Gung hay fat choy! February 5 kicks off the Year of the Pig, but you probably already know that. Even nations that don’t celebrate the Asian Lunar New Year pay homage to its significance by issuing their own commemorative Pig postage stamps. The Pig is the 12th and last animal symbol on the Chinese Zodiac calendar, which runs in 12-year cycles in approximation to the 11.85 year orbital period of Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.
According to Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor organized a race and invited the animals in his kingdom to participate. Twelve showed up. The emperor told the contestants that he would name a year of the zodiac after each one, according to who came in first. The cunning Rat saw it didn’t have the stamina to swim across a rapid stream and convinced the kindly Ox to let him ride on his back. Once across, the Rat leapt off the Ox without even saying thanks, and scurried over the finish line. The easily distracted Pig got bored and stopped to eat and nap, coming in dead last. That’s why the Zodiac calendar begins with the Year of the Rat and ends with the Year of the Pig. The Pig is a symbol of wealth and good fortune as well as jovialness and honesty, but it is also known for being a bit of a slob. The Pig symbol applies to those born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019.
Gung hay fat choy! Especially if you are a Pig, this is your year. Read More »
In Budapest two friends Bihari Akos and Himmel Oiver, both engineers, indulged their love of craft beer by setting out to make the country’s “craziest, freshest” artisan beer. Their creations led to going commercial in 2014, establishing the Brew Your Mind Brewery to introduce an inspired variety of craft beers, including some with aromatic tropical fruit flavors.
To position the unique originality of their beers and ales in the marketplace, they hired Budapest-based Classmate Studio to design the brand identity and packaging for Brew Your Mind. Classmate bypassed traditional beer packaging designs and created labels showing 3-D lines and optical illusions. Each beer type was given its own name – Yellow Haze, Peach Please, Evermind, Endless Waves, Bright Lies, Money Cannon — and its own abstract package design and signature colors. The impact was eye-catching, fun and contemporary. For the Brewery logo, they placed a line-drawn eyeball on a silhouette of an old-fashioned beer bottle cap with crimped edges, kind of like eyelashes. Online the logo appears to blink, altering from looking like a simple bottle cap to a winking eye. In a few short years, the sophisticated branding has helped to make Brew Your Mind the top craft beer brewery in Hungary. Read More »
On the 200th anniversary of the Flag Act of 1818, the U.S. Postal Service has released a first-class stamp designed by @Issue founder Kit Hinrichs.
The Flag Act of 1818 gave the country the basic design rules that dictate the look of the flag today– namely, 13 stripes representing the Original 13 Colonies and one star for each state in the Union. This 1818 Act superseded the Flag Act of 1794, which decreed that each state in the Union be represented on the flag with one stripe and one star. The folly of the 1794 design quickly became apparent when Kentucky and Vermont joined the Union and the stripes had to be made thinner and thinner and the stars smaller and more cramped. With more states slated to join the Union, it quickly became clear that the American flag would soon become a mess, with the number of stars and stripes changing so frequently that the public won’t recognize it as an official emblem, much less an iconic symbol of the U.S.
This stamp commemorating the Flag Act of 1818 displays 20 stars, the number of states in the Union in 1818. It is the second in a set of Forever flag stamps designed by Kit.
For centuries, wall posters have been a favorite means to publicize events, products, causes, political movements and the like. It is a sad commentary on the 21st century that we need to use this public vehicle to draw attention to an idea as basic as Tolerance. Unfortunately, we do.
“Tolerance” is the name and theme of a traveling poster show that is now circling the globe. Organized by Bosnian-born and now New York-based, Mirko Ilic, the Tolerance Traveling Poster Show features the contributions of renowned designers including Milton Glaser (USA), Chaz Maviyana-Davies (Zimbabwe), Yuko Shimizu (Japan), Manuel Estrada (Spain), Tarek Atrissi (Lebanon), Jianping Ha (China), and some two dozen others.
To keep the exhibition accessible to a broad audience, the posters are shown in public plazas, shopping malls, parks, and other open venues instead of in art galleries and art museums. Conceived to be electronically produced and hung anywhere in the world within a week, the Tolerance posters show is expected to run for two years. To date, it has been shown on nearly every continent, with illustrators and designers from exhibiting countries contributing their own Tolerance poster to the show.
Most municipalities around the world view sewage manhole covers as a mundane part of the urban infrastructure. At best, they try to make these heavy metal plates functional and inconspicuous. Instead, cities and towns focus their civic beautification efforts on creating a broad range of public art installations — murals, sculptures, archways, fountains, and the like. But ignoring the artistic possibilities of humble manhole covers is a missed opportunity. These metal plates, typically 34 inches in diameter, are the perfect size for casting images and decorative patterns that relate the culture, history, industry, and flora and fauna of the area.
Some design feats deserve to be recognized. This “Birds of North America” poster by Pop Chart Lab is such a remarkable accomplishment. The aviary chart features all 740 feathered friends that inhabit North America, from barn owls to bluejays to whooping cranes and California condors. The chart includes both native and introduced birds on the continent, as designated by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It took a team of artists more than 400 hours to draw the birds in intricate detail, organize them by species and arrange them in relative scale. Included on Pop Chart’s poster are some 14 species that are on the endangered list, and that is not counting the 46 million turkeys that will meet their doom this week so we can contentedly consume them on Thanksgiving Day. Above is a picture of a turkey in happier times.
Op-ed columnists write copious essays laying out carefully reasoned arguments to support their point of view; editorial cartoonists sum up their take on current events in one iconic, thought-provoking, and often humorous image. A case in point can be seen in Barry Blitt’s new book, “In One Eye and Out the Other.” A long-time cartoonist and illustrator for The New Yorker, Blitt uses analogy, exaggeration, and irony to make people think about events of the day.
With the exception of The New Yorker’s Victorian dandy, Eustace Tilley, American magazines haven’t had any memorable mascots. The haughty fop, peering at a butterfly through a monocle, debuted on the cover of The New Yorker’s very first issue in 1925. He was drawn by Rea Irvin, the magazine’s first art director. Irvin, who also designed the New Yorker’s distinctive font, based his illustration on an 1834 caricature of the notorious social gadfly, Count Alfred d’Orsay.
The New Yorker’s icon acquired the name, Eustace Tilley, from a series of tongue-in-cheek articles called “The Making of a Magazine: A Tour through the Vast Organization of The New Yorker,” written by Corey Ford in 1925. Ad buys were slim in The New Yorker’s early years (along with subscribers), and Ford’s humorous articles published in 20 installments were used to fill pages that advertisers weren’t buying. Ford named his fictional expert on magazine-making “Tilley” after his maiden aunt and “Eustace” because he thought it sounded good with Tilley. In time, Eustace Tilley and the top-hatted dandy on the cover of premiere issue became identified as one.
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.
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.
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.
Trust Cargo is a Latin American freight forwarder that specializes in delivering live cargo such as fresh fish to the world’s top restaurants. In print ads, created by TBWA/Buenos Aires in Argentina and illustrated by Cristian Turdero, Trust Cargo humorously stressed that its freight deliveries could be relied on even in regions of the world that are in political turmoil.
Considering GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “promise” to build a 1,000 mile border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, the ad took Trump’s words literally and re-drew a map of the Americas with a Trump Channel separating the Southern United States from Mexico. Read More »
The making of “Loving Vincent” is truly an act of love. Everything from its Kickstarter crowdfunding to eschewing CGI in favor of painstakingly painting every frame by hand makes this 80-minute film a monumental homage to the life of Vincent Van Gogh and to fine artists everywhere. Polish painter Dorota Kobriela and Oscar-winning British filmmaker Hugh Welchman of Breakthru Films began work on the world’s first feature-length painted animation in 2011, and with an infusion of Kickstarter funding are pushing forward to bring their labor of love to fruition. In an interview with Voice of America, Kobriela says they were inspired to undertake this project after reading Van Gogh’s letter to his brother saying that “we can only speak through our paintings.”
“Loving Vincent” integrates 120 of Van Gogh’s greatest paintings into a storyline pulled together from some 800 letters written by the artist in the latter years of his life. The film’s plot unfolds through “interviews” with characters closest to Van Gogh and through a dramatic reconstruction of events leading up to his sudden and still mysterious death.
Those familiar with San Francisco’s landscape will recognize the iconic landmarks depicted on Fort Point Beer packaging. Those who aren’t will simply appreciate the packaging for its lovely minimalist design and smart, consistent execution. Designed by San Francisco-based Manual, the packaging is illustrated with geometric-line drawings of the undergirding of the Golden Gate Bridge, the rooftops of old Army barracks, the windmill in Golden Gate Park, the Ferry Building clock, the Alcatraz guard tower, and other well-known sites. Like scaffolding, the graphics form an arched frame around the Fort Point brand name, setting it apart.
San Francisco’s fastest-growing craft beer brand, Fort Point Brewery is located in San Francisco’s historic Presidio, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Presidio was originally built as a military outpost in 1776 when California was owned by Spain. It was subsequently occupied by the U.S. Army between 1846 and 1994.
The Fort Point Brewery, founded in 2014 by brothers Tyler and Justin Catalana, resides in an old Army motor pool building near Fort Point, which stands at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Fort was constructed at the entrance to San Francisco Bay just before the Civil War, circa 1854, to keep the California gold fields from falling into rebel hands — just a few historical factoids to reflect on while enjoying a can of Fort Point beer.
Creative Bloq recently ran a wonderful piece on how designers wish they could really set their fees. (This method of calculating billing rates could easily apply to anyone in creative consulting services.) Creative Bloq claims the price calculation is based on a proportional sequence postulated by 13th century Italian mathematician Fibonacci, who took the idea from ancient Indian Sanskrit mathematics. Fibonacci’s Sequence became the basis for the Golden Ratio, a way of describing the ratio between two proportions. You don’t really need to know this; we digress in an attempt to appear more learned than we are and to extend the length of this introduction to make the design look more proportional (ratio of image to text). The Designer’s Golden Rule chart, shown above, proposes setting fees based on the ratio of actual creative work you are allowed to do versus the amount of unproductive client interference. This calculation can also be called the Nuisance Factor, the more meddlesome the client, the higher the fee. Note: We took this chart from Creative Bloq, but redid the graphics because we wanted to show a proportional value-add.
The beauty of Old World craftsmanship is expressed in this Home Run King bat trophy commissioned by Nike. Featuring the exquisite lettering and design of Salt Lake City-based Kevin Cantrell and New York-based Juan Carlos Pagan, the trophy is designed with a typographic treatment that circles the entire circumference of the bat. Richmond, Virginia-based firm, Big Secret, handled production, engineering the artwork to be laser-etched around the bat’s circumference in a seamless finish. Read More »