Article Archive

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    It’s comforting to see the resurgence in the physical aspects of music. There was a moment a few years back when gig posters and witty, well-crafted promotional material seemed to be confined solely to the world wide web, which made every poster that was actually printed on paper something of a novelty. Not any more though: we’re receiving and finding so many illustrators now whose portfolios are chock full of variations on the humble gig poster and they are brilliant. Today we thought we’d champion this theme with Dutch illustration student Douwe Dijkstra. His visual interpretations of bands such as The Growlers and Losers are taking the stylistic qualities of early 1990s gig posters and infusing them with a modern style to make some seriously nick-able printed matter. Keep up the great work, Douwe!

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    It seems to us that French designer Côme de Bouchony always has his hands full. If he’s not directing achingly cool music videos he’s busy launching new magazines with close friends and collaborators; adding a touch of class to the visitors’ guides at Parisian museums or, in this case, rebranding Paris’ foremost contemporary art fair. Choices Collectors Weekend is a three-day exposition that brings together 35 galleries in the French capital, each of whom choose an artist whom they represent and showcase their work in a large-scale exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Art.

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    Innovative eyewear brand Etnia Barcelona has carved out a niche for itself through collaborations with artists like Araki, Yves Klein and McCurry, and its new collection riffs off the mainstream fashion trend for floral prints. Art Flowers takes inspiration from various flora and abstracts colours, shapes and patterns to create a striking new range with an expressionist aesthetic well in line with Etnia’s cultural cache.

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    The changing role of album artwork in a digitally-defined music culture has been much discussed; meanwhile the art of the gig poster seems to be in fairly rude health. But there’s another story to be told; a lesser-examined but tremendously significant area of visual music-related collateral – the flyer.

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    Series exploring unusual lives are actually not that unusual; however Robert Ellis’ poetic photographs of the New Line community in Ireland stands out with its quiet beauty. This is part of a project about people but – as the scored-out title We are replaced with Where we are suggests – we can learn so much through seeing the place they live in, that we need not even see them.

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    Designer Shaz Madani has had an extraordinary year. As if it wasn’t enough to take on the art direction and design of Riposte Magazine, now in its second issue, she’s also been involved with a whole host of other projects. From the stunning exhibition catalogue to accompany Lalla Essaydi’s exhibition at Baku MoMA, to the identity for the 2014 summer shows at London College of Communications, and a documentary photography publication with Giles Duley, the diversity of her work is fascinating. Moreover it never dips below excellent. Each project is created with her clean, pared back aesthetic, unobtrusive and yet bold in its approach. We’re in awe. Can you tell?

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    Back in the glory days (i.e. when we were at uni) each triumphant essay hand-in or project completion was followed by a quick dance around our bedrooms, a trip to Tesco’s to stock up on cheap booze and, if we were really lucky, an evening spent in fancy dress in a sweaty club stuffed fuller than a new beanbag. Now we’re working 9 till 5, that jubilant sensation is saved up for just one day of the week and, you guessed it, it’s Friday! So do a swift wiggle in your deskchair, because it’s time for the Weekender!

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    A VERY special and timely mix from the guys over at Wonderland magazine this week. I am very pleased to tell you that today is 3 October 2014 – EXACTLY a decade since heartthrob Aaron Samuels asks Cady what day it is in 2004’s cinematic highlight, Mean Girls. Spooky huh? To celebrate this fact, and their utterly spectacular new Mean Girls-themed issue, the guys over at Wonderland have put together a mix of their “current favourite female musicians and female-led tracks.”

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    The friendship between prolific Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and Pharrell Williams might be one of my absolute favourites; the pair have worked together a number of times over the years, culminating in this super-special new music video. Animated by Takashi and subsequently remixed by Pharrell to create the visual accompaniment to It Girl, it’s a gloriously maximalist affair with influences in manga, video game graphics, watercolour animation and (obviously) Pharrell’s hat. It’s an explosion of colour, bubble writing, tiny bikinis and glittering stars, because why not? This is Pharrell, after all, and if anybody has the power to recreate his celebrity prowess in animated form, it’s Takashi Murakami.

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    Mon dieu! ‘Tis Friday once again and time to collect up all the treats scattered about the studio to show off to you good folks. It’s like the conveyor belt in The Generation Game, except there’s not actually that much to remember and you don’t get to win anything and there are no toasters, hairdryers or shiny saloon cars. Instead, of infinitely more interest, we have a zine, a collection of 100 word stories, a compendium of Andy Rementer’s work, a new Eyeball Comix comic and some delightfully designed city maps. Catch all that? Good, because I’ll be testing you later…

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    Just as Jamie Oliver is the go-to man for piling shredded food on to rustic chopping boards, Anushka Blommers and Niels Schumm are the go-to guys for photographing girls in their trademark pubescent wallflower aesthetic. Dazed, AnOther and Vogue have all had the special treatment, partly due to the infamous Class of 1998 Self Service shoot that rocketed the pair to stardom. The in-demand duo have been allocated a spot in the glossy, heavy new issue of POP, in which they take extraordinary beauties and style and shoot them to look as if they are waiting for their date to arrive to take them to a 1970s Texas prom. Part Napoleon Dynamite, part Virgin Suicides, this is Blommers & Schumm joyously doing what they do best.

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    These have been doing the rounds a bit this week but it’s not hard to see why – Israeli designer Lee Ben David’s Very Specific Cutlery range is a middle-class gourmand’s perfectionist dream. A graduate of the BEZALEL Academy of Art And Design, Lee believes “that the products that surround us should make us smile, laugh and think beyond,” and this project does just that.

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    The simplest ideas can often be the most powerful, and that’s certainly the case with Eight Inc.’s new work for Cancer Research UK. Tomorrowww is a browser plug-in that removes the word cancer from your online experience, a practical yet potent way of visualising a future when the battle against the disease has been won.

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    This week’s Studio Audience is packed with more goodies than a Christmas Quality Street tin; we review Alex Chinneck’s ingenious and poetically named floating house installation Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder and Mike Mellie’s similarly tremendously titled selfie portraits. Maisie tells us what delights she saw at the London Art Book Fair at the weekend and we place bets on the Turner Prize. You can listen using the SoundCloud embed below or you can subscribe via iTunes here.

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    Londoners! This weekend sees the launch of arty book fair k-i-o-s-k and to celebrate this, creative south London wunderkinder/collective King Zog have made a quintessentially King Zog publication entitled Tracing Emin. This textbook-style pamphlet that sees photographs of Tracey Emin overlaid with tracing paper for, you guessed it, you to draw on. They recruited another south London artist, much lauded skater boy artist Kyle Platts to go to town on Tracey and surround her gritty photographs with his trademark creatures, animals, shapes and graffiti-like doodles. The combination of Kyle’s comic book style and Tracey’s emotional fine art photography is a little bit like eating peanut butter and marmite simultaneously – oddly fantastic, and a bit naughty.

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    On the morning that David Cameron is giving a press conference on the UK’s future role in Afghanistan, Scott King’s latest book seems even more significant. Anish & Antony Take Afghanistan is a graphic novel that Scott sees as “a critique of the deployment of public art,” which satirises how far we’re prepared to enforce our cultural values on others. Through Scott’s writing and Will Henry’s illustrations, we follow as Anish (Kapoor) and Antony (Gormley) try and bring cultural regeneration to the war-torn country.

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    American designer Elana Schlenker popped into the studio this week and came bearing gifts in the form of the new issue of her much-lusted-after Gratuitous Type magazine. There’s a humility about this printed venture you don’t often come across, with the very first sentence of the colophon setting the tone: “Gratuitous Type is a pamphlet of typographic smut. It is published infrequently.”

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    Hiro Murai’s new music video for Flying Lotus’ Never Catch Me is the kind that demands your total attention, and if you can give it, something very strange happens. It might be due to the subject matter – two children rise out of their coffins midway through their own funeral and dance down the aisle to escape in a hearse. Or even the magnificent shots, of which there are plenty – from a choir dancing and clapping in silhouette in front of a stained glass window to the boy leaning his head out of the car window in the final moments with a look of utter happiness on his face. Either way, it’ll transport you completely.

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    Heads are turning in Covent Garden this morning, and they’re not just looking at the usual street performers – they’re gawping at a levitating building. Master of illusions Alex Chinneck’s latest mind-boggling public art installation is on show in what must surely be the spiritual home of his craft; one of the busiest piazzas in London and its theatrical hub. His floating building follows on from a sliding house, upside down house and many other puzzling optical illusions.

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    There’s a reason why girls like me used to babysit, and it sure wasn’t for the £2-per-hour wage and free Cheese strings. SNOOPING, dear friends, is one of the most seductively naughty and curious pastimes of the world. Walking past a home with all the lights on at night gives me the same sensation as finding a fiver on the floor and here’s why – how others decorate and personalise their places of dwelling is infinitely interesting, and the chance to cast your own judgment on their choices is addictive.

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    French designer Caroline Aufort is one of the co-founders of Acmé Paris, a design studio we’ve written about before, but her personal work as art director of Passion, a fanzine-like publication with roots in the mystical and the strange, deserves some attention too. Issue #3 of the publication is heavily influenced by the sublime, and takes as its theme the symbol of the blue flower from German Romanticism, representing a mythical truth which is sought by everybody. This flower crops up again and again in the publication as it references different aspects of this legend, and the mystery inherent in the subject is reinforced by design elements, from the woodland imagery which serves as a backdrop to overlaid articles to the calligraphic hand-drawn types used for headings. A bit gothic? Yes, but beautiful with it.

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    It’s a truism now that graphic design students often end up doing something quite different, and Eoin Duffy is a good example of someone who pursued another kind of creative path. But few have enjoyed the same success as the Irish-born, Vancouver-based animator, whose latest work The Missing Scarf was feted by almost every film organisation worth its salt. It was even nominated for an Oscar, and now the full version has just been released online you can see for yourself what all the fuss was about.

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    James Christian’s work tackles arguably the biggest issue facing London as a city – housing. Responding to disruption – this year’s Designers In Residence theme – James has looked back at slum housing from London’s history to see what modern planners and architects can learn from the way they operated.

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    Before you start scrolling through Cara’s work, maybe put on the latest Foxygen track and try to pretend that you’re not slouched on a synthetic chair in a well-lit office, but lounging on a wicker bed in the Chateau Marmont, puffing on a cig and watching the swimming pool through your sunglasses. Cara’s candid shots don’t stray too far from a certain scene: the psychedelic music-makers that have been prevalent in the last few years: Kevin Morby, White Fence, Cate le Bon and Connan Mockasin to name but a few.

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    We featured the work of Verena Michelitsch back in June but on that occasion we focussed on the artier side of her practice. The Austrian graphic designer and illustrator was a founding member of the En Garde studio in Graz before moving to New York to work with Sagmeister & Walsh, Pentagram and RoandCo. Now working as design director at Sid Lee NY, Verena has an eye for stylish graphic solutions often characterised by illustrative touches and impressive restraint.

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    Flickr is one of those magical treasure mines of the internet that’s sure to yield gems if you just look hard enough, and every now and again on our travels we stumble across a great hunk of uncut diamond. To continue the metaphor, Dave Glass is one such treasure.

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    These photographs should carry a warning; they depict such a gloriously idyllic lifestyle they’ll soon have hoards of office workers throwing their suitcases out of nineteenth floor windows and marching, pot plants under arm, to a brighter pastel-shaded future living in slumbering Mexican villages.

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    In recent months the question of so-called spec work has been raised with us over social media in light of various design competitions we have helped promote. Off the back of that we have spent a lot of time discussing this thorny issue with various people so as to formulate a consistent approach, although the nature of these things is that each is best analysed on a case by case basis.

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    Is there nothing Tim and Eric can touch without turning it into a gleaming hunk of gold? I’d have imagined that homeware would be simply too dry for their unique brand of slapstick, but somehow the American comedy duo have succeeded in making an ad for GE Link lightbulbs, dreamt up by BBDO New York, which is pant-wettingly funny and super slick without undermining their usual offerings on American channel Adult Swim.

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    At last night’s Nicer Tuesdays we were treated to four varied but equally enlightening talks on different aspects of the art and craft of photography.

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    Reading Bonjour is like seeing a beautiful symphony translated onto the page, all bright swirls of colour and twinkles of detail which transport you to a dreamy land. It begins as the birds start to sing and traces the start of an ordinary day but somehow makes it seem oh so very magical. The day arrives as a big beamy sun, glowing in tie-dye neon orange glory, and the plants burst into life looking like fantastical plasticine creations. I could happily gaze at French designer Anne Brugni’s cosmic illustrations for a whole day and float away on her marbled clouds into the speckled sky. Its lyrical charm also owes something to musician and writer McCloud Zicmuse’s storytelling. Kids nourished with books like this are surely guaranteed to become creative geniuses.

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    You can do a lot in a year, I’m told, and proof if any was needed comes in the form of Cynthia Kittler. Just last year we listed her as one of our Students of the Month for her “kind, quiet illustration,” and checking by her website again this year I found that not only is she no longer a student, but she’s being regularly commissioned by the likes of The New York Times and Die Zeit magazine for editorial illustration which is not only as quiet and kind as it was last time we checked in, but also incredibly resonant now.