massive corporate labels who held all the cards.
4AD — First Decade boxed set, 1987
Continuing in his endearing and nonchalant way, he begins to explain his burgeoning relationship with 4AD, the record label that he worked with to produce some of his most famous work. Speaking admiringly about the value placed by 4AD on packaging the music with care, quality and attention to detail — and the obvious implications of cost, effort and time, Vaughan says he was in his element, literally designing his own record collection.
Of his process, he places huge importance on connecting with the music and reflecting its qualities in the visuals he creates. Inspiration came from the most surprising places and he would often subvert pre-existing imagery to create his signature style, full of contrast and critical tensions. Being so close to the record label, he had access to the music as it was being developed, so had longer to think about the music and develop his ideas than most designers would have.
His passion for the music is evident; “If there’s no connection with it then the design is worthless and self-indulgent.” As a working class boy growing up in the north of England, he sees design for music as an introduction to art, something that for many working class people seems obscure, irrelevant and inaccessible, not to mention indulgent. But records were a signifier of your identity, a badge of honour and an expression of difference.
Pixies — Surfer Rosa, 1988
Upon leaving college he moved to London with the intention of working as an illustrator. He lasted just two weeks however, before somehow finding himself a job in a packaging design firm, where he unexpectedly made his peace with typography. The pieces clicked together, and he began to interpret type as image, a theme clear throughout his work to date.
Anyone who’s familiar with Vaughan’s work will know that he is very experimental, using materials, textures, found imagery, and putting them altogether in those pre-Mac days, never quite knowing what the final result would be.
When showing the Pixies’ 1988 Surfer Rosa LP sleeve to a student, he was asked “How did you do it? Which layer is she on, which layer is the background on, which layer are the effects on?” To which Vaughan replied “No. It’s a fucking photograph” in his endearingly abrasive way.
Pixies — Come on Pigrim, 1987
His Pixies work in particular has a very dark and surreal quality, reflecting what Vaughan calls the neuroses in the music that is reminiscent of David Lynch movies, which he also loves. Apparently on seeing the final cover artwork for Come on Pilgrim, Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago blurted out “What the fuck is this?” followed immediately by “It’s perfect”.
Another great anecdote for me was hearing how the famous 1990 Pod album cover for The Breeders came into being — the idea was to get a bloke to dance around with peeled eels strategically strapped onto his naked body. Surprisingly, this turned out to be quite a hard sell to potential models, so Vaughan ended up himself as the subject, with photographer Kevin Westerberg, shooting it in his London flat.
The Breeders — Pod, 1990
Looking back on his body of work for 4AD, his aim was to create a distinct visual identity for each band, though on reflection he acknowledges common themes and a distinctive aesthetic thread running through.
Finally he sums up by paying tribute to 4AD, acknowledging the fact that it really does take great clients to facilitate great work, the value of building long-term relationships with clients and collaborators, and finishes off with a fittingly self-deprecating statement:
“It’s not art. It’s fucking words and pictures that package music.”
Sara De Bondt kicked off the two-day Typo London conference with an understated and thoughtful presentation. As the event was loosely based around the theme of ‘Social’, the first project she talked through was Radical Nature— as a vehicle for discussing the social responsibility of the designer.
The exhibition was around working with nature and creating in an environmentally sensitive way, so the pitch naturally ended up being a manifesto on how to make the event itself as sustainable as possible. This echoes her common-sense and refreshing approach to the pitch, which she sees an opportunity to learn. The point being that even if you don’t win the job, you have still gained a raft of knowledge. To present a manifesto as a pitch concept (rather than a slick creative presentation) reflects Sara’s attitude to her work— not throw away or superficial but meaningful and considered. Of course they won the job, and followed the concept through diligently— forfeiting glue for staples and nails, making furniture from old wooden palettes and riso printing the gallery guides in house on demand, hence minimising waste.
Sara round up with her latest endeavour, Occasional Papers, a not-for-profit publishers set up with husband Antony Hudek. The concept is twofold— primarily publishing affordable content heavy (as oppose to image heavy) design books, driven by what she sees as a lack of contemporary writing on, and ready access to graphic design history. The secondary purpose of Occasional Papers is to bolster the sociability of the design community by holding a launch event for each book published, therefore encouraging social interaction within the industry.
Sara delivered a poignant and thought-provoking start to the conference, the main take away for me being the importance of questioning everything, and having the courage to execute the appropriate solution— even if it’s unexpected or high risk. And of course, never ever compromise on your convictions— if you believe in something, make it happen.
Images Sara De Bondt studio, Occassional Papers & Gerhard Kassner
We were lucky to attend Typo12 London, watching some of the big names in our industry present to an audience of designers and students on the loose theme of ‘Social’. Among the 30+ speakers packed into two days, were A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL), book designer Irma Boom, illustrator/designer/film-maker Kate Moross, Henrik Kubel of A2/SW/HK and my personal design hero Vaughan Oliver. Overall it was insightful, humbling, though-provoking and humorous. We will be posting more detailed write-ups on some of these great talks in the coming days, for those who didn’t make it to the conference. But in the mean time, there were some common conceptual themes that emerged across the board, including:Being obsessed by what you do The usefulness of knowing what’s gone before, and access to this knowledge Social & cultural roles/responsibilities of the designer Having the courage of your convictions Serendipity, the importance of collaboration and building relationships, and having a strong support network Being able to let your work go The impact of the social and cultural climate in which you grow up The studio as a safe place in which to play and the value of embracing failure Connecting with content.
Plus some aesthetic trends, some of which you may have already noted:DIY Data as image The rise of Riso.
Look out for further posts on Typo12 very soon.