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 to great to pass up.
Looking back on our designs months later with fresh eyes, I think they turned out really well. 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”.
We had an incredibly busy summer. One of the projects that kept us from hitting the beach was From Rationing To Ravishing, an exhibit that we developed for The Museum of Vancouver. Opened last month, From Rationing To Ravishing is the follow up show to the extremely popular Art Deco Chic exhibit that we designed for MOV back in 2012. Guest curated by the charismatic duo of Ivan Sayers and Claus Jahnke, the exhibit traces the shifting Vancouver fashion landscape from wartime austerity to girlish glamour throughout the 40s and 50s. We are fortunate to have a fantastic relationship with the Museum… they trusted us to develop all elements of the brand for the show; everything from the entire exhibit and accompanying graphics, to the exhibit catalogue, to the marketing materials.
There are over 80 garments on display, accompanied by many accessories and other period pieces. Highlights include: wartime wedding dresses (one made from a parachute!), Boeing Vancouver overalls, cocktail dresses, and fashions designed by renowned European couturiers, including Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, and Elsa Schiaparelli.
You really should go check it out (open until at least March, 2015), but until you do, we’ve got more photos for you here.
Also; an article in the Georgia Straight, a post on Vancouver is Awesome, Youtube clip from Go! Vancouver, and a CBC Radio interview with Ivan Sayers.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!?!
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.
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 Projects, Seterah Shamdani, State Creative, Working Format, and Zach Bulick. Great company indeed. Please visit the exhibit, up until later this summer.