We love student assignments because the parameters are loose enough to let the imagination run free – no client demanding that the piece “work harder” at branding or asking to see the metrics to prove that the design solution had the desired effect on the target audience. They are unbridled creativity, pushing the limits of personal talent and skill. So, when we ran across some animations done by 20-year-old Matthew Young, a graphic and communication design student at the University of Leeds in the UK, we were charmed by his innocent storytelling. “Colin the Umbrella,” completed in a week, fulfills a creative brief to celebrate the ordinary by making it seem extraordinary. Young’s story line has the undercurrent of the soul-searching angst of a young person searching for a meaningful purpose in life — and a sad ending.
Every year since 1924, the Dutch Postal Service has worked together with the Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland (SKN), or the Foundation for Children’s Welfare Stamps Netherland, to produce a series of stamps to help disadvantaged children both in and outside the Netherlands. The last campaign raised more than 9.3m euros to fund educational programs. The special edition stamps, which cost a little more than regular stamps, have been sold door-to-door by Dutch school children since 1948. Art director Christian Borstlap from Kessels Kramer Creative Collective designed this year’s playful worm-like creatures, which were featured both on the stamp series and on postcards. The little worm people were turned into an animated commercial by Paul Postma Motion Design.
Geometry, the mathematical study of shapes and their relative positions in space, lies at the heart of design and typography and the physical order of the universe. These posters by UK-based applied mathematician Simon C. Page for the International Year of Astronomy ’09 (IYA) depict the wonders of the universe through the use of simple geometric lines and circles. Page, a self-trained graphic designer, had originally created these images for a self-promotion piece, but the math-inspired art caught the attention of the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO, which asked to turn them into posters to promote the International Year of Astronomy’09, a global effort to raise awareness of astronomy. Retro in feel, Page’s posters aptly capture the beauty, dynamism, and mysterious orderliness of objects in space. They are available for sale from simoncpage.co.uk.
The publication of Noma Bar’s new book Negative Space reminds us what a provocative artist he is. Bar’s editorial illustrations pare away the superfluous and cut to the bone of the idea. Using the technique of negative space, he combines a flat graphic silhouetted image with the shape surrounding it to create an illustration rich with meaning. Discovering the image within the image causes the readers to pause and contemplate the larger story being told.
An Israeli-born illustrator Bar studied graphic design and typography at the Jerusalem Academy of Art and Design before moving to London in 2001. His work has appeared in numerous illustrious publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Economist. Bar has said that the inspiration for his distinctive graphic style emerged during the first Gulf War when he was sitting in a shelter with his family. Perusing a newspaper, he happened upon the black radioactivity symbol on a yellow background, which reminded him of the dark eyebrows and mustache of Saddam Hussein. Sketching a silhouette around it, he found that it became an instantly recognizable caricature. Upon relocating to London a few years later, he included the Saddam drawing in his portfolio; its strong concept helped win him his first assignment from Time Out London.
The days of artists conspicuously sketching and painting on drawing pads or at an easel may be over. All the tools that one needs are available in a palm-sized iPhone; passersby don’t know if the person is text messaging or creating a digital masterpiece.
Artist Jorge Colombo, who used the Brushes app to create the first iPhone-illustrated cover for The New Yorker’s June 1 issue has done it again with the Manhattan skyline at night on its November 16 cover. Although Colombo arguably can be called “the father of iPhone art,” he has owned an iPhone only since February 2009 and started “finger painting” using the Brushes app after that. Thanks to Colombo and a few other pioneers, what just was a cool Internet Café “parlor trick” to amuse geeky friends a few months ago has become a serious art medium. This week’s Huffington Post is even featuring iPhone drawings submitted by readers. The variety of styles, nuances of colors, level of detail and sophistication are amazing to behold.
This year’s theme art for the U.S. Open Tennis Championships (USTA), which starts August 31 in New York, was designed by Pasadena-based illustrator Paul Rogers. Invited to submit theme art concepts to the USTA for use on posters, banners, tickets, programs, etc., Rogers pencil-sketched more than a half-dozen ideas, and then developed six into fully rendered color images. Rogers admits that “On a project like this I tend to over-produce concept sketches because I don’t want to lose the project due to a half-hearted execution of an idea.”
In its creative brief to the select artists who were paid to submit theme concepts, the USTA cited three requirements. First, if the illustration depicted a player, the figure had to be generic and not recognizable as either a male or female. Second, New York City had to be a key element since the games are played in the renowned Flushing Meadows, located in the borough of Queens. Third, the US Open’s flaming ball logo had to appear in the art. The key impressions to evoke were entertainment spectacle, toughest tennis and high energy.
For illustrator Craig Frazier, Drawords started as a welcome “relief from a day job where I’m given copy and am supposed to draw to it. Every stroke has to communicate something.”
“This is the reverse,” he says. Instead, as a way to keep his head and his drawing skills sharp, Frazier gave himself the assignment of producing a whimsical sketch a week, which he decided to email to contacts with an invitation to give it their own captions. “It was a way to connect with clients and give them a peek at the way I work and the way I see,” he explains.
The drawings were outside of Frazier’s commercial illustrations, experimental and surreal. He says that he discovered if he put enough “silly elements” in, then people let their imaginations take over from there. “They have come back with things that I would never have seen in the drawing. There is a collaboration going on that is very innocent and satisfying.”