Art Prints

NatureBridge Auctions Original Giclee Prints

Six internationally recognized artists contributed original works for this year’s NatureBridge gala fund-raising auction in San Francisco. A nonprofit educational organization, NatureBridge provides hands-on environmental science experiences to some 30,000 students and teachers annually. Their “classrooms” are six of the most magnificent national parks on earth.

Read More »

Pop Culture

Two Images Eclipse One Stamp


Print fans, philatelists, and astronomy lovers are in for a treat this summer, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service. To commemorate the first total eclipse of the sun to be visible across a swath of the mainland U.S. since 1918, the USPS is releasing a first-of-its-kind stamp that changes appearance when you touch it. Printed using thermographic ink, the photo of the sun responds to the heat of a finger, turning the solar disk into a black moon with only the corona of the sun glowing around it. Pretty cool, huh!

To make this stamp even more fun, the USPS is hosting the first-day-of-issue ceremony at precisely 1:30 p.m. on June 20 at the University of Wyoming Rotunda Gallery in Laramie. As if heralding the summer solstice, the sun is then slated to shine directly down through the solar tube in the Rotunda ceiling casting a single beam of sunlight onto the silver dollar embedded into the Rotunda floor, setting it aglow.
Read More »

Packaging

Macondo Chocolate’s Sense of Place


Macondo Chocolate is a single origin chocolate line handmade by Kernow Chocolate Company in the UK. According to Kernow’s website, the flavor of cacao beans, like that of coffee beans and wine grapes, is affected by where the beans are grown, the regional temperature, annual rainfall, and nutrients in the soil. It’s said that chocolate connoisseurs are familiar with the appellations of cacao beans and have their preferences. Hence, Macondo Chocolate set out to appeal to their discerning taste by sourcing its cacao beans from different corners of the world, and processing each batch separately to maintain the distinct and pure flavor of their country of origin.

Read More »

Global Trends

Are You Fluent in Animal?

When I was a toddler, my grandmother, who spoke mostly Japanese, taught me how to mimic the sounds that dogs, cats and horses make. So imagine my confusion when my kindergarten teacher asked what a dog says, and I quickly raised my hand and said, “Wan, wan.” She shook her head and asked the class, “Does anyone else want to guess?” All of the other 5-year-olds yelled out, “Bow wow” and “woof woof.”

It was then that I realized that every culture has its own impression of how animals sound. As graphic communicators, we should be mindful of this when translating a book into another language. It’s not just words that differ; it’s how sounds are heard too. Manchester, UK- author James Chapman made this point in a charming illustrated book called Soundimals, presenting 19 animals “speaking” 32 different languages.

View James Chapman’s language based art on his Tumblr and purchase his work on his Etsy Store.

Read More »

Quizzes

Quiz: What Does Your Brand Sound Like?

In the age of electronic communications, audio branding has become part of the product experience. An audio logo has to be unique, distinctive, appropriate to the type of product, used consistently so that it becomes familiar over time, and not annoying. It has to be recognizable even without lyrics or saying the brand name aloud. This quiz challenges you to match the visual brand logos with the audio logos that you can listen to in the numbered bands below.

The answers are listed below.

Read More »

Humor

GQ’s Trump Fashion Critique

Most magazines post editorial mission guidelines to define their target audience for advertisers and content contributors, explain their editorial focus and how it differs from other magazines in the same category, etc. Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour fall into the women’s fashion and style category, but each has its own unique perspective and tone of voice. Outdoor, Runner’s World, and Sports Fitness each cater to a specific demographic. Occasionally, a magazine will fudge its guidelines – like Sports Illustrated’s “swimsuit” edition, which is a stretch to claim that it has anything to do with sports or swimming, but would leave muscular jocks in tears if that issue was ever cancelled.

Lately it has been interesting to observe that a lot of magazines have strayed from strict adherence to their editorial guidelines and run articles touching upon Presidential politics. Teen Vogue, Scientific American, and Allure are just a few publications that found a way to fit a Trump story into their story format. GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) recently came up with a clever way to stay true to its editorial position as the premier authority on men’s fashion and style by critiquing Donald Trump’s attire — a twist on the “Emperor has no clothes” tale, but in this case, the “President wears the wrong clothes.”

Typography

The Story Behind Comic Sans

Designers love to say that they hate Comic Sans. It makes them feel sophisticated and discerning. To admit any fondness for Comic Sans is the equivalent of saying you like to eat canned string beans and fried Spam sandwiches. You might, but you don’t tell anyone. So, it is refreshing to learn that designer Vincent Connare drew Comic Sans while he was Microsoft in 1995 and is proud that it has become an iconic symbol familiar to designers everywhere. Indeed, there are thousands of unknown type designers around who produce respectable fonts that no one uses, can recognize on sight, or can name. Comic Sans will live on, just like Helvetica and Bodoni.

Humor

How to Sell a “Generic” Brand?

How do you sell a product that is basically the same no matter the brand? You give it a personality. You imply brand preference. You make it fun and entertaining and arouse a fondness for the brand among shoppers. Such is the case with the UK’s Cravendale milk. Wieden & Kennedy ad agency in London did not try to compare Cravendale with other dairy products or talk about milk’s many health benefits. The Cravendale commercials, released in 2010, looked at a “consumer” segment that lusted after the product, which was doled out to them sparingly by oblivious overlords. In their frustration, they fantasized how they could seize power if only they had opposable thumbs. Then the milk would be there for the taking any time, any place. My kingdom for opposable thumbs!
Read More »

Advertising

Apple Bulbs

Last November Apple debuted a commercial for its new MacBook Pro. Created by Los Angeles-based ad agency, Media Labs, the commercial celebrates great inventions and discoveries that transformed the life of mankind. To the galloping pace of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” a path of illuminated light bulbs successively explode to mark civilization-advancing bright ideas over the millennia, from the discovery of fire and invention of the wheel to the steam engine, flying machine, eyeglasses, the zipper, paper clip, space rocket, robots, microscope, and toilet paper. The important contribution that each new invention made to civilization is indisputable. Certainly, Apple’s introduction of the Macintosh personal computer in 1984 was transformative too. Not sure that the MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar falls into that category, or is deserving of being compared to the discovery of fire. The commercial is great, but implied analogy probably should be saved for Apple’s next big breakthrough.

Augmented Reality

Vivid Sydney: Music! Lights! More Lights!

Move over Paris, you are no longer the “city of lights.” In the 21st century that title goes to Sydney, Australia. Its annual Vivid Sydney festival transforms the city into a magical wonderland of light art sculptures, cutting-edge light installations, and gargantuan projection mapping extravaganzas. Vivid Sydney engages lighting artists, designers and manufacturers from around Australia and the world to illuminate, interpret and transform Sydney’s urban spaces through their creative vision. A contemporary music program matches the mood of the surreal display. No need to paint buildings in psychedelic colors or shoot fireworks into the night sky. Light is a malleable art form that treats Sydney Harbor as an inviting canvas morphing, evolving and bursting into a kaleidoscope of hues that vanish with the dawn. The 2017 Vivid Sydney festival is slated for May 26 to June 17, and is the largest show of its kind in the world.
Read More »

Motion Graphics

An A++ for Canal+ Advertising

We don’t know what the actual programming is like on the French premium cable channel Canal+ (meaning “channel plus more”) but if the entertainment value and production quality are half as good as its advertising, then sign us up. Made by French advertising agency BETC, the Canal+ commercials are engaging and fun. They are crafted like a feature film, no scrimping on budget here. The spots are cleverly conceived 60-second comedy sketches == worth searching on YouTube for other Canal+ commercials.
Read More »

Public Service

Don’t Walk. Dance.

In every big city, more pedestrians run red lights than motorists. Impatient and confident that no driver would purposely run them over, they dart across the red lights or inch off the curb and into the intersection to get a head start when the light turns green. This doesn’t happen much in Los Angeles where automobiles are “king,” and pedestrians know that they have few rights.Cars speed down city streets, daring a walker to step into their path. On the other hand, San Francisco has always been more pedestrian lenient. Motorists get annoyed with “red light jumpers” and jaywalkers, but perhaps are more forgiving because they know how steep the hills are and recognize that trudging across a hill is an ordeal for the elderly, disabled, and anyone carrying a heavy bag.

In Lisbon, Portugal, the company behind the Smart car successfully tested a novel deterrence, and it didn’t do it by stationing traffic cops at every crosswalk, handing out fines, or constructing barricades. It used entertainment. Smart Company installed “dancing traffic lights” that projected moving pictographs of passersby dancing in real time in a specially designed booth. The dancing signal was so engaging that red-light jumping was reduced by 81%. Now the question is how to get pedestrians to move along and cross the street.

Publishing

The Curse of “The Great Omar”

greatomar1

The luxurious but cursed Great Omar version of the “Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.”

There once was a time when bookbinding was a craft and an art form, not a mechanized process at the end of a press run. This tale of such bookbinding is fraught with the unrelenting pursuit of perfection, passion, tragedy, perseverance, and plain old rotten luck.

Our story begins in 1901 with the renowned British bookbinders Sangorski and Sutcliffe, who resurrected the Medieval art of binding books with intricately inlaid multicolored leather set with real gold, jewels, and gems. As fortune would have it, their services were sought out by Sotheran’s Bookshop in London, who asked them to create opulent binding for the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” which soon became known as “The Great Omar.” The only instructions from Sotheran’s manager were that “it has to be the greatest example of bookbinding in the world…. put what you like into the binding, charge what you like for it, the greater the price, the more I shall be pleased; provided only that it is understood that what you do and what you charge will be justified by the result.” Read More »

Virtual Augmented Reality

Video Mapping Entertainment on a Plate

No longer just a mind-boggling novelty trick shown large-scale on building facades, 3-D projection mapping technology is being integrated into everything from live concerts, advertising, gaming, theater performances, product launches, and fashion shows. Now it has gone mini and personal, performing to an audience of one.

In Belgium, animation artists, Filip Sterckx and Antoon Verbeeck, from Skullmapping, have given new meaning to the term “dinner theatre” by putting the entertainment on the plate itself. Like a scene right out of the Disney film, “Ratatoille,” the well-known Le Petit Chef in Belgium amused diners by having a little chef personally prepare their meal right before their eyes. This example of spectacular precision videomapping isn’t just dazzling audiences with its new “gee whiz” technology, but has taken projection mapping to a new level by treating it as a tool to tell a story.
Read More »