It is the rainy season here in Vancouver. This past week has seen a huge amount of water drop from the sky. Whenever the rains are heavy, the manhole cover in front of my home rattles away loudly, sometimes even waking me up in the middle of the night. I have even stood on top of that slab of iron, feeling the power of the storm waters forcing their way upwards, threatening to push the metal circle from its setting.
All the rattling over the past few days reminded me of the artwork that Sue and I submitted for the Ironclad Art contest that the City of Vancouver ran many months ago, in order to find new artwork for the municipalities’ storm and sewer covers.
I know that plenty of professional graphic designers have issues surrounding the logistics and ethics involved with procuring design services via “contests”. Many designers won’t enter a contest just to issue a statement. Just look at the tempest in a teapot the federal government has stirred up with their Canada 150 Logo Design Contest.
Sue and I discussed the merits of entering the Ironclad Art contest, and we both came to the same conclusion… “Let’s go for it”. We were not all that busy in the studio at the time, and it sounded like fun. At least this “contest” had some form of limited design brief, and guidelines for what the City was looking for. The allure of having our design cast in metal and publicly displayed throughout the city for decades to come was very appealing. We knew our chances of being chosen were slim, but the opportunity to design something as esoteric as a manhole cover was too great to pass up.
Looking back on our designs months later with fresh eyes, I think they turned out really great. Although our submissions were not chosen to be produced, Sue’s squirrel design was short listed.
… and we were right, it was fun.
We have had the fortune of working on a few design projects with Chef William Robitaille, and Notturno is probably our favourite. The tiny Italian restaurant was open for a year or two in Gastown (a few blocks from our studio), and when Bill got involved, he took the initiative to revamp the menu, the space, and the branding.
Boasting Vancouver’s best bartender (known only as “H”) and Chef Robitaille’s ever evolving menu of Italian-inspired plates that highlight seasonal, market-fresh local fare, you can’t go wrong with whatever you order. The small space doesn’t have a typical kitchen… everything is expertly prepared to order right in front of you, behind the bar. Inspired by the region of the menu, we developed a custom wordmark (in the “tuscan” style) to serve as the foundation for the rebrand, capturing not only the flavour of the food, but the atmosphere of the elegantly rustic black-and-white room.
We held our 10four Christmas party at Notturno last holiday season, and Bill definitely treated us right. Notturno is like a well kept secret, but we felt it only fair to share the rebrand that we produced to quietly re-launch this Gastown gem for Foodies “in-the-know”.
I’ve just wrapped up another photo shoot for Danica Studio’s Spring/Summer 2015 catalog. I had the pleasure of working with photographer Tanya Goehring again. Yay!
Looking back at some of the photos I styled a few years ago makes me cringe. I like to think I’ve learned a few things about composition, lighting and propping since then. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered the perfect combination for a successful style shot: weathered background + old metal prop + product + moody lighting, as evident in the images below.
One of the highlights this season was making fake ice cream by mixing icing sugar, icing and food colouring.
Here’s a sneak peak of the no-melt ice cream, some before & after behind the scene images and a few of my favs.
no melt ice cream (try it!)
weathered background + old metal prop + product + moody lighting
before & after
a few of my favs
A while ago we were approach by a small start-up to assist in the launch of their new line of CrossFit sports apparel. They had some early prototypes and a name; Darkhorse. We really liked the name, and we really liked the people involved (their excitement and energy was contagious), so we jumped onboard. Never having worked with designers before, they were not sure what to expect, but they enjoyed our collaborative design process and our graphic design presentations are always fun. By working closely with our client, we developed a mark and the beginnings of a brand that encapsulated the spirit of what their apparel line was about. All while meeting the mandate that the mark look kick-ass on tees, sweatshirts, hats and duffle bags.
Darkhorse just enabled the online ordering through their website. You should go get some new workout clothes… you’ll look better (and feel great) while you work up a sweat.
gym bag photo courtesy of Darkhorse.
Introducing; SONOVOVITCH! We dug this work-in-progress unicase typeface design out of the vaults; updated it, expanded it, added plenty of alternate glyphs, cyrillic language support and opentype features. Sonovovitch is a font packed with bold character and eastern European influenced flair.
Now released into the wild via MyFonts. Enjoy!
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;
Many more images from my field trip here…
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.
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”;
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.
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.