A few weeks back I did a quick trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles. It was a jammed packed, over-the-top four days, but I managed to find time to admire the typographic diversity and craftsmanship of the signage on display in the various neighbourhoods that I visited. Although I wasn’t enamoured with the local design offerings as I was when I visited the East Coast, there was still plenty to appreciate. In comparison to New York, Los Angeles is far more spread out and sprawling, so there is more distance to be covered to experience different signage opportunities. A great deal of the architecture is Art Deco and International inspired (at least in the neighbourhoods I spent my days), and the best environmental typography I found reflected that style. Neon was everywhere (which really fit with “LA”), along with the standard, mundane corporate light boxes. Not as prevalent as I would have expected, there was some “hand done” typography to be found. A somewhat unexpected surprise was a plethora of mosaic treatments. The light is unique in LA (maybe it is the smog?), and it gave the architecture and the accompanying signage a charming quality that is hard to describe.

Here are some samples of a few of my graphic design favourites;

LA signage - 09

Many more images from my field trip here…

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Vancouver Imagined; The Way We Weren’t is a fun little exhibit we designed for the MOV Space at the Museum of Vancouver. Created for Guest Curator Jason Vanderhill (of the awesome Illustrated Vancouver blog), the exhibit features 21 architectural and urban projects that were proposed, yet never realized in Vancouver.

At the Museum of Vancouver until at least May 11, 2014.

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One of the greatest thrills of playing and recording music is hearing your song being played on the radio. I’ll never forget the first time that happened to me, it took a good portion of the verse to go by before I realized that it was one of my band’s songs… pure magic. Once you release your “children” into the wild, you never know where they’ll turn up.

The same sort of thing happens with the graphic design work that comes out of our Vancouver studio. We are fortunate enough to work on projects that are often “released into the wild”, and are pleasantly surprised when we run into them. Sometimes we’ll be browsing the internet or walking through a store, when something familiar catches our eye. It might be a cushion, a rug, a T-shirt, or a typeface, but sure enough, it’s something we designed. There’s something secretly thrilling about other people unknowingly utilizing an object that you poured so much effort and craftsmanship into. When I run across one of our past undertakings, I instinctively want to grab the nearest person and proudly shout “I Made That”. Not that anyone cares. Other than our clients and colleagues, most people don’t appreciate the sweat and tears we put into the details. However, when we run across our work out in the “real world”, it is a small affirmation that we must be doing something right.

Here are some examples of recent findings of our work “in the wild”;

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retail

Techno Organic

Fisher Price

Anthropologie

Gap

 

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We are happy to announce the Planet Bam Bam project that we have been working on for the last few months has finally launched. Planet Bam Bam charms are collectible little characters that are sold in blind bags. 10four helped the team at Planet Bam Bam develop the initial branding, packaging, POP displays, website, and the first series of charms for the toys’ North American launch.

Product is finally being distributed to retail stores, and if you are lucky, you might be able to get a hold of some just in time for the holiday season. They make great stocking stuffers!

More photos here.

Planet Bam Bam packs

Paper-cut

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I apologize. I really am sorry. Our updating and posting to the 10four site this past summer has been very weak. I promise we will do better in the future.

The past couple of months have been crazy busy, and to top it all off, we needed to find a new home without a lot of notice. Luckily, we managed to locate a suitable new office not too far away on the opposite side of Gastown, and the move wasn’t a complete disaster.  The home for our Vancouver design studio calls back to our roots, as it is only a few blocks away from the studios where both Sue and I started our design careers. As a bonus, I also get an extra hit of nostalgia, as we are a few doors down from the practice room where I spent many, many hours in my former life as a failed rock star.

If you want to mail us a “hello” card, you can now find us at #213 – 119 West Pender Street.

 

Duncan

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This is the last few days to catch the Electric Company’s Production of You Are Very Star. We’re proud to have been involved in crafting the promotional image of the show’s innovative run at the HR MacMillan Space Centre here in Vancouver.

Reviews Here, Here and Here.

Catch a showing if you can.

Vancouver Theatre Poster design

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Early in my life as a professional graphic designer I was torn between my love for music and a passion for my chosen career. I had been playing drums in various “garage” bands, with delusions of making a living as a musician. I’ve recorded a few albums and fifteen years ago this summer, after months in the recording studio with a couple of good friends, we released this CD upon the world (not that anyone really cared, except for obscure radio stations in Great Britain). After years of struggling to play live shows and maintain a “real” job, I realized that the music business was gruelling, exhausting, and soul crushing. Not to mention economically unrealistic. Especially in an expensive city like Vancouver. My hat is off to anyone who can really make a go of it in the music business.

However, just because I chose to focus on my graphic design career, doesn’t mean that I left music behind. With all the friends I made of local musicians, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on many projects utilizing my favourite all-time design format; The Compact Disc package.

Vancouver CD Design

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The weather has been unusually beautiful here in Vancouver over the last few weeks. It reminded me of of this illustration we did years ago for the Continuing Studies summer catalogue at Emily Carr University of art & design. Our old graphic design studio location was literally a brick oven. I remember that summer it felt like a million degrees in there (our current studio is much more comfortable, thank you very much).

I hope that wherever you are it is (almost) as beautiful as it is here. Get out and enjoy the sun!

 

summertime

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The nature of our business requires the creation of many types of infographics. By far, the most common is creating a map. I can’t count the number of maps I have drawn over the course of my graphic design career. On average, our studio probably designs at least 1 or 2 maps a week. From floor plans to traffic advisories, we’ve done them all. Which I find ironic, since I have the worst sense of direction. When I was a kid, I once got lost three times in one day on a family vacation (my sister loves to tell that story over and over). Now I rely heavily on my iPhone to tell me where to go.

You would think that it would get boring drawing something as mundane as a simple map, but there is something zen-like about getting into the flow of working on wayfinding and cartography. Sometimes Sue and I even argue over who gets to work on the maps (she wins). Each project requires a certain set of design parameters and usually our maps need to fit into the scheme of an overarching project beyond the map itself. How much detail is required? What is the final delivery medium? What is the colour palette? What is the most effective manner to convey the information required? All while keeping everything in line with the project “brand”.

As an added side effect of drawing so many local neighbourhoods, I’ve become very familiar with Vancouver (as well as many regions I’ve never even visited). Maybe I like this aspect of my work because it reminds me of how much I enjoyed treasure maps when I was young. Who doesn’t like pirates and buried treasure!?!

 

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My love of comic books is no secret. I have been purchasing funny books on a weekly basis since I was eight years old, and much to the dismay of my wife, my collection has ballooned to almost 20,000 issues. There is little doubt that my love for the comic book medium lead directly to my involvement in the graphic arts. When FanExpo was held this past weekend in Vancouver, anyone who has ever met me knew where I could be found.

I love comic books, but the fans that attended FanExpo really, really, REALLY embrace pop culture. The variety of costumes on display helped pass the time while waiting in the ridiculously long line-up to get into the convention centre. So many characters pulled from comic books, cartoons, anime, movies and video games… kudos to the amount of effort that Vancouver fans put into their costumes.

For anyone associated with the visual arts, events like this just can’t be passed up. It was visual overload and a great opportunity to be exposed to some really interesting material. The work that our graphic design studio produces is primarily based in print, and there was no shortage of interesting print matter to ogle. Great vintage posters, exciting books, wonderful packaging, and cutting edge illustrations; many created right in front of your eyes. Aside from an opportunity to find obscure comics or hard-to-find toys, it is a good chance to discover new inspiration. I was lucky enough to chat with the creators of some of my favourite comics and I even had Stan Lee sign one of my back issues. The guy is in his 90′s and he has more energy than my kids!

If comic books aren’t your thing (What!?!), FanExpo does a great job of offering a variety of pop culture interests, and the programming takes advantage of the TV, Film and Videogame talent that is a huge part of the industry in Vancouver. Great fun for kids of all ages. Maybe next year I’ll even bring mine along.

 

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