• Stewart_710x400
Graphic Design

2009 Review: Stewart Smith

Posted by Will Hudson,

Stewart Smith runs “a consultancy that approaches art and software through the lens of graphic design”, he also contributed a fantastic feature to the first issue of the publication back in April of this year. Here he shares with us the rest of his year.

Stewart’s image from 2009, “A photograph taken by Stina just before she and I walked out of our small Chinatown apartment to be married in City Hall on 09 September 2009.”

Mark out of 9 for 2009?

It’s 9 out of 9 for 2009. It’s been all about 9’s for me this year. I married my love, Stina Carlberg (now Stina Smith!) on 09-09-09. This year had a rocky start with a busted economy, no projects, mounting bills, and so on. But things flowered in late spring and all’s ending well.

Best new discovery?

The Rubik’s Cube. Yes, sure it reached its peak in the 80’s but this year I learned how to solve it and it’s become an obsession. So far I’m down to a little over a minute. I taught Stina how to solve it and now she’s faster than I am. For me a lot of 2009 was about investigating older things and rediscovering nostalgic bits. Like the “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” When’s the last time you listened to it? Come on.

Best idea?

Teaching data visualization at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. The students are talented and that forces me to stay on my toes. I’m moving out of New York so unfortunately I’ll be leaving NYU as well, but teaching feels so right. I want to continue to integrate it into my practice as a graphic designer.

What were you doing this time last year?

I was in Paris preparing the Terre Natale (“Native Land”) exhibition for its grand opening. Robert Pietrusko and I were on very little sleep; constantly dropping Silence of the Lambs references and often speaking in a Buffalo Bill voice to each other from behind our respective keyboards into the early hours. At one point two curators arrived expecting to see our video installation but we Rick-Rolled them instead. The joke landed rather flatly.

What broke? How did you fix it?

The economy broke. It broke bad. Let’s leave it there.

What piece of work really stood out for you?

I’m humbled by Andrey Yazev’s website. It reminds me of seeing Luna Maurer’s work for the first time. I’d love to collaborate with both of them. Also add Rafael Rozendaal to that list whom I met this summer in Amsterdam.

Favourite Book/Album/Film?

Book: Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. It’s from 2004 but I finally read it this year. Since childhood I’ve felt that source code is poetry so Graham’s essays were love at first sight. (But I blew it by aggressively emailing him about “branding” his new language called Arc. He must think I’m a freak.)

Album: Matt & Kim’s “Grand” kept my summer bumping. (And the “Dark was the Night” compilation kept the Autumn mellow.)

Film: “Videodrome” (1983) by David Cronenberg. Again, not new but new to me. I was already a fan of Cronenberg’s “Crash” and “Naked Lunch” but somehow this one had slipped through my fingers. Amazing.

Net Meme: It’s a tie between Keyboard Cat and Auto-tune the News #3. Yes, just number 3 because it’s clearly the best. Oh and of course it’s the year Twitter truly broke.

Did you get Swine Flu?

Thankfully not. But now that you mention it I am feeling a bit off…

What are you going to miss about 2009 and what are you looking forward to in 2010?

Stina and I are relocating in January. I will miss my home of New York City terribly, but I look forward with great enthusiasm to embracing our new life in London. Cheers for England! (Now if only Simon Amstell was still hosting Nevermind the Buzzcocks.)

Wh-300

Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Tomaslaar-itsnicethat-main

    Nice body of work here from Dutch design student Tomas Laar, who has a pleasing understanding of typography and the fun there is to be had in publication design. Even though he’s still studying he’s been very busy immersing himself in the design world, taking part in Hort’s raucous After School Club and a number of different group shows and workshops. What I like about his work is that he’s not afraid to mess around a bit, and the more professional journals he’s put together and professionally bound are contrasted by mini-projects that see him making posters in homage to designers he admires and pasting them up on walls around The Hague. Even his typography is light-hearted, and shows how unafraid he is to get stuck in with different materials and processes in order to get the best result. He’s also got an absolute ripper of a blog.

  2. Spd-newyork-itsnicethat-list2

    Call me a massive magazine nerd if you must but I really enjoy the conversation about what makes a great cover. Is there a science to it as Tyler Brûlé maintains? Does it have to be meticulously planned or can it be the simple execution of gut instinct? Where is that fine line between bold and daring on the one hand, and obtuse and gimmicky on the other? Anyway yesterday two “best cover” shortlists were unveiled which gives us a glimpse into what two leading industry bodies think (The Society of Publication Designers and The Professional Publishers Association).

  3. Flatland-itsnicethat-list

    “We hear a lot about the death of print and the dominance of digital,” begins Epilogue’s Kickstarter pitch video for a new version of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, “but it’s having access to either that makes this an exciting time. The challenge is, how do you make something that is interesting and meaningful with both?”

  4. Jaimezuverza-itsnicethat-main

    If you ever want to read a truly inspiring interview with one of the coolest designers out there, look no further than this one with Jaime Zuverza we ran on the site back in 2013. In it Jaime said: “Lately I have been inspired by the strange things the body and mind create. I think those things must be welcomed in a friendly manner. The body produces blood, tears, boogers, vomit, caca, gas, wax, urine, spit, odours, etc. The mind produces dreams, hallucinations, delusions, paranoid associations, psychic vibes, phobias, visions. All of these things are usually kept hidden but they play a big part in people’s daily lives.”

  5. Stosh-itsnicethat-list-2

    Stosh is the leading case in my new argument (actually my only case, but that’s neither here nor there) that all studios formed of two or more people should be named by combining those two names together. Freelance graphic designers Stephanie Cuérel and Josh Schaub (Stosh!) have been collaborating since 2010 and judging by their website – a trichotomy of bold design made by one, the other or both of them, with the odd GIF thrown in for good measure – it was a good decision.

  6. New-dps-itsnicethat-list

    It probably won’t be of much interest to you, but I wrote my dissertation on the intersection between digital platforms and physical publishing and the interesting ways people are finding to merge the two. For me it was fascinating, for some of you it’s probably exceptionally tedious. But for those of you with a similarly perverse interest in these curiously anachronistic forms of publishing there’s an interesting online archive that brings them all together. P-DPA (the Post-Digital Publishing Archive) is an impressive resource created by Silvio Lorusso dedicated to documenting projects at the forefront of modern publishing. It’s far from comprehensive, but the user-generated archive offers up some exciting examples of progressive publishing. I could go on, but I’ve probably already bored some of you to tears.

  7. Spin-itsnicethatlistfull_screen_simon_pengelly_2

    When graphic designers take on furniture designers, their broadening solutions can sometimes feel formulaic – all wholesome browns and chatter about “craft.” That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Spin’s work for British furniture designer Simon Pengelly. “The idea for Simon’s identity came from a visit to his workshop and noticing the lovely graphic stripes on the edge of the plywood used on one of his chairs,” says Spin. “The various iterations of the marque reflect different thicknesses.” Despite the fact, as Spin puts, it, Simon’s design approach “brings together a blend of organic minimalism and a distinctive feel for natural materials,” the identity focusses on the minimalism and shuns the organic, taking on a bold, direct and a very brave aesthetic.

  8. Anagrama-itsnicethat-list

    Mexican design studio Anagrama has turned its focus to one of its own this time around, creating a solid brand identity and new interior for a “cantina” called Botanero Moritas. Anagrama had the restaurant’s rich brand history – stretching all the way back to 1939 – to wrangle with, and chose to channel as much of its tradition and history into the new identity as possible while still striking a chord with contemporary branding. It went with a simple, bold logo on dark grainy backgrounds for much of the printed collateral including business cards, postcards and packaging, employing a rainbow foil to jazz it up where necessary, while the variety of typefaces used on menus and signage hints at the diversity of old and new references.

  9. Wife_web_backdrme-itsnicethat.list

    It’s always such a joy when great music and great graphics combine, as we explored recently in our Art + Music series. So when we found out that Manchester agency DR.ME was behind the sleeves for one of our all-time favourite record labels, Tri Angle, it was a happy day indeed. “Happy,” however, is perhaps not so apt for describing the sleeves themselves – or indeed the music of Tri Angle’s roster – characterised by a dark, brooding, experimental sound. Some dub it witch house, some rape gaze, others drag, but by any name, it’s downright weird and often rather brilliant. But enough gushing about these strange, cracked-out sounds, let’s talk about the sleeves.

  10. Graphilately-itsnicethat-list

    For some years now stamp collecting has been relegated from the status of a widespread and admirable pastime to a somewhat nerdy pursuit, and this is a perception that Blair Thomson, creative director of design studio Believe In, is keen to shake off. Having had a passion for stamps instilled in him at a young age, Blair is the designer behind Graphilately, an Instagram account dedicated to his own beautifully curated, and very well photographed collection, which celebrates stamps as a form of graphic art in their own right.

  11. Anna-kulachek-itsnicethat-list-2

    The very best graphic identities, as designer Anna Kulachek would attest, take on a life of their own. The Moscow-based creative has been working on identities for the Prague School of Design since 2012, and they’ve since grown into an evolving body which grows and reforms with each new brief. “In the beginning it was built on the illustrations of the city,” Anna explains, “because one of the points in the brief was to show what’s happening in Prague. So I decided to draw the school in simple shapes.”

  12. Chris-van-niekerk-itsnicethat-listfine_furniture_1

    Chris van Niekerk’s designs are direct, accomplished and considered, but what makes them extra intriguing are the process stories behind each. Take his special edition vinyl sleeves for Cheap Thrills. They look good enough – all dingy, limited palettes and dynamic type – but he explains that the imagery was created by sampling the sound waves from side A of each vinyl, and visualising them, which is pretty cool. The project that really caught our eye, not least because of how well shot it is, is Chris’ branding for bespoke furniture maker Jake Coleman, which takes a fresh look that’s true to its product, using a puzzle piece inspired by dovetails as the centre of the identity. To show the versatility of this kid, we’ve also included the designs for an Aperture publication, marking 60 years of the photography foundation, which looks very slick indeed.

  13. Emptyfilmposters-itsnicethat-list

    Sure this isn’t the kind of thing we usually post, but the sun’s all blazing and glorious outside our windows today, so we thought we’d be kind and give you something to stare at for the next few hours until it’s time to make your way to the closest beer garden available. You know what these images are don’t you? They’re iconic film posters with all traces of branding and characters removed – the bench without Forrest, a sunset with Simba removed and a deep blue sub-aquatic fade that’s one shark short of of a multi-million dollar blockbuster franchise. These posters are the result of hours of hard photoshopping by French art director Madani Bendjellal, and for making our afternoon pass that little bit faster we owe him our thanks. Thanks!