If cats were 13th century cartographers, this is probably how they would map out their known world. Or so it is suggested in this series of print ads for Whiskas pet food, created by AMV BBDO in the UK and illustrator Dave Hopkins. The vintage-style maps were drawn from a cat’s perspective, with feline significant names given to landmarks in the Living Room Plain, the Garden Outback and The Kitchen Valley. Ottoman Overlook, Settee Ridge and Magazine Mound are key features called out in the living room. Toaster Volcano, Sore Paw Crossing stove zone, and Shelf Highlands are marked in the kitchen, and in the garden, the area beyond the Great Wall is labeled “Here There Be Monsters” with two unfriendly dogs stationed nearby. The compost heap is named Pew Gardens. The sepia-toned maps are a delight to study, and they are presented with confidence that viewers are sophisticated enough to know the Whiskas brand and a fair amount about typical cat behavior. The only real branding in the ads is the Whiskas name in its familiar logotype set in a shield that vaguely looks like a silhouette of a cat’s head. The signature purple color of Whiskas packaging is completely absent.
Every year the Indianapolis International Film Festival invites local designers and illustrators to create a poster for select movies, which it uses as a build-up to the festival. The posters are then exhibited at the Indy Film Festival and sold as limited edition prints. Lars Lawson served as designer and illustrator for this “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” poster, along with contributing artist Monty Sheldon and Timber Design. Not only did Lawson capture the character’s strange split personality, he managed to draw the typography so that it reads “Dr. Jekyll” from one direction and “Mr. Hyde” when turned upside down.
The product used to be called NutsOnline and its packaging identity was totally generic and forgettable. So, when the New Jersey-based online retailer secured the domain name “Nuts.com,” it set out to change its image by hiring a powerhouse team to design a new logo and packaging. The result is an identity that looks like it was created by precocious third-graders – but in a good way. The letters were hand-drawn by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and digitized by type designer Jeremy Mickel. Illustrator Christoph Niemann made line-drawings of the gang of playful nuts. The effect is fresh and charming, and unconventionally nutty. As breezily executed as this design looks, it takes skill to make it appear spontaneous and carefree and not amateurish and crudely done. A closer looks shows there is a hierarchy to the information on the box and an organization to the design. Even the see-through nut personalities give consumers a glimpse of the product inside. This is sophisticated design made to look naïve.
Irish chili may sound like an oxymoron, but Mic’s Chilli, made in Kilcoole, County Wicklow in Ireland, has the authentic look of a product that comes from “South of the Border” – and we don’t mean Tipperary.
Dublin-based illustrator Steve Simpson has done all of the branding and packaging work for Mic’s Chilli since it launched its first products at the end of 2010. Using Latin American patterns and iconography, the Inferno packaging features Day of the Dead skeleton figures, with “talk bubbles” showing chillis to indicate degrees of hotness — one chilli for mild; four chillis for on fire.
For more than a century, the QWERTY typewriter was the most important business tool in any office. Millions were made and sold. Then in the 1980s, along came the desktop computer and within a decade, typewriters were destined for the trash heap. Where most people saw outmoded technology, illustrator/sculptor Jeremy Mayer in Oakland, California, looked beyond the typewriter’s original function and saw an intriguing array of metal shapes and forms that could be reassembled into full-scale anatomically correct human and animal figures.
With London-based Israeli illustrator Noma Bar, viewers have to look at his work at least twice — once to see the image in the positive space and again to see how the shape of the negative space creates a whole other picture. That’s the way Bar likes it. “Most of my images are not immediately obvious to readers. Most of them require a second reading or take a minute to interpret.” Irresistibly drawn to making viewers do double-takes, Bar extended this approach in another direction on the cover of Wallpaper* magazine, painting in 3-D and incorporating real objects.
Bar was commissioned by Wallpaper* , an international authority on cutting-edge design and style, to create eight newsstand covers for its Global Design issue, one for each of the world’s top design territories –Germany, the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Belgium and Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark). Tony Chambers, Wallpaper* editor-in-chief, says, “Bar entered a new dimension just for us. His cover designs are, in fact, room sets, painted in a three-dimensional studio space and integrating actual products from each of the territories.”
A UNESCO resolution called for 2011 to be observed as the International Year of Chemistry, with conferences, symposia, lectures, expositions, fairs and art exhibitions that focused on “the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind.” UK-based graphic designer/illustrator Simon C. Page (who created the incredible prints for the International Year of Astronomy 2009) was brought in to develop a poster campaign.
Manchester-based Music has rebranded Chester Zoo in Chester County, England, by creating a Crayon-colored typeface and logotype that look like they were drawn and embellished by a child — or a clever chimpanzee.
Playful, uninhibited and gleeful, the letterforms, created in collaboration with illustrator Adam Hayes, look like they were done in the wild with crude implements, away from digital devices that would edit out quirks and enforce uniformity. Free-wheeling details spring out of letterforms suggesting that these characters exist outside of captivity. As individually distinct as the letters are, collectively they make up a cohesive font available in four weights and upper and lower case. If animals had opposable thumbs and were able to hold a crayon to create their own font, this is probably how they would describe the Chester Zoo environment — relaxed, happy and free to be who they are.
Aside from the fact that these are charming images embroidered by New York-based illustrator Jillian Tamaki, the covers of Penguin Threads Classics signal yet another move to define non-electronic publishing as more than a vehicle for communications. Traditional publishers can no longer assume that readers will stay loyal to print because e-books are harder to read due to screen glare, not offered in full-color, crippled by short battery life, limited in availability of subjects and titles, etc. Over the past year, the iPad, Kindle, Nook and other e-readers have proved otherwise, and are getting better with each iteration.
Lately Brooklyn -based illustrator and author Andy Rash, who usually draws in a more traditional style, has come out with a series that is a throwback to the crude bitmapped video game art of the 1980s. Rash calls this style “Iotacons” – iota means an extremely small amount. Full body portraits of politicians and pop stars look like they were constructed out of Lego bricks or mosaic tiles. What fascinating is that even distilled down to a few dozen pixels, these figures are recognizable as individuals and as personalities. We can pick out specific members of the U.S. Senate (below), the Supreme Court justices (above), the Allied-Axis leaders of World War II, the Beatles, and all of the Star Wars characters. It’s all very retro and fun, and it reminds us how far digital technology has come since the days when we only had pixelated images to work with.