As a busy father of two frenetic girls, and a busy graphic design schedule, I don’t have much time to sit down with a good book. When I do, I usually trying to catch up on my pile of unread comic books. So when the Christmas holidays roll around, I try to soak up as many pages as possible. It is my goal to catch up on the books that piled up in the studio over the past year, as well as the gems that I acquire as X-mas gifts. A well designed book is always inspirational (even if it isn’t specifically about “design”).
Here is a quick rundown of what I caught up on over the holidays and into January;
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.
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of our good friend and studiomate Loki.
When Sue and I started 10four back in 2002, there was never a doubt that Loki would play a role in our new graphic design studio. Being your own boss has a few perks, and one of them is being able to bring your dog with you to work. Having Loki around in our office has always conveyed the kind of work environment we want to promote, and the casual, easy going attitude we express. Our clients enjoyed seeing her in our space and often asked about her on the days she stayed home. Even the mailman was happy to see her.
Over the last 12 years, we’ve moved the design office for 10four 3 times (four if you count moving offices within the same studio space), and every time Loki has had a desk to curl up under and a pillow in the corner. Last week I took that pillow home from the office for the last time, and it broke my heart.
Loki was with us from the start, and she will be missed… very, very much.
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.