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ART + DESIGN

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.

Vancouver Imagined 01

Vancouver Imagined 05

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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”;

Urban_outfitters

westbeach

retail

Techno Organic

Fisher Price

Anthropologie

Gap

 

Apartment_Therapy

Adanac_font 1

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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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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!?!

 

maps-01

maps-07

maps-05

maps-02

maps-04

maps-03

maps-06

 

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A few months back, we were asked to participate in the Canada Line Public Art Program. The result was an exhibit organized by Working Format and presented at the Waterfront Station’s Platform Gallery. The theme of the show was “Intersections“, as interpreted by various Vancouver graphic design studios.

“Great cities are defined by great intersections; Locations that play host to significant historical events, define the culture of a neighbourhood, and are the meeting point for diverse groups of people. Intersections invites seven Vancouver-based designers to explore seven essential locations throughout our city.”

Through luck of the draw, our Intersection was Broadway & Granville.

What a great project to be involved in. I have many fond memories of the Broadway & Granville intersection. Early in my career, I had a run at another design start-up (before I was fortunate enough to partner with Sue) that was located in that neighbourhood, and I used to grab my coffee at that intersection almost every morning. Years ago I had taken some photos of the historic Dick building with the spinning neon Kaplan Education Centre sign (while it still worked). We also dug up some historic photos of the long gone Aristocratic dinner that used to be a late night go to staple while I was in art-school. All that is left of the dinner is a faux neon sign in the window of the Chapters bookstore that is on the same corner. The shopping along that stretch of Granville is great, and only getting better. So many aspects to focus on. However, in the end, what it really came down to was public transit.

“The focus for the Broadway & Granville poster was the prevalence of public transit found at the intersection. Six major bus routes converge on the intersection and the 99B-line along the Broadway corridor moves more people than any other transit route in North America. The layered, abstract photograph of the trolley cables creates visual texture in the background of the poster. The custom typography is reminiscent of the hand painted shop signs and storefront windows from the high society days of the neighbourhood.”

Other posters on display are by Glasfurd and Walker, Post ProjectsSeterah ShamdaniState CreativeWorking Format, and Zach Bulick. Great company indeed. Please visit the exhibit, up until later this summer.

 

CRA Broadway&Granville 2

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Prior to Christmas holidays I was busy styling Danica Studio’s Fall 2013 catalog.

In October I was very fortunate to see Sibella Court when she spoke at Maiwa on Granville Island. She is a stylist, designer and collector who I’ve really come to admire. She has an eye for finding the extraordinary in everyday settings and objects. The timing of her lecture was perfect as I was in the beginning stages of planning and I found her talk very inspiring.

In late November, I was on the prowl for new and interesting props. Some of the things on my list were: vintage perfume bottles, metal trays and vessels, fancy utensils, feathers, fish, nuts, fall foliage, bristle brush animals, pearls, spotted eggs, trophies and small things in shades of blue. When I wasn’t shopping, I was painting and distressing backdrops and searching for small, portable pieces of furniture.

Early December we embarked on a three week photoshoot. To make the most of everyone’s time and resources, three catalogs were shot simultaneously. For part of the shoot we rented the upstairs apartment at Le Marché St. George. The dark wood floors and vintage doors and hardware made for a lovely backdrop. I was very fortunate to work with photographers Tanya and Meghan of Sweet Heirloom again. Here are a few of my favourite shots.

 

DSF13-Style-crochet-dishcloth-Autumn

DSF13-Style-Cosmetic-Bag-Prim&Proper

DSF13-Style-napkin-EmeraldCity

DSF13-Style-teatowel-Prim&Proper

DSF13-Style-Tray-Basket-Flora&Fauna

DSF13-Style-clutch-EmeraldCity2

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I usually take a lot of photos. There is something about quickly being able to capture a moment or creating a scenario that really appeals to me. Photographic images compliment our graphic design work, and the two disciplines often merge. I’ve lost track of how many times our Vancouver design studio has been transformed into a makeshift photo studio. However, the past year has been crazy busy and my usual photo output has dramatically dropped off. The wind was taken out of my sails when all my camera gear got ripped off earlier in the year. Although it was an opportunity to update my equipment (even if it was a little forced), I had a comfortable history with many of those items and it felt hard to get back into the groove with new photographic tools.

Regardless, I managed to shoot some images I was happy with. Here are some of my favourites from the past year that haven’t been “published” before. 12 for 2012!

 

10four design

10four design

10four design group

10four design christmas elf

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