Graphic, minimalist and understandable in any language, this set of posters for the 2012 Olympics in London was designed by University of College Falmouth graduate, Alan Clarke. The design proposals were actually meant to brand the Transport of London, with text on each poster identifying which underground station links to each Olympics event. “My thinking behind these posters was to convey the movement and energy of the games in a simple abstract way,” Clarke explains. Clarke’s images are evocative of the visuals created by the legendary German designer Otl Aicher for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Clarke, who now works as a designer at Gendall in Falmouth, was a D&AD Best New Blood Winner for 2009.
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.
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Give the same creative brief to three different designers and you’re likely to get back three different solutions. Take for example the poster competition sponsored by the Canadian Council on Learning and the Canadian Commission of UNESCO to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and mark International Adult Learners’ Week last March. Sixty designers across Canada submitted their portfolios; three were commissioned to design posters around the theme “Learning is a Human Right.” Here’s what the three had to say about their design approach.
Internationally known poster artist Andrew Lewis in Brentwood Bay, BC, explains “Learning takes place deep inside our ‘grey matter’, which, in my mind, is not grey at all, but a fanned out Pantone book, not in any arranged order but an explosion of random colors. Sketching with colored pencils on paper, I developed this image where the left side is a flat range of colors that move right and literally left the page, or the mind. The original image was smack dab in the center of the page, so using scissors, I cut it in half and moved it over, then realized I could make a pattern, suggesting that we as humans become connected through the process of learning.”
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For Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, the humble pencil holds special significance as an instrument of creativity. Traditionally, it has been the way that designers first give visual expression to raw ideas surfacing from their subconscious. The erasable-leaded pencil gives artists and inventors permission to test concepts, doodle and sketch without committing anything to the permanence of ink.
For decades, Art Center has used the pencil as a symbol for creativity and artistic endeavors. Each year it recognizes the outstanding achievement of alumni with Gold and Silver Pencil Awards. For its donor wall, it has made a display of oversized pencils etched with the names of donors to the College. This year when Art Center launched its fund-raising effort, it asked one of its most illustrious alumni, Michael Schwab (Advertising, class of 1975), to create a poster for the campaign. Although Schwab’s strong graphic illustrations have become the brand identity for countless companies and for the Golden Gate National Parks, he admits that being asked to create something for his alma mater was both a “proud moment…and daunting assignment.”
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