Article Archive

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    With trends and zeitgeists evolving faster than us mere mortals can keep track of, sometimes a helping hand in watching over what’s going on in the creative world can be necessary. Fortunately branding and communications agency 3 Deep have taken it upon themselves to help us out by creating a broadsheet which redefines “our engagement with luxury while celebrating those at the nexus of creativity, art and commerce.”

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    For all its simplicity – the limited use of colour, the seemingly straightforward shapes – there’s something about the work of Jens Wolf that’s undeniably intriguing and complex. Bringing to mind the likes of Josef Albers and Frank Stella, his abstract pieces set off their precise geometry with deliberate imperfections that add a human element to its formality. With his first London show opening in March, we had a chat with him about the creative process, the evolution of his work and why his London is forever foggy.

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    Dublin’s OFFSET festival is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the creative conference calendar, and early indications suggest that 2015 is all set to be another cracker (or craic-er, if you will). For three days in March the Irish capital is taken over by a brilliant line-up of art and design speakers (and a fair bit of socialising) and we’re looking forward to going back this year for another hefty dose of inspiration and enlightenment.

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    A new ad tells the story of a chewed up pen lid, a jelly baby, a princess and a peanut who are all rather concerned about infants choking on their very beings. Created by BBH London, John Ayling and Associates and animators Si & Ad, it’s something of a departure from St John Ambulance’s usual tone.

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    It’s rare that old age is really celebrated, let alone portrayed in a fashion that makes it look like fun, but street photographer Michelle Groskopf’s shots of oldies captured in Larchmont, USA are a different story altogether. These guys seem to be having a blast; they’re cheeky, glamorous and charismatic. The series doesn’t just focus its lens on the over-60s of this Los Angeles suburb, there are teenagers, young mums and suited businessmen too, but the photos of the older generation are refreshingly cheerful, so here they are edited down for your enjoyment.

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    “Breath of fresh air” might be an expression used mainly by teachers when describing particularly astute pupils, but it’s so applicable to Dutch designer Bram Kinet’s lo-fi posters that I can’t help but bandy it about. The type is large and retro, the colour combinations are unexpected and there’s a collage-influenced, freeform element to his style that’s reminiscent of the posters junior school kids use to advertise their school discos, in the absolute best way. A man with an owl head and a red felt-tip penis surfing on a large flat fish, for example? How could we resist?

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    Carl Kleiner is a man whose reputation precedes him. He’s known internationally for his extraordinary still-life photography and has spawned countless imitators over his career. But his new book (out later this year) is unlike the Carl Kleiner most of us know. For starters this six book archive displays nothing of the pristine, polished studio environment with which we usually associate him, and secondly he’s swapped digital for analogue, using a second-hand Rolleflex and Portra film to capture his photographs.

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    Jurgen Maelfeyt is a designer and co-founder of Gent publishing platform Art Paper Editions. His design work achieves an uncommonly effective balance of concept and function; making work that is playful, with an incredibly broad frame of reference that is still readable.
    Jurgen’s visual references span the latter half of the 20th Century, chopping between psychedelic hippy crystals, Technicolour landscape photography, acid house and New Wave cinema. These considerations run through to the production values of every project, working with processes and materials that reflect the idea and the purpose.

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    Simon Porte Jacquemus is a Paris-based, self-taught designer who started his label at 19. He cites “off” taste and juvenile humour as inspiration for his clothes, and each collection has a narrative through not only the fabrics and colour-ways but a sense of identity, place and character. Simon works with filmmaker and photographer Bertrand le Pluard on the films and lookbooks.

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    I come back to Benjamin Marra’s sketchbooks time and again when I feel like real life is just a little too drab. The witty and irreverent comics artist has an insatiable appetite for the surreal and absurd that never fails to get me tittering away like a cheeky schoolboy. Everything from the unusually-proportioned physiques of his protagonists to the bizarre headlines that run across his images serve to delight and entertain, whether that’s the catchily-named Fantomah Meets Madame Satan at a Lesbian Bar in Hell or the wild-eyed warrior LuLu Benedict: Angry Bitch, Vigilante Gangleader. He’s also drawn one of the finest portraits of Beyoncé I’ve ever laid eyes on. Long may his madness continue!

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    On New Year’s Eve in 1965, photographer Lisetta Carmi met and photographed a group of transvestites living and working on the Via de Campo in Genoa, Italy. It was the beginning of a seven year relationship with the group, considered outsiders by Italian society, and led to the publication of I Travestiti, an incredibly controversial book of all the images Lisetta took over this stretch of time. Now, almost 50 years later, Jacopo Benassi, a photographer already famed for his work documenting prostitution and gay culture, has retraced Lisetta’s original steps, tracking down the two remaining subjects from that body of Lisetta’s work – Rossella and Ursula.

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    French-born, New York-based photographer Franck Bohbot shoots public spaces with an eye for the cinematic. His studies of empty cinemas, parks and unusually deserted Manhattan streets hang in the balance between documentary and fiction in depictions of the widely mythologised East Coast twilight and West Coast sun.

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    We interviewed Mathis Pfäffli back in 2012 about his design practice and working day. The Swiss-born graphic designer has segued from the playful and considered printed matter that we’re used to and produced a series of large-scale pencil drawings.

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    Now that pretty much everyone in the whole world has a blog, you don’t have to tell someone twice to share something about themselves with the entire web. I’d be inclined to think that a lot of people present themselves differently online to how they truly are in the real world, and it’s always so refreshing to come across an artist or illustrator who is just totally honest about themselves. Rami Niemi is one of those: as well as updating his website with his incredible, neat and brightly coloured editorial illustration all the time, he also gives viewers a chance to see a more personal aspect of his work via his sketches in a collection he calls The Polycottons.

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    There are cool designers, and then there are those of Leslie David’s calibre, who gaze nonchalantly down upon their pretenders with a talented eye and a practice so diverse that it firmly establishes their spot among the higher echelons of creative standards. Paris-based Leslie has a been around for some time now, and her client list is an incredible testament to the quality of her work, featuring some of the greatest players across fashion, music, media and retail. Specialising in brand image for fashion and culture brands, her aesthetic blends illustration, design and typography in an always unexpected and never less-than-excellent blend.

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    Given that it’s the first week back at work after a long fortnight spent cramming mince pies and Baileys into our faces while flicking between The Wizard of Oz and Call the Midwife, you’d think the creative world might be slow getting back into the swing of things. Oh no. This week we’ve seen the cartooning world torn apart only to rise up even stronger, a mad new interactive website launched by Panda Bear, some seriously impressive new identity work from the likes of Pentagram, and books, films and adverts spewed out all over the shop. Here’s our pick of the best of the week.

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    You don’t get as much editorial illustration and art direction like this as you used to. Back in the day, this sort of visual pun-based work was used to illustrate pretty much every article under the sun in order to quickly get a hard-hitting point across and lure readers in to the actual story. Nowadays people like The New York Times Magazine are some of the only guys who still use this method – and when they do they call on Javier Jaén. The Barcelona-born designer spends the majority of his time collaborating with art directors, photographers and illustrators to concoct clever, pleasing visual cues that sit comfortably among the pages of big-dog publications such as The New Yorker and The Washington Post. You don’t get many more “simple idea, well executed” examples than in Javier’s portfolio, not to mention the rather beautiful last line on his online bio – “He has still not written a child, planted a book, or given birth to a tree. Everything is waiting to be done.”

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    Of all the subcultures that have shaken Britain to its stuffy, reserved core, skinhead culture is perhaps both the most influential and the most misunderstood. Marked by an instantly recognisable aesthetic comprising fashion, music and print media, it has seen so many markedly different variants, from rudeboy culture to neo-Nazism, that it’s little surprise it’s so often misinterpreted.

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    January is a time for new beginnings, and our inaugural post about Bureau Sandra Doeller proves that to be very much true. Sandra, who was previously one half of Doeller-Satter, has broken out alone, anointing her new studio with a remarkably striking project for Frankfurt’s Museum Angewandte Kunst. Overlaying bold but simple text-driven posters with playful hand-drawn type, a grinning smiley face and huge drippy lettering, Sandra breaks out of the traps of rigid uniformity with both the exhibition newspaper and the posters which accompany it.

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    Of all the places to for a mooch about, a cactus nursery has to be one of the nicest choices out there. What better way is there to spend a weekend afternoon than surrounded by curtains of luscious foliage, tables and tables covered in stout green plants and with a couple of charming aficionados to teach you everything they know about botany? India Hobson’s series taken inside Abbey Brook Cactus Nursery is a testament to the fact; she documents the peculiar Englishness of the greenhouse garden with a gentle watchfulness, shooting the plants as though they were tiny green spiky aliens to be observed curiously through her lens. This is just one of a bunch of wonderful projects on her site, from shoots for The Garden Edit and Kinfolk, proving that we’re not the only ones to admire her talent.

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    We seem to be following Nicolas Ménard’s progress like a sort of online This is Your Life – and as I was studying with him until last summer, were we to take that idea to its conclusion, there’s an opportunity to bring out friends and family for some song-and-dance nostalgia.

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    While there’s nothing especially unusual or out of place in the still, unpeopled scenes of Sarah Schneider’s paintings, there’s undoubtedly something intriguing, disquieting even. Rendered in eerie stillness, it feels almost like the calm before the storm, each little soap dispenser, tissue or chair sitting idle, waiting for something to happen to it.

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    The term “ruin porn” gets thrown around a lot to describe images of abandoned buildings and architectural forms that have fallen into disrepair. The Atlantic have published essays on the psychological reasons we’re incapable of tearing our eyes from it, and Detroit has become the poster city for this captivating genre of destructive, bleak photography – in fact it seems to be a genre that’s almost exclusively American.

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    Horror and sci-fi are genres that often conjure up a certain visual aesthetic: one that’s typically dark and complex. Their winding and strange narratives tend not to lend themselves to graphic, Swiss-style simplicity – or at least so we thought, until we saw the work designer Daniel Reed has created, inspired by Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series. Taking cues from mid-century Swiss graphic design and the Bauhaus school, the posters take the numbers from within Stephen’s texts as their starting point.

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    Just before Christmas an excitable Jane Stockdale came bounding into the studio with even more energy than usual to tell us about a graphic designer she’d just met in Barcelona. We hastened to check out his website, flicked through a bunch of projects and quickly realised that Jane’s enthusiasm was totally justified – Arnau is indeed a man of many talents.

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    The enduring impression I had that I’d made pretty acceptable use of my BA time has been shattered by Chloe Newman and Rebecca Scheinberg’s high production, hyper-real photographic analyses of consumer culture. Having graduated from BA Photography at LCC last summer, Chloe and Rebecca’s work holds both a consistent quality and an interest in fragmented narratives of order, chaos and commodity value.

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    It’s not very often that illustration finds itself at the centre of world events, but that came to pass yesterday when three gunmen attacked the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The publication – which lampoons anyone and everyone – was seemingly targeted because of the way it has mocked Islam in the past and three of its cartoonists (Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous) were among the 12 people killed. The illustration community was quick to respond with powerful and poignant imagery uploaded to social media. Jean Jullien’s “Je Suis Charlie” picture depicting a pencil being jammed into the end of a rifle was among the most shared tributes on Twitter, while others like Hattie Stewart paid more personal respects. Later the cartoonists at the major newspapers added their offerings to try and make sense of the events that played out in Paris.

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    Once again the annual circus of strange, often useless gadgetry and salivating tech-geeks, Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show, has rolled around. While there’s undoubtedly some very smart little digital happenings being shown off, what’s often most fun is a look at the more ludicrous end of the spectrum, which this year has beamed out such treats as a plant pot that automatically waters your flowers, electric roller skates and a rather frightening looking belt that adjusts with your waistline and tries to shame you into reducing it.

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    It was hard to go through Justin Fantl’s portfolio and hone in on just one project: his enormous selection of intriguing photographic series is vast enough to get lost in for at least an hour or two. Be it the wild, weird attractions of Vegas, the Mars-like landscape of Death Valley, fluffy dogs, dinosaur bones, Iceland, crowds, mini golf – you name it, Justin’s got a great collection of pictures of it.

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    Whether in the art world or in the tabloids, the Turner Prize has no small amount of artistic baggage to schlep about from year to year. As such, creating designs around the awards ceremony itself is something not to be treated either too flippantly or with too much deference to its heritage, a bridge crossed very deftly indeed in the promotional video by Why Not Associates for this year’s Channel Four Turner Prize broadcast.

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    Self-taught artist Jesse Kanda makes dystopian, macabre films made up of distorted images of alien car crashes, dancing dead babies and everything in between. You’ll no doubt have seen his work on the brilliant and now ubiquitous cover for FKA Twigs’ LP1.

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    We’re huge adherents of Leif Podhajsky and in particular his design and art direction for the music industry. His work on the Kelis album Food was one of the stand-out album artwork projects of 2014 and so it’s great to see him picking up where he left off as we head into the new year.