Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Story of a Sign

Here is a movie short (it moves a little slow at first, but worth watching) that reveals something that I think is an important component to graphic design that is not utilized frequently enough. It can make a good design great. It's not about trying to convince your audience what they should do or believe by telling them, but find a way to personalize their experience with your subject matter. I think its important to switch roles from designer to audience member, asking yourself what aspects may be meaningful to you even if you have no particular interest in the topic at hand.

Watch movie here

(Thanks to my e-mailing aunt)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

3deluxe: the book

The German-based multi-disciplinary design firm, 3deluxe, has a knack for finding the poignant places where graphic design, architecture and interior design meet. Their new book, 3deluxe, is slated for release this September. Enjoy this preview:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Milk vs Oil

Lately I've been fascinated by the variations in price of a one gallon container of milk. The fascination began after seeing this photo in a local grocery store window.

The numbers reminded me of the ticker-board signs at gas stations indicating prices. These signs have interchangeable numbers so they can be easily customized and (especially) adjusted regularly. So now I'm wondering, is the price of milk just as unstable as the price of oil? Is milk more or less of a commodity than oil? Necessity? Perhaps only coincidentally, oil in Manhattan is also $4.39.

If nothing else, the price of milk is a good indicator of the alarming overall increase in household items. The not-so-quiet increase has bumped everything up 10-20% in the New York metropolitan area. Even my hummus is up $5.49 from $4.99.

So I'm curious, what is the cost of a gallon of milk where you live? What about oil?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Natsuno Hiraiwa

I found this book a while ago at Kinokunia Book Store and was just so inspired by her creativity! She is a graphic designer who studied fashion in Paris. In her book, you will see very simple and interesting geometric-shaped pieces of clothes that are quite beautiful. I could not find many images from this book online, (sorry my scanner is not working at the moment) but I made a vest for my friend's birthday once, and it was so simple to make. (It is the one that is shown right above. It is basically a donut-shaped vest when it is spread flat. To wear it you put your both arms in the donut hole. Does this make sense?) Check out her website and enjoy her beautiful creations! (Scroll down all the way to see her image library.) I put some images from her past collections here.

She also takes beautiful polaroid photographs!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Something for Every Kind of Car Owner

A one-time client of ours, Tim Roberts, launched Infectious this year. It's an SF-based company that recruits artists to create these cool car decals...because not all of us are into fireballs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Art That Upsets; The Freedom of Speech.

Andres Serrano

Lars Vilks

Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin

Recently swedish artists like Lars Vilks and Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin has created quite a stir all over the world with their controversial art. Another artists that has created the same effect with his art is the american artist Andres Serrano. The conversations that these artists are starting are many, but fundamentally it is about our human rights to the freedom of speech.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe: Babel Fish

Here is an animation from the movie Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe. What I appreciate about this 80's style computer animation is how "graphic" the images are. The creator, Rod Lord (with this name you either work in the creative industry or in porn) does an excellent job animating the information graphics, using minimal imagery for maximum impact in terms of communicating an abstract idea.

More information on Rod Lord

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization

Cover story from adbuster #79 by Douglas Haddow. Die you rock, punk, disco, hiphop, metal, grunge, alt-rock, emo, mash-up hipster scum of the sub-cultural waste basket!! I *heart* you.

Click here for article

What do you guys think?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Travis Louie Rewrites History

Travis Louie's paintings are like a formal photo gallery of ancestors past. It's the perfect venue for us to receive his wonderful creatures.

I love the kindness in their eyes (or eye) that suggest an unexpected sophistication and sweetness, a thought-provoking contrast to their otherwise ghoulish features.

Aside from the stunning quality of the renderings, the work successfully evokes that great beauty that lives in the imperfect.

Each character seems to have his own story, a rightful place in history. And just as I feel when I see turn-of-the-century portraits, I find myself wanting to get to know these guys a little better. (I mean, we wouldn't date or anything—just coffee.)

Oh, and you can watch Travis Louie at work here:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Designers as Public Servants

Another great way designers have answered the questions of the heart:

The Hippo Roller is an easy-to-use water transporting tool that holds 90 liters or 4 to 5 times the normal water capacity of traditional methods. In impoverished places, the nearest water source can be 2 hours away. This design provides a more efficient and safer method to a basic life necessity.

Earlier this year, a fairly new non-profit called Project H offered a way for the public to help distribute these via their Fund This Project campaign. They successfully delivered 75 Hippo Rollers to residents of Kgautswane, South Africa, and proudly report that the donations have allowed the female population the time to pursue an education.

Currently, the new San Francisco chapter of Project H is working on a re-design of the Hippo Roller. If you'd like to donate your creative insight, the next meeting is this month. Email
SF Chapter Head Ryan Duke for details:

And while you're at it, have a look at Project H's current Fund This Product campaign, Lifestraws for Mumbai.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rock Out!

Check out these key covers or "Keytars" that I saw at an SF hardware store...not a bad way to add some rock star silliness to your everyday.

To see more from Gama-Go click here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Art of Illuminating

This day and age, the fear of losing my belongings in a fire doesn't scare me too much. I'm not much of a collector. Most of my important work and precious photos are safely backed up. And, it wouldn't be the end of the world to have to buy a new wardrobe. Plus, I have insurance, so I know all of it can be replaced. But I admit, I'm not completely impartial to my materialistic possessions. I'd be sad to lose this copy of The Art of Illuminating, copyright 1860.

Rob and I found it at a closing sale in a San Francisco book shop.
Samples are from the 6th through 16th Centuries by publishers London, Day and Son, "lithographers to the Queen." I've seen a few musty copies for sale online (for as much as $675 US). And, they have since created a clip art bk of authors W.R. Tymms and M.D. Wyatt's original findings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Mesmerized by the Machinery of Fate"

An interesting article and accompanied slide show from Holland Cotter (New York Times) on Mao, the image vs the man.

The Power of Mao, Multiplied

Slide Show:
Mao and Pop Culture

art nouveau + manga + the gifted Audrey Kawasaki

She's from LA, she's 26, and as the bedroom eyes in her paintings will convince you, Ms. Kawasaki is in her element. Few artists can orchestrate such dichotomies with this kind of grace. Her worlds depict a truth about the content of the human spirit: innocent and seductive, natural and fabricated, peaceful and melancholic....prepare to fall in love.

More Audrey Kawasaki

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I came across this "children's" book while doing some research for a project. Brian Selznick does a spectacular job of weaving true events with his fictional story in this sort of graphic novel. Actually, I don't think this book has a category yet. It's a deliciously chunky 526-page hardcover book with about 300 pages of full-spread illustrations.

The writing and illustrations are mesmerizing, but what really intrigued me was his description of an invention, an automaton or self-operating machine.

The one in this book is a man at a desk, like an 18th century robot. Here's the thing, HE WRITES, more importantly HE DRAWS. . . ELABORATE PICTURES! I got goose bumps when I read about it, and when I heard that these objects are real—well, I just had to tell y'all.

"Automata" were made with mechanical parts similar to those you find in a music box. See more here. They are things of true beauty and wonder. In a time saturated with virtual technology, it's nice to see an invention that is so tangible.

Beautiful "tenugui" graphics

These pretty tea towels are from Tikoli. If you are a regular design sponge reader like I am, you have seen their products on their blog recently. I am a huge fan of clean and bold graphics like these. Their designs were inspired by Japanese "tenugui" graphics, and they created these beautiful pieces by adding their own design sensibility. So beautiful! I know that tenugui is getting hot again in Japan too. I have seen other people creating really beautiful designs. I will post some more later to share those findings.

Monday, August 4, 2008

HiFana's Animated Music Video

HiFana is a Japanese Instrumental HipHop band I stumbled upon on the net last weekend.
This DJ duo consists of KEIZOmachine and Juicy.

Two things I love about these guys:
1. Use of traditional sounds mixed in a break beat style.
2. Truly unique video animation style.

Video & song title Wamono:

By the way, check out their website and click the "Fresh Push" button in the upper left. You can practice your mad skills on their turn tables and beat boxes.

We're Brand New!

And, we're six cities strong so far. Let the conversation begin!